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Fantasy Football 2013: What Did We Learn from Saturday's Preseason Week 2 Games?

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2013

Fantasy Football 2013: What Did We Learn from Saturday's Preseason Week 2 Games?

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    Multiple games had significant fantasy impact on Saturday night, even when the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos were still playing at 1 a.m. ET in what seemed like the most penalized preseason game ever.

    Each week we learn just a little bit more about the fantasy players on each team, and every week firms up some beliefs and destroys others.

    You never want to overreact in the preseason, but there are certainly some things worth getting excited about or, in some cases, concerned with. Let's take a look at 10 things of note from Saturday's preseason games.

Meet Your Green Bay Packers Starting Running Back: Eddie Lacy

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    We have been treated to a lot of Eddie Lacy "news" critiquing his weight, but due to injury we haven't seen much of him actually running.

    Well, Lacy finally saw the field for the Packers, and he put on quite the show.

    Lacy totaled 40 yards on eight carries, an average of five yards per carry. That's impressive, especially for his first game. He also had one catch for 11 yards and showed pretty good vision, awareness and effectiveness in pass-blocking.

    We'll see a bit more of fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin, who had an unspectacular day, as well as James Starks, Alex Green and—if he can get healthy—DuJuan Harris.

    But as of Saturday night, they are all playing catch-up.

    Keep in mind, this is the Packers. They throw the ball. And then they throw the ball. Often after that, they throw the ball again. Lacy is likely to be the lead back here, but that designation isn't as valuable as it is for a team like the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers.

    That said, he will be a solid second running back for any fantasy team.

Calling the St. Louis Offense; You're Wanted on the White Courtesy Phone

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    Two weeks into preseason, the retooled, high-powered first-string St. Louis Rams offense has scored a whopping 10 points—all of which came against the Cleveland Browns last week.

    The Packers mostly contained the Rams' new offense, but red-zone issues really hurt the Rams.

    At one point, quarterback Sam Bradford threw a beautiful 57-yard pass to Chris Givens, who landed on the 4-yard line. The Rams then failed to punch the ball in due to penalties, impotent running and an awful throw by Bradford to a wide-open Tavon Austin.

    It's not time to bail completely on the offense, but we need to check our expectations. Running backs, receivers and especially the hot-and-cold Bradford are all getting a bit scary.

    Yes, it's preseason. But so far, it's not pretty.

DeAndre Hopkins Leaves Game Against the Miami Dolphins with a Head Injury

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    It's always disappointing to see a young player leave the field for any reason, especially when you just drafted him in a fantasy league.

    That might have happened to this article's writer Saturday afternoon.

    A head injury forced Hopkins out of Saturday's game; according to the Houston Chronicle's John McClain, Hopkins has been diagnosed with a concussion.

    While head injuries are always a concern because often it seems one concussion can lead to another, this is nothing to be too worried about.

    Hopkins' average draft position is currently 114, the 41st wide receiver off the board. That puts him somewhere in the neighborhood of the 10th or 11th round.

    While he may not play next week, the rookie will return for the first game with plenty of time to help you out for your fantasy season.

Mike Wallace and Ryan Tannehill Can Overcome a Poor Offensive Line

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    It took three games for wide receiver Mike Wallace and quarterback Ryan Tannehill to get on the same page, but that third week—Saturday night against the Houston Texans—was more than enough to ease everyone's concerns.

    The offensive line is still an issue, but it appears as if Tannehill and Wallace won't get slowed down by it. They hooked up for three receptions for 58 yards and a score.

    Wallace is currently the No. 25 receiver off the board in fantasy drafts—still a little bit high, but a guy who will be a pretty solid mid-range No. 2 wide receiver on a fantasy roster.

You Can Write Off BenJarvus Green-Ellis

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    Granted, we're not seeing a lot of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but we have enough history to know his upside.

    It's nowhere near as high as that of rookie Giovani Bernard.

    Bernard ran the ball very well yet again Saturday night, averaging 5.3 yards per carry against the Tennessee Titans and totaling 37 yards and a touchdown.

    A far more dynamic back than Green-Ellis, Bernard shouldn't be on the bench long (if at all) to start the season. Green-Ellis is a decent back, but Bernard is a game-changer.

    That's what the Cincinnati Bengals need.

Kendall Wright out with a Knee Injury

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    Kendall Wright had finally been healthy this offseason and looked poised to have a solid year.

    Instead, he injured his knee on Saturday and had to be carted to the locker room. While the team hopes it was a strain, Wright worried that it might be a fairly bad injury, according to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean.

    Wright had an MRI after the game, with results yet to be announced. If Wright is correct and has suffered a serious injury, he may become virtually useless on a roster.

Carson Palmer Has Issues

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    Some football analysts recently engaged in a slightly ridiculous debate about Carson Palmer being a better quarterback in Bruce Arians' offense than Andrew Luck was last season.

    While I've been saying that Palmer will give you plenty of junk fantasy points in garbage time, and indeed should be better this year because the offensive weapons are so much improved for him in Arizona, let's not get fooled.

    He's no more than bye-week filler.

    We saw as much again Saturday, as he struggled to connect with his receivers in the face of constant pressure brought to bear because his offensive line is still struggling.

    The line is better, but not good enough.

    The Dallas Cowboys turned the ball over five times in the first half, yet Palmer and company could only manage three field goals.

    And this was against a banged-up Dallas defense.

    If you're thinking Palmer is going to look like Luck in this Arians offense, you might be in for a rude awakening.

Denver Broncos Running Backs Aren't Doing Themselves Any Favors

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    There are two ways to get yourself escorted off the field on a John Fox-coached team:

    Fumble the ball.

    Blow pass-protection assignments.

    Rookie Montee Ball and second-year back Ronnie Hillman can tell you.

    Ball continues to struggle in pass protection, twice allowing a pass-rusher to get past him and blow up Peyton Manning. Meanwhile, Ronnie Hillman fumbled the ball twice, once as he was heading into the end zone; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Brandon Browner returned the ball 106 yards for a touchdown.

    Now, neither Hillman nor Ball is going to lose his roster spot. However, Ball cannot be on the field on third down if he is letting Manning get killed. If that keeps up, it will severely limit his opportunities.

    And if Hillman keeps coughing the ball up, Fox won't trust him either.

    Both guys have to pick it up next week. After this Saturday, you have to be a little concerned about how early you draft either of them for your fantasy team.

Russell Wilson Looks Like a Top-10 Fantasy Quarterback

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    I've had Russell Wilson in and out of the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks for a while, but after watching him tear up another defense (even a preseason one), he's locked in for good.

    With another performance like this, he might sneak up further.

    In Saturday night's game against the Denver Broncos, Wilson showed even better anticipation, a quicker trigger and firmer touch on his passes than he had last season. He completed eight of 12 passes for 127 yards, two touchdowns and a 141.3 QB rating.

    Wilson is a guy who can throw from the pocket as easily as he does on the run. People like to downplay him these days as a guy who is a "read-option" quarterback who will fail when he has to stay in the pocket.

    Just like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III, Wilson is more than capable of hanging in the pocket under pressure to deliver a big pass.

    I would, without a doubt, wait on a quarterback this season. Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady are nice to have, but right now Russell Wilson is the better value. Pick him up later and stock up on running backs and receivers instead.

Seattle Seahawks Defense Is the Top Fantasy Unit in the NFL

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    Not only will this Seahawks defense throttle offenses and keep the score low, it's going to generate tons of turnovers. Saturday night saw the defense force four fumbles; it recovered three, one of which cornerback Brandon Browner ran back 106 yards for a touchdown.

    Seattle also featured a 107-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by second-year wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.

    And it didn't even put up any interceptions.

    This is a quadruple threat defense/special teams unit.

    It can shut down an offense and limit points scored. It generates turnovers. It features a very good return team. On top of that, it can produce sacks.

    That's an awful lot of fantasy points.

     

    Andrew Garda is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is also a member of the fantasy football staff at Footballguys.com and the NFL writer at CheeseheadTV.com. You can follow him at on Twitter @andrew_garda.

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