by Will Overton
Preseason football is just what it says, it’s football before the season, it means it doesn’t count and it’s not always the most telling of things. But there are a few things that can be learned from preseason and watching the box scores. You can tell who the starting QB’s are looking for and you can see what rookies might be making the team and making a splash, just to name a couple of things.
You shouldn’t overreact to preseason stats when doing your draft, because downgrading a proven runner for averaging 3 yards per carry in the pre-season is just dumb. But it doesn’t mean you should tune it all out completely.
Here are a few of the things I observed in the first weekend of preseason football:
- Andrew Luck – QB, Indianapolis Colts: It was only one game, but the Colts opened things up and let Andrew Luck loose against the Rams first team defense and he shredded them. Luck ended up going 10 – 16 with 188 yards and 2 TD’s. One of the TD’s was a 63 yarder on a shuffle pass to the running back where Donald Brown who did most of the work, but it was still a smart play. Like I said, it’s only 16 passes in the pre-season, but he looked comfortable, didn’t rush anything, didn’t make mistakes, and also important, he didn’t get sacked which is a good sign considering the concerns about the Colts O-Line. Also notable, he seemed to have a nice connection with Austin Collie early, targeting him for five passes in their short time on the field together.
- Robert Griffin III – QB, Washington Redskins: The debut of RG3 wasn’t as long as that of Andrew Luck, but he did lead a scoring drive of his own, albeit after losing a fumble. Griffin took a couple drives to get going, but on the scoring drive in the 2nd Quarter Griffin got locked in with Pierre Garcon, going 3 – 3 completing all three passes to Garcon, including a 20 yard TD on a screen pass. Griffin didn’t show off the feet at all, but he showed enough of his arm to help reassure fantasy drafters that he has an NFL quality arm.
More Quick Hits
- The Bills number two WR job is up for grabs and it’s not impossible for a darkhorse to come in and make things interesting. One guy who may be capable is T.J. Graham, a rookie out of N.C. State who didn’t play with the first team, but when he did play got targeted five times and caught three passes. He’s a bit undersized at 5’11, but could keep things interesting in that battle.
- Atlanta’s first team passing attack was clicking in their game against the Ravens, especially Julio Jones who caught six of seven passes thrown his way for 109 yards and a TD. The big playmaker may be ready to take another step forward this season.
- It was Stevan Ridley who started at RB for the Patriots and looked good getting 40 yards on 8 carries. But Shane Vereen looked just as good off the bench carrying the ball 11 times himself and amassing 64 yards. This is going to be an interesting battle to keep an eye on, though it may be a battle that plays out all season.
- Neither Robert Meachem nor Malcolm Floyd could get much going with Phillip Rivers in the first quarter of their game, but in the second quarter after the first team was off the field Vincent Brown put on a nice show catching four balls for 81 yards and a TD. Brown could emerge as a nice sleeper out of the slot in San Diego.
- The Broncos newest savior, Peyton Manning, looked rusty going 4 – 7 with a pick, but a little rust is to be expected, possibly even a couple games into the season. But I wouldn’t read too much into it, I think in time he’ll be fine. He did connect a couple times with Eric Decker, which could be a good sign for Decker.
- New York Jets are desperately in need of a playmaker on offense and that might make Joe McKnight a very interesting player to watch. McKnight carried the ball 7 times for 32 yards against the Bengals and caught 3 passes for another 34 yards. He’s not the runner that Shonn Greene is, but he is the playmaker that he’s not.
- At this point he’s just fighting for a spot on the team, but a couple more performances lie Friday Night’s and Detroit running back Joique Bell might be a deep league sleeper. Bell ran the ball 16 times for 89 yards in their game. Considering the injury history of the Lions other options Bell may get an opportunity to play if he makes this team.
- The debut of Brandon Weeden didn’t go as well as Griffin or Luck’s. Weeden went 3 – 9 and threw a pick. It’s just one quarter and the Browns will give Weeden every opportunity to win this job, but I have my concerns about him as a fantasy QB.
- Unlike the other three first round QB’s, Ryan Tanneehill is not projected to be a starter this season, and in fact is currently third on the depth chart. But in his time against the Bucs second and third team defenses he was solid going 14 – 21 for 167 yards and a TD. I don’t see him starting week one, but I can see him starting before the season’s end.
- With the release of Chad Johnson, Roberto Wallace moved up to working with the Dolphins first team at WR. His 4 catches for 71 yards in the preseason game was a good sign. Wallace is said to have starting receiver potential, but he’s 26 and has 6 career receptions. He’s worth watching, but he’s a long shot to have fantasy relevance.
- Both Doug Martin and LaGarette Blount carried the ball seven times in their game and both scored a goal line TD as well. Blount’s came with the first team offense and Martin’s the second. They may share carries early on in the season, but I don’t think it’ll take long for Martin to show who the better back is.
- Both of the Giants backup running backs looked good with David Wilson getting 43 yards on 7 carries and D.J. Ware getting 30 yards on 5 carries and scoring a TD. This should be a close battle all preseason as to who will be Ahmad Bradshaw’s backup, a pretty enviable spot.
- The Cardinals didn’t learn anything about their QB problems as both Kevin Kolb and John Skelton struggled, with Kolb getting hurt even, though it was minor. That one is a tossup still.
- Running Back is suddenly an interesting spot in Arizona now too as there is questions whether Beanie Wells or Ryan Williams will be ready for the start of the season. One guy who could get some early season carries if that happens is William Powell, a second year player out of Kansas St. still looking for his first NFL regular season carry. Powell looked in the Cards preseason game though with 92 yards on 9 carries and a TD. Deep league players need to be monitoring this situation.
- Rookie Wide Receiver Kendall Wright had a nice debut, catching all three passes targeted for him for 47 yards. The Titans have Kenny Britt and Nate Washington, but Wright figures to see plenty of action this season. He was working with Jake Locker primarily, so it may be in Wright’s favor for Locker to win the starting job.
What jumped out at you as having meaning in a week of mostly meaningless preseason games? What’s your take on how to treat preseason games as far as evaluating fantasy value?