Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire
The NFL preseason has officially kicked off, and the entire QB List staff watched all the games so you don’t have to. Here, we’ll have the thoughts of each of our QB List writers on the fantasy-relevant things they saw in Week 1’s preseason games.
Bucs vs. Dolphins
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s play has me optimistic about the Bucs – or, at least, it doesn’t have me terrified of drafting any of them. There is very little degradation of this offense from Jameis Winston to Fitzpatrick… in fact, I’d say Fitz looked better tonight. Working with the first team, he made few errors and displayed a willingness to force the ball to Mike Evans, an encouraging but unsurprising sign.
There was very little in this game that did surprise me, but Peyton Barber certainly commanded attention. Drawing the start and remaining on the field almost the entire time with the first unit, he displayed burst I didn’t know he had, with his touchdown run serving as a fine example. He also handled a few dump-offs from Fitzpatrick extremely well and appeared adept in picking up his blocking assignments and recognizing when to leak out. I see him winning the job over Ronald Jones II, who looked fine running the ball but had a bad drop on his first target. His pass blocking was also suspect, which lines up with reports from camp. Jones is even more undersized than Barber, so it’s tough to envision a place for him on the goal-line, either. Jacquizz Rodgers notably began replacing Jones on third downs. Overall, Jones looked average while Barber looked impressive. I’d swap their ADPs at this point.
Chris Godwin ran some clean routes but just failed to hang on to what would have been an impressive catch on a slightly overthrown ball from Fitzpatrick. He would later hook up with Winston for a pair of nice receptions. It’s been reported he could push Desean Jackson for the #2 WR job, and he looked the part tonight.
As for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill looked underwhelming as usual. He looked the ways of both Kenny Stills and Danny Amendola multiple times, but it seems pretty unlikely that there’s a Jarvis Landry on this team in 2018. Albert Wilson got open a few times playing with the second unit but didn’t show very good catching technique, as he allowed a pass to nail him in the stomach. I’m not sure if Devante Parker even suited up.
Frank Gore logged a DNP, while Kenyan Drake showed nice elusiveness and vision on his few carries. Rookie Kalen Ballage replaced Drake mid-way through the first drive and was fed a ton of touches throughout the rest of the half – likely because the Dolphins know he needs the reps. Ballage shows some physical potential and does well at fighting for yards after contact, but can best be described as rough around the edges. At one point, he made an impressive leap over a defender but coughed up the ball in the process. He’s a fast and big athlete who could steal some red zone touches on occasion, but I envision him fighting Gore for carries rather than Drake, who was clearly the most refined running back on the field tonight. Friends don’t let friends reach for Kalen Ballage.
The tight ends on both teams made few appearances tonight, with Cameron Brate only getting involved a few drives in with Winston, and Dolphins rookie Mike Gesicki being overthrown on a decent route in the endzone. Brate and O.J. Howard will likely cap each other’s upside this season, and Gesicki should not be given any expectations as a rookie. Evan Engram’s rookie season was an incredible outlier for rookie tight ends that is unlikely to be repeated any time soon.