Fantasy Football: Pre-Season DOs and DON'Ts

Michael WhooleySenior Writer IAugust 24, 2009

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 15:  Quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs drops back to pass against the Houston Texans during their preseason game at Arrowhead Stadium on August 15, 2009 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The withdrawal is over! With two weeks of pre-season football coming to a close, we’ve all gotten the football fix we’ve been in desperate need of since the Pittsburgh Steelers hoisted the Lombardi Trophy triumphantly back in February. However, like with any addict that’s about to binge, let me warn all of you fantasy football owners out there, not to overdo it.

Too often, I’ve seen fantasy seasons destroyed due to overzealous owners putting too much stock into pre-season performances. With the hope of helping to prevent you out there in Bruno Boys Nation from making such a mistake, I’ve highlighted some DOs and DON'Ts to take into consideration when you’re watching your fill of pre-season action.


1. DO Pay Close Attention to Position Battles

As any wise fantasy football owner knows, not every starting quarterback, running back, or wide receiver is etched in stone. NFL coaches utilize the pre-season as an evaluation of talent, and you should be doing the same. Take care to note who’s gaining the edge in position battles with strong play and who’s shooting themselves in the foot.


2. DON'T Put Too Much Stock in Pre-Season Stats

Sure, it is important to recognize individuals like San Francisco 49er running back, Glenn Coffee, who has racked up 196 yards on 30 carries in the team’s first two pre-season games, while starting for the injured Frank Gore, as Coffee will be a factor in fantasy if for no other than reason than being a worthy handcuff to Gore, and it’s important to look at the stats, as mentioned above, of those individuals that are entwined in a position battle, but other than that, pre-season stat lines mean little.

Does the fact that Chad Ochocinco connected on a PAT mean he’ll have value as both a wide receiver and kicker in 2009? No! Does Brett Favre’s outing in which he went 1-for-4 for four total yards mean the QB is washed up and shouldn’t have returned for 2009? No!

Rather than base your rankings on stats from four meaningless games, look at a player’s complete NFL resume when making your cheat sheets.

3. DO Watch the New Faces in New Places

Jay Cutler in Chicago. Matt Cassel in Kansas City. Brett Favre in Minnesota. Terrell Owens in Buffalo. Derrick Ward in Tampa Bay. Fred Taylor in New England. These are the guys you should be keeping an eye on this pre-season.

Whenever a player changes teams, there’s an adjustment period. The trick is trying to figure out just how long that adjustment period will last. For some guys, the transition is seamless. (For example, in heading to Minnesota, Favre is entering a system that he has played in for the majority of his career, which means he should be able to adjust much better than he did last season when he went to the New York Jets.)

For others, the transition is difficult. (See: Favre in New York)


4. DON'T Fall in Love With a Guy Who Makes Big Plays Late in Pre-Season Games

It’s no secret—NFL coaches, in an attempt to keep their studs healthy, are quick to pull their starters from pre-season action. That means come the third and fourth quarters, you’re watching guys who are just trying to make the team battle it out.

While a big play may secure a roster spot for these guys, it won’t propel them all the way up the depth chart. Thus, unless you’re filling out a 53-man fantasy roster, it’s best to let these guys stay on the waiver wire.


5. DO Study the Rooks

Many excellent college players (See: Ryan Leaf) just don’t have what it takes to play at the next level. Pre-season action is your first chance to see if that speedy college running back still looks just as quick against NFL defenders or if that quarterback taken in the first round can read opposing defenses just as well in the pros as he did in college.


6. DON'T Worry if Your First Round Draft Pick is Struggling

You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve seen someone unload their first round selection because of a few bad pre-season outings. While the football season is shorter than any other sport season, it is still a 17-week affair. Be patient and don’t get discouraged if it’s taking your stud a little longer than others to shake the rust off from the off-season.


7. DO Monitor Injuries

This could be perhaps the most important part of the pre-season—the injuries. Not only do you want to keep an eye on who’s getting hurt (trust us, it’s never fun to waste a pick on a guy who’s out for the season), but you, also, want to track the progress of those players returning from injury. Just an FYI, that quarterback in New England that you may have forgotten about, Tom Brady, he’s a solid 14 for 23 with 157 passing yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT.