Joique Bell, Brandon LaFell, and Four More Preseason Observations
A Six Pack of Preseason Observations
Joique Bell was running through New England defensive backs like he was on star mode in a Mario game. Patriots were left flailing at Bell’s legs as he carried the ball five times for 52 yards.
Bell added 2 catches for 49 yards, for a total of 101 yards on 7 touches. At this point, we probably shouldn’t be surprised. On just 8 touches/game last year, Bell put up an average of 56 yards/game. I’ve long argued for Bell over Leshoure, and this preseason supports that position. Bell and Leshoure both got five rushing attempts in last night’s third preseason game. Bell’s came with the second unit; Leshoure’s came with the…4th unit? Leshoure got 32 yards with his rushes; Bell got 52 with his. For the last time people, Bell is the handcuff-with-upside in Detroit, and a $2 auction bargain.
O, and if you need someone to take out a streaker, Joique’s your man.
Greg Salas was low on many a radar heading into camp, but injuries and steady play have vaulted him onto my roster.
Damaris Johnson is a nifty toy to have on any team. He’s a rich man’s Chad Hall. Johnson isn’t a 75-90-percent-of-the-snaps guy, but he can be utilized as a change of pace to Riley Cooper on the outside. He’s limited as a blocker, but he isn’t afraid to mix it up and is a good yards-after-catch receiver.
We wrote earlier about the sleeper potential of both Greg Salas and Damaris Johnson. Now it looks like both might make the Eagles’ roster. Russell Shepard, not so much. DeSean Jackson is the obvious WR1, but after that comes Jason Avant and Riley Cooper; hardly an unstoppable duo. Based on the preseason, it looks like Philly will be able to run a lot of plays, so there might be volume opportunity for these guys. Both are worth keeping your eye on as late round/waiver additions.
LaFell saw four targets on the night, and he had a brutal drop in the red zone on third down. Cam Newton put the ball right on LaFell, but he tried to body catch it and the pass fell hopelessly to the ground. LaFell isn’t cutting it as the No. 2 receiver.
We’ve argued for LaFell before. More than once. OK, kind of a lot. LaFell has some things going for him, like not much competition for WR2 duties, and modest year to year improvements. Still, the preseason isn’t offering much hope. I suppose if his ADP drops, the risk/reward ratio improves and makes him a worthwhile late round target. But if you’re turned off by LaFell, why not consider Andre Roberts, who is available later, and fits the productive Arians WR type? Roberts also seems to be having a decent preseason.
Fauria made a case with his hands, catching three passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. He was also got flagged for a chop block, costing the Lions 15 yards.
No RotoViz preseason report would be complete without a mention of young TE sleepers. Fauria played 39 snaps (49%) on offense last night, and other than the penalty (do the Lions even care about those?) played well. The Lions typically keep only 3 TEs. Brandon Pettigrew is a lock – not to mention overlooked. The Lions insist Tony Scheffler is in their plans, but he continues to play fewer preseason snaps (he also recorded a TD in last night’s game). The Lions also like blocking TE Mike Williams. Williams suffered a hand injury in last night’s game; if it’s serious, Fauria should be a lock for the roster. If not, and the Lions choose to release him, I’m pretty sure that Fauria, the 6’7″ TD machine, will catch on elsewhere. As a Lions’ fan, my
secret hope is that they trade Scheffler (Baltimore? Miami) and keep both Fauria and Williams.
Tough night for the Patriots, including one of our favorite
man crush TE prospects, Zach Sudfeld. Sudfeld (and Vereen, too) was benched following his fumble. He did get back on the field during 4th quarter ‘garbage time’, but not sure if that was a ‘vote of confidence’ or a ‘Belichickian punishment’. Still, he’s had an impressive preseason and frankly, until Gronk returns, the Pats don’t have much at TE besides Sudfeld. For what it’s worth, even Matthew Berry agrees: he has Sudfeld as his #8 TE.
The starting offense struggled for a third straight week, and it may be time to have some concern about quarterback Joe Flacco and his supporting cast.
We think Flacco is a Stealth Star, partly because he has a really safe floor. On the other hand, at least in the preseason, it does seem like he’s missing key targets Pitta and Boldin. Hopefully, someone like RotoViz fave Aaron Mellette or darkhorse Marlon Brown step up to provide Flacco with a reliable receiving option to go along with Torrey Smith. Brown is intriguing- he has good size and a reasonably productive college career to backup his solid preseason. Check out their respective collegiate production using our WR College Career App, and form your own opinion. Both should be on your Dynasty radar, but probably not redraft, yet. But Smith is a healthier version of Hakeem Nicks, with a virtually guaranteed uptick in targets.