PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 18: Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches a pass in front of Earl Thomas #29 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second half during the game on September 18, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Preseason football carries on and players are fighting for positions. These five position battles may affect who you want on your fantasy football league team this season.
This could be considered the best time of the year. The real team or teams that we cheer for have not lost a game. Our fantasy team or teams are undefeated. We get to participate in fantasy drafts against our buddies or complete strangers, who we hope to put in last place. And we get to research, read and watch as much football as we can.
Right now, it looks as though two of the last big holdouts could be coming to an end. Mike Wallace is rumored to be reporting this weekend to sign a contract with the Steelers, which would be great for his owners and Big Ben owners.
Maurice Jones-Drew told NFL.com that he "thinks things are going to work out." He also said he's going to draft himself first in his fantasy league. Those are positive signs for sure, but you'll want to make sure he's in Jacksonville before you go drafting him near the first few rounds.
In injury news, Jason Witten appears to be out of commission for the Cowboys' Week 1 game against the Giants. He will not need surgery on his spleen, which is very good news. Many owners will pass on Witten and I have seen his ADP drop in the last week by a round or two. The chemistry he has with Tony Romo could make him a steal in your draft. Steve Smith of the Panthers has been seen on crutches this week and it seems that he has a foot infection. It's not believed to be serious but it's worth watching because it's kept him out of practice this week. With an improving Cam Newton, Smith should have another very good year.
Let's now examine five position battles that should be interesting to watch this week:
1. Baltimore Ravens fourth receiver
LaQuan Williams vs. Tandon Doss -- Joe Flacco is looking great this preseason and Anquan Boldin is not getting any younger. Doss didn't get much of a shot as a rookie but he's a big, sure-handed receiver. Almost like a younger Boldin. The coaches like Williams and he made the team last year as an undrafted free agent. This third preseason game should give them both opportunities to display their skills. I like Doss as a deep sleeper and think he deserves a long look.
2. Carolina Panthers third receiver
Louis Murphy vs. David Gettis -- Murphy may get the job because Gettis hasn't even seen the field yet. Murphy has performed quite well in the past, leading the Raiders with 75 receptions in 2010. He's a tall receiver with lots of potential. Gettis continues to rehab from a torn ACL and hamstring injury. If, or should I say when, he returns, and if he hasn't lost his speed, Gettis could provide a deep threat for Newton's cannon of an arm. With an improving quarterback, Louis Murphy is another sleeper in my books. Carolina will take on the Jets on Sunday night.
3. Dallas third receiver
Kevin Ogletree vs. Dwayne Harris vs. Cole Beasley vs. Andre Holmes -- Ogletree has finally had a training camp and preseason to be proud of. He has blown a lot of chances in the past but may finally make an impact this year. Harris and Beasley played very well in the last game against the Chargers, which has kept them in the battle. Holmes has a back injury and may not play in their next preseason game. I think Ogletree finally steps up and clinches the spot. With the injuries to Austin, Bryant and Witten, Ogletree could be a sweet pickup to start the season. Dallas faces St. Louis on Saturday.
4. Denver Broncos backup running back
Lance Ball vs. Ronnie Hillman vs. Knowshon Moreno vs. Xavier Omon vs. Jeremiah Johnson -- McGahee missed a game last year with injury and he did seem to slow down as the season went on. Whoever wins the backup job will see touches. Ball is a player of many skills and he rushed for 400 yards in 2011. Hillman rushed for more than 3,000 yards in two college seasons and brings speed to the backfield. Moreno continues to look like a bust, while Omon and Johnson have not stood out at all so far. I think Hillman is going to be very good in the future. He is a back to grab in dynasty leagues. Denver plays San Francisco on Sunday.
5. Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback
Chris Redman vs. John Parker Wilson vs. Dominique Davis -- The battle in Atlanta continues. Redman has been the backup to Matt Ryan for the last four seasons but has been given no guarantees that he still has the spot. Coach Mike Smith does not seem to care whether his backup is a veteran or rookie, so this could go down to the final preseason game. In one of my leagues I own the Falcons Team QB, so this competition is especially interesting to me. Atlanta plays Miami on Friday.