Week 1 of the NFL preseason is complete and now there is more information to help with fantasy football projections. Teams tip their intentions by their actions, especially with almost every team now only having three preseason games. Let’s look at each team and identify the important information that can help seasonal league projections. Below is a closer look at the NFC teams, after Week 1 of the preseason.
Fantasy Football Observations for the NFC After NFL Preseason Week 1
Rondale Moore: Excitement; Eno Benjamin: Relevancy
Rondale Moore has assimilated nicely to the Arizona Cardinals offense, with three receptions and two rushing attempts for a total of 39 yards against the Dallas Cowboys. He was targeted on the first play of Arizona’s preseason.
Cardinals immediately open with a screen to Rondale Moore.
7 yards for Thicc Tavon. pic.twitter.com/ra7jAwCVcZ
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 14, 2021
With veteran A.J. Green already injured, Moore projects for a decent rookie workload even in a crowded depth chart. Playing in his first game in 18 months, Eno Benjamin gained the early advantage over Jonathan Ward as the number three running back in a fragile Arizona backfield. James Conner is on the COVID-19 list and Chase Edmonds does not profile as a lead running back. The 22-year old Arizona State-product averaged 10 yards per carry on five attempts with a touchdown in Arizona’s 19-16 win. If Conner is hurt for an extended period of time, Benjamin will be a hot waiver wire pickup later in the season. NFL Preseason Week 1
Feleipe Franks: Battling to be the backup quarterback.
There isn’t much to be analyzed from the Atlanta Falcons 23-3 home loss to the Tennessee Titans, but on a day where the Atlanta offensive line struggled mightily, UDFA Feleipe Franks found a way to shine. Veteran quarterback A.J. McCarron failed to impress after completing only 5 of 12 passes for 36 yards and one interception. Franks only completed two of 10 passes for nine yards but he rushed four times for 76 yards including this 51-yard scamper. NFL Preseason Week 1 NFL Preseason Week 1
— NFL (@NFL) August 14, 2021
Terrace Marshall: Impressive
Rookie wide receiver Terrace Marshall impressed with three catches for 88 yards, including this 59-yard catch-and-run in the first quarter.
Terrace Marshall with the 59-yard catch and run 👀
— PFF (@PFF) August 15, 2021
P.J. Walker’s frenetic play can cause the coaching staff agita, but his dynamic ability places him in the lead in the backup quarterback battle. Chuba Hubbard made a push towards the backup role to All-Pro Christian McCaffrey, by totaling 80 rushing yards on seven carries. Hubbard certainly doesn’t get tackled easily.
— NFL (@NFL) August 15, 2021
Justin Fields: Making headlines
Justin Fields’ performance was one of the headlines of preseason Week 1. The Ohio State rookie was 14 of 20 for 142 yards and one 30-yard touchdown to tight end Jesse James. He also ran five times for 33 yards and another touchdown. Fields did drop a snap and fumbled on his first drive but settled in very well after.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 14, 2021
If the offensive line can show improvement, Fields certainly has the ability to make big plays.
Quarterback Dak Prescott’s shoulder strain is healing well, per a follow-up MRI. He is projected to see field action in the Dallas Cowboys third preseason game against the Houston Texans on August 21. Wide receiver Amari Cooper was activated from the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) list after off-season ankle surgery. Per Todd Archer of ESPN, Cooper has stated he is close to 100 percent and has already increased his on-field work. New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has his hands full with a defensive roster filled with new players. Dallas drafted defensive players with their first six picks of this year’s NFL Draft. The Cowboys recently lost defensive tackle Neville Gallimore for 6-8 weeks with a dislocated elbow. The 2020 third-round pick was projected as a starter
Jared Goff: Intermediate passes; Amon-Ra St. Brown: Impact
Jared Goff provided an expected 6.2 yards per attempt on seven completions for 56 yards. Goff narrowly avoided an interception on his first pass attempt, but his passing comfort zone should mean quality fantasy production for tight end T.J. Hockenson. USC-product Amon-Ra St. Brown used his exception burst, to tally two catches for 12 yards. St. Brown could have a larger impact than expected with the uninspiring Tyrell Williams and Breshad Perriman listed as the starting wideouts.
Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love, Devin Funchess: Silence the doubters
Love was the most pleasant surprise of Week 1 of the preseason, serving as one of the few bright spots in the Green Bay Packers 26-7 home loss to Houston. Love was 12 of 17 for 122 yards and this dump-off touchdown pass to Kylin Hill.
Jordan Love 🤝 Kylin Hill
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) August 15, 2021
Love’s performance at least provided a sliver of hope to the post-Aaron Rodgers life for the Packers. His most productive receiver was 27-year old Devin Funchess, who led Green Bay with six receptions and 70 yards. Could Funchess develop as a reliable second wide receiver option after Davante Adams? Stranger things have happened.
Los Angeles Rams
Matthew Stafford: Has weapons galore
The Los Angeles Rams sat almost all of their starters as usual, but second-year running back Raymond Calais and rookie TuTu Atwell both impressed on special teams. Calais tallied a 46-year kick return and Atwell displayed his lighting speed on a 20-yard punt return that was called back. Not much to conclude, except quarterback Matthew Stafford has a lot of shiny toys at his disposal.
Kirk Cousins: Praying for his health
There isn’t much to discuss from the Vikings 33-6 blowout loss to the Broncos. The immediate reaction is that Minnesota Vikings fans should pray for Kirk Cousins’ continued health. Both backup quarterbacks Jake Browning and Kellen Mond failed to impress, combining to go just 11 of 26 for 79 yards and an interception. Minnesota is a run-first team and their offensive line is always among the league’s best in run blocking, but their effectiveness in pass-blocking will be the bellwether for the Vikings offensive success.
New Orleans Saints
It is a coin flip at quarterback
Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston continue their quarterback battle, with Hill earning the start against the Kansas City Chiefs. Hill played well until he threw an interception due to a communication error with Ty Montgomery. Winston led New Orleans to two touchdown drives, but the overall results were mixed at best.
Saints QBs vs. Ravens:
Who should be the QB1? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/UkkqhHTpXx
— PFF (@PFF) August 15, 2021
On the bright side, 2020 UDFA Tony Jones was the player of preseason Week 1 after he racked up five receptions, 120 total yards, and a touchdown. Jones did lose a fumble, as did Latavius Murray and 29-year old Devonta Freeman. Alvin Kamara needs to stay healthy.
New York Giants
Offensive line concerns and Devontae Booker as the backup running back
The New York Giants took a huge leap when they passed on bolstering the offensive line in favor of Florida wide receiver Kadarius Toney. Despite playing four of five projected offensive linemen, the Giants struggled to protect backup quarterback Mike Glennon against the New York Jets pass rush. With Saquon Barkley’s workload uncertain for Week 1, Devontae Booker may get the bulk of the work, especially after a Corey Clement lost fumble.
Jalen Hurts: Growing, Zach Ertz: Rises from the dead, Quez Watkins: Speed
Jalen Hurts played well enough connecting on 3 of 7 with two dropped passes for 54 yards. His rushing ability is elite, and this game provides something for the second-year signal-caller to build on. Zach Ertz saw more snaps than Dallas Goedert, catching two passes for 20 yards. Could Ertz regain his Pro Bowl level under new head coach Nick Sirianni? With first-round pick Devonta Smith sidelined, Quez Watkins flashed his 4.35 speed on a 79-yard screen pass that he turned into a touchdown.
San Francisco 49ers
Jimmy Garoppolo and Trey Lance: Both impress, Running back position: Gold
The biggest takeaway was Trey Lance producing 128 yards and this 80-yard touchdown to Trent Sherfield.
TREY LANCE 80 YARD 💣 pic.twitter.com/BDmoxo0Bzt
— PFF (@PFF) August 15, 2021
What has been overlooked, however, was of 5 of 14 completion rate and a glaring fumble. Lance has dealt with fumbling problems in the past and Jimmy Garoppolo’s 3 for 3 and 26 yard performance did nothing to open the door for the rookie. Garoppolo also connected with Brandon Aiyuk across the middle, which was negated by an offensive pass interference call. JaMychal Hasty ran angry for 63 yards and a touchdown reminding everyone that whoever leads the 49ers backfield will be fantasy relevant.
DeeJay Dallas: the lone bright spot
It was a rough 20-7 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, with the offensive line really struggling as usual. One bright spot was DeeJay Dallas breaking free for this 43-yard touchdown.
— NFL (@NFL) August 15, 2021
Seattle Seahawks running backs are always fantasy-relevant, and Dallas remains in contention for the RB3 spot behind Chris Carson and the oft-injured Rashaad Penny.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Running back musical chairs.
Second-year rusher Ke’Shawn Vaughn dominated the backfield opportunities with 13 total touches for 37 yards and a touchdown. While rumors still circulate that Vaughn is in head coach Bruce Arians’ doghouse, the former third-round pick from Vanderbilt appears to have secured the RB4 role. Leonard Fournette started, was replaced by Giovani Bernard on third down, and then gave way to Ronald Jones on the next series. Fournette is the current RB1, but his hold on that spot is tenuous at best.
Washington Football Team
Ryan Fitzpatrick: Already building rapport, Taylor Heinicke: Ready
In limited work, Fitzpatrick finished 5 of 8 for 58 yards including a 20-plus yard connection with Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas.
#WFT QB Ryan Fitzpatrick connects with TE Logan Thomas for 24-yards.
Thomas just signed a 3-year, $24M deal this offseason. pic.twitter.com/s0fPyaWUVY
— Steve Frederick (@SteveFrederick_) August 12, 2021
All reports also confirm that Washington believes strongly in quarterback Taylor Heinicke, providing confidence in case of a Fitzpatrick injury. Washington’s offensive line also looked improved, coming off a season where they allowed the second-most sacks (50) in the league.
Eagles WR Quez Watkins can flat out FLY 💨 💨 💨 pic.twitter.com/8l26sk2Q4y
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 13, 2021