It has been an eventful start to the preseason with strong debuts by rookies, injuries to fantasy starters and of course, position battles. There was also a player cut that wasn't altogether a surprise. Of course, we're talking about Chad Johnson. After the drop in production that we saw Chad experience last season, there was almost an inevitability about him being cut. He only had 276 yards and 1 TD last season. With the lack of a strong receiving corp, the Dolphins seemed like the perfect fit but his antics and arrest quickly forced Johnson out the door.
Andrew Luck passed for 188 yards and 2 TD in his debut against the Rams, while Robert Griffin III passed for 70 yards and 1 TD. Starting with Luck, he looked calm, cool and collected. It very much seemed like he belonged out there and that he had been there before. Not reading too much into this because it is just the preseason and it's only his first game but he looks to be a gamer. I would not think it would be too much of a risk to draft him as my QB2 this year in redrafts and of course, grab him high in dynasty leagues. Griffin III didn't show off his running ability but played very well in his first action. He will also make for a good QB2 in redraft and a great dynasty pick. The only thing that concerns me is that O-line in Washington, which will increase his risk of injury.
Let's examine 5 position battles that should be interesting for this week:
1. Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback
Chris Redman vs. John Parker Wilson vs. Dominique Davis - Right now, head coach Mike Smith is calling the battle "wide open". Despite the fact that Redman has been the backup for quite awhile, it seems like he is finally getting some competition. Wilson and Davis played really well in last week's game against the Ravens but Redman only completed one pass. Davis needs more time to develop but has a very strong arm. If Wilson is going to wrest the backup job away, he's going to have to keep playing at a high level during these exhibitions. Matt Ryan did miss two games in 2009 and with the aerial attack the Falcons have, their backup is worth keeping an eye on. Atlanta will take on Cincinnati on Thursday night.
2. Carolina Panthers kicker
Olindo Mare vs. Justin Medlock - The Panthers kicker should be a great backup for your bye/injury fill in or a good kicker in deep leagues. Mare has never been one to blow you away with his accuracy or distance. Medlock is younger and more affordable for the Panthers but his sample size is too small. Mare is not in Panthers fans good books, so I see Medlock winning the job. Carolina plays Miami on Friday night.
3. Cincinnati Bengals starting receiver
Armon Binns vs. Brandon Tate - Tate showed flashes of being a deep threat while with the Patriots, while Binns spent all of last season on the practice squad. I'm very intrigued by whoever wins the spot opposite AJ Green because Green will draw a lot of the coverage. And with Dalton at quarterback, the winner will have a solid passer throwing to him. I feel the winner will be a great sleeper pick.
4. Denver Broncos backup quarterback
Caleb Hanie vs. Brock Osweiler vs. Adam Weber - Who knows how long Peyton will be able to stay upright this season? He looked fine against Chicago but what if he gets knocked out for a series of games. The weapons Denver have put together for Manning would still be dangerous and belong to one of these three. Hanie looked pathetic in Chicago last season but he is athletic. Osweiler is a giant and has a very strong arm. Weber seems to be the real underdog here but has kept himself in the battle. I think Osweiler is a deep sleeper and should at the very least get a strong shot at the starting quarterback job in the future. Denver faces Seattle on Saturday night.
5. Green Bay Packers backup tight end
Tom Crabtree vs. Ryan Taylor vs. D.J. Williams vs. Andrew Quarless - Jermichael Finley has been missing time to start the preseason with injuries and did miss most of the 2010 season with injury. It's not out of the realm of possibility that the backup tight end might become the starter at some point in the season. Crabtree and Taylor are mainly blocking/special teams type players. Quarless will probably open the season on PUP, that's if he's kept around. I think D.J. Williams will finally make an impact and he's one of my sleepers. He didn't get much of a chance last year but he's strong, athletic and quick. Green Bay faces Cleveland on Thursday night.