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There’s a large contingent of football fans that staunchly believe preseason games are completely inconsequential. To these naysayers, they’re nothing more than an evaluation phase for head coaches looking to comprise the best 53-man roster. However, most fanatics would vehemently disagree. Exhibition action gives owners the opportunity to gain invaluable insight into potential sleepers and busts. In an attempt to decipher the meaningful from the meaningless, here are my top-five Flames from Preseason Week 2.
Marvin Jones, Det, WR (70.7, WR37) – Practically snoring he was sleeping so hard, Jones took center stage inside Ford Field Thursday night. Clearly motivated facing his former employer, Cincinnati, the unheralded target commanded the attention of onlookers both in person and afar. On the Lions’ opening drive, he hauled in three consecutive Matthew Stafford passes for 56 yards. The eye-popping ball-adjustment and body control skills exhibited certainly sent fantasy hearts aflutter. Bengals corner Dre Kirkpatrick had no answer. Jones was only sporadically useful last year with Cincy, but he still posted the third-best contested catch rate among eligible WRs. A preeminent scoring threat, he also ranked No. 1 in red-zone catch percentage (85.7) in 2013. His length, deceptive 4.48 40-yard speed and dexterity will inflict heavy damage in an offense that should register abundant snaps. While some ‘experts’ exalt Torrey Smith and Kevin White, Jones is the sexier target available around the same time. If he coaxes 120-130 passes, it’s probable he finishes close to 70-1050-9.
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Eddie Lacy, GB, RB (31.1, RB11) – Wisconsin’s rolling block of cheddar is back. And he’s about to flatten everyone and everything in his path. Though Brett Hundley manned the controls over an inactive Aaron Rodgers, Lacy turned back the clock to 2014 and resembled the bone-crushing, thunderous runner who took the league by storm in his first two seasons. His reported shed belly folds just may have saved his career. On nine carries versus Cleveland, Lacy bulled through gang tackles, cut aggressively and even exploded off tackle totaling 45 yards with a touchdown. Running behind what many consider an ascending run-blocking line and with a future Hall of Fame QB under center, it’s entirely believable he rekindles the RB6 magic (1,566 total yards, 13 TDs) of two years ago. The most titillating part: He’s still predominately going in Round 3 of 12-team exercises. Acquire him at the spot and ridicule your leaguemates.
Jeremy Langford, Chi, RB (73.5, RB27) – Admittedly, Ryan Lochte might be smarter than the fantasy community right now. It’s truly debatable. Raked over the coals by statisticians, Langford, who ranked outside the RB top-75 in yards after contact average and tackles avoided per attempt in 2015, might be the biggest ‘expert’ whiff of the early season. Thursday against New England, Langford was nimble, assertive and displayed excellent vision. Most importantly, the rumored ‘committee’ back dominated touches with the Bears first team. To his credit, the rusher performed admirably against the Chargers and Rams in a full-time role last season. In those contests he amassed 324 total yards (on 48 touches) and found the end-zone three times. Still, his underlying numbers sounded alarms, but his efforts against New England (nine touches, 64 total yards and a TD) poked holes in the popular ‘avoid’ summer narrative. If his first-rate play carries over into next week’s dress rehearsal versus Kansas City it will be time to reassess. And that’s assuming his foot setback doesn’t prove more serious. Then again, we may have already reached that point. Similar to Jeremy Hill, Arian Foster and Melvin Gordon, he’s a potential volume (16-18 touches per game?) rusher available on the sale rack.
Robert Griffin III, Cle, QB (192.7, QB28) – Heptathlete sidepieces apparently do wonders. RGIII, without Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman, was a passing powder keg Thursday versus Atlanta. He played relaxed, showcased beautiful deep-ball touch, took advantage of what the defense gave him and, in general, unearthed the phenom from his rookie season in Washington. Nearly impeccable and a step up from his uneven Preseason Week 1 effort, he completed six of eight passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns. He also chipped in 36 ground yards. That last stat is why RGIII is intriguing. It’s extremely doubtful he’ll surpass 800 rush yards again, but he could be this year’s Tyrod Taylor, a minimally drafted, multidimensional quarterback who could penetrate the QB top-12. High comedy? Think about his situation. The Browns defense is suspect at best and the weapons around him aren’t exactly a motley crew. Gordon, Coleman, Gary Barnidge, Duke Johnson and an emerging Terrelle Pryor are nothing to scoff at. If the resurrection continues, he’s yet another reason why QB is the Marianas Trench of fantasy positions.
Brad Evans | www.sports.yahoo.com | August 21, 2016