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Preseason Week 1: Winners and Losers

By Jared Smola 6:08pm EDT 8/15/16

Week 1 of the preseason is in the books. The only sure thing? The guys at your water cooler will overreact to everything that happened.

That doesn’t mean we’re not reacting at all, though. We saw rookies take the field for the 1st time, veterans look like youngsters and glimpses at how depth charts currently stand.

Here are the winners and losers from the 1st slate of fake games.


Titans RBs

There wasn’t a more dominant unit in the 1st week of the preseason than the Titans running game.

DeMarco Murray showed that there’s gas left in his tank with this 71-yard TD run. Derrick Henry bulldozed his way to 74 yards and a score on 10 carries. Even Bishop Sankey scored a 41-yard TD.

Sankey won’t be a factor once the games start to count, but both Murray and Henry will be. What remains to be seen is how the work will be divvied between those 2.

Melvin Gordon, RB, Chargers

Cross off microfracture knee surgery from the list of concerns for Gordon this year. He looked 100% on this 44-yard catch-and-run TD — even if he was helped by some crappy defense.

We’ll see if San Diego is willing to use him more in the red zone this season, but a healthy Gordon could return big value at his 7th-round ADP.

Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars

Not everyone is buying into Bortles, despite last year’s top 4 fantasy finish. He’s just the 9th QB off the board in recent MFL10 ADP.

He looked ready to pick up where he left off last year in his 1st preseason outing. In 2 series, Bortles completed 6 of 7 passes for 105 yards. Improvement in his own play would help offset any TD regression.

Christine Michael, RB, Seahawks

It was easy to write off the buzz coming out of Seattle about Michael this offseason. The guy has teased us countless times before.

Then Michael went out and ran over the Chiefs for 44 yards on 7 carries. He showed impressive burst and power. After the game, HC Pete Carroll referred to his backfield as a “one-two punch.”

It's time to take Michael seriously as at least a threat to Thomas Rawls’ workload -- and maybe even an upside bench stash.

Michael Thomas, WR, Saints

Thomas followed up a strong start to training camp with a team-leading 4 catches for 67 yards in the preseason opener. That included this pretty sideline grab.

It's worth noting that all of 4 his catches came from QB Garrett Grayson. But Thomas is well on his way to earning a significant role when the real games start.

DeAndre Washington, RB, Raiders

The rookie jumped off the screen in Oakland’s 1st exhibition, displaying good burst and some ankle-breaking cuts. Washington finished with 8 carries for 43 yards, plus a 32-yard reception.

Latavius Murray remains the Raiders’ clear lead back for now, but it’ll be tough for them to keep Washington off the field.

Terrelle Pryor, WR, Browns

Pryor, the former QB, looked like a natural WR laying out for this deep ball from QB Robert Griffin.

We heard last week that Pryor is the favorite for the #2 WR gig until Josh Gordon returns, and he ran with the starters in the preseason opener. He’s on the fantasy radar as a late-round flier.

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys

Dynasty leaguers, take note. Prescott turned in 1 of the most impressive QB performances in the 1st round of exhibitions.

Starting in place of QB Tony Romo, the 4th-round rookie completed 10 of 12 passes for 139 yards and 2 TDs. One of the incompletions was an obvious drop; the other a borderline drop.

Prescott's scores went to WR Dez Bryant from 10 yards out and WR Terrance Williams on this beautiful 32-yard toss.

Prescott is no threat to Romo’s starting job this year but could be Dallas’ QB of the future. Romo is 36 years old with a lengthy injury history.

Virgil Green, TE, Broncos

We’ve been waiting for Virgil Green to happen for a few years now. 2016 might be the year.

He worked with Denver’s 1st-team offense in the preseason opener, hauling in 3 balls for 26 yards -- all from starting QB Mark Sanchez. TE Jeff Heuerman, believed to be competing with Green for the top spot, caught his only pass from Trevor Siemian.

If Denver is serious about finally using the ultra-athletic Green as a pass-catching weapon, he could break out in his 6th season.


Sammie Coates, WR, Steelers

Rough preseason opener for 1 of this summer’s most buzzed-about players. Coates hauled in 3 balls for 18 yards but fumbled twice (losing 1). Those are the types of mental mistakes he needs to avoid if he wants to emerge as a fantasy factor this season.

Let's see if he cleans it up in the 2nd fake game.

Dorial Green-Beckham, WR, Titans

Disappointing spring. Disappointing start to training camp. Disappointing preseason opener.

Green-Beckham caught just 1 pass, and it came from QB Alex Tanney in the 3rd quarter. HC Mike Mularkey said afterward that DGB was “still inconsistent” — a word he’s used before when describing last year’s 2nd-round pick.

With some serious depth-chart climbing to do and seemingly no momentum, Green-Beckham has plummeted to late-round flier territory.

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