Top winners from preseason Week 1: Brian Robinson and Antonio Williams raise their stock

Following Week 1 of the 2022 NFL preseason, which players have come out of it as winners and improved their fantasy football stock?

Week 1 of the 2022 NFL preseason is in the books, and fantasy football managers have been casting half an eye on the action as they prepare for their fantasy drafts. While we have to be careful not to take too much from preseason, it is intriguing to see which players’ fantasy values could see a bump after a strong performance. Let’s take a look at who were the fantasy winners from preseason Week 1, and who may see their stock on the rise.

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Preseason Week 1 winners

PFN’s Director of Fantasy Ben Rolfe (BR) and Fantasy Analyst Jason Katz (JK) break down the winners from Week 1 of the preseason.

Brian Robinson Jr., RB | Commanders

BR: It was a good day all around for Brian Robinson in his first NFL preseason game. Robinson’s performance was solid, with 26 yards and a touchdown on his six carries. He then added two receptions for 15 yards to round out a solid day.

However, it was Antonio Gibson’s performance that made Robinson a fantasy football winner from preseason Week 1. Gibson’s numbers were underwhelming, with two yards on four rushing attempts and one reception for two yards. The real eye-catching statistic is a fumble for Gibson, who had the most of any non-RB last season with six.

Those ball control concerns for Gibson could see Robinson’s touches increase when we get to Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season.

Antonio Williams, RB | Giants

BR: When you look at the Giants’ depth chart, there is a definite opening at backup running back. We saw four of the potential contenders in action this past week, with only Matt Breida out. There was a good performance from Gary Brightwell — 40 yards on seven rush attempts and 19 receiving yards on two receptions.

However, it was Williams who really impressed with the ball in his hand. He took nine rush attempts for 61 yards, even if he could only manage negative one yard on his sole reception. Head coach Brian Daboll brought Williams with him from Buffalo, where his one regular-season performance was very impressive. In the final week of 2020, Williams went for 63 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 rush attempts. He also added 20 yards on a single reception.

He grabbed his first opportunity to stay in Daboll’s mind and potentially earn the backup role to Saquon Barkley. Speaking of which…

Saquon Barkley, RB | Giants

JK: Concerns about the quality of the Giants’ offense remain, but perhaps the biggest question was whether Saquon Barkley’s explosiveness would return after it was completely nonexistent last season. Now two years removed from his torn ACL, all I needed to see was Barkley make a sharp cut on an out route, which he caught for 8 yards. He’s back.

Jerome Ford, RB | Browns

BR: The first week of the preseason in Cleveland made the contest for the third RB spot on the depth chart more intriguing. There has already been some discussion over whether D’Ernest Johnson is secure in that role or if rookie RB Jerome Ford could steal the spot.

Johnson did not help his case with a fumble and a grand total of zero yards on three rush attempts. Meanwhile, Ford racked up 57 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. He also added four receptions on five targets for 45 yards. Unfortunately, Ford also fumbled, which might somewhat take the shine off the performance. However, it feels like any gap in value between him and Johnson is closing heading into Week 2 of the preseason.

Darrel Williams, RB | Cardinals

JK: Sometimes, it’s about what doesn’t happen. Kliff Kingsbury saw no reason to put his starters at any unnecessary risk in a game that didn’t matter. Along with Kyler Murray, Hollywood Brown, and James Conner, backup running back Darrel Williams was held out of the game. That sends a clear message that the Cardinals view the former Chief as a valuable piece of the offense and the clear RB2 behind Conner.

Travis Etienne, RB | Jaguars

JK: By now, we’ve all seen the Trent Richardson-esque clip of Travis Etienne staring down a gaping hole between the tackles and opting to bounce it outside. That poor decision notwithstanding, Etienne was out there for the first 20 snaps of the Jaguars’ preseason bout with the Browns. I’m sure they’ll address his decision-making in the film review, but the fact remains the Jaguars clearly view Etienne as someone who can handle an every-down workload. We still await James Robinson’s status, but, at the very least, Etienne established himself as someone who has a very high ceiling if he gets the volume.

George Pickens, WR | Steelers

JK: George Pickens caught three of his five targets for 43 yards and a highlight reel toe-tapping touchdown in the corner of the end zone on a perfectly delivered ball from QB Mason Rudolph. Pickens always possessed first-round talent but was pushed down draft boards due to injury and character concerns. He sure looks to be past all of that, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the more talented Pickens took Chase Claypool’s job by midseason.

Khalil Shakir, WR | Bills

BR: The third starting receiver in the Bills’ offense appears to be up for grabs heading into the season. Jamison Crowder appeared to be the early favorite before Isaiah McKenzie began impressing in camp. There have then been some good reports from Khalil Shakir in camp, and he backed that up in the first preseason game.

Reeling in all five of his targets for 92 yards was certainly the type of performance he would have been looking for. It is still unlikely Shakir has much fantasy value entering the season, barring injury, but he is putting himself in the frame. For now, the competition appears to be between Crowder and McKenzie, but if the door opens, Shakir has positioned himself well to potentially take advantage.

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