Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley faced off in their NFL debuts, headlining week one of the preseason, while fellow rookie Derrius Guice suffered a torn ACL and Andrew Luck returned to the field for the first time in 19 months.
Before we get started on the takeaways, as a point of reference, players that failed to be mentioned did nothing of significance to help or hurt their 2018 fantasy football outlook.
AFC North Preseason Takeaways:
Mixon showcased his talent and ability to make a sound cutback on his final carry, planting his foot and exploding, during the Bengal’s first drive, even behind Pro Football Focus’ 26th ranked offensive line going into 2018. Mixon had three carries for nine yards, but he was flanked out wide, where he was able to catch and make a guy miss to get in the end zone on a 24-yard reception from Dalton. My takeaway is going into week 2 of the preseason fantasy owners should look to see if this will be a consistent wrinkle in Mixon’s game.
Joe Mixon is already in midseason form. ? pic.twitter.com/A412x6xhBc
— Lee Benson (@LeeBensonNews9) August 9, 2018
I admit it. I was skeptical of Taylor entering Haley’s offense that annually had its quarterbacks attempt at least 550 passes a season while in Pittsburgh. Taylor hasn’t attempted 450 passes in a season, let alone 550, but after watching week one of the preseason my takeaway is that Taylor’s capable of making the leap in attempts. Taylor completed all five of his passes for 99 yards and a touchdown, even running the no-huddle offense we saw so much of with Haley in Pittsburgh. Taylor moved up from 28 to 21 in my quarterback rankings.
— Jeff D Lowe (@JeffDLowe) August 9, 2018
Njoku recorded two receptions, but both were for touchdowns. The first, from Tyrod Taylor, was on a play where he was mismatched against a linebacker. However, the second, from Baker Mayfield, was a 10-yard pass thrown high, allowing Njoku to high-point the football over two defensive backs. The takeaway is that if Josh Gordon isn’t ready for week one, Njoku will challenge Rashard Higgins and Antonio Callaway to be the number two target behind Jarvis Landry. To put things into perspective, Njoku is my 22nd ranked tight end.
Baker Mayfield throws a touchdown to David Njoku, 2nd for Njoku in this game, the first one came from Tyrod.pic.twitter.com/PhJRVPu98F
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 10, 2018
AFC East Takeaways:
I’m not a believer in Benjamin. He’s my 47th ranked wide receiver. In addition, I’m not a believer in the Bills’ offensive line, which lost Eric Wood and Richie Incognito in the offseason. However if Benjamin can receive average quarterback play this season, Benjamin should beat his ADP, with a chance to eclipse 120 targets.
Kelvin Benjamin scores a 28-yard touchdown against his former team. pic.twitter.com/uF4uQ0lWgP
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 9, 2018
AFC West Preseason Takeaways:
Freeman should win the Broncos’ running downs role, after showing poise on four carries for 38 yards and a touchdown. I wouldn’t be rushing to draft Freeman in PPR leagues (yet). Two plays from Freeman’s NFL debut stick out to me. On back-to-back plays Freeman was pushed back into Case Keenum attempting to pass protect, forcing an incomplete pass, and on the next play, Freeman dropped an easy reception coming out the backfield.
Royce Freeman is the current RB30. In the next week it wouldn’t be surprising to see him overtake Ronald Jones, Rashaad Penny and Sony Michel in draft position. pic.twitter.com/mfvfYcQipg
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) August 13, 2018
NFC Preseason North Takeaways:
Williams made a case to be the Packers’ three-down back, after carrying the ball five times for 16 yards and bringing in an eight-yard reception for a touchdown. Ty Montgomery, the presumed third-down back, did not record a reception. Aaron Jones, who’s suspended the first two games of the 2018 season, did not play.
"There is something very special about this young man."
— Sean Walker (@RealDSean) August 10, 2018
Stefon Diggs Takeaway Tidbit: Diggs recorded three receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown (from Kirk Cousins). In addition, Adam Thielen did not record a reception, let alone a target from Cousins.
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) August 12, 2018
Johnson impressed during his NFL debut, carrying the ball seven times for 34 yards and recording four receptions for 33 yards. It remains to be seen what role Johnson can carve out, with the Lions bringing in LeGarrette Blount via free agency and the team already having an established third-down back in Theo Riddick. But frankly, Johnson looked better than Blount and Riddick did not play a down. I’ve moved Johnson up to 26 in my rankings. Pro Football Focus ranks the Lions’ offensive line 8th going into the season.
— Steve Frederick (@SportsGuyTweets) August 11, 2018
NFC South Preseason Takeaways:
CJ Anderson Takeaway Tidbit: All of Anderson’s snaps were after the starters exited the game.
Jones recorded eight carries for nine yards and a touchdown, but the Buccaneers came out Monday morning and stated Peyton Barber is their starter. Barber carried the ball four times for 21 yards and a touchdown and recorded two receptions for negative one yards.
— Steve Frederick (@SportsGuyTweets) August 10, 2018
So far this rookie RB class has Derrius Guice out for the season, Sony Michel hurt for the preseason, Rashaad Penny getting outplayed by Chris Carson, Ronald Jones getting outplayed by Peyton Barber and Nick Chubb clearly as a backup to Carlos Hyde.
— Jamey Eisenberg (@JameyEisenberg) August 10, 2018
NFC East Preseason Takeaways:
I’m going to keep beating the Prescott drums until you draft him! Simply, he was a top 12 fantasy quarterback on a PPG basis with Ezekiel Elliott and he was not without him. After watching Prescott sit in the pocket and deliver a strike for a touchdown, I have no reason to believe he won’t pick up where he left off last season before Elliott was suspended.
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 10, 2018
NFC West Takeaways:
To round things out, let’s take a look at Penny, who carried the ball eight times for 16 yards and recorded two receptions for seven yards. Chris Carson, like last season when he was healthy, proved to be the most efficient running back behind a weak but improved Seattle offensive line. Like with Peyton Barber, Carson’s ADP will begin to rise. Rookie running backs such as Penny and Jones face a demotion in rankings if their performances continue.
Chris Carson vs Rashaad Penny: every single carry, game 1
– Carson 6.5 YPC, 100% Success Rate
– Penny 2.0 YPC, 12.5% Success Rate pic.twitter.com/6qMK62Hcyi
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 10, 2018