Fantasy Football 2013: What We Learned from Week 1 Preseason Action
With preseason action getting underway this weekend, it finally gave fantasy football owners a chance to scout some players they may consider drafting this summer. While some stars sat, and with others playing sparingly, some interesting developments nevertheless unfolded in Week 1 of the exhibition schedule.
With drafts starting to commence, the preseason gives us a peak at what could unfold in the regular season. However, you have to take preseason action with a huge grain of salt, as teams are tinkering with their lineups, getting the kinks out, testing things out, etc.
Regardless, there are some lessons that could be learned from the preseason. So, with that said, here are some lessons we learned from the first week of preseason action.
EJ Manuel looked good in debut
While EJ Manuel is more of a keeper or dynasty-league pick, he showed the goods in his first action against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday afternoon, completing 16 of 21 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for 28 yards on three carries.
Although he also fumbled in the game, Manuel—if you have the patience—could be a steal for both the Bills and for fantasy owners, as he has that dual-threat ability fantasy players covet.
T.Y. Hilton is upping his already high stock
T.Y. Hilton is quickly becoming a viral sleeper, meaning seemingly everyone is talking about Hilton as an ideal low-end No. 2 wide receiver.
Hilton caught all three of his targets for 61 yards while also scoring a touchdown in Sunday’s game against the Bills. Andrew Luck will absolutely love throwing to Hilton this year.
DeAndre Hopkins has great sleeper value
Playing opposite Andre Johnson could do wonders for DeAndre Hopkins, Houston’s 2013 first-round draft pick, and his fantasy value.
Blessed with great strength and athleticism, Hopkins could be a stealth pick late in drafts (even higher in keeper leagues). In Friday night’s game against Minnesota, Hopkins had four receptions (on four targets) and one amazing touchdown catch. See highlights for proof.
Handcuff Ray Rice with Bernard Pierce
If it wasn't apparent before, Bernard Pierce is going to have a much more active role with the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, and he showed more reason why in the Ravens' first preseason game against Tampa Bay on Thursday night.
Pierce looked great, rushing for 21 yards and a touchdown. And although he sprained his knee, he should be fine moving forward, per The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson.
Obviously, Ray Rice is going to get the majority of touches in Baltimore, but Pierce will have a role with the club nevertheless.
Chris Givens will be an excellent deep threat and deep mixed-league starter
Chris Givens is another highly touted sleeper with loads of potential. Givens showed off his deep-route skills, getting loose for a 59-yard bomb in the second quarter of Thursday night’s game against the Browns.
On the night, Givens caught three passes (on three targets) for 82 yards and a touchdown. This second-year player could be inching toward a breakout season.
Rams’ running back mess still unsettled
Among Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead and Zac Stacy, the three Rams running backs ran for just 65 yards on 14 carries in their game against the Browns.
Richardson apparently has the inside track and looked the best, rushing for 24 yards on only four carries, but this backfield situation is far from settled.
Ditto for Denver’s backfield
Denver has quite a few potential breakouts and sleepers in Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball, but between those two and incumbent Knowshon Moreno, the Broncos also have an unsettled backfield.
All three backs combined to run for a measly 41 yards on 14 carries in the Broncos’ game against San Francisco on Thursday night. There is no way yet to tell whom coach Mike Fox will lean on once the season starts, although Hillman sits atop the depth chart.
Robert Griffin III owners should think about handcuffing him with Kirk Cousins
If you’re a Robert Griffin III owner (or plan to be), it may not be such a bad idea to take Kirk Cousins with your last pick as a way to handcuff him with RGIII.
Cousins looked great (completing six of seven passes for 52 yards and a touchdown) commanding the Redskins offense in their 22-21 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night. In case either Griffin III is not ready for Week 1 or hurts himself later in the season, Cousins provides some great insurance, as he has all the tools to succeed in this league.
Christine Michael could be a better handcuff for Marshawn Lynch than Robert Turbin
Speaking of handcuffs, if you are looking for one for Marshawn Lynch, Christine Michael may be your guy.
While Robert Turbin may be ahead of Michael on the depth chart—even though Turbin just returned to practice this week, per The News Tribune's Eric Williams—Michael, the Seahawks’ 2013 second-round pick, could provide more bang for the buck.
Michael was the workhorse in Seattle's Thursday night win over San Diego, rushing for 89 yards on 16 carries. He has been suffering from back spasms in practice lately, but it should not be serious.
Will LeGarrette Blount’s performance make a crowded New England backfield even more crowded?
LeGarrette Blount undoubtedly had one of the finest performances in this weekend’s action, rushing for 101 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries in the Patriots' 31-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday night.
With the Patriots having two good options in Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen on the running back depth chart—not to mention Brandon Bolden—can Blount force himself into more carries with the Broncos this year? Well, with the way Patriots coach Bill Belichick loves to rotate backs in New England, Blount may have newfound appeal there, as he looked fresh and rejuvenated on Friday night.
Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald appear to be in sync
Although it was brief, both Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald appeared to be in lockstep with each other in Friday night’s game against Green Bay.
Palmer targeted Fitzgerald two times and connected both times, as Fitzgerald had 21 yards receiving on the night. Again, it’s the preseason, and it was in limited action, but their rapport seems strong.
Stepfan Taylor may be a trendy, deep sleeper to target
Although he may have to leapfrog both Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams (both are currently hampered by injuries at the moment) on the Cardinals' running back depth chart, Stepfan Taylor has a good chance to make an impact this year.
The Cardinals did not draft Taylor in the fifth round for him to just sit on the sidelines. Taylor was the bell-cow back on Friday night, running for 64 yards on 20 carries. While that’s not a great YPC clip, it was nice to see Taylor handle such a big load.
No Green Bay running backs stood out
With Eddie Lacy sidelined, it gave guys like James Starks, Johnathan Franklin and Alex Green a chance to showcase their talents.
However, all three active backs were a collective thud, rushing for just 68 yards on 25 carries. Once Lacey returns, it could perhaps clear up the situation, but this competition is still too hazy and may go down to the wire.
Cordarrelle Patterson has tons of upside
While it may take him some time to develop fully, especially considering Christian Ponder is his quarterback, Cordarrelle Patterson may be a future star in this league.
Patterson, who is wearing Randy Moss' old No. 84, showed off the speed and athleticism that made him so appealing to Minnesota. He looked good on both kickoffs and on offense in the Vikings’ 27-13 loss to the Houston Texans, recording four receptions for 54 yards.
As it is, Patterson makes for an excellent keeper, dynasty-league selection.
Follow me on Twitter @Stacdemon.
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