Ok guys, show of hands, who is ready for the real season to begin?? Shout outs to those who just raised their hands in congruence with their fantasy brethren despite looking individually ridiculous. But all of that aside let’s bring to the forefront a more important issue we all have facing us, our drafts. Rankings are ever changing and as the preseason comes and goes many player values fluctuate. Those who have already drafted need to assess free agency and those yet to draft need to constantly reassess their draft board. In order to accomplish such feats, we need to take a look at what has been learned over the first two weeks of the preseason. Information is king in the fantasy world and we all do our best for a shot at the crown. Here are a few tokens I have noticed in my quest for royalty.
Preseason note 1: Injuries
- Vincent Brown: Broken ankle, out 8 weeks. Brown was a popular sleeper choice among many fantasy minds after a few really nice flashes last season and the departure of Vincent Jackson this offseason. Unfortunately, a broken ankle has unplugged his proverbial alarm clock and we will have to play the wait and see game with this one. On the flip side, this should cement Robert Meachem and Malcolm Floyd’s draft values in addition to allowing Eddie Royal to pop his head into the back of our minds again should one of the starters falter or heaven forbid get injured (ahem Malcom, that means you especially).
- Michael Vick: Bruised hand, ribs injury awaiting results, hang nail waking up in the morning, jammed finger tying shoes, dislocated joint flipping the bird to his fantasy owners. Ok, so a couple of those were exaggerated but I hope my point wasn’t too subtle. Maybe it’s not his fault, maybe it is, but regardless it leaves fantasy owners in a pinch. It should be clear at this point if Vick is drafted to be your quarterback you had better be prepared to have a back up. Hey, some things in life are just truths. Elephants can’t jump, Jurassic Park had a completely believable explanation for an unbelievable premise, and Michael Vick won’t play 16 games.
- Brandon Jacobs: Knee injury. Initially feared to be season ending, Jacobs looks to have avoided a tragic fate. Instead of a torn ligament, Jacobs seems to only have a severe sprain and has not been ruled out week1 despite the unlikelihood that he will participate quite so soon.
- Ryan Mathews: Fractured collarbone. Well, one carry and one more injury. Seriously approaching Vick level jokes over here, Mathews just cannot keep himself on the field. Despite the coaching staff’s positive outlook in regards to Mathews still being able to shoulder the load when he returns, there has to be some serious hesitations now. He has yet to play 16 games in his career and he isn’t exactly off to an exemplary start this year.
- Trent Richardson: Knee surgery. Richardson had his left knee scoped recently in what was his second such procedure in the past 7 months. Described as precautionary, the Browns seem to be confident Richardson will be full systems go week 1 and beyond, but recurring knee issues for a 3 down back expected to vie for 300+ touches is not the kind of comfort fantasy owners are looking for.
- The Dallas Cowboys Weapons: Austin, Bryant, and Witten all have been preseason shelved for various ailments but all are expected to be ready to go week 1. Austin’s issues are a little worrisome has he has dealt with hamstring issues before. Witten’s injury gives me pause because how do we react and assess a spleen injury, that is new territory. Bryant’s tendinitis in his knee seems to be the least problematic at the moment but he also hasn’t exactly had the cleanest bill of health over the past couple years. Cowboys’ fans certainly have to holding their collective breaths.
Preseason Note 2: Rookie QBs
- It is a new age in the NFL. Years ago, rookie QBs were not even on cheat sheets. They were far too inconsistent, lacked a ceiling, and were rarely even stable enough to be back ups. My how times have changed. Cam Newton set a new bar last season and a mighty high bar at that, while Andy Dalton was a serviceable back up. The new kids on the block this year have their work cut out for them and so far through the preseason they look up to the task. RG3 and Andrew Luck have both thoroughly impressed this preseason and while it would be unfair to expect Cam Newton rookie type numbers, both guys can be considered safe backups with high upside.
Preseason Note 3: Notable Performances through week 2
- Julio Jones: Since our first June rankings I have had Julio Jones in my top 6 receivers. I expected him to be great this year and was included in my biggest breakouts section of our draft kit. Well, secret is out early because after two preseason games Julio Jones has jumped from a National consensus #15 receiver to the #2 receiver drafted behind Megatron. And I don’t blame people one bit.
- Matt Ryan: Many wondered if the Falcons truly planned to shift their offense to a more vertical, fast-paced scheme. So far so good. Leading all starters, outside of Andrew Luck, in passing yards so far in the preseason, Matty Ice has looked more than comfortable in the new offense. He might not quite reach the levels Matt Stafford reached last year, but if you are looking for the Matt Stafford of last year, this is still my guy.
- Michael Turner: The above two guys are meaning the opposite for Turner. Looking old, slow, and a poor fit for the new offense, Turner might be relegated to goal line duties and a time share with Jaquizz Rodgers sooner rather than later. Quizz is much more suited for the up-tempo style the Falcons want to move towards.
- Calvin Johnson: Its preseason and he is dominating at a time when starters usually go a little easy. The Madden Curse is the only thing that could slow this guy down, period.
- Rashad Jennings: If MJD thought he would have the upper hand because the Jags couldn’t run without out him he might be missing paychecks for quite some time. Rashad Jennings is quickly becoming MJD’s worst nightmare as he has run very well this preseason. Playing against the number 1s, Jennings is third in the preseason in rushing yards and is doing so at 5.1 YPC. If Jones-Drew holds out well into the season, Jennings is going to do some very nice things.
- New Orleans Passing Game: Chase Daniels is leading the preseason in passing yards by 87. The Saints have 4 of the top 9 receivers this preseason in yards and none of them are Lance Moore, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, or Devery Henderson. Something tell me the passing game in The Big Easy will be just fine this year.
- Bryce Brown: The Eagles 3rd string RB was a top recruit out of high school. After bouncing around and ending up at Kansas State, he went in the 7th round this year in the draft. He has looked every bit as explosive as a top recruit and if Dion Lewis isn’t careful, could wind up as Shady McCoy’s primary back up. The reason I am listing this here is for handcuff purposes. Dion Lewis hasn’t really struck anyone as a must have handcuff but Brown looks much more like an all around type back up. The type that could potentially fill in for a starter with very fantasy relevant stats and for those who believe in handcuffs for their studs like Shady, he is a name to keep your ear out for.
- Cedric Benson: He is the Packers starting running back now. He isn’t a great pass catcher, a slow plodder who averages under 4 YPC, yawn
- Jets QB situation: Ugh! Neither Mark Sanchez nor Tim Tebow has thrown a touchdown pass this preseason. The Jets offense as a whole does not like they are ready for the regular season and need every bit of these final two preseason games. A lot of people are taking late round shots on Tim Tebow, and I was as big of a fan last year as any, but that 40.9% completion rate has to come up.
- Peyton Manning: Manning’s stats have not been outstanding yet; he has zero touchdowns to 3 interceptions. That’s the bad news. The good news is, he has played against what are expected to be two of the tougher defenses in the NFL this year in the Bears and Seahawks, he is completing 67% of his passes, and has taken hits and come away unscathed. Manning doesn’t look completely comfortable in his new surroundings yet but the signs we were hoping for are certainly there.
Week 3 will certainly give us a whole lot more valuable information as the true tryout for the regular season is upon us. Watch, enjoy, learn, and good luck to those with drafts upcoming.
Be sure to download the 1st Fantasy Football Mobile App from FFBLife: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ffblife-theforum/id545098541?mt=8&ls=1