Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football Recap: Key takeaways from Week 1 of the 2021 NFL preseason

Aug 14, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (1) hands the ball off to Miami Dolphins running back Malcolm Brown (34) during their game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Eileen T. Meslar-USA TODAY Sports

The first full week of the 2021 NFL preseason wrapped up with the Colts and Panthers on Sunday. The first full, four-day stretch with all 32 teams playing offered plenty of action, with a rookie quarterback stealing the show.

PFF's fantasy football recap focuses on player usage and stats, breaking down all the vital information you need to achieve fantasy success in 2021.

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Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis Colts

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Carolina Panthers Indianapolis Colts
WR WR
Terrace Marshall Jr. – 18 snaps Michael Strachan – 16 snaps
Brandon Zylstra – 15 snaps Dezmon Patmon – 15 snaps
David Moore – 14 snaps Parris Campbell – 10 snaps
Omar Bayless – 4 snaps
Shi Smith – 2 snaps
TE TE
Colin Thompson – 15 snaps Farrod Green – 16 snaps
Tommy Tremble – 13 snaps Jordan Thomas – 4 snaps
Kylen Granson – 3 snaps
QB QB
Phillip Walker – 21 snaps Jacob Eason – 16 snaps
HB HB
Chuba Hubbard – 20 snaps Marlon Mack – 11 snaps
Rod Smith – 3 snaps Jordan Wilkins – 5 snaps
Spencer Brown – 1 snap
Total – 21 snaps Total – 16 snaps

Move Terrace Marshall Jr. up the rankings: The Panthers’ usage of their second-round pick was exciting. Marshall lined up in a number of different wide receiver positions throughout the game — a sign he can be used interchangeably in the offense and could step up if one of Carolina’s two starters is injured. He saw two end zone targets and also made the biggest play of the first half, hauling in a 60-yard catch from Phillip Walker

Move Parris Campbell down the rankings: Campbell produced the biggest highlight for the Colts’ first-team offense, but there is a lot not to like about his situation. He was listed on the second team on the Colts’ depth chart, and Indianapolis didn’t play its starters, meaning the third-year WR is likely a backup at this point. He only played in three-receiver sets, so even if he does move back into the starting lineup, he will only be a part-time player.

Don’t Overreact to Chuba Hubbard: The third-round rookie played every snap with the starters. The only problem is that the Panthers didn’t have three of the top four running backs on their depth chart in the game, so this didn’t offer any indication of where Hubbard really sits on the depth chart or how he might be used if Christian McCaffrey were injured.

Don’t Draft Kylen Granson: The Colts used a fourth-round pick on the tight end who seemed destined for playing time in Week 1, but he is fighting for the fourth spot on the depth chart. Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox sat out the game. Farrod Green, a 2020 undrafted rookie, is clearly ahead of Granson based on his every-down role in this game. Granson rotated in and out with Jordan Thomas whenever the Colts used a three-tight-end set.

Welcome Back Marlon Mack: Mack suffered a season-ending torn Achilles in Week 1 last season. It’s rare for running backs to return to form after this injury, but Mack led the Colts running backs in this one. It’s hard to take too much away from the performance with Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines resting, but it was good to see that he has recovered enough to play in the preseason regardless.


Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams

  • Josh Palmer: 6 targets, 6 receptions, 36 yards (5.5 ADOT)
  • Xavier Jones: 6 carries, 21 yards, 3 targets, 2 receptions, 6 yards (0 first downs)

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Rams
WR WR
Jalen Guyton – 25 snaps Trishton Jackson – 14 snaps
Josh Palmer – 17 snaps Tutu Atwell – 10 snaps
K.J. Hill – 14 snaps J.J. Koski – 9 snaps
Tyron Johnson – 10 snaps Bennett Skowronek – 4 snaps
Jason Moore – 4 snaps
TE TE
Donald Parham – 17 snaps Brycen Hopkins – 8 snaps
Tre' McKitty – 13 snaps Jacob Harris – 6 snaps
Stephen Anderson – 8 snaps Kyle Markway – 5 snaps
QB QB
Chase Daniel – 29 snaps Devlin Hodges – 14 snaps
HB HB
Joshua Kelley – 19 snaps Xavier Jones – 9 snaps
Justin Jackson – 10 snaps Jake Funk – 5 snaps
Total – 29 snaps Total – 14 snaps

Draft Xavier Jones as the Rams backup: The Rams didn’t use the majority of starters and key backups, but they allowed their backup running back battle play out to start the game. Jones took nearly all of the snaps on the first drive, while he and Jake Funk split snaps on the following few drives. Jones extended his lead on the backup job based on his play.

Don’t draft the Rams rookie receivers: The Rams didn’t use their top four wide receivers or top two tight ends tonight. That alone gives Tutu Atwell and Jacob Harris a long road to playing time. Their path is harder, given that Trishton Jackson played every down with the starters and caught a first-half touchdown pass.

Avoid the Chargers' backup RBs: The Chargers split playing time between Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley on the first drive, with Jackson used more on early downs and Kelley more on late downs. Rookie Larry Rountree III didn’t see playing time until the second half. Even if Austin Ekeler gets hurt during the season, all three will split time taking his place.

Don’t Draft Tyron Johnson: The Chargers rested their top two wide receivers tonight. The battle for the third spot seems more in between Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer, with Johnson far behind. Guyton dominated the playing time in this game, but Palmer dominated the stat sheet. One of those two could be worth drafting for their potential opportunities.


Seattle Seahawks at Las Vegas Raiders

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Seattle Seahawks
Las Vegas Raiders
WR WR
Freddie Swain – 14 snaps Zay Jones – 13 snaps
Aaron Fuller – 14 snaps John Brown – 7 snaps
Cody Thompson – 9 snaps Willie Snead IV – 5 snaps
John Ursua – 2 snaps Keelan Doss – 2 snaps
TE TE
Cam Sutton – 9 snaps Nick Bowers – 10 snaps
Dominick Wood-Anderson – 8 snaps Derek Carrier – 9 snaps
Alex Ellis – 7 snaps
Matt Bushman – 2 snaps
QB QB
Geno Smith – 13 snaps Nathan Peterman – 14 snaps
Alex McGough – 1 snap
HB HB
Alex Collins – 14 snaps Trey Ragas – 11 snaps
BJ Emmons – 3 snaps
Total – 14 snaps Total – 14 snaps

Draft Bryan Edwards: Few players have received as much hype as Edwards this offseason. The Raiders didn’t play any of their starters and included Edwards as one of those who remained on the sideline, so there is more evidence he’s won a starting job.

Don’t Draft DeeJay Dallas: Dallas put up some good numbers, but Alex Collins played all of the first-team snaps tonight. And with Seattle's top three backs rested tonight, opportunities will be hard to come by for the second-year back.

Add Trey Ragas in deep dynasty leagues: The undrafted rookie currently sits fourth on the depth chart, but he made a case to move up one spot. He was the focal point of the offense despite the Raiders largely using backups and third-string players. If he makes the roster, he could be one injury away from significant playing time.


Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Kansas City Chiefs
San Francisco 49ers
WR WR
Demarcus Robinson – 10 snaps Brandon Aiyuk – 12 snaps
Tyreek Hill – 8 snaps Deebo Samuel – 8 snaps
Mecole Hardman – 5 snaps Trent Sherfield – 4 snaps
Byron Pringle – 4 snaps Jauan Jennings – 4 snaps
TE TE
Travis Kelce – 7 snaps Charlie Woerner – 11 snaps
Blake Bell – 3 snaps Ross Dwelley – 4 snaps
Noah Gray – 3 snaps
QB QB
Chad Henne – 7 snaps Jimmy Garoppolo – 8 snaps
Patrick Mahomes – 4 snaps Trey Lance – 4 snaps
HB HB
Clyde Edwards-Helaire – 10 snaps Trey Sermon – 10 snaps
Darrel Williams – 1 snap Wayne Gallman – 2 snaps
Total – 11 snaps Total – 12 snaps

Draft Trey Lance: Lance was given two drives with the starters, an opportunity his fellow first-round backup quarterbacks didn't receive. Yes, his box score stats didn’t look great, but that's partly because his receivers dropped four passes. The bottom line is that this performance adds to the mountain of evidence that Lance will be a starting quarterback sooner rather than later.

Stay cautiously optimistic on a Mecole Hardman breakout: The snap count looks discouraging, but Hardman played a clear role. He played 100% of snaps in three-receiver sets and 0% of snaps in two-receiver sets. Kansas City will run more of the former in the regular season, so this should mean a net increase in playing time for Hardman.

Ignore the Clyde Edwards-Helaire snap count: Edwards-Helaire took the first 10 snaps before he made way for Darrel Williams, who took the last snap with the first team and proceeded to see another six snaps after that. This is not how the backs will be used in the regular season. Edwards-Helaire is the clear starter and deserving of a second-round fantasy pick, but we still don't know how much playing time he'll receive.

Don’t Draft Wayne Gallman: Gallman was a late-round option in drafts in case he started the season as the backup to Raheem Mostert. However, third-round rookie Trey Sermon has already surpassed him on the depth chart, meaning Gallman will be the third-string back, at best.


Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers

  • Jace Sternberger: 3 targets, 3 rec., 35 yards (4.7 yards after the catch per reception)
  • Chris Conley: 4 targets, 4 rec., 51 yards (3-for-3 on contested targets)

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Houston Texans
Green Bay Packers
WR WR
Chris Conley – 10 snaps Devin Funchess – 6 snaps
Nico Collins – 10 snaps Malik Taylor – 6 snaps
Keke Coutee – 4 snaps Amari Rodgers – 5 snaps
TE TE
Antony Auclair – 9 snaps Jace Sternberger – 4 snaps
Ryan Izzo – 4 snaps Isaac Nauta – 3 snaps
Brevin Jordan – 2 snaps
Paul Quessenberry – 1 snap
QB QB
Tyrod Taylor – 10 snaps Jordan Love – 6 snaps
HB HB
Phillip Lindsay – 8 snaps A.J. Dillon – 6 snaps
David Johnson – 2 snaps
Total – 10 snaps Total – 6 snaps

Don’t draft David Johnson: The Texans have four potential contributors at running back this season, and two of them didn’t play tonight. Johnson was restricted to a third-down role, which he played with the starters as well as the first drive with backups. Phillip Lindsay took all of the first-team snaps on first and second downs, but he could lose some of those snaps when the other backs are available.

Don’t draft Texans wide receivers not named Brandin Cooks: Cooks didn’t play tonight, so Houston used the opportunity to rotate their pass-catchers heavily. Anthony Miller and Alex Erickson rotated during the second drive, while Chris Moore came in in the third. All six switched in and out throughout the first half. This situation will evolve as the season goes on.

Monitor Jace Sternberger and Robert Tonyan: The 2019 third-round pick has recently received playing time with the starters after two disappointing seasons. Green Bay rested all of its starting skill players today, but Sternberger shined. The more snaps Sternberger can earn with the starters, the fewer opportunities Tonyan will get.


New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

New Orleans Saints
Baltimore Ravens
WR WR
Marquez Callaway – 20 snaps Devin Duvernay – 8 snaps
Lil'Jordan Humphrey – 18 snaps James Proche – 8 snaps
Ty Montgomery – 14 snaps Jaylon Moore – 6 snaps
TE TE
Adam Trautman – 15 snaps Josh Oliver – 8 snaps
Nick Vannett – 7 snaps Eric Tomlinson – 2 snaps
Juwan Johnson – 4 snaps
QB QB
Taysom Hill – 20 snaps Trace McSorley – 8 snaps
HB HB
Latavius Murray – 15 snaps J.K. Dobbins – 8 snaps
Devonta Freeman – 5 snaps
Total – 20 snaps Total – 8 snaps

Move Adam Trautman down fantasy rankings: Trautman is one of the most hyped tight ends in fantasy football. However, he didn’t receive a single target in the game tonight, and he pass-blocked on three of his nine pass plays.

Take a late-round shot on Marquez Callaway: The Saints wide receiver situation is in limbo with Mitchael Thomas and Tre’Quan Smith out injured. Callaway took every snap with the starters and was Taysom Hill‘s favorite target. He could remain a starter even when other receivers are healthy.

Draft Devin Duvernay in very deep leagues: Ravens first-round rookie Rashod Bateman is injured and might miss some time in the regular season. Baltimore will need a backup receiver to step up, and Duvernay might be that player. He led the starters in snaps and led them in targets. He’s traditionally a slot receiver but played the majority of snaps on the outside tonight.


Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Cleveland Browns
Jacksonville Jaguars
WR WR
Rashard Higgins – 22 snaps Marvin Jones Jr. – 13 snaps
Donovan Peoples-Jones – 15 snaps Collin Johnson – 13 snaps
KhaDarel Hodge – 11 snaps Laviska Shenault Jr. – 9 snaps
Demetric Felton – 8 snaps Laquon Treadwell – 4 snaps
Jamal Agnew – 2 snaps
TE TE
Harrison Bryant – 16 snaps James O'Shaughnessy – 11 snaps
Jordan Franks – 10 snaps Chris Manhertz – 7 snaps
Stephen Carlson – 7 snaps Ben Ellefson – 1 snap
Connor Davis – 2 snaps
QB QB
Case Keenum – 25 snaps Trevor Lawrence – 15 snaps
HB HB
D'Ernest Johnson – 14 snaps James Robinson – 7 snaps
John Kelly – 11 snaps Travis Etienne – 5 snaps
Carlos Hyde – 3 snaps
Total – 25 snaps Total – 15 snaps

Move Marvin Jones Jr. up your rankings: Jones and Collin Johnson lined up as the outside receivers for the majority of plays with the first team. The veteran appears to be Trevor Lawrence‘s favorite target, and that relationship should only grow. He was already a sleeper WR, and the chances of a big season are getting larger.

Second-guess Laviska Shenault Jr. as the Jaguars WR1: Shenault was limited to snaps in the slot when the starters lined up in 11 personnel. And Laquon Treadwell even took snaps in 12 personnel over Shenault at times. The Jaguars did find a way to get Shenault the ball in his limited time, but it will be hard to lead Jacksonville in that kind of restricted role.

Worry about the three-man backfield in Jacksonville: James Robinson, Carlos Hyde and Travis Etienne played with the starters, each seeing a few snaps in a row before being replaced. This is likely a generic way of using the backs, and they should garner more defined roles once the season starts. Nevertheless, the fact that it’s a three-man rotation should leave fantasy managers concerned.

Make Donovan Peoples-Jones your last pick in fantasy drafts: The Browns played without their top two running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, leaving little to take away from the game. Peoples-Jones and Rashard Higgins are fighting for the third receiver spot this offseason, and the second-year pass-catcher was a popular target in the first half of the game. Peoples-Jones ranked 10th in yards per route run at 2.34 last season.


New York Jets at New York Giants

  • Corey Davis: 4 targets, 2 rec., 18 yards (100% threat rate)
  • Ty Johnson: 9 carries, 33 yards (2 explosive runs)

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

New York Jets
New York Giants
WR WR
Keelan Cole – 21 snaps Darius Slayton – 13 snaps
Vyncint Smith – 13 snaps Dante Pettis – 12 snaps
Jamison Crowder – 9 snaps C.J. Board – 11 snaps
Corey Davis – 9 snaps David Sills – 8 snaps
Jeff Smith – 1 snap Alex Bachman – 1 snap
TE TE
Tyler Kroft – 14 snaps Kaden Smith – 18 snaps
Ryan Griffin – 7 snaps Cole Hikutini – 7 snaps
Trevon Wesco – 7 snaps
Chris Herndon – 7 snaps
QB QB
Zach Wilson – 22 snaps Mike Glennon – 18 snaps
HB HB
Ty Johnson – 13 snaps Devontae Booker – 11 snaps
Michael Carter – 9 snaps Corey Clement – 7 snaps
Total – 22 snaps Total – 18 snaps

Slow down on the Michael Carter hype: Carter ranks first among Jets backs in ADP, but he was the second-string back for this game. Carter and Ty Johnson split snaps on early downs with the starters, while Johnson received all of the third-down snaps. Tevin Coleman didn’t play in this game, but he will also factor into the rotation.

Draft Corey Davis before his ADP: Davis played nine of the first 11 snaps, and that was good enough to get excited about. He was targeted on each of his pass routes and should dominate threat rate (percentage of targeted routes) in the regular season, too.

Draft Devontae Booker to handcuff Saquon Barkley: Reports have been positive on Barkley, but it’s good to have a backup plan in deeper leagues. Booker received the first two drives with the Giants offense, while Corey Clement took over after that. Booker won’t see 100% of snaps if Barkley misses a game, but the Giants seem comfortable putting him on the field for all three downs.

Avoid all Jets tight ends: The Jets used two-tight end sets heavily throughout the game, utilizing a four-man rotation. One player could emerge as the top option at some point, but this situation is best avoided.

Don’t draft Denzel Mims: Outside of players with significant injuries, Mims has been the biggest ADP-faller in fantasy football over recent months. The Jets had five receivers playing ahead of Mims, and another two receivers were unavailable. He could work his way up the depth chart and still not see playing time in the regular season.


Cincinnati Bengals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Cincinnati Bengals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
WR WR
Tee Higgins – 6 snaps Mike Evans – 6 snaps
Ja'Marr Chase – 6 snaps Chris Godwin – 6 snaps
Tyler Boyd – 4 snaps Antonio Brown – 4 snaps
TE TE
C.J. Uzomah – 5 snaps Rob Gronkowski – 6 snaps
Drew Sample – 3 snaps O.J. Howard – 2 snaps
QB QB
Brandon Allen – 6 snaps Tom Brady – 6 snaps
HB HB
Joe Mixon – 4 snaps Giovani Bernard – 2 snaps
Samaje Perine – 2 snaps Leonard Fournette – 2 snaps
Ronald Jones – 2 snaps
Total – 6 snaps Total – 6 snaps

Get used to three backs in Tampa Bay: The Tampa Bay backfield was hard enough to figure out last season — when it was mostly two running backs. Then, of course, Giovani Bernard was added this offseason, and he played both of the third-down snaps with the first team in his Bucs debut. Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette were already falling down draft boards because of Bernard's clear role. That trend will continue.

Monitor the Bucs tight ends: Rob Gronkowski played every snap with the starters, while O.J. Howard played in two-tight end sets and continued with the second team. Cameron Brate missed this game, so it is hard to gauge anything from these six snaps. This could be a heavy three-player rotation.

Don’t worry about Joe Mixon: The Bengals only used their starters for one drive. Mixon played the first four offensive snaps and then got the night off two plays earlier than his teammates. There is nothing to read into here.

Consider C.J. Uzomah in TE-premium leagues with two starting TEs: Uzomah missed nearly all of the 2020 season but appears to have already regained his starting role. The only snap he missed was a run play on first down. The Bengals' tight end isn’t an ideal situation to target in fantasy, but Uzomah will see more volume than several other starting tight ends.


Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Denver Broncos Minnesota Vikings
WR WR
Jerry Jeudy – 15 snaps K.J. Osborn – 18 snaps
K.J. Hamler – 13 snaps Ihmir Smith-Marsette – 16 snaps
Tyrie Cleveland – 6 snaps Dan Chisena – 10 snaps
Kendall Hinton – 1 snap
Trinity Benson – 1 snap
TE TE
Eric Saubert – 13 snaps Brandon Dillon – 17 snaps
Noah Fant – 8 snaps Zach Davidson – 10 snaps
Adam Prentice – 5 snaps Shane Zylstra – 1 snap
QB QB
Drew Lock – 17 snaps Jake Browning – 20 snaps
HB HB
Javonte Williams – 10 snaps Asim Rose – 12 snaps
Royce Freeman – 7 snaps Ameer Abdullah – 8 snaps
Total – 17 snaps Total – 20 snaps

Draft K.J. Hamler late: The Broncos rested Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, allowing Hamler to be the No. 2 wide receiver in this contest. He made two big plays while lining up both in the slot and out wide. It’s unclear how Denver will distribute snaps to its four starting-caliber receivers, and Hamler’s performance comes with an asterisk due to how many Vikings defenders weren’t playing. Regardless, Hamler makes for an intriguing late-round dart throw due to big-play potential alone.

Don’t overreact to Javonte Williams’ performance: This game was the ceiling for how the Broncos could use Williams. Both Melvin Gordon III and Mike Boone were out. Denver still rotated Williams out every few snaps for Royce Freeman. Williams looked good against the Vikings’ backups, but it’s good to remember he will play only 65% of snaps at best.

Don’t worry about Noah Fant: Fant’s snap count wasn’t as high as other Broncos starters because he was pulled out of the game sooner. Denver gradually rotated players out rather than switching to the second team all at once. Fant was in on all eight plays during the Broncos’ first drive before bowing out of the game.

Draft Asim Rose in very deep leagues: The undrafted rookie appeared to sit fourth on the depth chart entering this contest. But while Ameer Abdullah played ahead of him, Rose could certainly win the job after his performance. Abdullah primarily plays special teams, a role Kene Nwangwu could take on instead this season. But Nwangwu, also in the competition for the third running back spot, suffered an injury that is believed to have occurred on the opening kickoff. Rose could end up third on the depth chart and see playing time due to injuries to players ahead of him.


Miami Dolphins at Chicago Bears

  • RB Malcolm Brown: 9 carries, 8 yards (-7 yards before contact, 15 yards after contact)
  • TE Mike Gesicki: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 56 yards (18 yards after contact)

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Miami Dolphins
Chicago Bears
WR WR
Mack Hollins – 19 snaps Damiere Byrd – 7 snaps
Jaylen Waddle – 19 snaps Javon Wims – 5 snaps
Jakeem Grant – 14 snaps Darnell Mooney – 4 snaps
Robert Foster – 2 snaps Rodney Adams – 2 snaps
Isaiah Ford – 1 snap
TE TE
Adam Shaheen – 15 snaps Cole Kmet – 7 snaps
Durham Smythe – 11 snaps Jimmy Graham – 2 snaps
Mike Gesicki – 6 snaps Jesse James – 1 snap
Cethan Carter – 3 snaps
Carl Tucker – 2 snaps
QB QB
Tua Tagovailoa – 23 snaps Andy Dalton – 7 snaps
HB HB
Malcolm Brown – 16 snaps Damien Williams – 6 snaps
Myles Gaskin – 7 snaps David Montgomery – 1 snap
Total – 23 snaps Total – 7 snaps

Move Myles Gaskin down your rankings: Gaskin was the backup to Malcolm Brown in this game. Brown, who spent the past six years with the Rams, began each drive with the starters, with Gaskin periodically coming in to give him a break. Three of Gaskin’s four snaps occurred after the free agent addition’s day was done. Gaskin continued to see offensive snaps with the second team.

There is still plenty of time for Gaskin to become the starter, but this will likely be a committee even if he plays the first snap of the game. He should end up in the RB30-RB35 range instead of RB20-RB25.

Draft Malcolm Brown late: Brown often goes undrafted, but now he should be a late-round pick. If the Dolphins use Brown in the regular season like they did today, he can be a fantasy starter simply because of volume. His ADP shouldn’t rise too much because he doesn’t have the upside to be a top-10 fantasy running back.

Don’t overreact to Mike Gesicki’s box score: Gesicki made one big catch, but he will be a headache for fantasy managers this regular season. The Dolphins used Gesicki in the same way as last season, where he played only on third downs and possibly on second-and-long. The limited playing time will make him very inconsistent from week to week. Miami rested four wide receivers in this contest, so Gesicki’s target share could take a hit down the road.

Give Jaylen Waddle a slight bump in the rankings: The Dolphins were missing several wide receivers, so it’s hard to take too much away from this game. It was encouraging to see Waddle line up in both the base offense and 11 personnel, including 10 times in the slot and nine times out wide. Several rookies are asked to play just in the slot their rookie season, so the fact that Waddle is moving around increases his chances of having a big role in the offense — especially if there is an injury.

Don’t worry about David Montgomery or Darnell Mooney: Montgomery took the first handoff of the game and limped off the field. It didn’t appear to be serious, but the Bears still kept him out. Mooney didn’t play a snap in 13 personnel and had his day end earlier than other starters. His starting job doesn’t appear to be at risk.


Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals

  • Rondale Moore: 4 targets, 3 rec., 23 yards, (16 yards after the catch) 2 carries, 16 yards 
  • Michael Gallup: 3 targets, 2 rec., 23 yards (1 drop)

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Dallas Cowboys
Arizona Cardinals
WR WR
CeeDee Lamb – 11 snaps KeeSean Johnson – 7 snaps
Michael Gallup – 10 snaps Christian Kirk – 7 snaps
Cedrick Wilson – 5 snaps Rondale Moore – 6 snaps
A.J. Richardson – 2 snaps
TE TE
Blake Jarwin – 10 snaps Maxx Williams – 4 snaps
Sean McKeon – 6 snaps
Jeremy Sprinkle – 1 snap
QB QB
Garrett Gilbert – 11 snaps Colt McCoy – 7 snaps
HB HB
Tony Pollard – 6 snaps Chase Edmonds – 7 snaps
Rico Dowdle – 5 snaps
Total – 11 snaps Total – 7 snaps

 Rondale Moore rises up the rankings: The Cardinals rested DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green, but it was clear Arizona prioritized getting Moore the football. Christian Kirk is expected to start in the slot this year, but the veteran was stuck out wide on his snaps to allow Moore a chance to shine. The rookie receiver should see at least a few manufactured touches per game this year, even if he’s fourth on the depth chart.

Believe the CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup hype: After playing 90% of his snaps in the slot last season, Lamb played 100% of snaps out wide tonight. Gallup saw a similar role change and played from the slot tonight. The receiving duo lined up on the same side of the field on six of their 11 plays together. The receivers are expected to be interchangeable by the start of the season, making them very dangerous.

Monitor Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz: The Cowboys are watching the league's most intriguing tight end battle play out. Dallas has developed a top-10 fantasy tight end each of the last two seasons, so a clear-cut winner would be worth a draft pick. Jarwin missed the Hall of Fame Game while Schultz missed this game. Ideally, both will play next week to give us more clarity.

Ignore the Eno Benjamin hype: The Cardinals didn’t have James Conner, but that still wasn’t enough to give Benjamin time with the starters. Instead, Jonathan Ward played some snaps with both RBs and took over when Edmonds' night was done.

Don’t worry about Tony Pollard: Pollard played a couple of snaps to start the game and then his night was done. The Cowboys did the same thing in the Hall of Fame Game. He’s still the clear-cut backup for Dallas.


Buffalo Bills at Detroit Lions

  • Devin Singletary: 8 carries, 42 yards, 1 rec., 6 rec. yards, 1 TD (5 forced missed tackles)
  • Tyrell Williams: 4 targets, 2 rec., 30 yards (3.00 yards per route run)

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Buffalo Bills
Detroit Lions
WR WR
Jake Kumerow – 11 snaps Tyrell Williams – 20 snaps
Gabriel Davis – 11 snaps Kalif Raymond – 20 snaps
Isaiah McKenzie – 7 snaps Amon-Ra St. Brown – 11 snaps
Victor Bolden Jr. – 3 snaps
TE TE
Dawson Knox – 11 snaps Darren Fells – 21 snaps
Jacob Hollister – 2 snaps Alize Mack – 9 snaps
Reggie Gilliam – 2 snaps
QB QB
Mitchell Trubisky – 11 snaps Jared Goff – 22 snaps
HB HB
Devin Singletary – 8 snaps Jamaal Williams – 22 snaps
Matt Breida – 3 snaps
Total – 11 snaps Total – 22 snaps

Don’t Overreact to Devin Singletary: With Zack Moss out due to injury, Singletary took the snaps with the starters and even stayed in to share snaps with Matt Breida when the starters left the game. Still, Singletary is unlikely to see an increase in touches, even if Moss misses time.

Take a Late-Round Chance on Tyrell Williams: Williams is typically being drafted in the very late rounds of fantasy drafts, but he has a decent chance of leading the Lions wide receivers in fantasy points. He played nearly every snap with the starters tonight — and no team's top receiver will be cheaper than Williams right now.

Lower Your Expectations for Amon-Ra St. Brown: Some view St. Brown as a high-upside play because of the lack of depth in the Lions' receiving corps. However, Detroit only used St. Brown in 11 personnel against the Bills, never using him in one- or two-wide receiver sets, even with the backups. And when the outside wide receivers needed a rest, it was Victor Bolden Jr. who took the field instead of St. Brown. It’s difficult for a slot-only receiver to have fantasy value in a run-first offense.

Fade Jermar Jefferson, even in dynasty: The Lions didn’t have D’Andre Swift tonight, leaving them with Jamaal Williams as the lead running back. Detroit opted to let Williams play all 22 snaps rather than giving Jefferson an opportunity with the starters.


Tennessee Titans at Atlanta Falcons

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Tennessee Titans
Atlanta Falcons
WR WR
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine – 10 snaps Christian Blake – 13 snaps
Marcus Johnson – 9 snaps Tajae Sharpe – 12 snaps
Chester Rogers – 5 snaps Chris Rowland – 8 snaps
Josh Reynolds – 1 snap Frank Darby – 4 snaps
Juwan Green – 4 snaps
TE TE
Luke Stocker – 5 snaps Parker Hesse – 9 snaps
Tommy Hudson – 4 snaps Ryan Becker – 8 snaps
Anthony Firkser – 2 snaps John Raine – 6 snaps
QB QB
Logan Woodside – 10 snaps A.J. McCarron – 16 snaps
HB HB
Darrynton Evans – 8 snaps Caleb Huntley – 9 snaps
Jeremy McNichols – 2 snaps Javian Hawkins – 7 snaps
Total – 10 snaps Total – 16 snaps

Second-Guess Drafting Anthony Firkser: Firkser was expected to carve out an expanded role after Jonnu Smith‘s departure, but he retained the same role as last year in this preseason game. Tommy Hudson was the tight end in 11 personnel on early downs tonight, and Luke Stocker played in 21 personnel. Firkser’s numbers won’t look much different from last season if he doesn’t play early downs in 11 personnel.

Don’t Draft Josh Reynolds or Dez Fitzpatrick: Reynolds played behind three other wide receivers tonight, placing him sixth on the depth chart. Fitzpatrick didn't play a single snap in the first half. There is a chance neither player makes the roster if they don’t work their way up the depth chart.

Don’t Draft Javian Hawkins in Dynasty: The Falcons didn’t play their top three running backs tonight, and Hawkins still didn’t start. An undrafted running back who sits fifth on the depth chart isn’t worth it.

Spend a pick on a healthy Darrynton Evans in deep leagues: Evans was favored over Jeremy McNichols as the clear second running back for the Titans tonight. He suffered a knee injury that took him out of the game, but if he’s healthy, he’s the handcuff for Derrick Henry.


Washington Football Team at New England Patriots

  • RB Antonio Gibson, 5 carries for 15 yards, 2 rec. for 25 rec. yards (2.8 yards per route run)
  • QB Mac Jones, 13-for-17, 87 yards (81.3% adjusted completion percentage)

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Washington Football Team
New England Patriots
WR WR
Terry McLaurin – 14 snaps Jakobi Meyers – 12 snaps
Cam Sims – 13 snaps N'Keal Harry – 12 snaps
Adam Humphries – 6 snaps Kendrick Bourne – 5 snaps
DeAndre Carter – 2 snaps
TE TE
Logan Thomas – 14 snaps Jonnu Smith – 12 snaps
John Bates – 6 snaps Matt LaCosse – 4 snaps
QB QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick – 14 snaps Cam Newton – 12 snaps
HB HB
Antonio Gibson – 8 snaps Damien Harris – 8 snaps
J.D. McKissic – 5 snaps James White – 4 snaps
Peyton Barber – 1 snap
Total – 14 snaps Total – 12 snaps

Don’t overreact to Antonio Gibson’s box score: Gibson was the focal point of Washington’s offense on early downs — he either ran the ball or was targeted on eight of his 11 snaps. Unfortunately, he remained on the sidelines for all four third-down opportunities with the first-team offense and lost out on a short-yardage chance. Gibson is still a very strong second-round pick, but there is no sign Washington will expand his role just yet.

Buy the Damien Harris hype: The biggest problem Patriots backs have had in recent seasons is the team's three- or four-man rotation, but Harris' ADP has been rising because that rotation might be coming to an end. He only had to share the backfield with James White in clear passing situations tonight. Rhamondre Stevenson didn’t play in the first half.

Don’t Draft Adam Humphries or Kendrick Bourne: Both wide receivers only played in three-wide receiver sets tonight, even though Washington was missing Curtis Samuel and New England was missing Nelson Agholor. Neither receiver is expected to see enough playing time to ever be put in a fantasy starting lineup, even if there is an injury. Humphries and Bourne each caught one pass.

Draft Curtis Samuel: Samuel didn’t play tonight, but he should take on an every-down role once he’s healthy. Dyami Brown was his biggest competition, but he is currently sixth on the Washington depth chart. He only needs to take the job from Cam Sims, which he should be able to do.

Draft John Bates in Dynasty: The fourth-round rookie has already earned a spot as the second tight end in two-tight end sets. He could take over for Logan Thomas at some point in the future. He caught one 19-yard pass tonight.


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Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles

  • WR Quez Watkins, 2 targets, 1 rec., 79 yards, 1 TD (83 yards after the catch)
  • RB Anthony McFarland Jr., 9 carries, 34 yards, 1 TD (3 combined first downs and touchdowns)

SNAP COUNTS (STARTERS ONLY)

Pittsburgh Steelers
Philadelphia Eagles
WR WR
Diontae Johnson – 17 snaps Travis Fulgham – 10 snaps
JuJu Smith-Schuster – 15 snaps Quez Watkins – 8 snaps
Chase Claypool – 14 snaps Jalen Reagor – 8 snaps
Greg Ward – 2 snaps
TE TE
Eric Ebron – 14 snaps Zach Ertz – 7 snaps
Pat Freiermuth – 7 snaps Dallas Goedert – 5 snaps
QB QB
Mason Rudolph – 17 snaps Jalen Hurts – 10 snaps
HB HB
Najee Harris – 12 snaps Jordan Howard – 5 snaps
Anthony McFarland Jr. – 5 snaps Boston Scott – 5 snaps
Total – 17 snaps Total – 10 snaps

Time To Worry about Dallas Goedert: Goedert has been the consensus TE7 all offseason, given the trade rumors circling Zach Ertz. But Ertz not only played —  he ended up playing more with the starters. Those snaps were only additional run blocks, but this will hurt Goedert’s playing time. If Ertz is still on the roster during the 2021 season, Goedert probably won't finish as a top-10 fantasy tight end.

Take a late-round flier on Anthony McFarland Jr.: McFarland took a few snaps with the starters after missing out in the Hall of Fame Game. He might not see much playing time in the regular season when everyone is healthy, but he could be the primary runner if Najee Harris were to get injured.

Buy Pat Freiermuth in Dynasty: Freiermuth didn’t play in the Hall of Fame Game, but he has worked his way to being the No. 2 tight end in two-tight end sets. He took 25% of the snaps in 11 personnel and could take more away from Eric Ebron as the season goes on. This should also be cause for concern for Ebron this season.

Take Kenneth Gainwell off your late-round draft pick list: The Eagles didn’t have Miles Sanders tonight, but that still wasn’t enough for Gainwell to see snaps with the starters. Jordan Howard and Boston Scott split playing time; the fifth-round rookie started playing when the second team came in, but the Eagles focused on the passing game rather than allowing Gainwell to run.

Take Greg Ward off your late-round draft pick list: Ward had been the Eagles' slot receiver, but Quez Watkins appears to have passed Ward on the depth chart. Jalen Reagor also played more first-team snaps in the slot, even though reports indicated Reagor would take over that role. Once DeVonta Smith is healthy, Ward will be fifth on the depth chart.

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