Welcome back, football! The game we all know and love has returned for another sure-to-be riveting season. With that return comes the opening of daily fantasy football games here at DraftDay, starting with Week 2 of the preseason. So what better time than now to run-down the top-5 fantasy options at QB and TE for this week?
Tom Brady, Patriots: Brady struggled a bit last week, completing 8 of 14 passes for just 60 yards, while taking 2 sacks. He didn’t turn the ball over, though we know he’s capable of much, much more – even in preseason action. With an offense featuring the likes of Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Brandon Lloyd, it’ll be tough to avoid a fine fantasy day. Playing time is certainly a question mark – as with all players – but a quarter or so of work would give him enough to boost your fantasy squad.
Drew Brees, Saints: Brees has yet to complete a pass to a starting WR or TE over the Saints’ first 2 preseason contests. Sure, he’s attempted just 13 passes, but you can bet the Saints will want to speed things up as the regular season nears. A lowly Jags defense doesn’t pose much of a threat to the 6-time Pro Bowler. Expect to see some serious signs of fantasy life.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers: A-Rodg might not escape my top-3 in any week this season – or ever. Like Brady, he labored through his 2012 debut, completing just 2 of 8 attempts for 16 yards and a pick. But I fully expect his action to be ramped up, despite the Packers’ desire to get backup Graham Harrell more work. Rodgers is presented with a favorable matchup against the Browns.
Michael Vick, Eagles: Yes, Vick suffered a minor thumb injury in his first preseason contest of 2012. But he’s already returned to practice and there’s a real shot he sees extensive action this week. While it’s widely known that starters’ most extensive action generally comes in Week 3 of the preseason, don’t expect that to be the case for Philly this week. They square off with the Browns in Week 3 of the preseason, only to face them just 16 days later in the regular season opener. “I would expect to play more in New England as opposed to Cleveland, but that’s not our choice, it’s the coach’s choice,” Vick said Sunday. Translation? Start Vick!
Matt Ryan, Falcons: Two words. One name: Julio Jones. Ryan and Jones hooked up to the tune of 6 grabs for 109 yards and a TD last week. Oh, and it came in just 1 quarter of action. There’s no such thing as a “safe bet” in the preseason, but Ryan’s among the better bets this week.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots: Nothing fancy here. Gronk – a monster at 6’6, 265 – poses a serious matchup problem for the Eagles (and everyone for that matter). Their undersized defense stands little chance at slowing down the Pats high flying attack, as long as Brady is slinging him the rock. In his 2012 debut last week, Gronk posted 2 grabs for 20 yards against the Saints. Expect even more as the Pats prepare him for meaningful action next month.
Jermichael Finley, Packers: Finely posted fine fantasy totals last year, yet he failed to reach his potential. Green Bay isn’t short on pass catchers, but jumpstarting this ultra-athletic pass catcher should be a priority as they move forward through the preseason. As they look to built his confidence, look for him to be plenty involved in the passing attack early on. As their top red zone weapon, a TD is a real possibility.
Aaron Hernandez, Patriots: Two Patriot TEs…in the top-3!? You bet. Jimmy Graham will make his way into the top-2 more often than not this season. But he’s expected to miss his second straight game, despite returning to practice following a minor back injury. Insert Hernandez and his scary-good talent. The Pats usually short-range passing game will keep him involved in the vast majority of games this season.
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings: Here’s one of my favorite late-round values in fantasy drafts. Rudolph’s received a ton of pub for his stellar performance in camp. He possesses plus size, and an enormous catch radius – with a 2nd round pedigree to boot. Throw in a growing rapport with QB Christian Ponder, and you have the makings of a superb season. I like him to find paydirt against a Bills D that surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing TEs last season.
Brandon Pettigrew, Lions: Pettigrew faces a Ravens squad that isn’t likely to feature much – if any – of their defensive studs; names like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Both guys were held out of Week 1. And of course, Terrell Suggs remains out with an Achilles’ injury. A staple in the Lions’ high volume passing game, he’s a good bet to at least garner a handful of targets.