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EVERYBODY FREAK OUT!!! FOOTBALL IS BACK AND THERE'S ALL THESE SURPRISES!
Look, it's preseason. And even more important, it's the FIRST WEEK of the preseason. Remember, the goal of these games for coaching staffs are to keep their stars healthy and to see what the rest of their roster is going to look like. So, please, don't draft Christine Michael or Lester Jean based on their big games. Jeff Tuel will not be the starter in Buffalo, and Cam Newton is not going to be a fantasy bust.
That being said, there's some things you can look for in preseason games to make some viable fantasy deductions from. Is there a player that no one is talking about that might play his way into a starting lineup? You need to know enough about the team to make reasonable guesses here, but based off last week it's not crazy to think that Robert Woods, Kendrell Thompkins, DeAndre Hopkins, and Cordarrelle Patterson could make the 2-deep at receiver for their respective teams.
Is there a player that could play a prominent backup role behind an aging or oft-injured starter that might be worth drafting as a handcuff or late-round flyer? Cause that's why I think Lance Dunbar and Stepfan Taylor are worth a looksie.
Who's playing with the first team? Who's a "favorite target"? These are things you look for. So don't be fooled by Preston Parker's 2 touchdown catches...he's not going to be a big part of the Saints' offense. And as much as Jordan Todman's 7.5 yards per carry might look sexy, he's still the 3rd string runningback in Jacksonville.
Stop freaking out.
That being said, here's some quick hits from each of the past week's preseason games (and I use the term games very loosely).
Bills 44, Colts 20: CJ Spiller is a beast. That's very apparent, so nothing to see here. I DO think I move him into my Top 5 for one reason. The Bills offense is going to be exceptionally vanilla. Captain Slip in the Tub Kevin Kolb will not be Doug Marrone's starter...the Bills' QB of the future is E.J. Manuel, and he's going to start game 1. And he's got the potential to be pretty good, but he's not yet. Marrone showed with Manuel on the field that he's going to simplify the offense - lots of short passes, uncomplicated reads, etc. to limit Manuel's rookie mistakes. Manuel completed 16 of 21 passes, but there were some ugly passes, and nothing that inspired a ton of confidence. His yards per attempt? 5.1. Who does that benefit? CJ Spiller, who can do more in the receiving game than any other runningback in football. Also, I think Manuel will be an accidentally decent fantasy option because he will get some rushing yards, and I could see him scampering for positive yards any time he feels a little nervous - which could happen a lot.
Giants 18, Steelers 13: Not really much to see here, especially since Le'Veon Bell didn't play for Pittsburgh. I think Andre Brown could end up being one of the steals of the draft though. I think the Wilson/Brown timeshare is a lot more balanced than you think...and Brown looked good in this game. Plus he'll get the goal line work. I think Wilson is the "workhorse", but I wouldn't be surprised if Brown, who's going 6 rounds lower, ends up with more fantasy points
Ravens 44, Bucanneerse 16: The Ravens offense will be unstoppable! Kidding. I really didn't take much from this game. I do think the Ravens offense will be better than we give them credit for under Jim Caldwell, and I think that Luke Stocker could be an interesting sleeper at tight end. But that's not necessarily based off of this game, and it's really all I've got.
Bengals 34, Falcons 10: Steven Jackson is terrible! 5 carries for 8 yards? Kidding. Was glad to see him touch the ball 6 times in 10 plays. But whatever. Jackson is a solid RB2 and that's not changing. Not a lot here. I thought Giovani Bernard looked good, but I still only draft him as a late flyer. Someone has to step up as the #2 receiving option behind AJ Green, and althought Mohammed Sanu is there on the depth chart, I'm not confident that he stays there. Andrew Hawkins is still there, and Brandon Tate as well. I don't know that any of the 3 are draftable in a standard league, but if you're in a deeper pool or a PPR, it's worth watching who emerges in Games 2 and 3.
Browns 27, Rams 19: This is the story of two quarterbacks looking competent. Brandon Weeden and Sam Bradford looked far better than their terrible alter egos that we've gotten used to. If that continues, I think that both Josh Gordon and Chris Givens are good WR3 options with some upside. We've seen flashes from both, and if the quarterback play is even remotely professional, they could have big years. Not really anything new in the RB situation for St. Louis, and I was disappointed to not see Tavon Austin or Jared Cook doing anything in this one. Good to see Jordan Cameron make a nice play for Cleveland, though.
Redskins 22, Titans 21: Remember when Fred Davis was a fantasy starter? Thanks to injury, he was forgotten about last year, but I think he's got some upside and you can literally draft him in the last round. And while I'm not all aboard the Chris Johnson bandwagon, I do think he's being undervalued a little bit in the 3rd round. Outside of Kenny Britt, I want no part of the Titans receiving corps, as none of Kendall Wright, Damian Williams, or Nate Washington has done much to separate themselves. And FYI, I know that people like to hate on Leonard Hankerson, but I'm not convinced that he doesn't have a serviceable year in Washington this year, especially with Santana Moss's age and Pierre Garcon's injury problems.
Broncos 10, 49ers 6: What an absolutely horrific game to watch. Seriously, I watched it. Yuck. It's tough to judge the Broncos runningback situation from this game - after all, we know how got the San Francisco run defense is. I don't think Ball or Hillman either one ran particularly well, but I'll reserve judgement for a week or two. I think Austin Collie makes the team. I think he starts. And I think he has value as a 4th or 5th receiver.
Seahawks 31, Chargerse 10: I stand by my statement to not draft any Chargers players. I don't think they're going to be good at all, and injuries to Danario Alexander and Malcolm Floyd don't help. For the Chargers, nothing here makes me change that opinion. For the Seahawks, Christine Michael is NOT Marshawn Lynch's backup. But he could become that. He's very good. And Robert Turbin is decent, but doesn't have as much raw talent. If something were to happen to Lynch, I could see a timeshare between Michael and Turbin, and I think that the rookie could do something with that. Not worth looking at in any kind of standard format, but if you're in a dynasty league, he might be worth a late-round pickup.
Lions 26, Jets 17: The Jets suck. If there is ANY player I want from New York, it's probably Jeremy Kerley, especially in a PPR, but I'm not ecstatic about that one either. I'm still a believer in Stephen Hill's talent, but I think that until New York gets competent quarterback play he's untouchable. For Detroit, there's two things that stand out. Joique Bell had 5 targets. Here's a guy that had 52 catches last year, and no one is talking about him. Look, LeShoure is the goal line back, but Bell is poor man's Reggie Bush. If Bush gets hurt (likely), Bell could take a really big role in that Lions offense, and I would definitely draft him if I draft Bush. Also, Matthew Stafford completed 3 passes....all to Calvin Johnson. I still believe in Pettigrew and Ryan Broyles as decent fantasy options, but this offense will be all Megatron.
Patriots 31, Eagles 22: Anyone who watched this game and still believes Nick Foles has a chance to be the Eagles' starter needs to be kicked in the mouth. Michael Vick will be the starter, and he will be better than he was last year. Stevan Ridley is a 1st round pick, and a good one. LeGarrette Blount's big game is interesting, but I think Shane Vereen is still the only other back I want. Kenbrell Thompkins has a legitimate chance of being the #2 receiver for New England. He looked better than Aaron Dobson. He played with the first team. He caught 4 of his 5 passes. I think I might draft Thompkins as a 5th or 6th wide receiver, even in a 10-team league. A lot of upside.
Dolphins 27, Jaguars 3: I really think Ryan Tannehill will surprise people. He looked good - granted, against a terrible Jaguars defense, but I think he's decent for a 2-QB league this season. Blaine Gabbert continues to be awful. That's really all I have here.
Texans 27, Vikings 13: I AM a believer in DeAndre Hopkins - he could finally be the 2nd receiver that people actually care about in Houston. Andre Johnson is still the guy, but Hopkins could be interesting in deeper leagues, and I might even take a flyer on him in standard leagues as one of the better upside late-round receivers. Same can be said for Cordarrelle Patterson, who I think is a better fit for the Vikings offense than Greg Jennings and might put up some serviceable fantasy numbers.
Saints 17, Chiefs 13: Good to see Jamaal Charles with a 1-yard touchdown run. Really like him this year. Other than that, I thought Alex Smith looked okay. I think it'll be interesting to see what happens with the Saints' 3rd receiver position. We know that Colston and Moore are #1 and #2, but I remain confident in my Nick Toon call. I don't think he's got a ton of value in standard leagues, but the Saints like his talent, he's looked really good in camp, and I think he's a little more polished than rookie Kenny Stills. Toon could have a nice fantasy game here and there this year, but he's probably more of a name to watch as a bye-week/matchup play.
Cardinals 17, Packers 0: The Cardinals defense is going to be good. I know, they played mostly against Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman, but this is an aggressive defense with a great secondary that has a legitimate chance of being a Top 10 unit this year. I still don't think I want a Cardinals runningback, but Stepfan Taylor made a case to be in the mix with a solid performance...I still think it's Williams, then Mendenhall, then Ellington, but it's a situation that warrants continued looks.
Panthers 24, Bears 17: Jay Cutler threw an interception on his first pass in Marc Tressman's offense. LOL. I still like Cutler this year, but that was just ironic. Other than that, nothing really to talk about here.
Raiders 19, Cowboys 17: Whatever. Darren McFadden looked terrible on his 3 runs, which is why I won't have him on any teams this year. Well, that and his being less healthy than most octogenerians. Dez Bryant is going to be the focal point of the Cowboys offense - if he keeps his head on straight and stays on the field, I think he could end up the #2 receiver in fantasy this year easily (above Marshall and Green). I also think, even though he only got 3 carries, that Lance Dunbar is the guy I want as a Murray handcuff.
So, there's like 1500 words of analysis...on preseason games. I'm super worn out now, so I'm gonna take a nap, grab a cookie, and start looking forward to week 2. We'll learn more this week, as the 1st teams will play more, and we might see some guys that we didn't get a chance to look at last week.
Podcast coming later today - TTFN kids! (that's ta-ta for now, in case you're not up on your internet abbreviations).