Preseason Week 2 Fantasy Recap
Now that teams have completed their second preseason game, we’re starting to get a better picture on how some of the training camp battles and workload distribution are looking around the league.
Here’s what we now know:
In Washington, it appears Evan Royster has locked up the No. 1 running back spot – pretty much because he’s been the only guy able to stay healthy. Tim Hightower is still recovering from a knee injury, while Roy Helu now has an Achilles’ tendon problem. Royster had some solid games down the stretch last season. RB Alfred Morris also received a lot of work this weekend. We would assume Mike Shanahan just wanted to see what he had there, but you can never feel too confident when dealing with the Redskins run game.
In Pittsburgh, Rashard Mendenhall was activated off the PUP list and will begin practicing this week – at least on a limited basis. Don’t read too much into it, even though backup Isaac Redman has been slowed in training camp by groin and hip injuries. The Steelers aren’t going to rush Mendenhall back into action. They will ease him into things at first and he might not be a full-time player throughout the season. Still, his early return hurts Redman’s overall value since he could wind up taking away some carries earlier than we expected.
In Kansas City, holdout Dwayne Bowe finally signed his franchise tender this week and reported to the Chiefs. But while Bowe was holding out, second-year pro Jon Baldwin was developing a chemistry with quarterback Matt Cassel. Bowe should still be selected before Baldwin in your draft, but don’t be surprised if Baldwin eats into his numbers this season.
In Detroit, word is that Jahvid Best will now open the season on the PUP list, meaning he is out at least the first six weeks. That could wind up shelving Best for as many as 12 weeks per the PUP rules. Mikel Leshoure has had injury issues as well and is also suspended for the first two games for off-field issues. Kevin Smith will be the most valuable running back moving forward for the Lions.
In Jacksonville, don’t look now, but Blaine Gabbert is actually looking like an NFL quarterback in this preseason. Gabbert went 13 of 16 for 112 yards and two touchdown passes in Jacksonville’s second preseason game. I know it’s the preseason and opposing teams are just playing a base defense with no real schemes, but new head coach Mike Mularkey has worked miracles in the past. I’m not saying you should take Gabbert as a fantasy starter, but it’s possible that Laurent Robinson, Mike Thomas, Marcedes Lewis and Justin Blackmon might have a little more value than previously thought. One of those touchdown passes was to Blackmon, by the way.
In San Diego, Vincent Brown’s broken ankle opens the door for Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal’s value to take a bump up. Brown had been one of the stars of the San Diego’s camp, outplaying Meachem – who was struggling picking up the offense – and Royal – who was out with a groin injury. That the team is considering not putting Brown on IR tells you how highly they think of him. But he likely won’t be a factor in the first half of the season. Malcolm Floyd is still the clear No. 1, with Antonio Gates being option 1A.
In Tennessee, Jake Locker has “won” the starting quarterback job. Locker wasn’t all that impressive in the preseason and training camp, but the Titans are hoping he’ll live up to his potential. One think about Locker than fantasy owners will like is he is a bit of a scrambler, a guy who will get you 20 or 30 yards per game on the ground and an occasional rushing TD.
In Dallas, continued injuries to Miles Austin have opened the door for Kevin Ogletree. By all accounts, Ogletree has had a good preseason and training camp and could be primed for a good year if Austin’s injury problems continue. Remember how well Laurent Robinson performed in 2011 in Austin’s absence.
In San Francisco, a healthy Michael Crabtree is secure in the No. 1 receiver spot. But it appears that Randy Moss and Mario Manningham will share the No. 2 slot, with Ted Ginn being pushed aside. Both should receive plenty of playing time, but with Crabtree and Vernon Davis getting the majority of the looks, both players could be hit and miss in terms of fantasy value. Brandon Jacobs is also banged up, making Kendall Hunter the clear choice as Frank Gore’s backup.
In Arizona, it’s becoming apparent – and embarrassing for the Cardinals – that John Skelton is a better QB than high-priced Kevin Kolb. Running back Ryan Williams also looked good in his return to playing, picking up 25 yards and a touchdown on just five carries. With Beanie Wells hurting again, don’t be surprised if Williams winds up being the more valuable Arizona running back. He’s just more dynamic than Wells.
In Tampa Bay, LeGarrette Blount has started both preseason games, but suffered a minor groin injury in the team’s second game. The injury could give head coach Greg Schiano the excuse he’s been looking for to elevate rookie Doug Martin to the No. 1 role.
Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter