Preseason stats are often meaningless, but if you watch the games and look at them in context you can glean some decent fantasy information from them. Will the guys I’m going to profile here all turn out to be valuable in fantasy this season? No, but thankfully you don’t have to use an early pick on them. And some just need to be on your radar.
Stevan Ridley: Trying to figure out the “guy” in New England is a full time job, but since this is my part-time job I’ll give you some part time analysis. The Patriots have Benjarvus Green-Ellis, Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead competing for touches in the backfield with Ridley, but right now I’m in the pro Ridley camp as far as upside. Out of the Pats two draft choices, Vereen looked like he’d be the quicker, more versatile back, while Ridley would be the the stronger short-yardage guy, but in practice and the first preseason game Ridley has been showing more than that. With Vereen nursing an injury, Ridley has had a a chance to shine. In his first preseason game he scored 3 TDs and caught 7 passes. Those 7 receptions aren’t what you usually see from just a short-yardage back. BJGE is still on top of the depth chart, but if Ridley can pass block at all he has a chance to really contribute this season.
Lance Kendricks: The tight end pool this season is deep and it just gets deeper the more we see rookies like Kendricks step up. Kendricks has been singled out as a bright spot in Rams camp and then had a nice first preseason game. He showed soft hands on one reception and then on a touchdown catch ran over two defenders at the goal line. Sam Bradford doesn’t throw the ball very far because he often doesn’t have people open down field, but he is extremely accurate and Kendricks looks like he’ll be able to catch whatever comes his way. Most of the Rams receiving corp is injured or soon to be injured so as long as Kendricks can stay on the field he has TE1 upside.
Denarius Moore: For some crazy reason Al Davis’ corpse was a fan of Moore’s. He runs a 4.37 and averaged over 20 yards a reception in college. Speed kills and often is the only thing an Al Davis receiver has going for him, but so far Moore has been lighting up training camp and his first preseason game. He had a 57 yard punt return called back on a ticky tack penalty and 3 receptions for 41 yards. Right now the Raiders receivers are spending most of their time in a MRI machine and Moore is taking advantage. Hue Jackson isn’t playing favorites and really doesn’t have much to play favorites with, so Moore has a real shot at making a contribution this season if he can keep playing well.
Julio Jones: We knew Jones had talent, but getting to see him in his first preseason game against NFL starting defenders made it more real. He has the speed, the hands, the size and the moves to make an impact, and now. I think AJ Green is going to be a great receiver, but Matt Ryan > Andy Dalton and that math problem isn’t going away for Green anytime soon. Roddy White is still the stud of the passing game in Atlanta, but Jones is going to have a lot of single coverage with White and Turner on his team and he has the ability to make big things happen with Ryan throwing him the ball.
Julius Thomas: A basketball player turned tight end? Who ever heard of such a thing? He’s 6′ 5″ 246 pounds and has soft hands. The rub with most of these basketball players turned TEs isn’t their athleticism, it’s their ability to become football players. But Thomas has caught on fast and will no doubt be used as a pass catching tight end this season. He will have trouble becoming a great blocker in a short period of time, but thankfully he is athletic enough that he shouldn’t be a huge liability in that area, but in a John Fox offense blocking is really important if you want to stay on the field. I can’t say Orange Julius is worth drafting quite yet, but in deeper leagues he’s worth a backup stash and in dynasty leagues he better be owned.
Felix Jones: I’ve never been a big fan of Jones, but his skills have also never been in question. If we knew he’d see 15-20 touches a game and stay healthy in that offense (which I think will explode this season) I’d own Jones on every team. But we do have to worry about him holding up as the feature back which keeps his ADP in check, but also makes him a pretty high risk/reward guy. All the talk out of camp has been glowing (as most camp talk is) and he looked good in the limited amount of time he played in the preseason opener. His stats from last season were actually great, he had exactly 800 yards rushing and 450 yards receiving because he likes round numbers I guess. But he also had a whopping 2 TDs! Now with Marion Barber gone and Tony Romo back I see that number rising. Not to insane heights, but really, there aren’t many numbers smaller than two.
Besides Fanduel.com, Chet has written for the N.Y. Times: Fifth Down Blog, and his own sites Razzball and Third Coast Sports. He is extremely/obsessively active on Twitter and will answer your questions as best he can if you throw them @ChetRazzball.
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