Ryan Mathews (SD) – As if on cue, Mathews went down with a broken clavicle and is now expected to be out 4-6 weeks, making him questionable for week 1. It was no secret that Mathews was an injury risk going into the season; it was really the only reason he wasn’t a sure-fire top-5 pick in drafts. While he might be ready for the beginning of the season, and still has the potential to be a the top running back in the league, he also has the potential to miss several weeks if not a whole season with an injury. Going down with a broken tackle on your VERY FIRST carry of the preseason is not a good sign. The injury is sure to drop Mathews down the draft board, which could give him a better draft day value, but I Mathews is still too much of a risk for my taste at the moment. I prefer Darren McFadden, who has shown he can be the best runner in the league when healthy.
Trent Richardson (CLE) – Besides the fact that he is a rookie, Richardson had a great outlook for his rookie campaign as a RB who was in line to get 20 or more touches a game, something not easy to come across in recent seasons. Despite the stagnant Cleveland offence he’s attached to, his talent and workload had him climbing as high as the first round of drafts. Over the weekend however, it came out that Richardson would likely need another knee surgery (he had one back in February) and would be seeing a specialist in the coming week or so. I myself already had quite a bit of trepidation at the thought of drafting a rookie playing for Cleveland, and now am even more worried having heard he will likely be having knee surgery before the season starts. In order for me to want to draft Trent Richardson, I am going to need to see him step on the field on some preseason action and test the knee in question.
Michael Vick (PHI) – Vick just seems to have some really bad luck. Vick injured himself once again in his first preseason action of the year, hitting his throwing hand against the helmet of a teammate while following through on a throw. He was forced to leave the game but the X-Rays came back negative, meaning nothing in his hand is broken. Reports are now saying the Vick should be ready to step on the field and test the hand come the teams next preseason game. Everyone knows Vick is a risk each and every draft day and that drafting him has the potential to be a boom or bust scenario. The hand injury may have people talking about his injury history and questioning his draft day value, but in the end I think the hand injury is the least of your concerns. Drafting Vick still has the potential to win you the draft should he play 15 or 16 games at an elite level, something I am expecting him to do this year. But drafting Vick also has the potential to greatly hurt your team should he continue to get hurt and miss time on a regular basis.
Peyton Manning (DEN) – All eyes were on Manning this past weekend, as he took to the field in his first football action since January of 2011; and incase you missed it, he looked pretty good. Manning was throwing his WRs by placing the ball somewhere they were not used to getting it, in their chests and hands. In his limited action, Manning was able to complete passes to Decker and Thomas, while also hitting Tamme on a couple of plays. It looked to me as though Peyton was already comfortable and looking for Tamme quite a bit. He also impressed onlookers when he tossed a 30-yard+ pass across field to an open Eric for a 19-yard gain. The one hitch for Manning on the day was a pass he threw slightly behind Brandon Stokley that was tipped and eventually intercepted in the red zone. In the end though Manning impressed and had everyone talking. Manning, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker will all be climbing up the draft board if Manning continues to impress like this.
Robert Griffin III (WAS) – RGIII and Luck both made their NFL preseason debuts this past weekend, and in the end, both impressed. Griffin only attempted 6 passes before being yanked, but completed 4 of them for 70 yards and a TD to Pierre Garcon. He looked rather poised and comfortable in the pocket for a rookie QB and impressed me in that department, but unfortunately we did not get to see his legs, as he did not attempt any real scrambles. In the end though, RGIII looked great and had potential and current fantasy owners frothing at the mouth at the kid’s potential to produce a fantasy season similar to Cam Newton’s last year.
Andrew Luck (IND) – Possibly even more impressive than RGIII’s debut, was that of #1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck. Before leaving the game in the second quarter, Luck was able to lead the Colts on 3 TD drives against the struggling Rams, including a pair of TD passes to Austin Collie and a 63-yard catch and run TD pass to Donald Brown on his first pass attempt of the game! (Peyton Manning also scored a TD on the first pass attempt of his career)
Julio Jones (ATL) – Julio Jones was extremely impressive the Falcons preseason opener, to say the least. Jones repeatedly burned the Ravens secondary, finishing the game with 109 yards on 6 catches with a TD. His touchdown catch was an extremely difficult one that Matt Ryan just threw up for him in double coverage and expected Julio to come down with; and Julio did just that. I still can’t bring myself to draft Julio over Roddy White, but I am starting to understand the other side of the argument more and more. Julio is looking more and more like a clear-cut WR1 candidate.
Pierre Garcon (SF) – The 49’ers have a bevy of receivers to choose from this season, with Crabtree and Morgan still in town, while Randy Moss and Pierre Garcon are newly acquired talents. Leonard Hankerson is also healthy from an injury he sustained in week 1 last year that ended his season; he had over 100 yards receiving before going out. However, watching the game it was obvious to me that Pierre Garcon was the primary target for RGIII, easily being targeted more than anyone else while RGIII was on the field. In his limited laying time, Garcon was able to grab 3 passes for 58 yards including a 20-yard TD pass from RGIII than included a flip into the end zone.
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