Do you remember when the movie trailer came out for the first Avengers movie? You knew they were making it and you knew it would have all of the Marvel Superheroes and yet you still had to see the trailer just to believe the whole thing was happening? And the trailer, the first taste you'd get of the movie, got you so hyped for the movie that you wanted to find a way to see it as soon as possible?!
Watching Bijan Robinson in his preseason debut was kind of like that.
We were teased about how he'd assimilate into the Falcons offense for months with only a select few (myself included) treated to seeing him practice in advance of this game. We knew he was good from his days at Texas, but would he be as good in his first NFL action?
If you have Twitter, or X.com, then you probably have already seen the clip of his first run where he flashed his quick feet and slick cutting ability. A slower running back might have gotten two yards before the Bengals defense got its mitts on him. A good running back would have made the same cut with burst and had about six yards before getting taken down. Robinson made the smooth cut, then another to avoid a tackler before finally succumbing to a Dax Hill diving tackle for a 12-yard gain.
But again, you probably saw that. You also probably saw his one-handed catch in the red zone to move the Falcons closer to the goal line.
What you may have missed, unless you watched the broadcast, was Robinson with what initially appeared to be an easy walk-in touchdown catch on the play after Drake London's amazing 21-yard sideline snare -- the Bengals challenged the play prior so Robinson's would've-been TD would not have counted.
And what you definitely missed, unless you were on top of the Falcons' practices at Miami the week before, was Robinson dunking on Dolphins defenders several times in red-zone drills with front-pylon touchdown receptions like this.
And as silly as it sounds, we're just seeing the beginning of Robinson's usage and abilities. The Falcons coaches? They've already started to see it. They love it. They just gave him 73% of the snaps with Ridder and the first-team offense in his first preseason game along with five of six touches to running backs on the drive. This is the start of our Fantasy journey with Robinson through his version of the MCU.
He's running with rare explosive traits, and he's making one-handed catches like they're normal. He's getting to open spaces on the field sooner than defenders are. He still hasn't really shown just how powerful of a runner he is. And even with the talk about Tyler Allgeier having a role in the Falcons offense, Robinson still profiles as someone who should see over 250 touches including a slew of targets and goal-line carries over the season. And he's 21 years young.
What more do you want from your Fantasy running back?!
I'm even more comfortable with the idea of taking Robinson not just with a first-round pick, but a top five overall pick regardless of format. Non-PPR? He's easily third-best for me behind Christian McCaffrey and Austin Ekeler. Half-PPR and full-PPR? I would roll the dice on Robinson over Cooper Kupp, a decision that could come back to haunt me if Kupp plays more games than Robinson since he's such a target hog, but I suspect Robinson will score more often to keep it close.
Is Javonte back?
Javonte Williams' best play over 12 snaps against the 49ers was an improvisational comeback route along the left sideline after Wilson moved out of harm's way from the pocket. It was a smart play for sure by Williams, who went to his knees to ensure he caught the pass.
On the play before he dropped a designed screen. On the play after he did all he could to stay on his feet and keep grinding for yards, but had zero. On the night he had five targets (two seemed unplanned), four catches, three carries and 30 total yards.
If you read my review of Russell Wilson's from either Week 1 or Week 2, you already know how I feel about the Broncos offensive line. It didn't do a great job keeping Wilson clean, and against the 49ers it didn't do a great job popping lanes for Williams, whose long run of 8 yards came against the 49ers second-string defense.
The context, obviously, is that the Broncos' primary concern was Williams coming out of the game without any setbacks on his knee. That appears to be the case, which means they can keep giving him work in practice and once the season starts.
So kudos to Williams for coming back from a torn ACL last October. He ran tough on every play against San Francisco but didn't have much explosiveness. That could be the nature of his status these days. Maybe that's just who he is -- through 309 career touches he has just eight plays of 20-plus yards and another seven between 15 and 19 yards.
Any young running back could overcome low explosive numbers like this, but it's kind of hard to believe one coming back from a torn ACL in a certain timeshare situation with a suspect quarterback playing with a suspect interior offensive line could do it.
I'd like to see more of Williams -- he should be able to do better than an even 4.0 rushing average. But I wouldn't reach too far for him in Fantasy drafts. Round 6 might be too soon.
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Encouraging RB snap shares
Pittsburgh: Najee Harris played five of seven snaps with Kenny Pickett including the first four snaps of the drive (no third downs). Jaylen Warren played the other two (a third down and the play after). You know what he did.
- Zach Charbonnet lined up wide on two of his first three plays, then ripped off a 29-yard romp when the Cowboys were out of position trying to stack the box. It did feel like Charbonnet had a hard time accelerating quickly and may get caught from behind more than we'd like to see, but he's on his way to earning a meaningful role in this offense.
- I remain convinced that Roschon Johnson will eventually be the Bears leading running back this year. He has good lateral agility, he breaks tackles regularly, he finishes his runs with power, he can line up in multiple spots and can contribute in the passing game. Johnson's flashed for two straight weeks. I'm trying to leave all my drafts with him on my bench.
- Tank Bigsby will get some much-deserved attention for his speed and burst, but he does two things well that are underrated: He sees the field really well and he's capable of protecting the quarterback. Obviously his path to massive snaps is blocked by Travis Etienne, but if he ever gets a shot he could be pretty good.
- Tyjae Spears' speed when he hit open space against the Vikings was fantastic. Will he see meaningful snaps while Derrick Henry is healthy?
- Want a deep sleeper? I've liked Sean Tucker's game since his days at Syracuse, but a health condition kept him from getting drafted. He's since been cleared, and his game against the Jets should lock up a spot on the depth chart. Tucker made the defense pay when he cruised past a stacked box for a 26-yard run on a fourth-and-1, then picked up 15 yards on a screen where his speed after the catch really made a difference. Tucker also had a touchdown called back last week. Tucker's already on my Dynasty league team.