We are now finished the 3rd week of pre-season games, so it's a good time to take a look back at some interesting story lines of the pre-season. Here are some of thoughts from pre-season action:
See my QB, RB, WR and TE rankings as well for a more detailed look at each player.
Peyton Manning looks awesome. Last night, he carved up the 49ers (the best defense in th NFL last year) going 10-12 for 122 yards and 2 TDs in just one quarter of action. He threw a lot of short/intermediate routes, but did take a couple of deep shots, one of which was a beautiful 38 yard pass to Lance Ball. It was a concern that his surgically repaired neck wouldn't be able to take hits, but he took a big one from linebacker Parys Haralson and jumped right back up. I am no longer worried about his injury risk and after finishing the preseason 30-42 (71%) for 343 passing yards, 2 TDs and 3 INT, he's my #7 QB.
Those two TDs were passed to a big sleeper of mine, Eric Decker (ranked 21 at WR). Decker finished with 4 catches for 38 yards in limited action with 7 targets to only 2 for Thomas. His routes look sharp and he and Manning seem to have a great rapport already. Thomas is the more dynamic player, but Decker will be a more reliable target for Manning, he will get a ton of work.
Newly acquired Packers Cedric Benson had a great game rushing 6 times for 38 yards in his first pre-season action. The Packers were only 26th in rushing attempts last year, but a lot of that had to do with the fact that they had a terrible running game. Benson is the best RB they've had in years and even though his best days are behind him, he should be effective especially since GB's passing game requires so much attention.
Beanie Wells made his pre-season debut after taking it slow with his surgically repaired knee rushing 6 times for 12 yards. Ryan Williams however, looks like the better RB, he has 8 rushes for 40 yards and a TD in two preseason games and looks like he is over last year's knee injury. I have recently moved Williams ahead of Beanie in my RB rankings. However, keep in mind that the offensive line is horrible (and just lost LT Levi Brown for the season), so whoever ends up getting the most work still won't have the best situation to succeed.
Jonathan Stewart went down with an ankle injury in last night's pre-season game and had to be was carted off the field. X-Rays came back negative, but Stewart is on crutches. If he were to miss time, DeAngelo Williams would immediately be a top 15 RB.
There is a new starting QB in Seattle, rookie Russell Wilson who has been tearing it up in the pre-season. The third-round pick, who only fell in the draft because of his size, (only 5"11) finishes the pre-season 35-52 for 464 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT as well as 10 carries for 150 rushing yards and 1 rushing TD. I moved him to #22 among QBs. I recently grabbed Wilson with my last pick in a 12 team league, he will definitely be worth that value. He will have to move forward however, without Terrell Owens as he was cut yesterday. T.O. never cracked my top 60 WRs so there isn't much fantasy impact there.
Torrey Smith was the star of the Ravens' third pre-season game, catching 8 passes for 103 yards. His route running has improved and he has become more than just a deep threat now. He is currently my #31 WR, but there is potential for much more than that.
Justin Blackmon has had a great pre-season as well, finishing with 8 catches for 120 yards and a TD in his two pre-season games. He looks much better than Laurent Robinson and Blackmon and Blaine Gabbert have developed some good chemistry. I have moved him up to 41st among WRs and like him as a WR3 sleeper.
Isaiah Pead was expected to be Steven Jackson's backup, but Daryl Richardson got the most work in the last pre-season game. He has 18 carries for 86 yards and a TD in the pre-season, while Pead has only rushed for 50 yards on 25 carries. There may be a changing of the guard here.
Austin Collie has not yet been cleared from his concussion, but is being listed as day-to-day and is expected to be ready for Week 1. The concussions are a huge issue, but the upside is enough to take a flier on him. He is ranked as my 46th WR going into the season. He was Andrew Luck's favorite target in the pre-season action and has top 20 WR potential when healthy.