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Preseason action is critical for dynasty team builders. With the preseason games finally upon us, it’s time to get our first look at a whole host of players who beat writers have either pegged as either the next Jerry Rice or the next Jerry Springer. August tends to be the month of hype and hyperbole, so it’s going to be nice for us to see what is and isn’t warranted.
We’re all excited to see the likes of Sterling Shepard, Michael Thomas, Corey Coleman, Derrick Henry, Ezekiel Elliott and a host of others. You certainly don’t need me to point those players out. Instead, here’s a list of thirty players I have on my short list to keep a very close eye on over the next four weeks. Some of these players are surprising in camp, others are fighting for roster spots and some are even trying to resurrect their careers. With all that said, here are thirty players I’m watching this preseason (listed alphabetically):
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Alex Collins, RB SEA
At this point in time, Collins looks like a better value in round two than CJ Prosise does in round one. There’s still a long way to go and dynasty superstar Christine Michael is still in the mix here, but Collins has impressed most so far.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE TB
The Bucs look to be serious about ASJ having to earn not just a starting job, but perhaps a roster spot. Cameron Brate has a leg up on him for the starting tight end job as the shine really starts to dull on ASJ’s potential. He could use a big preseason to regain some value.
Bennie Fowler, WR DEN
This is probably more about Cody Latimer’s lack of development, but Fowler is in line to possibly win the WR3 job in Denver. If that happens, owners of Latimer will be devastated.
Bruce Ellington, WR SF
Ellington is quietly putting together a nice camp for the rebuilding 49ers. With Torrey Smith and Quinton Patton as the 49ers’ top two receivers, it’s not inconceivable to see Ellington carving out a nice role this year.
Cardale Jones, QB BUF
Jones is undoubtedly going to look rough this preseason, but I’d love to see a glimpse of what we see at Ohio State a couple of years ago. Tyrod Taylor hasn’t been given the long-term keys to the Rexwagon quite yet, so seeing Jones do well could give us a nice long-term project to stick on the back-end of our rosters.
DeAndre Smelter, WR SF
Speaking of the San Francisco depth chart, Smelter is once again surging in camp. Of all the wideouts on the roster, he may just have the highest ceiling of the bunch. Which of the 49ers receivers can step up and be a San Francisco treat?
DeAndre Washington, RB OAK
A personal favorite of mine, Washington will get his first chance to show us all what he can do here shortly. He’s currently behind Taiwan Jones in the pecking order, but I think he could give Latavius Murray a little heat.
Jakeem Grant, WR MIA
Grant is tiny (5’6”, 165 pounds), but keeps getting praise heaped on him from the coaching staff and teammates in Miami. He’s currently slotted to be a special teams ace and not see much time on the field. However, flashing a few big plays in the preseason could earn him a role on offense.
Jeff Janis, WR GB
Green Bay receivers have been treated like gold over the past few years and Janis could be battling for a job this summer. The Saginaw Valley product could be running out of chances.
Josh Ferguson, RB IND
Another one of my personal favorite stashes, Ferguson continues to impress everyone at Colts camp. If he can show well in preseason, he could start eating into Frank Gore’s time early in his career. Of all the non-mainstream prospects, Ferguson has been the most impressive thus far. Will it translate to games?
Justin Hunter, WR TEN
Once a highly sought-after dynasty prospect, Hunter has consistently disappointed everyone in Tennessee. He’s another player who needs a big preseason just to keep a job in the league.
Keith Marshall, RB WAS
The biggest “boom or bust” prospect in this year’s draft, Marshall has been great thus far by all accounts. The Redskins don’t have all the faith in the world in Matt Jones and Marshall could just realize his enormous potential. I’m very curious to see if he hits the hole with aggression or if he continues to be timid. If he’s truly over his hurdles physically and mentally, the Redskins could have a steal here.
Kenyan Drake, RB MIA
The signing of Arian Foster didn’t help Drake a bit. However, Foster is certainly a short-term solution and his signing could be a signal the Dolphins don’t have total confidence in Jay Ajayi as a true workhorse. Drake will be a fun one to watch over the next month.
Keyarris Garrett, WR CAR
The college numbers were out of this world, but his camp has been a disappointment thus far. Garrett may be headed for the practice squad without a solid August.
Malcolm Mitchell, WR NE
The “bookworm” gets his first shot at impressing the wildly enthusiastic and hilarious Bill Belichick this week. Mitchell is a raw prospect, but one with immense talent. There was some talk he could be moved to cornerback, but it looks like he staying on offense and going to be given a real shot at making an impact.
Mike Gillislee, RB BUF
For all the talk surrounding LeSean McCoy this off-season, there’s been little said about Gillislee. However, he’s quietly taking control of the job behind McCoy and a solid preseason could make him a nice handcuff for Shady owners.
Robert Griffin III, QB CLE
Well, well, well. What do we have here? It looks like RG3 is back. The question is going to be if that means he’s back and better than ever. The last time we saw Griffin on the field, he was hesitant to run and struggling to become a true pocket passer. If he can get back to the old RG3, the Browns could have some hope.
Sammie Coates, WR PIT
There are hype trains and there are HYPE TRAINS. I looked up the fastest train in the world and it’s the CRH380A from China. I doubt anyone nicknames Coates the CRH380A because that doesn’t exactly move the needle, but that’s the best hype train comparison I have for him at the moment. In other words, it’s out of control. If you believed everything you read right now, you’d be tempted to trade OBJ, DeAndre Hopkins or Dez Bryant for him. Has he really turned a corner this big?
Tajae Sharpe, WR TEN
The Titans seem to be challenging Dorial Green-Beckham relentlessly and even listed Sharpe as a starter on their initial depth chart. He probably this good this soon and DGB likely isn’t this bad, but it’s notable and Sharpe needs to be watched closely.
Terrance West, RB BAL
Could West finally have his life straightened out to the point where he could contribute? It seems that may be the case as the coaches have raved about him for the better part of a month. Justin Forsett owners are certainly very interested here.
Terrell Watson, RB CLE
I picked up Watson in many leagues a long while ago after he was reunited with Hue Jackson. Watson has a lot of raw ability and while he may not eat into the time of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson right away, I’d stash him away if he makes this team.
Terrelle Pryor, WR CLE
Speaking of Cleveland players named Terrelle, this one is making a huge transition from quarterback to receiver. After flaming out with the Raiders, Pryor swallowed his pride and decided to try his hand as a pass catcher. At this point in time, the experiment seems to be working. Could he really be a complement to Corey Coleman?
TJ Jones, WR DET
The signing of Anquan Boldin likely zapped the value of Jones. Still, he’s an intriguing player and one the Lions could develop over the next year or so. I’d keep my eye on him for sure.
Trevor Siemian, QB DEN
The whole Denver quarterback thing looks like a total mess at the moment. The Broncos are likely using this “competition” to light a fire under Mark Sanchez, but ultimately they may actually realize Sanchez isn’t very good. If that’s the case, it’s going to be no surprise to see Siemian take the helm. If he plays well and doesn’t turn the ball over for that elite defense, it’s going to be very interesting to see how Paxton Lynch responds.
Trey Burton, TE PHI
Zach Ertz and Brent Celek headline the tight end corps for the Eagles, but I wouldn’t sleep on Burton. This kid is uber athletic and has really shined at camp so far. Let’s see what it looks like when the games count (sort of).
Ty Montgomery, WR GB
Another of my own personal favorites, Montgomery needs a big camp to solidify his spot on the depth chart. He has great speed and athleticism, but it all needs tom come together very quickly for the former Stanford standout.
Tyler Ervin, RB HOU
Ervin won’t be pushing Lamar Miller much this year, but he could be the future at running back for the Texans. Again, this could be a low-cost stash for you who could pan out in upcoming years.
Tyler Higbee, TE LA
It’s always fun to see a player both highly gifted and highly troubled enter the NFL. If he can keep himself out of trouble, he could be a serious playmaker. The Rams are already sprinkling him in with the starters, so now would be a good time to get him if you can.
Tyrell Williams, WR SD
With the loss of Stevie Johnson, this young player has really stepped up in camp. A few good preseason games would really start the snowball going. I wouldn’t wait for it.
Wendell Smallwood, RB PHI
Possibly the most intriguing running back in this draft class, Smallwood will miss the first preseason game. However, he should have plenty of time to add to his strong start to camp.
So, there you have it. Those are just 30 of the players I have my eye on as games get underway. Do you have a few to add? Just click on the comments and let us know. Enjoy the games this opening preseason weekend!
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