There is nothing meaningless about the NFL pre season when it comes to Fantasy Football. This is a great chance to look at players coming off injury, how players look with their new teammates, and scout how rookies will fare. Here is what I took away from this past NFL pre season.
Tom Brady will be fine. Brady was the highest drafted quarterback in some fantasy leagues. Those owners who hitched their season on Brady rarely ever recovered after he went down. The big question going into this season was whether Brady would be whether Brady would be back to form or not. Most quarterbacks aren’t back to form until their second season. Tom Brady looks like an exception to the rule.
As a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I found the pre season very telling. The team went from a pre season Super Bowl favorite to a big question mark. The offensive line looked bad, and Jason Peters looked like a turnstile. I would be very cautious about drafting Donovan McNabb. I can’t see him putting up 2008 numbers with this line. The irony is that he probably has his best set of receivers overall since playing in the NFL.
Personally, I think his value drops huge due to the Michael Vick factor. Andy Reid has been running Vick in and out of the game this pre season. Is Vick going to come in the game in red zone situations? How will this impact McNabb? Who wants a starting quarterback that is going to be pulled every time his team is within scoring? Before pre season I loved McNabb. Post-pre season, I would stay far away from him.
Everyone loves a sleeper rookie quarterback. This is where Mark Sanchez and Matt Stafford come into play. Sanchez was hot and cold in the pre season. I do think he is worthy of a backup slot. The plus in Sanchez is that Dustin Keller looks like a great tight end for fantasy football. Sanchez looked for him first and I foresee a Witten-Romo relationship here in the future. Matt Stafford was unimpressive and wouldn’t make my fantasy team. If you were going to take a flier on one, I’d take Sanchez. No way would I take him as my starter.
The Buffalo Bills offense had a ton of potential with T.O. in the mix. Lee Evans could see his numbers increase greatly with Owens double-covered. I love the no-huddle offense when it comes to receivers. However, this offense is in shambles. The offensive coordinator was recently fired and made some telling statements. He said that the Bills want to run a very conservative offense. This and Owens’ “toe injury” makes T.O. drop on my list of wide receivers. I don’t even know if I’d take him as a second receiver at this point. As for Lee Evans, fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me.
The pre season gave FF players great scouting opportunities for new players on new teams. There are a ton of implications with Brett Favre joining the Vikings, T.J. Houshmandzadeh joining the Seahawks, and Jay Cutler joining the Chicago Bears. These players, the players around them, and former teammates are all impacted with the new moves. Fantasy players have some new things to think about going into this season and their drafts.
Jay Cutler was a fantasy goldmine at times last season. However, one player does not make a team. Unless Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal went with Cutler to Chicago, he won’t have the same stats. Orlando Pace looks terrible on the line which makes me very cautious about Cutler. Teams have gotten great pressure on Chicago by blitzing Pace in the pre season. Matt Forte is also going to get red zone carries, which will take scoring opportunities away from Cutler. I saw enough I needed to see this pre season to tell you that Jay Cutler will be a fantasy bust in most leagues.
Cutler’s departure in Denver also impacts Marshall and Royal greatly. Between the new quarterback and off season problems, I’d stay clear of Marshall. He doesn’t have anyone throwing to him to get last season’s numbers. It is also conceivable that a T.O. situation arises where Marshall is suspended, not traded, and off the field for a great part of the season. This makes Eddie Royal an intriguing player. Royal could be the number one this season. He is worth the risk as a late-round draft pick for that reason. As for Marshall, you have no idea who is going to be throwing to him if he is traded so draft lower with caution.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh is fitting in nicely with the Seahawks. Quietly, he has had a great pre season. Matt Hasslebeck is also a sleeper in waiting with his new weapon and his tight end. Houshmandzadeh’s departure also allows Chad Ocho Cinko’s stock to rise, along with Chris Henry. T.J. and Ocho have gone late in most of my drafts. These guys are definite bargains in their average draft spots. I may also roll the dice with Hasslebeck as your starting quarterback. There is a ton of upside if he can stay healthy which is a big if.
This brings us to the Minnesota soap opera known as the Vikings. We only got to see Brett Favre play two games so there isn’t much to go on. He looked horrendous in the first game and decent in the second. I did takeaway that Percy Harvin is going to be Favre’s guy. Favre loves to lock in one receiver and he was looking for him all game in the Houston game. Although, Harvin dropping a touchdown pass makes me wonder how patient Favre will be with him throughout the season.
At the same time, the new quarterback also impacts the stock of Bernard Berrian in my opinion. You may be able to get him late, but I don’t think he is going to put up any consistent numbers. Berrian will turn out to be a waste of a roster spot with Favre under center. Favre also loves the tight end which makes Visanthe Shiancoe a fantasy commodity. He went to Shiancoe in the end zone for a touchdown in the Houston game and I’d expect plenty more of that during the season.
Jason Campbell could be a top fantasy quarterback this season
Peyton Manning is back to season form
Eli Manning needs a receiver, thus making him barely worthy of a draft pick.
The Saints offense will continue to produce big numbers.
Tony Romo is going to struggle with fantasy numbers without T.O.
DeSean Jackson is a starting fantasy wide receiver in my opinion.
LaDainian Tomlinson could be a huge problem this season for fantasy owners, while Larry Johnson could be back.
Vincent Jackson is going to have a huge year.
Stay away from anyone on the Denver Broncos offense.
Matt Ryan will continue to be a solid fantasy quarterback and will involve Tony Gonzalez in the offense.
Rex Ryan is will have a very aggressive defense in New York which makes the Jets a draftable defense.
Torry Holt will have a solid season in Jacksoville.
Nate Washington is a deep ball threat in Tennessee and will have big fantasy numbers this season.
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