NFL Preseason 2013: Fantasy Lessons Learned Heading into Week 3
A lot has changed across the NFL after just two weeks of preseason, and fantasy owners should take note of certain things before they start their draft.
In most cases, Week 3 of the preseason is the closest to a competitive game. Coaches let their starters play for the majority of the game, and schemes start to most resemble what will be seen in the regular season.
From a fantasy perspective, this week gives us a chance to see which players are getting the most touches and how they fit into certain systems. While this means we will know more after Week 3, there is still plenty that we already know at this point.
For those drafting in the coming days, here are the lessons that we have learned in the last few weeks.
Michael Vick Will Start for Eagles, But Still Not Worth Risk
As an athletic quarterback in Kelly's system, many believe this will lead to a great fantasy season as he rushes for up to 1,000 yards.
Unfortunately, Vick is still an injury risk who has only completed 16 games in a season once in his career. He also remains turnover prone and has fewer options at receiver than he has since coming to Philadelphia.
There is some upside that he can regain his form from two years ago, but the odds that he becomes a bust are much higher.
Tricky Injury Situations You Might Want to Avoid
Ambiguity on injury reports might be the most difficult part of running a fantasy team. It would be much easier if every player could simply say with certainty if they are playing or not each week.
Unfortunately, that is not the way it works, and fantasy owners are left questioning what to do with their star players.
This issue will be bigger for players who are already injured who are questionable for the start of the season. Rob Gronkowski has undergone multiple surgeries this offseason and it is not realistic to think he will play Week 1, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Schefter also reported that the Washington Redskins are yet to make a decision on Robert Griffin III and will not until after the preseason ends:
Dr. Andrews told Redskins before camp that he and team would not make any decisions about RGIII’s status until after last preseason game.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 19, 2013
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell has been considered a sleeper, but he was forced to leave the team's preseason game after just four carries due to a foot injury, according to Frank Schwab of Yahoo! Sports. Bell had also dealt with knee issues earlier in the week.
Each of these players come with a significant risk in fantasy drafts, and you might be better off avoiding the situations altogether.
Watch Out for Daryl Richardson
On average, Daryl Richardson has been selected with pick No. 99.4 in ESPN drafts. He should be going much higher after this week.
According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the second-year back has been named the starter:
No surprise, but it's now official. Jeff Fisher names Daryl Richardson the opening day starter at running back for the Rams.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) August 19, 2013
This official recognition should put to bed concerns that Isaiah Pead or even rookie Zac Stacy would be a primary contributor. Instead, Richardson should be able to have a big season after totaling 475 yards on an average of 4.8 yards per carry.
He is a big-play type of runner who is certain to post big numbers with the Rams this season.
Some Offenses Should Be Avoided Completely
While some squads like the Green Bay Packers are loaded with players you want on your fantasy teams, there are others that might be best left alone.
The San Diego Chargers proved in its second game against the Chicago Bears that the offensive line problems from last year are still not settled. This should keep you from taking Philip Rivers, who has struggled in the past two seasons without protection.
Which running back would you rather have on your team?
As a result, you should probably stay away from any receivers on the roster as well. It might be worth taking a chance on running back Ryan Mathews, but his constant injury issues should cause plenty of doubt.
Another team that has been inconsistent in the preseason is the New York Jets. The quarterback situation is a mess and there are few appealing options in the passing game either.
Bilal Powell was impressive at running back last game, but he is likely to be behind Chris Ivory on the depth chart. Until we know what the breakdown of carries will be, it is best to avoid this situation.
This lack of certainty should also cause people to stay away from the Oakland Raiders. The passing attack will not scare anyone, and Darren McFadden has not played a full season in five years and was awful last season.
Unless you end up with great value for any of these players, it might be better to stay away from each offense.
Rookies Doing Well Early
There is still time for players to earn playing time before the start of the season, but there are already some rookies showcasing their ability over the past week.
Running backs Montee Ball and Eddie Lacy had limited touches, but each ran well when they were in the game. Lacy seems like the safer pick as he is more likely to get a major role, but Ball can be right there with him as far as first-year contributors.
Some other rookies who could become fantasy relevant are receivers DeAndre Hopkins, Tavon Austin and Cordarrelle Patterson. They have not done much so far, but each should get plenty of targets this season and have the talent to turn this into production.
These players could all be worth a mid-to-late-round flyer on draft day as they work to get better before the season.
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