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Fantasy Takeaways: Josh Jacobs Steals Headlines at Hall of Fame Game

In the NFL’s preseason opener, Las Vegas was a formidable force against Jacksonville.

The 2022 NFL preseason kicked off Thursday night, featuring a matchup between the undefined and undefined. It's the (more exciting in theory than in practice) Hall of Fame Game from Canton, Ohio.

Spoiler alert for those tracking wins and losses in the preseason: The Raiders took home the 27-11 win. The Twitter talk mostly focused on the usage of Raiders RB Josh Jacobs (11 snaps, five carries, two targets, six routes run for 30 rushing yards and two receptions for 14 yards). He played in their first two drives while most of their other starters did not.

While it has become very unusual for starters to see much playing time in the first preseason game, there’s a reason we shouldn’t care much and why we shouldn't overextend that concern into hand-wringing about Jacobs' job security.

The Raiders are now led by head coach Josh McDaniels, the Bill Belichick disciple and former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. The Patriots love them some sleight of hand, subterfuge, cloak and dagger. You get it. It is reasonable to expect more of a running back rotation à la how the Patriots used their backs in the past. However, between Jacobs, rookie Zamir WhiteBrandon BoldenKenyan Drake, et al., we should also give Jacobs his due. The fourth-year back is better than all his backups and while I don’t foresee some kind of "Jacobs renaissance" under new management, he can be counted on to produce like a fantasy RB2, which is all he is.

When you look through this Raiders roster, you'll notice a lot of former Patriots players. Including QB Jarrett Stidham, who got the start Thursday night and was capable for the most part. He completed 8 of 15 for 96 yards and also ran in a 12-yard score. One player I've got my eye on is RB Zamir White. He was the thunder to James Cook's lightning at Georgia and that play style shows in the way he runs. He's a downhill runner, good between the tackles and has solid hands. I don't believe he has a ton of fantasy upside, but like Jacobs, he can do everything as a three-down back. White is certainly a player to watch and consider as a very late-round flier.

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The other notable news was how impactful first overall pick Travon Walker was for what little time we saw him on the field during the Jaguars’ first two defensive drives. He tallied a tackle and a sack in the boxscore and the Raiders shifted pass-protection to his side in the second drive. They implemented chip blocks and seemed to show some respect to his athleticism. Paired with free-agent signing Arden Key and veteran pass rusher Josh Allen, Walker should provide some promise, some fireworks that have my ears perked up about this Jacksonville defense in 2022.

For Jacksonville’s offense, there wasn’t a whole lot working and given they trotted out backups, the fantasy takeaways are slim. QB Jake Luton didn't look like a viable backup. Jacksonville did allow 159 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, but some of that could be attributed to Las Vegas opting to use more starters and more of their second-string for longer than Jacksonville. It was basically like a 1s vs. 2s, 2s vs. 3s, etc, as the Raiders always had the edge throughout the game.

Looking ahead for both teams, we want to see the chemistry between Derek Carr and Davante Adams. We want to see Trevor LawrenceTravis Etienne and Christian Kirk all on the field together. Will Darren Waller rebound from what was a good, but not up-to-expectation 2021 season? How much of a drop off will there be for Hunter Renfrow after his breakout season? We didn’t get those questions answered just yet.

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