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NFL Preseason Watch List: The Weekend of Week Three

After another eventful few days, dynasty owners are ready for the most important week of the preseason, where starting jobs will be taken and players will either win jobs or find themselves on the streets. We’re here to provide analysis all preseason long so you don’t miss a thing. With that said, we’re posting a regular watch list for the preseason games, full of players we’re watching for each and every game. For premium subscribers, we also have the ultimate preseason index of players to watch, a 6,000 word write-up with a player from every team who we have our eyes on.

Let’s take a quick look at Friday night’s action and who we’re looking forward to seeing the most:

Indianapolis vs. Washington

All eyes will certainly be on the quarterbacks as Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck square off. For the Colts, Luck has been incredibly effective thus far and looks like that once in a generation prospect already. LaVon Brazill is making a case for serious playing time and it’s going to be interesting to see what he can do in place of Austin Collie. At running back, Vick Ballard has been a hot name lately and he’ll try to build on a solid preseason. Coby Fleener has been very quiet and he needs to step it up to cool all the Dwayne Allen buzz.

For the Redskins, the running back position is far from settled (shocker). With Evan Royster now joining Roy Helu in the nurse’s office, Alfred Morris looks to make an impression on the coaching staff this week. If you know how this is going to turn out this season, let me know. At receiver, Pierre Garcon has put together a nice camp and is rising on draft boards. We’ve never been his biggest fans around here, but he has looked good so far.

Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo

The Steelers look to get something settled in their backfield this week. Rashard Mendenhall is still going to be out for a while and Isaac Redman is banged up as well. We should get a good look at Chris Rainey and Jonathan Dwyer as they attempt to carve out some playing time this year.  Will Mike Wallace ever show up?

The second receiver job opposite Stevie Johnson should be established this weekend. The player we’re looking forward to seeing the most isn’t Fred Jackson, CJ Spiller or Ryan Fitzpatrick – it’s rookie TJ Graham, who’s made play after play this off-season.

Detroit vs. Oakland

For the Lions, all eyes will be on Mikel Leshoure, who hasn’t played since his Achilles tear early in camp last season. This story is big in dynasty land because his performance is going to go a long way in determining the value of Kevin Smith and sleeper Joique Bell. We’ll also get our second look at Ryan Broyles this week, who looked mighty healthy in last week’s game.

Can Rod Streater keep this up? With the Raiders receiving unit spending most of their time on the trainer’s table, we’re about to find out. Darren McFadden’s owners are hoping (well, praying, actually) that he can just make it to week one healthy. Meanwhile, it would be pretty comforting to see Carson Palmer look better than he has so far.

St. Louis vs. Dallas

If there was a time for any offensive player outside of Steven Jackson to step up, this is the week. Isaiah Pead has been disappointing so far and none of the receivers have shown enough to build too much confidence in the eyes of dynasty owners. Sam Bradford is going to need some help and it needs to come sooner, rather than later.

For the Cowboys, it’s much the same. No Dez Bryant. No Miles Austin. No Jason Wittten. We haven’t even made it to week one and this team is a mess. At least Cole Beasley and Andre Holmes will get an extended look this week.

Houston vs. New Orleans

This is likely going to be the final round in the battle between Lestar Jean and Keshawn Martin – one of them is going to get meaningful snaps and the competition is too close to call at the moment.  DeVier Posey needs to do something productive to give his owners future hope. Looking for a super deep sleeper? Try running back Jonathan Grimes, who the Texans are probably going to try to sneak on the practice squad. If they fail with that, pay attention to where he goes.

For the Saints, there’s another battle that could come to its climax this week and it’s at running back between Chris Ivory and the upstart Travaris Cadet. The starters are going to play a bunch this week, but look for these two to go punch for punch in the second half – Cadet may just knock Ivory to the waiver wire. Meanwhile, the Saints are still looking for someone to step up at receiver other than Marques Colston and Lance Moore.

San Francisco vs. Denver

For the 49ers, the rotation at receiver is going to be a key story in dynasty leagues this year. If they truly rotate these players as much as some have suggested, it’s going to be tough to determine which ones are worthy each week. At running back, Kendall Hunter attempts to build on what’s been a solid preseason.

With Denver, all the dynasty eyes will be squarely on Ronnie Hillman, who is finally expected to make his debut. It is going to take a monster performance from Hillman to carve out any type of meaningful early role in this offense. Peyton Manning and John Fox aren’t exactly known for trusting rookie running backs, especially those who haven’t played much.

Carolina vs. New York Jets

The Panthers look to build on a solid preseason, but they’ll do it without the services of Steve Smith, who continues to battle a mysterious foot infection. The offense of the Panthers is pretty much solidified with Brandon LaFell as the second receiver, but Smith’s absence will allow somebody else to step up this weekend. On a side note, Cam Newton has looked great this year and is poised for a monster Sophomore season.

It’s hard to say any game this week is more critical for one team more than another, but the Jets have to get something productive going on offense or this thing is going to reach DEFCON 1. Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are making a mess out of the quarterback position, no receivers have created separation, Shonn Greene and the running backs have all looked pedestrian and the offensive line has been mediocre at best. Other than that, the Jets have nothing to worry about.

Here’s to a great weekend!

Ken Kelly
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lester jean
9 years ago

jon stewart or donny brown as my rb2?

Jo Cat
Reply to  lester jean
9 years ago

Stew no question

Chris Howat
Reply to  Jo Cat
9 years ago

I would go Donald Brown. Too crowded in Carolina hand everyone knows Cam is the goal line back.

ice cube
9 years ago

should i be worried as a D. Thomas owner that Decker is going to get all the tds? I paid a nice sum to obtain D-Thom and he isn’t busting out in the preseason as much as Decker and im getting worried. I thought D-Thom was going to have a monster season but should i jump ship?

Ches
Reply to  ice cube
9 years ago

I wouldn’t jump ship. You should have checked the forums more thoroughly, though. About a month or 2 ago I had a thread going about which was the better option between Decker and Thomas. (btw – Decker has always been my favorite) Anyway, there were an equal number who commented in favor of Decker as of Thomas. I never really expected Thomas to have a “monster” season, and I doubt there are many expects who do.

But let’s examine the difference between the 2 of them. Decker is a polished receiver with excellent route-running ability. He excelled when a pocket-passer (Orton) was passing him the ball, but faded away when the circus took center stage (Tebow). With Manning being the definition of a pocket-passer, I look to see them connect early and often, especially in the redzone. What I think this means: Decker will likely be Manning’s favorite; his go to guy.

The hype surrounding D. Thomas is because of this thing called ‘potential’. With his size, speed and hands, Thomas has the measurables necessary to become something truly special. The problem is that he isn’t there let. He’s somewhat raw still. His biggest issue has been one of Decker’s biggest strengths: route-running. This is why he did well with Tebow; all he had to do most of the time was run toward the endzone and try to catch the pass along the way. But Manning isn’t going to just launch a deep ball very often. He prefers the methodical drive down the field. What I think this means: Decker will put up decent numbers, mainly from deep receptions; will probably see as many targets as Tamme/Stokley, but less than Decker.

Referring back to my comments concerning the thread on the forums, the reason why it is so hard for us to decide whch is the better option is because Decker is the better right now, but it wouldn’t take much for Thomas to start putting things together and passing Decker in skill and talent. But definitely don’t jump ship. Don’t cut him. He still has a lot of potential, and he could explode at any moment.

ice cube
Reply to  Ches
9 years ago

thanks i dont know if that makes me feel any better! i was never going to cut him like as in a drop people in my league want him but only offering 2013 draft picks as its close to the season. i dont know if i should roll w him or to take my chances next season w some picks.

alden bietz
9 years ago

Well put Ches.

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