The NFL season inches closer; are you ready for your fantasy football draft?
Some situations in the preseason frustrate me because they make it difficult to get a read on a team when star players are held out or play a cameo role. For example, it's tough to gauge the Kansas City Chiefs without running back Jamaal Charles, just like it is difficult to put a grade on Christian Ponder and the Vikings offense without Adrian Peterson in the Minnesota Vikings' backfield. The list goes on and on, which is why it's always important to focus on the big picture when watching any preseason play.
The second week of NFL preseason is in the books, so it's time to take another spin through the league to see what caught my eye over the last few days and how it translates to fantasy football in 2013.
It is a horrible break for Miami Dolphins TE Dustin Keller (knee), who blew out his knee in an ugly injury. He's done for the year, which is disappointing because he had great value late in the draft - I've already drafted him a few times this summer. It'll be interesting to watch the next two weeks to see if any other tight ends on roster step up.
I really wanted to see more of Colin Kaepernick, because I still feel like I really don't know who he is on the field, but the San Francisco 49ers instead wanted to see more of their backup quarterbacks after just a few snaps for CK. Maybe next week....
Oakland's offensive line looked absolutely horrible. Assuming Matt Flynn is the starter, I hope he has a healthy life insurance policy. The Saints D was all over him. Amazingly, Flynn was 12 of 16 for 124 yards with an 18-yard touchdown to Denarius Moore. I'm avoiding Flynn this year, but I'm happy to snag Moore, who finished with two catches for 29 yards and the score, as a WR4 or WR5.
I've avoided drafting Danny Amendola. I feared he wouldn't have a quick rapport with Tom Brady, which would translate into a slow transition into the New England offense. I also feared his durability. One of those fears disappeared Friday evening, Brady and Amendola hooked up often early and were very much on the same page. I still don't know if I'm willing to buy Amendola at his current ADP around the fourth round, but I'm no longer intentionally avoiding him on draft day. As long as he's healthy, he should post WR1-type value in PPR leagues. He finished with six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.
I've quickly warmed up to Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Giovani Bernard. He has a cool name to begin with. He had seven carries for 37 yards and a score, plus he chipped in another 22 yards on one reception. The days of BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the starting lineup may be very short lived. Snag Bernard as your RB3 and he might be in your starting lineup early this year.
Ronnie Hillman's 13 carries for a paltry 34 yards rushing were overshadowed by being credited for two fumbles, with one lost. Rookie Montee Ball logged 28 yards on just six carries. This situation is likely to remain a committee approach, but Hillman needs to put forth a better effort - and hold onto the darn ball. Neither back is any better than a RB3 territory on draft day.
Continuing thoughts on running back battles, the New York Jets had Chris Ivory on the field. He rushed six times for just 13 yards. Bilal Powell kicked in 68 yards on just seven carries, highlighted by a 37-yard run. The Jets are likely to be awful this year, but don't totally dismiss these two on draft day. I'd take a flier on Ivory as a RB4 and Powell as a RB5, but I may reverse those a week from now.
Dolphins running back Lamar Miller did score on a 4-yard touchdown run, but five carries for 10 yards isn't anything to write home about. He also had two catches for three yards. I've been snagging Miller as a RB2 in quite a few leagues; so far, I'm starting to worry about those picks. The Dolphins need to find ways to utilize his speed more effectively.
Apparently, Le'Veon Bell doesn't want us to get a good look at him. The Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back started against the Washington Redskins Monday night, but he appeared to suffer a leg injury after just four carries. Of all the rookie backs this year, he is in the best situation. His body, however, isn't cooperating or helping his fantasy football value so far. He's a low-end RB2 and quickly dropping from my perspective.
Brandon Weeden impressed me for the second consecutive week. He looks comfortable in Norv Turner's system, is pushing the ball down field and had an eye for tight end Jordan Cameron, who caught two touchdown passes, in the red zone. Weeden should be considered as a QB2 in deeper leagues, and Jordan should be on your radar if he wasn't already. The Browns' offensive brain trust knows a thing or two about making the tight end a vital part of the offense.
There is plenty more on the next page, including thoughts on the Colts, Packers, Titans, Rams, Cowboys, Saints, Patriots and more!
About Ryan R. Bonini
Founding KFFL in 1996, Bonini now serves as VP of Fantasy Sports Solutions for USA
TODAY SPORTS, KFFL's parent company. Bonini was named 2009 Fantasy Football Writer
of the Year by the FSWA,
received honors with the Best Fantasy Football Series in '10 and was named into their Hall of Fame in '13.
His work has been found in USA TODAY Sports, Yahoo!
Sports, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, NFL.com, and many others. He has also been featured
on numerous radio programs around the country. Bonini is a member of the PFWA,
FSWA and FSTA.
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