We are well under way into preseason play. While many shifted focus to analyzing preseason games, headlines and trades shook up the league.
Ezekiel Elliott was formally suspended by the NFL for six games. The Bills made two trades to focus on the future.
Let’s not forget about the hype surrounding the debuts of rookie quarterbacks. DeShaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, and DeShone Kizer all played and drew headlines.
In all the chaos, let’s break down the crazy week in the NFL.
Ezekiel Elliott wound up getting suspended by the NFL for six games. He filed for an appeal on Tuesday, and now it will go to court. This could go on for a while. Here are my thoughts.
1. This suspension greatly hurts the Cowboys. Dallas starts out with the Giants and home, followed by two road games in Denver and Phoenix. They then face the Rams, Packers, and 49ers. Zeke isn’t everything, but he’s more dynamic than Darren McFadden and Alfred Morris. The pressure could sit on Dak Prescott early in the season.
2. The Cowboys are a favorite to take a step back this season. Elliott’s suspension only strengthens that argument.
3. This also shakes up the fantasy football world. Elliott was a top five pick before this suspension, and it throws a wrench into some plans. The sixth overall pick in drafts now won’t get one of the “top six”, unless they are willing to possibly take on six games without him. Now, running backs are even more precious.
4. The suspension may not occur this season. It sounds like Zeke is adamant against this accusation and suspension. That means it could go as far as “deflategate” did. Brady wasn’t suspended until the following season. Elliott could end up playing all of 2017 and face a shorter suspension in 2018.
5. The NFL needs to figure out how to handle cases like this. It hasn’t handled domestic violence well in the past. This case could mark a turning point. Or, if the evidence was circumstantial and doesn’t hold water, the NFL could be in hotter water.
The Bills Reloading?
The Bills wound up making two huge trades last week. First, they sent Sammy Watkins and a 2018 sixth round pick to the Rams for corner E.J. Gaines and a 2018 second round pick. Then, they decided to move Ronald Darby to the Eagles for Jordan Matthews and a 2018 third rounder. What does this mean?
1. New management is clearly ready to stack this team with their players. The old administration is gone, and they have a chance to make waves in 2018. The Bills currently have six picks in the first three rounds of 2018. The two first rounders especially help (the second was acquired from the Chiefs in the Mahomes trade up).
2. The fantasy repercussions are all over the place. Does Watkins get a bump? Possibly, due to the Rams high probability of being behind in football games. Plus, many expect Jared Goff to take a step forward in 2017. Jordan Matthews could get a lot of looks in the slot for Buffalo. Plus, Bills rookie Zay Jones now steps into the spotlight. The number one role could be his.
3. The Eagles continue to build for a strong 2017. The secondary is still a major concern, but adding Ronald Darby gives them a strong player outside at corner. Yes, the rest of the secondary isn’t great, but that front seven will still cause problems. Let’s also not forget that Sidney Jones will likely be ready for next season. Watch out for this team.
4. The Rams are quietly building a strong receiving core. Watkins now joins Robert Woods as the other likely starter. But, rookies are waiting in the wings. Josh Reynolds and Cooper Kupp will ultimately see the field. Those guys, plus rookie tight end Gerald Everett, could help out Goff a lot this season.
5. How did the Bills do? I’d say they get a pass for the Watkins trade, even though I’m a big fan of his. It would have been hard to re-sign him had he played well all season. But, the Darby trade doesn’t sit well with me. Darby and rookie Tre’Davious White would have been a nice duo for Buffalo.
A lot of rookies took the field in week one of the preseason. Who looked the best? Let’s dive in.
1. DeShaun Watson had a solid debut against the Panthers. Houston gave him easy throws, but he also made some plays. His touchdown run was the highlight of the night, and it showed he is a smart player under pressure. He has a ways to go, but I could see him starting in week one.
2. DeShone Kizer looked like the player we saw in 2015. He threw two excellent deep balls for the Browns, and his footwork and pocket presence looked markedly better. Hue Jackson can do wonders for him in the offense.
3. Mitchell Trubisky played very well for the Bears. He made all the throws in the game, and the hype surrounding him is big time in Chicago. He could make a strong case to start like Watson.
4. Patrick Mahomes likely won’t start the season, but he played pretty well. His first throw was a dart down the sideline, even if it came back due to a penalty. Mahomes showed he can make plays outside the pocket. His footwork will continue to get better under Reid, but he’s still a project.
5. The other thing about the preseason is this. Don’t take too much into account, but it means something. Players will make the roster based on the preseason. But, superstars won’t be determined by their preseason play.
10 Players To Watch In Week 2 Of Preseason
Kareem Hunt – Chiefs fans want to see more of their rookie running back.
Max McCaffrey – Packer fans compare him to Jordy Nelson, because he catches everything and runs good routes.
Marlon Mack – The Colts rookie makes his debut this week.
Robert Nkemdiche – The Cardinals need their second year defensive linemen to make strides to strengthen their defense.
Desmond King – This guy could be the steal of the draft, but he needs to show the Chargers he can play safety and in the slot.
Curtis Samuel – The rookie didn’t make too many headlines in Carolina last week, but he is a piece to watch in the coming weeks.
Duke Johnson – Reports have the Browns moving him all over to create matchup issues. I can’t wait to see what he can do.
Taywan Taylor – Taylor has a chance to pass Rishard Matthews on the depth chart.
Paul Perkins – The Giants need a running game to make the big game, and Perkins needs to step up this season.
Ryan Switzer – Switzer is a dangerous weapon, and he will be important to the Cowboys receiving core.
Jake Schyvinck covers the NFL and NFL Draft for The Sports Guys. He apologizes for the short 5 for 5 this week. But, the NFL will soon pick up as far as headlines go. Follow him on Twitter @JSchyvinck13.