Week 3 Primer:
Jacksonville at Philadelphia - 3 things to watch:
1) Can Troy Williamson continue his air assault? Through two games this pre-season Williamson has been one of the most productive WR's posting 7 rec, 221 yards and 1 TD. Williamson is quickly earning praise from the coaching staff and is on track to becoming the #2 WR for the Jaguars on opening day.
2) Can Philadelphia's rookies live up to the hype? So far this pre-season we are yet to see Maclin and McCoy make game-breaking plays for their offense. There has been a ton of hype since the draft surrounding these two highly regarded prospects. Last week McCoy rushed 5 times for 4 yards (0.8 average), Maclin had 4 receptions for 26 yards (6.5 average). Could this be the game they live up to all the hype?
3) Will this be Michael Vick's debut back to the NFL for the eagles? With all the QB drama in the NFL, the signing of Michael Vick has produced more questions than answers about his future role with the Eagles offense. Will he be a QB? Will he play a large role? Is he ready to play in the NFL? Thursday we should get an idea of what the future holds for Michael Vick's role in the NFL.
ST.Louis at Cincinnati - 3 things to watch:
1) Will Chris Henry continue to show elite ability? Since the off-season Chris Henry has continued to be praised for his efforts on and off the field. In 2 pre-season games Henry has accumulated 19 receptions for 220 yards and 2 TD's, proving he has the talent to take over games with his elite ability as a down-field threat.
2) Can Laurent Robinson be the Rams needed deep-threat? Over the course of two games Robinson is quickly establishing a role he could not get in Atlanta, he's posted a solid 7 receptions, 117 yards and a long catch of 50 yards. With Donnie Avery sidelined due to injury Laurent is gaining some momentum and trust with his QB. He was in a fight for the number 2 spot in camp, but has shown he should have that job secure with more solid play in week 3.
3) Will Cedric Benson continue to assert himself into a significant role? Could we see a big fantasy season from Benson? Since the start of pre-season Cedric seems to be focused and getting a ton of attention in the Bengals offense. Benson has touched the ball 22 times in two games and could see an increase in stock if he gets to work three downs in the 2009 season. Keep watching for improvement and you could find a decent RB for his ADP.
Miami at Tampa Bay - 3 things to watch:
1) What's next for the Wildcat? Since becoming head-coach, Tony Sparano has repeatedly been able to offer fans a twist with his packages. Ronnie Brown looks like the focal point of the Wildcat offense again this year, but might we see more of a glimpse of what Pat White can offer the Wildcat package in week 3?
2) Who is going to claim the starting QB job in Tampa? With a strong outingfrom both QB's (Luke McCown and Byron Leftwich) last week in Jacksonville, does coach Raheem Morris finally have enough information to identify who he wants behind centre for the '09 season in Tampa Bay? My guess is if Leftwich can continue to drive the field without turning the ball over, he might be the favorite to start the season as QB of the Bucs.
3) Will Ronnie Brown continue to look like his '07 form? Brown is a very talked about RB in draft rooms this summer, with his improved health and a good grasp of Miami's offense, Brown could possibly be a fantasy steal this year with his involvement in the running-game and passing-game. The Wildcat seems to further boost his production and he is showing flashes from his '07 form. Two years removed from a season ending ACL injury should help motivate him to play for a new contract in 2010.
New England at Washington - 3 things to watch for:
1) Can Fred Taylor continue to run with authority? One signing that might have been overshadowed by much bigger names, was the signing of Fred Taylor. Last week against the Bengals he looked quick and decisive with shades of his former self in Jacksonville. It will be interesting to see if he can be a difference-maker in their next game against Haynesworth and Orakpo.
2) Can Campbell finally show fans he is the answer at QB? In rainy conditions against Pittsburgh, Campbell looked like a QB that was dismal when deciding on what to do with the ball. He continued to look ineffective at providing his play-makers with a chance to do something with the ball, and if he can't show more progress, he should be replaced at QB for the Redskins sooner rather than later.
3) Could Malcolm Kelly challenge Devin Thomas' role? Since the start off the training camp it has been Devin Thomas making a statement that he's an improved football player, and taking the No.2 WR spot Randle-El previously secured. With a strong ability to block and catch balls in traffic, Malcolm Kelly is making a statement for playing time and barring injury should continue to fight for time on the field in the '09 season.
Green Bay at Arizona - 3 things to watch for:
1) Will Chris Wells be healthy enough to play? So far this off-season the talented rookie from Ohio-State has not been able to assert himself as the lead back for the Cardinals. Tim Hightower has been looking very impressive in his second season, while Wells continues to fight a lingering ankle injury. It will be interesting to see the former Buckeye in an NFL game scenario.
2) Who will take hold of the No.3 WR spot in GB? James Jones had an impressive week 1 coming back from an injury riddled 2nd season, but Jordy Nelson (2nd round draft pick in '08) is proving to be no slouch as a WR for GB. This battle should continue throughout the rest of the pre-season, so keep an eye on this one because the No.3 job will have fantasy perks in GB.
3) Will Matt Leinart continue to show improvement? Since coming to the NFL as a first round prospect for the Cardinals Leinart has done little to show himself worthy of his draft status, but so far this pre-season he is looking like a new football player with a determination to try and regain some of the momentum that the Cardinals QB Kurt Warner had last year. Continue to follow his progress because Warner is by no means young or the QB he was before his hip surgery, and Leinart might be starting to get it in his 4th season.
Indianapolis at Detroit - 3 things to watch for:
1) Who is the No.3 WR for the Colts? Pierre Garcon has been the heavily favored WR for the No.3 job since camp, but lately Austin Collie has been getting rave reviews from the coaching staff on his ability to get open and find space in the defense. With this job still up in the air, I like Garcon to win this position battle... But we will have to see.
2) Will Stafford do enough to prove he can start? There is no denying the talent that Stafford has, but the learning curve seems to be this kids Achilles heel, in terms of heading into the '09 season as the starting QB. With Daunte Culpepper aboard it seems likely the Detroit coaching staff will let this kid learn and progress through the '09 season, but if he can progress rapidly from game to game he just might surprise, given the ability he has.
3) Which rookie is going "Brown" town this game? If there are two rookie RB's making a name for themselves, it's Aaron and Donald Brown. Aaron has impressed this pre-season with his ability to score TD's through the air and on the ground, he has a really quick burst when he gets the ball and looks like a gem behind Kevin Smith(if he can pick up the blitz on a regular basis). Donald is the more highly decorated first-round pick out of UConn, who led the nation in rushing as a junior. He has looked as good as advertised showing impressive speed, vision and elusiveness in the open field. With both these two being noticed it will be interesting to see them both play in week 3.
New Orleans at Oakland - 3 things to watch:
1) What's with Reggie? I think fantasy owners are starting to get perturbed at the idea of owning Bush. There has been mixed feelings about his health all off-season, leading owners to believe he is questionable at best. Reggie should be ready to touch the ball a few times this week. It's hard to call in pre-season because the team would rather not risk exhausting him before the start of the regular season, but it's something to monitor.
2) Who's going to step up at the WR position? Oakland is truly in need of an offensive game-breaker at the WR position, with the loss of Schilens, Russell must try and get Murphy, Higgins and Heyward-Bey to step up and take some pressure off their running-game. The Saints luckily have a reversal of fortunes, they had a lingering injury with Lance Moore's shoulders (should play in pre-week 3) and now have 3rd year standout Robert Meachem looking like the first round pick they invested in '07. It will be interesting to see if he can come back and take his spot with a new-look Meachem making the most of his opportunities.
3) Justin Fargas or Michael Bush? There is another position battle that should be factored into the fantasy equation, is the backup spot behind McFadden. Fantasy owners know McFadden is the No.1 (although the raiders say Fargas), but they should keep track of Bush and Fargas because they will put up decent stats in a committee situation behind McFadden. I like Bush to win the job and faze out Fargas(especially around the goal-line) but they like Justin and his hard-nosed running style (although he gets injured most of the time for it), so we will have to see.
Buffalo at Pittsburgh - 3 things to watch for:
1) Can Fred Jackson be a real threat to Marshawn Lynch? Last week's performance against Green Bay was not a pretty outing from Lynch, who carried the ball 6 times for 6 yards. Fred Jackson has been getting some real hype to start the season and should be in a good position to close the gap for touches while Lynch is suspended.
2) Will Mendenhall prove he can be featured? At 5-10, 225 pounds Mendenhall should be a load to take down, yet he hasn't been showing enough to take the often injured Willie Parkers job. I think Mendenhall (with improved health) has to start showing the coaching staff he was worthy of his draft status and take his featured role in the pre-season, before Tomlin and the rest of the staff lose faith in their young prospect.
3) What kind of depth do the Steelers have at the QB position? With all the injuries that plague the QB position in Pittsburgh (Roethlisberger, Batch and Dixon), the Steelers have to continue to scout their QB's throughout the pre-season. With their offensive-line leaving QB's in Pittsburgh battered and beaten, they will have to find some resources to get continuous production from their passing-game. Roethlisberger should be fine for the start of the regular season, but they must work on keeping him healthy.
Tennessee at Cleveland - 3 things to watch for:
1) Who is the better QB for the Browns? Through two games of the pre-season, the Browns still don't seem to have a guaranteed starting QB to start the season. WIth Anderson still in the mix at the QB position, make sure you watch Brady Quinn's performance this week to see if he gains the separation needed to win the starting job.
2) Who are these later round RB prospects? Two rookies that are fighting for playing time, are rookie RB's Javon Ringer and James Davis. Davis and Ringer have been getting praised for their ability to run out of the back-field and catch balls. With Chris Johnson and Lendale White sitting in front of Ringer he shouldn't see any significant time in '09 (unless injuries plague their starters), but he is making a case to be a hot prospect for dynasty owners. Davis on the other hand, sits behind the injured Harrison and aging Lewis, he is quickly proving to the Browns organization if Lewis falters he can take the No.1 role in the Browns back-field.
3) Could this game solidify a WR position? All eyes will be on rookie WR's Kenny Britt and Brian Robiskie in this tilt, with Washington out for the final two pre-season games, this gives Britt an opportunity to showcase the immense talent he possess. Robiskie is still fighting for his spot as the No.2 WR for the Browns, with both coaching staffs looking for a WR to step up, it should be interesting to see if either can separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
San Diego at Atlanta - 3 things to watch for:
1) Is Naanee 3rd year breakout material? If you haven't seen any Chargers pre-season games, there is one story quickly getting some attention, Legeduu Naanee! In his third year in the league it looks like the Chargers are trying to figure out just what they got in the impressive Naanee. Keep watching his status as a receiver because Chambers has been less than stellar since coming from Miami, Jackson and Naanee would be an impressive duo together if they get the chance.
2) Who's offense is more potent?Philip Rivers vs Matt Ryan, Michael Turner vs Ladanian Tomlinson, Roddy White vs Vincent Jackson (questionable with a finger sprain), Antonio Gates vs Tony Gonzalez = Must see 1st half! Even Sproles vs Norwood is just as interesting to see for backup RB's.
3) Will Michael Jenkins production diminish with Gonzalez in Atlanta? If there was one player who was most affected by the Gonzalez trade, it was Michael Jenkins. With Roddy White, Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez as the top options in the offense, it should be interesting to see if Ryan will target Jenkins ( 1 catch for 11 yards against St.Louis) as much in the season.
Baltimore at Carolina - 3 things to watch for:
1) Will Jonathan Stewart get on the field this week? So far it looks like a nagging injury is bothering Stewart again this pre-season, Stewart is questionable for the game against the Ravens. With his Achilles bothering him during the course of the off-season, Stewart needs to get in the lineup and show fantasy owners, just how healthy he is.
2) Is Rice the answer in Baltimore? With Willis McGahee taking a back seat to Rice this year in the Ravens depth-chart, every fantasy owner or scout is intrigued to see this kid play every week in the pre-season. He has the makings of a stud in the fantasy world, and all eyes will be focused on every touch he is given. Rice is a dual threat RB that should be the focus of the run-first offense if he proves to be a worthy work-horse in the NFL.
3) Will Flacco continue to impress through the air? In his second year in the NFL, Joe Flacco is looking better and better every time he steps on the field. Fantasy owners should be thrilled with this kid so far in the pre-season and it will be interesting to see Everett Brown and Julius Peppers applying pressure from the outside and forcing Flacco to make quick decisions. This is another good test for an outstanding young QB.
New York Jets at New York Giants - 3 things to watch for:
1) Which WR for the giants will make the best impression?Fantasy owners are keeping a close eye on this situation, the talented young receivers in their lineup include Manningham, Nicks, Barden, Smith and Hixon. But which one is going to standout and make plays? I want to see Nicks and Manningham leap into the spotlight this game, the talent is in their lineup, and whoever gains Eli's trust will be a huge fantasy factor.
2) Will Sanchez hold off Clemens? I have been impressed with Sanchez thus far, and think he will be challenged by the Giants defense in their week 3 pre-season game. I anticipate Sanchez to remain their QB for the '09 season and beyond, but he will have to show his best game yet against their New York rival. A really impressive showing will put Sanchez in the spotlight for the upcoming season.
3) Ahmad Bradshaw set for huge season? In his third season in the NFL Bradshaw is showing that he is a difference-maker in the back-field for the Giants. He continues to impress with long runs and good hands, he also continues to build momentum heading into the '09 season and may be one of the most noticeable ADP gems in fantasy this year. Against a very good Jets defense Ahmad should get more of an opportunity to showcase his talents.
San Francisco at Dallas - 3 things to watch for:
1) Are Coffee and Gore a fantasy points factory? With all the RBBC's in the league, one is starting to emerge as very noticeable to fantasy owners. With Frank Gore and Glen Coffee in the picture more people are starting to take notice after two short pre-season games. One thing is for sure, San Francisco is starting to showcase some really good talent in their offense. Coffee will be viewed heavily against a very good Dallas defense, it will be beneficial to owners to see how he fares against Ware and company.
2) Will Shaun Hill show himself worthy of his No.1 job? With Mike Singletary's decision Monday to claim Shaun Hill as the starting QB for the start of the regular season, it should be interesting to see how he carries himself against one of the best pass-rushing defenses in the NFL. Hill has been a good leader and should be poised for a good season with some healthy weapons, but he will be watched very closely this week against Dallas after being named the starter.
3) Can Dallas continue to impress without Owens? Everyone and their Grandmother was skeptical this year with the release of Terrell Owens, and handing the reigns to Roy Williams after a brutal debut last year. In two pre-season games this team has shown it has enough offensive weapons to get over the Owens release and still be a potent attack in the passing-game, with Crayton and Bennett proving to be more of a threat than anticipated. Romo seems to be unfazed with the release and should be less scrutinized barring a major setback in their offense.
Seattle at Kansas City - 3 things to watch for:
Could Deon Butler be the next Eddie Royal?Last week Butler showed his explosive speed and good hands, catching a 34 yard TD pass. With all the injuries the Seahawks encounter at the WR position, this kid has the ability to make a difference in the passing-game and return-game. Watch closely this week because he should see more balls against the chiefs and have an opportunity to show coaches he can play across from Houshmanzadeh in the '09 season.
2) Will Bowe continue to show chemistry with Cassel? Fantasy owners are watching this relationship with a very close eye, last week Bowe and Cassel looked very good together (3 receptions, 37 yards and 1 TD) and will continue to get the chance to showcase their skills against an improved Seattle defense. Bowe and Cassell should be monitored by fantasy owners closely this week for continued chemistry going into the '09 season.
3) Can Larry Johnson hold off Jamaal Charles? So far this pre-season Larry Johnson has looked all but spectacular in his first few outings, with Charles waiting in the wings does Larry Johnson have enough fuel to start and end the season as the starter for the Kansas City Chiefs? Charles and Johnson will have to provide the coaching staff with a big outing against Seattle to claim their respective roles in the offense in the '09 season. I like Charles and think he is much more explosive in the Chiefs back-field this season. Monitor their production because their roles could switch in the near future.
Chicago at Denver - 3 things to watch for:
1) Cutler vs Orton and McDaniels? Jay Cutler gets to face the man that helped to orchestrate his movement to Chicago, via trade for Kyle Orton and draft picks. With Cutler being highly motivated for this tilt between his new team and his former Bronco teammates, this game will be under the microscope for fans and media all over North-America, and it will be interesting to see how this game unfolds on both sides of the ball.
2) Will Brandon Marshall Play? Since we are on the topic of McDaniels and unhappy campers, Marshall is the latest Bronco to be in an altercation with the organization, and has been put in McDaniels doghouse for the time being. Marshall has stated he doesn't have the playbook figured out, and McDaniels is not hesitating to show him any kind of remorse for his latest outbursts about being traded. Will we see McDaniels take Marshall out of the doghouse to help defeat his former QB?
3) Will Earl Bennett and Cutler continue to show more chemistry? Last week against the Giants Cutler and Bennett seemed to show some really nice chemistry with one another. Bennett knows he must provide Cutler with a WR on the outside he can trust and has been working extensively with Cutler throughout the off-season. Fantasy owners want to pay close attention to this second year WR because he has the potential to put up some good numbers with Cutler leading their attack in '09.
Minnesota at Houston - 3 things to watch for:
1) Will Brett Favre see more action in week 3? Since the addition of Brett Favre the Vikings have been trying to open the playbook and ease Favre back into game form, Mario Williams and company should provide a very good test for the aging veteran. Brett was nervous and obviously a little rusty in his debut, but he has been rumored to be starting the whole first half of the Texans game andprovide fantasy owners with a window to what we might expect from this offense going forward.
2) Can Sidney Rice play a big role in the offense? Last week against KC Rice led the team in receptions and seems to be battling for a starting job on the outside opposite Berrian, with Harvin('09 first round pick) in the fold Rice will have to step up his game after a disastrous '08 campaign that saw him injured for the majority of the season. With Berrian still nursing injuries Rice has a chance to showcase his talent and solidify his starting job.
3) Can Dan Orlovsky cement his status as the backup to Schaub?After the hamstring injury to Grossman it looks like Orlovskyis in a good position to show that he has the tools to be the No.2 QB behind Schaub in the Texans roster. With all the injuries suffered by Schaub throughout his tenure in Houston, Orlovsky should be in a good situation to see some time in the '09 season If he can show enough to make the coaching staff feel confident in his skills, he should be a lock as the No.2, but he still must show he can handle the job in pre-season action.