What fantasy football players must watch in NFL preseason

      August 8, 2013 @ 16:08:48 PDT

Miami Dolphins RB Lamar Miller
Fumble not good first impression

Breaking news: NFL preseason games aren't about stats.

Coaches look beyond the small sample sizes and assess for all strings the tangible and intangible notes for anything from knowledge to technique.

Fantasy football players should do the same. Sure, the third of four preseason games typically gives us a taste of who wins position battles and whether injured or slacking players have gotten up to speed. In the other three, presumptive starters will only play a half or much less, or not at all.

But watch, especially in spots where playing time is for the taking, for the details. A big offensive play will make anyone stand out to the most novice of eyes. For the guys with the whistles -- and winning fantasy players -- so will, among other traits:

  • decisive runs that hit the proper holes
  • pass-blocking for a tailback, often a vital PT determinant
  • ball control -- was a fumble the player's fault? (Ahem, Lamar Miller.)
  • stalwart base in blocking along the offensive line
  • smooth cuts on a receiver route, as opposed to rounding out corners, etc.
  • body positioning in defensive technique, which could affect a DT's takeaway potential depending on who wins a job

It's just a reminder that, as with regular season games, you can spot the good and bad from tune-up tilts, even if it's backups versus backups. Don't tune out. Put your scout specs on. That's often where you find gems, and knowing rosters from top to bottom will put you over the top when opportunities arise to peg the best "next in line" option. Of course, you could always read our Hot off the Wire for details, too, but nothing beats having your own observations most of the time.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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