Fantasy Football Takeaways from the NFL's Preseason
The NFL preseason is dead and gone, but during its 2013 life, it provided some interesting fantasy football developments.
No, we shouldn't crown this year's MVP based on a few exhibition performances, but some intriguing trends always materialize that should be kept in mind before entering the draft room.
Here are the most notable fantasy football takeaways from the now deceased preseason.
David Wilson's Stock Is Soaring
No player's fantasy stock is skyrocketing as much as that of New York Giants running back David Wilson.
The second-year pro has exhibited a C.J. Spiller-esque burst this preseason, and frankly, over the last month of his rookie campaign, he was electric.
In the final four games in 2012, Wilson touched the ball 45 times and gained 273 yards with four touchdowns. He also ran back a kick for a touchdown in the Week 14 drubbing of the New Orleans Saints.
Preseason stats should always be taken with a grain of salt, but Wilson toted the rock 24 times for 179 yards and a score in New York's four exhibition games.
What's more, his backup, Andre Brown, suffered a small fracture in his leg during the preseason finale, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com. Brown vowed that he'll "be back soon," but for at least the first few weeks of the season, Wilson should see a vast majority of New York's carries.
Though Wilson has yet to show much pass-catching prowess, his home run-hitting ability and unquestioned feature-back role make him one of the hottest fantasy commodities with Week 1 on the horizon.
Tom Brady Has Found His New Favorite Targets: Undrafted Free Agents
In all likelihood, Tom Brady will enter the 2013 regular season without his top five pass-catchers from last year.
While it's never smart to question Brady, an entirely new receiving corps in New England isn't exactly the most encouraging way to begin a season.
Danny Amendola, who was acquired in the offseason to fill the role of the departed Wes Welker, should be a go-to wideout for Brady, but he won't be the only one.
Undrafted targets Kenbrell Thompkins (WR) and Zach Sudfeld (TE) are entrenched as starters after surprisingly productive training camp and preseason performances.
Thompkins was targeted 24 times in the preseason—not all of which came from Brady—and Sudfeld saw 11 targets.
When Rob Gronkowski returns, Sudfeld's role will decrease, but Thompkins will be on the field often.
Let that sink in, and then try to find a way to sneak Thompkins onto your fantasy roster.
Lamar Miller Should Be 'The Man' in the Miami Dolphins Backfield
He's much more explosive and runs with much more decisiveness than Thomas. In 2012, Miller averaged 4.9 yards per carry, while Thomas has mustered a 3.5 yards-per-carry average in his two professional campaigns.
Salguero recently tweeted, "Thomas often looks great in practice where there is no tackling. Too often a different story in games. Guy's a mirage."
Miller is the type of back you want in your dynasty league.
Andrew Luck Has Top-5 Quarterback Potential
With former Stanford offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton calling the shots in Indianapolis this year, many envision an ultra-efficient campaign for the former Cardinal star.
Luck has already shown significant steps this preseason operating the offense with which he's extremely familiar.
Although the Colts likely want to be more offensively balanced in 2013, don't forget that Luck threw for 4,374 yards last season.
Reggie Wayne and T. Y. Hilton have different skill sets but are reliable receiving options who are fine fantasy options themselves.
Don't be surprised if Luck finishes his sophomore year in the NFL as a top-five fantasy quarterback. Indianapolis will score a lot of points, and most will come via the pass.
Reggie Bush Made His Case as a Top PPR Running Back
Calvin Johnson will probably see around 200 targets from Matthew Stafford in 2013, but the dynamic Reggie Bush could finish the season as the second-most targeted skill-position player on the Detroit Lions roster.
The former New Orleans Saint and Miami Dolphin isn't necessarily a between-the-tackles runner; however, he'll be a fixture in Jim Schwartz's screen game. The Lions don't have an established or traditional feature back and are still looking for a legitimate complement to Megatron. Bush might see close to 200 carries while doubling as the player who'll keep double coverage away from the best receiver in football.
If you are in a PPR league, think of Bush in a Darren Sproles-type role.
In Detroit's spread-heavy offense, there should be plenty of space for Bush to show off his yards-after-the-catch specialty.
Giovani Bernard Has Feature-Back Potential
Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis probably couldn't be any different in regard to their running styles, which is something the Cincinnati Bengals may like.
Then again, Bernard's shiftiness and violent lateral agility will make him the more enticing running back as the season progresses.
Although he's more of an outside runner than anything and is smaller than Green-Ellis, Bernard did have three one-yard touchdowns in the preseason.
Let's see: more acceleration, better vision and ability to punch it in near the goal line. Bernard's the much more alluring fantasy option and long-term investment in Cincinnati.
Terrelle Pryor a Fantasy Sleeper...in an Unconventional Way
Terrelle Pryor hasn't officially been named the starter in Oakland for the Raiders, but it appears to be a foregone conclusion at this point.
The Raiders are devoid of skill-position talent on the outside and have a porous offensive line, but if they're trailing often, the former Ohio State star, who certainly doesn't lack athleticism, will fill the stat sheet in "garbage time."
Don't forget, Carson Palmer threw for 4,018 yards in 2012 on a 4-12 Oakland team.
Pryor's unrefined as a pocket passer, but he's a poor man's Cam Newton on the scrambling front, so there's a good chance he accumulates yards and touchdowns on the ground.
He has sleeper potential, especially as a spot starter.
Christine Michael Looks to Be the Very Talented No. 2 in Seattle
Goodbye, Robert Turbin. Hello, Christine Michael.
No, Turbin won't be relegated to the sidelines for the entire 2013 season, but Michael looks to be the clear-cut No. 2 behind Marshawn Lynch.
He's simply more springy and runs with more urgency than Turbin.
Lynch is over 1,600 touches in his career, so it wouldn't be totally shocking if Michael cuts into the veteran's workload in 2013, especially down the stretch.
In a run-heavy offense, Michael could have a few relatively big fantasy games.
While Ben Tate and Bernard Pierce are viable No. 2 running backs, Michael's the backup that deserves more notoriety than he's getting.
Marlon Brown (Who?) Is the Deepest of Deep Sleepers
As stated earlier, preseason statistics shouldn't be analyzed to the nth degree, but if you're an undrafted wide receiver on a team that lost Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta in the offseason, they mean something.
Marlon Brown out of the University of Georgia, who wasn't selected in 2013 draft, found his way on the Baltimore Ravens training camp roster and hasn't looked back.
During the preseason, he caught 10 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns, a 24-yarder from Joe Flacco and a 50-yarder from Caleb Hanie.
If you're in a 12- or 14-team league with savvy owners, Brown could be a last-ditch flier worth snagging before the kicker and defense are selected.
The Detroit Lions Defensive Line Is Scary Good
The only defensive mention in this list simply because the Detroit Lions have been that good up front in the preseason.
Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley were dominant on the interior in 2012—both were ranked in the top five at the defensive tackle position by Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
They should continue to be disruptive in 2013.
Ziggy Ansah is a work in progress, but he's far from a development project who won't be able to contribute as a rookie, and Jason Jones is one of the more underrated defensive linemen in the NFC.
Basically, the Lions defensive line could stymie some of the better fantasy options this season.