The NFL preseason is underway, and with every team having now played at least one game, fantasy football managers are starting to get their first glimpses of players in action.
Here are our first impressions of a few players going in different directions in fantasy football value.
Brandon LaFell, WR, Carolina Panthers: According to Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com, LaFell “pretty much has locked up the No. 2 wide receiver job opposite Steve Smith.” This is intriguing because the 25-year-old out of LSU is developing a nice chemistry with QB Cam Newton and put up 613 receiving yards and three touchdowns last season while starting only six games. Owned in just 9 percent of Yahoo fantasy football leagues, LaFell is readily available as a nice WR3 with breakout potential.
Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego Chargers: With Vincent Jackson out of the way, Brown can now show what he can do, and he dazzled in his preseason opener, catching four passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. “He’s had a great offseason, he’s in the middle of having an outstanding training camp, and he obviously is a playmaker so he’s a guy that’s going to figure real strongly in what we do,” said head coach Norv Turner through the Chargers’ website. Brown is only owned in 13 percent of Yahoo fantasy football leagues.
Austin Collie, WR, Indianapolis Colts: The Colts figure to be horrific this season, but after their 38-3 pasting of the St. Louis Rams in the preseason, Collie might have a bigger role on the team than we initially guessed. He brought down three receptions for 45 yards and a score against the Rams—not bad for a guy who’s only owned in 25 percent of Yahoo fantasy football leagues and who is on a team that will likely have to throw a lot this year.
James Starks, RB, Green Bay Packers: Starks has been given every opportunity to take the full-time RB job in Green Bay and run with it, but he keeps botching it. He was already having a lackluster training camp and first preseason game (one fumble, one dropped pass) when he compounded his problems by getting hurt (turf toe). Now Starks is week-to-week with the injury, Cedric Benson is in the mix, and things are looking gloomy for Starks’ fantasy football value.
Brian Quick, WR, St. Louis Rams: It pains us to say it, since we earlier touted Quick as a wide receiver bargain, but he stunk in his first preseason game. One reception for 9 yards, and he was repeatedly jammed at the line of scrimmage by the Colts, who don’t exactly have a top tier pass defense. Quick is a rookie, and this was his first NFL game, so we’re not throwing in the towel yet, but it wasn’t exactly a performance to get excited about for fantasy football managers who took a flier on him.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans: Once the greatest thing since sliced bread, Johnson was a relative dud last season, but big things were ahead for CJ2K this year, according to all the talking heads. Against the Seattle Seahawks in the preseason opener, however, Johnson still looked like a dud. He carried the ball five times for 8 yards. One run netted him 9 yards, and the other four carries combined for minus-1 yard. He also dropped two passes. Johnson owners should absolutely have Javon Ringer onboard as a handcuff.