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Preseason Illusions

I’ve never been one to downplay the importance of the preseason. I take the preseason seriously and believe it can be critically important in helping owners make value picks, especially when it comes to sleepers. It’s also helped forecast some of today’s biggest fantasy football stars like Arian Foster and Ray Rice, to name a few.

On the other hand, since it’s the preseason and the games don’t matter, rosters haven’t been determined and many players are injured … much of what transpires should be taken with a grain of salt. I’m in the middle when it comes to the preseason. Some of it’s important, other parts of it are irrelevant and potentially dangerous to owners.

The preseason can be dangerous in fantasy football because many owners tend to overreact and become prisoners of the moment when certain stars excel under questionable circumstances. This leads to owners reaching and overpaying for players based on a performance against second stringers in a game that has absolutely no significance.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest preseason illusions this year.

Reggie Bush is Back!

Is he back? Is he really? Just off that one preseason performance … against the Carolina Panthers? We’re talking about a Panthers team that could easily be the worst team in the NFC this year, a team that was 26th against the run last year. A team so putrid that they actually made the horrid Chad Henne look good.

Bush rushed for 48 yards on eight carries, complemented by two catches for 33 yards. No touchdowns because Daniel Thomas handles goal line duties. Bush looked great against one of the worst teams in the NFL but seeing anything beyond that would be a big mistake. Bush is one of the most injury prone players in recent history. He missed half of last season with a broken leg and he’s missed an incredible 16 games in the last three years.

You can bet that many owners, who had already drafted Bush based on his Cincinnati performance, were feeling buyer’s remorse after his dismal showing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last weekend. Against a decent team like the Buccaneers, Bush had five carries for -1 yard with two catches for 23 yards. A player as inconsistent as Reggie Bush should not be drafted as a starting running back.

Bush is currently being drafted in the seventh round, which is a decent value for him, especially in points per reception leagues. I’ve also done many mock drafts where he goes a lot higher, sometimes towards the end of the fifth round. Drafting Bush as a starter or in any role where owners will have to rely on him is a colossal mistake. He’s proven over his career that he’s unable to shoulder the load of being a feature back and he’s unable to stay healthy. Don’t be fooled by the hype, my friends.

Matthew Stafford is a Starting Fantasy Quarterback

Based on his seventh-ninth round average draft position, Matthew Stafford is somehow being drafted as a starter this year. His numbers in the preseason, over three games, have been nothing short of astonishing. He’s thrown for five touchdowns and has had multiple touchdown games in two out of three preseason games. Stafford’s decimation of the New England Patriots last weekend, shredding them for 200 passing yards and two touchdowns in one half, was an eye opener for owners everywhere.

In his first two seasons, Stafford missed more than 20 games. Since he’s joined the league, Stafford has proven both that he’s an elite talent and that he’s one of the most injury prone players in the NFL. I’d be more than willing to have Stafford as my starting quarterback but first he has to prove to me that he can go through a full season healthy.

Owners willing to roll the dice on Stafford are asking for trouble and better spend a high draft pick on Stafford’s backup. This is another drawback to drafting Stafford this year. If you draft Stafford, you absolutely have to get a quality backup for him. That’s a valuable pick you can spend on a running back, receiver and even a tight end, if you’re playing the waiting game at that position.

For a player with amazing talent like Stafford, it’s hard not to be tempted to draft him. He’s just too expensive this year and owners should look elsewhere as this is not a gamble worth taking. The extra pick you spend on Stafford’s backup could be a sleeper running back or receiver, who you’ll desperately need midseason after an unexpected injury. Stafford just isn’t worth the price, if you factor in all the details. At least not this year.

The Best and ‘Beanie’ Situations

Jahvid Best and Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells have seen their stock increase because of their respective backups getting injured.  The prevailing sentiment was that without Mikel Leshoure and Ryan Williams stealing carries from Best and Wells, they are both now ready to have breakout seasons.

The problem is that Best and Wells had issues to begin with; that’s why Arizona and Detroit had to spend a high draft pick on their backups. Best can’t stay healthy and has continued to get injured during the preseason. Leshoure’s presence would have actually helped Best stay healthy but without him he actually hurts Best’s value.

Wells has been decent in the preseason, capped off by a six-carry, 63-yard performance last weekend. Wells has had his own injury issues in his short two-year career.  He also was never good enough to overtake Tim Hightower in Arizona. Wells’ potential wasn’t hindered because he wasn’t given a chance, it was hindered because he just wasn’t good enough, as exemplified by his massively mediocre second season.

Wells is being drafted in the sixth round right now, which is a good spot for him. He’s a excellent RB3, but owners trusting him with an immediate starting job could be in trouble if he doesn’t perform.  Similar to Stafford, I’d like to see Wells put a complete season together before I ask him to join my squad.

Jahvid Best’s average draft position is currently in the fourth round, so his situation is a lot more crucial than Wells. Owners are drafting Best as a RB2 and this is a big mistake. Best can’t stay healthy to save his life. Taking risks is a crucial part of every successful draft but the risk-reward for Best is too high. 

The season hasn’t even started and Best has already had a concussion. Last year, Best had nagging foot injuries all season long. Both Best and his fellow overrated Lion Matthew Stafford are huge risks for owners to take this year.

Good Hunting!

Ed Bonfanti

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