Preseason Week 1 Fantasy Recap
With a full slate of preseason games under our belts, some of the preseason battles are starting to come into focus. Here’s what we now know from a fantasy standpoint with three weeks to go before the start of the regular season.
In San Diego, the big news is that starting running back Ryan Mathews is out four to six weeks with a broken collarbone. That will certainly slow Mathews, one of fantasy’s top backs for the first month of the season. So who stands to benefit? Ronnie Brown is the most recognizable name on San Diego’s roster, but Curtis Brinkley had 42 yards rushing and a score in San Diego’s win over Green Bay. The guess here – and it is just a guess at this point – is that Brown gets the bulk of the carries until Mathews returns.
Editor's note: We don't have much hope for Ronnie Brown as a fantasy play. He averaged only 3.2 yards per carry in 2011 and doesn't appear to have much left in the tank.
While on the subject of the Chargers, word is that Robert Meachem has disappointed thus far in training camp. Look for Malcom Floyd to emerge as San Diego’s top target – besides Antonio Gates – so long as the oft-injured Floyd can stay healthy. Keep an eye on second year WR Vincent Brown. He’s looked good.
In Carolina, an already crowded backfield with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart got even more crowded with the offseason addition of 2011 goal-line vulture Mike Tolbert, formerly of San Diego. If the first preseason game was any indication, the Panthers plan on using all three, much the same way New Orleans plays its backs by situation, even with Stewart’s new contract. Of course, an injury to one or two of those backs could change everything. All three should have value. Remember, Stewart is the best receiving option of the group.
In Cleveland, running back Trent Richardson had “minor” surgery on his knee to clean some things up. That’s his second surgery since January. If you draft Richardson, who is expected to be back in time for the regular season, you might want Montario Hardesty or Chris Ogbonnaya as well.
In Kansas City, Jamaal Charles looks like he’s rounding into form as he returns from an ACL injury in 2011. But Peyton Hillis will be manning the spot formerly held down by Thomas Jones. Second-year wideout Jonathan Baldwin has also looked good. With Dwayne Bowe still holding out, Baldwin could be primed for big things.
In Buffalo, rookie T.J. Graham had the better line than Marcus Easley in the preseason opener in the battle to see who starts opposite Steve Johnson . Graham had three receptions for 37 yards, while Easley had one reception for 12 yards.
In New England, Jabar Gaffney is winning the job as the Patriots’ No. 2 receiver behind Wes Welker. Gaffney has looked better than Deion Branch and Donte’ Stallworth, though with Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez stealing touches, it’s tough to gauge what Gaffney’s worth will be. The team did bring in Plaxico Burress to kick the tires, but he left unsigned.
In Chicago, it appears that Devin Hester will be starting opposite Brandon Marshall. But that doesn’t mean you should forget about Earl Bennett. Alshon Jeffery is getting plenty of press, but he is still just a rookie.
In Miami, with David Garrard out a few weeks after having knee surgery, expect Matt Moore to grab the No. 1 spot over rookie Ryan Tannehill. That doesn’t mean Moore, however, will hold it down. Garrard was No. 1 before the injury and likely will be again. The Dolphins don’t want to rush Tannehill.
In Cincinnati, the battle for the No. 2 spot opposite A.J. Green has been Armon Binns and Brandon Tate, with rookie Marvin Jones pushing. At 6-3, 210, Binns would seem to be the bigger matchup problem, though Jones has good size as well. Tate was listed as a starter on the team’s first depth chart, but coaches like putting those out before the season as much as they like root canals.
In St. Louis, Steve Smith is emerging as the top receiving target. Smith was coming off a bad knee injury in 2011, but seems to be back. He was never a burner to begin with, so he knows how to find the holes in a defense.
In Green Bay, the addition of Cedric Benson to the Packers on Sunday gives Green Bay a three-headed monster in Benson, injured James Starks and Alex Green, who is coming back from an injury that kept him out of all of 2011. Benson is the most proven back of the group and will likely get the most carries. It appears Starks is headed for a backup role, while Green will probably be the third-down back.
In Arizona, the quarterback situation remains a mess. Kevin Kolb and John Skelton have both underwhelmed in this “battle.” Luckily for Ken Whisenhunt, he’s got a little more time before he has to name a starter. But despite the presence of Larry Fitzgerald, you might want to stay away from either QB. As for the receiver opposite Fitzgerald, it’s looking like Andre Roberts and Early Doucet are battling for the starting spot, with Roberts being the clubhouse leader. At some point, Michael Floyd might push for the job, but that hasn’t happened yet.
Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter