While the second and third weeks of preseason play are the most meaningful for fantasy football purposes, we still found noteworthy data to highlight from the opening week of action.
10) 64.5 percent completion rate: This was the combined effort of rookie quarterbacks DeShone Kizer (11-for-18), Deshaun Watson (15-for-25) and Mitchell Trubisky (18-for-25). None of them threw an interception. The speed of the game didn’t overwhelm any of them. Each made his mistakes, yet the overall body of work from each of them was above water. Why should you care? In the event any of these guys are called upon to start this year, this provides hope their respective receiving corps won’t be rendered useless as a result.
9) RB D’Onta Foreman, Houston Texans: Lamar Miller’s direct backup is Alfred Blue (6-33-1), but don’t mistake Foreman’s effort for being a product of facing inferior defensive talent. Sure, New England wasn’t throwing the kitchen sink at Houston, but Foreman looked decisive and like he belonged. That is about all one can ask of a late-round fantasy flier. He closed out his appearance with nine carries for 76 yards, including a 41-yard charge.
8) WR Taywan Taylor, Tennessee Titans: His ranking is depressed on this list only because of perspective. One more decent showing and he vaults up the list of fringe players commanding fantasy attention. The rookie has been overshadowed in hype by Corey Davis, and rightfully so. Given a chance to prove himself, the third-round pick from this spring’s draft mustered 56 yards on four receptions. Unassuming, sure, but his acrobatic, 42-yard reception was originally called a 67-yard touchdown on the field. Eric Decker has entered the territory of being an injury liability, and the aforementioned Davis is currently dealing with hamstring issues. Tajae Sharpe, a preseason darling last year, is on the PUP list. Taylor, know for his work ethic, has an outside shot at being a regular contributor in this offense.
7) RB Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars: The top rookie running back on most every draftboard played acceptable football against the New England Patriots. He averaged only 3.4 yards per carry, with a long of eight, but he managed to find the end zone. Had this have been a regular-season contest, gamers would have been saved by the short rushing score. There is little reason to believe Fournette won’t come close to living up to the hype in Year 1 after looking respectable in a tough test, all assuming his sore foot turns out to be minor.
6) RB Samaje Perine, Washington Redskins: Following reports of how well he was coming along early in the summer, Perine couldn’t translate it to the field in his preseason debut. The rookie rushed six times for a mere 15 yards (2.5 per carry). More importantly, he fumbled once and dropped a pass. Perine also looked lost in pass protection. It is early, so things can change, but that is obviously the wrong way to unseat an incumbent who is on the rise. Perine is a Rob Kelley handcuff or speculative pick.
5) RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals: The highly touted rookie made the most of his seven touches, going for 31 yards on the ground and another 11 through the air. Averaging 5.2 yards per carry helps illustrate why Mixon has received rave reviews. While we still have some concerns about the quality of Cincy’s offensive line play when it counts, this is a fine way to debut as a pro. Mixon is a high-risk, high-reward RB2 and more safely added as a third, which would require his draft stock to unexpectedly fall.
4) WR Tommylee Lewis, New Orleans Saints: It is pragmatic to have mixed feelings about Lewis following his 10-catch, 124-yard, one-TD outburst that paced all NFL receivers in the preseason’s opening week. He caught passes from Ryan Nassib and Garrett Grayson, which means chemistry with Drew Brees wasn’t proven. The 5-7, 168-pound wideout is used to clawing his way up depth charts and making the most of his chances. After losing Brandin Cooks, it is within reason to believe the Saints are open-minded about giving Lewis a legitimate chance to compete for catches. He could enjoy an occasional flash game in the regular season, although he isn’t draftable without a major injury to unforeseen ascension on the depth chart in the coming weeks.
3) WR Bryce Treggs, Philadelphia Eagles: Hauling in seven balls for 91 yards in an offense with suspect receivers does not go unnoticed by a coaching staff. Competition inferiority and vanilla defensive schemes aside, Treggs earned an opportunity to carve out a larger role after the Jordan Matthews trade. Nelson Agholor has looked great in camp, although it justifiably cannot remove two lost seasons from our memory banks. Torrey Smith is capable of going deep and going deep only, which places a heavy emphasis on the success of the injury-prone Alshon Jeffery. Treggs could get a shot at playing time via several paths. Watch his next preseason performance before a seriously considering an investment.
2) WR Damiere Byrd, Carolina Panthers: Ted Ginn departing in the offseason opened a hole in the downfield passing game. Byrd took a step closer to making the roster and earning a chance to plug that gap. The second-year wideout snared a pair of touchdowns, including a 50-yarder, on four catches for 98 yards. The Panthers added explosive running back Christian McCaffrey in the draft’s first round, as well as wideout Curtis Samuel a few rounds later. Off to a sluggish start, Samuel is anything but a lock for the primary receiver rotation. Another quality preseason showing should give Byrd the upper hand, if he hasn’t earned it already, and force fantasy owners to pay attention.
1) WR Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions: By exploding for a pair of scores in his NFL debut the rookie showed hints of why retired NFL receiver Chad Johnson called him “special.” Most prognisticators likely pointed to Golladay’s size (6-4, 213 pounds) and Anquan Boldin’s 2016 red zone success as indicators of where on the field Golladay would thrive. He scored twice on three catches Sunday, going for 23 yards on the first and 15 on the next. His size wasn’t a factor in either play, however, as awareness, timing and body control allowed him to score on a pair of precisely placed tosses from Jake Rudock. Detroit has no one like Golladay among its receiving corps and desperately needs his size in the red zone. This display wasn’t a fluke, and he deserves WR4 consideration.
We’ll toss in this honorable mention:
RB Joe Williams, San Francisco 49ers: After plenty of chatter saying how lost he looked and that he was buried on the depth chart behind a surging Carlos Hyde and Co., Williams toted the ball seven times for 60 yards — a healthy 8.6 yards-per-carry average. Again, this one gives a late-round gamble a little more credibility. Hyde’s injury-prone ways could interfere with a good camp, thrusting this rook into the fantasy spotlight. The key takeaway is to remember on draft day that Kyle Shanahan loves to rotate runners in his zone-blocking system.