Why the NFL Preseason Doesn't Matter
Cautionary note: Don't read too much into preseason games. A) It's a tiny sample size. B) Coaches use preseason games as an opportunity to experiment, so they may force-feed certain guys the ball and try whacky play-calls. C) Because it's so early, we don't know whether a poor fantasy performance from a RB or QB results from poor talent, or a great defense. Still, there's plenty that one can learn by watching preseason games. We know you're not watching all 60-something games, and honestly, no one needs to psychoanalyze each preseason game. If you actually do watch each and every preseason game, you are number 1, a psychopath and number 2, an intense number crunching fantasy nerd. And while these allegations may be harsh, if you are successful and win leagues with consistency then kudos to you. However, the easier route is glancing at the boxscore when it's all over. Nevertheless, there's a lot you can't learn unless you watch the games. So here are observations you won't pick up from the stats alone.
1. Which, if any backup Running Backs are worth a damn? Sure, the preseason doesn't provide top-tier talent on either side of the line of scrimmage in most games, but occasionally you can catch a glimpse of a player with fantasy roster worthiness. While meaningful touches are limited in the preseason, you will retain that first impression and may have an edge if that team ends up in a Running Back By Committee situation (RRBC). They say the early bird gets the worm. Some prefer to pick up of the scrap heaps the following day. But if you want the inside track on potential RB1 incumbents then the preseason is where you can begin scouting.
2. Who are the Quarterbacks with the best weapons? Receiving cores are also a great place to invest your attention because that is where you are going to see an undervalued WR1 blow past the coverage of a practice squad cornerback. You may also find the opposite where a tried and true player appears to have lost a step and can't get a lick of separation between himself and the secondary. And remember, because the level of talent is low, the 3rd string QB is probably going to miss some wide open receivers and a 6th round draft pick WR can turn a touchdown pass into a pick-six.
3. Debunk the over-hyped: To much acclaim by scouts and analysts, there are rookies who simply fail to hit the marks they were projected to. Fantasy Football is serious business for the most of us. And that being said, no one wants to invest heavily via the draft in a player who turns out to be a complete bust. Use the preseason to see how much activity the team gives him. If he doesn't see a snap the entire preseason then chances are he won't see the light of day in his rookie campaign with the team. You draft picks are must better spent on veterans who can be difference-makers for you down the playoff stretch, rather than betting on young bench riding hopefuls.