Week 1 of the NFL preseason officially began Thursday with the Giants playing the Patriots and Titans playing the Ravens. Here are a few key fantasy football thoughts and takeaways from those games.
New York Giants @ New England Patriots
Daniel Jones Trending Upward
Since the end of the Eli Manning era, the Giants have struggled… mightily. After a rash of poor front office hires and bad coaching (read: meddlesome ownership), there is finally some reason for optimism in New York.
The Giants hired first-time head-coach Brian Daboll, the man largely credited with transforming Josh Allen from “on the bust trajectory” to one of the best young QBs in the league. If you believe Daboll can take these pieces and build something (and I do), the Giants’ fantasy-relevant players are bargains across the board.
Daboll started Daniel Jones and played him for a couple of series. Jones looked good hitting receivers in rhythm and rushing when it made sense. He looked like the good version of Daniel Jones. You don’t have to be Johnnie Cochran to defend Jones’s early career struggles. Playing behind poor offensive lines and under coaches as creative as the folks bringing us new Marvel movies every three months is a great way to ruin any QB prospect. Despite the toxic environment, Jones has flashed some impressive traits, traits not dissimilar to the great Josh Allen.
Now that the Giants have a little fire-power and a little creativity on the coaching staff, we might see a vastly improved Daniel Jones. Of course, that is just what we may see. What we saw in preseason game one was what appeared to be a competent Giants offense which made some nice plays.
Jones’ rushing potential paired with what could be a functional offense makes him a great 2-QB league buy, and an interesting name to keep in mind for your 1-QB formats.
Saquon Barkley Is Finally Healthy
Barkley was in for only a couple of series of the first preseason game, but man he still looks electric. Saquon is currently the RB10 with a mid-second round ADP of 17.2. He’ll likely be pushed up to into the late first now that the masses see he’s healthy. He’s an easy buy at that price.
Saquon Barkley?! Receiving?!
Man, it’s been awhile. Nice route and easy 1st down 👍 pic.twitter.com/gkz8B5xZS8
— Alex Wilson (@AlexWilsonESM) August 11, 2022
The Giants offensive line, ranked 30th by PFF in 2021, is clearly an area of focus for the new regime. Matt Citak of Giants.com does an excellent job outlining all the changes to the unit here. To summarize, the Giants invested heavily along the line. They looked competent, not great. Competent would be a giant upgrade.
Kadarius Toney Didn’t Play, But Kenny Golladay Did
Golladay looked strong and came up with a couple of nice catches. Golladay can be a great ancillary piece, but counting on him as the WR1 hasn’t worked out for the Giants.
We didn’t get a chance to see Kadarius Toney, a disappointment. Toney’s career has been interesting early on. He was drafted a little earlier than many believed was warranted, and the Giants have sown doubt about the young man through derogatory press leaks. Toney has missed seven games in his first and only season, but big games against Dallas and New Orleans proved, at least at his peak, Toney is uncheckable. It looks like we’ll have to keep waiting for our first look at Kadarius in 2022.
Toney is the WR39 with an ADP of 79.3 (that’s round 6, pick 7) per Underdog, a modest-risk with mid-WR1 upside. Golladay is the WR55, and I regard him as a name to keep in mind for those early waiver-wire moves rather than a draft target.
Two Patriots’ Wide Receivers To Remember
The Patriots trotted out Brian Hoyer, J.J. Taylor, and a host of second-stringers. It’s hard to take too much away from the outing, but I have two small wide receiver notes:
Rookie second-rounder Tyquon Thornton appeared competent.
Kristian Wilkerson played a ton of snaps and led the team with 99 receiving yards. With a shaky WR depth chart like the Patriots have, we might want to keep Wilkerson’s name in mind if injuries hit the Pats starters.
Tennessee Titans @ Baltimore Ravens
The Rookie QB
I wanted to see Malik Willis, and Mike Vrabel obliged. Willis started and played the entire first half (30 snaps per PFF).
It was an up and down start for the third-round rookie, something that shouldn’t surprise or worry anyone. Ryan Tannehill will—and should—start every game for a Titans side looking to make it four years in a row with a playoff berth.
Willis missed a few throws, and looked a little frazzled early. This is in-line with expectations as even the biggest Willis believers admit he’s not a highly polished prospect.
As the game pressed on, Willis showed what so many of his believers point to when they project Malik to take over as the post-Tannehill solution for the Titans. We saw Malik’s rushing skill on a seven-yard TD run which I couldn’t tell if it was intentional or improvised. Either way, the play showed that the athleticism we saw on Willis’s college tape (against not the highest level of competition) still looked impressive against NFL dudes.
— NFL (@NFL) August 12, 2022
Who’s Backing Up King Henry?
The buzz around rookie undrafted free agent Julius Chestnut is realized as he got the start ahead of Hassan Haskins. Chestnut fumbled on his first carry, ran through a huge hole before making a couple Ravens miss a tackle they should have made. It was up and down.
Hassan Haskins had a few nice plays and looked like he’ll make the Chestnut vs Haskins question a tough one. We’ll just have to stay tuned on this one.
Ravens’ Rookie Standout
Ravens rookie tight end Isaiah Likely made a few excellent plays. He caught a pass and put on about seven moves to gain four yards when he needed three for the first down. He later made a tough contested catch when he knew he was going to pay for it.
Isaiah Likely making grown men look SILLY
— Beckett🔋 (@410Beck) August 11, 2022
Likely also got caught on a few obvious holding calls. As expected, Likely showed he’s more of a receiving threat TE than do-it-all guy right this minute. Still, we’ll want to keep this name in mind should Mark Andrews miss any time.
Long-time veteran back Mike Davis looked competent as the starting rusher with a lot of 2s out there. The Ravens and fantasy GMs alike hope Davis will be used sparingly in 2022.
Sixth-round rookie RB Tyler Badie lined up in the backfield for a Ravens drive late in the second quarter. Badie got the 2-minute drill roll, and he’s built like that. He’s really quick, he’s fast, but I wouldn’t count that twice. That’s what we expected to see and we did. The Ravens backfield has enough questions surrounding it for you to keep Badie’s name in mind.
Ravens’ WR Room Goes Keto
Wide receiver Shemar Bridges had a couple of big contested catches, and he looked every bit of his listed 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. The Ravens’ wide receiver room is thin enough for us to put a pin in Bridges name.