Exhibition game storylines

It is kind of hard for me to post on the blog when things are really busy because I feel all the stuff that needs to be covered is on the site, but I do have something of note today and that’s the upcoming preseason games, which will start tonight.

Our guy Adam Caplan made a good point on the radio show yesterday when he was talking about all the positions battles (and make sure you read his excellent update from yesterday; while other fantasy sites are rewriting what they read in papers, we’re actually talking to people in the know to get the skinny).

Anyway, speaking of the battles, Caplan basically said that once the games start, the real battles begin, and he’s right. These last two weeks of training camp and have somewhat revealing, but as he said on the show, if a guy like Ben Tate is far behind in the battle but lights it up in the preseason games, it’s on, so there’s a lot to look for in these upcoming games.

Here are a few things I’ll be watching for specifically.

Matt Leinart – It would be nice to see him come out and play well, at least for Larry Fitzgerald’s sake. Leinart would have to be absolutely horrendous to lose his job early to Derek Anderson so, on the other hand, if he’s destined to lose his job, maybe we’d be better off if he was terrible to get someone else under center for Week One.

Raven passing game – The vibes have been pretty darn good here, other than the two injuries Derrick Mason has been dealing with, and they can keep the vibes positive with a fine showing. If QB Joe Flacco lights it up these next few weeks I’ll feel great about him for this year. I already feel really good as it is.

Trent Edwards – I’d love to see him come out and play well. That could boost the stock of a Lee Evans, who should have some value this year because he’s a good player and he’s the guy. But it’s kind of a moot point if Edwards sucks.

Brandon LaFellDwayne Jarrett seems to be hanging in there a little, but talking to a Panther beat writer this week, LaFell looks a lot better and quicker than anyone expected in camp. LaFell’s upside is limited, but he could be a little bit of a surprise this year.

The Bears – Other than my guy Johnny Knox, I’m being a little cautious with the Bears, and I might still be if they go off in the preseason. But if they do, I’ll certainly feel a lot better. My concern here is that their offense might be a little slow off the mark running Martz’ offense. I do think the numbers will be big by the end of the season.

Jerome Harrison – He has a chance to take control of the “starting” job here, at least for early in the season, if he does well. He’s pretty darned motivated, so I expect him to look good. But still, it’s probably only a matter of time until Montario Hardesty gets a healthy chunk of this rushing load – as long as he’s healthy.

Eddie Royal – I need to see him involved in the flow of the offense early and often.  If he is, that tells me he’s more comfortable with this offense. I think that was his main problem last year; he wasn’t feeling great in terms of his comfort level in the new system. Royal should lead this team in catches.

Before you draft Jahvid Best really early, it would be wise to learn more about Kevin Smith's health and role because he could be a serious factor here along with Best (who definitely will be a major factor)

Kevin Smith – A very under-reported story this summer has been Smith’s comeback. He’s looking pretty good, and if he’s able to play effectively, he will definitely play a good amount. This is why we’ve been somewhat conservative with Jahvid Best’s rankings. I think Best should be drafted as a flex in about the 6th round; not as a #2 in the 4th, as he seems to be. Smith could actually be a nice value for depth in like the 13th round. He could conceivably score 7-8 TDs as their goal line back.

Matthew Stafford/Calvin Johnson – Stafford’s been looking good, and it would be nice to see a downfield connection or two here. Of course, if we see that, Calvin’s value is going to rise.

Houston RBs – As mentioned above, Ben Tate would have a chance to move up in the world with a great performance. Of course, I’d be surprised if we got one because he’s been pretty up-and-down so far. Arian Foster could also separate himself even more with a strong performance, and Steve Slaton could as well.

Donald Brown – He could be a key player this year, since he should be more comfortable in his second season and the team may transition to using him more with Joe Addai in the final year of his contract and likely not back in 2011. Of course, Addai knows this, so he should be bringing it all season.

Mike Thomas – He’s still in the lead for the #2 job in Jacksonville, and he can lock it up with a good showing in the preseason games.

Dexter McCluster – Not sure if they’ll tip their hand or not, but he’s been all over the place in camp and spectacular, so I’d love to see him and how they use him.

Matt Cassel – I would really like to see some good things from him this summer to support my notion that he has some serious upside this year (as much as the 175th pick in a draft can have).

The Vikings – I’d like to see if they can somehow turn all these negative vibes into positive ones. But that’ll be hard to do with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels if Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, and Percy Harvin are out or limited. Oh, and no Brett Favre of course.

The Patriots – Although it’s unclear how much Wes Welker will play in the preseason, I’m really curious to see how guys like Brandon Tate and Laurence Maroney look. Although Fred Taylor has gotten some time with the top offense this week, Maroney still appears to be very much in the mix to be the top back right now, so it’s good we have him as a value to target later. And Tate’s very talented and could potentially help this offense. Plus those impressive TEs.

Lance Moore – This is a developing situation with Moore and Robert Meachem. I spoke with Jeff Duncan of the Times Picayune yesterday and he said the roles of these two seem to be reversed from last year. Meachem’s still hurting, and a healthy Moore looks fantastic. Meachem’s stock is dropping quickly

Giant RBs – We’ve been all over this, but as head coach Tom Coughlin says we shouldn’t read too much into the current rotation with Bradshaw seeing more reps with the ones than expected. Maybe we should, maybe we shouldn’t. Preseason games could help us gain some insight.

LaDainian Tomlinson – I’m not exactly buying into the reports of him looking good in camp, but maybe he’ll show some burst in the games. But I spoke with a guy very close to the Jets this week and he said the team is extremely comfortable with Shonn Greene, for what it’s worth. I still think LT will be mostly a 3rd down back and 5-7 carry guy, as opposed to someone who could get 50% or more of the carries.

Michael Bush – I’d love to see him have a great preseason and carve a larger role as a runner, with Darren McFadden the lightening to Bush’s thunder, and more of a pass catcher.

Kevin Kolb – Big one here. Our guy Caplan has noticed at practice that Kolb is occasionally missing guys, but I wonder if the receivers simply aren’t used to playing with a QB who can “throw guys open.” We’ll be talking to Kolb on the radio show in a week or two, so I have some good questions to ask him and it’ll be based on some preseason action.

Raider WRs – Looks like DHB is the real deal this year, and Chaz Schilens is now healthy and his stock is rising. He’s looked good. Like to see some good stuff in the preseason games, from also QB Jason Campbell.

Ryan Mathews – He’s been fine, but I’d feel better if he makes a splash in the preseason games.

Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee – These are your week one starters, so it would be nice to see some flash from this duo in the preseason.

Justin Forsett – I’m a little cautious here because Julius Jones is still very much in the mix for carries, if not the “starting” job. I spoke with a Seahawk beat writer this week and he agreed with my notion that Forsett has the most upside of all their backs, but also added that this could be a serious RBBC. For now, it appears Leon Washington’s going to settle into an active complementary role.

Seattle WRs – My source told me that Mike Williams looks like a good bet to make the team, but I’m intrigued by Deon Butler because he’s their lone deep threat. Of course, this is a serious WRBC so I don’t expect a ton from everyone. But watch out for John Carlson. Our guy could easily lead the team in receptions and TDs. Remember that last tidbit there.

Steven Jackson – Once again, I’m struggling with this guy. I just need to see some good vibes overall in St. Louis for him to maintain his high ranking. If they are not good, he’ll drop a little.

Mike Williams – The story in Tampa Bay right now is the rookie Williams, so it will be interesting to see if he can make an impact in the games.

Derrick Ward – I still think that he’s lying in the weeds and isn’t getting the attention he should get as a guy who should get 10+ touches a game. If Caddy goes down, which he tends to do, Ward’s your lead back in Tampa.

Vince Young – Other than his little altercation earlier this year, he’s been pretty good in practice and looks like he’s ready to take a small step forward. Even a small step would result in fantasy relevance, for sure.

Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson – It’s between these guys, really. If Johnson looks great, we’ll have to pull back a little from Portis. But overall, I do think the Redskins will run the ball a lot and run it pretty well, despite having these old guys doing the heavy lifting. I’m watching this situation closely.

Category: Fantasy Football


7 Responses

  1. Law Firm says:

    Yeah, I’ll be scouting the Pats/N.O. game tonight with a fine toothed comb. I’ll post in the HOF area until further notice. *wink-wink*

  2. good2bking says:

    Good vibes on Carlson? I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of waiting on a TE.

  3. John Hansen says:

    I know, Firm. Jeff our programmer has been buried, but almost out of the woods. Check out Myguru now. It is SWEET (but you have to re-enter all your team info).

  4. John Hansen says:

    good, talked this week to a guy at Seattle practice every day. Thinks Carlson could lead the team in catches and TDs, for sure.

  5. Jason Leisure says:

    I don’t know how many years in a row you have had positive comments on Kevin Smith, but i can’t take it any longer. I’ll concede that you have tempered your expectations to the vicinity of reality, but what is it about this guy that he gets good press in the preseason almost every year? Is it that each year is so horrible for him that you figure he has to improve over the previous year?

  6. Law Firm says:

    I posted thoughts about the NE/NO game in the HOF section. Pats looked pretty crisp other than a special teams gaffe. Offense will be potent. Vibes will be good, my friends.

  7. KB says:

    Edelman looked like Welker Lite. Hard to believe BB and co. can’t get him involved in regular season if Wes is healthy.

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