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Normally the first week of the preseason is entertaining solely because football's back and owners are starving for something, anything football-related. Last night, however, was more than just the return of football, there were a number of fantasy revelations, which could have an impact on fantasy football drafts. Let's go through the big headlines.
Ryan Mathews' 19th Injury
I don't know the exact number of times Ryan Mathews has been injured in his two year career, but it's probably lower than 19...but it feels like it could be reasonably close to 19. His latest injury is a broken clavicle, which will sideline him for 4-6 weeks. To say his status for Week 1 is questionable would be an understatement.
And yet, I wonder how much this really drops Mathews in the rankings. I have him as the 8th overall pick - after the Big 3 running backs, Calvin Johnson, and Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Drew Brees. I'll happily rank Maurice Jones-Drew ahead of him if his holdout ends soon, but not until then. Darren McFadden is still a bigger injury risk in my eyes and I'm not sure Matt Forte can duplicate the kind of season he had last year with the Bears' passing game revitalized.
Mathews is just such an amazing talent when he's healthy. His health status needs to be monitored in the coming weeks but if he shows improvement and is ready to play in Week 1, I don't think tonight's injury should be that much of a detriment to his draft value.
Michael Vick's 33rd Injury
Last night Michael Vick injured his left thumb because he hit his hand on one of his teammate's helmets. Similar to Ryan Mathews, this is par for the course for those owners willing to spend a high risk/high reward pick on these injury prone players. Vick's injury is a lot less serious than Mathews and X-rays were negative and he should be fine.
He's being drafted as the 6th overall quarterback, above Tony Romo, which I have a problem with. Romo is a much more reliable and consistent fantasy quarterback than Vick and besides his one missed season, he's been much less prone to injury than Vick has.
Just a snapshot comparing the both of them; Vick's thrown for over 3,000 yards twice in his career. Romo's had three seasons with 4,000+ passing yards. The career high Vick has had in passing touchdowns was 21 last year. Romo has thrown for over 25 touchdowns four times in his career. Vick has made his name off his rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, but when you add in the fact that he's missed at least three games a season, for the last three years, it puts a dent in his draft value. Because of these injury concerns, drafting Vick behind Romo,as the 7th overall quarterback, ahead of both Manning brothers, is a much more sensible pick. Vick still has amazing upside, more so than both Manning brothers, but I just think Romo's the safer and better quarterback.
Changing of the Guards in Hotlanta
There is a double changing of the guard happening with my beloved Falcons and it was on full display Thursday night in their preseason game against the Ravens. Julio Jones should be drafted ahead of Roddy White in all leagues and in all formats. Jones had another monster game against the Ravens in less than a half of football; grabbing six receptions for 109 receiving yards and a touchdown. Let's not forget that Jones ended last season strong, going for 34 receptions, 393 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns in his last four games.
Roddy White is still an effective and elite receiver but Jones' upside is just too high now to ignore. It's also getting hard to ignore Jacquizz Rodgers, a steal in the 10th round; his current ADP. He played a lot of his reps with the 1st team tonight, rushing for 33 yards and a touchdown against the Ravens defense. Listen, it's Week 1 of the preseason, the Ravens were playing without Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. This is about as vanilla as the Ravens defense is going to be this year. Coach Mularkey probably pulled Michael Turner early to rest him and not risk any injury.
And yet, at age 30, Michael Turner has a lot of tread on his tires and the Falcons have already stated they are going to scale back his carries this year. In a league where good running backs are few and far between, Rodgers is a big talent, who deserves to be reached for before the 10th round.
Peyton Manning's Return
To be honest with you, I don't really know what to make of Peyton Manning's 4-for-7, 44-yards, one interception performance last night. A better receiver than Brandon Stokely would've caught the pass Manning threw that ended up being an interception, so I'm not going to hold that against him. Manning's not a player I'm targeting because of all of the unknowns. but those who are interested in him didn't see anything last night that would make them shy away.
After almost a two year layoff, Manning looked decent or good enough and he was able to throw short and intermediate passes, many up the middle. We still don't know how far down the field he can throw. On the other hand, his accuracy still seems sharp, throwing several bullets to his receivers, some of which were dropped through no fault of Manning.
We still haven't seen what happens after Manning takes his first, big hit. I'd like to see how he does in Week 3 of the preseason, against the 49ers' ferocious defense before I draw any more conclusions. Week 3 is the most important part of the preseason and I'd like to see how Manning does in a full half of football against a good team. The Manning Review has just gotten started and while he may have passed the first test, there's still a lot more questions that need to be answered.
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