Los Angeles Rams
None of the starters played, but we did get a first look at second-round rookie RB Darrell Henderson, who is definitely one of my draft crushes. Henderson, however, didn’t have the best game while running in the Rams’ zone scheme for the first time. I found this video breakdown from @JMoyerFB very interesting. Henderson still has a ton of fantasy upside as a pass-catcher and explosive runner, but this may be a little bit of a work in progress. Hopeful we see positive steps in the second preseason game. I’ll certainly be paying close attention.
Los Angeles Chargers
Austin Ekeler played on 12-of-17 first-team snaps, and basically only came off the field after big runs. Ekeler saw the first two inside-the-five carries, but he did fumble the second one. Fumbles have been Ekeler’s Achilles heel, so the Chargers gave Justin Jackson the next goal-line carry, which he converted for a touchdown. If Melvin Gordon were to miss games, then Ekeler looks like a near full-time player with Jackson helping out on short-yardage situations. Their ADPs are far too rich for me right now, but I am scooping up a lot of Melvin Gordon in the third round. … Hunter Henry played 12 snaps, lining up all over the formation while catching both of his targets. The Chargers wouldn’t be playing Henry in the first preseason game unless they were fully comfortable with his knee.
DNP: Albert Wilson
Kenyan Drake operated as the clear-cut starter. Drake played on 9-of-13 snaps with Ryan Fitzpatrick, while Kalen Ballage rotated in for 4-of-13 first-team snaps. If this holds up, Drake is a post-hype buy in the middle rounds with his ADP falling. However, it is worth noting that Ballage scored a one-yard touchdown against the Falcons’ second defensive unit. … Ryan Fitzpatrick drew the start, while Josh Rosen was given the second-string offensive line. It was a disaster. Rosen needs some protection help if the Dolphins are going to get a proper evaluation on him before they start eyeing Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jake Fromm in next year’s NFL Draft. … Undrafted rookie WR Preston Williams played really well, catching four passes for 97 yards on five targets. Williams has starting-caliber talent if he can stay focused. At Colorado State, he played like a Day 2 or early Day 3 prospect, but character concerns dropped his draft stock.
DNP: Dalvin Cook
The first-team offense played nine snaps. Adam Thielen had another insane catch that led to an easy one-yard receiving touchdown for third-round rookie RB Alexander Mattison. At Boise State, Mattison operated as a three-down workhorse, one that showed off plus-hands for a bigger-sized back. Mattison can be drafted as a handcuff.
New England Patriots
The Patriots opted to not expose second-round RB Damien Harris, despite being paper-thin at the position going into the evening. Harris essentially being treated as a veteran in the opener could be a sign that Bill Belichick likes what he’s seen from him so far. We should learn more about how Harris will be used in the Patriots’ second and third preseason games, but him not playing in the opener was encouraging. … N’Keal Harry made two really nice grabs in tight coverage. Harry’s biggest question mark is his separation skills, but if he can routinely make in-traffic catches and can pick up yards after the catch, then I don’t see it as a major issue. After Harry made his second catch, he looked a bit injured and reports say he may miss some practice time. … Matt LaCosse started over Benjamin Watson, who will miss the first four games.
New Orleans Saints
DNP: Drew Brees
The “first-team” offense had a long field goal drive to start the game. Alvin Kamara played on nine of those snaps with Latavius Murray subbing in on three of them. Kamara saw 3-of-4 1st and 10 snaps and was given the carry from the two-yard line, which he would have converted if not for the holding call. The “starters” went out for another drive, while Kamara stayed on the sideline. It’s hard to completely tell what the plan is here with Kamara and Murray, but this looks like a Kamara/Ingram type split. … Ted Ginn Jr. ran ahead of Tre’Quan Smith, who had a bad drop in the first quarter. Rishard Matthews retired following this game.
New York Giants
There were too many starters out to learn much about the offense, but Daniel Jones looked pretty good in the opener, going 5-for-5 for 67 yards and a score. He was playing against backups, and I’m not sure if a couple of those touch passes would’ve been completed against starting-caliber talents, but it was an encouraging sign regardless. The Eli Manning hot seat just got warmer.
New York Jets
DNP: Le’Veon Bell
The Jets’ starters opened the preseason with a seven-play drive, topped off with a passing touchdown to slot receiver Jamison Crowder. The Jets used a three-receiver set on 7-of-7 plays, with Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, and Quincy Enunwa playing on all seven of them. Expect Anderson to be used underneath more in 2019 -- he only was targeted behind the line of scrimmage once last year -- and expect Crowder to see a healthy amount of targets as a potential fantasy WR4. If Sam Darnold takes off in his second year, Anderson and Crowder will easily exceed their ADPs. It’s a cheap team to stack in Best Ball. … With Bell out, Ty Montgomery played on 7-of-7 first-team snaps. Montgomery looks to be ahead of Elijah McGuire, Bilal Powell, and Trenton Cannon on the depth chart, making him a reasonable late-round target purely as a handcuff to Bell.
The starters didn’t play, which was really unfortunate because that meant multiple drives with Mike Glennon. When Glennon was done throwing interceptions, it was time for Nathan the Peter Man, who somehow broke off a 50-yard run. That was amazing. … Late-round rookie WR Hunter Renfrow has received a lot of buzz from camp, but he was only targeted once and didn’t start.
Jordan Howard and rookie Miles Sanders rotated pretty randomly in the first quarter. Both saw first- and third-down snaps, but Howard was on the field for the first play and ultimately out-snapped Sanders, nine to six on the 15 total snaps before Josh Adams took over. With so many first-teamers not playing in the opener, I’m not putting too much stock into the snap distribution here, but it’s safe to say Sanders is not the unquestioned starter at this point. … Dallas Goedert (calf) left the game but looked as good as advertised before departing. He’s expected to miss the remainder of the preseason. The plan is for Goedert to be ready for the season opener.
James Washington was the only receiver competing for a starting spot to play in the preseason opener. Washington has reportedly struggled in camp, but he showed out this weekend, catching 4-of-5 targets for 84 yards and one touchdown. … Day 3 rookie RB Benny Snell played extensively, but he only picked up 26 rushing yards on his 13 carries. There are legit concerns with his burst and speed.
San Francisco 49ers
Dante Pettis could’ve been given a day off like Goodwin and Taylor, but coach Kyle Shanahan wanted Pettis to go compete. Not the greatest sign for his clear-cut No. 1 receiver status, especially when rookies Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd were making plays in the preseason opener. Pettis was so good as a rookie last year, however, so I’m going to buy low if his ADP drops. … Samuel and Hurd played more snaps than any other Niners’ pass-catcher, and it paid off. Samuel made a nice grab downfield before he exited as the leading receiver. Hurd was equally good, if not better. The do-all rookie truck-sticked his way into the end zone on a crossing route for his first touchdown and then scored a second one on a jump ball in the corner of the end zone. If Trent Taylor (Jones stress fracture) misses games, Hurd has an opportunity to play meaningful snaps. He’s a rookie worth monitoring.
D.K. Metcalf was targeted five times (including penalties) and all five of his routes were on a vertical line. Two were double-move go routes, two were curls, and one was a screen. Not a whole lot of horizontal movement in the opener, but he was able to get some separation on those double moves.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The first-team offense played 12 snaps, enough play for us to pull out some valuable info. Nothing was bigger than receiving confirmation that Chris Godwin will slide into the slot in 11 personnel. Godwin kicked inside on all four of the Bucs’ three-receiver sets, plus scored a touchdown on a screen to finish off the drive. He’s about to eat this season. … O.J. Howard played on all first-team snaps, while Cameron Brate came in on six of them. The Bucs will use some two-tight end formations in 2019, but this is clearly Howard’s offense. … Peyton Barber was on the field for the first seven first-team snaps, then Ronald Jones played the next four snaps before Barber came back in when the Bucs were inside the 10-yard line. This looks like a full-blown timeshare.
Most skill-position starters sat out, so not a whole lot to learn here. Though Marcus Mariota was outplayed by Ryan Tannehill. Of course, Tannehill was playing against backups, but his line (12-of-16 for 130 yards and two touchdowns) looks a lot better than Mariota’s (4-of-8 for 24 scoreless yards). It shouldn’t be a big surprise if Tannehill makes late-season starts when the Titans fall out of the playoff picture.
Case Keenum started the game, completing 4-of-9 passes for 60 yards and one touchdown. And then it was Dwayne Haskins time. The first-round rookie had some really nice throws but also had two interceptions, one badly underthrown and one badly overthrown. The Redskins need to get him a lot of reps throughout the rest of the preseason. … Trey Quinn (thumb) might be limited the rest of the preseason, but he’s projected to open the season as the starting slot receiver.