2022 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Preseason Week 1 Biggest Winners Include George Pickens, Travis Etienne

When I look at preseason games to determine if I need to make changes to my ranking, I usually don’t care too much about how a player performs, and that’s especially true in the first preseason game. There are so many teams that barely play with their starters, if at all, that you can’t get much out of highlights, no matter how impressive.

Of course, that’s not to say it doesn’t matter at all when a player provides a spark in the preseason. It mainly matters because coaches are using these games to help decide position battles, so a player who shines in Week 1 can get a broader look with the starters in Week 2. That’s what we hope Dameon Pierce won with his impressive game on Saturday. against the Saints.

Pierce led the Texans with 49 yards on five carries but only appeared in the game in the second quarter after Davis Mills had already left the game, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Marlon Mack started and, unsurprisingly, didn’t do much, rushing for 6 yards on three carries, while Rex Burkhead sat idle. Neither Pierce nor Mack got much of a chance, but Pierce was impressive enough to hope he did enough to get a longer look.

I’m not necessarily moving Pierce up my ranking because of five carries, but that’s mostly because he was already the Texans’ top-ranked running back, and I don’t think there’s much upside to this offense anyway. But if he gets more first-team reps in practice and shows up in preseason Week 2, he apparently has a chance to secure a big role, and he’ll definitely start moving into the top 100 in drafts in the final weeks before the season starts. .

Here are some players whose stocks are certainly pointing up after a week of preseason games.

George Pickens

I know I said we didn’t want to focus too much on performance, but given the buzz Pickens is generating in camp, you can’t ignore the impressive receptions Pickens made in his preseason debut. He was available on each of the Steelers’ first 16 offensive snaps, and while that was with Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool inactive, Pickens has been running with the first team in practice with both of them as well, so it looks like he pretty much has. secured a starting spot at this point. Pickens had just five catches for 107 yards in four games last season, but that was recovering from a torn ACL, and it looks like the Steelers may have stolen his second-round pick. This offense could struggle, it has at times in camp, so you don’t want to overdo it by moving Pickens, but I suspect we’ll start to see him advance in the first 10 rounds in drafts, possibly even eclipsing Chase Claypool. I’m not ready to go there yet, but he’s definitely on the radar. As Dave Richard wrote for CBSSports.com, the secret is in Pickens.

travis etienne

The Jaguars threw Etienne straight into the fire, as he played 22 of 25 snaps in his first game after missing his entire rookie season with a foot injury. They gave him a chance on all three downs, and while he had a crucial knockdown on a third down that would have given the Jaguars a first-and-goal, you have to be happy with nine carries and three goals. I don’t think he can sustain that kind of instant involvement when James Robinson is active, but Etienne will clearly be a big part of this offense as well, given that Robinson is coming off injury. Since few runners come back at full speed, he could end up dominating the bunting here.

Jahan Dotson

Carson Wentz played 22 snaps on Saturday and Dotson was available for every one of them, so they’re not giving up the 16th pick at all. He played primarily on the outside and was available for each game from two receivers, a good sign for his immediate role. Dotson hasn’t had the kind of publicity in fantasy circles that some of his rookie teammates have: his 151.91 ADP is behind Christian Watson, who chased him in the NFL Draft and hasn’t practiced yet! – But he could have as clear a path to an all-downs role as anyone from Week 1. I’m not saying Dotson should be drafted in the eighth round like Drake London, but he should be drafted in every 12-team league . .

Isaiah McKenzie

Maybe Jamison Crowder just needed reps after missing time in camp, but it was surprising to see McKenzie join Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis on the sidelines for Game 1. It seems like a clear indicator that McKenzie is in the lead for the slots job, and that has been a valuable role in this offense. Davis has all the hype, but McKenzie is a conniving late sleeper.

alec pierce

The Colts played their starters in 19 snaps, and Pierce was involved in 13 of them. Parris Campbell was on the field for two wide sets alongside Michael Pittman, and is a viable late-round target, but Pierce is big (6-foot-3) and fast (4.41 40-yard runs) and deserves some late-round. self-love.

david njōku

The Browns use their tight ends frequently, and Njoku is the clear best option in the offseason trade for Austin Hooper, as he showed by playing all nine snaps with Deshaun Watson at QB. Njoku stayed healthy last season and averaged 9.0 yards per target while showing he still has outstanding athleticism despite some injuries, so if he can take on a larger role while maintaining that efficiency, he could absolutely be a starting-caliber option. as a tight end, even with Watson he faces a lengthy suspension.

Marco Mariota

I have no idea if Mariota will remain the Falcons’ starter for the entire season or if they will eventually hand things over to Desmond Ridder to see if he can be the future of the position. However, Mariota reminded us in the preseason opener that he still has a viable fantasy skill set, as he rushed for 23 yards and a touchdown on his only drive. Mariota barely played the last two seasons as Derek Carr’s backup, but he did have a game in which he played 86% of the snaps, and he had 226 passing yards with a touchdown plus 88 rushing yards and an additional score: a 27.8-point effort. in six-point passing touchdown leagues. I’m not saying Mariota is likely to do that as a full-time starter or anything, but he was probably better in his career than you remember: 7.5 yards per attempt, 4.3% touchdown rate, 6.0 yards per carry. His mobility is a real asset and could make him a viable streamer or, especially, a good No. 2 Fantasy QB this season. Don’t forget about him.

Khalil Herbert

With David Montgomery out, Herbert played every snap with the first-team offense, so there doesn’t seem to be any question as to who Montgomery’s backup is. Not that there necessarily was. The Bears have given Montgomery some pretty massive instant stocks in recent years, and I don’t expect Herbert to matter much if Montgomery is healthy. But he apparently has a clear and valuable role if something were to happen to Montgomery, making him one of the most obvious wives out there.

isa pacheco

The training camp hype is real, as Pacheco was the second to return to the field for the Chiefs, playing three snaps of 11 with Patrick Mahomes. Clyde Edwards-Helaire remains bottom of the list here and his role seems secure, but Pacheco appears to have moved up to second on the depth chart, and there have been opportunities for that depth chart spot to have an impact. in the last few. seasons — remember, Darrel Williams averaged 17.5 PPR points in seven starts for Edwards-Helaire last season. Pacheco’s production at Rutgers left a lot to be desired: 3.9 yards per carry in his senior year is pretty bad, though the line probably didn’t help him much: He has the size and athleticism (4.37 40-yard rushes) and could be at a injury from being the lead runner in an elite offense.

Zamir White

White wasn’t as impressive in Game 2 as he was in Game 1, but he started with Josh Jacobs and Ameer Abdullah inactive. It looks like the battle for the No. 3 spot is between White and Drake, and White actually started and had more carries and ran more routes with Jarrett Stidham piloting the first team. Drake’s spot on the roster appears to be at risk, and with Jacobs on an expiring contract the Raiders have no long-term commitment to him, there is a path for White to emerge as a factor for the Raiders. You’ll have to be patient, but it’s worth throwing a dart at the end of the round.

Leave a Reply