Monday, August 15, 2011

2011 Preseason Recap: Week One (Part 1)

What did we do before the NFL Network and DVR? The all-football channel is replaying every preseason football game, a perfect opportunity to prepare for the fantasy season. Every preseason it is a goal of mine to watch every preseason game and find players and trends that will give you an advantage during the fantasy season. Here is The Source's rapid reaction to the first weekend of preseason NFL football. Seven games down, nine to go. Look for more recaps this week. 

Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears
  • The Bears offensive looked awful. They failed to protect QB Jay Cutler and showed very little in the running game. If this keeps up, the Bears will struggle on offense.
  • Newly acquired RB Marion Barber III moved up in our ranking after a strong showing. He looked quicker and stronger than I expected. He should be the back-up/short yardage option in Chicago.
  • Buffalo Bills WR Steve Johnson looks like he will be the main focus of Buffalo's offense this year. The Bills made a concerted effort to get Johnson the ball (3 catches on 3 targets). Johnson's fantasy value improves in PPR leagues.
  • Buffalo's defense will be better this year with Shawne Merriman as an outside rusher and rookie Marcell Dareus plugging the middle.
  • RB Fred Jackson is clearly Buffalo's best option at running back. C.J. Spiller is a pass catcher, and not a threat to steal too many carries.
Minnesota Vikings at Tennessee Titans
  • QB Matt Hasselbeck played well in his debut with the Titans, finishing 5-6 for 55 yards (played one series). Hasselbeck gives Tennessee a reliable game manager under center, who should take pressure off the running game and RB Chris Johnson (who's holding out).
  • Titans back-up RB Javon Ringer is a must draft for Johnson owners. Ringer ran well in light duty, finishing with 3 carries for 17 yards.
  • QB Donovan McNabb looked sharp early in his Vikings debut, connecting on 4 of his first 5 passes. Look for McNabb to target his tight ends (Visanthe Shiancoe) and WR Percy Harvin in the 8-10 yard range a lot this season. The Vikings' offensive strategy will be about ball control and power running.
  • Rookie QBs Jake Locker and Christian Ponder played well at times, but they also reminded us that they're still rookies. Neither will be a fantasy factor this season.
  • One rookie to watch is Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph, who looked comfortable running routes and catching passes in the Vikings new offense.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Kansas City Chiefs
  • QB Josh Freeman has complete control of Tampa Bay's offense. Look for him to put together a solid season, which will include some rushing touchdowns this year.
  • RB LeGarrette Blount looks like he's ready to move into the elite running back class. He looks more comfortable in the Bucs offense, including in the passing game -- where he was non-existent last season.
  • RB Thomas Jones is still the best handcuff option for Jamaal Charles owners.
Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns
  • Packers started the game with 3 WRs (and played most offensive snaps): Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver. James Jones was not in the rotation (worked with the second team).
  • RB Ryan Grant is the starter for the Packers, but James Starks looked more explosive. Packers had no commitment to the run.
  • QB Colt McCoy looked very comfortable running the Browns offense, worked the ball around extremely well. Looked like a player who could be a solid QB2.
  • WR Josh Cribbs started for the Browns, played every snap with the first offensive team. Looks like he will play a significant role in Cleveland's offense. Brian Robiske started opposite Cribbs, rookie Greg Little worked as WR3.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Washington Redskins
  • RB Tim Hightower looks the part of a starting running back. He's faster than RB Ryan Torain, but fumbling is a concern. If Hightower can hold onto the ball, he will be the Redskins leading rusher this season. He's an above average pass catching RB as well.
  • Rookie RB Evan Royster (shifty, strong, finished runs) was RB2 for the Redskins, rookie Roy Helu was RB3 (started slow, but finished strong).
  • WR Santana Moss is still the Redskins top target, despite his age and new quarterback -- more valuable in PPR leagues. Don't be scared off by the fact that Rex Grossman is his QB.
  • Rookie WR Leonard Hankerson will not see a lot of playing time for the Redskins if he can't catch the ball. Right now, he can't catch the ball.
  • WR Antonio Brown filled the Steelers WR3 role and looked solid in place of injured WR Emmanual Sanders.
  • Look for the Steelers and QB Ben Roethlisberger to stretch the field a lot this season with WRs Mike Wallace, Brown and Sanders. Roethlisberger is
Indianapolis Colts at St. Louis Rams
  • Rookie TE Lance Kendricks looks like he could become QB Sam Bradford's favorite target, and possibly the Rams top red zone target this season.
  • Newcomer RB Cadillac Williams is the best handcuff option for Steven Jackson owners.
  • RBs Donald Brown and rookie Delone Carter in competition for RB2 behind Jospeh Addai. Brown has the experience, but has been a disappointment. Carter has the upside. This battle is worth watching.
  • Don't forget about WR Pierre Garcon for the Colts. With WRs Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie, as well as TE Dallas Clark, Garcon is easy to overlook. He will be the Colts primary deep threat this season. Plus, he's more durable than Collie.
Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions
  • If QB Matthew Stafford can stay healthy for 16 games for the Lions, he will be among the top 5 scoring quarterbacks. WR Calvin Johnson is on the verge of overtaking WR1 overall and WR Nate Burleson looks like a solid sleeper this year as a WR3. The Lions will throw the ball a lot.
  • The Lions running game is non-existent. RB Jahvid Best is not an every down RB1 and the other RBs, Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell, showed very little to get excited about.
  • The Bengals will struggle to score points this season with rookie Andy Dalton at QB. Poor QB play will hurt the value of WRs A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson and Jordan Shipley.
  • RB Cedric Benson should be considered a good fantasy option at RB2, but his value his hurt by QB play.

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