Training camp has arrived in the NFL for most teams. On August 4, the preseason officially begins as the Dallas Cowboys take on the Miami Dolphins in the Hall of Fame Game.
By the time Oakland and San Francisco wrap up the final preseason games at Seattle and San Diego in the wee hours of August 29, the fantasy football landscape will have changed.
How will the 2013 preseason affect fantasy football? Aside from injuries, take almost everything with a generous heaping of salt. But there is certainly value to be gleaned from training camp and exhibition season.
Injuries invariably occur during the preseason. They are inescapable. Don't fight them. Don't make it weird.
Before worrying about injuries as they relate to your fantasy teams, it is important to remember that these are real people with careers on the line. As much as it stinks when your fantasy team gets hosed by a big injury, it is far worse for the players on many levels.
Now, time for the worry.
We have already gotten wind of injuries just a few days into training camp. Percy Harvin may miss this season because of a torn hip labrum, though the Seattle Seahawks hope it doesn't come to that. Twitter was driven into a frenzy when getting word A.J. Green went down hard in practice.
Uh oh. Reports of A.J. Green hurting his left knee at practice. This is why you don't draft until like, September 1st.— numberFire (@numberFire) July 25, 2013
So Percy Harvin & now possibly A.J. Green suffering injury (just taken off field, nothing confirmed) BUT... #hopeyouhaventdraftedyet— Jake Ciely (@allinkid) July 25, 2013
Green was just fine, by the way.
It is precisely for this reason that redraft fantasy leagues—traditional leagues where owners draft their full team each season rather than keep any players—should wait until the last possible date to hold their fantasy drafts.
If your league drafts on August 8, it is only increasing the odds a key player will go down before a regular-season snap is played.
Of course, if you are in a dynasty or keeper league, cross your fingers and pray to the fantasy gods nothing happens to your players this preseason.
Sorting Out the Depth Charts
Take a look at yourself. Are you wringing your hands over whether Alex Green makes it on the 53-man roster for the Packers? Do you really think Ryan Tannehill has anything to worry about in Miami?
The preseason will be used to whittle down rosters and figure out depth charts across the league, but don't over analyze things.
There are, of course, several preseason battles worthy of your fantasy attention. Namely...
Michael Vick vs. Nick Foles
The quarterback situation in Philadelphia is unsettled, but there is potential for big-time output from whoever wins the job.
Vincent Brown vs. Malcom Floyd vs. Danario Alexander
vs. Robert Meachem
Robert Meachem's name was already eliminated by
virtue of being terrible last season technical knockout. Can the other three avoid injury and contribute? Who will be the top dog? Much of this will be sorted by Week 1.
Lamar Miller vs. Daniel Thomas vs. Mike Gillislee
Conventional wisdom has Lamar Miller running away with the job at running back in Miami, but Daniel Thomas is inexplicably getting some love. Use the preseason to confirm Miller's superiority in your mind.
Andre Roberts vs. Michael Floyd
Last year's leading fantasy receiver in Arizona? It was Andre Roberts, not a certain Mr. Fitzgerald. He dukes it out with second-year stud Michael Floyd for the No. 2 job this preseason.
Sidney Rice vs. Golden Tate
If Harvin misses any time, whoever replaces him as the top target in Seattle is in for some serious scoring chances.
Zac Stacy vs. Isaiah Pead vs. Daryl Richardson
The St. Louis backfield situation is about as clear as the Yellow River—the muddiest river in the world, for the uninitiated. A little bit of preseason clarity will be useful.
Aaron Dobson vs. Kenbrell Thompkins vs. Josh Boyce vs. Julian Edelman
The New England Patriots need someone to step up at receiver outside Danny Amendola. Whoever does could be in line for some big fantasy weeks. Aaron Dobson has an early lead, but the situation is fluid.
A.J. Jenkins vs. Quinton Patton vs. Mario Manningham vs. Kyle Williams
With Michael Crabtree sidelined for the fantasy season, someone needs to take over opposite Anquan Boldin at receiver. Will A.J. Jenkins live up to that first-round draft status, or will he busted by his peers?
Obviously, the aforementioned injury inevitability will thrust other competitions into relevance. But worrying about San Diego's fourth receiver is an exercise in futility unless you play in a 20-team fantasy league.
We've all seen it.
A player goes crazy in the preseason and shoots up draft boards, only to be incredibly disappointing when the calendar rolls around to September. The tears start flowing soon after he is drafted.
@AlexMiglio Felix Jones is the Babe Ruth in that category.— Fantasy Douche (@FantasyDouche) July 26, 2013
The list is endless.
@AlexMiglio Marcus Mason every year in Washington— Sully (@SullySparks) July 26, 2013
@AlexMiglio He Hate Me.— Ethan Hammerman (@Ethanhamm) July 26, 2013
@AlexMiglio Jermichael Finley every damn year since ever.— Peter Bukowski (@BukoTime) July 26, 2013
@AlexMiglio Ryan Mathews wins hands down. Pick a season.— Doug (@dnad2131) July 26, 2013
@AlexMiglio Ryan Mathews— Joe Siniscalchi (@Joe_Siniscalchi) July 26, 2013
@AlexMiglio It has to be Mathews. After preseason, he was going what... 2nd round?— Ladd Davies (@Ladd_Davies) July 26, 2013
@AlexMiglio Colt Mccoy few years back when Browns O Was putting up points in preseason.— Mike Ant (@kegacide) July 26, 2013
@AlexMiglio -- Jackie Battle, King of the Preseason. Or how about Packers RB Whisper Goodman circa 2001?— Patrick Fitzmaurice (@FitzPFW) July 26, 2013
Has the point been hammered home?
@AlexMiglio Like Lance Kendricks a couple years ago? Or David Wilson last year...— Stephen Pennington (@crazier_than_u) July 26, 2013
Don't trick yourself into drafting Travaris Cadet because he catches 35 passes this preseason. In the same vein, don't talk yourself out of drafting Calvin Johnson because he dropped three passes and only caught six.
We already have a preseason darling in New England's Zach Sudfeld, who has impressed thus far in training camp.
Patriots watch list: ZACH SUDFIELD. Dude is a straight animal.— Jordan Arnaud (@jay_rno) July 26, 2013
Like Winnie the Pooh with those Heffalumps and Woozles, beware. Incidentally, having a toddler around the house might skew your pop culture references, too.
While your league-mates try to one-up each other to take those hyped "sleepers" in the seventh round, you can rest easy knowing it's probably a wasted pick.
Sit back, relax and enjoy the preseason.