It's always tough to make predictions based upon what you see in preseason games particularly because the starters play so little. After two weeks of the preseason, however, there have been some interesting developments that are worth looking at and could factor into your fantasy drafts.
After Holmgren's Browns made me question my Packers' defense, the Pack came back against the Seahawks for a 27-24 win. Aaron Rodgers looked incredible tossing in his 3rd TD of the preseason. Also looking incredible was TE Jermichael Finley who grabbed 4 receptions for 48 yards and a score.
The Favre drama fizzled as he took just 4 snaps in the preseason game against the 49ers. WR Sidney Rice is out until at least midseason due to hip surgery which drops his value significantly. I feel good about Adrian Peterson in PPR leagues this year. He had 6 carries for 17 yards against San Fran but he added 3 receptions to the mix as well.
Say "goodbye" to the awful 2009 Lions and "hello" to an improved Lions team that has me looking at 3 players for my fantasy team. I was so disappointed in Calvin Johnson last year that I had actually benched him in one of my leagues. I wouldn't hesitate to grab Megatron again as he's seen the endzone twice the past two weeks. He's looking good and so is Jahvid Best who is clearly the main man in that backfield now. Believe it or not, I like Matthew Stafford this year as well. Not enough to reach for him, but there's enough value there that I'd take him late in the draft as a bye-week backup and feel good about it.
When I think about the awful 2009 Lions, I can't help but think of the awful 2009 Rams as well. Steven Jackson cost me a championship last year as I was at Lambeau Field the morning that they decided he couldn't play and I left him in my lineup. After three years of disappointment, I personally won't draft Jackson. As President Bush famously said "There's an old saying in Tennessee - I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee - that says, fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - you can't get fooled again." Jackson may look to be 100% but I really don't want to be fooled again.
Michael Bush has been a sleeper target for me in my drafts, even though McFadden is still in the room. His 3.25 yards/carry wasn't impressive but the potential is there. While I'm not ready to jump on the Jason Campbell bandwagon, he did a pretty nice job throwing for 170 yards and rushing for a score. Compared to JaMarcus Russell, the Raiders have seriously upgraded their QB position. The nice thing about Campbell and the reason why he's worth a late, late round look is that he has a pretty light schedule. When you're looking at the FFN rankings and you click on Campbell's name, you'll see 2 red bars and the rest are all orange and green. I love orange and green bars! What I don't love is Chaz Schilens out for at least half the season with a scoped knee. Ouch.
I'm not sure what to make of the Bears this year. The new offense should post better numbers than last year making Jay Cutler a solid QB1 (FFN has him ranked 8th among QB's). It's the rest of Chicago that leaves question marks. For example, is Johnny Knox going to be the stud-WR that everyone is talking about? Hester, maybe? Who knows? I'm not ready to reach for either of them, but I would be willing to take another chance on Matt Forte. Forte was a major bust last year. In fact, I'm still angry that I wasted a first round pick on him, but I'd spend a low to mid-round pick on him this year. His 89-yard TD run was awesome. I firmly believe that he had an inflated ego last year and his poor season brought him back to Earth. I also believe that having Chester Taylor now in the backfield is enough competition for him to realize that this is serious. I like the effort we're seeing out of him now.
I've seen several people in my drafts reach for both Felix Jones and Marion Barber, which is fine if one gets injured, but I really dislike the running back by committee approach when it comes to my fantasy team. Of the two, I like Felix Jones a little more. Romo's looking good and I can see him making a case for Top 5 QB this year. Miles Austin's rapport with Romo looks to be solid making Austin a fantastic WR1. Oh yeah, and there's a guy by the name of Jason Witten that has fallen to me in my last two drafts...late. Seriously - I'm seeing quite a few guys go before Witten this year and that's just fine with me!
Inside I've chuckled when I see guys avoiding Vincent Jackson like the plague. Regardless of the rankings system being used and the platform hosting the draft, Jackson has stayed on top of the un-drafted list a lot longer than everyone else. Nobody wants to touch him unless it's a late, late pick. With the uncertainty surrounding him, I've decided to wait until the dust settles and then I may look for him on the waiver wire. One guy that has really impressed me and I'm thrilled to have him in two leagues is Ryan Mathews. The only concern that I have with taking him so high in the draft is that he's a rookie and I'd prefer to have safer expectations from my top picks, but I have high hopes for him this season!
Shonn Greene is clearly the man for the Jets and with good reason. Look to take his handcuff late if you can. While LT looked decent, he's not going to take the starting job. Greene is really the only attractive fantasy option with the Jets. Sanchez is ok but he looked terrible against the Panthers which doesn't inspire any fantasy confidence.
Carolina's Steve Smith should be just fine for Week 1 and the jury's out as to what to expect between him and Matt Moore, but it has to be better than Jake Delhomme. Smith can be a monster for you if they get him involved, which means that the offensive line has to give Moore enough time and Moore has to get the ball to Smith. If they can do that, Smith becomes an elite WR again. Carolina still has a fantastic backfield with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, both of whom will be on someone's team in your league.
Did anyone see Chad Henne's game against the Jaguars? Wow - 11 for 14 for 151 yards and 2 scores. Brandon Marshall had 4 receptions for 65 yards in a very short period of time (let's see: basic math tells me that in 1-pt PPR leagues, that's 10.5 pts in limited action...YES!) showing that his talents are not going to go to waste. TE Anthony Fasano snagged the two TD's but I still wouldn't draft him as my TE.
Kansas City is a lot like Chicago (and Washington) in that I'm still trying to wrap my head around their situation. Matt Cassel, who turned in an all-star performance as Tom Brady's backup two years ago, floundered a bit last year not having the same aerial weapons. I thought he looked fantastic against the Bucs going for 125 yards and a score. Cassel will do alright and Dwayne "Mr Consistency" Bowe will do alright, but I'm more concerned with the backfield. What happened to Thomas Jones? Last year's breakout star in New York looked a bit rusty with his 29 yards and fumble. I assure you that he won't turn in that kind of performance during the season, but he's got Jamaal Charles breathing down his neck and Charles has looked fantastic during the preseason.
Washington looks like a new team this year. Donovan McNabb is a solid QB2 (possible QB1) throwing for more than 200 yards against the Ravens who put pressure on him all day long. Larry Johnson got the start but looked terrible in my opinion. 8 carries for 4 yards? That's not gonna cut it in the NFL, even if it is against a defense like Baltimore's. If you're thinking of drafting a back out of Washington, Portis is probably a better choice, but temper your expectations.
McNabb may have gotten pressured this week, but his replacement in Philly looked pretty calm, cool, and collected. Kevin Kolb turned in a pretty decent performance throwing for 126 yards which helps inspire some confidence in him. I'll admit that I'm one of the guys sitting on the fence about Kolb. Many people have crowed about his two games last season and I agree that they were far superior than what I had expected. I would rather wait though until he has a few more games under his belt and he's spent some time in the limelight before I jump on the bandwagon. I just want to see a little more of a track record before I invest a high pick for him. There's definitely value if I can get him later.
I was disappointed to see Willis McGahee get the call at the goal-line instead of Ray Rice. Rice is still a #1 pick in your draft, but expect McGahee to get some of those scores. Joe Flacco didn't look special but I still think he's worth a late pick in most leagues.
Ahmad Bradshaw has been pretty dominating with his opportunities this preseason, hasn't he? 28 yards and a score against the Steeler's Defense. He was fun to watch! Brandon Jacobs will still see carries but I would not expect much fantasy production out of him. I've seen Hakeem Nicks taken early in a few mocks that I've been a part of. Too bad he had to leave the game early after getting into a fight with Ike Taylor. While the league isn't going to respond favorably to that kind of action, it's good to see some spirit in Nicks! Let's hope that fire continues to burn.
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