Can Fantasy Football Be Won in Preseason by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
The NFL preseason games might be boring for some to watch, because the starters rarely play much, but I think it’s the best place to find little known players that can make your fantasy season.
2009– In the preseason of ’09, I saw flashes of something special in a 2nd year blazer out of ECU, Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans. He first peaked my interest at the end of the 2008 season and I thought…“I really want this guy!”. The beauty of discovering a player like this, is that you don’t have to draft him in the first couple rounds. In my 2009 fantasy draft with the other guys, I waited until the fifth round to get Johnson, but was nervous waiting that long. You never know if someone saw what you saw. That move made me…2009 “Fantasy Heaven”. In Week Two, playing Houston, CJ had 284 total yards and 3 TDs. I was instantly hated by the entire league. A time to treasure. Being hated is the best, along with coming in 1st that year. (Some consider the 2009 season of Chris Johnson to be one of the best ever in NFL history for a running back.)
2010- Week 3-Preseason game vs Dallas, I saw a Houston RB rack up 110 yards on 18 carries and 1 TD. Who is this guy I said aloud ??? His name was Arian Foster, and I took notice. I ended up getting him in the 4th round of the draft that year, and remember one guy at the table saying… “that’s an interesting choice.” He saw what I saw, but didn’t pull the trigger. Haha, I did. Week One of that Regular Season Foster had 231 yards rushing and 3 TDs. I was instantly hated by the entire league. Another time to treasure. Being hated is the best, along with coming in 1st that year.
2011- Week 3- Preseason vs Atlanta, I watched a kid named Antonio Brown catch 4 passes for 137 yards and 2 TDS. The first thing I thought of was how quick he was in his routes. I drafted him for most of my fantasy teams, and although his year was great with 1108 yards, he disappointed with only 2 TDs. Still, he was a player to watch. 2011 was a break out year year for NE Rob Gronkowski and N.O. TE Jimmy Graham, I admit that Gronk got by my as far as his potential and fantasy star power. I did not draft him on any team in 2011. However, thanks to the preseason, in Week 3 vs Oakland, the Saints quarterback Drew Brees focused on TE Jimmy Graham and I took notice- 5 catches for 73 yards. I drafted him on 2 of my fantasy teams that year. Here BTW is a great link to year’s of past Preseason NFL Games- NFL PRESEASON GAMES
2012- In 2012, QB Peyton Manning was a Denver Bronco. Like everyone else, seeing the Sheriff in orange and navy blue, rather than white and navy blue, took sometime to get used to. And who would QB Manning get used to, in his new receiving corps? Week 3 of the 2012 Preseason was a good indicator for me. Against the 49ers at home, Manning connected with WR Eric Decker 4 times, for 38yards and 2 TDs. It was clear that there was instant chemistry. Perhaps not in the same sense that CJ and Adrian Foster were, but by Week 3 of the 2011 season I was hated ( and you know by now how much I loved that ) Decker and Gronkowski ( I learned from my 2011 mistake) were a couple reasons that I came in 1st that year, in more than one league.
2013- I have always been a fan of QB Jay Cutler, ay least when it comes to fantasy football. He’s a great guy to get in the later rounds, and can provide some huge games as a #2-#3 QB. In Week 3 of the Preseason season ’13, I saw something. I saw a growth between QB Cutler and 2nd year WR Alshon Jeffrey. The young wide receiver hauled in 7 reception for 77 yards, which was top the team that preseason week. In 2012, WR Jeffery showed glimpses, ending the season with 367 yards and 3 TDs, but I liked what I saw in this game. Jeffery ended the 2013 NFL season with 1421 yards and 7 TDs. ( also intriguing me in Week 3 were WR K Stills -2 catches for 54 yards/1TD, and WR Jerrel Jernigan- 5 catches for 66 yards/ 0 TDs.) I did not have as great a fantasy year as I am use to in ’13, so I wasn’t as hated as I would have liked to be.
2014- One of my regrets from 2014 was not being able to see WR Odell Beckham JR play in preseason. Pre-Preseason in ’14, I was huge on the wide receiving class drafted last year in the NFL Draft, and implored fantasy owners to draft them. From my article in early 2014- Shuffle Up and Draft– I was especially high on 6’5″ WR Kelvin Benjamin, despite the baggage that he brought with him. ( and that’s rare for me, because if they are trouble, I usual ignore them….but how do you ignore 6’5″??? Benjamin was huge on my fantasy teams, but I missed out on Odell Beckham, even when he came back from injury. The hamstring troubled me. No matter, as I was already hated in many leagues for having having RB LeVeon Bell and many of the other rookie WRs, so I was happy.
The scoring is SO high now in the NFL, maybe it’s dampened the possibilities that one or two little known players can make a huge difference anymore, as much as it did it 2009 and 2010. In 2013, there were just too many players that had big fantasy stats. (Players like P Manning, A.P., L McCoy, J Graham, Julius Thomas. Demarius Thomas, J Charles, D Brees, Brandon Marshall, C J Green, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones and M Forte….just to name just a few.) You never know however, when the next Josh Gordon is going to come along, ( 1646 yards and 9 TDs in only 14 games) and sometimes it’s preseason that you can discover them.
I hope this article motivates you to pay more attention to preseason games, and if you do, maybe you’ll become as hated as I am! ( I would love that. )
Note: After each Preseason Week coming up in August, I’ll be writing a comprehensive break down of what I saw. ( and if you see something I did not…please share