Lessons Learned from the 2009 NFL Preseason

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Lessons Learned from the 2009 NFL Preseason
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

From here on out, every game matters in the NFL.

About time, right? We are four nights away from the season opener and I’m sure everybody reading this article can’t wait for Thursday, whether you have somebody playing in that game or not.

Most of your drafts are probably over by this point, but you have to remember that your job is not done after your draft—it’s just beginning.

Just as much work as you put into examining players during the offseason, you need to check out how everybody did in the preseason to be informed about your team, your opponent’s players, and potential pickups off the wire.

With that said, here are some things to take note of from the 2009 NFL Preseason.

 

QUARTERBACKS

No quarterback had a better preseason than Aaron Rodgers. The former Cal Bear appears to already be in mid-season form. The Green Bay Packers’ explosive passing attack seems to be clicking on all cylinders already.

Matt Schaub is still made of glass. Talk about taking the good with the bad, here’s a guy who has the potential to put up numbers similar to Drew Brees and Tom Brady, but there’s a good chance he’ll also miss five games again this year.

Could we actually see for the first time a true QBBC? Will Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick eventually split time under center once Vick is able to return to the team? Probably not any time soon, but McNabb seems to be open to try a bunch of new stuff with Vick on board now. Don’t waste a draft pick on Vick, but keep an eye on how the Philadelphia Eagles use him.

Kurt Warner still has Anquan Boldin to throw to in addition to Larry Fitzgerald. Now all he has to do is stay healthy, but even if he doesn’t, Matt Leinart didn’t do too badly in the preseason.

In the only preseason game that had a playoff mentality, the Denver Broncos welcomed home Jay Cutler, who sent his former fans home even more frustrated than when he left the team. Cutler will most likely not put up numbers like he did last year, but you could definitely do worse than him as your QB.

Cutler’s counterpart in that game, Kyle Orton, suffered that fluke finger injury that has him questionable for week one. Orton is a mediocre quarterback at best. Even with the emergence of Eddie Royal, he needs Brandon Marshall to put points up.

Another QB who had a strong preseason was Joe Flacco (40-for-61, 94.3 passer rating, 156 yards per game). If only he had better receivers to work with, he would be a valuable asset to your squad. Flacco may end up becoming a nice waiver-wire pickup down the road if he doesn’t get picked in your draft, but you shouldn’t have to draft him. There’s already so much depth at QB ahead of him.

Finally, Brett Favre is still Brett Favre, and it appears Tom Brady is still Tom Brady, as well.

 

RUNNING BACKS

Out of the elite RBs in the preseason, Michael Turner and Matt Forte really stood out the most. Turner busted out for some long touchdown runs and Forte found the end zone a couple times himself. Time will tell if the loss of Kevin Jones will hurt Forte at all, but I doubt it.

Even if he plays in week one, Jonathan Stewart’s absence from the preseason raises DeAngelo Williams’ value, at least in the first couple weeks of the season.

LaDainian Tomlinson participated in the preseason for the first time in the past couple years. I think he may wish there were still more practice games available because he still looks just as sluggish to me as he did last year.

Speaking of aging running backs, while Brian Westbrook still has some gas left in the tank, as long as he stays off the injury report, he may have met his heir apparent in LeSean McCoy. Among all the rookie running backs in 2009, McCoy may have the best season.

At the start of the preseason, I thought Knowshon Moreno would have been that guy, but he got hurt in his NFL debut and the Denver Broncos’ backfield appears to be more of a black hole than the one in the Oakland Coliseum.

Keeping in line with all the rookies, we got our first look at Beanie Wells in week three. He’s another guy who got a little banged up like Moreno, but still looked strong in his debut. Unfortunately for Wells, Tim Hightower had a decent preseason and will open the regular season as the starter.

Glen Coffee of the San Francisco 49ers had a phenomenal preseason. He won’t be a true handcuff for Frank Gore, but if Gore misses a few games like he normally does, keep an eye out for Coffee.

As I said about Matt Schaub in my QB paragraph, Reggie Bush still appears to be made of glass and I wonder if Maurice Jones-Drew will suffer the same fate now that he’s going to get all the action he’s ever wanted.

Exit Willis McGahee, enter Ray Rice, a nice RB3 for your team.

I would advise against drafting LenDale White on your team. He lost weight, which actually just takes away from his value as being a big, bruising back.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

It appears as though Brady Quinn is beginning to build a little bit of a rapport with Braylon Edwards, as the two connected for a touchdown in week three. I’m still not sold on the Cleveland Browns’ offense in general, but if Edwards can hang on to the ball, he’d make a good WR2.

When the Chicago Bears and the Denver Broncos met in week three, the most consistent things I saw were passes going in the direction of Eddie Royal. The second-year standout appears he doesn’t need Brandon Marshall to be productive.

The question is, will that last for the entire season if Marshall and the Broncos can’t see eye-to-eye all year? Either way, Royal is a nice addition to your team and a must-have in PPR leagues.

Chris Henry scored four times in the preseason and a lot of people are talking about this guy for having a breakout season, but I’m not buying it just yet. The Cincinnati Bengals got Laveranues Coles for a reason and it’s not to back up Henry.

In 2009, look for Henry to be an ultimate boom or bust receiver—one week he’ll get you a 50-yard touchdown, and then the next week he’ll have two catches for 15 yards.

Dwayne Bowe and T.J. Houshmandzadeh had impressive preseason performances and both would make a fine WR2 on your team. I’m a little bit more skeptical about Bowe because of the team he plays for. I think he’s a little bit overrated, but he’ll get a ton of targets this season.

Among the rookie wideouts, Michael Crabtree has really…oh, yeah…never mind…

One guy who is enjoying his new contract, Greg Jennings, should be in line for a huge year with Aaron Rodgers. Another Green Bay Packer who everybody wrote off again but is still producing is Donald Driver.

Hakeem Nicks has been the bright spot thus far in the New York Giants’ passing game. It’s not always wise to snag a rookie WR, but if I had to pick one this year, it would be Nicks.

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