Thursday, August 21, 2008

Preseason Update: Breakdowns and Breakouts During the Preseason

The preseason is over and alas, the regular season kicks off in one day. What occurred over the past four weeks will have a huge impact on fantasy statistics in 2008. For instance, Ryan Torain will not be totting the rock in Denver and Rudi Johnson will only see himself on the playing field if he plays Madden 2009 with his pals, until Detroit sent Tatum packing and took a chance with Rudi. Here is a small list of players who were injured or had breakout performances in the preseason and may carryover to the regular season.


Ryan Torain, DEN- A broken elbow will keep him sidelined for the majority of the 2008 season. This time on the sideline will affect his rookie learning curve and allow Selvin Young to prove his worth, decreasing Torain's productivity in the late season.

Bobby Engram, SEA- Engram is predicted to miss two to five weeks of the regular season with a cracked shoulder. By this time, Burleson will be the number one man in Seattle and Branch may be easing his way back into the lineup. If this is the case, Engram's value as a fantasy receiver will plummet about as fast as the stock market.

Rudi Johnson, DET- Rudi was fired by the Bengals, only to sign a contract with the Detroit Lions, sending Tatum Bell home for the season to spend some time with his family. Just to get even, Tatum Bell stole his luggage as he was leaving the practice facility. You are probably wondering why I am talking about this stupid stuff so much. The answer is because his fantasy impact is not worth talking about right. Check back in a few weeks and if Kevin Smith succeeds, do not even bother checking back then.

Shawne Merriman, SD- He is ignoring for doctors and his mother, deciding to play the 2008 season and opt out of surgery. Assuming he gets injured, this will significantly affect the Charger's pass rush, which will in turn decrease their interceptions. If he is healthy, they will continue to flourish on the west coast.

Osi Umenyiora, NYG- Out for the year with an ACL tear and Strahan likes retirement too much to lend a helping hand. He had an impressive year in 2008 so the Giants will miss his presence on the line. The Giant's should drop in the defensive rankings and if you take them, make sure it is in a later round.

Breakout Performers

DeSean Jackson, PHI- Jackson is a big time sleeper in fantasy football this year. He showed signs of promise in the preseason, and injuries to Curtis and Brown should land him a starting spot in Philly. He caught 16 passes in the preseason, totalling 189 yards and going for six on a punt return. You will be satisfied taking him with a late round pick in all drafts.

Calvin Johnson, DET- Johnson finished the preseason with 9 grabs for 170 yards and one touchdown. He is opposite of Roy Williams, which means he will get the teams number two CB, which is always a plus when on offense. Johnson will have a great year in Detroit even with the departure of Mike Martz to San Francisco.

DeAngelo Williams, CAR- Williams rushed for 188 yards and three scores during the preseason. The most impressive thing is that he did this all while his starting job was in limbo. This strong performance should give him the nod on Sunday, but remember Jonathon Stewart will take some carries away. Williams averaged five yards per carry in 2007, so if he continues this trend, losing a few carries to Stewart would not be a big deal.

Rashard Mendenhall, PIT- Mendenhall is another rookie running back that earned a spot on a roster in 2008. He rushed for 222 yards in the preseason and Tomlin announced that he would serve as the short yardage back, which will increase his goal line carries if he stops fumbling the pigskin. If he fumbles early in the season, his role could be reduced, so keep an eye on this situation. Currently he is nothing more than a reserve, but if Parker suffers an injury, he will have an immediate impact.

Matt Schaub, HOU- Schaub completed 33 of 48 for 382 yards and three touchdowns, all while managing to throw zero interceptions. He will be a great sleeper candidate if Andre Johnson can stay healthy and Kevin Walter can maintain his high level of production. Owen Daniel will lend a helping hand and Slaton coming out of the backfield should increase Schaub's numbers in 2008.

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