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2023 NFL Preseason Week 1 Fantasy Recap

QB Richardson offers high risk, high reward option
Patrick Daugherty and Denny Carter talk about the impact of the Colts naming Anthony Richardson as their starting quarterback and which wide receiver will benefit the most from Richardson's skill set.

Houston Texans at New England Patriots


The Texans sat some veterans for their 2023 opener but gave rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud a look. He struggled in his debut, ranking 82nd in Pro Football Focus passing grade while averaging a dismal 3.3 yards per attempt. He also had his “Welcome to the NFL” moment with this disastrous interception to end his first drive.

On the other hand, Tank Dell made a name for himself with a juggling act touchdown reception to punctuate his 5-65-1 debut. The touchdown came from Davis Mills, who took over with the second unit, but Dell was also on the field with the starters. After getting rewarded for giving the rookie an extended look, expect the first-year coaches in Houston to expand Dell’s role going forward.

Dameon Pierce got the night off and Devin Singletary was granted the start. His time on the field didn’t last long as he left when the rest of the starters did. However, as PFF’s Nathan Jahnke pointed out, Singletary gave way to Dare Ogunbowale in passing situations. Singletary’s career yards per route run sits at a paltry .72, so it’s possible the Texans only view him as a two-down backup to Pierce.


The Pats signed Ezekiel Elliott after this game, so their backfield performances are all but irrelevant. At receiver, training camp standout Demario Douglas was all but given the starter’s treatment. He played two snaps before heading to the bench. This allowed Tyquan Thornton, who didn’t even start the game with the second-team offense, a chance to get more reps under his belt. Thornton then continued to play after starter Bailey Zappe hit the pine. Thornton is being treated like a true reserve option and shouldn’t be drafted in any format.

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Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings


Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba didn’t see much action but was targeted on half of his eight routes. This was without DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett on the field, so take it with many grains of salt. However, it’s clear that he will be able to command targets once he steps into the starting offense.

DeeJay Dallas started over Zach Charbonnet and didn’t leave the field for two drives. Then Charbonnet took over for the following three drives. This is likely just giving deference to the veteran, but it’s worth watching over the next week.


Jordan Addison didn’t provide much to write home about as he only caught one pass for 22 yards, though he had a toe-tapping reception on the sideline that was ruled incomplete despite looking like a catch on the broadcast. Addison left the field before Minnesota’s starters—the second-string offense—so there shouldn’t be any concern about his playing time in Week 1.

Ty Chandler started with Alexander Mattison sitting on the bench and made the most of his opportunity. He earned 41 yards on 11 totes while catching four balls for 29 yards. He also earned PFF’s second-highest pass-blocking grade among running backs in Week 1. The Vikings brought in Kareem Hunt for a visit later in the week, so Chandler hasn’t cemented himself as the clear handcuff yet, but he is well on his way.

Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals


The Packers did not have any deviations in their 11-personnel formation with Jordan Love on the field. Rookies Luke Musgrave and Jayden Reed joined the starters for every snap out of this look, though Reed left when the Packers used an extra tight end or running back. Both players are great stashes late in drafts. Musgrave’s ADP won’t be this low for long as he has all of the trappings of previous rookie tight ends who broke with solid fantasy campaigns.

The Packers’ night was highlighted by Emanuel Wilson, a 6’/220 back with elite speed, going yard on this carry.

He remains a long-shot to make the Packers’ roster, but it will be fun to watch him get more work over the next two weeks.


Don’t expect to see any Cincinnati starters take the field this preseason. The biggest note to come out of their opener was Chris Evans starting at running back, turning six carries into 49 yards, and receiving a strong pass-blocking grade from PFF. He has a clear edge over rookie Chase Brown right now.

New York Giants at Detroit Lions


Brian Daboll gave his starters the night off. This included Darius Slayton and Parris Campbell, which bodes well for both players’ roles in Week 1 of the regular season. Isaiah Hodgins and Jalin Hyatt started with Tyrod Taylor under center.

Hyatt was exclusively a slot player in college but saw all 18 of his snaps lined up out wide versus the Giants. It’s possible he and Hodgins are vying for a starting outside job.


Detroit gave their veteran starters the night off but let the young players get some reps under their belts. Jahmyr Gibbs was the only running back who got snaps with the starters, though David Montgomery was in street clothes for this game. Still, it’s a good sign that Dan Campbell and Co. were comfortable leaving him in for multiple drives.

Sam LaPorta rarely came off the field, and that was only for situations when Detroit was using a fullback. As all camp reports have indicated, he is locked in as a starter.

Jameson Williams committed a frustrating drop and played into the third quarter despite the starters leaving the field well before that. That’s not a great sign for a player who is already guaranteed to miss the first six games of the season.

Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins


Godwin Igwebuike’s 70 yards and a touchdown highlighted an otherwise uneventful night from a Falcons team that didn’t give any reps to its starters or even rotational players on offense.


The Dolphins took a similar approach to Week 1 of the preseason, so it’s a bit concerning that Devon Achane not only played a lot, but his reps came after Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin. Achane averaged 2.5 yards per carry on 10 attempts but did manage to turn four catches into 41 yards. It’s possible Mike McDaniel just wanted to get him extra reps and used the second half to do so, but he could enter Week 1 as purely a backup.

Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers


It’s Week 1 of the preseason so this could be nothing. Or…the Steelers might be weird this year.

Four tight ends and five receivers got on the field with the starting unit. Allen Robinson and Diontae Johnson led the team in snaps when Kenny Pickett was on the field. It doesn’t seem realistic for Gunner Olszewski and Connor Heyward to see meaningful snaps when the regular season rolls around, so I’m willing to write this off as experimentation from Matt Canada for now.

It’s also notable that Jaylen Warren out-snapped Najee Harris, though we again want to be skeptical with so few data points.

Calvin Austin didn’t get to play as a rookie because of a foot injury. The fourth-round receiver reminded fans of his presence in the third quarter with this long score from Mason Rudolph.


Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Chase Edmonds split the snaps with the starters and both runners even got a few extra reps with the backup unit. That group included Kyle Trask, who is still vying for the starting gig, so there isn’t a clear backup to Rachaad White yet. Vaughn did out-snap and out-carry Edmonds, for what it’s worth.

After struggling with ball security throughout camp, Baker Mayfield kept his composure as a starter and completed all but one of his seven attempts. He found the end zone on a 10-yard strike to Trey Palmer. Kyle Trask was intercepted once and took three sacks. Trask is set to start next week’s game in what will likely be the final chance for him to earn the starting gig.

Washington Commanders at Cleveland Browns


Washington’s starters got an extended look in their first week of preseason action, but there wasn’t much out of the ordinary. Jahan Dotson and Terry McLaurin are locked into starting roles while Curtis Samuel will only be joining them in three-receiver sets. Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson will helm a backfield-by-committee. Cole Turner played over John Bates with Logan Thomas sidelined, though I doubt either emerges as a fantasy-relevant option if Thomas misses time in the regular season. Rookie running back Chris Rodriguez did not see a snap with the starters.

Head coach Ron Rivera said he was “very encouraged” by Sam Howell’s performance after the game. Howell has done nothing to throw the quarterback competition in camp and the coaching staff has been positioning him to start all summer. We will get Howell announced as the starter likely after the team’s second preseason game, if not sooner.


Cedric Tillman, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Elijah Moore were starting in three-receiver sets with Amari Cooper getting the night off. Moore eventually left with a seemingly minor rib injury. Assuming Moore recovers from quickly, Tillman is likely the odd man out for Week 1.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson continued to ball out. He is now 17-of-21 for 184 yards and two scores through two preseason games.

Denver Broncos at Arizona Cardinals


For fantasy drafters waiting anxiously to see their favorite young Broncos take the field, this game was ripped straight from the pages of an H.P. Lovecraft novel. Sean Payton fired up his guys from New Orleans versus the Cardinals, starting Adam Trautman and Marquez Callaway. Greg Dulcich was active and simply served as the TE2 while Marvin Mims was likely held back as a precaution relating to the hamstring issue he previously dealt with. The Broncos used multiple tight ends and a fullback with Russell Wilson under center. Even if Mims earns the WR3 role, he may not be playing as many snaps as fantasy managers want.

Samaje Perine got the start with Javonte Williams resting his knee. Perine did not give up a snap to another Denver running back.


Marquise Brown got the night off so Zach Pascal and Michael Wilson were the team’s starting outside receivers. Wilson reeled in 2-of-3 targets for eight yards while Pascal was not targeted. After a strong start to training camp, Wilson continues to look like a screaming value in best ball drafts.

Rondale Moore played with the starters over Greg Dortch but only ran routes from the slot. The potential for Dortch to unseat Moore as the team’s WR3 appears to be overblown, though a full-time role for Moore may also be a pipe dream.

Colt McCoy got the start over Clayton Tune and completed all four of his pass attempts before hitting the bench. Tune flashed some potential but also took three sacks and threw one bad interception. McCoy should be considered the heavy favorite to start in Week 1.

Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills


The Colts played most of their starters but were without multiple tight ends for this game. They also worked out Kareem Hunt last week, so it’s premature to read into their backfield usage at this point.

At receiver, Isaiah McKenzie got the start over rookie wideout Josh Downs. Downs has been an interesting stacking option with Anthony Richardson in the final rounds of drafts but will need to beat out McKenzie for a starting gig.

Richardson played more snaps than any other presumed starter in the first week of preseason action. This thread has some of his more notable throws, good and bad.

It’s just one game, but I came away impressed with the rookie’s debut. His interception was a glaring mistake but his dropped long ball to Alec Pierce and strike down the middle to Kylen Granson both showed incredible touch and precision, traits Richardson didn’t always display at Florida.


The Bills’ starters, sans Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, only got five snaps across two drives plus one more play that was negated by a penalty. They used 12-personnel on half of those plays and Deonte Harty manned the slot in three-wide sets, not Khalil Shakir.

Damien Harris did not play, but James Cook taking all of the first-team snaps is still noteworthy.

Tennessee Titans at Chicago Bears


The Titans rested all of their starters except for the WR3 contenders. Kyle Philips likely has the edge here and only handled a few snaps before being done for the night, though it’s unlikely he is a viable fantasy option in 2023.

Second-year back Hassan Haskins got the start but was quickly subbed out for rookie Tyjae Spears. The Tulane grad was more effective than Haskins, turning six carries into 32 yards. Haskins scored after the starters had left the game but was otherwise unimpressive on his touches.

Malik Willis started over Will Levis and appears to have a legitimate chance at opening the year as the backup to Ryan Tannehill. All reports from Titans camp have been positive on Willis so far and many beat writers think he has out-played Levis.


DJ Moore and Khalil Herbert combined for 118 yards and two scores on their two longest catches. This limited the number of plays the first-team offense ran to seven.

Chase Claypool was out for this game so Equanimeous St. Brown and Velus Jones each got some run. The Bears also used an extra tight end or fullback on the majority of their plays, so it’s possible the answer to their WR3 battle is no one for fantasy purposes.

Herbert played on every offensive snap and house-called a dump-off pass for 56 yards. Neither Roschon Johnson nor D’Onta Foreman got a snap with Justin Fields on the pitch.

New York Jets at Carolina Panthers


Garrett Wilson was sidelined for this game, so Mecole Hardman got to take the field as New York’s third receiver. He has looked like the odd man out so far in camp, though we will need to see what the Jets do once Wilson is healthy to be sure.

Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah split the starting snaps relatively evenly. With plenty of tight ends projected to play full-time roles going undrafted this year, Conklin looks like a middling bet as a late-round flyer.


There should be far more hype around Jonathan Mingo than we are currently seeing in fantasy drafts. Mingo was one of the team’s three starting receivers and left the field when the rest of the first-team offense did.

He tied Adam Thielen for a team-high in snaps at receiver with the first unit. Mingo’s competition for targets is also incredibly weak as Thielen is coming off career-lows across the board and DJ Chark is mainly a role-player.

Chuba Hubbard was the only running back to get a shot with the starters. This should put the Raheem Blackshear rumblings to bed for now.

Jacksonville Jaguars at Dallas Cowboys


Calvin Ridley took the field for the first time as a Jaguar. His presence hurt Christian Kirk’s route share as the slot receiver only ran a route on 67 percent of Trevor Lawrence’s dropbacks. The sample size for this was only six plays, so it’s not time to panic, but this is worth monitoring.

Travis Etienne out-snapped his backups, JaMychal Hasty and Tank Bigsby, 13-3, but did come off for a short-yardage attempt and work on passing downs.

Still, as Jakob Sanderson noted in the comments, Etienne got the team’s only carries inside the 20-yard line. I lean toward Etienne’s dominance of the snaps and work in the red zone as a positive takeaway, though it’s not a cut-and-dry win for the former first-rounder.

While you’re here, you should definitely take the time to watch this incredible play from Nathan Rourke, a backup quarterback for the Jags.


Dallas has a veteran-laden offense so we didn’t get almost any action from their starters in this one. The only potential starter to take the field was Jake Ferguson, who ran a route on 69 percent of Cooper Rush’s dropbacks. Peyton Hendershot also saw some snaps at tight end, but Ferguson is firmly ahead of him on the depth chart. The only question left is how many routes can Henderson or rookie Luke Schoonmaker steal from Ferguson.

Deuce Vaughn proved once again to be him with a slew of impressive plays.

His work came well after the starters came off the field, but it was clear his opponents were out of their depth when facing him.

Philadelphia Eagles at Baltimore Ravens


There aren’t many takeaways as neither team gave much run to their first team. The Eagles did, however, try out both D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny early in the game. Swift got the start and played two drives with the starters before Penny took over and made it deep into the second quarter. While this seems like an endorsement of Kenneth Gainwell as the starter, Nick Sirianni would likely say otherwise.

Sirianni mentioned that both Gainwell and Boston Scott would be getting touches in the second week of preseason. We will obviously be watching this backfield intensely over the next three weeks, but it’s not worth overreacting to yet.


Justice Hill got the start over Gus Edwards, though I have a hard time believing he has usurped Edwards on the depth chart. Edwards has averaged 5.2 yards per attempt on 501 career carries and the team restructured his contract in the offseason so they wouldn’t have to cut him.

Zay Flowers was the only supposed starter to see action in this game, though I would expect that to simply be a way of getting the rookie more reps before Week 1.

Los Angeles Chargers at Los Angeles Rams


Quentin Johnston was the only presumed starter for the Chargers who got any reps in this game. He was targeted on an absurd 55 percent of his routes. Johnston committed one troubling drop on a deep shot against tight coverage but partially redeemed himself with a touchdown before halftime.

Josh Kelley got the start at running back and didn’t disappoint with nine carries for 54 yards. He averaged 2.89 yards after contact and broke two carries of 10 or more yards. Isaiah Spiller saw less time with the starters but also showed well. He turned five carries into 27 yards but didn’t break any long runs. He also fared worse in yards after contact. Given how Kelley was used last year, I expect him to start the year as LA’s RB2, though Spiller still has a shot at dethroning him.


Ben Skowronek, Puka Nacua, and Demarcus Robinson were the Rams’ starting receivers, though Sean McVay gave all of the team’s actual starters the night off. This included Tutu Atwell, who may be penciled in for WR3 duties to start the year. Atwell racked up more than 1,300 yards from scrimmage as a sophomore at Louisville and topped a 40 percent College Dominator in that season. If he can zero in on the starting slot gig in LA, there will be some late-round fantasy juice to be had.

Kansas City Chiefs at New Orleans Saints


As has been reported throughout training camp, Justin Watson and Marquez Valdes-Scantling were the starting outside receivers for Kansas City while Skyy Moore manned the slot. Rashee Rice also got some work with the ones. He stayed in well after the starters left and got the bulk of his routes from the slot as well. Expect the four-man rotation to stay in place as we head into the regular season, though it’s likely Kadarius Toney replaces someone once healthy.

Noah Gray and Blake Bell also got a few snaps with the starters. The backup tight ends don’t have standalone value in Kansas City, but they will be a hindrance to the wide receivers. Neither Richie James nor Justyn Ross got a chance with the starters.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire took on the early-down work with Isiah Pacheco sidelined for this game. He may still have the edge over UDFA Deneric Prince for backup duties, but Prince has been drawing outstanding reviews during camp.


Juwan Johnson ran five routes on nine Derek Carr dropbacks. Foster Moreau got two routes with the first-team offense while Taysom Hill and Jimmy Graham didn’t see the field until later in the game.

San Francisco 49ers at Las Vegas Raiders


Kyle Shanahan played things close to the vest in Week 1 of the preseason, so the most interesting thing fans got from this game was an extended look at Trey Lance. His numbers were solid—10-of-15 for 112 yards and a score—but a quick look at his touchdown pass tells a different story.

Lance was also sacked four times and the offense posted a trio of three-and-outs before the immaculate touchdown. Brock Purdy is the QB1 and Darnold has a strong shot at taking on the backup duties.

Jordan Mason played over Tyrion Davis-Price and left with the starters, though we’ll learn more about the backfield once Elijah Mitchell is healthy again.


None of the Raiders first-team offense took the field. We were instead treated to a healthy dose of Zamir White. The backup runner turned 13 carries into 43 yards and a score. Ameer Abdullah doubled him up on passing downs snaps with eight routes and two blocking reps. White would handle the bulk of the work between the tackles if Josh Jacobs is traded or holds out.