Fantasy Football Lessons Learned in NFL Preseason Week 1
You often hear people say that preseason football doesn’t matter. It’s just backups playing against each other while coaches call vanilla schemes afraid to give anything away… right? Insert Charlie Murphy GIF: Wrong! Well not totally, a lot of the action from Preseason Week 1 was backups and a lot of the play calling can look vanilla at times. But, it doesn’t mean we cannot take some lessons away from the preseason games and the news that follow them!
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Preseason Week 1 Lessons
Chris Godwin in the Slot
Chris Godwin was a player I thought I would have a ton of shares of this season… and then I realized that everyone who has ever heard of fantasy football had the same idea. The first preseason game did nothing to put out that hype, in fact, it did the exact opposite. Godwin not only played all 12 snaps with the ones but whenever the Bucs ran three wide receiver sets, Godwin was moving into the slot. That is vital, as we already know what playing in the slot can do for a player’s fantasy value, especially considering Jameis Winston averaged 11.8 passes to the slot per game last season. I am not sure Godwin’s ADP can climb much higher, but nothing is happening to put a damper on it.
Devin Singletary Worth the Hype
Singletary is a player I have been backing since prior to the NFL Draft. If you were following my NFL Draft content, you may remember I wrote that the kid reminds me of a less athletic LeSean McCoy. Fast-forward a few months and I am still backing him as the Bills running back to draft this season. Singletary may have only finished with nine carries for 27 yards (3.0 YPC) but he looked more impressive than the numbers show. First, he caught all three of his targets for 21 yards, albeit from Matt Barkley. Still, he had an impressive short yard run where he looked bottled up at the line of scrimmage on third down, but found an opening and burst down for the first and more. He also made a nice play to avoid a defender after the catch and gain valuable yards. His ADP is climbing after Preseason Week 1, but he can still be had as an RB4 and has the upside to steal the job away from LeSean McCoy. If Singletary can play well enough to convince the Bills to move on from McCoy, or at the very least, steal a good portion of the touches away, there is plenty of upside for him to return on that investment. Remember, the Bills ran the ball 46.4 percent of the time in 2018, the fifth highest in the NFL, so there is work for multiple backs.
Chiefs Running Backs
The Chiefs running backs have been the talk of the fantasy football community for the past week. First, there was going to be an RBBC, and then Darwin Thompson became a league-winner overnight. However, recent reports have indicated that Damien Williams is once again getting the vast majority of the reps with the ones. Another report, from a different Chiefs beat reporter, indicated that the Chiefs used two running backs in goal-line team drills: Williams and Thompson.
Thompson is gaining steam and his ADP is climbing a bit but he can still be had as an RB5 right now and is a worthy late-round flier. Remember, you want any back that will lead this team in touches. But, for the time being, it seems like Damien Williams is back on!
Kyler Murray is Going to Be Fun
The only real skepticism on Kyler Murray has been his size. But even in a small sample Murray showed off his speed, quickness, poise, and a strong arm. Murray completed six of seven pass attempts for 44 yards, even avoiding pressure and rolling out for a completion at one point. He is not only going to be a ton of fun to watch, but his upside is tremendous in fantasy football. He has moved into my Tier 2 of QBs with other league winning upside slingers such as Cam Newton, Matt Ryan, and Baker Mayfield.
For those wondering, the Cardinals ran 11-personnel on nine of the 11 snaps Murray was out there. That means that they were running with three wide receivers, a running back, and a tight end. Think like what the Rams do – as they ran 11 personnel more than any team last season. And for those curious this is how the targets broke down from Murray: Damiere Byrd two, Trent Sherfield two, David Johnson 1, KeeSean Johnson one and Larry Fitzgerald one.
Bills Receiving Core
The Bills also showed a lot about their starting receivers in Week 1 of the preseason. Josh Allen played 18 snaps last week, with John Brown playing 17, Cole Beasley 13, Andre Roberts 11, Zay Jones nine and Robert Foster… zero. It is surprising to see Foster not in at all with the ones after he and Allen showed to have a real connection at the end of last season. However, Brown is clearly going to be the WR1 here and with Allen looking to throw down the field on basically every play (that may be slight hyperbole), the two can be a nice pair. However, it is worth mentioning that Allen attempted 11 passes and five of them went to Jones. While it does seem that Beasley will man the slot for the Bills, I expect Jones to be used all around the field when they go into three wide receiver sets. With all that said, this looks like a scenario to attack in best-ball and avoid what could be a maddening situation throughout the season.
Jets Receiving Core
The Jets were also a team that showed their hand when it came to the starting receivers. It was a small sample size, but Sam Darnold played seven snaps last week and Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, and Quincy Enunwa played all seven. They were the only receivers to see the field. Darnold threw five times, targeting Jamison Crowder twice, while Enunwa, Chris Herndon and Ty Montgomery each saw one target apiece. Crowder was able to take those two targets and turn it into 31 yards and a touchdown, the big play being a 28-yard reception. Darnold threw to the slot over 11 times per game last season, so Crowder manning the slot certainly has strong fantasy football value.
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What were your big takeaways from preseason Week 1? Let us know in the comments below!
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Michael Florio is the winner of the 2018 FSWA Baseball Article of the Year and was a finalist for the 2017 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year. He has hosted video/radio shows, written for a number of print and web publications including the AP, NY Daily News and much more!
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