2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Todd Gurley doesn't look better, but Kelvin Benjamin is showing signs in preseason
While Todd Gurley continued to struggle behind a subpar offensive line, Kelvin Benjamin reminded the world of what he's capable of doing.
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Here's the latest in Dave Richard's reactions to the first week of the preseason. Check out his take on Kenny Golladay's, Leonard Fournette's , Lamar Miller's , and Spencer Ware's in the RB competition in Kansas City.
Not all of it was his fault Saturday, just as not all of it was his fault last season. His very first rush was blown up in the backfield by defensive lineman Lewis Neal, an undrafted rookie who blew past Rams starting right guard Jamon Brown. His second was similarly busted by two failed block attempts by his right tackle and his tight end.
Failure on his third run falls on Gurley, though, as he didn't try running for the right edge when faced with three tacklers, instead cutting back inside.
The fourth run, a 4-yard edge run, was as good of a carry that he had. His catch for 10 yards was his best play, coming on a third-and-long dump-off from Jared Goff.
What made Gurley's debut even more frustrating was the positive work done by backups Malcolm Brown and undrafted rookie Justin Davis - who looked great when he wasn't fumbling. Brown even spent time running behind an offensive line with some starters on it, and did much better than Gurley, rushing for 25 yards on five carries.
Maybe Gurley won't see quite as many loaded defensive fronts with Sammy Watkins now in L.A. and that will in turn lead to more openings for him to run through. But until we see it, there will be concern. For a supposed generational talent like Gurley, this shouldn't be the case -- but it is.
He's now with the Rams, but we should still point out that Watkins played his last game in a Bills uniform at a high level. He was quick and broke out of his routes with ease, routinely putting corners Trae Waynes and Terence Newman off balance. He also did a kick-butt job of blocking on a Jonathan Williams run, something the Rams -- and Gurley -- will truly appreciate.
While we might be worried about Watkins' quarterback and division rivals, no one should be concerned about whether he is healthy enough to play at this point in time.
We've seen big plays from Kelvin Benjamin before -- we just haven't seen them consistently. Benjamin reminded us that his size helps make him a potential difference-maker, decimating Texans cornerback Kevin Johnson on a tackle attempt before gaining 12 more yards on the Panthers' first play, then reaching for the sky for a score while in tight coverage from Jonathan Joseph.
He didn't look heavy, but was still far from speedy. In order for Benjamin to be a great Fantasy receiver, he'll need a steady dose of targets like he did in 2014. Given the changes being made to the Panthers offense, that's not very likely. He's worth a Round 7 pick.
Terrance West still looks the part of an every-down bruiser, which is something the Ravens definitely need. He had a nice cut on his 18-yard run against Washington, later diving into the end zone for a touchdown. Danny Woodhead is certain to work in passing situations ahead of him, but that doesn't mean West won't have a good shot at well over 225 touches this season. He's one of those mid-round running backs Fantasy owners should be happy to draft.
The Browns showed off its new interior offensive line into the second quarter of their game against the Saints, but Isaiah Crowell's preseason started with a thud. Unable to get much movement against the Saints' defense (which is a bit of a red flag), Crowell didn't have much room to maneuver through six carries.
That being said, Crow did have a bit of a spark on a seven-yard run in the red zone to set up a goal-to-go situation. He also did his part on a catch in the left flat, gaining nine yards. But the dream of him chugging through big gaps for gobs of stats vaporized, at least for one quarter or so of one (meaningless) game. Maybe it'll improve when left tackle Joe Thomas plays.
Crowell's teammate, Duke Johnson, was used as a receiver a bunch, even playing at the same time as Crowell. It didn't manifest in many yards -- he had a five-yard run and a nine-yard catch -- but it's the usage that hints at bright moments in his future.
Johnson averaged 28.5 snaps per game last season -- any uptick there should improve his total touches and yardage.
In his first opportunity to play this preseason, Darren McFadden didn't look bad. He ran with power and still had some quickness in those 30-year-old legs of his, finishing with 28 yards on six carries and an eight-yard catch on four targets. He also played 19 snaps and didn't share with anyone.
Fantasy owners should begin feeling more confident in him as a replacement for Ezekiel Elliott, even if you have to reach into Round 7 or 8 to get him.
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