Do you feel it?
College football returns, kids are going back to school and fantasy drafts are flying through the roofs. Ah, yes, it’s the return of the most glorious thing in the world. It’s the return of football.
Thursday night will feature all 16 teams playing in their fourth and final preseason game, and while the starters will hardly play, there is still some fantasy implications on the line here. Guys are looking to lock up starting jobs, earn roster spots and while many don’t take the last game too seriously, I’ll be watching a handful of players as I prepare for my 2013 fantasy campaign.
I just got very tingly inside.
Terrelle Pryor can lock up starting job
I am very interested to see how Pryor fairs against that vicious Seattle secondary. After Matt Flynn has looked anything like a true starting quarterback, Pryor stepped in an provided a spark to this offense. Now, as the Raiders head into the final preseason contest, as long as Pryor doesn’t imitate the likes of Mark Sanchez, he’ll more than likely enter Week 1 under center. I really hope Pryor gets some time against the first team defense. It will be very interesting to see how he adjusts if plays fall apart and if he can read the top secondary in football. Like I said in my Bold Predictions column, Pryor will finish as a top-20 fantasy quarterback this year, so watching him tonight will tell me whether I am sane or not.
Who is Detroit’s number two receiver?
Man, I really pray that Ryan Broyles can stay healthy this season. Broyles suffered a torn ACL during his senior year in college, and then did it again last season. Tough luck. However, Broyles has massive upside as a receiver in this Lions offense. In 2011, Matthew Stafford threw the ball more than anyone in football ever did during a season, and Broyles is the all-time FBS receptions leader. I think Stafford likes his second-year wideout, having targeted him 13 times during his last contest. Unfortunately, he hasn’t really established himself as “the guy” this preseason, but compared to veteran receiver Nate Burleson, Broyles has the massive upside. For fantasy purposes, I’m hoping Broyles shreds my beloved Buffalo defense, but only for tonight.
I also think Patrick Edwards, who is generating a ton of buzz, may have some serious sleeper appeal this year. If he can land as the number three receiver on the depth chart, he’ll still have his opportunity to produce. Last year, the Lions ran a ton of three-wide receiver sets, and with the high volume of passes Stafford throws, targets will be there. I’ll be watching if Edwards sees continued success in perhaps the biggest game of his career.
Backup running backs in Arizona
The running backs in Arizona may not be fantasy productive, but they will be fantasy relevant. With both Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams nursing injuries, guys like Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington will see a lot of time in tonight’s finale. It’s still pretty unclear which of the two will serve as the featured guy if (when) Mendenhall and Williams go down. Taylor is more of an every-down back, while Ellington is the faster, more dynamic talent. Whoever is more impressive in tonight’s contest could very well indicate who will jump ahead in the team depth chart. I think Taylor has a very slight edge, mainly because is more of a complete back, and has that college pedigree (Stanford’s all-time leading rusher).
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.