The first preseason NFL game is less than a month away, and that means that we need to figure out what to watch for to prepare for the upcoming season. We are going to discuss a few general tips when trying to gain an edge on your opponents in fantasy this fall and then a few situations to watch out for.
The preseason in the NFL generally consists of four games per team. The difficult part about trying to learn about these teams in four games is that everyone treats these four games differently. NFL depth charts are not always easy to determine, and we can always try to find out what is going on at practices leading up to the season, but that isn’t always gospel.
When watching each game, look at who is playing with who and what their role is on the field. There isn’t always a clear team 1, 2, and 3, but almost every team plays their general units together.
What Can Be Learned
Most teams will work their starters up to playing anywhere from a drive to a half in the third preseason game, used as a bit of a tuneup for upcoming real games. The most telling week in the preseason will almost always be Week 3, because that is when teams can start to show a bit of their game plan to the rest of the world.
For example, last season Christian McCaffrey was the talk of the fantasy world, and his preseason performance actually led me to be ALL over him everywhere in his breakout year. How did I notice that the talk might be real?
The Panthers’ coaching staff was very vocal in their attempt to make McCaffrey a centerpiece of their offense. They said they wanted to see him get 25-30 touches a game. There was a ton of debate around this quote because it could very well have been typical coachspeak where they are either trying to gas a player up or just don’t truly understand what they are saying.
In the second preseason game, McCaffrey had five rushes for 92 yards and four catches for 28 yards on pretty creative play-calling. This was the point where I fully bought into CMC because I was able to confirm this “coachspeak” by watching them implement this new offense. These nine touches were on just TWO drives!
This preseason incident allowed me to jump ahead of the pack when it came to predicting McCaffrey’s values, so this is what we need to try and do again this season.
The Redskins offense is not sexy, but they are very intriguing because you can get almost everyone in this offense for free. This is because they have three QBs, four RBs, and a plethora of mediocre pass-catching options.
I think that the Redskins will really need to use all four preseason games as a tryout, and that isn’t a super common thing these days. These games should give us a lot of insight as to what they are thinking.
Dwayne Haskins would be a good bench QB if he actually started from day 1, and I think his performance would help his college teammate Terry McLaurin make a bigger impact. We always see young guys or backups have a preferred target that they rely upon heavily early. McLaurin would almost definitely be that guy for Haskins, and there is no one in Washington to stop it from happening if Haskins gets the job. I would like them both late in best balls or on waiver wires if they prove to be starters in the preseason.
Rams Running Backs
The Rams are probably not going to use Todd Gurley at all in the preseason, and that does not mean that he is not okay. The Rams are likely not going to use any of their starters in the preseason like last season.
The interesting thing here will be how much they use their backups. Darrell Henderson is skyrocketing up draft boards, and I definitely understand why. For Henderson, I want him to be used like a starter in the third preseason game but also be clearly preserved.
If the Rams aren’t using their starters, we want them to show us that they think of Henderson as close to a starter. I expect Henderson to play simply because he is a rookie, and more snaps are just helpful to learn, but I don’t want them to treat him as THE backup. He needs to seem like a young player that needs reps but doesn’t play as much as the players he takes the field with.