A lot of people will overreact to the NFL preseason and many others will tell you it’s a meaningless waste of time. The truth lies somewhere in between.
The biggest mistake is drastically altering your rankings based on the miniscule sample size that is preseason performance. Ask anyone who bumped up Sam Bradford or Ameer Abdullah last year. That said, it’s also a mistake to ignore usage patterns, depth chart signs and injury comebacks. Here are three important takeaways from the weekend:
BE LIKE C-MIKE
Everything coming out of Seattle has been roses for Christine Michael, as coaches have talked about an “awakening” from the uber-talented running back. It’s perfect timing with Marshawn Lynch retired and former UDFA Thomas Rawls coming off a severe ankle injury. Michael, who ran as impressively as anyone in the preseason’s first week, should now be considered a major threat to Rawls’ early-down workload. The difference is Rawls goes in the fourth-round while C-Mike has gone undrafted in most standard leagues.
THROW UP THE X
Dez Bryant’s foot woes and Tony Romo’s shoulder issues led to a nightmare 2015 season. But let’s not forget that this is the most dominant goal-line wide receiver in the history of the NFL. Bryant has scored 40 touchdowns in his last 49 regular-season games with Tony Romo and flashed his absurd physicality on another goal-line jump ball Saturday night. Dez, clearly over the injury, is a fine pick at the back end of the first round. He’s especially strong in TD-heavy formats.
NO FUN FOR FUNCHESS
Offseason signs suggested Devin Funchess had passed Ted Ginn and was ready for a second-year breakout. The preseason signs say that’s not in the cards. Funchess ran strictly behind GInn against the Ravens, only playing on five of Cam Newton’s 13 snaps and run-blocking in each of them. The Panthers’ clear-cut first-string three-wide set is currently Kelvin Benjamin, Ginn and slot man Brenton Bersin. Without a change there, Funchess will go overvalued and Ginn will go undervalued in fantasy drafts.
NFL SLEEPERS OF THE WEEK
Each week, we will identify three players worth taking a shot on late in fantasy drafts:
1. Spencer Ware, RB, Chiefs – Jamaal Charles is 30 and coming off an ACL tear. Even if JC is right, Ware could still have a change-of-pace plus red-zone role.
2. Vance McDonald, TE, 49ers – Quietly averaged 3.5 catches, 43.6 yards and 0.5 TDs over final six games of last year. Now gets pace boost under Chip.
3. Chris Thompson, RB, Redskins – Has a vice grip on passing-down duties in an offense that will skew heavily toward the air. A PPR-only option.
The Steelers are suddenly desperate at tight end. Heath Miller is retired and Ladarius Green still hasn’t practiced with his new team – reportedly due to headaches. It’s a concern for a player who sustained two severe concussions in a two-week span while with the Chargers last year. With unproved Jesse James next up at tight end, Martavius Bryant suspended for the season and Le’Veon Bell suspended four games, the Steelers will have to put a ridiculously massive workload on the shoulders of Antonio Brown. Sammie Coates and Markus Wheaton also have up arrows.