Why Preseason is More Important Than you Think.

You remember those football players from last season?  The Sidney Rices, Julian Edelmans, Leonard Weavers and the Jeremy Maclins? The ones who had breakout years and no one saw it coming?  Well, ALMOST no one saw it coming.

Preseason is a time where you can find out information about team chemistry, favorite targets, rookies and new roles of old players on new teams.  It’s a time for you to scout out those players who may not play until someone gets hurt.  You have to know who is going to step in and if they are going to be any good.  Preseason is a great way to do that.  

T.O. is doing very well with the Bengals and working into the offense nicely.  Both he and Ochocinco made very athletic receptions in the preseason games against the Eagles.  Speaking of the Eagles, everyone is talking about how Kevin Kolb and the Eagles organization has something to prove this season, to show the world that they knew what they were doing when they traded McNabb, their franchise QB within their division.  It was something like what the Green Bay Packers had to prove when they went with Rodgers over Favre.  There is one small difference, Kevin Kolb is no Aaron Rodgers.  Kolb was standard fare but not impressive in that preseason game, where fumbles on the field contributed to his inability to create scoring opportunity in the red zone, leaving plenty of work for David Akers and the rest of the special teams.  The Eagles are young and unrefined.  DeSean Jackson is a superstar, but I saw sub-par performances from those who I thought were going to really shine this year after the year they had last year: Maclin, Weaver, McCoy.  The Eagles were sub-par in general and clearly need to step it up.  Michael Vick, though improved over last year, still threw for interceptions and made selfish mistakes in the QB position.  He is clearly faster than he was last year and has a better arm, but his accuracy needs work and I don’t expect him to share the load with Kolb.  I see it as a 80/20 split (which is still a lot considering most QBs have a 95/5 split).  Another reason why Kolb wouldn’t be a great fantasy pick up.

Speaking of fantasy pick ups, can we PLEASE talk about Jahvid Best and CJ Spiller.  Where picking up rookies would be dangerous in any other position, it is the smartest thing you can do in a running back position, and Best and Spiller are proving us right.  CJ Spiller really impressed me as an All-American at Clemson (go ACC), but he has impressed me in preseason too.  Look for him to be the stud of the Bills (meager) offense.  Jahvid Best, also a great rookie, most people saying he performed better in the combine than Spiller (who was always thought to be the faster of the two), and is doing great working his way into the Lions offense.  Look to both these guys to make rookie mistakes (maybe even a fumble or two), but also big plays in the 2010-2011 season. 

What?  You want me to keep talking about running backs?  OK.  Here goes something that is going to be super controversial when I say it.  Don’t draft Shonn Greene.  Why?  You might ask.  Well, he’s fast, he’s resilient, and if he were on my real football team, I would run him into the ground, but he’s not.  He’s on the Jets.  And you know who else is on the Jets?  Ladanian Tomlinson.  LT went to the Jets to be the FACE of the Jets running game after Thomas Jones exited to KC.  LT is slow, LT is ineffective compared to where he was even 3 years ago.  LT is prone to injury.  BUT, until he IS injured, they’re going to play him.   They did not just pay him a big contract to sit on the bench all season.  And unfortunately, Greene’s workload will still be decreased UNTIL LT gets injured, so just keep an eye out for Greene on the waiver wire and pick him up smartly.  You can always draft him if you have a lot of free spots on your bench, which might be a smart move because some dummy is going to draft him anyways.  Look to him as a TRUE 7th round pick but in reality, a 4th round pick because someone is going to scoop him up if you don’t.

Go against conventional wisdom and pick up a QB early.  There are about 5 good QBs: Brees, P. Manning, Rodgers, Favre (questionable this year) and Rivers.  Hmmm, am I missing anyone?  As soon as the first two go, you better get on it and draft someone or you’re going to be stuck with Flacco or E. Manning as your starter.

The Steeler dilemma: Big Ben is on a 6 game suspension (will likely get reduced to 4).  Back up can sort of throw, but doesn’t have the arm that RBerger has.  Look to Steeler’s passing game to be reduced for two reasons: no big ben, and no santonio homes.  Holmes was a huge part of the offense and when he left, he decreased the number of available targets.  The running game will have to take a bigger role this season, or at least for the first few games.  This is problematic because Mendenhall is a fumble-monster.  Just put him in the same league as Slaton and call it a night.  But it might be worth picking up if your league doesn’t de-value fumbles quite as much.  Honestly, you know the Steelers are going to score points, but I would take a very close look at the new team chemistry in the preseason to determine who will be scoring those points.  Antwan Randle-El, like the prodigal son, returned to the Steelers, the team that drafted him after some time with the dysfunctional Redskins organization.  He may not be in the same ranks as a Holmes, but look for him to steal some receptions away from Hines Ward and company.

Ok, I think I’m done giving away my secrets for now.  Oh wait, one more.  If you know what’s good for yourself, don’t draft Percy Harvin.  Yes, he’s awesome, but they guy is a big question mark.  He landed himself in the hospital because of a migraine episode lately and you never know when he will have to be unexpectedly missing a game.  Yes, again, he is awesome.  But the Vikings have lots of awesome people ready to take his place, and so should you.  The reason I advise against drafting him at all as opposed to just keeping him around on the bench is that you are going to WANT to start him every week, but are going to have the same mental struggle with it every week when he shows up as Questionable on your fantasy football injury report.  Don’t put yourself through it.  Just save yourself the heartache of the coulda woulda shoulda, let someone else draft him (because they will).  Now, he WILL score points and you might feel he sting, but he also might have a migraine 15 minutes before game time.  There are plenty of good fish in the sea.  My advice is to throw this one back and let someone else deal with the problems that come with it.

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