NFL Preseason Week 1 is underway as there was a big slate of games Thursday night to whet the appetite for those in the fantasy football community. Since most starters don't play outside of the first drive or two, Preseason Game Week 1 is usually all about the hot shot rookies as we saw below:
-Boy is the hype only going to get more out of control for New York Giants rookie running back Saquon Barkley. Already going in the first round of early fantasy football drafts, Barkley was electric right out of the gate Thursday as picked up 39 yards on his first carry and finished with 4 for 43 overall. While Jonathan Stewart is hanging around to possible snipe some goal-line scores, this is going to the Barkley Show as he is set to light things up both in the run and receiving game.
-As excellent an outing as Barkley had Thursday, the polar opposite happened with Washington Redskins rookie back Derrius Guice exited his first NFL action with a knee injury. Guice was seen with ice packs on the knee which is not a great sign but he also remained on the sidelined which suggest maybe it was not such a big deal. An MRI will be conducted though which could certainly change the storyline here. As far as Guice the player, he was widely considered the second-best running back in the draft but he fell due to some off-the-field concerns. With Chris Thompson serving as an excellent receiving back. Guice looks to be rally for those in the standard league crowd.
-So far so good for Cleveland Browns rookie QB and number 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield who came in off the bench and looked quite good in completing 11-of-20 throws for 212 yards and 2 scores. Now granted Mayfield was facing the Giants' second-string D but he was poised and decisive with his throws and the ball was on the numbers. The plan is for Tyrod Taylor to be the Week 1 starter but he is being viewed as only a placeholder. For now don't draft Mayfield unless you are in a two-QB format but the upside is obvious.
-The Houston Texans only allowed recovering QB DeShaun Watson to take part in one series in their preseason opener, with it being a four-yard completion to Bruce Ellington. Watson seems set to be ready for Week 1 as he comes back from his second ACL tear in his knee but he will likely be babied leading up to it. The hype is really a bit much here considering the injury problems Watson has had and he is sure to regress from the 9-plus TD percentage in his short but magical run as the starter last season. Be careful how much you are willing to pay.
-The Cincinnati Bengals took a long look at second-year wideout John Ross who completely washed out due to injuries in 2017. Ross only caught one pass for 20 yards but he has some upside play as a WR 5 to begin the season given the immense speed.
-One of my favorite sleepers for 2018 fantasy football is San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle but he left the team's Thursday game with a shoulder injury that will be evaluated again on Friday. I already did a piece on Kittle a few weeks ago talking about his receiving upside and it is clear QB Jimmy Garoppolo loves looking his way. More importantly, we really can't have injuries to the few decent tight end receiving options this early in the preseason since it will further dilute an already weak position.
-The Indianapolis Colts dealt with a lot of injuries Thursday night but luckily none involved QB Andrew Luck. First it was starting running back Marlon Mack who exited quickly with a dreaded hamstring injury and then it was sixth-round rookie WR Deon Cain who came out after hurting his knee. The Mack injury is the much bigger potential story in terms of fantasy football due to the fact he had the inside track to being the starter and serving as a decent upside play as a back who can run and catch. Mack did flash as a rookie with a bunch of big runs as year ago but also struggled getting out of the backfield consistently as well. We all know hamstring injuries tend to linger so this one that needs to be watched closely.