AFC Recap: Week 1 Preseason Musings
AFC Recap: Week 1 Preseason Musings
We will recap Week 1 of the preseason by starting with news and notes from the AFC teams. This is a continuation of the training camp series that has been released throughout the start of the NFL offseason. The AFC will continue to come out on Tuesday with the NFC being released on Wednesday. Feel free to click either of the conference links to read last weeks recaps.
As with the training camp series, teams will be sorted by division and the rank they finished last season. There are plenty of noteworthy items to cover, so let us get rolling.
New England Patriots
The New England Patriots defeated the Detroit Lions by a score of 31-3 on Thursday night. Maurice Harris is garnering a lot of buzz and that will not subside with his touchdown reception in Week 1 versus the Detroit Lions. Harris showed some upside in limited duties for the Washington Redskins last season. Other stat lines of note were Jakobi Meyers catching 6 balls for 69 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The Miami Dolphins defeated the Atlanta Falcons by a score of 34-27 on Thursday night. Preston Williams continues to shine and put up a 4 catch for 97 yards stat line. Another stat line of interest was the one belonging to Myles Gaskin. Gaskin scored on the ground and in the air. It is worth noting with neither Kalen Ballage or Kenyan Drake separating themselves in camp. Gaskin was a touchdown machine in college as well.
The Buffalo Bills defeated the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 24-16 on Thursday night. Zay Jones suffered an injury scare but returned to the sidelines and was cleared to return. Jones will likely be battling Robert Foster for targets in 2019. However, Foster caught just one of four targets. Second-year quarterback Josh Allen had a nice rapport with Foster last year, earning a team-best 122.5 passer rating when targeting the wideout from Alabama.
New York Jets
Wrapping up the AFC East Week 1 recap, we had the New York Jets losing to the New York Giants by a score of 22-31. Le’Veon Bell sat this one out. It is interesting to note that Elijah McGuire hauled in six passes for 38 yards on seven targets. Expect similar passing game usage for Bell during the regular season. The running back position saw 74 targets from Darnold last year. That number is certain to rise this season.
The Baltimore Ravens blanked the Jacksonville Jaguars by a score of 29-0 on Thursday night. Justice Hill was a bright spot for the Ravens, toting the rock 10 times for 33 yards and hauling in another 2 receptions for an additional 16 yards. Hill looked elusive and a continued strong showing in the preseason may be a bit of a hit to Mark Ingram’s 2019 value. Another stat line to note was the 9 targets that Miles Boykin saw. Unfortunately, he was only able to turn in 4 catches for 39 yards on said targets.
— Marcus Mosher (@Marcus_Mosher) August 9, 2019
The Pittsburgh Steelers edged out the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a final of 30-28 on Friday night. James Washington was the story of this one. Washington snared 4 of 5 targets for 84 yards and a touchdown. We have been waiting for signs of life from the Oklahoma State grad. While it is only one preseason game, it was nice to see progress from the soon to be second-year wideout. On another note, Benny Snell had an unimpressive 26 yards on 13 carries, good for a putrid 2.0 yard per carry average.
While Washington has seen an up and down ADP in redraft formats, his dynasty value is rising steadily over the past month. Friday night’s performance will likely make it soar even higher. Hopefully, you bought it when the time was right.
The Cleveland Browns easily took care of the Washington Redskins by a final of 30-10 on Thursday night. A couple of weeks ago, this series covered Rashard Higgins and his nice start to camp. The four-game suspension to Antonio Callaway and the departure of Duke Johnson is extremely likely to open up even more targets for the unheralded wideout.
Higgins proceeded to turn 6 targets into 5 receptions, 98 yards, and a touchdown. It does not feel like Higgins is being talked about enough in fantasy circles. Yes, there are a lot of mouths to feed on the Browns, but in what is expected to be an up-tempo offense, there should be plenty of opportunities to go around. Especially at the ADP cost beyond WR67 (there is no WR data past that from Fantasy Football Calculator).
In case you missed it a couple of weeks ago, here is how efficient Baker Mayfield was when targeting Higgins in 2018 (43 targets). The other solid stat line from this game was that of Mayfield, who was an efficient 5 for 5 with 77 yards and 1 touchdown.
Closing out the AFC North Week 1 recap, we had the Cincinnati Bengals losing to Kansas City Chiefs by a final of 17-38 on Saturday night. Not much exciting to go over here, but it is worth noting that Trayveon Williams got the start and the goal line work early on with Joe Mixon sitting out. A breakdown of how the backfield may shake out can be read here.
Williams has shown more than capable of handling a load on his own. The only other stat line of note was that of rookie quarterback Ryan Finley completed 13 of 18 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown. There was one interception thrown as well.
The Houston Texans were edged out by the Green Bay Packers by a final of 26-28 on Thursday night. Joe Webb was the only quarterback that saw the field for the Texans, but the biggest news came shortly after the release of last weeks camp coverage article. The Cleveland Browns traded Duke Johnson to the Texans for a 2020 draft pick shortly after releasing D’Onta Foreman.
While the expectation is that Duke Johnson immediately will reclaim his 2017 form, we need to temper our excitement some. Bill O’Brien has never had his RB2 targeted more than 31 times in a season. Of further note, his RB1 has never seen more than 59 targets and that was all the way back in 2014. Pump the brakes a bit, folks. The other obvious news of note was the injury suffered by the brittle wideout Keke Coutee.
As mentioned above the Indianapolis Colts registered their first loss of the preseason, losing to the Buffalo Bills by a final of 16-24 on Thursday night. The story around the Colts continues to be the health of Andrew Luck. Deon Cain made his way on to the stat sheet with 2 receptions for 15 yards on 4 targets. Cain is an interesting name to watch after sitting out all of last year with an ACL tear.
In case you forgot, here are some highlights from Cain’s career at Clemson. Chad Kelly also had a solid performance registering 13 of 19 pass completions for 121 yards and scampering for another 49 yards and a touchdown on just 4 carries.
The Tennesse Titans made easy work of the Philadelphia Eagles with a score of 27-10 on Thursday night. Ryan Tannehill got the start with Marcus Mariota sidelined and played most of the first half. Tannehill was effective, completing 75% of his passes (12 for 16) for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. The signing of the former Miami Dolphins was a smart one for the Titans. With Mariota often dealing with soft tissue injuries, it is good to have a backup with a similar skill set.
Neither quarterback has played a full season in the NFL over the past three seasons. Mariota has played in 44 of 48 regular-season games and Tannehill just 24 of 48. Neither one of them are consistent and are best avoided in all formats less SuperFlex. A look at the game logs from last year, courtesy of FFStatistics show just how up and down they both were.
We round out the AFC South Week 1 preseason recap with the Jacksonville Jaguars. As noted earlier, the Jaguars were blanked by the Baltimore Ravens 0-29 on Thursday night. As indicated by the final score, there is nothing of note to report on for the Jaguars. There were 112 total yards of offense recorded for Jacksonville. Let us hope that this is not a sign of things to come. The entire breakdown of the offense can be found here.
Do not expect a pass-heavy offense here either. Doug Marrone has been below average for pass attempts the majority of his career in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs
While covering the Cincinnati Bengals, we saw that they were beaten by the Kansas City Chiefs 38-17. Mecole Hardman is being overshadowed by everyone drooling over Darwin Thompson. Hardman had a spectacular 17-yard touchdown catch that showcased his breakaway speed.
Thompson’s performance was notable, but let us not overreact to one game that saw Damien Williams sit out with hamstring tightness. If Williams is healthy, and Thompson is playing ahead of him in Week 3 of the preseason, then we can revisit the situation. Oh, and Carlos Hyde started and got an early touchdown as well. While not ultra-efficient, he may be very useful in this particular offense for fantasy purposes.
A closer look at Hardman’s touchdown and blazing speed below.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) August 11, 2019
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers were defeated by the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 13-17 late Thursday night. Did we get a small glimpse of how the backfield may shakeout should Melvin Gordon continue to hold out? Maybe. The early signs are that Austin Ekeler may be the back the Chargers lean on more should Gordon miss time.
Both of Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson saw 5 rushing attempts. However, Ekeler saw 3 targets in the passing game to a goose egg for Jackson. Let us not forget yet again, that Ekeler was still on an RB2 pace with Melvin Gordon active for 12 games in 2018.
The Denver Broncos were defeated by the Seattle Seahawks with a final of 14-22 on Thursday night. The buzz kill that was Theo Riddick did not last long. Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay owners can breathe a short sigh of relief as Riddick is expected to be sidelined multiple weeks with a shoulder injury.
Freeman staked his claim for more chances, rushing for 49 yards on 3 carries compared to 10 yards on 4 carries for Lindsay. Both players saw 1 target in the passing game. Sadly, Joe Flacco does not have much of a history of targeting his RB1 since the days of Ray Rice in Baltimore.
Antonio, Antonio, where for art thou, Antonio? The Oakland Raiders surprisingly beat the Los Angeles Rams by a low score of 14-3 on Saturday night. The big story off the field is obviously that of Antonio Brown. Similar to the Jaguars, despite the Raiders scoring 2 touchdowns, the box score leaves a lot to be desired.
Veteran DeAndre Washington showed well, but that is likely because Josh Jacobs did not suit up. Mike Glennon threw his usual high amount of interceptions so Derek Carr is safe for yet another year in Oakland. It may not much matter which quarterback starts in Oakland. Jon Gruden has not had a QB1 in almost 20 years.
This concludes the preseason AFC Week 1 recap article. Thank you for coming back for the third edition of the training camp fallout and preseason coverage series. Next week there will be the fourth update from both conferences that will bring you up to speed on the latest issues relating to fantasy. Be sure to keep a lookout for the AFC each Tuesday and the NFC every Wednesday. As we gear up for peak draft season, these are the issues we need to be paying the closest attention to.