What Has the NFL Preseason Taught Us for 2012 Fantasy Football so Far?

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What Has the NFL Preseason Taught Us for 2012 Fantasy Football so Far?
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Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

The preseason, as most of you know, is hard to analyze because teams aren't in the business of winning, but rather of evaluating and working on certain weaknesses. But if you watch the games, you can glean useful information to help you in your fantasy football prognostications.

So let's take a look at some players who have made an impact this preseason.

 

Russell Wilson

Wilson has set the Emerald City aflame, as well as a few other cities. He's had a great preseason, which started against second- and third-stringers but progressed in the third preseason game to first-stringers. It's a whole stringer thing.

He's completed 35 of his 52 passes for a great 67.3 percent for 464 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in three preseason games. He's also rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts.

He is now the starter for the Seattle Seahawks and already a fantasy football asset. No other player has made such a huge splash as Wilson has this preseason. 

 

Julio Jones

He had significant hype during this offseason, but then he got on the field and even the hype wasn't enough. He destroyed the competition.

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Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

In 13 receptions this preseason, he has accumulated 230 yards and a touchdown and looked dominant in doing so. He has elite upside, and now everyone knows it.

 

Matt Ryan

See above, and add Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, Jacquizz Rodgers and a more up-tempo offense and mix in a nice, cozy dome, and you have a birthday cake for your fantasy team's, um, birth?

Anyway, Ryan has been on fire this preseason, going 45-of-60 (a crazy 75 percent) for 549 yards and three touchdowns.

 

Andrew Luck

Luck came out of the preseason gate with a touchdown on his first pass to Donald Brown and hasn't let up. Even after a rocky start against a strong Pittsburgh Steelers defense, he quickly turned things around to lead the Indianapolis Colts on a touchdown drive.

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

He completed 40 of his 64 passes for 514 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions while also running in a touchdown. We knew he had the tools to play in the NFL, and now we know he knows that we know, uh, that he knows, how to use them...?

 

Cedric Benson

Benson bided his time well and ended up on one of the best offenses in the league. His skills aren't elite, but in his limited snaps in preseason, it looks like he'll be able to make some hay while defenses try their darnedest to stop Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, James Jones, Randall Cobb and that guy who plays quarterback.

 

Kyle Rudolph

The Minnesota Vikings have the best running back in the league, but he's coming off a blown-out knee, so they will need Christian Ponder and the receivers to step up this season.

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Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

Thankfully for them, Kyle Rudolph has looked sharp all spring and summer and has been Ponder's favorite target.

 

Doug Martin

Martin has taken control of the starting running back situation over LeGarrette Blount—and it really wasn't a contest. With Greg Schiano, Ray Rice's old coach, taking over as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head man, the similarly-built and -skilled Martin has quickly caught on to the new offense.

He looks like he's in a completely different realm than Blount. He can block more fluidly, stop and go, make people miss, catch the ball, not fumble—you know, the stuff good running backs can do.

 

DeMarco Murray

Many fantasy pundits have been lukewarm on Murray this season, but in limited work this preseason, he has looked outstanding, while Felix Jones looks like the clear-cut backup.

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DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys

Murray put together some big games last season before getting hurt, but they were against some poor run defenses. His small sample size has kept fake footballers like myself at bay, but all reports out of camp have been stellar, and his play in preseason confirms those reports.

He looks like the real deal.

 

Willis McGahee

Coming into preseason, most of the buzz surrounded rookie running back Ronnie Hillman, but it was quickly evident that the veteran McGahee would get the bulk of touches in the Denver Broncos offense. 

He may not have Tim Tebow drawing away defenders this season, but he will be in an offense that will run much more smoothly under Peyton Manning. Also, he will be the clear goal-line back unless Peyton starts Cam Newtoning him.

 

Rashad Jennings

We still aren't sure when Maurice Jones-Drew will report, and it's pretty set now that Jennings will get the Week 1 start. Add to that, Jennings has looked liked a legitimate starter in preseason.

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Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville Jaguars

He has 36 carries for 175 yards for a decent 4.9 yards a carry this preseason.

 

Antonio Brown

While Mike Wallace has been on vacation, Antonio Brown has been winning the hearts and minds and targets of the Pittsburgh Steelers organization.

On just 11 receptions this preseason, Brown has gone for 203 yards and three touchdowns. He won't be taking a backseat to Wallace this season.

 

Joe Flacco

Cam Cameron is taking off the reins and letting Joe Flacco run free across the hillsides, galloping and prancing and—OK, this metaphor has gotten out of hand.

But Cameron has implemented more no-huddle, and Flacco has responded well, going 43-of-60 for 433 yards, three touchdowns and one interception this preseason, which leads us to the next guy on this list.

 

Torrey Smith

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Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens

Smith caught eight passes for 103 yards in the Baltimore Ravens' third preseason game. If the Ravens keep up this no-huddle nonsense, Smith could have a gargantuan season.

 

Stevan Ridley

Coming into training camp, there was a fairly tight race to see who would be the early-down running back for the New England Patriots, but that didn't last too long.

Ridley took over the job convincingly. 

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