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Preseson Football DOES Count...For Fantasy at Least

The long wait is over and football has officially begun. All 32 teams have now buckled their chin straps and put on their cleats to line up against someone other than their teammates. We all know the preseason is not the REAL product, but it is football, and it is the light at the end of the tunnel. The preseason is your chance to get your first read on rookies and to watch for some intriguing battles. Some that started weeks ago at the opening of Training Camps.

Training Camp and Preseason games is your shot to get ahead of the pack and stay abreast on who is battling for a prominent role on their respective team. Choosing to be the guy saying "Who cares, it is only the preseason" is your choice, but just know your choosing to dig your fantasy grave in August.

Let's dive into some Training Camp battles you should be keeping your eyes on that could have ripple effects throughout the fantasy world.

Dallas Cowboys Number 1 WR Job

Let's get this out of the way immediately. I am not Patriots fan. Never have been, never will be. I am in fact a Dallas Cowboys fan. Now, before you start the "Oh boy here we go" notion, I am a realistic Cowboys fan. You know, like I expect them to be 9-7 at best again this season. The NFC is too good, and well, they aren't. With that out of that way, there is still a lot of fantasy possibilities throughout this offense. Let's talk about what's going on at wide-out this year in Big D.

As we all know Dez Bryant is no longer with the team, or any team for that matter, leaving a large void as who the number one man will be. If you are honing in on a PPR guy, Cole Beasley is your man. I largely expect him to have a season like he did in 2016 (75 catches\833 yards\ 5 TD's) and not what he produced last year (36 catches\316 yards\4 TD's). A year ago you saw Dak consistently force the ball to Dez over and over again. With him out of the picture, and Jason Witten retired, Beasley will be the number one option. As for a guy to target for touchdowns, I think Allen Hurns is your man. A big strong receiver who can go and get the ball. I wouldn't be the list bit surprised if Hurns pulled in 8 scores. One other tidbit, 3rd Round Pick Michael Gallup may lead this team in yards by season's end. He is a smart, fast, wide receiver who immediately in the first preseason game showed great chemistry with Dak on a 30 yard touchdown strike.

Cleveland Browns Starting Running Back Job

The Browns are going to be better this year. Because well, they can't get any worse. In all seriousness though, this may be the most talented Browns roster in a decade. Josh Gordon (if he returns), Jarvis Landry, potentially Dez Bryant and either Tyrod Taylor or rookie Baker Mayfield as the signal caller. But what about the backfield? Last year's fantasy bust Isiah Crowell has departed for the big apple and Carlos Hyde is looking for a fresh start in Cleveland. The Browns also drafted Nick Chubb to compete with Hyde. And lets not forget about Duke Johnson. In a PPR league Duke Johnson is a no brainer selection. In the last three seasons, Johnson has racked up nearly 1800 receiving yards. As for who will be handling the bulk of the carries, it is a wait and see approach. However, if I had to take a guess, Hyde will be at least first in line for the goal line work which is where the bulk of your fantasy points will be coming from, making him a viable RB2. Watch closely.

Denver Broncos Starting Running Back Job

CJ Anderson has assumed the Jonathan Stewart role in Carolina this season, leaving the starting running back job in Denver wide open. This appears to be a job that will not be secured until 4 weeks of preseason football are in the books. Booker has shown flashes of being a productive back, but durability has always been a concern. Enter Royce Freeman, the Broncos third round pick out of Oregon. In Saturday night's preseason opener, Royce flashed his ability to the tune of 4 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown. All the while Booker only had 2 touches for 7 yards. Understandably, Denver wanted to to get a better look at Freeman, but this is something to watch very closely as the preseason unfolds. If I was a betting man, I would bet that Booker will end up being named the week one starter, but Freeman ends up getting the bulk of the load.

Green Bay Packers Starting Running Back Job

Ty Montgomery has been the Packers makeshift running back since he converted from wide receiver to the position back in 2016. However, he has been far from spectacular and has had trouble staying on the field. The Packers have no one on the roster in the backfield that will blow you away. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams combined for over 1000 yards and 8 scores last year, which would be good for an RB2 stat line, but for one running back, not two. Now, early in the preseason head coach Mike McCarthy has made it clear they will use a running back by committee approach and all three will see playing time. Take note that Aaron Jones, probably the best goal line back out of them all, is suspended for the first two games of the season, so expect him to now be third in line. This is looking more and more like a spot that you should be avoiding all together. Want to play it safe? Just limit your Packers players to Aaron Rodgers and/or Devante Adams.

Arizona Cardinals Starting Quarterback Job

Somehow someway Sam Bradford has signed himself another contract. I am not sure one player has ever made more money while being on the IR. The thing is though, Sam Bradford is more than a serviceable quarterback when he actually is healthy. In the last two season with Minnesota, Bradford was able to produce 23 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. He was in fact signed to be the starter, but enter Josh Rosen from April's Draft. A strong armed quarterback with no desire to to concede the starting job. Rosen has been spoken highly about so far in camp and had a decent preseason debut. He went 6/13 for 41 yards and no scores, but also no turnovers as he made smart decisions. I think we would still need to see a lot more from Rosen to win the starting job over Bradford, but it is a situation worth monitoring. Larry Fitzgerald returned for another season, and David Johnson is back and healthy. With two dynamic players like that around, whoever starts at quarterback would be worth a look in the mid to late rounds of fantasy drafts.

New York Jets Starting Quarterback Job

Ahh. Our good friends, the New York Jets. Somehow they have gone from no quarterbacks to three. First things first, this is only Josh McCown's job come week one if both Darnold and Bridgewater either get hurt, or have absolute dumpster fires of preseasons. And Darnold is already tabling that as he lit it up in his debut while Bridgewater was not too shabby himself. The easiest thing to read is the fact the Jets get nothing from marching out a 39 year old quarterback week one. It has to be Bridgewater or Darnold. My first guess, at least it was a week ago, would be to see what Bridgewater has first, and if he fizzles out, they call upon their first round pick, Darnold. But at this very moment, your guess is as good as mine.

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