Does NFL Preseason Success Translate to Fantasy Football Success? - Roto Street Journal
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Does NFL Preseason Success Translate to Fantasy Football Success?

“BY GAWD, THAT’S THE INTERNS MUSIC!”

Happy football season folks! If you haven’t been paying attention to Twitter, you may not know that your favorite Roto Street punching-bag is back. I had planned a long, thought-out post ready to talk about how terrible my takes were last time I was here and how I would fix it, but quickly fell back into my trolling ways and remembered the good-old days. On my very first day, I found a new enemy in the entire fan base of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Who would have thought that a tweet like this…

… could cause so much controversy?

Anyways, the real reason for this post is to discuss the upcoming Preseason games that we have in front of us. If you are anything like myself, every morning meets you with a pants tent that could house the Statue of Liberty knowing that football is upon us. The idea of football being back on television has been keeping me awake at night. But the question has to be asked:

Do preseason stats give any implications to regular season success?

The Hall of Fame game gave us our first glimpse of football this season, in which we got to see speedster Khalfani Muhammad. Muhammad was hyper-effective on the ground, posting a 7.1 YPC while adding four catches for 24 yards. This creates the need to ask: do preseason standouts translate to league winners? So I decided to look back at a few standouts in the past few seasons and see how their preseason success materialized during the regular season.

2018 Preseason

Yuck. Although this list has surprisingly relevant players, such has Gus Edwards and Baker Mayfield, the rest of this chart is full of mediocre, practice-squad talented backups. If you based your draft off of the preseason, your team last year would have consisted of Bears players galore. During the preseason, they had two of the top 4 quarterbacks in Tyler Bray and Chase Daniel. This may have been an indication for you to decide that Mitch Trubisky was the answer. Spoiler Alert: he wasn’t. Neither was Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Allen Robinson, or Trey Burton.

What is interesting, however, was the usage that was given to Gus Edwards during the preseason. Although he averaged just over three yards per carry, the Ravens decided to give him double-digit carries in all four of their games, which then carried on to the first week of the season. After being benched week 5, Edwards averaged over 17 carries for 93 yards. The usage that he had while playing with Lamar Jackson during the preseason quickly translated to success when Jackson was starting after their week 11 bye.

One thing that the 2018 Preseason may have taught us is to look out for those whom seem to have a good relationship with rookie/inexperienced quarterbacks. Teams like the Arizona Cardinals and Miami Dolphins are very important to pay attention to in the preseason. It may be the match of Kyler Murray and Christian Kirk, or Josh Rosen and Kenny Stills, that can produce large numbers for your fantasy teams.

2017 Preseason

Its almost too bad for the Jacksonville Jaguars that there are no awards for the preseason, or else they had a couple real winners in Corey Grant and Dede Westbrook. Although Grant was never to be taken serious, due to Leonard Fournette and TJ Yeldon firmly in their spots on the roster, the hype for Dede Westbrook was real. After the first few weeks, however, it was very evident that being the best WR on the Jaguars meant very little in terms of fantasy output, ending up as the WR32. Look out for this to be a repeating contender for this years preseason all-stars.

Something that is interesting, however, is when looking at the Rushing Leaders teams. During the 2017 season, Jacksonville, Dallas, and Carolina were three of the top four teams in terms of Rushing Yards Per Game. Although the players on the preseason list did not materialize to fantasy relevance, their teams sure did.

2016 Preseason

Obviously in this QB group, there is no one of significance. When it comes to the RB class, we see future starters such as Derrick Henry and Rob Kelley showing off some of their skills, however once again it shows their teams dominance in the running game. Tennessee was third in the league that year with over 476 attempts for 2187 yards (1287 of which were to Demarco Murray) and Oakland was sixth in terms of Yards per game.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum was the Washington Redskins. Although their team seemed to have the right recipe for a rush heavy team, they found themselves 21st in the league in rushing yards and 27th in attempts. Mack Brown found himself rushing 8 times the entire season and Kelley found himself as the leading rusher with 704 yards.

The Verdict

Although it may be exciting to have football back, preseason is not a clear glimpse into your fantasy teams future. The last time that a running back was in the top 5 for yardage in the preseason and was in the top 20 for yardage in the regular season was back in 2012, when Alfred Morris ran for 1613 yards and 13 TD. The last time a wide receiver was in the top 5 for yardage in the preseason and was in the top 20 for yardage in the regular season? That was back in 2013, where Josh Gordon caught 87 passes for 1646 yards, averaging almost 19 YPC. The last quarterback… you see where I am going here.

Enjoy the regular season. Crack open a cold beer, pay some attention to the skill of the offensive line along with the chemistry that younger quarterbacks have with some of their backs and receivers, and enjoy the game at face value. If positional changes happen, like Emmanuel Sanders being Case Keenum’s slot slut, then of course, take it into consideration, but do not anticipate players like Khalfani Muhammad to win you your league.

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