What We Saw: Preseason Week 1

Catch everything you missed from a weekend chock full of football

Chargers @ Rams

Final Score: Chargers 34, Rams 17

Writer: Matthew Bevins (@MattBQbList on Twitter)


Just one week into football, and even the Los Angeles showdown has some excitement to it! The cross-town rivalry had hardly any battle, but the fans were excited, and we caught some attention to rookie players for our fantasy squads. If anyone is shocked, the Rams have roughly 2/3rds players under 24, so while the team is coached by prodigy Sean McVay, there are many many new names to remember and track. We got to see two rookie quarterbacks compete across from each other in Stetson Bennett and Max Duggan as well! Let’s dive in.


Los Angeles Rams




Stetson Bennett: 17/29, 191 Yards, TD | 2 carries, 2 yards


Stetson Bennett comes into the season with a barrage of jokes about his age (it is kind of incredible he played with Sony Michel in college, who has since retired before Stetson played a professional snap), but Stetson was truthfully much more impressive to watch than I had anticipated. Poise and complete reading through his routes was something I didn’t anticipate to this level.

Bennett came in with 8 minutes left in the second quarter, taking over for Brett Rypien, after being the anticipated opening quarterback, and made the most of his opportunities despite a losing effort.


  • Communication between Bennett and Puka Nacua was noticeable, as he tried to find him on a decent amount of targets, starting with his first completion on a crossing route across the line.
  • Some of Bennett’s extra chances were due in part to young player processing. Early in his entry, he was able to get extra chances due to a Chargers’ unsportsmanlike conduct.
  • The touchdown pass to Puka showcased some poise, awaiting an opening and hitting Puka at the front of the endzone, spicy sandwiched between two defenders.



Missed Opportunities

  • Stetson at times did seem to have some youth-like play, his play overall did show some promise but there were workable moments where he watched a line crumble around him waiting too long for openings.
  • Bennett ended up with over 190 yards, but his passing collection seemed to live only short and in the middle of the field, which could be schemed up against by professional squads and in non-preseason situations


Brett Rypien: 3/6, 11 yards | 1 rush, 6 yards


Not much to be seen from Rypien, as he was seen for a little over a quarter, and was mostly a lamp post that handed balls off to potential running backs the Rams wanted to scope out. He ended up with just six attempts and left hardly an impression.


  • Rypien was coming into the game classified as the backup to Stafford, but it seems entirely possible they wanted to kickstart Stetson’s motivation, as he was seen as mostly a way to rush the ball before being pulled just a quarter and a half into the game.


Running Back


Zack Evans: 8 carries, 34 yards


Zack Evans comes into the season as a mysterious and alluring player for dynasty formats, as he was selected in the sixth round out of Ole Miss. The original concept of breaking through the glut of mid-tier running backs could be an issue, but Evans carries an intriguing skill set and something that could vault him to the top of the running back room. Ranking 10th in yards per carry at Ole Miss, he seemed to be someone McVay is going to want to see a lot of during the preseason to see where he puts himself. Evans wasn’t a dynamo, but he did get the most chances and carries the name to watch/save for prospective dynasty leagues as Cam Akers was a dice roll from being out of the league last year.


Ronnie Rivers: 6 carries, 31 yards


Ronnie Rivers received a start and looked pretty solid out of the backfield. A Vegas-rich prospect, Rivers is looking at the running back room from the outside in, and showed a bit of spryness and hole attack.


  • Rivers held the second-highest yards per carry at back and may find himself either on their practice squad or at their 3rd/4th space at running back, as he showcased some promise and burst.

Missed Opportunities

  • A touchdown was called back for holding, and you could tell Rivers was annoyed by the hold, as he definitely earned the touchdown with a solid move to break free.


Royce Freeman: 7 carries, 26 yards, TD | 1 target


While taking notes, I heard “Freeman in at back”, and was shocked to see that Royce da 6”0 was still in the league. One of those players who feels like he’s been kicking around the league since the Marino days, Freeman showed a bit of shine and actually impressed both Andrews in the booth. Freeman will likely get onto the depth chart as some professional backup for Akers in case there is any worry about the youth in the locker room and on the field.


  • Freeman’s rushing touchdown was a very short pitch into the end zone edge for just three yards. While the play was “unsexy” it showcased what often has kept Freeman on pro squads, as he has juice to grab an extra yard, and is hard to take down with some speed.

Missed Opportunities

  • While not many missed opportunities may lie here, the average rushing yards were the lowest on the team for running backs, and there seems to not be much to Freeman’s game aside from beast mode push and size. Royce is fun to watch and seems like a joyful player, so here’s to hoping his lack of burst and wheels can keep him alive in the league for our sake.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Tyler Johnson: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 70 yards


Tyler Johnson showcased with opportunity and received both the most targets AND the most receptions on this Rams prodigious squad. The entire team is in the work of a massive facelift, so Johnson may end up getting a chance to play on the pro squad at some point this season. A 5th-round draft pick in Tampa Bay, Johnson will have to compete with so many wide receivers in Los(t) Angeles as they attempt to find lightning in a bottle. He was receiving large chunks of yards and ended up with 14.0 yards per carry. Johnson had a prodigious receiving game in college and graded out extremely hard at ProFootballFocus, so it’s entirely possible we should save this man on our dynasty sheets.


Austin Trammell: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 36 yards


Unsure if there’s much to see here with Trammell, as he ended up with 4 targets and 4 receptions, and he was seen a bit on the field, but there weren’t much but short passes and not many yards after reception. There’s no sign of anything here yet other than a potential practice squad stash.


Puka Nacua: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 32 yards, TD


Puka is a name to remember and seems to be the darling of the offseason, as the glow-up continues for the BYU rookie. Stetson found him for the touchdown (as mentioned above) and seemed to be one of the main focus of passing looks. Puka is an efficient pass catcher, who has done the most with the least throughout his football career, and we all know what McVay and his coordinator staff can do with talent. Nacua caught the touchdown pass and likely started his ascension to the third name on the depth chart for wide receivers, and with some worry about Cooper Kupp and his health going into the season, keep this man on your agenda.


Lance McCutcheon: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 28 yards


The second-year pro saw a decent amount of targets but was only able to haul in two. He’ll hover around the depth chart but may not have much to work with just yet.


Tyler Hudson: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 15 yards

Demarcus Robinson: 1 target,1 reception, 9 yards


Demarcus Robinson is looking for some way to stay on a pro roster and has found his way through numerous pro locker rooms over the past few years. There are opportunities here, but one reception and one target ain’t going to help cut it.


Ben Skowronek: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 7 yards


Ben Skowronek has had his chances to intrigue us as recently as next year, but the time now may be more of him hanging on to a spot than it is a breakout, as Nacua seems to be the version of him we were hoping for. Skowronek did make a nifty catch early on that was an overthrow.


Christian Sims: 3 targets, 1 reception, 5 yards


Los Angeles Chargers




Easton Stick: 14/21, 109 yards, 1 TD | 2 carries, 12 yards

The create-a-player held his own and basically led the Chargers to this win. While he only had one touchdown in a 34-point rout of the Rams. Easton Stick has kicked around the league for a bit but is looking to find a place in the league as Justin Herbert’s backup or starter in the case of injury/troubles on Herbert’s end.


  • To start the game, Stick looked rushed, and understandably so, as he hasn’t seen any NFL action since a single week in 2020. Stick did settle in relatively quickly, and while his game is by no means sexy, he was competent and didn’t make many mistakes and showed some bright side that if anything were to happen to Herbert, he may just be reliable enough to keep your fantasy players around him worthwhile.
  • Stick is clearly being auditioned for backup, while Max Duggan is a rookie with a huge ceiling with the offense that will be run in Los Angeles, but has a non-existent floor as we speak. Stick stuck (ha) until late in the game when Duggan took over for a couple of drives.
  • Stick locked in on Quentin Johnston and attempted to play up to his game style, which speaks a lot to his pro competence, despite not having a lot of actual play time in it.

Missed Opportunities

  • At times, Stick seemed to be feeding off adrenaline, as he overthrew Johnston a couple of times, and was bailed out by Johnston’s wing span on others.


Max Duggan: 2/3, 19 yards | 4 carries, 20 yards


Duggan was a 7th-round pick with upside after gunslinging at TCU, but unfortunately, he’s got himself a gargantuan task trying to get past Herbert and a professional with playbook knowledge in Stick.


  • Duggan can run, but he didn’t get much run, and that speaks a lot to the fact he’ll likely stay tucked on the depth chart, learning the offense, and hanging in the wings for the worst-case scenario.

Missed Opportunities

  • The only missed opportunities seem to be the ones he’ll miss in general, as he likely will stay bench ready for a while, as Herbert’s ascension into a dynasty delight may make this a road-blocked pro career for a bit.


Running Back


Elijah Dotson: 6 carries, 92 yards, TD


Elijah Dotson picked the meat off the bone like Carrion in the fourth quarter, scampering for two touchdowns late in the game, bowling ball speed, and bouncing like a young Darren Sproles. While we’ve heard about Deuce Vaughn all offseason in Dallas, this guy may have the same profile, and a closer track to starter time, as Austin Ekeler has showcased his disdain for running back salaries and the landscape of the NFL recently. There’s a lot in front of him to shoo away, but this was a massive showcase for Dotson and is something that will likely garner him more time to play throughout the preseason.


  • Elusive, slinking, and running behind blocking, Dotson was someone I truthfully had no understanding of before this game, but now he’s tucked in my memory banks. The touchdown runs were exciting, and while they were made by great blocking, there was definitely some shine produced by Dotson.

Missed Opportunities

  • He didn’t miss any of them! This was arguably the best showcase in this game and is a way to earn yourself a run in more preseason games.


Joshua Kelley: 9 carries, 54 yards | 1 target


Joshua Kelley has sniffed pro-level carries for a while, and remains a player I always enjoy watching when he’s on the field, as he makes efficient, consistent movement on the field, not wasting cuts when unnecessary.


  • Kelley is arguably the running back waiting in the wings if anything were to go on with Ekeler, and this seems to be the consensus. Kelley can do a little of everything, even while not being a star at back.

Missed Opportunities

  • Kelley just needs consistent carries, as his game is predicated on chewing up yardage and being available, so the only thing missing is the ability to get carries behind Ekeler.


Isaiah Spiller: 5 carries, 27 yards


Spiller didn’t get the chance to rush much in this game but showed an over 5-yard per carry rush, and nothing removed him from the chance to be back in waiting based purely on talent. Spiller was snatched up in Round 4 just last year, so he still has a ton to learn, but there’s much to be excited about with him.


  • Spiller didn’t blow any doors off, but the talent level shines at times.
  • Stick held a large amount of the game back for the running game with consistent pocket passing, but Spiller is ready for a larger role if the time arises.

Missed Opportunities

  • One large rush was pulled back due to a holding call.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Keelan Doss: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 39 yards


Keelan Doss was arguably Stick’s go-to guy in this game, and he found him open for a roughly 30-yard pass on a cut pass through the middle of the field to the hashes. Doss possesses some big play ability and got length for the slightly overthrown pass, but that’s something that could garner him more looks from Stick.


  • Doss isn’t going to be someone who easily breaks it through the depth chart, so games like this are important. Last playing professionally in 2020, the 27-year-old is looking for a place to call home, and we’ll have to watch him in the next game


Quentin Johnston: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 10 yards, TD


Quentin Johnston is one guy who will be watched all preseason and with good reason. Keenan Allen is stiff-arming father time currently, and Mike Williams can only take you as far as his leg and back injuries can, so Johnston has the potential to be a dynasty gem for many teams.


  • Johnston was the player I feel like after watching the game, surprised me the most (both in good and bad ways). His name seemed to be called constantly but with an end result of just three receptions, there’s clearly room to improve. Stick was looking for him, but the touch-on passes or expectations for Johnston were just out of reach. The Johnston target on one play was leading to a forty or so-yard pass, but his trajectory left the ball just a bit ahead of him.
  • The touchdown pass made by Stick to Johnston had Johnston showcased in the slot, and showed how solid his hands and quick cuts can create success.



Missed Opportunities

  • The opportunities are hard to blame on Johnston, as the box score would show he only hauled in half of his targets, a majority of his targets would remain untouched by most wide outs, as Stick couldn’t hit him in stride on almost anything.


Derius Davis: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 21 yards


Derius Davis had two targets for 21 yards receiving, but this fellow may end up staying on the team just for his dynamic and dangerous kick return game. He took a kick 81 yards to the house and the speed shows.


  • Davis will have a chance this preseason to stick around but may end up settled in on special teams, and with good reason. His kick return ability and quick cuts left many Rams in the dust on his 81-yard end zone return.

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