Preseason Stats That Could Predict NFL Stories to Watch

The greatest thing about the 2022 NFL preseason is, of course, the fact that it’s finally over. Very soon, we’ll have actual stats from an actual regular season game. Someone (hopefully you) will win the first week’s fantasy contest.

But before we leave the preseason entirely, let’s take a look at a six-pack of stats you may have missed that, in theory, might give us some clues about the fantasy season ahead. We start with a rookie who was arguably the MVP of the show…

144 – Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Probably capped his stellar preseason with 144 receiving yards, the most of any player in the league at his position. He caught all 12 of his targets and gained 71 yards after contact according to PFF. It was the closest thing to a perfect preseason we’ve seen from anyone. Just look at this nonsense:

Not bad for a third-day draft pick. He probably just wouldn’t be able to stop all summer. Apparently not much of a threat Mark Andrews, though he may have forced his way into the conversation to be the Ravens No. 1 pick. 3. His first week usage is definitely worth watching.

137.5 – This was Atlanta’s passer rating Marcus Mariota, who averaged 14.0 Y/A and went 3-for-3 on deep throws. We don’t actually need him to emerge as a viable fantasy starter this year (seems unlikely), but I am doing he needs to successfully feed both Drake London and Kyle Pitts. Mariota has never averaged more than 234.8 passing yards per game or 7.6 Y/A in any previous season, so at least a small jump in production would be appreciated. Early signs were encouraging.

[Week 1 Fantasy Rankings: QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | FLEX | DST | Kickers]

17.3Lance McCutcheon, an undrafted receiver out of Montana State, made the Rams’ 53-man roster after a feast in three exhibition games in which he averaged 17.3 yards per catch. McCutcheon caught 15 of his 20 targets in the preseason and his 259 receiving yards led all players. He’s not a burner, but he’s 6-foot-3 with a goofy wingspan, a questionable catch specialist.

He hauled in 63 balls for 1,219 yards and nine scores for the Bobcats last season, including going 5-106-1 in the FCS championship game against NDSU. McCutcheon wouldn’t be of much interest for fantasy purposes under normal circumstances, but remember that Van Jefferson he’s still recovering from a knee procedure and isn’t a lock to play the opener (or Week 2). If Jefferson sits, maybe the rookie playmaker will see the field.

10.8Mitch Trubisky, who was just recently named the Steelers starting QB to open the season, had a preseason average depth of target of 10.8, one of the highest in the NFL. He also completed 70.6 percent of his shots and averaged 8.3 Y/A. (Kenny PickettBy the way, ADOT’s preseason was a much less aggressive 6.6.) We’re not trying to make an argument that Trubisky himself is a dramatically rebuilt and improved quarterback. Nothing that happened this summer in 34 preseason attempts can erase his messy four years in Chicago. But it sure is nice to have a Pittsburgh quarterback shooting down the field, which, in theory, should benefit Chase Claypool and George Pickens. Last year, Ben Roethlisberger’s ADOT was 7.1, the second lowest among all starters.

Mitch Trubisky doesn't need to be great for Steelers players to be reliable fantasy contributors.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Mitch Trubisky doesn’t need to be great for Steelers players to be reliable fantasy contributors. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

6.1 – You must have read thousands of positive things about the Houston rookie Dameon Pierce, but here’s another: He averaged 6.1 yards after contact per attempt on his 11 carries in the preseason, which is absurd. Pierce, as you probably know, has never been a full-load guy at the college level, so expecting him to be an every-time rusher right away in the NFL is … well, it’s not going to happen. Rex Burkhead it is not gone. Still, Pierce absolutely earned his huge bump at the end of ADP.

6 – Atlanta first year running back Tyler Allgeier forced six missed tackles in his 17 preseason snaps, gaining 68 yards after contact and generally passing the eye test. He also caught all four of his targets and found the end zone as both a rusher and receiver.

The Falcons face a tough opener against New Orleans, but Allgeier remains excellent off the bench. His team’s starting RB is a 31-year-old kick returner, so it’s not hard to imagine a path of serious usage for the rookie.

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