Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Players to Target and Avoid After Preseason Week 2

These preseason weeks drag on forever. There are preseason games 5 days a week, meaning that information and injuries come in painfully slowly. Fortunately it provides ample opportunity for reflection about the performances turned out by particular players. Without further ado, here are the players that I noticed (in either a positive or negative light) after the first two weeks of the preseason.

Just as a side note: Mike Wallace is going to report to the Steelers and sign his waiver this weekend. He might not play this preseason, but he won't be missing any regular season games.


Michael Vick: I wouldn't touch Vick in any draft. Every time he steps on the field he gets injured. I don't care if this rib injury turns out to be absolutely nothing and he is ruled medically fine. Drafting Vick is no longer Russian Roulette. Vick is just a fully loaded revolver waiting to sink your fantasy team. Fortunately he is not as highly touted as he was last season, but I honestly wouldn't draft Vick as anything beyond a backup quarterback. He might not play a full game this whole season at this rate.

Matt Ryan: This isn't something that really needs to be said with all the hype he's been getting, but Ryan looks good. Actually, there is no quarterback that has looked better than Matt Ryan through the first few weeks of the preseason. He is going to move up fast (he is already pushing towards the 5th round or earlier) if he can perform to this level next week.

Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow: If anyone was considering drafting either of these guys, stop it. They have been piss poor over the last two weeks, and there just isn't enough receiving talent on that team for either of them to be successful (not that Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald could catch passes thrown as poorly as these two have been dishing out).

Matt Flynn/Russell Wilson: I mentioned these two last time, and I still really like them. They have been accurate and consistent, even if I can't say the same for their receivers. Matt Flynn should be the starter, but Wilson would probably be the more valuable fantasy QB.

Running Backs:

Cedric Benson/James Starks: A lot has been made about which Packers running back is draftable. At this point, I have seen absolutely nothing to suggest that any of them are going to be valuable. Benson isn't going to get 250 carries in this offense. Starks is going to keep dropping easy screen passes. They might have a few valuable games throughout the season, but unless I see something great from Benson, I'd stay away from both of them.

Frank Gore: Just like that, the 49ers running back corps looks a lot weaker. Sure, Jacobs and James seem to be relatively healthy, but the fact that both of them were injured makes Gore a lot more intriguing to me. If Gore and Hunter are the only healthy running backs for Week 3, I could see Gore turning into a solid play this season. Right now, thought, that backfield is just too much of a quagmire.

Rashad Jennings: If you already started a league and this guy is a FA, please go pick him up. He has been great during the first two preseason games and he should put up starting running back numbers until MJD comes back from his hold-out. Consider drafting Ryan Mathews and Rashad Jennings. Mathews should be healthy by the time MJD comes back.

Travaris Cadet: I cannot get over how well Travaris Cadet is playing. He is pretty much Chris Ivory plus Darren Sproles. He has been heavily used this preseason, and I would love to see him get some real playing time. If the injury bug hits the New Orleans backfield, this guy could be special; as it stands, he will never see the field.

Beanie Wells: I don't think Wells is ever going to be able to separate himself from Ryan Williams after missing this time due to injury. Wells is average. Williams is slightly above average. I would draft Williams over Wells...but I probably wouldn't draft either one. Donald Brown is a better option.

Donald Brown: Speaking of Donald Brown, he looked good again despite playing against a difficult defense. This could be your breakout running back...I feel like I've been saying that since May.

Wide Receivers:

Reggie Wayne: Austin Collie, who was looking like the better receiver, might be done with his career. He is looking at his 4th concussion in under 2 years, and while I don't wish that upon him, it would probably be better for his long term health. Wayne promptly stepped up and kicked ass Sunday night, and I think he should get about 1,000 yards and 6-8 touchdowns.

Jordy Nelson: Regardless of what happens with Jennings, I am completely on the Jordy Nelson bandwagon. Every time Rodgers wants to throw to the end zone, he seems to go for Nelson. This might change once Jennings hits the field, but Nelson has looked spectacular in camp and in Week 2.

Greg Little: I know a lot of people like him, but Brandon Weeden looks like crap. I could see him matching his production from last season, but I really don't see him exceeding it. I think Little is a good player, but I really can't imagine Weeden producing any fantasy-valuable wide receivers.

Jerome Simpson: He is suspended for the first three weeks of the season, so he probably isn't worth drafting unless something happens to Percy Harvin, but he is an undeniably talented player. He could definitely have been a better player throughout his career, but he doesn't have a whole lot of competition in Minnesota. Once we see how Ponder does in the first regular season games, he might be worth a FA pickup.

Justin Blackmon: Blackmon finally has some fantasy value after Gabbert actually looked like a real quarterback against the Saints. I want to see another game out of Gabbert, but I would consider drafting Blackmon as a late-round flier now.

Laurent Robinson: Unlike Blackmon, Robinson still looks like crap. There is no way I could conceivably draft him unless I needed to start 5-6 wide receivers.

Rod Streater: Streater might not start for long, but he has looked great with Palmer throwing the ball to him. He has a huge number of receptions in two preseason games and could be a huge contributor in PPR and standard leagues alike if he starts the first regular season game. Keep him on your radar and feel free to draft him as your last pick.

Alshon Jeffery: Alshon Jeffery looks good. He looks like the WR2 that the Bears could use after they finally got Marshall as their WR1. I think he is worth a draft pick.

Michael Crabtree: Crabtree looks like he is never going to be the great receiver that the 49ers drafted him to be. Looking towards this season, I can't see him getting more than 50 receptions with Ted Ginn, Randy Moss, and Mario Manningham all competing for touches. There really isn't anyone worth drafting from the 49ers receiving corps.

Danny Amendola: This guy finally had a good game, and I'm excited about it. I think he should be a really good late-round pick in almost any league, but should excel in PPR leagues especially. Hopefully he stays healthy this season.

Jon Baldwin: This guy might be everything physically, but he just isn't clicking with Cassel this season so far. I don't think he has a lot of potential with Bowe finally coming back, even though he physically has plenty of potential; at least not from what I've seen.

Vincent Brown: He broke his ankle and is going to be out for a long time. This does give the other Chargers some added value, but a lot of people were drafting him as their late-round sleeper. So much for that.

Tight Ends:

Fred Davis: I have nothing against Davis, but I've been down on him for a while. It seems like he just doesn't have the rapport with RG3 that he had with Rex Grossman. There are plenty of better choices at the TE position.

Kyle Rudolph: I like Kyle Rudolph, but he hasn't shown much this preseason. He hasn't had a whole lot of playing time this preseason, but I think he should be pretty good this season at the top of the depth chart. I still like him better than Davis.

As you can see, there hasn't been much impressive play from the tight ends this preseason. If this continues, this season will see a huge drop in fantasy points from quarterbacks. The yardage from the top-50 receivers has been pretty consistent over the last 11 years, but the yardage from tight ends has exploded. This would make fantasy quarterbacks less valuable...although Aaron Rodgers doesn't throw to his tight ends nearly as often as Tom Brady and Drew Brees.


  1. Hi Aaron,

    Love this blog, man. Cool stuff.
    So I had a question for you since I think you have a lot of great insights:

    In light of Vick's injury proneness (I got him late 4th round in my draft, thought he was worth the upside and still do), I need a backup. The only valid backups in my 12 man league are:
    -Alex Smith
    -Joe Flacco
    -Ryan Fitzpatrick
    -Carson Palmer

    My first choice was initially Palmer who I went ahead and picked up. My second choice is definitely Flacco. What do you think?

    1. This is a tough one.

      Originally I would have gone Carson Palmer all the way. He just hasn't played well during the preseason. I don't know if this is because his receivers are injured or if the o-line just isn't playing well, but I'm sort of down on him.

      My other option would be Joe Flacco. He definitely isn't flashy, but he is extremely consistent. If he doesn't get 3800 yards and about 25 touchdowns it would be a disappointing season. I've never seen Anquan Boldin look this good in Baltimeore, and he does have Torrey Smith to throw to.

      At this point I would still go with Palmer, but I am really leaning away from him. I actually like Matt Flynn or Russell Wilson better than those four guys. Pick up Palmer and then watch the preseason game between the Seahawks and Chiefs on Friday evening. If Wilson tears it up, I would drop Palmer and add him. Flacco plays tonight and I will be writing a piece about preseason games every day from tonight/tomorrow (I have work at 730 tomorrow morning -- orientation at my high school) through Monday night/Tuesday. Oakland plays Saturday, so I can give you an absolute then.