For many fantasy football players, the preseason is what gets them back into football. The long offseason is finally over and they get to see a few snaps of their old and new favorite players. The hype begins to build for the new season. As dynasty owners, this is one of the most crucial times of the year because rookie drafts are likely over, and the evaluation process begins. How a player looks in preseason can be an indication as to what to expect going forward. More importantly, when they play can tell you where they are on the depth chart. This is important to learn how to evaluate a players’ role heading into the season and how much you can expect them to contribute.
I watch a lot of football and figured I would do my best to summarize as many rookies as I could with some brief notes and highlights for those who actually have a life and can’t watch all of the games. The reason is that box scores can be very misleading and they won’t give you a sense of what actually happened or if a player just crushed in the 4th quarter against third stringers. This is not just high draft picks but I try to touch on some lesser known guys to keep an eye on in case they continue to have good games. I decided to break this down into two parts, here is part two of “The Rookie Report” for preseason week 1, enjoy.
New Orleans Saints @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Boston Scott, the surprise late round RB selection by the Saints trying to be the RB3 on their roster. He is expected to carve out a role as a pass catching back and appears to be the backup return man. We did not see a lot of him in this first pre-season game. Sean Payton elected to play the starters a little longer in this game and we saw a lot more of Johnathan Williams and Terrence west while the Saints look to find their replacement during Mark Ingram’s suspension. He had a nice kickoff return but other than that, not a whole lot to see from Scott.
1 car, 7 yards.
Tre’Quan Smith is a tall athletic receiver out of UCF. He played mostly with the 3rd team but I would imagine he can work his way up quickly after having a nice first preseason game and limited competition ahead of him. He was able to get open with ease and caught 4/5 headed his way with the one he didn’t really in being fairly difficult to catch. He’s competing for the 3rd WR spot right now and if Meredith is hurt heading into the year we may see more of Smith than expected. I will be monitoring that situation closely and am happy with what I saw from Smith in his first game.
4 rec, 48 yards on 5 targets.
— Deuce Windham (@RevDeuceWindham) August 10, 2018
D.J. Chark is the speed demon receiver out of LSU. Drafted in the 3rd round by the Jags, Chark was able to work mostly with the 2nd team and came in for a few snaps with the 1st team. This is an encouraging sign that he’s in the mix for targets. On his lone reception, he showed great acceleration after the catch and fought hard for extra yardage. Other than that Chark was mostly a decoy and didn’t get looks. In my opinion, this entire WR group is wide open and could shake out many ways. If Chark can see more looks and impresses I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he was a starter quickly into the season. Monitor him closely because the moment he catches his first long TD. His ADP will surely go way up. If you’re a believer I would be buying early.
1 rec, 15 yards on 1 target.
Allen Lazard out of Iowa State University is a UDFA who is trying to make the Jags roster. Lazard is big and a surprisingly athletic WR for someone 6’5”. Similarly, to Auden Tate, Lazard can really swallow targets headed his way and use his body to shield from defenders. As one of my personal favorite longshots, I watched him closely and liked what I saw. He was running with the 3rd team and didn’t get many looks but was able to get open. Somehow he got overthrown by Tanner Lee on a crossing route and the other short reception he caught with relative ease. Still waiting for someone to move him to tight end, and if he does he could be really special. Look out for Lazard because similar to Tate he can go up and get it, except Tate doesn’t have a 40” vertical.
1 rec, 5 yards on 2 targets
Los Angeles Rams @ Baltimore Ravens
John Kelly is the electric running back out of Tennessee and I must say he looked every bit the part against the Ravens in his first NFL action. He didn’t play until the second half with the 3rd team but every time he touched the ball his agile and shifty nature was on full display. He had a nice jump cut outside with nothing up the middle to gain 10 yards, with another cut back for a long gain down the sideline. He looked great in the screen game and should have no issue, in my opinion, being the primary backup to Todd Gurley. Obviously not worth much value unless Gurley is hurt but I think he can step into a role. I expect to see him with the 2nd team next week.
13 car, 77 yards. 2 rec, 14 yards on 2 targets
I’m a big fan of John Kelly 🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/p6fG0h7f2t
— JustWinBaby (@Future_NFL_GM) August 11, 2018
Lamar Jackson saw 2nd team action this week early in the second quarter and struggled a little bit with his accuracy at times but was really working through progressions and stood in there before taking off to run. Jackson had an unreal rushing TD juking two defenders showing off his athleticism that we all expect. He’s been serviceable in the passing game. I wouldn’t say there is pressure on Flacco yet because Jackson isn’t quite there yet.
7/18 119 yards, 5 car, 21 yards, TD.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 10, 2018
Hayden Hurst was running with the 1st team and didn’t see many reps along with the rest of the first team offense. He has been getting good reports throughout camps and figures to be the starting tight end to begin the year. This could be a great value for those who drafted him in the 3rd round of rookie drafts. Could be a sneaky play going forward since Flacco has a history throwing to tight ends. If they can continue to build that relationship this preseason I would be looking to buy before he becomes a serviceable asset.
1 rec, 12 yards on 1 target
Mark Andrews was targeted 3 times by Lamar Jackson running with the second team offense and neither did each other any favors. Andrews wasn’t getting the best targets from Jackson and he didn’t make any difficult catches either. Andrews is likely not going to see much action unless something happens with Hayden Hurst but he is a great option out of the slot and may see some action there this preseason.
0 rec on 3 targets
Jaleel Scott, the 4th round selection from New Mexico State University is another big body receiver from this class who can use his size to work corners and could be an option outside for the Ravens. I like Scott quite a bit and although he didn’t have the best first impression one target was overthrown by Lamar Jackson and he dropped another pass about 20 yards downfield. He was working with the 2nd and 3rd team and figures to see some action in future weeks. Keep an eye on him next week in case he flashes.
1 rec, 9 yards on 3 targets
Tennessee Titans @ Green Bay Packers
Akrum Wadley is a UDFA out of Iowa and was a solid runner both inside and outside in the Big 10 but many still had concerns over his size heading into the NFL. These concerns looked justified in his first preseason action as he really struggled going inside. He is battling with David Fluellen for the RB3 role this preseason and in my opinion still looked like the better back because he is great in the passing game. The Titans already have 2 great interior runners in Lewis and Henry and having a great pass catching back could be a good complement for them. He looked really good in space and on the outside but didn’t show a whole lot on the interior and fumbled once. I expect him to win the job but it will depend on what the Titans want as their RB3, a pass catcher or and an okay runner or a better runner and not so great pass catcher.
9 car, 27 yards. 3 rec, 11 yards on 3 targets
Marquez Valdes-Scantling didn’t see as much action with the 2nd team but saw a lot more in the second half with the 3rd team. I really liked what I saw from him both from a route running perspective and his ability to make contested catches. As a 5th round pick, you can’t really expect a lot but he had a great game and really showed some flashes. Caught a nice deep pass and another great slant with good separation. He had a great contested catch for a touchdown and I’m hoping to see more from him next week. It’s between him and St. Brown for me right now as the leading WR among the three rookies, many have said Scantling has been the most impressive in camps.
5 rec, 101 yards, TD on 7 targets
Marquez Valdes-Scantling with a nice touchdown catch in his Packers debut pic.twitter.com/iXrTFsSPnz
— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) August 10, 2018
Equanimeous St. Brown looked good as well working with the 2nd and 3rd team offense and he made a couple of big plays. He was able to get open and use those long strides when he got the ball. It’s important to know that he looked his best when he was targeted by his college quarterback Deshone Kizer and that chemistry was evident. He made plays all over the field and I can’t wait to see more from him in the coming weeks. St. Brown could work his way into the WR3 role if he continues to look good.
4 rec, 61 yards on 6 targets
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) August 10, 2018
J’Mon Moore was the highest WR taken by the Packers and got the most looks with the 2nd team. He did have a couple of drops on tough contested catches but really used his body well and can come down with big receptions, just, unfortunately, things didn’t go his way this week. He was targeted in the red zone and drew a pass interference flag which is good to see for his fantasy upside. He had the worst showing of the 3 rookies but has the ability to move up the depth chart and work his way into the WR rotation. Moore should be on your radar, he was the highest draft pick for a reason and don’t let one game make you give up on him.
3 rec, 27 yards on 7 targets.
Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs
Jordan Akins could see a sizeable role this year with the Texans having a wide-open race at the lead tight end spot. Coming from Central Florida he was a converted WR who has great ball skills and knows how to play both in line and split out due to his past. He showed well in his first game, with both of his catches coming for touchdowns. If Akins can become the top tight end in the system he should figure to have a good workload, especially when you consider the expectations for Watson. I like Akins as a sleeper tight end and with the 3rd round capital, people aren’t really talking about him enough simply because he’s older. He should be on your radar now, it may just be preseason but this is when you make that watch list of guys to track all year and Akins should be one on that list.
2 rec, 20 yards, 2 TDs on 2 targets.
Welcome to the NFL, Jordan Akins! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/paSsCMqBmA
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) August 10, 2018
Falcons vs Jets
Calvin Ridley was the Falcons 1st round pick in 2018 and did not see what you would expect from a rookie. He played with the 1st and 2nd team throughout his first action and caught one screen pass for a loss. I love his ability to separate and his ability in open space, unfortunately, we didn’t see any of that this week and hopefully the Falcons give us a little more next week.
1 rec, -2 yards on 1 target
Sam Darnold is the future of the New York Jets. They don’t need to look any further because he looked amazing or a rookie QB in his first game. He looked better than Baker and that’s with a bunch of castaways on the roster. If he can get some more talent or at least run with the 1st team instead of the 2nd he could look even better. There are reports he is expected to play with the 1st team in the next game and I can’t wait. He was putting the ball exactly where it needed to be, made quick decisions, threw the ball with conviction and only missed 5 passes 2 of which were dropped. A great first impression from Darnold and I would expect him to start the opener if he can continue to take strides forward.
13/18, 96 yards, TD. 2 car, 8 yards.
The No. 3 overall pick looked sharp in his preseason debut.
— NFL (@NFL) August 11, 2018
Ito Smith is a sneaky running back that everyone should be aware of right now. He is a very shifty RB listed as the 3rd string running back for the Falcons. He came out with the 2nd team in his first preseason game. He was also out there returning kicks which could provide a little bit of value. He has moved around but didn’t did do much with his limited snaps and there was a lot more from the later RBs after Smith and Tevin Coleman got a little bit of work.
2 car, 0 yards, 1 rec, -2 yards on 1 target
Trenton Cannon is a sleeper RB for the Jets that I think people need to take note of. He was a 6th round pick this year and was doing a bit of everything for the Jets. He was returning kickoffs, returned punts and dropped two which wasn’t ideal but looked good as a runner. With only Isiah Crowell who left the game with a head injury and Bilal Powell ahead of him on the depth chart, he may find a role in the offense if either of them gets hurt. Cannon is now on my radar and I hope everyone reading this does the same because while the Jets offense may be awful this year, he could have a path to playing time. He was breaking the first contact a lot when he was running through the middle and while he’s 3rd team right now I could see him moving up throughout the preseason.
11 car, 40 yards. 3 rec, 5 yards on 4 targets
Lions vs Raiders
Kerryon Johnson is looking like the three-down back everyone should have been projecting him as heading into draft season. Good luck trying to buy him now. Kerryon had an absolutely fantastic day running with the 2nd and 3rd team. He had a great stat line despite having a massive run called back on a holding penalty. He showed really well in the passing and the run game. Could easily work his way to become the starting running back for the Detroit Lions at some point this season. Abdullah and Blount did look good as well but, Kerryon showed out in his first NFL action.
7 car, 34 yards. 4 rec, 33 yards on 5 targets.
— Steve Frederick (@SportsGuyTweets) August 11, 2018
Brandon Powell is a very shifty slot type WR for the Lions and had a couple of flashes with the third team. He is blocked behind Golden Tate but it is worth noting that he looked strong, tough and had some grit for a player his size. I liked a what I saw and will see if he flashes at all later in the preseason.
5 rec, 34 yards on 6 targets
Chris Warren is a running back who was working with the 3rd team Raiders offense and had a couple of really nice inside runs and a big run hitting the edge. The big issue is there are 4 RBs ahead of him on the depth chart. He seems to be a long, long shot to make the roster. I’m going to keep looking for this guy in case he continues looking good and ends up moving to another team where he could have more of a clear path to playing time.
13 car, 86 yards
Big takeaway from last night: there’s serious competition amongst the RBs.
Undrafted rookie Chris Warren III looked promising in his first game. Punishes defenders, patient, always falling forward. pic.twitter.com/R3ymsoJQ2V
— Raider Nation Boston (@RaiderNationBOS) August 11, 2018
Vikings vs Broncos
Royce Freeman, the bell cow running back out of Oregon but not yet for the Broncos was not the starter this week but was given a lot of the 2nd team reps. He looked miles better then Devante Booker in almost every way. He looked great inside and outside running the ball. He did drop a pass in the flats but had a really nice TD run going up the middle juking the safety and walking in untouched from just over 20 yards out. There is a lot of reports of him looking like the eventual starter in camp and it showed in the game as well. I would expect him to start the 3rd pre-season game and if he continues to show well start the opener also.
4 car, 38 yards, TD. 0 rec on 1 target.
Broncos RB Royce Freeman with a 23-yard TD.pic.twitter.com/sWvCECmDTM
— LeadingNFL (@LeadingNFL) August 12, 2018
Roc Thomas out of Jacksonville State was electric in his first preseason action. He is currently in competition for the RB3 role on the Vikings and to me, it seems like it’s basically over with Mike Boone not looking that great and Thomas looking so good he didn’t even play in the second half. It’s important to note that while Thomas came to the NFL from a small school he was a 5-star recruit in high school and the 4th RB ranked in the country behind Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Sony Michel, but ahead of Nick Chubb and Royce Freeman. Make what you want of that list but it’s star-studded. He initially went to Auburn but transferred after his sophomore year because he lost playing time to Kerryon Johnson. He decided to play for his High school coach at JSU. The kid is electric and I would be picking him up while you still can.
8 car, 29 yards. 3 rec, 102 yards, 2 TDs.
Roc Thomas is FAST.pic.twitter.com/FIDtGRKva6
— LeadingNFL (@LeadingNFL) August 12, 2018
Courtland Sutton & DaeSean Hamilton the two WRs drafted this year by the Denver Broncos really didn’t see much action combining for 4 targets none of which were well thrown. Sutton somehow made a catch on a ball that was badly underthrown. They were both working with the second team offense which unfortunately for them meant they had to deal with the terrible play of Paxton Lynch that got him demoted to third string. Don’t take their performances as discouraging they literally had no chance to do much of anything. With Chad Kelly being promoted to the 2nd team I would expect a much different look for week 2 and hopefully some flashes from both prospects.
1 rec, 5 yards, 4 combined targets.
Phillip Lindsay is a pass catching back out of Colorado who looked REALLY good catching passes out of the backfield. He worked with the 2nd and 3rd team so he was able to work with Chad Kelly a bit. Kelly and Lindsey connected on an angle route for a touchdown. The elusiveness and quickness were on full display for many of his touches. He likely won’t get much work inside due to his size. I would take a closer look at this guy if you hadn’t already as a potential deep stash on the end of your dynasty roster. If he can carve out a role as the 3rd running back he could see some passing down work with how good he looked in this game.
2 car, 7 yards. 3 rec, 40 yards, TD on 4 targets.
— NFL (@NFL) August 12, 2018
Chargers vs Cardinals
Christian Kirk is the likely incumbent to Larry Fitzgerald and may get some work outside but he is best utilized in the slot. He saw a couple of short yardage targets and one that was a little off target but didn’t show a whole lot worth noting. He did have an electric punt return where you thought he could take it to the house but in a hilarious turn of events he slipped and fell. Kirk is one of the best rookie punter returners and I would expect this to be a regular sighting for him to break a big run on a return. He should get some more work next week with Josh Rosen while they continue to develop their chemistry in camp and throughout the preseason
2 rec, 9 yards on 3 targets.
Josh Rosen did not play with the 1st team for his first action but it has already been reported that he should see some 1st team reps for week 2. I really liked what I saw from him this week. He has good pocket awareness and his footwork both moving around and sliding in the pocket was impressive. He stood in there and took a couple of big hits as well. I would not expect him to start the year as the starter but he looked solid in his first action. Wasn’t afraid to throw into tight windows and his arm looked really good for the most part with a few bad throws. Looking forward to seeing more from Rosen throughout the preseason and if he and Kirk can get something going.
6/13 41 yards.
Nice job by Josh Rosen. Feels the quick pressure, resets, finds the open man pic.twitter.com/GZXgZ5yTkg
— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) August 12, 2018
Chase Edmonds is a dynamo running back and looks to serve as David Johnson’s primary backup. He ran a bit with the 1st and 2nd team and did have some issues going up the middle but he really didn’t get much work. He had one ridiculous touchdown run where he was literally horizontal near the goal line laying on defenders and fought his way for the extra 2 yards and a touchdown. Edmonds is one of my favorite sleeper running backs because he plays hard and can catch the ball even though we didn’t see it this week.
5 car, 11 yards, TD.
CHASE EDMONDS IS A BEAST pic.twitter.com/2J8vXZsiVj
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) August 12, 2018
That’s it for The Rookie Report for Preseason week 1. Enjoy all the football from preseason week 2 and expect another report coming out next week.