NFL Preseason games can be quite frustrating to watch if you aren’t sure what to watch for during the game. Especially in the early weeks, when the usual starters don’t get to play more than a series or two.
It’s always good to tune in despite your better judgment and watch for the rookies and younger players trying to make a roster spot, however, while also noting the fantasy impact of certain positional battles. There’s plenty to be tuning in for come Thursday night, when the NFL continues on it’s first week of preseason action.
With that being said, lets take a look at the games coming up Thursday Night Football and see which players or situations you need to track for fantasy football:
New Orleans Saints @ Baltimore Ravens
The quarterback situation for both teams is solidified, while this matchup will be mostly for skill guys trying to show they deserve playing time. I am looking forward to watching rookie Breshad Perriman and Kamar Aiken at wideout for the Ravens. Also, rookie tight end Maxx Williams has high expectations and will be looking to impress the coaching staff. On the Saints side of the ball I don’t expect new addition C.J Spiller to play much, but I am hoping Nick Toon gets a lot of snaps. I am targeting Toon late in drafts if he has an impressive preseason in the Saints offense.
Green Bay Packers @ New England Patriots
All the focus will be on Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and how he responds to being the scheduled starter for the four weeks of the regular season. I am not too interested in the Patriots running back by committee situation, so I will be avoiding their running backs on draft day. That being said, perhaps we gain some clarity in the first preseason game with the likes of Travares Cadet, Jonas Gray, James White and Brandon Bolden all trying to lock down a role. If one Patriots skill player sparks my interest, it’s wide receiver Aaron Dobson. As a rookie in 2013 Dobson put up 519 yards on 37 catches and four touchdowns before being sidelined most of last season. The Packers have a fine tuned offensive machine, so I won’t be watching for much outside of Davante Adams to see how he progressed over the off season. Jeff Janis has lost some steam, too, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can pick his momentum back up.
New York Jets @ Detroit Lions
I fully expect Jets quarterback Geno Smith to be the starting QB throughout the season and will look for him to have a solid preseason. I don’t think the Jets have many concerns with positional battles, but I am interested to see what happens behind Chris Ivory at running back. Ivory is looking more and more like the full-fledged starter but whoever wins the backup job could be in for a decent role. For the Lions, they have a loaded offense across the board and should be one of the league’s more productive units. I am excited to see Lions running back Ameer Abdullah in live action and think he could be a real force in PPR leagues this season.
Miami Dolphins @ Chicago Bears
I am a bit disappointed Chicago Bears rookie wideout Kevin White will be sidelined with an injury. The highly drafted White could have really used the preseason to fine tune his route running and showcase his skill set to the coaching staff. The Jay Cutler situation would be more interesting if Cutler had more competition pushing him for the starting quarterback position, but we should still see a good amount of Jimmy Clausen, who oddly looked good in a spot-start late last season. The Dolphins also have a high draft pick sidelined that could have used the preseason reps in DeVante Parker. This game could have been a lot more exciting for fans with White and Parker on the field, but guys like Marquess Wilson and Jeremy Lanford will still be out to prove their worth on Chicago’s side.
Washington Redskins @ Cleveland Browns
This game should be exciting at least while Johnny Manziel is on the field. I am really hoping Manziel takes charge this preseason and wins the job over Josh McCown. Browns running back Duke Johnson will be sidelined with a hamstring injury and this is a bit upsetting, as the Browns are expecting a lot from Duke Johnson this year. The RG3 era in Washington has had a little bit of everything. I expect Robert Griffin III to get more preseason snaps than usual this year as he tries to prove himself to the coaching staff. Kirk Cousins has a chance to light up the preseason and battle for first team reps as the season goes along. Neither quarterback has much fantasy value but like always, it will be a fun story to follow throughout the preseason, especially if RG3 struggles early.
Dallas Cowboys @ San Diego Chargers
Chargers rookie running back Melvin Gordon will get all the attention in this one. I expect Gordon to play a decent amount of snaps and showcase his skills to fantasy owners. I am really excited about Melvin Gordon, even as a rookie. The Cowboys running back situation is a bit of a mess and I don’t expect many answers Thursday night. However, I do expect Cowboys running back Gus Johnson to impress and battle for playing time throughout the preseason for a roster spot this year. The Cowboys and Chargers are both set at quarterback with Philip Rivers and Tony Romo, respectively, so we probably won’t see them play much early on.
Overall the preseason can be boring as it really isn’t the greatest indication of how the actual season will go, but it does give us football again, and the chance to see players battle it out for the final roster spots this year. Enjoy the games!