Fantasy Focus: What to watch for in Week 1 of the preseason

The first week of the preseason is pretty uneventful and irrelevant in the fantasy world; however, it does have significance regarding cuts and the reshuffling of rosters. The preseason is also a good time to see how a player looks coming off of a season ending injury, if an old guy has anything left in the tank and to see if the stud rookie has any grasp of the playbook.

We aren’t necessarily going to learn usage percentage or anything that intricate, but we can look at some guys with a  fantasy lens and educate ourselves.

What to watch for:

Lions vs. Steelers 

  • The “Big 3” of the Steelers (Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell and AB) are all sitting out, so we’ll get a good glimpse of their backups. I don’t think any player has had his tires pumped more than Steelers WR Sammie Coates, so the battle of him vs. Markus Wheaton will be interesting. Not sure if DeAngelo Williams will play, but we will get a glimpse of what their backfield will look like (Williams and Fitzgerald Toussaint) once Bell loses his appeal. With Ladarius Green out, I would expect them to sign a tight end signed in the near future, as they cannot move forward with Jesse James. The backup QB job is up for grabs with Bruce Gradkowski and Landry Jones. Now that the Mike Vick era is over (thank god), we can see who will start a few games once Roethlisberger goes out with a manly injury that he tried to play through for too long.
  • There hasn’t been much word out of Detroit, so we can assume that most of their No. 1s will get a series or two. It will be our first glimpse of life A.M. (After Megatron) and Matt Stafford needs to get on the same page with his new guys; Marvin JonesAnquan Boldin and Jeremy Kerley. The No. 3 RB job is up for grabs, so expect a healthy dose of Stevan Ridley and Zach Zenner; how exciting. Eric Ebron would have been fun to watch for a little tonight, but he’s out for a bit and they have no one else who is fantasy relevant at that position.

Dolphins vs. Giants

  • Ryan Tannehill will be playing in his third offense in his last four years, and Adam Gase may be the one to get Tannehill over the hill of average. Gase has already stated that Arian Foster will sit this one out, and we would would not be surprised if DeVante Parker also sticks to street clothes (hamstring). That leaves Jarvis Landry (probably not), Kenny Stills (maybe), rookies Leonte Caroo and Jakeem Grant (.gif), and Griff Whalen at WR. Who knows about Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake, who have been constantly hurt, but those two could definitely use the reps. If they are both out, then we get the mediocre Daniel Thomas and Isaiah Pead at RB.

  • Head coach Ben McAdoo said that his starters will play roughly 15 snaps tonight, which should be fun. Sterling Shepard will be making his much-awaited debut with the first team offense and he should be open on just about every play. Odell Beckham Jr. has recently practiced, but he did miss some time with a calf issue, so it would be smart to sit him out. Speaking of sitting out, guess who else is already declared inactive? You got it, Victor Cruz (groin). If OBJ doesn’t play, expect Dwayne Harris or Geremy Davis to run with the first team. Behind Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen, there is a whole lot of nothing and then rookie Paul Perkins vying for the No. 3 job. Perkins is the player to watch in that unit.

Vikings vs. Bengals

  • Let’s see Teddy Bridgewater sling the football. They rebuilt the offense line around him and he has a barrage of young and talented wideouts: Stefon Diggs, Charles Johnson, Laquon Treadwell and Cordarrelle Patterson, who’s on his last life. It’s safe to say that Adrian Peterson won’t be participating in this event, so we’ll see the exciting Jerick McKinnon and the boring Matt Asiata in the backfield. This team will be sneaky fun to watch (until Bridgewater lands on the bench and we have to suffer through Shaun Hill and Joel Stave).
  • The big story here will be the receiver position. With AJ Green as the only consistent and trustworthy fantasy wideout, we have to see how Brandon LaFell, Brandon Tate and Tyler Boyd (who has had a solid camp) click with their favorite ginger. Tyler Eifert might be out for a bit, so Tyler Kroft will most likely be the guy until Eifert returns. The best part about tonight will be the yearly excitement for our favorite white running back (not named Danny Woodhead), Rex Burkhead.

Browns vs Packers

  • We have pumped him up all offseason, now it’s time for Duke Johnson to make a play-or-two in space for us, please. Unfortunately, WR Corey Coleman, who has had a strong camp, will be sitting out with a hamstring injury. Luckily, we’ll see RG3 for the first time in what seems like years for at least a series or two. We will hopefully see Terrelle Pryor, who has also had a pretty good camp and was named a starter at WR, but we maybe not due to a minor calf ailment. Gary Barnidge will probably catch a touchdown or something typical.

  • Soo, Aaron Rodgers and backup Brett Hundley (ankle) are out of the lineup on Friday night, which means that something called Joe Callahan will start under center for the Pack. He won the Heisman Trophy version of DIII football. Receivers Davante Adams, Jared Abbrederis, Jeff Janis and Ty Montgomery will try to make Callahan look halfway decent. The rest of the offense who will see decent time are pretty fantasy irrelevant.

Raiders vs Cardinals

  • Earlier today, we mentioned that Amari Cooper played through plantar fasciitis and that is why his production dropped in the second half of the season. Hopefully Cooper and Derek Carr will play a series or two together. Not only did we tell you about Cooper earlier, but we also gave our two cents on Latavius Murray, whom we are very high on. Rookie DeAndre Washington will be the guy to watch tonight because the Raiders and some of the media are pretty high on him. It will be interesting to see how he fares tonight. Clive Walford is a fun, athletic tight end to watch, too.
  • As of now, it seems that most of the starters will play a little. John Brown has had a slight concussion issue and we probably won’t see him, but we should see the rest of the Bird Gang. Other than the three studs at wideout, no other Cardinals’ WRs are on our fantasy radar. David Johnson should see limited snaps at RB, along with Chris Johnson. Matt Barkley will see a lot of action and is battling to be Carson Palmer‘s backup. Watch for J.J. Nelson, he’s a burner.

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