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Comings & Goings – Preseason Week 2

It’s been two weeks. We’ve had a taste of 2010 NFL football. We’ve seen many of our favorites play sparingly, if at all, as the preseason seems to crawl along. Fantasy drafts have begun, but most will occur in the next two weeks. Here are some things to be aware of as the regular season approaches.

Larry Fitzgerald’s knee.
On Saturday night, Fitzgerald sprained the MCL in his right knee making a catch on a hospital ball thrown by Matt Leinart. This could be seen as a blessing in disguise for

Arizona
, as it removes Fitzgerald from unnecessary preseason games. He’s a stud, and will be a stud. It also means Early Doucet, the Cardinals’ third receiver, will get a chance with the starters. The problem is Leinart. His arm is still a wet noodle. Fitzgerald has complained in the past that Leinart’s throws are dangerous because they put the receiver at risk. It finally happened, but it’s relatively minor. Fitzgerald will likely miss the remainder of the preseason, and is expected to be healthy by week 1. However, I was down on him before the injury, and wouldn’t consider him until the middle of round 2 with Leinart being no Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin being gone, and the increased focus on the running game.

Ryan Grant’s head.
Grant also suffered an injury in a Saturday preseason game, leaving the game with a concussion. While there are no minor head injuries, this one seems to be less severe. He has already passed a cognitive test and has been cleared for some athletic activity, mainly running and working out, but the Packers will play it safe with their lead back. He is one of very few clear-cut No. 1 runningbacks in the league, and can be extremely valuable to fantasy teams. I would still draft him in the second round, and this injury might allow him to drop a bit further.

Jonathan Stewart is undervalued.
Stewart is a beast. Last year, functioning primarily as Carolina’s No. 2 runningback behind DeAngelo Williams, Stewart averaged more than five yards per carry, running for more than 1,100 yards, and scoring 10 times. He has missed training camp time the past two seasons, but appears healthy and motivated. Were it not for Williams, he’d be a top 10 guy, especially with his team’s run-heavy offense. He’s currently going around 40th overall, which seems late for a guy with his talents and opportunity.

Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.
This should not be a controversy, but Chiefs’ head coach Todd Haley played mind games with Dwayne Bowe last season before putting him with the first team. Charles is so much better than Jones. Jones had a fantastic season last year, but he had a ridiculously good offensive line. Charles, on the other hand, was running behind a patchwork line in

Kansas City
, making the most of his touches, and getting it done. I probably couldn’t be higher on Charles, and think he’s going way too late. Jones can still provide value, but Charles will eventually move up the depth chart and put up crazy numbers.

Arian Foster’s rising stock.
I was already high on Foster. He was the leading candidate to be the starting runningback in

Houston
. We already knew Steve Slaton couldn’t handle the starter’s load, and the only thing holding his value back was rookie Ben Tate. Well, Tate broke his ankle in Saturday’s preseason game, and has since been placed on injured reserve, meaning his season is over. Foster will benefit the most, as he will continue to rise up draft boards. He’s going too late, and showed some real promise last year. If you’re someone who fancies quarterbacks and receivers early, he’s a great guy to target in the middle rounds.

Runningbacks in

Buffalo
.

Projected Bills starter Fred Jackson broke a bone in his left hand in Friday’s scrimmage against

Washington
. Marshawn Lynch sprained his ankle in the same game, and each will most likely miss the next few weeks of the preseason. That all means that the explosive C.J. Spiller will get a crack at the starting gig. He has far more athletic ability than either Jackson or Lynch, but the Bills were hoping to bring him along more slowly. Both Jackson and Lynch figure to be healthy by week 1 or 2 of the regular season, but it might not matter if Spiller has a strong preseason. Spiller’s value goes up and Jackson’s goes down, but not much. This makes the Buffalo backfield even more scary. Try to stay away from this one, but if it can’t be avoided, Spiller and Jackson should now be on equal footing.

Malcom Floyd is a breakout candidate.
Floyd has all of the physical skills that receivers coaches dream about: size, speed, jumping ability, you name it. What he’s always had was Vincent Jackson opposite him and Antonio Gates on the inside, meaning he was last on Philip Rivers’ progressions. Well, Gates is still there, but Jackson will be suspended for the first three weeks at least, and then may not sign. Regardless, Floyd can have a huge impact on your fantasy team. He can be Vincent Jackson-Lite, and even with Gates and rookie runningback Ryan Mathews, he can put up some nice numbers. He’s going after the top 40 receivers, and if you can get him any time after the 10th round, he should pay dividends.

Brian Westbrook signs with the 49ers.
Westbrook signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers. His best days may be behind him, but he can still provide a spark in San Francisco. Head coach Mike Singletary needs to find creative ways of getting him the ball in space, on screens, and play matchups against slower linebackers, or even with both Frank Gore and Westbrook on the field at the same time. Lost in all of this was the reason the 49ers needed a back – former backup Glen Coffee retired after one season in the league to devote his life to the church. I don’t think Westbrook takes away from Gore’s value at all, but he’s the handcuff you want if you take Gore.

Eli Manning’s bloody face.
While watching Monday Night’s New York Giants-New York Jets game, I became aware of three things regarding the Giants: Ahmad Bradshaw is slippery as hell, Victor Cruz will be their No. 4 wide receiver and Eli Manning is a bleeder. Good god. On a botched goal line audible, Manning got nailed three times, once by Brandon Jacobs, once by Calvin Pace and again by Jim Leonard. You could say a fourth time by the ground. He received 12 stitches and will be fine by the regular season. Getting back to the other points, Cruz can apparently play some football, but won’t be much of a factor in fantasy. Bradshaw ran the ball poorly, but managed to rack up yards on a shovel pass from Manning. I still think he’s the Giant back you want, especially given the fact that after getting his quarterback’s face rearranged, Brandon Jacobs didn’t seem to care much on the sideline. I say Bradshaw is more valuable.

Mark Sanchez looked … good.
I also became aware of three things about the Jets: LaDainian Tomlinson isn’t dead, the Jets receiving corps looks pretty good and Sanchez has gotten better. Sanchez, after having a deflected pass get picked off on his first attempt, started throwing bullets, threading needles and doing just about every other quarterback cliche you can think of. Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery all looked good on the end of Sanchez throws. By the way, if you hear someone call him “San Antonio Holmes,” just hit them and the guy next to them. And, Tomlinson looked like he remembered how to play football. He’s no threat to Shonn Greene, but he certainly looked capable behind a good offensive line.

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