Who says nothing important happens in preseason? As we prepare for football games that actually count (remember those?), here are the players whose fantasy values have risen—or fallen—the most.
This is an article from the Sept. 8, 2008 issue
The slippery 5'6" return specialist (above, left) had a great preseason, averaging 5.6 yards per carry (is there such a thing as rushing your height?) to win the job as backup to LaDainian Tomlinson. The fourth-year back has already shown he can produce on offense: With four TDs in '07, he tied Chris Chambers for third on the team behind LT and Antonio Gates.
The bad news for Rudi Johnson, who was cut by Cincinnati last Saturday, spelled rejuvenation for Chris Perry. Injuries have limited Perry, a first-round pick out of Michigan in 2004, to 73 carries over three seasons, but he will be the Bengals' starter this Sunday against the Ravens.
The third-year pro was already in position to improve his production this year simply because he was out of the shadow of Jason Witten, having gone from Dallas to Miami this off-season with Tony Sparano, the Dolphins' new coach. Fasano's prospects improved even more when the Dolphins signed Chad Pennington, a quarterback with a history of getting the ball to his tight ends, especially near the goal line.
The third overall pick from Boston College had a solid enough preseason to grab hold of the starting job; while ups and downs are inevitable, he should have at least a few big games while throwing to the tandem of Roddy White and Michael Jenkins. Ryan merits a Week 3 start against the woeful Chiefs in the Georgia Dome.
The addition of Brett Favre affects nobody's fantasy value more than that of New York's top receiver from '07, who rises from a solid second or third fantasy option to a clear No. 1. Favre has said that he and Cotchery clicked from their first throw; a fantasy breakout year similar to that of Green Bay's Greg Jennings in '07 (12 TDs) could be upcoming for the fifth-year player .
No timetable has been set for the return of Donovan McNabb's most reliable wideout following sports-hernia surgery on Aug. 21. And even when Curtis (above, right) does come back, his is the sort of injury that tends to linger, so it's unlikely he'll put up the kind of numbers he did in '07.
With Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald to throw to, Leinart would have been worth drafting—had he won the starting job that was his to lose. A preseason in which he didn't toss more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (2) would have helped.
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Go to SI.com/fantasy2008.