Studs and Duds of the 2012 NFL Preseason
This week (and a few days next week) are the pinnacle season of fantasy football drafts in 2012.
Friends against friends, co-workers against co-workers, strangers against strangers... regardless of the type of draft you are involved in, there is an inherent stress that sits in the pit of your stomach leading up to your draft time.
My following series of articles will hopefully assist you in those moments when you have nine seconds left for your pick and you are scrambling to make a decision.
The third segment of this series will be a focus on what the preseason has shown us thus far: who has excelled and who has stumbled.
By no means should the preseason be your only research for draft day, but you have consider if a player is struggling against second- and third-team players...what will happen in a regular-season game?
Stud: Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens QB
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What is refreshing to see is his success in the 2012 preseason, completing 71.7 percent of his passes in the first three weeks. Flacco's big game was in Week 3, where he was 27 of 36 for 266 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
43 of 60, 71.7 comp %, 433 passing yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Stud: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks QB
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You want to know a great feeling as a rookie in the preseason? Taking the starting job away from the second most sought-after free agent quarterback of the offseason.
Russell Wilson dominated preseason and took advantage of a lingering injury in Matt Flynn's arm, locking up the starting role. Wilson is an example yet again of the popular style of quarterback who can also run the ball.
Regression is projected when regular-season play begins, but we may see this year's surprise rookie quarterback a la Andy Dalton of 2011.
35 of 52, 67.3 comp %, 464 passing yards, 5 TD, 1 INT. 10 ATT, 150 rushing yards, 1 TD
Stud: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons QB
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Matty Ice? Quite the opposite when looking at 2012 preseason play. Matt Ryan leads the league in completion percentage, completing three-quarters of his attempts. With Julio Jones continuing to grow into a starting receiving role, Ryan's numbers are sure to inflate as a result.
45 of 60, 75 comp %, 549 passing yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Dud: Vince Young, Free Agent QB
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The Titans had such high hopes when they grabbed Vince Young as their starting QB for the 2006 season. Young repaid them with years of injury and mediocrity, posting as many interceptions as touchdowns and never exceeding 2,600 passing yards.
Young was then sent packing to the Eagles as a backup for the oft-injured Vick. When Vick went down, Young faltered, putting up 4 touchdowns on 9 interceptions and averaging under 8 yards per completion.
Young had his chance again as a backup in Buffalo, but failed to be consistent, and has now been dropped in favor of Tarvaris Jackson.
25 of 52, 48.1 comp %, 276 passing yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
Stud: William Powell, Arizona Cardinals RB
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He's not the Cardinals starting running back. Or second. He's fifth in fact according to the Cardinals online depth chart. What did the fifth running back on their depth chart do this preseason? Score a TD in each preseason game and average 7 yards per carry.
With RB1 Beanie Wells and RB2 Ryan Williams one hit away from breaking to pieces, football fans may see more of Powell in the future. This is not a recommendation to draft him at all, but just to keep an eye out in case the Cardinals running game suffers a few injuries.
33 ATT, 232 rushing yards, 7.0 AVG, 3 TD
Stud: Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins RB
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Again, another rookie standout of the preseason who sits waiting behind a questionable backfield. He is currently listed fourth on the depth chart, but the three running backs sitting ahead of him (Hightower, Royster, Helu) are all somewhat of an injury concern.
Morris's Week 3 stat line of 14 carries for 107 yards with 1 TD has put the pressure on the coaching staff to make some roster changes.
39 ATT, 195 rushing yards, 5.0 AVG, 1 TD
Dud: Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans RB
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Chris Johnson looked to be slowing down after the 2011 season. While he did pick his game up as the season went on, he barely squeaked over 1,000 rushing yards and only managed to bring four carries into the end zone.
He was a holdout in 2011, and many believed it affected his play. A bounce back in 2012 is inevitable, right? If his preseason stats are any indicator of what's to come, the answer is no. Johnson does have two touchdowns, but the 2.9 average yards per carry is troubling.
28 ATT, 81 rushing yards, 2.9 AVG, 2 TD
Stud: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons WR
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Jones is going to be a force to be reckoned with and will soon surpass Roddy White to be the WR1 on the Falcons. Jones scored 8 TD as a rookie in 2011, and he should see double-digit numbers with the way Matt Ryan is playing.
Jones opened the preseason with a Week 1 performance of over 100 receiving yards on 6 receptions, which caught all fantasy owners' attention.
13 REC, 240 receiving yards, 18.5 AVG, 1 TD
Stud: Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers WR
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Mike Wallace who? Antonio Brown showed the Steelers that their concerns should not have been as dire when Wallace was holding out. Brown scored three touchdowns in the preseason, with over 100 receiving yards in Week 3.
Brown had over 1,000 receiving yards in 2011, and the same should be expected in 2012, but Brown should approve on his touchdown total of last year: a mere two.
11 REC, 204 receiving yards, 18.5 AVG, 3 TD
Stud: Dwayne Harris, Dallas Cowboys WR
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Tony Romo might be worried going into the 2012 season. Miles Austin is plagued by hamstring issues, Dez Bryant has knee problems and off-field drama, and Jason Witten is recovering from a lacerated spleen.
At least the prospect of Dwayne Harris' preseason performance shows a glimmer of hope for the regular season. Harris didn't have a single reception in his rookie season, but has managed to average over 21 yards per reception in the preseason.
8 REC, 173 receiving yards, 21.6 AVG, 3 TD
Dud: Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles WR
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It may be early to write off Jeremy Maclin, but his preseason has been pretty quiet. He didn't play in the Week 1 preseason game, and between the other two games only caught 3 receptions for 23 yards.
A lot depends on the health of Michael Vick this season, which now is a complete gamble.
3 REC, 23 receiving yards, 7.7 AVG, 0 TD
Dud: Matt Flynn, Seattle Seahawks QB
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Obviously if Russell Wilson made the list as a stud, that means that Matt Flynn was a dud. There was a lot expected of Flynn this season; after all, he did set franchise records for yards and touchdowns in a single game. Unfortunately, whether it was lack of experience or his nagging elbow injury, the expectations fell short during preseason. Flynn didn't throw into the end zone once, and finished with just over 100 passing yards and 1 interception. With Pete Carroll backing rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, it may take Flynn a bit of work to get back in a starting role. Seattle is fortunate though, as they had structured Flynn's contract so he is only owed $2 million guaranteed for each of the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
17 of 26, 65.3 comp %, 102 passing yards, 0 TD, 1 INT