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December 13, 2017

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3 Grain of Salt Takeaways from Preseason Week 1

 

The first week of preseason is always a trying period for fantasy owners. For those that have had their drafts already, it serves as a time to see your players in action before the season. For those waiting for their drafts, then it helps to validate the opinions of many owners and experts alike.

 

With that in mind, fantasy fans do have a habit of being so starved for some kind of new football action that they read into the events of preseason a little too much.

 

The electric preseason run in 2015 by Ameer Abdullah stands out in the minds of many of such an example. Looking back into last year, fans were teased with the potential of both Devante Parker and Jay Ajayi flashing. Even the Falcons offense looked on pace to continue its 2016 dominance last year in preseason.

 

Essentially, the main thing to always keep in mind is to not get too excited over plays and rotations. After all, many of those may not necessarily translate into fantasy points this year.

 

Instead, what all of us as owners need to do is merely take notes of the week's action as information to keep in mind down the line.  

 

This week's article intends to do just that. Let's dive in and look at some of the more intriguing notes of week one to keep an eye on.

 

Christian McCaffrey

 

I have a serious hot and cold relationship going on with McCaffrey this year. Some days I lament over the idea of supporting his second round ADP when C.J Anderson is a clear upgrade from Jonathan Stewart. Thus, Anderson could look to get a similar workload of just shy of 200 carries and then limit the work McCaffrey gets as a rusher.

 

Also, there's just something disturbing about drafting a RB that had 10 games with less than 25 yards rushing the previous year. Taking that with one of my first two picks doesn't sit well with me.

 

On the flipside, I have days when I understand that McCaffrey finished as a low end RB1 or high end RB2 depending on the scoring format in 2017. It's completely feasible to imagine an increase in workload pushing him further along into RB1 territory. Look no further than Saints' RB Alvin Kamara who finished with 728 yards rushing and 826 yards receiving.

 

There is a case to be made that RBs heavily involved in the passing game don't need to get 1000 yards rushing to be high draft picks. It's a result of the changing times in the NFL. That's the catch for McCaffrey. His role in the passing game practically makes him an RB2. If he can increase his rushing total from 435 to 650 while maintaining his receiving workload, he would end up being a poor man's Alvin Kamara this year.

 

With that in mind, the interesting note of the week 1 game vs the Bills was how McCaffrey dominated the first team reps at RB. I expected to see a healthy dose of C.J Anderson worked in, but McCaffrey racked in all the rushing and receiving yards from the RB position while the first team was on the field.

 

Is that a sign that the hype around McCaffrey getting 25-30 touches a game is true? Maybe. But I wouldn't bank on it yet. Regardless of how nice the idea is for fantasy, McCaffrey still struggled between the tackles and excelled when running out in space. during the small sample size we saw. 

 

The Panthers may want to have McCaffrey as the workhorse, Anderson's larger frame and previous success may force them to change their mind. Either way, it is still far too early to tell, but it is something to keep an eye on. If McCaffrey continues to dominate snaps and get goal line carries, then that's a different story.

 

Marshawn Lynch

 

If it wasn't for social media being as rampant these days, Lynch's 60 yard TD run that got called back would be one of the greatest stories never told. Now that the run has been highlighted on various programs and twitter accounts many are under the assumption that Beast Mode is still alive and kicking.

 

I'm not saying Beast Mode is dead, but he is carrying around a load of dead weight in the form of Doug Martin. The issue with Lynch last year was not his lack of talent or age catching up to him. It was the fact that coaching staff failed to give a him 15 or more carries in 9 games in 2017. Among those games, he had 7 where he was given only 12 or less carries.

 

That formula could continue with a new head coach that brought in a younger back that has displayed his top talent multiple times. A 50/50 or even a 60/40 committee could severely limit Lynch's upside and one great run doesn't change the reality of the situation he is in.

 

Kelvin Benjamin

 

I'm sure many of fantasy owners remember the days when it was perfectly acceptable to draft Benjamin as high as the third round. Fast forward a few years later and he's viewed as nothing but depth on the bench for a worrisome Bills' offense.

 

Between that reality and his apparent gripe with former Panthers' QB Cam Newton, Benjamin came out in Week 1 to remind the fantasy world of his talent.

 

Among his four grabs, one included a beautiful sideline catch and then a 28 yard snag for a TD along the sideline. Was his explosive performance and the promising play of all 3 Buffalo QBs a sign of a breakout year?

 

It's hard to say.

 

Benjamin's frame allows him to be immediately considered a redzone option for any team, but he has yet to display the other necessary skills to be a dominant WR in the league. Granted, he is the best option aside from Lesean McCoy on the Bills' offense, so it's not crazy to believe he could get 1000 yards receiving and maybe 6 TDs. Not bad for a late round bench spot.

 

The reality of his situation is that the Bills' offense still remains an enigma, and a couple of good quarters won't change that. In the regular season, whatever QB that will be under center won't be facing the same vanilla base coverage looks like in preseason.

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