Fantasy: Takeaways from Saturday's preseason games
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Every game night during the preseason, theScore gets you caught up on the most important fantasy performances from around the league.

Let's preface this by saying: Don't overreact to the opening week of the preseason. It's the first time these players are taking the field for NFL game action in seven or eight months.

It's also worth mentioning that a lot of starters sit out the first week of exhibition contests, so we should get a more complete picture of where everyone stands over the next couple of outings.

That being said, there's still plenty of information to gather from these performances, especially when it comes to rookies.

Chiefs' offense is even scarier

Defensive coordinators faced the nearly impossible task of slowing down Patrick Mahomes and Co. a year ago. If Saturday night was any indication, their jobs could be even more difficult this season.

Mahomes opened up with a 36-yard strike down the sideline to Travis Kelce on Kansas City's first offensive snap of the game, and he didn't look back, orchestrating a seven-play, 78-yard touchdown drive. Mahomes was almost flawless in the brief appearance, completing all four of his pass attempts for 66 yards while scrambling for 10 yards on the ground.

But Mahomes dazzling isn't surprising. He's my top-ranked fantasy quarterback, and that's taking into account expected regression after a 5,097-yard, 50-touchdown campaign.

No, the reason the Chiefs are leading this article has more to do with their new additions.

Rookie receiver Mecole Hardman flashed his game-breaking speed on a touch pass early in the second quarter that he took 17 yards for a score. His tight ends provided some nice blocks downfield, but Hardman hit the boosters while blowing past everyone and across the goal line. Though he likely won't receive enough playing time to be a regular fantasy contributor, unless Tyreek Hill or Sammy Watkins go down, Hardman is yet another dangerous weapon for Mahomes.

Running back Darwin Thompson also impressed in his first preseason action. With Damien Williams not in the lineup, Carlos Hyde got the start and turned two carries into two yards, including a one-yard TD to cap off the opening drive. Then Thompson went to work.

During the pre-draft process, I wrote: "Thompson is another smaller back with some fight in him; a souped-up third-down back who can handle the wear and tear of more touches if needed."

We saw that Saturday night when the rookie rushed five times for 22 yards while battling defenders between the tackles, and even leaping over them. His best play came on a short pass that he turned into a 29-yard touchdown.

We have a long way to go before Thompson receives a significant role in the Chiefs' backfield. But with Williams already missing some practices due to a hamstring issue, and Andy Reid changing his tune by suggesting the team could use a committee approach, using a late-round pick on Thompson isn't a bad investment. If his solid performances continue throughout the preseason, you may not be getting Thompson in the late rounds for long.

At worst, Hardman and Thompson bring more depth to Kansas City's attack, while offering massive fantasy upside if everything breaks their way in 2019.

Instant Impressions

  • Tyler Boyd is going to be busy during A.J. Green's absence, and that was the case on Saturday night. Boyd was targeted on four of Andy Dalton's nine pass attempts, catching three for 25 yards. As long as Green is sidelined, Boyd will be a target hog and a fantasy WR2.
  • He's still well off the fantasy radar, but as the Bengals search for pass-catching options while Green recovers, keep an eye on sophomore Auden Tate. He made a nice adjustment on a 26-yard catch at the goal line, setting up a Cincy rushing score. Tate finished with three receptions for 42 yards.
  • We didn't get the breakout preseason performance many were hoping for from Darrell Henderson. The Rams rookie tallied just 13 yards on six carries, and he was stuffed for a five-yard loss on his lone reception. Better days are coming, but Henderson's preseason debut is a reminder not to let offseason hype get out of control. I saw a fantasy manager who was drinking all the Henderson Kool-Aid select him in the fourth round of a re-draft league.
  • Despite the announcer continuously saying that Darius Jackson was starting at running back for the Cowboys, it was rookie Tony Pollard getting the nod Saturday. The 6-foot, 215-pound Pollard is an excellent pass-catcher with the size to handle himself on inside runs, as he did against the 49ers. Running behind four of the five offensive-line starters, Pollard racked up 16 yards on four carries. He's positioned to receive an offensive role, even if Ezekiel Elliott ends his holdout. If Zeke stays away, Pollard is the Cowboys back to own, as he'll form the explosive element in a time share with veteran grinder Alfred Morris.

  • Blake Jarwin led Cowboys tight ends in receiving Saturday, hauling in four passes for 51 yards. I'm betting against 37-year-old Jason Witten being fantasy relevant in his comeback bid, and I won't be shocked if Jarwin becomes a hot waiver-wire pickup at some point this season. Jarwin posted the fifth-most fantasy points among tight ends over the final six games of 2018.

  • John Lynch provided some bad news Saturday when he informed us of Trent Taylor's broken foot. The 49ers' slot receiver will now undergo surgery and miss time early in the season. If you don't think that's notable for fantasy, then you haven't been following reports out of camp that were ripe with praise for the young pass-catcher. Some beat writers even predicted Taylor would lead the receiving corps in catches this season. Richie James and rookie Jalen Hurd are the next men up for slot duties. James caught six balls for 31 yards against the Cowboys, while Hurd recorded three grabs for 31 yards, including his first two trips to the end zone in a 49ers uniform.
  • Deebo Samuel, another Niners rookie wideout, made his mark Saturday with a 45-yard catch. His night also featured a 16-yard grab and a 14-yard run, though he did most of his damage against depth players in the second half. Hopefully we'll get a chance to see him against more challenging competition in the coming weeks, but Saturday was a good start for the second-rounder.
  • There's not much to note about a Raiders squad that was without many of its starters. So let's highlight Nathan Peterman's 51-yard scramble. That play didn't impact his fantasy outlook this year, but it was an awesome moment for a quarterback who hasn't had many during his short pro career.

Previous Takeaways

Fantasy: Takeaways from Saturday's preseason games
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