It’s human nature to see a developing story and react to it. However, when it comes to the preseason, both positive and negative hype is ubiquitous. Whether it’s a player standing out in camp, making a couple of flashy plays, or on the way down the depth chart, there will be a polarizing player note to follow. The following are a few examples of news bits that shouldn’t have caused us to overreact in hindsight.
Aiyuk went from seemingly the last option in the offense as of mid-July and having no chemistry with Trey Lance to becoming the “star” of training camp. He quickly built up “good chemistry” with Lance all by mid-August. Ohh, but what a month will do. After finishing as WR 35 (PPR) in only 12 games of his rookie season, Aiyuk’s development hopes were high. He followed his rookie season up with a disappointing second year, playing all 17 games but only managing that same WR35 finish. George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, along with a focused rushing attack, overshadowed Aiyuk.
In addition, rumors were swirling that he found himself in coach Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse and subsequently lost potential snaps. Now heading into this seemingly make-or-break third year, dynasty managers are clearly on edge. Hearing early talk of poor practices and drops likely had these managers close to trading out of their shares. Yet a short month later, these managers who cut bait were kicking themselves for letting go of the now deemed offensive “star.”
Albert O. has been on a roller coaster ride of late. This “size-speed nightmare” shot up draft boards after the Russell Wilson trade. The trade moved then starting TE Noah Fant to Seattle, opening up a clear path to snaps alongside an elite QB. This story was quickly overshadowed by the Broncos’ drafting fellow TE Greg Dulcich’s 80th overall, adding heavy snap competition. Would this once rising star even be the starter come Week 1? His ceiling was opened again after a minor injury to Dulcich and a season-ending injury to WR Tim Patrick. He was destined to be again “a big part of the passing game.”
But the story didn’t end there. In the second preseason game, he played big minutes into the “fourth quarter of a preseason blowout,” which is a “red flag” for an “unquestioned starter.” So, where do we stand now? Anyone’s guess is as good as mine. But, it is possible that after months of news implying we acquire him quickly; then trying to move to rookie Dulcich; then back to a big year being eminent; then to maybe hold that thought, nothing was genuinely gained from any of these news stories.
Fat Lenny, or the new FeastMode, as he has been affectionately referred to, apparently came into camp heavy. So heavy that the implication was he would no longer be able to run effectively. Well, what a difference a few weeks make. Fournette went from “damn near 260 pounds” to “a little heavy” to “explosive” in short order. This transformation occurred so quickly that I doubt many fantasy managers even had time to panic and liquidate their positions before news broke that he was back to form.
And finally, there is the Ravens franchise QB who bulked up in the offseason. Fifteen pounds of muscle is nothing to sneeze at. With this new muscular frame, the implication is that Jackson will now be taking bigger hits. He will now gain a few extra rushing yards rather than safely running out of bounds, as he has been more apt to do in the past. But let’s first put this in perspective. Assuming Jackson truly has bulked up to 220 from his listed 212-pound weight to go along with his 6’2” frame, that is still a far cry from Josh Allen’s 237-pound 6’5” frame. Allen, seemingly seeking contact at times, puts himself at risk in how he runs, more so than in Jackson’s case.
If we compare Mike Vick at 210 and 6’0”, their weights are much more closely aligned when accounting for height. If we recall, among other off-field concerns, Vick did have some issues with injuries due to this playing style. While this note is nice to hear, I highly doubt his playing style, and thus his fantasy projection will change. Remaining unsigned heading into a contract year is typically not the time to begin risking catastrophic injury. But who knows? He is, after all, representing himself in contract negotiations. So maybe he turns his game into that of a downhill power back.
These were just four of many sagas surrounding players this offseason. These stories affect rookies, stars, and aged veterans alike. Their perceived value swings wildly week to week as stories develop. The takeaway is that there may not be much concrete evidence before the season starts. Reports become more and more sensationalized to gain traction. It would likely be wise to read the news but refrain from making rash decisions. Instead, sit back and read each new story, seemingly contrary to the last, and smile, knowing that the regular season is just around the corner.
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