Footballguys' Top 10: Insights From the NFL's 2019 Dress Rehearsal

A sneak-peek at Matt Waldman's in-season column profiling insights you need to know from each week's games.


Many of this week's games featured starters and key contributors for at least a half of football. Generally, teams don't work from an expanded playbook because they don't want to tip their hands to in-season opponents scouting ahead. This is another compelling reason why we don't see NFL opponents catch onto a player, a scheme, or a team until at least 4-6 weeks into the season.

One thing the preseason dress rehearsal weekend reveals is the personnel that teams value. If a reserve earned playing time with starters this weekend, it's a good indication that, regardless of listing on the depth chart, the team values the skills that they've seen from the player thus far—even if injuries are the reason the player is earning time with the first or second unit.

Sometimes, a team will play a reserve sparingly because they have already seen enough from the player to know that they will be using him during the season and there's no need to evaluate his play. In other instances, a veteran finally sees the field to shake the rust off.

This week is my opportunity to get some preseason reps with Footballguys' Top 10, which will be available here every Monday evening and filled with fantasy insights from my weekly notebook based on film study. During the season, the Top 10 will feature mostly my own video analysis. This week, I'm using a higher percentage of videos that others around the web have made and add my insights to them.

One thing that I'll be adding to the column this year is a bullet list of insights from these 10 sections. If you don't have time to dig into the details all at once but want actionable Cliff's Notes, they'll be listed before the first section of the article.

Straight, No Chaser: Dress Rehearsal Weekend

  1. Jacoby Brissett is borderline starter material. If the supporting cast can't help him, Chad Kelly has franchise-starter talent.
  2. Deion Cain should be on your waiver-wire watch lists, and he's a dynasty buy-low.
  3. Tony Pollard showed glimpses of skill as a runner between the tackles during the Senior Bowl. He's showing it in Dallas—a great sign.
  4. Bruce Gradkowski and Brett Hundley also led the NFL in preseason quarterback rating, so the current praise for Daniel Jones is premature because he's not showing anything different than what's on his scouting report.
  5. If you want to learn the difference between what Jones has shown and what Brees and to a lesser extent Kelly, watch Brees execute in this complex situation below against the Jets.
  6. Dalvin Cook looks good but his 85-yard run exposed how the Cardinals' defense isn't getting quality preparation for other NFL teams because of the Cardinals' offensive scheme.
  7. Parsing the 49ers receiving corps: Deebo Samuel will start but we still need to see him face starting corners playing press coverage and the concerns over Dante Pettis' preseason are overreactions—George Kittle told the media that Kyle Shanahan put him through the same thing last summer.
  8. A.J. Brown is underrated in fantasy drafts and he's far more advanced than characterized.
  9. The Ravens rookie receivers and Lamar Jackson's wheels will force defenses to play overly conservative, which will still lead to strong production for the offense.
  10. Kenyan Drake is the long-term runner to have this year in the Miami backfield because Kalen Ballage is still a work in progress.
  11. Looking back at the warning signs I shared last year about Andrew Luck's career.

For those of you who wish to learn the why's, welcome...

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