By: Nate Leer & Kras
Week 3 of the preseason is finally here! I don’t know about you but I will be watching a bunch of football this weekend to prep for my first big draft. If you think the preseason does not matter, I beg to differ. If you don’t believe you can learn valuable information for the fantasy football season from preseason games, test it out. Watch as much as you can, make some notes about what you felt you saw then track whether any of it pans out.
I became convinced of the value of watching and learning in the preseason a few years ago. When Peyton Manning first got to the Broncos in 2012, Knowshon Moreno only played in half of the team’s game and totaled less than 700 yards and just 4 TDs. The next year there was rampant speculation about who would be Peyton’s backfield mate and how that player would fare. While most “experts” were locked in to one of the young guys on the team: rookie Monte Ball and 2nd year player Ronnie Hillman. However, in the preseason, I watched how well Knowshon fit in a Peyton-led offense.
Once the season started, Hillman and Ball showed their deficiencies as receivers and pass blockers. Those were skills Knowshon had displayed in the preseason while “experts” were predicting he was about to get cut. Knowshon ended up putting up well over 1500 yds. and scoring 13 TDs. He helped a lot of fantasy football teams win a lot of games. I’m happy to say I was one of them and it was all because I put in the extra time watching preseason games.
Here’s Kras and my list of players we will be watching for week 3 of the NFL preseason:
- Trevor Siemian – I am interested in seeing if Siemian can be the man in Denver and lead that offense. There are plenty of weapons around him to help get the job done. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Cody Latimer and Virgil Green are all players who would benefit from consistent QB play. So far Siemian has looked better than the competition around him (Sanchez, Lynch) but that isn’t saying much. I don’t think he will have huge fantasy value over the course of the fantasy season but he is in a situation where he could find himself in some favorable match-ups with the talent he has around him.
- Derrick Henry – Henry only carried the ball 5 times for 31 yards in preseason week 2 but he should see an increased workload the rest of preseason. In the 5 rush attempts, he was stuffed at the line for one of them and he showed his power run ability in the remaining 4 attempts. I believe that however it shakes out in Tennessee, there will be a time share situation with DeMarco Murray getting bulk of the work. Henry could be a factor in short yardage and goal line situations. Henry could be a nice pick up later in drafts who could be a flex option to start. Tennessee has invested heavily in the offensive line in the past few years and they have some weapons that seem to be emerging in the passing game (Douglas, Walker, Sharpe). All those things should help set up a running offense that could shadow what the Dallas Cowboys have done in recent years.
- Adrian Peterson – Peterson historically has not played in the preseason but this year he has the blessing of the coach to play if he wants to, and I would like to finally get the chance to see him in week 3 as we may. I personally believe that A.P. still has the ability to produce at a high level and he will be in line for a heavy workload again this year if the offense does not improve. If he does play in week 3 it will be interesting to see how he operates. A.P. will be a first round fantasy pick but I think he could shoot up some draft boards with a solid effort in week 3 of the preseason. Peterson is currently my 4th ranked RB and what I may or may not see this weekend will impact that.
- Brock Osweiler – Osweiler has the potential to have a huge year this year as the run game for the Texans should have some stability and guys like DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fueller lined up outside. Osweiler has got the arm to spread it around. I just think it is a matter of getting a chance and not being under the eyes of Payton Manning and HOFer John Elway. I think there may have been some unusual pressure for him while lining up under center in Denver. I feel he will have an improved year with Osweiler knowing that he is the starting QB going forward. Osweiler could be an underrated QB going into the season. I think a person should be able hold off on drafting a QB and pick up an Qsweiler type in the later rounds.
- Kelvin Benjamin – I have no reason to believe that he will fall off after his knee injury, it is more a matter of the timing between him and Cam. We all know he can go up and get it, but if they can time up the back shoulder throws and the quick 5-yard hits to the middle both Kelvin and Cam will be fantasy gold. That said, there are plenty of weapons in Carolina as of right now (Stewart, Benjamin, Funchess, Olsen, Ginn Jr.) so it will be interesting to see how they distribute the ball this year.
- Marvin Jones – The connection between him and Stafford this year has been pretty seamless. When Stafford has looked Jones’ way he has been there, and when Stafford has thrown it up towards the sideline, Jones has been there, with both feet down. In week 2 of the preseason Jones hauled in 4 catches for 65 yards. If the chemistry continues to build in week 3 of the preseason, Jones will be climbing up my draft board. Truth be told he could be a sneaky good pick this year if the early signs are any indication.
- Ezekiel Elliott – Elliott has not played yet this preseason but I think it is safe to say that we want to see him on the field and running behind arguably the best O-line in the NFL. Depending on what type of league you are in and what the scoring system is, Elliott figures to go high in most drafts (Top 20). If he is there for me to take in any draft I am in it will be interesting to see if I commit to the rookie talent. Of course, most of that will depend on the situation and what the need is at the time. It will be fun to see what he can do with what he brings to the table. The ability for the Cowboys to pass the ball around helps greatly to open options up for the running game.
Other players I’m watching: Devante Parker- Mia WR, Kevin White- Chi WR, Blake Bortles- Jax QB, Marcus Mariota- Ten QB, Jeremy Hill- Cin, RB, J. Yeldon- Jax, RB
- Eddie Lacy – Lacy has looked better this preseason than last year. He still looks heavy but another good showing in week 3 would make it hard to resist moving him up draft boards in anticipation of a rebound.
- Derek Carr – Carr is the opposite case from Lacy – good last year, shaky this summer. He sure looked to be an up-and-coming young QB so I will be interested if he and his WRs are getting it figured out this preseason.
- Jeremy Hill – It looks to me like Hill has carved out the largest chunk of carries in the Cincy backfield. Not just how well he plays but how much he plays will be an indication of whether the talented young runner is ready to go from a RB2/3 to being one of the top fantasy RBs in the league.
- Carlos Hyde – Hyde has competition in the San Fran backfield so he needs a good showing to keep the lead-back role locked up. Whoever gets the bulk of the carries for the 49ers could produce at a good RB2-level and Hyde has the most talent of the group. Hopefully he takes the bull by the horns and runs with it!
- DeMarco Murray – Murray and Henry both looked good week 1 but last week Murray kept it up while Henry was slowed down. Another week like that and there could be a heavy skew towards Murray in the number of touches for Titans RBs.
- Ameer Abdullah – Abdullah seems to have the most talent of any of the Lions RBs so a decent showing this weekend would make him the guy to own in Detroit. However, one fumble or a lack of explosiveness could make him no more than role player with little to no fantasy value.
- Melvin Gordon – I still think Gordon can be a good to very good NFL RB. However, he has not been especially impressive this preseason. I need to see something from him this week to make him worth where he is likely to be drafted.
- Matthew Stafford – Stafford has looked REALLY good at times this preseason with occasional issues thrown in – much like the rest of his career. With Megatron gone now, it is time for Stafford to step up and if he does he is a strong value at QB.
- James White – With the injury to Dion Lewis, White gets another chance to be the receiving back for the Pats. White looked good last week so if he keeps it up, he could jump up draft boards. White was a 4th round pick of the Pats just 2 years ago so they like him and he should be poised to get a good shot this year.
Other players I will be keeping an eye on: Amari Cooper – Oak WR, Arian Foster – Mia RB, Jay Ajayi – Mia RB, Justin Forsett – Bal RB, Kevin White – Chi WR