For what it’s worth, Rodgers killed it in three games of limited action, just like he did last preseason. He’s going to be a fantasy monster this year, and none of his owners need a strong showing in exhibition play to reassure that.
The same goes for all of fantasy’s top guns. It’s likely Jamaal Charles owners are happy the RB was limited to 16 carries this preseason, and there probably aren’t too many Mike Wallace owners worried with his meager four-game total (three catches for 19 yards).
It’s the mid-to-late round guys you want to keep an eye on; specifically the players with something to prove. Those players that are fighting for bigger roles in the offense, or trying to get integrated on new teams (including rookies, of course), are the ones that can greatly improve their draft stock by dazzling in the games that don’t count.
And it’s not just preseason games. Early training camp reports and any other positive sound bites from a coach or (gasp) member of the sports media, can all do wonders for the hype of a prospective fantasy breakout player.
The players on this list have all advanced their draft status (and regular season outlook) in some way this preseason—some in more ways than one. Soon it will be determined whether they meet their new lofty expectations, or if the hype bubble fizzles out at some point this season.
Before we get to the top 10, here are some surging rookies that aren’t starting lineup material just yet, but could have value on someone’s fantasy bench.
—When a beat reporter describes you as the “best player, period” on the field, you must be doing something right. This is the case with Raiders WR Denarius Moore, who is drawing rave reviews in practice. Moore has the speed Oakland loves, but is also catching everything in sight. With Darrius Heyward-Bust in front of him on the depth chart, Moore has a strong chance to emerge as a starter this season.
—Colt McCoy has been one of the hottest QBs this preseason, and WR Greg Little has a good chance to emerge as his top receiver. Reports from camp/practice have been mixed, but Little has produced nicely in three preseason games (seven catches, 68 yards, TD) and is the perfect fit for Cleveland’s new West Coast Offense.
—In San Francisco, RB Kendall Hunter has led the preseason in rushing, and is looking like a fourth-round steal for the 49ers with his impressive combo of power and speed. The undersized back from Oklahoma State hasn’t surpassed Anthony Dixon on the depth chart just yet, but looks like a better handcuff for the oft-injured Frank Gore.
—While BenJarvus Green-Ellis has done nothing to change his role as the Patriots short-yardage/goal line back, RB Stevan Ridley has been just as impressive as Hunter, racking up 222 yards from scrimmage and three TD in just two games. He was held out of the final two games with an undisclosed injury, but looks to have a bright future in New England’s rushing attack, and as early as this season if the “Law Firm” were to falter.