One week of preseason football down, several players’ fantasy values up.
Plenty of fantasy football news came out of the first week of NFL preseason play. It did not take long for marquee players to get injured and for supposed starters to watch their holds on their jobs get shakier than Billy Cundiff during a game-winning field goal attempt.
Here are three players whose fantasy values went up after the opening week of preseason football:
Now that we know once and for all that Ryan Mathews is not the Cal Ripken Jr. of the NFL, the door has been left slightly ajar for Brown to run in and pick his fantasy value up off the floor.
Mathews will miss the next four-to-six weeks thanks to the broken clavicle he suffered on his first carry of the preseason, which means he will most likely miss one or two regular-season games. Brown, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason, will get first dibs on the rushing attempts in Mathews’ absence.
Fantasy owners may have forgotten the Brown who rushed for 1,000 yards in 2006 and remember instead how he was virtually invisible all of last season as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles—except for an ill-advised pass he threw down by the goal line on one of the most ridiculous and hysterical plays of 2011.
But Brown will be San Diego’s first option at tailback unless he has a horrendous training camp and/or former Kansas City RB Jackie Battle outplays him. And being San Diego’s No. 1 RB is not a bad job to have as Norv Turner’s offense always seems to help backs pile up decent amounts of yards and touchdowns. Just ask fantasy owners of Mathews, Mike Tolbert and LaDainian Tomlinson.
Brown does not have the speed he once did but can still catch the ball out of the backfield and run between the tackles when need be. If you draft Mathews, draft Brown as a handcuff.
Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins (QB)
There was supposed to be a three-way battle for the starting quarterback job in Miami, and former Jacksonville starter David Garrard was in the thick of it. But the quarterback trio has been reduced to a duo for the next couple weeks, thinning out the competition and elevating Moore as the possible/probable winner.
Garrard is sidelined by knee surgery for the next two-to-four weeks, which now leaves Moore and first-round pick Ryan Tannehill as the two healthy quarterback contenders left. And while Tannehill looked better than Moore in Miami’s opening preseason contest, Moore is the veteran and the incumbent, so he is likely the favorite to win the job in the end.
Moore was no Dan Marino for fantasy owners in 2011, but his 2,497 passing yards and 16 touchdown tosses were career-highs and he showed he can be a decent performer when he starts. Give the guy protection and some play-action passes and he can do damage downfield.
The bad news for Moore is that Brandon Marshall is no longer with the team and Chad Johnson was just released, so Miami has a receiving corps fit for the XFL. But the good news is that new head coach Joe “Don’t Call Me Regis” Philbin will probably run a more wide-open offense than Tony Sparano’s conservative system that Moore threw out of last year, so Moore should have more passing opportunities.
Of course, all this talk about Moore is all for naught if the guy plays like Ryan Leaf this preseason and Tannehill wins the job. But having Garrard out of the way makes things easier for Moore to win it now that it is a two-man race.
Cedric Benson, Green Bay Packers (RB)
Give props to Benson and his agent. He signed with the perfect team.
No fantasy owners took Green Bay seriously that the organization was just going to stick with James Starks and Alex Green and be satisfied at running back. It does not matter that Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing attack is tougher to stop than Jeff Ross at a comedy roast. The Packers have to run the ball eventually.
Benson signed a one-year contract this past weekend and has already been pegged by many as the odds-on favorite to score the most fantasy points out of Green Bay’s running backs. While many teams seemed to shy away from Benson during the offseason, the Packers finally came through with an offer Benson had to take.
It is not like Benson has not been doing much in recent years, either. The man is coming off three consecutive 1,000-yard years and scored 19 rushing touchdowns over that span with the Cincinnati Bengals. He is no Arian Foster or Ray Rice in fantasy circles, but Benson has been decent and dependable as a No. 2 or No.3 fantasy RB.
Is Benson what you would call a dynamic runner? No, but neither was Ryan Grant, and he was a fantasy force when he was the main man in Green Bay’s ground attack. With opposing defenses locked in on Rodgers and all of his terrific targets, running room gets opened up as front sevens loosen up.
Starks struggled in his opening preseason outing and Green is coming off a torn ACL. If Benson’s head is right and he picks this season to finally stay out of jail, he could definitely turn into a fantasy find for owners willing to gamble on him like Green Bay did.