Keep tabs on running backs for Jets, Giants

We’ve learned a lot from the first week of the preseason. We know that Marion Barber is still the No. 1 running back in Dallas. We saw glimpses of the brilliance that makes Aaron Rodgers the top fantasy quarterback in the league. We’ve also seen some flashes of potential from rookies like Ryan Mathews and Mike Williams.

Our preseason fantasy education will continue tonight, as the Giants and Jets open the New Meadowlands Stadium. Here’s what I’ll be watching in this Big Apple battle:

Giants

  • I’m interested to see who starts between Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. It might not matter, ultimately, as the two will no doubt share carries throughout the season. I’ll also be looking at how Jacobs runs, considering he had knee problems for most of 2009.
  • Will the Giants throw the football like last season, or go back to the focus on the running game? Honestly, I doubt that QB Eli Manning can replicate his 2009 statistics. The Giants were dreadful on defense, so Manning had to throw much more in an attempt to erase deficits.
  • I’ll be checking out one of my favorite sleeper wide receivers, Hakeem Nicks. I expect him to open the season as the starter opposite Steve Smith, ahead of Mario Manningham. With Smith (groin) not expected to play, Nicks should see some targets.

Jets

  • Shonn Greene is now the main man in the Jets’ backfield — coach Rex Ryan has even called him “the bellcow” — so I’ll be watching his first preseason performance in a starting role. Greene has a chance to be one of the better running backs in fantasy football this season.
  • I believe Mark Sanchez could emerge into a nice No. 2 fantasy quarterback. It will be interesting to watch his rapport with an improved group of wideouts. NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger is one of the observers who has noted Santonio Holmes has looked tremendous in training camp.
  • LaDainian Tomlinson rarely ever played during the preseason while with the Chargers, so I’ll be keeping tabs on whether or not that trend continues with the Jets. If he does play, I’d like to see if he shows any burst.

If you really want to prepare for your fantasy draft, check out NFL Preseason Live, where you can watch every preseason game live.

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