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Fantasy Impact: 5 Things To Look for In The NFL Preseason

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Joe Flacco  (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images), Rob Gronkowski (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images), Johnny Manziel (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Joe Flacco (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images), Rob Gronkowski (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images), Johnny Manziel (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

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All seasoned NFL football fans understand the preseason doesn’t mean much in regard to predicting regular season success in the NFL. One look at the 2008 Detroit Lions who went 4-0 in the preseason & followed it up with an 0-16 regular season tells us that.

Sure, there are things to take away – how did the starters seem to gel in their 2 series, what late round rookies & undrafted free agents stand out & have a real chance to make the roster (on special teams more than likely), how did that #1 draft pick look & will they be able to contribute right away.

But for the most part it’s a hold your breath against serious injury & if your team comes back for a 4th quarter win you can brag that your scrubs are better than their scrubs – but that’s about it.

Not so for casual &  serious  fantasy football players – the preseason is an all important part of preparing for your draft. Sure, anybody can grab a big name top 5 running back in the 1st round & a 1st tier QB with their 2nd pick or vice versa , BUT who do you choose with the 10th pick in the 6th round? That’s where the Fantasy Football Champions make their mark & that’s why the preseason is important .

Here’s our 5 things to look for during the NFL Preseason for Fantasy Football players:

5. Position Battles

Why spend a pick on the “ordained” starter at a given position if his young, well paid, highly drafted potential replacement is looking good in the preseason & getting occasional reps with the 1st team? The Rams Tre Mason (3rd round pick) is sitting 4th on the depth chart at RB. Nobody is looking at Zac Stacy as a top-tier RB, but given a poor season last year, how long before the rookie climbs into the starting line-up?

Battles like this are important, when you can gain a potential mid-season starter for a late round pick & your opponent ends up waiving the “starter” he was counting on in week 10.

4. Proven Players On New Teams or in New Systems

Plenty of formerly great players go to new teams or have a new OC show up with a new playbook & disappear for a year or two.

Will Owen Daniels and/or Joe Flacco be guys to watch? Kubiak comes in & by all accounts Ravens fans are looking for Flacco to rebound from a down year, but will he? Conversely, Daniels come to the Ravens with an intimate knowledge of  the new system but is behind incumbent Dennis Pitta (coming off an injury See #3). Can Daniels put up the #’s he did in Houston (when he was healthy) in Baltimore?

3. Injury Rebounds

Can Arian Foster return to his fantasy wrecking ball form of a few years ago? Is Gronk ready to be Brady’s go to receiver again. Is Julio Jones a no-brainer #1 receiver again?

Better watch those games & see how fluid & confident these former top-tier players are – if healthy, these guys are worth top picks. If not your fantasy season could be headed south quicker than you can say “MCL”.

2. Running Back By Committee

There was a time in fantasy when a #1 back was your 1st drafting priority & was in your line-up every single week & you knew he was going to get the carries & the Touchdowns. Those days are gone.

Now that 3rd string RB with 5 carries & 3 TD’s may ruin your day (or make it if you dropped him into a flex spot. ) Do you pick the starter & hope his handcuff is around in later rounds? Do you wait & load up on bulky goal line situation backs? Do you jump another league members handcuff before he picks him with an eye towards trading him to him for something you need later if his starter goes down ? (you are sneaky!)

Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce?  CJ Spiller or Fred Jackson? Deangelo Williams/Mike Tolbert/Jonathan Stewart? Reggie Bush or Joique Bell? Don’t get me started on the Saints committee!

It’s a wide open field strategy wise  & obvious #1 Running Backs are even more valuable, keep an eye on playing time this preseason.

1. Sleepers & Rookies

Many a Fantasy Football Champion from 2006 are still hi-fiving themselves for grabbing the saints 7th round rookie WR Marques Colston off the waiver wire or as a late round flyer. But, how many people are willing to bet that Johhny Football breaks the Browns’ curse this year? Certainly no-one who drafted Tim Couch in 1999. But then what about sleeper Brian Hoyer last year? He was a fantasy monster for 3 games – a true sleeper who had bounced around a few NFL teams.

These picks need your eyes on the Preseason games & as many as your significant other allows you to.

Will Geno Smith  make his 2nd season a big one? Will NY Giants Rookie RB make your season a winning one now that David Wilson is retired?  Devonta Freeman in Atlanta could be your guy if Steven Jackson looks like age has caught up with him. Will Terrance West pass Ben Tate in Cleveland by mid-season?

 

It can be mind numbing watching pre-season games (especially for season ticket holders who pay full price!), but almost assuredly your eventual League Champion will be watching them. Fantasy Football involves a lot of luck of course, but a whole lot of research never hurts.

 

Good luck this season.

 

Chris Spiridigliozzi
Web Administrator for CBS Radio Baltimore – Ravens, Orioles & snark enthusiast.

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