Training camp battles: Part Two
Preseason games are upon us. Bask in the glory as some of your favorites take the field for the first time this weekend and showcase their skills – for about 10 plays before putting on a baseball cap.
For some players, preseason results don't matter. It is more about timing, preparation, acclimating to the new season's game plan and, most importantly, staying healthy. If Drew Brees goes out and throws three interceptions, his fantasy draft stock will not move an inch.
But for others, preseason results are a major factor in deciding whether a certain player will be a high-profile starter or a simple backup when Week 1 arrives. And those fighting for meaningful roles in August could be huge contributors in your run to a fantasy title in December. This article lays out 14 of the most important and interesting position battles for fantasy owners to watch throughout the preseason.
One final note: You won't be seeing the names Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez, Kevin Kolb or E.J. Manuel anywhere in this piece. Those two quarterback competitions get a lot of press, but this is about what matters in the world of fantasy football. If you are banking on one of those four to contribute to your fantasy success, well, you have my prayers.
(Click here for Part One, which includes the Eagles QB situation and the Broncos RB competition)
Steelers Starting RB: Le'Veon Bell, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer
This "competition" couldn't be simpler. Barring Bell completely face-planting over these next four weeks, he will be the Steelers' starting running back. More than that, he might be their every-down back. The rookie has drawn rave reviews in training camp, and it looks more and more like Redman and Dwyer are not competing to start, but competing to stay on the team.
Among the top rookie running backs contending to start right away, Ball and Lacy might have higher upsides because of the offenses they play in. But it is Bell who may be the safest choice of the three, because it seems like the Steelers want to fully commit to him. Now he just needs to not screw up.
Leader: Bell, definitely
Colts Second WR: T.Y. Hilton and Darrius Heyward-Bey
Hilton put up a nice line as a rookie last year – 50 catches, 861 yards, 7 touchdowns. But he will have to fend off Heyward-Bey if he wants to keep his spot. So far, Hilton is hanging in there. He has had a good camp, while DHB has been set back by a knee injury. Hilton is also lining up in the slot as well as outside the numbers, ensuring that he can stay on the field when the Colts go three-wide. Heyward-Bey is very fast, but he is kind of a one-trick pony. It will be interesting to see how his straight-line speed mixes into the Colts' offense, which will be more conservative than what Bruce Arians produced in 2012.