If you read enough fantasy football articles, you will come across a number of clichés from a number of so-called experts. One common cliché this time of year is the thought that preseason means nothing.
In the grand scheme of the regular NFL season, this cliché is true. Teams who go winless in the preseason can turn in fantastic regular seasons, and teams who win the preseason can have a dismal regular season. But I am not arguing wins or losses being of much importance in the preseason. The argument is simple: you can glean valuable information from watching individual players performing in the preseason when considering who to draft.
As most drafts get underway this weekend, here are some of the observations you should keep in mind before drafting your team:
Avoid the Jets Offense Altogether
One word – UGLY. The Jets are on the cusp of a new season with a new offensive coordinator in Tony Sparano, yet the offense appears to have already taken a step back from the Brian Schottenheimer era. Mark Sanchez has not thrown a touchdown this preseason. Is this stat really that important? Yes and no. Sanchez will be a better quarterback this year, but the weapons around him won’t be, and it is showing. Santonio Holmes will continue to be a negative force in the huddle and on the field. Stephen Hill is a very green rookie with suspect hands. Dustin Keller is already nicked up. Shonn Greene will continue to be Shonn Greene. Plaxico Burress is no longer there to bail Sanchez out in the red zone with his eight receiving touchdowns. The offensive line continues to struggle. Add to these facts the distraction of a gimmick-laden Tim Tebow wildcat package, and you will see the wisdom in avoiding Gang Green in your draft. Expect a season chock-full of field goals, turnovers, and punts. On second though, Nick Folk is a must.
Colts Receivers are Suddenly Attractive Again
Andrew Luck looks very good so far this preseason. After watching Curtis Painter destroy the fantasy value of the entire Colts offensive in 2011, things are beginning to look up in Indy. Luck has turned receivers like Donnie Avery and T.Y. Hilton into attractive depth options. Austin Collie, who should return soon from concussion issues, is also an attractive option now that Luck has proven himself a very capable passer. And what about Reggie Wayne? Expect a big jump in production in 2012.
The Colts will be a passing team this year. They have a terrible run game. Luck will be forced to come from behind often. Expect Luck to rack up the yards in garbage time. Also, expect defenses to bend while enjoying a big lead conceded by a porous Colts defense. I recommend taking a chance on a Colts receiver in the later rounds. I happen to like Donnie Avery this year, and if Austin Collie can stay healthy, he will be a reliable reception machine for the Stanford quarterback.
Russell Wilson has “It”
The more I watch Russell Wilson play, the more I want to ignore the quarterback position (something I am normally against) in favor of other positions, with the plan to steal him in the later rounds. Normally, my advice would be to avoid rookies period, especially rookie quarterbacks. But after Cam Newton’s fantastic 2011 campaign, the general rule that rookies cannot thrive as a starter seems to have gone up in flames. In fact, this season may be historic, in that there are three quarterbacks whom I believe to be capable of not only starting and winning games, but putting up numbers. Russell Wilson is one of these quarterbacks, along with Luck and RG3.
The Seahawks look like a strong team with Wilson at the helm. I am picking Seattle to dethrone the 49ers this season and win the NFC West. They have great coaching, an effective running game, and serviceable receivers. In fact, I will go so far as to say that Wilson will be the only rookie quarterback to make the post-season in 2012, barring injury.