Wednesday - May 22, 2019

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6 Names You Need to Know from Week 1 of the Preseason

As much as we all will be complaining about the preseason a few weeks from now when we can smell the arrival of that first Thursday night game, we do love Week 1 of the preseason.

So many games! Replayed so many times! It’s overwhelming to the senses and can make it hard to focus as game after game and highlight after highlight come at us. What is a person to do?

Well, I like to jot down notes as I watch every replay and then spend the next few hours after the game trying to figure out what exactly it was I had scribbled down. I should actually peek down from time to time as I write to make sure things are legible and not written on top of each other.

I’m thinking my note pad must resemble what is going on in Bernie Kosar’s mind as he babbles incoherently during Cleveland Browns preseason games. He shouldn’t quit his day job! Wait, he does have a day job, right? Gosh, I hope so.

What stood out to me from Week 1 one of the preseason, you ask? Why, you don’t even need to ask as I was intending to let you know anyway. Here are some names and what came to mind regarding them after countless hours of ruminating and a lot of Red Bull.

Marcus Easley, WR, Buffalo:
After posting 94 yards on seven receptions catching passes from Jeff Tuel in the Bills preseason opener, keep an eye on Easley. Injuries have hampered him from making any impact in his first three seasons and this could be his final kick at the can. He is 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and has the speed to make an impact if he can stay healthy as a receiver and return man.

Monitor the snaps he receives moving forward in the preseason to see if he gets on the field with E.J. Manuel. The wide receiver depth chart in Buffalo is littered with rookies (Robert Woods, Da’Rick Rogers, Marquise Goodwin) and injury concerns (Stevie Johnson’s hamstring) so Easley could sneak on to the roster even though he wasn’t selected by this regime.

Kenjon Barner, RB, Carolina:
After fumbling the ball on his first touch Barner settled down and flashed the moves that have impressed coaches and teammates during the preseason. He finished his first pro game with 54 total yards and a touchdown.

With Jonathan Stewart’s foot problems and father time knocking on DeAngelo Williams‘ door, Barner is an excellent dynasty pick with a chance to offer some limited immediate value. He’s a shifty back with above-average receiving skills that could see the Panthers utilize him in the passing game sooner rather than later. Worth a late round flyer in deeper (14- or 16-team formats) leagues as running back depth and a bye week fill in.

Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta:
Don’t fret the 8-total yards he amassed on six touches in the preseason opener. The Falcons trotted out their prized new possession for the fans to see and not for the defense to touch (very often). Much as Rocky Balboa eschewed sparring when preparing to face Drago in Rocky IV (and remember how that worked out), Jackson doesn’t need any preseason action heading into his 10th season.

Jackson has looked explosive in training camp by all reports and the offense will scheme to get him the ball often and in as many ways as possible. What Atlanta fans and Jackson owners may want to worry about is the state of the offensive line. There are three more games to work out the brutal run blocking breakdowns that were there against Cincinnati, and if that doesn’t get fixed Jackson’s fantasy value could become very tenuous.

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