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David Montgomery, Jakobi Meyers, More Fantasy Reaction After Preseason Debuts

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 9, 2019

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 08: David Montgomery #32 of the Chicago Bears reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during a preseason game at Soldier Field on August 08, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

With the NFL's preseason in full swing after 11 games took place Thursday night, all eyes are focused on fantasy sleepers and breakout candidates who put together strong performances. 

These players aren't yet household names, but they have the potential to get significant playing time that will make them worth using in your starting lineup in the regular season. 

Here's the reaction to some of the most notable preseason debuts. 

   

David Montgomery, RB, Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears didn't muster much offense in their 23-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers, but David Montgomery was a bright spot for the defending NFC North champions. 

Montgomery had 46 total yards and one touchdown on four touches in his NFL debut, prompting this response from FanDuel's JJ Zachariason:

JJ Zachariason @LateRoundQB

David Montgomery just had an awesome drive that ended with a touchdown. I’m sure the fantasy football world will react rationally.

On the drive where Montgomery scored, he accounted for 41 of Chicago's 51 yards. Head coach Matt Nagy praised his rookie's running style. 

"He runs hard," Nagy said, per Chris Emma of 670 The Score. "He runs really, really hard. He runs violent. He's angry when he runs and he's tough to bring down with that first defender. We like that."

A third-round pick out of Iowa State, Montgomery is listed behind Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis on the Bears' official depth chart. 

Cohen's versatility as a runner and receiver makes it difficult to envision Montgomery usurping him as the starter. But Davis has long dealt with injury issues. Last season marked the first time in his four-year career he played in more than eight games. 

The early returns from Montgomery are a promising sign if he has to step into Davis' shoes, or if Nagy decides to take advantage of his diverse skill set to help boost Chicago's offense in 2019.

  

Jakobi Meyers, WR, New England Patriots

As the New England Patriots attempt to solidify their receiving corps this preseason, rookie Jakobi Meyers is making a name for himself.

Meyers' stat line from New England's 31-3 win over the Detroit Lions would seem like a huge boost to his chances of making the 53-man roster heading into the regular season. 

NFL Insiders🏈 @the_out_route

The BIGGEST winner of camp so far? Jakobi Meyers. -Undrafted -signs with Pats -Earns first team reps -6 catches, 69 yards -TWO touchdowns A potential deep sleeper in fantasy this year! https://t.co/ecWNJUtXgp

After the game, Meyers told reporters his secret to success stems from his personal drive and dedication. 

"Because I want to be great," he said. "I want to be in a position where they can depend on me, trust on me in tough downs, and at the same time, we've got a lot of great players on our team. All I have to do is listen. If I'm doing what they tell them to do, then I'll just stick around."

New England Patriots @Patriots

.@jkbmyrs5 for six. #NEvsDET | #GoPats https://t.co/IUm9fkIY7s

The Patriots used their first-round draft pick on receiver N'Keal Harry, but the early returns haven't been promising for the former Arizona State star. 

Michael Giardi @MikeGiardi

Undrafted free agent WR Jakobi Meyers has consistently made plays in competitive situations. Has out-performed N'Keal although again, we're just a week in. #Patriots

Meyers decided to forgo his senior year at North Carolina State after a career-best season that featured 92 receptions and 1,047 yards in 2018. He wound up signing with New England after going undrafted. 

If Meyers continues to outplay Harry this preseason, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick won't hesitate to get him reps when the games count. 

     

Miles Boykin, WR, Baltimore Ravens

Everything went well for the Baltimore Ravens in their 29-0 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, including the performance of rookie receiver Miles Boykin. 

The former Notre Dame standout had only had 39 yards on four receptions, but his nine targets were six more than any other Ravens player, and a holding penalty against Greg Senat cost him a touchdown. 

Rich Hribar @LordReebs

Miles Boykin put together a nice string of plays to close the half. Had a 24 yard back shoulder catch down the sideline and then a 17-yard TD called back on a hold. Boykin was targeted nine times in the first half, everyone else nine times.

Boykin's teammates haven't been shy about lavishing him with praise since the start of training camp. Baltimore receiver Willie Snead IV compared him to New Orleans Saints star Michael Thomas. 

"I keep telling him every day, I'm like, 'Dude, you look like [former Saints teammate] Michael Thomas,'" Snead told reporters in July. "I remember when Michael Thomas came to New Orleans, he was built the same, had the same mentality, just trying to get better every day."

Thomas just became the highest-paid wide receiver in NFL history after recording at least 92 receptions and 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. 

Boykin, a 2019 third-round pick, may not get to that level right away by virtue of playing in a run-heavy offense with quarterback Lamar Jackson, who is still developing as a pocket passer. 

Regardless, the fact Boykin was targeted as often as he was in his first game suggests the Ravens will make him a focal point as he gets more comfortable in the offense. 

  

Royce Freeman, RB, Denver Broncos

A crowded Denver Broncos backfield makes it hard for anyone to stand out, but Royce Freeman is doing his best to get more first-team reps. 

Freeman ran for 49 yards on three carries against the Seattle Seahawks, including a 50-yard burst on the first drive of the game. 

Denver Broncos @Broncos

ROLLIN' @rolls_royce28 breaks free for 5️⃣0️⃣ yards! #DENvsSEA https://t.co/2PasUEKlze

The Broncos have three running backs vying for touches this season. Freeman finished second on the team in 2018 with 130 carries, behind Phillip Lindsay (192). They also signed Theo Riddick on Sunday after he was cut by the Detroit Lions. 

One advantage Freeman has over Lindsay is his ability to pick up yards after contact:

Jeff Ratcliffe @JeffRatcliffe

Phillip Lindsay was one of the least elusive backs in the league last year at 2.3 yards after contact per attempt. Royce Freeman was much more elusive at 3.2. https://t.co/NvbQiko6EL

Riddick is best served as a receiver out of the backfield. He has had at least 53 receptions in each of the past four seasons. 

Lindsay was terrific with 1,278 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns in 2018. Freeman could start the season as the No. 3 running back on Denver's depth chart, but his ability to create big plays after contact will force head coach Vic Fangio to call his number frequently this season.