Preseason NFL Week 2 Takeaways: Patrick Mahomes, Brian Robinson, Kenny Pickett & More
On Saturday, several NFL teams fielded starters for a "dress rehearsal" game in preparation for the 2022 season.
Two of the top-five scoring offenses from the 2021 campaign looked season-ready despite some changes at wide receiver.
What's the common thread between those units?
Both teams have quarterbacks who possess exceptional physical tools and unique talents. In other words, you can change the names on the receiving end of the ball, but those offenses will remain potent with the current signal-callers under center.
Anyone who had an early fantasy football draft and picked up one particular running back should aggressively sell his stock after Saturday's action. Who belongs on the trade block, and what can managers do to replace him?
Lastly, a rookie quarterback has made enough plays to win a starting job, and his team should roll with him in Week 1 of the upcoming campaign.
Here are the biggest takeaways from Saturday's games.
Bills WR Gabriel Davis Is Ready to Shine in an Expanded Role
The Buffalo Bills haven't re-signed wide receivers Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders, who finished second and third on the team, respectively, in targets last season. The team won't miss them because Gabriel Davis is ready for a bigger role.
On Saturday, against the Denver Broncos, quarterback Josh Allen moved around the pocket and fired a 28-yard pass to Davis for a touchdown on the Bills' first drive.
Allen only played one series and looked sharp, completing all three of his pass attempts for 45 yards and a score. Case Keenum came in for Buffalo's second possession and connected with Davis on his first throw for 19 yards.
Because of Allen's strong arm and ability to extend plays with his legs, Davis will have plenty of opportunities to beat defenders over the top for splash plays in the passing game. Last year, he averaged 15.7 yards per catch.
Even with the addition of slot wideout Jamison Crowder and rookie fifth-rounder Khalil Shakir, Davis will likely see more targets in the upcoming campaign. He looks primed to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in 2022 after recording 35 receptions for 549 yards and six touchdowns in 2021.
Bills’ Backfield Committee Will Keep Defenses Honest
The Buffalo Bills offense had a near flawless first half against the Denver Broncos. Josh Allen and Case Keenum completed 19 of 21 pass attempts for 237 yards and two touchdowns combined.
Collectively, the Bills' top running backs had a strong first half as well. Devin Singletary, Zack Moss and James Cook all recorded 11-plus-yard rushes and combined for 12 carries, 96 rushing yards and two scores. Eighth-year veteran Duke Johnson added 55 rushing yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
Once again, Singletary projects as the starter who will handle the early-down role. Meanwhile, Moss made the most of his short-yardage opportunities on Saturday with a pair of touchdowns from the 1-yard line. Cook logged the biggest gain on the ground with a 19-yard run. He also caught a pass for 12 yards.
Through four seasons, Allen has taken on a significant workload in the Bills' rushing offense, logging 422 carries for 2,325 yards and 31 touchdowns. With a trio of ball-carriers who can excel in different aspects of the ground game, new offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey can dial back Allen's rush attempts, which will help him avoid unnecessary hits.
The Bills should have a solid run game that features a backfield platoon to complement an electric aerial attack. They're equipped to beat defenses in multiple ways this year.
Point Guard Patrick Mahomes Is in Full Effect
Following the departure of star wide receiver Tyreek Hill, quarterback Patrick Mahomes has talked about opening up the offense with a bevy of contributors, and we saw that on full display Saturday.
Against the Washington Commanders, Mahomes completed 12-of-19 pass attempts for 162 yards and two touchdowns and connected with seven different pass-catchers.
Of course, three-time All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce took part in the action with two catches for 23 yards on three targets. Yet Mahomes made new friends in the passing game, throwing a pair of touchdown passes to tight end Jody Fortson.
Justin Watson also made a notable impact, hauling in two passes for 53 yards. He's in line to provide depth behind JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, rookie second-rounder Skyy Moore and Mecole Hardman on the wide receiver depth chart.
Moreover, tight end Noah Gray had a 30-yard reception. Running backs Jerick McKinnon and Isiah Pacheco combined for three caches and 30 yards in the first half.
Kansas City may miss Hill's explosive plays in the passing game, lightning speed and contributions on special teams, but the offense will continue to produce with Mahomes point-guard mentality under center. We'll have to get acquainted with new names in the Chiefs aerial attack this year.
Sell Your Antonio Gibson Fantasy Stock, Here Comes Brian Robinson
On Saturday against the Kansas City Chiefs, Antonio Gibson started the game on special teams as a kick returner. Rookie third-round running back Brian Robinson took the first few carries.
By the end of the first half, Robinson had eight rush attempts for 31 yards, and Gibson went into halftime with two carries for three yards in addition to three receptions for 37 yards.
Managers in points-per-reception leagues may think Gibson's involvement in the passing game will salvage his fantasy value. Though he has the ability to catch out of the backfield, fellow running back J.D. McKissic has locked down that role over the last two seasons with 123 receptions for 986 yards and four touchdowns in Washington.
McKissic sat out against the Chiefs. Once he's back on the field, Gibson isn't likely to maintain third-down receiving duties.
According to Fantasy Football Calculator, Gibson has an average draft position (ADP) of 4.08 in 12-person PPR leagues, and Robinson lists at 13.13. Expect managers to tighten that gap over the next couple of weeks. The former seems unlikely to produce at a level that justifies his current ADP, while the latter looks like a potential late-round steal.
Raiders Must Add Another Offensive Tackle
Going into the offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders had to answer a pressing question at right tackle after rookie Alex Leatherwood struggled at the position through Week 4 last year and subsequently moved to right guard for the rest of the season.
Last week, head coach Josh McDaniels told reporters that the team has "some depth at tackle and some competition."
In three preseason games, Leatherwood, Brandon Parker and rookie seventh-rounder Thayer Munford Jr. have all had a shot to impress the coaching staff and claim the job.
Parker suffered an injury amid a poor performance in the Hall of Fame Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Early this week, Munford exited practice with an injury and didn't return. Leatherwood opened Saturday's matchup at right tackle and struggled mightily.
"Leatherwood just got shoved back into Mullens ... and then on the next play, he gets beat clean around the edge for a sack. Mama Mia," The Athletic's Vic Tafur tweeted during the second quarter.
"Alex Leatherwood struggled tonight, no two ways about it," the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Vincent Bonsignore tweeted.
Leatherwood played in the second half, but the coaching staff can't overlook his concerning start to the game.
Unless the Raiders plan to put all their hopes into Jermaine Eluemunor, who's served as a backup for most of his five NFL seasons, the front office has to consider a free-agent pickup.
According to The Athletic's Tashan Reed, team brass isn't high on any of the available free agents, but Daryl Williams or Bobby Massie cannot be any worse than Leatherwood and two banged-up players right now.
Steelers Should Start Rookie QB Kenny Pickett in Week 1
Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kenny Pickett had the most efficient outing among the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks.
Under constant pressure during his time on the field, Mitch Trubisky struggled to establish a rhythm under center. He completed 5-of-8 attempts for 60 yards.
Pickett entered the game with about six minutes left in the second quarter and managed to engineer a touchdown drive on his second possession right before halftime. In two series, he completed 6-of-7 attempts for 76 yards and a touchdown, recording a 151.5 QB rating.
Mason Rudolph played through the entire second half, completing 17-of-21 pass attempts for 127 yards and a touchdown, but he also made a glaring error with an intentional grounding penalty that resulted in a safety.
Pickett has played well in consecutive weeks to showcase himself in an open quarterback competition. Through two exhibition contests, he's thrown for 171 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.
As a rookie first-rounder on par with veteran competition at his position, Pickett has done enough to earn serious consideration to start for the regular season, even though he didn't open any of the preseason games with the first-stringers. Pittsburgh should allow him to learn on the job rather than roll with one of its two bridge-gap quarterbacks in Week 1.
Rookie QB Malik Willis Can Add Another Dimension to Titans Offense
In two preseason games, Malik Willis has completed 13-of-28 passes for 187 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 80 yards with a score.
Against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday, Willis had an uneven passing performance but led a short touchdown drive. On the flip side, he continued to make big plays with his legs. The rookie third-rounder had a 24-yard gain on the ground and led the Titans in rushing.
Willis isn’t going to start over Ryan Tannehill this year, but Tennessee can still use his skill set. Perhaps offensive coordinator Todd Downing can insert the dual-threat quarterback in run-pass option situations and the red zone.
With running back Derrick Henry coming off foot surgery, the Titans can ease his rushing workload and give Willis a chance to utilize his physical talent.
Willis doesn’t have to run or hand off to a running back on every RPO call. He can throw to a receiver on a simplified read, which may be a confidence booster in his introduction to the pros.
Maurice Moton covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @MoeMoton.