Preseason Week 1 Fantasy Football Game Recap: Washington Commanders vs. Cleveland Browns

2RGW4CY Washington Commanders wide receiver Jahan Dotson scores against the Cleveland Brownsduring the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • Elijah Moore’s training camp hype carries into the preseason Week 1: The Cleveland Browns WR was used in a variety of ways, including out of the backfield.
  • The Washington Commanders continue their usual rotations: Trends from 2022 continued, including Curtis Samuel playing in 11 personnel and Antonio Gibson playing on later downs.
  • The Commanders increased personnel diversity: The Commanders used some formations in the first three drives that they rarely used last season, including one they never used.

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Washington Commanders @ Cleveland Browns

Monitor the Elijah Moore injury: Moore suffered a ribs injury on the Browns' first drive, but X-rays have already come back negative.

  • He played every snap on the Browns' first drive in three- or four-receiver sets but not in any of their one or two-receiver sets.
  • This suggests he will remain third on the depth chart behind Donovan Peoples-Jones and Amari Cooper, at least in terms of playing time.
  • He took two snaps out of the backfield and is the only wide receiver to take snaps at running back in the first quarter of a preseason game this year.
  • He took a carry out of this set for 18 yards.
  • Seeing some rushing production is a big bonus to his fantasy upside, making him an interesting late-round sleeper.

New offensive coordinator, same offensive trends for Commanders: Washington played its healthy starters, and the offensive snap trends were very similar to last season even though Eric Bieniemy is the team's new offensive coordinator.

  • Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson continued to split offensive snaps, as they did last season, with the general trend of Robinson playing more on early downs and Gibson playing more on late downs.
  • Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson were almost always the receivers in two-receiver sets while Curtis Samuel joined for 11 personnel sets.
  • While playing time was similar to last season, we already started to see more personnel diversity.
  • Washington never used 21 personnel last season, but the Commanders used it once with the starters Friday night. They also only used 20 personnel three times all of last season and already used it once with the starters.

Miscellaneous notes

  • Tight end Logan Thomas was among the few Commanders ruled out before the game. He’s dealing with a calf injury and the team is being cautious.
  • John Bates had been the primary backup tight end last season, followed by Cole Turner, but Turner played most of the snaps with the starters Friday night, suggesting there might be a new primary backup.
  • The Browns declared the following players out before the game: running back Jerome Ford, wide receivers Jakeem Grant Sr., Mike Woods II, Jaelon Darden, Marquise Goodwin, and tight end Harrison Bryant.
  • Nick Chubb and Amari Cooper also didn’t play, which was similar to last preseason.
  • The Browns started a game without a running back, and John Kelly Jr. took the first offensive snaps. Demetric Felton performed better, which probably means the battle for the third running back spot is still close.
  • Third-round rookie Cedric Tillman is clearly established as the team’s fourth wide receiver at this point, replacing Cooper among the starters instead of David Bell or Anthony Schwartz.
  • Jordan Akins missed the Hall of Fame Game but was healthy enough to play Friday night. He played in every two- and three-tight end set with the starters and took over as the primary tight end with the backups.

Table notes
  • Snaps include plays called back due to penalties, including offensive holding or defensive pass interference. The other three stats have these plays removed.
  • Targets may differ from official NFL sources. The most likely discrepancy would be from a clear thrown-away pass, where the NFL may give the target to the nearest receiver, while this data will not.
  • Carries are only on designed plays. Quarterback scrambles won’t count for the total number of carries in the game.
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