As most of the NFL prepares to play their first Preseason games today and tomorrow, now is a good time to discuss the fantasy players that we should be monitoring throughout the preseason.
Now, of course, we recognize that the best players hardly play in the preseason and preseason stats matter very little in the grand scheme of things, however, you can certainly look for the little things to help you decide which players will be more valuable down the stretch. In this article, we will be looking at the players whose value is a bit uncertain at this point but, depending on their preseason results and workload, could give us a peek into their production for the rest of the year.
Here we go, in no order of importance…
Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman, or other?
Who will be the starting running back in Denver? The preseason may not help us find the answer to this question before week 1, but it will be important to see which back gets the most snaps, carries, 3rd down reps, and goal line carries while Peyton Manning is in the game.
How many targets and plays does Wes Welker get? It is critical to Wes Welker’s value that he plays enough snaps on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd downs and he gets targets while he’s in there. If the Bronco’s don’t make him a balanced part of their offense compared to Thomas and Decker he will not be worth his high price in fantasy drafts.
St. Louis Rams Receivers and Running backs
Who is the number 1 receiver for Sam Bradford? Does Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, or Zac Stacy emerge as the lead back? How do they use Tavon Austin?
Keep an eye on the number of snaps each running back receives and who is starting while Sam Bradford is in the game, especially on 3rd down. Just like the Denver situation, see who emerges as the top targeted WR and the goal line running back.
Also pay attention to how often Tavon Austin is in the game and if he is getting looks. Are they using him on 1st down right out of the gate, or does it look like they will ease him into that role as the season goes on?
Chris Johnson vs. Shonn Greene
How much, if any, does Shonn Greene take away from CJ2K’s value? Who gets the goal line carries and the 3rd down plays?
Danny Amendola and _________________
I keep hearing more and more about how Amendola is absolutely shining at the Patriot’s practices and how he has built up a solid rapport with Tom Brady. So the question is who will Tom Brady target the 2nd most, and who is the deep threat? My money is on Aaron Dobson, but the preseason should give us our answer. A sneaky option here is to watch how the Patriots use Shane Vereen and Julian Edelman.
Michael Vick vs. Nick Foles
Maybe Vick has already run away with it in training camp, but whoever wins the starting job in Philly will be a definite sleeper pick come draft day.
How good is Alex Smith?
We already know how his offensive coordinator feels about him, but we will get to see how good he really is in the new Chiefs/ Andy Reid offense.
How good is Matt Flynn?
See Alex Smith, but replace with Raiders/ Dennis Allen.
Is David Wilson for real?
My gut says yes since he is the far more talented runner in the Giant’s backfield, but we are about to see HOW good he is, and how much work Andre Brown is really going to get. We know that if you fumble in Tom Coughlin’s offense you will not play, but it’s worth seeing how far back Coughlin’s memory goes. Wilson should run away with the starting spot if he can just hold onto the football, but the preseason will show us if he is worth his 4th round ranking or not.
Have these situations in the back of your minds as you watch the next 4 weeks of preseason football. It’s important to not put too much emphasis on total stats in the preseason, but look for the little things that differentiate value like targets, 3rd down plays, and goal line carries. But above all else, enjoy the game and enjoy your first full football week of 2013.