The preseason can be tough to decipher. How much stock do you put in what coaches, specifically coaches with established players and philosophies in place, show during a game that means nothing? Obviously not everyone approaches these games with the same cavalier philosophy but, come Week 1, no one is holding anything back. These are the running back situations I want to see shake out once the scores start to count.
Denver Broncos - Montee Ball appears to be the guy with Ronnie Hillman getting a fair amount of work as well. Does rookie Montee Ball have the kind of hold on the playbook that he’s going to need to keep up with Peyton and his audibles? How many pass protection assignments does he miss before they start keeping Hillman in there for longer stretches? The biggest unknown of the group has to be Knowshon Moreno. He looks to be the third down back. Does that mean he’s in there for blocking or to catch checkdown passes and make something happen? Keep in mind that he really came through at the end of last season. One thing’s for sure, if he’s a part of the 2-minute drill that would be great for his value. Peyton-led 2-minute drills usually result in points.
Pittsburg Steelers - Cutting Jonathan Dwyer thinned the herd a little. That leaves Le’Veon Bell as the most exciting fantasy option, when he gets back from injury. In the mean time, Isaac Redman, as underwhelming as he may be, is the starter. Somehow Felix Jones has now wiggled himself into the third spot which has temporarily been upgraded to the back-up role, making him fantasy relevant for the time being. The real question I have is whether offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s desire to establish a better running game comes to fruition or does Big Ben still sling the ball all over the place on the majority the offensive snaps, making all of these backs very unattractive options.
Detroit Lions - Matthew Stafford throws to his backs a lot. Reggie Bush is great at getting the ball in the open field and making something happen, a task his frame seems better suited to accomplish through swing passes and not running between the tackles. I want to see if he’s on the field enough to garner a flex start or if he’s not even worth a bench spot.
Buffalo Bills - CJ Spiller was crowned as the workhorse in the preseason. The problem is, Fred Jackson is no slouch. Given Spiller’s ridiculous yards per carry last year, fantasy owners have to be hoping he gets a at least a 70/30 split to justify that top ten pick. With the announcement this morning that EJ Manuel is playing in Week 1, we may just get a decent idea of what the Bills offensive will look like this year.
Green Bay Packers - Edie Lacy is the most talented back Green Bay has had in a while. He played in a pro-style offense that used a lot one back sets in college, similar to what he’ll be doing with the Packers, and I think he’s the most versatile running back Nick Saban’s Alabama teams have produced yet. My only issue here is that his running style seems out of place in this offense. One player does not magically transform this into a tougher, more physical unit. This situation reminds me of Corey Dillon joining the Patriots in 2004. Hard-nosed runner thrown into a passing-oriented offense. Dillon ran for over 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns that year. Sometimes it’s best not to overthink it. Talent is talent.