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Thursday Night Preseason Week 1: Fantasy and Handicapping Preview
Let’s take a look at each of the 12 games (12 games in one night, really? Wow) to start the ‘real’ preseason – the player(s)/situation(s) I’m most excited/expecting to see (trying to read into who is and isn’t playing) from each team and a handicapping pitch for the degenerates, like me, who bet preseason football.
CAR at BUF (-3.0)
CAR: There has been so much hype around rookie CB Donte Jackson, I am hoping he gets a good run and I can see what the excitement is about. I wasn’t big on him coming out of LSU, but ready to have my mind changed. He may be making the leap from rookie to starter Week 1 this year.
BUF: You know what I want to see, right? A Josh Allen crash and burn. I hate that I’m that mean, but this is what I do for a living. My scouting is strong that Allen is not a good NFL QB. If he struggles…I’ll give him a rookie debut ’free pass’ (kinda). I’ll not be too hard. If he does great things, I will have to go into witness protection for a week.
Who I really want to see is UDFA RB Keith Ford…in case LeSean McCoy is taken out of the stadium in shackles at half-time.
BET? Carolina’s QB depth chart after Cam is a nightmare. The Bills starting duo…they aren’t ideal for the NFL, but they aren’t bad – and have much to prove. I’d lean Buffalo, but I don’t feel strong about it at all.
CHI at CIN (-2.0)
CHI: We should get a glimpse of the 1st-team offense. All I really want to see is how Allen Robinson is moving around. All the way back or mostly back? I don’t need confirmation on Trubisky and Tarik, etc., because I know I’m right. How healthy/fully back ARob is – that I don’t know.
CIN: If we see some first-team work, I want to see how much Andy Dalton leans on Very Deep Sleeper Tyler Boyd. I also want to see how DE Jordan Willis is progressing.
BET? Cincy has hot garbage at backup QB like the Bears do. After the starters leave, this game could be a mess. I’d lean Cincy for their better 2nd-team offense, and RB Tra Carson should be ready to be king of preseason again. My two over/under win total best bet teams facing each other!
TB at MIA (-1.5)
TB: Looking forward to seeing a very quiet in camp Ronald Jones against real NFL defenses. I’m not a fan and let’s see if I’m right.
MIA: Really want to see how Mike Gesicki moves on the NFL stage. He’s ultra-elite on paper…and that never shows on the field.
BET? I’m guessing Jameis Winston gets a decent amount of time the first three preseason games, since he’s done the first three weeks of the regular season. While JW is terrible, he’s better than Miami’s backup QBs. Winston has a lot to prove/reassemble, so he likely gives 125% with his opportunities this preseason – so, I would lean meekly with the Bucs in this game.
CLE (-1.0) at NYG
CLE: I think we all want to see the Baker Mayfield show. I will be watching DT Larry Ogunjobi to see if the breakout is upon us. I’ll also look to see if the Browns can make it through this game without another drug issue coming to light with any of their WRs.
NYG: If we get Davis Webb vs. Mayfield…it harkens back to their Texas Tech days, where Webb ascended to the starting job and that forced walk-on Mayfield to scurry off to Oklahoma…to win the Heisman…and for Webb to get pushed to Cal by Patrick Mahomes. I want to see Webb outshine Mayfield to get him some career momentum.
BET? I like the Giants here with Webb-Lauletta outshining whatever comes after Mayfield. I’m thinking they won’t play Mayfield a ton for fear of lighting the QB controversy fuse any more than they have to.
PIT (-3.0) at PHI
PIT: Wow…I get to see the rookie trio tonight, the future of the Steelers…hopefully they play a decent amount. Our first real glimpse at Rudolph-Samuels-Washington. The one I’m most interested in is Rudolph, to see how he is settling in…or, if he has ‘a night’ like what Trubisky-Sloter had their first/amazing outing last preseason.
PHI: Anytime Josh Adams is not touching the ball, I am boycotting this game.
BET? I lean Steelers, but I worry Pittsburgh is going to chuck Josh Dobbs out there too long to let him implode leading to his upcoming release.
NO at JAX (-3.0)
NO: Two players… I want to see what rookie RB Boston Scott looks like on the NFL level, but I really want to checkout small-school/big WR-turned-TE Dan Arnold in action. See how he moves and looks in his conversion on a team with unremarkable TE talent, outside of ageless-but-aged Ben Watson.
JAX: I want to see if (a) the Jags run a series or two with the first team, and then if so (b) is Keelan Cole starting and more ‘the guy’ than anyone realizes…or ‘just a guy’ for targets.
BET? This is a best bet candidate, whatever that means in preseason terms – go with the Saints. Loaded backfield depth with guys trying to impress for the starting role Weeks 1-4. But the biggest reason – they’ll go Tom Savage-Taysom Hill a good amount at QB, and probably a lot of Taysom…and Taysom used to be great. The Jags will roll with Kessler-Lee the awful QB-brothers. Bet a dinner on the Saints.
WAS at NE (-3.0)
WAS: If Washington rolls out their starters for a series or two, everyone is going to leap to regular-season targeting conclusions between Doctson-Crowder-Richardson based on a small sample. It will change ADPs on them all week. Let’s see who the winners and losers are.
NE: If I see the starters, even starters minus Brady, and Cordarrelle Patterson is out there as a starting WR…I will lose my mind. If he has a nice showing…ADP rocket ship ride. I want him to succeed but also stay under the radar. Don’t think I can have it both ways.
BET? We could see a lot of Kevin Hogan for WAS, and that’s a good thing. Teams get excited about playing the Pats, even in the preseason, while New England just goes about their business. I like Washington here a lot.
LAR at BAL (-3.0)
LAR: I want to see how the linebackers look…all the ones trying to land the opening starting jobs. There’s 4-5 of them in the running.
BAL: MORE rookie UDFA RB Mark Thompson, please.
BET? I want to just take the points because this game is a shoulder shrug, but I’d really be pro-Rams if I knew how much time Brandon Allen was getting – who I very much want to see stomp a mudhole in Eric Dickerson’s, Rams’ insider, favorite Rams QB Sean Mannion.
TEN at GB (pick)
TEN: Hoping rookie QB Luke Falk gets a long look with not the bottom of the barrel players around him and shines a bit.
GB: I want to see how rookie LB Oren Burks looks at inside linebacker. He’s got a golden opportunity to start Week 1, I want to see if that’s all that exciting or not.
BET? I’m going to lean Tennessee assuming Rodgers doesn’t play, and Luke Falk gets good time, but those are ‘ifs’.
HOU at KC (-2.5)
HOU: I want LB Dylan Cole to get 20 tackles in the 1st-quarter, so that someone might recognize he’s the best linebacker on the team…a future star.
KC: I want to see how Spencer Ware looks after all his injuries, if he even plays…I assume he will.
BET? I thought the Texans may have had the worst backup QBs in the league, and then I looked at the Chiefs roster. Tough call. More playmakers on the Chiefs on the depths of the roster, so I’ll go KC with little conviction.
Summary: Bet the Saints tonight and maybe the Redskins.
Fantasy analysis of each and every game this week and all preseason for free view on Fantasy Football Metrics.
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