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Javon Ringer is poised for a breakout season in 2010 with the Titans and would be a great get on any fantasy team.  Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

Javon Ringer is poised for a breakout season in 2010 with the Titans and would be a great get on any fantasy team. Photo courtesy of Starr Portice.

It almost feels surreal, but actual football has finally started. Well, almost “actual football”, since we all know the preseason isn’t as fun as the regular season. But as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, the preseason is where the successful fantasy football owner makes their living. Week one doesn’t usually give us the greatest fantasy tidbits (we’ll check back in for week three of the preseason with even more valuable observations!) but there are a few items we should pull away from this first fake-week of the football year.

-Ring it up!: If you read my running back article you saw that I was already high on Javon Ringer’s potential as a fantasy backup this season. Ringer’s performance last Saturday only solidified my opinion. Ringer was hitting holes harder than I’ve seen him in years, and he looked blazing fast. Add on that he’s gained about 10 pounds in the offseason, and that makes him a must-have handcuff if you’ve drafted Chris Johnson. Or, on the other hand, if you want to annoy one of your friends, draft Ringer and if Johnson gets hurt, hold our favorite Spartan over his head all year.

-No holes in here: Green Bay had plenty of problems on the offensive line last year with the pass rush. Their game on Saturday seems to suggest that they have started to right that ship. But the biggest offensive worry for 2010 might be their run blocking. Against the lowly Cleveland Browns the Packers top two running backs (Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson) only managed to average a pathetic 2 yards per carry. This problem may be compounded by the head injury Grant suffered on his 3rd carry of the game. Because this was only one game, don’t go downgrading Ryan Grant on your draft boards just yet, but keep an eye on how he performs in the next two games, and monitor his injury status. If neither of these factors improves, slide him down a few slots in your running back rankings.

-Picking up where they left off: It really looks like Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson are in sync yet again this year. They connected on 3 passes in 2 drives, including a great 44 yard bomb for a touchdown. The touchdown was a perfect throw to Johnson who was open by a mile. Converting on those throws is going to be vitally important to the Texans, and it looks like Schaub is ready to step up yet again.  Schaub exploded onto the scene last year, and possibly more importantly, he managed to play a full 16 game season. These two are absolutely on the same page, and I expect huge things out of both of them.

-This is why they shouldn’t play the games: You have to feel for Ben Tate. The kid was in line to be the starting running back for the Texans this year, and he tore apart the ligaments in his ankle in a meaningless game and will likely miss the rest of the season. However, from a fantasy perspective this means you now have to move Arian Foster up your draft boards. It seems that the Texans have lost all faith in Steve Slaton and his fumble fingers, which means Foster should see the bulk of the carries. Monitor how the distribution of carries in Houston shakes out over the rest of the preseason, but for right now I feel safe in recommending Foster as a sleeper second running back this year.

-Don’t believe the hype: Kevin Kolb looked pretty good last Friday, but if you watched SportsCenter you would have thought that he had gone 20 for 20 for 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. Let’s look at this realistically. He was 6 of 11 for 95 yards with no picks and no TDs. Nothing terrible, but nothing to write home about either. I’ll take a wait and see approach with Kolb as a viable fantasy option, but this performance has at least made me feel a little better about drafting his targets like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Brent Celek. Just remember, don’t believe the highlight hype. If you’re bored one night, take a look at the replays of some of these games on the NFL Network, your fantasy team will thank you.

-The Cassel may be crumbling: The fans in KC are not happy with how Matt Cassel looked last year, and last Friday’s preseason game didn’t help him with the fans at all. As much as we all would like to think that coaches don’t have to listen to the fans at all, that isn’t necessarily the case. This game is first and foremost a business, and if the customers aren’t happy, the owner won’t be happy. If the Chiefs do decide to pull the plug on Cassel, downgrade Dwayne Bowe on your wide receiver board. Instability is never good for wide receiver/quarterback chemistry, and without that Bowe will see fewer viable targets and his stats will suffer. 


Don't forget that signing up for one of the many FREE Spartan Nation Fantasy Leagues starts this weekend! Stay tuned for details.