NFL fans and fantasy players got just a taste of the 2019 season with last week’s Hall of Fame Game, but last night brought the full experience with the kickoff of Week One of the pre-season featuring an 11-game slate. Here’s what you missed…
New England- 31
If you dabbled in pre-season DFS, you probably needed Patriots undrafted rookie WR Jakobi Meyers to cash a winning ticket. With WR Julian Edelman (thumb) missing camp, it has been Meyers seeing first-team reps for New England and that carried over to this game. Meyers caught six passes for 69 yards and two touchdowns as the Patriots cruised against their former defensive coordinator. With so much uncertainty at the wide receiver position for New England, Meyers could have a real role in this offense.
Things weren’t as positive for the Lions. Not only were they held to just three points, but veteran WR Jermaine Kearse suffered a broken leg early in the game, ending his season.
In one of the surprises of the night, Ravens QB Lamar Jackson played three series, leading his team to a pair of scores. Jackson finished with 59 passing yards and a touchdown and surprisingly had no rushing attempts. Jackson suggested recently that he would look to run the ball less in 2019. Jackson found WR Willie Snead for a first-quarter touchdown and the Ravens never looked back.
Rookie WR Miles Boykin has drawn loads of praise early in camp and he finished with four grabs for 39 yards on a team-high nine targets.
The Eagles did not use QB Carson Wentz in this game, as expected, but the quarterback position was still the top story for Philly, and not for good reasons. Top backup QB Nate Sudfeld, who had 177 yards and a touchdown in the first half, suffered a broken wrist and was carted off the field. Following the game, HC Doug Pederson said while Sudfeld would need surgery, the injury was not considered season-ending and the team would not make a move at the position. QBs Cody Kessler and Clayton Thorson are next on the depth chart.
The Titans don’t have a quarterback controversy, but maybe they should. Starter Marcus Mariota played one series, completing four of eight pass attempts for 24 yards. New backup QB Ryan Tannehill, coming over from Miami, tossed a couple of touchdown passes and 130 yards. Even potential third-string Logan Woodside had 138 yards and two scores.
The Colts and Bills played a competitive game and the Colts stayed competitive thanks to backup QB Chad Kelly, a Rotoworld favorite. Kelly threw for 121 yards and led the Colts in rushing with 53 yards and a touchdown.
Buffalo might have two of the biggest running back names in the league in veterans LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore, but it was rookie RB Devin Singletary who was the star in this game and could be claiming the starting job. Singletary rushed for 27 yards and nine carries and also caught all three targets for 21 yards. Expect Singletary to be a riser in late fantasy drafts.
New York Giants- 31
New York Jets- 22
The matchup of New York teams included a one-hour weather delay and a surprisingly hot start from a rookie quarterback. After Jets QB Sam Darnold led a quick scoring drive for the Jets, hitting WR Jamison Crowder from two-yards out, veteran QB Eli Manning drew the start for the Giants. Manning attempted only one pass on his series and was replaced by rookie QB Daniel Jones. Fantasy players and many Giants fans had low expectations for Jones, but he changed minds in his short time on the field. Jones completed all five of his pass attempts, including a touchdown strike to WR Bennie Fowler. We’ve got ourselves a quarterback controversy!
For the Jets, Darnold lit things up on his drive but RB Le’Veon Bell sat this game out in what some expected to be his Jets’ debut. Giants RB Paul Perkins, fighting for the backup role behind starter Saquon Barkley, struggled. Perkins dropped an easy pass and lost a fumble, totaling nine yards on four carries.
The Redskins are one of the few teams with an ongoing quarterback competition and the preseason opener didn’t exactly go well for either veteran QB Case Keenum or rookie QB Dwayne Haskins. Keenum drew the start and did throw the team’s lone touchdown but completed just four of nine pass attempts. Haskins threw a pair of interceptions, including a pick-six to Browns LB Mack Wilson. RBs Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice both sat out this game.
Browns QB Baker Mayfield was nearly perfect, completing five of six pass attempts for 77 yards and a touchdown to WR Rashard Higgins, who led the team with 98 yards on five catches. He nearly had a second score later in the game before being tackled inside the one-yard line. WRs Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry did not play in the game.
Earlier in the day, the Browns traded disgruntled RB Duke Johnson to the Houston Texans for a conditional third-round pick. Johnson had demanded a trade at the start of camp though Cleveland had been reluctant with RB Kareem Hunt set to serve an eight-game suspension to start the season. The Texans, who dumped RB D’Onta Foreman last weekend, clearly have a big role planned for Johnson given the compensation they surrendered.
New England’s Meyers wasn’t the only undrafted free agent receiver to ball out on Thursday night. Miami’s WR Preston Williams, who went undrafted due to some off-field issues in his past, hauled in four passes for 97 yards. He made an amazing one-handed grab for 36 yards and later had a near touchdown from QB Josh Rosen. The Dolphins receiver depth chart is wide open, just the kind that could see a UDFA quickly make noise. The quarterback position is also unsettled for Miami. Veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick drew the start but it was Rosen who made a statement. Rosen finished with 191 yards and looked confident throughout the game.
The Falcons sat the majority of their starters but rookie RB Qadree Ollison led the team with 41 yards and a touchdown. Earlier reports suggest the team will use a committee approach behind starting RB Devonta Freeman, which is good news for Ollison and reflects poorly on RB Ito Smith, who finished with seven yards and a touchdown on four carries.
This game saw the debut of Bears rookie RB David Montgomery, and he delivered with a touchdown run. Following the trade of RB Jordan Howard earlier this offseason, Montgomery is expected to be the starter and he finished with 46 total yards on six touches.
The Panthers starters are set at most positions but there is still some doubt at both quarterback and running back. Rookie QB Will Grier passed for 77 yards and a touchdown, while QB Kyle Allen completed seven of 11 passes for 76 yards. Undrafted rookie RB Elijah Holyfield led the way with 26 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and also had a receiving touchdown on his two receptions for 13 yards.
Green Bay- 28
This game saw a scary injury to Texans WR Keke Coutee. He needed to be carted from the field after what was feared to be a serious leg injury. Following the game, it was revealed Coutee had suffered an ankle injury that was not considered serious. Exhale.
Texans QB Joe Webb played the entire game, a rarity in the pre-season, and completed 25 of 40 pass attempts for 286 yards and a touchdown. He also led the team with 47 rushing yards. Following the acquisition of RB Duke Johnson earlier in the day, the Texans backfield competition just got a lot more interesting. Rookie RB Karan Higdon totaled 37 yards on eight carries while fellow rook Damarea Crockett rushed six times for 24 yards and a touchdown.
Another rookie RB Dexter Williams of the Packers led the team with 62 yards on 14 carries and also had an 18-yard reception.
Los Angeles Chargers- 13
The Cardinals and Chargers faced off in the night’s most-anticipated game because it featured the debut of Arizona’s top-overall pick QB Kyler Murray. The Heisman Trophy winner did not disappoint. Although he only played one series, Murray was impressive. He completed all seven passes he attempted, although one was ruled incomplete as WR KeeSean Johnson had stepped out of bounds. While the Cardinals were stopped on the drive, Murray showed poise and patience throughout his limited time in the game. Fantasy players will be tempted to give in to the hype based on Murray’s performance but remember, he was already being drafted as a top-12 quarterback in all formats, so now he is simply doing what was expected of him.
On the other side of the ball, the Chargers running back usage was worth noting with RB Melvin Gordon continuing his holdout. RB Austin Ekeler drew the start but fumbled near the goal line on the team’s first drive. On the next possession, it was RB Justin Jackson who got the red zone attempt and capitalized, scoring the team’s first touchdown and finishing with 22 yards on five carries. Ekeler totaled 69 yards on eight touches.
Veteran QB Joe Flacco made his Denver debut, playing one series and completing three passes for 19 yards on a drive that ended with a field goal. Former Denver QB Paxton Lynch got some form of revenge against his old team, throwing for a touchdown and coming away with the win.
Rookie QB Drew Lock passed for 180 yards and a touchdown while Seattle rookie WR DK Metcalf caught one of four targets for eight yards. Metcalf was targeted on two deep throws, getting the chance to show off his amazing speed but coming up short on the receptions.