NFL fans love to hate the preseason. It's easy to do, really. The games don't count, the starters don't get much playing time and te four-game schedule serves as a month-long tease of the much more exciting regular season.
Fantasy football owners shouldn't make the mistake of dismissing the preseason, though. The glorified exhibition contests provide fans with a glimpse at the starting offenses around the league. If a player is out of shape, the preseason will show it. If a player is fitting in nicely with a new offense, it will likely become evident in the preseason.
My eyes have been peeled looking for any risers and fallers this preseason. Here's a full stock report.
Don't look now, but the Baltimore Ravens might be able to throw the ball in 2012. Cam Cameron has opened up the playbook, allowing Joe Flacco to run more of an up-tempo, no-huddle attack. The results have been lucrative. Flacco looks as comfortable as he has in his career, and Torrey Smith has emerged as his favorite target. Coming out of Maryland, Smith was viewed as a raw talent who needed to refine his route running, and yet he still caught seven touchdowns and racked up over 800 receiving yards in his rookie season. Now more refined and with an improved Flacco, Smith could emerge as a wide receiver No. 1 in your fantasy lineup this season.
Drafted to provide a spark to an aging New York Giants backfield, David Wilson flashed his swift feet and seasoned vision throughout the preseason. A first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Wilson was a threat to score every time Virginia Tech handed him the rock. With Bradshaw's chronic foot issues, it's only a matter of time before Wilson forces his way into the picture and develops fantasy relevance as a result.
Fittingly self-proclaimed as DaneRuss Wilson on Twitter, the Seattle Seahawks rookie has started to prove a lot of people wrong. NFL Draft analysts thought he was too short to be a franchise quarterback. The same analysts thought he had no chance to start in Seattle after the Seahawks handed Matt Flynn a huge contract. And as is often the case, the consensus opinion seems to have missed the mark. Wilson looks the part under center. He is a dangerous weapon with his arm and his legs, and his fantasy value has no ceiling as a result. Playing in the soft NFC West, Wilson will get a lot of favorable match-ups and rack up tons of fantasy points at a modest price.
Carson Palmer and Denarius Moore were a pleasure to watch in 2011. The two developed instant chemistry after Palmer joined the team midseason, and Moore appeared to have sky-high fantasy potential in years to come. Since minicamp, however, Moore has been bogged down by a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Palmer has built up a rapport with both Derrius Heyward-Bey and rookie Rod Streater. Even when he gets healthy, Moore could have trouble commanding targets.
Running backs come and go in fantasy football. It's the nature of the business. Nostalgic fantasy owners will grab Michael Turner in the first three or four rounds of their fantasy drafts with visions of the Falcons' running back ripping off huge gains and tallying multi-touchdown games. Realistic fantasy owners living in the here and now will pass on Turner, realizing he has lost the burst that earned him the nickname "Burner Turner." Jacquizz Rodgers is the Atlanta running back to own.
Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin all got hurt this preseason. If the Dallas offensive line continues to play like it has, Tony Romo won't be far behind, either. While all of his star receivers should be back up to speed early n the season, Romo's stock has dropped in the eyes of fantasy owners. All hope is not lost, however. Romo's recent slide has made him an affordable commodity in fantasy drafts. Not too many quarterbacks offer Romo's upside in the fifth round or later.
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