Weekly fantasy football column by Joey Baskerville: Preseason football is lame but still important to fantasy owners.
Preseason football is lame.
Starters may only see a series or two on offense, and the defense is out of there not too long after.
Was I the only one pretty upset watching the San Diego/Chicago game in which Jay Cutler threw two passes as the Bears’ first-team offense was on the field for nine plays?
Really solves the mystery if Cutler will pan out as a fantasy quarterback with Mike Martz’s system, right?
Regardless, preseason is still important to fantasy owners.
If you paid attention to the preseason at all, you know there are a few injured players out there.
Green Bay running back Ryan Grant suffered a concussion, Houston Texans back Ben Tate is done for the year with torn ligaments in his ankle and a fractured fibula, and those injuries add to a list of NFL players already hurt from training camp.
This is yet another example of why you shouldn’t draft until after the third week of preseason.
Lynch a sleeper despite hurt ankle
Buffalo Bills running back Marshawn Lynch injured his ankle Week 1 of preseason, but reports seem to indicate that he’ll be back a week before the regular season starts. Fred Jackson, last year’s starter, has a broken hand and will be out at least a month.
As a result, first-round pick CJ Spiller’s value should spike.
But this would be the perfect time for Lynch to remind everyone of why he was once a first-round pick in fantasy. If Spiller doesn’t perform well in the remaining games — aside from an 11-yard burst, he had three carries for five yards — Lynch could regain control of the top spot.
He’s just a 24-year-old and is a dual threat as a runner and receiver. Of course, Jackson was much better at the receiving part, and Lynch seemingly forgot how to run while splitting time in 2009.
Even if he doesn’t pan out, Lynch isn’t receiving a lot of attention this year, so you can grab him for practically a bargain late in drafts. And if the Bills trade him, you reap the benefits.
I’d say he’s worth the gamble.
Knox, Mathews, among eye-catchers
Another reason preseason is important is to see player progression.
It looks like Johnny Knox will be Cutler’s prime target this season. Knox has found ways to get open all through training camp so far and caught both of his QB’s total passes last Saturday.
Ryan Mathews is the No. 1 guy for the Chargers at running back, and he shined against the Bears. LaDainian Tomlinson almost looked like the old LT with the New York Jets o-line Monday night.
Eight carries for 17 yards isn’t much, but it looked like he had some of his burst back on that 14-yard catch. Tomlinson will be in a run-first offense for the first time since the Marty Schottenheimer era with the Chargers. Not to mention, Tomlinson still has a nose for the end zone as he’s yet to finish with less than 10 TDs in a season for his entire career.
So when you see him available in the seventh, eighth or ninth round of the draft, consider that before you pass him over.
For those that actually watched the second half of Monday’s Jets/New York Giants game, Victor Cruz looked good. Real good.
Just keep an eye out for the undrafted rookie from UMass. He’ll be a free agent in your leagues, but if he continues to have three-touchdown performances against second- and third-teamers in preseason, eventually he’ll see time with the real starters.
This week’s Pick Six is dedicated to the top six players that I believe will bounce back with elite-caliber seasons in 2010:
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings, Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner, Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson, Carolina Panthers wideout Steve Smith, Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler and Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco.
Joey Baskerville writes his Pick Six Weekly fantasy football column every Wednesday. He is a sports writer for The Journal-Standard and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @jmark79 on Twitter.