Fantasy News & Analysis

Preseason Week 1 Fantasy Football Game Recap: New Orleans Saints vs. Kansas City Chiefs

2RFPC1J Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire runs the ball during NFL football training camp Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, in St. Joseph, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

• The Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver competitions get some clarity: Kansas City used only four wide receivers with the starters, limiting Richie James and Justyn Ross to playing with the second team.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire could factor in: He was inactive in last year's Super Bowl, but he could have the inside track to the backup running back job on early downs.

Alvin Kamara starts for the New Orleans Saints: Kamara took most of the snaps with the starters, and while that’s not bad news, it might not be great news either.

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The Kansas City wide receiver room becomes a little more clear: The Chiefs have seven wide receivers who could realistically see significant playing time this season, but only four played with the starters Sunday.

  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and Justin Watson started the game, and second-round rookie Rashee Rice also saw time with the starters.
  • Kadarius Toney has been dealing with an injury, so he didn’t play.
  • Valdes-Scantling, Moore and Watson played only the first two drives. Rice continued to see snaps with the backups, with free agent addition Richie James and Justyn Ross also starting to see playing time.
  • Valdes-Scantling and Watson are both low-target-share players with high average target depths, making them unlikely options to be great fantasy players.
  • The wide receiver rotation was good news for Moore and Rice, as neither was losing playing time to James or Ross.
  • None of the three starting wide receivers recorded a target. James made a 43-yard catch and scored a touchdown on the same drive with the second team, so it’s at least possible he mixes in more going forward.
  • This situation could evolve throughout the preseason and regular season, but at the moment, Moore and Rice are both worth late-round gambles in case they can become a favorite target of Patrick Mahomes.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire starts for Kansas City: Edwards-Helaire started instead of Jerick McKinnon. Isiah Pacheco was out with hand and shoulder injuries.

  • In recent seasons, Kansas City has utilized a primary early-down back, a secondary early-down back and a receiving back. For much of last season, Jerick McKinnon handled the latter two roles.
  • Edwards-Helaire was the primary early-down back for the start of last season and at times was the secondary early-down back once Pacheco emerged.
  • If Edwards-Helaire regains that early-down role, it would reduce McKinnon’s snaps and make it harder to trust him for fantasy football purposes.
  • It’s also entirely possible Kansas City just wanted to limit the 31-year-old in the preseason, using him only for third downs.
  • Undrafted rookie Deneric Prince has also received his fair share of training camp buzz, but he didn’t see any playing time until after the starters were done. He does appear to be fourth on the depth chart currently, which isn’t bad for this point of the preseason.

Alvin Kamara takes most of the first-team snaps: The suspended running back remains the starter despite the additions of Jamaal Williams and Kendre Miller.

  • Kamara took each of the first seven snaps for the Saints. Jamaal Williams then handled two plays before Kamara returned.
  • The former All-Pro stayed on the field near the goal line despite how well Williams played in those situations last season.
  • While this certainly isn’t bad news for Kamara, it also might not be as good as it seems.
  • The Saints traditionally make several substitutions from one play to the next, using players based on the formation and personnel.
  • New Orleans did this to an extent at tight end in this game, but they didn’t at wide receiver or running back. They similarly weren’t doing this in the first preseason game last season.
  • Chris Olave played every snap of the first drive of the preseason last season but played more than 77% of snaps only once in the regular season. He was back to playing every snap on the first drive this preseason.
  • This just means Kamara is ahead of Williams and Miller on the depth chart — not necessarily an indicator of what situations each player will play in.
  • Miller played his first snap late in the first quarter, joining Tank Bigsby as the only rookie running backs to play in the first quarter in a game where the starting running back also played. Although, unlike Bigsby, none of Miller’s snaps were with the starters.
  • We probably won’t know how the Saints will distribute their snaps among their three running backs until Kamara’s suspension is over.

Juwan Johnson remains the Saints’ receiving tight end: The Saints added several tight ends this offseason, but Johnson remains the primary receiver.

  • He and free agent addition Foster Moreau shared time with the starters, but Johnson was consistently on the field in clear passing situations over Moreau.
  • New Orleans also brought back Jimmy Graham, who didn’t see any playing time until the second team took the field.
  • Taysom Hill remains a tight end and might play a higher percentage of his snaps there this year after the Saints added more running backs. He also didn’t see any snaps until later in the game.
  • Johnson won’t see as much playing time as other receiving tight ends with how much New Orleans loves to rotate players, but that was true last season and was clear before this game.
  • He was targeted on two passes for 29 yards.
  • What happened in this game was the best-case scenario for Johnson, even though it won’t move him much in the rankings or in average draft position.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce played on the first drive for Kansas City and then sat out earlier than the rest of the Chiefs’ starters.

Second-year receiver Rashid Shaheed is expected to be the Saints’ third receiver over Keith Kirkwood, but he suffered a groin injury earlier in the week. He’s expected to miss a few weeks but should be ready for Week 1.

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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