By: Jason “Big J” Allen

Follow Me @UnsportsmenBigJ

The average fan hates it.  The purist will take something over nothing.  Some view it as a way to get a glimpse of how good or bad a team will be.  I on the other hand look at PRESEASON games as a way to get a Fantasy Football edge.  I know I could just pick a fantasy football book at the local news stand (wait do those still exist or is that only in Metropolis?), view any NFL covering website with a Fantasy Football section (I enjoy Matthew Berry as much as the next guy), or you can rely on Fantasy Furnace ( @fantasyfurnace ).  I just rather look at the games themselves and breakdown what I see and go from there, so here is my list of things to watch in the Preseason that can help your fantasy football team:

1.  “I’m the Juggernaut Bitch!” Offensive Line Play-  Can they protect?  Are they opening up holes?  I watch the Falcons and we know the right side of the line is easy prey for speed rushers.  If you can’t open holes or protect the precious cargo that is a NFL QB then skill position fantasy numbers will look bad.  See the terrible Jay Cutler numbers, even Josh Freeman line in Tampa is looking shaky.  Look at the back ups, if a starter goes down so will your star players value.  If the 2nd teamers are still producing holes and a solid pocket then your good.  Also check how they move on counters, traps, and screens.  If the line is not fast or athletic enough to win those battles they wont win them in the regular season.

2.  “Don’t Sweat the Technique”, but really you should QB Play-  Does your QB get happy feet in the pocket?  Does your QB throw inaccurate passes or seems to be confused by the offense?  Then your QB is suffering from “Not Going to be Gooditis”.  For QB’s weapons and comfort are paramount.  If the QB can’t make the throws and pick up vanilla blitz packages in the Preseason then what do you think will happen in the Season?  Also don’t let the stats fool you, what kind of throws did he complete to go 6-10 120 yards and a td.  One big completion could have been a WR screen, or a slant that the WR broke and took to the house versus a 2nd team defense.  Was his 4 incompletions  On deep outs, a bad miss on a easy post pattern, or flag route?  You have to see those for yourself.  Don’t believe me, find Blaine Gabberts Preseason tape of last year, he looked great and turned out horrible.  They simplified the offense in Preseason to raise his comfort level.  Vice versa check out how bad Andy Dalton looked in his first Preseason, but he looked bad because the Bengels were running THEIR offense so he struggled, but by the time of the Regular Season he became more and more comfortable.  So again be careful of great stat lines by QB’s

3.  “Got the Moves like Jagger” RB and the eye test-  I’m sure you have watched a game and said he should have cut that back.  Well if you can see that and the RB didn’t that is a lack of vision.  You want your RB to jump out of the screen at you in Preseason.  I will be the first to say that Lamar Miller has not impressed me at all.  I do like Giovani Bernard, he has moves and hands.  When the RB breaks through the first layer of defense is he making defenders miss, running through arm tackles, or just falling when first contact?  It’s a reason that Spiller is still going high even if the Bills O-line is so-so at best, its the wiggle!  He makes people miss.  Players like Eddie Lacy scare me because its a 3 yards and cloud of dust mentality, or the reverse is the Brandon Jacobs syndrome, big guy that doesn’t want to “HULK SMASH” but rather Dance.  Again look for yards after contact, and if one defender is constantly tackling them.  Also small things like how good are they with blitz pick up (bad blitz pick up is a quick way t get you benched see David Wilson, and Montee Ball), and pass catching.  A guy that can’t be used on 3rd downs is not someone I really want on my team, unless you get them late or their name is Marshawn Lynch.

4.  “Just give me the DAMN Ball”  WR/TE-  Separation and Chemistry is 1 and 2 for me.  Can this WR/TE get open and does the QB look for them.  Why is Calvin Johnson so Dominate?  Yes the size and speed help, but he can get open and Stafford loves him.  Even Fitz is enjoying that love so far from Palmer.  Now I hate getting a one trick pony WR (this is looking at you Mike Wallace, prove us wrong), he can only go deep or can only work if another player can stretch the field or pack people underneath.  I know people are hailing Rob Housler as a huge sleeper, but everything I see in Preseason is he can’t get separation.  You look at Jordan Cameron, all he is doing is catching passes with a defender trying to keep up.  Also a big part of separation is good solid route running, it’s great you caught 5 passes in Preseason against a 3rd or 4th stringer but what did you do against the starters?  Also if the QB is not looking your way then have a good day with a doughnut as your fantasy points.  We all love Brandon Pettigrew size and etc, but he doesn’t get open and Stafford doesn’t look his way as much as you think.  Same goes with Martellus Bennett early with the Bears.  Keep an eye on the Floyd, Roberts combo in Arizona and which one Palmer loves the most after Fitz.

5.  DEF/Kickers-  Only rule I have is don’t pick them before your last two rounds.  Let the fools do that, in Preseason I’m just looking for play makers on Special Teams or on defense.  Nothing special because you can rent a Def or Kicker every week.

6.  “Styles make fights” Coaching-  Keep up with Coordinator changes and system turn overs.  Norv Turner new coordinator for the Browns, don’t be surprised if Weeden looks impressive.  Vick could have a resurgence, and Bruce Arians will make one of the RBs in Arizona worth a play once in a while.  Big Ben and Haley are getting along, for now!  Reid will raise Charles value (last year Grandpa Crennel killed me with not getting Charles the ball), and just boost the Chiefs Offense.  Keep an eye on Fasano in that offense, Reid likes TE.

I know this will not make you turn into a Preseason DVR’ing fiend, or sit down in a dark basement with NFL Films music playing in the background and go over coaches tape in Preseason.  Hopefully this will give you something extra to enjoy about Preseason games.  So why not let the games that don’t count, count for YOU, toward your Fantasy Football team.

For really fantasy football help, you know the usual, Sleepers, Bust, Booms, and Rookie candidates check out Fantasy Furnace

Jason "Big J" Allen  @UnsportsmenBigJ

Jason “Big J” Allen
@UnsportsmenBigJ

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