Scout Preseason Games For Fantasy Football

by Richard Savill
Best 2022 Pre-NFL Draft Landing Spots: RB Edition

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Football is back. This is your chance to scout preseason games for Fantasy Football and develop your own insights like a pro! Players will catch your eye in ways no one else sees. Not even the commentators! These are players that perhaps will make an impact later in the season. They often do. You'll have your notes ready to snatch them up before the rest have even heard the alarm clock!

Some may shrug at preseason with regard to fantasy football as irrelevant. I would consider it more essential than most tend to give. Think about it. This is your chance to evaluate with your own eyes the lower end targets and rookies. Not only that, you might discover some red flags on those late fantasy draft choices you had in mind or others worth a second look that you previously dismissed.

Again, you yourself may identify things on television that even the commentators fail to point out! As the roster cuts begin to loom larger with every passing week in August, the players on the field will do their best to impress. It's not just a dress rehearsal. Careers are at stake.

Scout Preseason Games For Fantasy Football

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The best way to watch is from a DVR recording or with NFL GamePass if you can afford it. Watching the game live is okay too, but it's a lot easier to skim through the parts you deem relevant. And that's the key. What exactly is relevant and what is not?

The first half is usually the best half

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You may see some regular starters run in the first offense series and perhaps the entire first quarter, but generally they sit out most of the game.

The second week of preseason is more of a dress rehearsal for the first teamers, but even then, their time on the field follows careful limits. More on that later.

You will see some of the guys who often work reps in camp with the first team play a great deal more.

Who isn't on the field often tells you more than who is

Rounding out certain areas of the depth chart is often discernable by which players are on the field, than which are not. Coaches play things pretty close to the vest in preseason, so it's inexact to expect this as a rule of thumb to go by.

Nevertheless, monitoring the snaps and personnel changes from quarter to quarter may give you an intuitive sense where players stand.

Watch how running backs pass block

Head coaches and their star quarterbacks are always watching this and you should too. In close running back camp competitions, skill in pass blocking can tilt the balance toward or away from a player.

If it is one of those teams with a rather crowded backfield, it may factor in your forecast which player will eventually emerge as a main carrier.

Speed and separation

With wide receivers, I must admit a speed bias. I always feel that speed can make up for other shortages in talent a player might have.

However, for speed to be effective, one also needs separation. Watching how well the receivers run their routes and create separation is so important. If a player lacks speed, then I'll settle for good hands and size.

Naturally, you want all these things, but not everyone can have a Cooper Kupp.

Offensive linemen matter

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Looking at the depth of an offensive line can be rewarding. If second teamers are blocking well in pass protection and run blocking, your offensive players on that team have a better chance to flourish.

If your fantasy targets have an offensive line that withstands injury by having capable replacements, it takes away a lot of that doubt if they can remain a resilient unit.

Big plays are good, however...

Don't get carried away with a stellar catch or touchdown by the lower ranks. Remember that the defenses are also second and third teamers.

I'm not saying you should ignore these things, but just don't raise a guy way up on your draft cheat sheet because of a single play. Use prudent judgment when assessing a performance by taking everything as a whole.

Is the second half worth watching?

Sometimes. You might think that the lesser players have no significance for fantasy football, but down the road, they might have some value.

Usually, these guys don't even make your season watch list. That said, if you think you sense a possibility with a player that catches your interest, it never hurts to make a note.

Teams do try to win these games

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Despite the fact these games mean nothing, the participants do try to win them. Winning always matters.

The coach likes to bring success to a locker room, so these games count for driving a winning attitude early. For our fantasy prospects we can take some assurance that they will put their best form on the football field.

The second week

If you really want the full dress rehearsal, you'll generally see a good portion in the second week of preseason.

When the NFL shifted a preseason game into the regular season, the window for seeing the 1st teamers became smaller. The so-called "dress rehearsal" may not exactly be the same as in seasons' past.

Scouting players for the entire preseason might be beyond your interest, but I would at least encourage some viewing in the third week to see your targets in action. You'll get a good number of first team players on the field against the same level defense to see how matters stand.

Listen to the booth commentators

In several preseason games, the guys in the booth are often local broadcasters who double as press insiders of the teams on the field. You may pick up some nuggets of information about certain players that nobody ever talks about or writes about in the internet blogs. Keep your ears peeled for that.

Also, field interviews might give you an insight of what's going on in the heads of players and coaches. The relaxed nature of these interviews outside of the eye of national spectacle has lower hyperbole than what we see during the regular season.

There's no substitute for your own eyes

Many will prefer to just read about the games and the news in the aftermath on RotoWorld or FantasyPros. You can even read a synopsis about the games and players here at F6P.

This is fine and I support them as an alternative, but making your own judgments is something I would also encourage. There's something intuitive from watching the games that you don't get by simply reading the news and opinions of others.

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