Preseason Week 1 Fantasy Football Game Recap: Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts

2REJ9J7 Buffalo Bills wide receiver Deonte Harty (11) runs with the ball during practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., Thursday, July 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

Deonte Harty is the Bills’ slot wide receiver: Harty didn’t see as much playing time as some other receivers, but he was consistently in the slot in three-receiver sets.

Dalton Kincaid makes his NFL debut: Kincaid played all six snaps with the Bills' first-team offense.

Evan Hull starts over Deon Jackson: The fifth-round rookie is currently the Colts’ starting running back, but a lot of things could change in the next few weeks.

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James Cook is unsurprisingly the early favorite for Buffalo: Cook played every snap on the Bills’ first two drives.

  • He ran on four of those six plays, gaining 20 yards and a touchdown.
  • This isn’t all that surprising, considering the Bills typically rotated their running backs by drive rather than situation and Cook is at the top of the depth chart.
  • Damien Harris missed this game with a knee injury.
  • Latavius Murray entered the game once Cook exited.
  • If anything, it’s surprising that a 33-year-old Murray is playing in the preseason.
  • Cook is a breakout running back contender, but this game shouldn’t move the needle on his fantasy value.

Deonte Harty is the early favorite for the slot wide receiver role: Harty was consistently the Bills' slot receiver in the first half.

  • Gabe Davis started on the outside as he did all last season, with Trent Sherfield taking Stefon Diggs’ spot opposite Davis.
  • The Bills used 12 personnel on their first drive and then switched to three-wide receiver sets on the second drive.
  • Harty was the third wide receiver. He played in the slot on two of those three plays, with Davis playing in the slot on the other rep.
  • The Bills subbed out several players who started after those two drives, including Davis and Sherfield.
  • Harty continued playing in the slot with the other backups, with Khalil Shakir and Justin Shorter playing on the outside.
  • This suggests that Harty will be the primary slot receiver this season with Sherfield joining when Diggs or Davis need time off.
  • Shakir seemed like an up-and-coming player for the Bills late last season, but it appears he has fallen back down to fifth on the depth chart.

Dalton Kincaid plays with the starters: Kincaid played all six snaps with Buffalo’s first team.

  • The Bills' first drive featured three straight runs out of 12 personnel. Kincaid and Knox lined up on the same side of the field for all three plays, with Knox on the outside and Kincaid on the inside.
  • The Bills used 11 personnel on the second drive with Kincaid on the field for all three plays. This could just be Knox exiting the game before others, which, given his experience, is a believable theory.
  • This could also mean Kincaid has already surpassed Knox as the top tight end in 11 personnel, which also wouldn’t be surprising.
  • Kincaid took one snap from a traditional tight end position on the drive but lined up in the slot for the other two plays.
  • The Bills could easily rest starters in other preseason games, so we might not know how much they will use Kincaid or Knox until after Week 1. What is clear is that Kincaid will see some playing with the starters immediately.

Evan Hull starts over Deon Jackson: Hull received the snaps on the first drive, with Jackson taking the second drive.

  • The two continued to rotate throughout the first four drives.
  • They played in place of Jonathan Taylor, who is holding out, and Zack Moss, who is dealing with a broken arm.
  • When two players are rotating like this in the preseason, it’s typically the veteran who gets the start. The fact that Hull started is a good sign he can remain ahead of Jackson on the depth chart.
  • Jackson put up better numbers rushing with the ball, but Hull caught two passes for 18 yards, compared to no targets for Jackson.
  • The Colts signed Kenyan Drake, who didn’t receive his first carry until late in the third quarter, but it wouldn’t be surprising for Drake to move up the depth chart, considering he’s been on the team for only a week.
  • Indianapolis also pursued Kareem Hunt a few days ago.
  • It’s fine to be cautiously optimistic about Hull because he received the start, but the biggest takeaway is that Jackson doesn’t seem to be a significant part of the team’s running back plans despite his big games last season.

Isaiah McKenzie is the third wide receiver for now: The former Bill played in three-receiver sets.

  • He caught three passes for 20 yards in his revenge game.
  • Michael Pittman Jr. and Alec Pierce started on the outside and played every snap with the starters, which was unsurprising based on how they were used last season and the lack of depth at the position.
  • McKenzie’s biggest competition will come from third-round rookie Josh Downs.
  • Downs played in the slot with the second team and caught two first-down passes for a total of 29 yards.
  • Downs was leading the team in receiving yards after the first three quarters.
  • The rookie is expected to take over at some point. It didn’t happen in this game, but it will be interesting to see if Downs gets opportunities with the starters over the next two preseason contests.

Miscellaneous Notes

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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