This past weekend saw the return of football, albeit preseason, but football all the same.
It was an exciting weekend and we got to see a lot of players who had suspense building for them over the past few weeks, some since the draft and some since training camp.
Perhaps the most exciting was the return of Andrew Luck, who hadn’t thrown a football in what felt like ages.
Or maybe you were excited for the Minnesota Vikings debut of Kirk Cousins, or the NFL debuts of Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley.
Either way, the opening weekend had it all, so let’s dive into each game!
Preseason Analysis Week 1
Cleveland Browns vs. New York Giants
Giants: The long-awaited debut of Saquon Barkley did not disappoint. Barkley galloped for 39 yards on his first NFL carry. He looked like the real deal, and he finished the day with four carries for 49 yards.
There isn’t much else to note from the Giants side of things. Eli Manning played and completed 4-of-7 passes for 26 yards.
Browns: Tyrod Taylor looked excellent in his Browns debut. Taylor completed all five of his passes for 99 yards and a touchdown to David Njoku.
This game also featured the debut of Baker Mayfield, who looked the part of a future starting quarterback. Mayfield completed just over 50 percent of his passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns.
Other Browns who looked good on Thursday: Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway and David Njoku.
Chicago Bears vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Bears: Mitchell Trubisky was the only Bears starter to play in this game, and he only threw four passes, so that will conclude my Bears observations as nothing else really stood out to me.
Bengals: Joe Mixon really caught my eye. Mixon ran the ball three times for only nine yards, but his lone reception is what stood out to me. Mixon caught a simple hook route which should’ve only resulted in a few yards, but Mixon turned it into a 24-yard touchdown and evaded two Bears defenders in the process.
Dalton to Joe Mixon for the 24-yard TD pic.twitter.com/Vj9VvFHmR2
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) August 9, 2018
If Mixon can continue to make plays like that, he’ll be a Fantasy commodity this season.
New Orleans Saints vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Jaguars: This game didn’t really have anything that stood out to me a ton. Alvin Kamara and Leonard Fournette both played in this game for a short time, but both are sure-things in Fantasy and didn’t show me anything to think otherwise.
One thing I will point out in this game is the play of Jaguars receiver Dede Westbrook. Westbrook caught three passes for 32 yards. He can become a starter in this offense, and I will be keeping an eye on him in the coming weeks.
Saints: Rookie receiver Tre’Quan Smith had a good game, catching four balls for 48 yards. Smith doesn’t have a defined role in the Saints offense, but if he continues to be a playmaker, he could carve one out for himself.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers: Juju Smith-Schuster picked off where he left off last year, hauling in a 771-yard touchdown on his lone touch of the game.
Elsewhere for the Steelers, James Conner and James Washington both stood out to me. Washington caught a beautiful pass down the right sideline, using his big frame to grab the ball over an Eagles defender. Conner ran the ball effectively as the “starter” while Leveon Bell continues his holdout.
This won’t matter for this year, but Mason Rudolph looked good in his snaps, completing 7-of-12 passes for 101 yards.
Eagles: Corey Clement played well in his limited action. Clement should be part of an Eagles backfield that also features Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles.
Also, for the Eagles, backup tight end Dallas Goedert caught four passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. Though Zach Ertz is the starter, Goedert will have a role in the Eagles offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Miami Dolphins
Bucs: Nothing on the Buccaneers side of the ball stood out to me as relevant.
Dolphins: The same can be said for the Dolphins as only one player stood out to me. Kalen Ballage ran the ball extremely well using his speed to get to the edge on a few runs, and also showing off his hands by catching three balls for 23 yards.
Carolina Panthers vs. Buffalo Bills
Bills: After the pregame fireworks between Kelvin Benjamin and Cam Newton, I wasn’t sure the actual game was going to matter much.
Benjamin played extremely well in this game while receiving number one receiver targets. Benjamin caught four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown in limited snaps. If he keeps this up, he’ll be flying up draft boards.
Panthers: I really like how Christian McCaffrey was handled for the Panthers. They found ways to manufacture smart touches for him in the receiving game which helps with his overall skill set. The offensive line still concerns me for Carolina, but if McCaffrey can keep up his receiving work he’s a solid RB2.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Los Angeles Rams
Rams: I’ll start with the easy one here. There really isn’t anything to say about the Rams, none of the starters played and nothing else stood out.
Ravens: Joe Flacco turned in a solid performance completing 5-of-7 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Lamar Jackson played in his second preseason game and turned in a better game than his debut. Jackson completed 7-of-18 passes for 119 yards.
The receiver situation in Baltimore is a bit bleak after Willie Snead, Michael Crabtree, and John Brown, but third-year receiver Breshad Perriman flashed his potential with three catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.
Washington Redskins vs. New England Patriots
Redskins: The biggest takeaway from this game is the loss of rookie running back Derrius Guice. Guice tore his ACL in the game and will miss the entire season. This is a big blow for a Redskins team that doesn’t have a lot of depth at the running back position.
Patriots: Jeremy Hill showed his potential for the Patriots in this game. Hill rushed for 51 yards on 11 attempts and scored a touchdown. It’s just one game, but if Hill can keep this up he could become a legitimate Fantasy asset in the Patriots offense.
Tennessee Titans vs. Green Bay Packers
Packers: No Aaron Rodgers for the Packers which was expected, but we did see Davante Adams who caught two balls for 57 yards, one of which was a 48-yard catch.
One thing I’m keeping an eye on from the Packers is how the receiver situation plays out. Someone other than Adams and Randall Cobb must catch balls from Rodgers. Green Bay has a lot of options including Geronimo Allison, Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdez-Scantling vying for playing time.
Titans: Marcus Mariota did play for the Titans for one series. Mariota threw three passes and connected on two of them. One of Mariota’s passes was also a touchdown.
Other than Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry playing, nothing else of note happened for the Titans. It will be interesting to see how the timeshare plays out between Henry and Lewis going forward.
Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Texans: The biggest and one of the only takeaways from this game was the return of Deshaun Watson. Watson started the game and threw a lone pass which he connected on.
Having Watson back is not only good for the Texans but good for Fantasy as well. Before he was injured, Watson was playing great football. He looks back and primed for a great season.
Chiefs: Watson’s fellow second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes also played in this game, completing 5-of-7 passes for 33 yards.
Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers
Cowboys: This game had quite a bit of Fantasy relevance. Dak Prescott started for the Cowboys and completed all three of his passes for 39 yards and a touchdown. Prescott also rushed one time for 12 yards.
Much has been said about the Cowboys lack of receivers, but Prescott hooked up with rookie receiver Michael Gallup for a 30-yard score.
On the rushing side, rookie running back Bo Scarbrough looked the part of a solid backup for Ezekiel Elliott. Scarbrough rushed nine times for 33 yards and a score.
49ers: Jimmy Garoppolo threw six passes and completed half of them for 34 yards. Jerick McKinnon also played in this game but he did not turn in a stellar performance. McKinnon ran three times but ended up with -4 yards.
Rookie receiver Dante Pettis flashed his potential on a 53-yard catch. Pettis could have a legitimate opportunity in this offense due to the lack of reliable receivers.
It’s also worth noting that Matt Breida and James Kittle were both injured in this game.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Seattle Seahawks
Colts: I must admit, this game had me excited. This game marked the return of Andrew Luck who hadn’t thrown a football in what seems like forever. Luck threw nine passes in this game and completed six of them for 64 yards.
Having Luck back is good for the Colts, Fantasy Football and the NFL. Luck is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and having him back is nothing but good.
While the Colts got Luck back, they lost rookie receiver Deon Cain to a torn ACL in this game.
Seahawk: The Seahawks backfield is a mess and this game didn’t provide us with much clarity. Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson, and Mike Davis will continue to fight it out for touches in the Seattle run game.
Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets
Jets: The quarterback situation didn’t get any clearer this weekend as both Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold played well.
Isaiah Crowell looked the part of the Jets starting running back before he got hurt in this game. Crowell looks primed for a rejuvenated season in this offense.
Falcons: Matt Ryan played but he only threw one pass and he was the only starter to see time.
Detroit Lions vs. Oakland Raiders
Lions: The intriguing thing for the Detroit Lions is the backfield. They may be in a situation where there is too many mouths to feed with LeGarrette Blount, Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick and Kerryon Johnson all vying for carries.
Obviously, Blount will get carries as they didn’t sign him for nothing. Riddick will assume his passing down role.
That leaves Abdullah and Johnson. Maybe Abdullah gets cut or traded, but it is tough to predict. Until we see more, I am staying away from the Lions backfield.
Raiders: Marshawn Lynch rumbled for a long touchdown that was unfortunately called back due to a penalty, but he looked good while doing it. Lynch and Doug Martin splitting carries this year could be a fun thing to watch.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Denver Broncos
Broncos: The biggest takeaway was the emergence of rookie Royce Freeman. Freeman has been talked up all offseason as a potential sleeper and those talks will not stop anytime soon.
Freeman rushed four times for 38 yards and scored a 23-yard touchdown. He looked the part of a starting running back and he should start for the Broncos in Week 1.
Vikings: New acquisition Kirk Cousins got the start for the Vikings and he looked stellar. Cousins was slinging the ball well, hooking up with star receiver Stefon Diggs for 35 yards and a touchdown.
We did not see Dalvin Cook in this game, unfortunately, and Latavius Murray got the start in his place.
Los Angeles Chargers vs. Arizona Cardinals
Cardinals: David Johnson returned for the Cardinals and looked to be his old self rushing for 28 yards on just two carries.
Josh Rosen also played in this game, throwing for 41 yards and completing just under 50 percent of his passes.
Chargers: Mike Williams was the only player of note to play for the Chargers, and he caught two passes for 18 yards.
As with any preseason, it is important to note that it was just that: preseason. These are exhibition games and the notes above should be taken with a grain of salt. Be sure to check back in next week for more notes on week two of the preseason.