Michael Fabiano | Tags: Anquan Boldin, Brandon LaFell, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Dwayne Jarrett, Felix Jones, Fred Taylor, Jason Campbell, Jason Witten, Joe Flacco, Lance Moore, Laurence Maroney, Lynell Hamilton, marion barber, Matt Moore, Michael Bush, Michael Fabiano, pierre thomas, Ray Rice, Reggie Bush, robert meachem, Roy E. Williams, Sammy Morris, Steve Smith, Tony Romo, Wes Welker
The NFL’s preseason schedule continues tonight with three games. The Saints face the Patriots at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by the Panthers and Ravens at 8 p.m. ET. The finale is in Big D, where the Cowboys will host the Raiders. If you’re a fantasy owner, these matchups should be part of your research for draft day.
Here are a few things you should be watching in these contests.
— I’m interested to see how the Saints use Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush near the goal line. With Lynell Hamilton out for the season, Thomas could see a nice boost in value if he earns that role to go along with his work on early downs.
— Robert Meachem (toe) remains out of action, so I’ll be interested to see who sees targets in his absence. Lance Moore has been a standout in Saints training camp, and a good showing tonight could put him back on the fantasy radar.
— Will he play tonight? That’s the thing fantasy owners want to know about Wes Welker, who is coming back from reconstructive knee surgery. If he does play, it will be interesting to see if he’s lost any of his speed in and and out cuts.
— No one in the Patriots backfield is going to have a ton of fantasy value, but you should still be watching the rotation. Will Fred Taylor start, or will Sammy Morris get the call? I’m most interested to see what happens with Laurence Maroney.
— This will be Matt Moore’s first preseason game as the No. 1 quarterback in Carolina. I’ll be watching his performance during what will likely be just a few series against the Ravens’ first-team offense. I think Moore has some late-round sleeper appeal in drafts.
— Steve Smith (arm) is still out of action, so be sure to monitor who’s seeing the most targets in his absence. Dwayne Jarrett and Brandon LaFell are battling for a starting role in camp, and I think the latter has the edge. The eventual winner could have late-round appeal in deep leagues.
— I’m very interested in seeing the rapport between Joe Flacco and Anquan Boldin. Flacco has some real sleeper value in fantasy drafts this season, and Boldin is playing his first preseason game with his new team and in a new system.
— Darren McFadden (hamstring) won’t play against the Cowboys, so this is a huge opportunity for Michael Bush. A preseason sleeper on NFL.com, fantasy owners should keep close tabs on how he performs with the first-team offense against a formidable defensive unit.
— Rookie disaster Darrius Heyward-Bey is getting a lot of positive press in training camp, but I want to see him on the field against the Cowboys’ first-team cornerbacks. I’ll also be keeping an eye on Jason Campbell, who’s be making his first preseason start with the Raiders.
— Marion Barber started in the Cowboys’ first preseason game, so I assume that will continue. Still, I’ll continue to watch how Felix Jones is utilized. You need to watch their respective roles, especially if the first-team offense gets into the red zone. Also, check out how the team uses Tashard Choice.
— With Dez Bryant out, how will Roy E. Williams respond? He’s said that his rapport with Tony Romo is much improved. Let’s see if it translates on the gridiron. I’d also watch how the Cowboys use Jason Witten in the red zone.
If you really want to prepare for your fantasy draft, check out NFL Preseason Live, where you can watch every preseason game live!