This is more for the fantasy newbies, but we all could use a shot in the arm once in a while to not dwell on preseason play too strongly. Outside of injuries that could affect regular season play, the preseason has limited value to the fantasy world...
Don't get worked up over preseason games
By: Kirk "Dr. Football" Bouyelas, Special to SI.com
As far as I'm concerned, the NFL preseason is evil demented torture. Its only purpose is to tease the football faithful and confuse fantasy football owners. Sure, we get to watch our favorite stars -- for about 12 minutes. There's Peyton Manning who threw a record breaking 49 touchdowns last year, handing the ball off three times and then trotting off the field. Wow, it's Priest Holmes holding a clipboard on the sidelines looking as though he may go in at any moment -- or not.
When it comes right down to it, you can't blame the players for their lack of activity or intensity. Remember, the preseason is evil. The games mean absolutely nothing. The truth be known, coaches could care less if they lose a preseason game. Does anyone even remember that the Patriots went 1-3 in the preseason last year? Of course not. The only memories fans have, are a 14-2 season and a Super Bowl victory.
Believing that the preseason is real football, fantasy football enthusiasts will eagerly watch preseason games on television. Many will find themselves scouting teams, coaches and players alike. They will be relying heavily on preseason games to prepare for their fantasy draft. But remember, the preseason is evil. Extreme caution should be employed when looking through the box scores for fantasy insight. In the case of preseason games, statistics do lie. Clear cut starters will have pathetic stats, while perennial backups will rack up the yardage. When dealing with preseason, I would offer this advice: Don't get overly impressed or overly depressed.
Don't Be Overly Impressed
In offices all across the country, the small talk now shifts to football. Let's listen in to a couple of friends talking about a recent preseason game ...
"Wow, did you see that guy last night? Some guy from San Diego scampered for a 50-yard score." "Yeah, and some receiver for Buffalo caught a 60-yard touchdown strike. By the way, what was his name again?" "I don't know; never saw the guy before last night."
The conversation is great, because it gets the football juices flowing again. However, don't become overly impressed with these unknown preseason stars. Chances are that the "star" third-string running back or sixth-string receiver will remain buried on the team's depth chart. It doesn't matter how well he performs in preseason. Remember he's playing against the third-string linebackers, corners and safeties. This guy may have problems making the team, much less break into the starting lineup. It's just the reality of the situation.
NFL coaches view the preseason as an opportunity to see how backup players perform in game conditions. Some guys look great in practice, but fall apart under live game conditions. As such, the backup players are featured in preseason games, to see if they can cut it. The third- and fourth-string players are not fighting for a starting job, they're just fighting for a job.
Don't become overly impressed with these pre-season wonders. Unless catastrophe hits, they won't ever supplant the Mannings, Tomlinsons and Owenses of the league.
Don't Get Overly Depressed
Let's switch back to the football talk around the office cooler for a moment. Let's listen in to the guys again ...
"Man, I'm bummed out. I was going to draft Shaun Alexander, but he didn't play well in last night's game. He was only in for two possessions and really didn't impress me at all." "Yeah, I know what you mean. Maybe he's hurt or he's lost a step. What do you think?"
This conversation is potentially dangerous and very foolish. Coach Mike Holmgren knows what Alexander is capable of. Moreover, Alexander does not need to prove himself or show his wares. The fact that he may have played poorly or was used sparingly, should not concern anyone who understands the dynamics of preseason football.
If you were to query every coach in the league, you would find that the vast majority would rather just skip the preseason. Coaches don't want to endanger their starters. They will use every trick in the book to avoid them from playing. Just look at some of the injuries keeping players out of the preseason games -- tweaked hamstring, stiff shoulder, cramps, hang nail?? Come on -- these aren't legitimate injuries.
Don't become overly depressed about the stats or performance of a known commodity like Daunte Culpepper, Deuce McAllister or Marvin Harrison. Use their past performance to guide you with your draft preparation. It really doesn't matter if Culpepper throws for a combined 50 yards in all of his preseason appearances. He'll be under center for the first game of the regular season and racking up the yards as usual. Remember, the preseason is evil. Don't get overly impressed or overly depressed.