IDP Preseason: Real Deal or Pretend Player
The preseason rolls on and with the end of week three, we can extrapolate some trends, totals, and possibilities for the impending season. Week for can be hit or miss team by team, as some are still holding tryouts for the last handful of guys on the roster while others are working on play concepts before the “for real” games start up.
These first three weeks are not always going to tell you who will overtake the lead tackling role on any one given team, but sometimes you can track down who might rise to the top based off of performances over these games. So we are going to play a game looking at the top 3 producers in tackles, sacks, and passes defended (pd) and try to determine if these are the real deal or pretend players. I would suggest that all of the players in this article are added to your watch lists, even if we drop the pretend player tag on them now.
Top 3 Tackles:
3) Rontez Miles, S NYJ, 19 tackles. Coming off of last year’s 24 tackles, Miles won’t be starting the season as the Jets starter at Strong Safety, as Calvin Pryor did a good job there last year. The Jets defense usually finds a way to work in talented players. At best right now Rontez Miles is a player to add to your watch list to monitor how his season starts out.
2) Dexter McCoil, S SD, 20 tackles. Right now McCoil is slated as the 3rd string Free Safety, and is a 24 year old Rookie, though he had a beast of a 3rd game this pre-season putting up 11 solo tackles and stripping Kyle Rudolph for a Forced Fumble. His two previous games were… ok. McCoil right now is a one game cinderella in my book. Pretend Player.
1) Mike Hull, LB MIA, 22 tackles. Sitting at 3rd string LB behind newly acquired Kiko Alonzo, Hull has had a much improved preseason over last year, which has probably cemented himself a spot on the team, but there is a great deal of near and former pro-bowl level talent starting on Miami’s Defense which just does not point to Hull getting much of anything this season. Pretend Player.
Top 3 Sacks:
3) Dekonda Watson, OLB DEN, 4 sacks. 4 sacks in 3 games compared to 0 sacks in the combined pre, in, and post-season games he played last year, or 2 for the 15 combined games in 2014, is impressive. The Broncos have moved Watson to the outside so he can rush more than run-stop, and it appears to be paying off. In the deepest of leagues, Watson is the Real Deal and worth the pickup now, but the majority of leagues he isn’t immediately worth rostering over more talented established players.
2) Marcus Rush, OLB SF, 4 sacks. Rush actually produced 4 sacks in 2 games, as he did not play in the first preseason game for the Niners. The second game was quite the standout with 4 tackles, 3 sacks, and 1 forced fumble, this past week he had a mundane 1 tackle and 1 sack. He’ll likely make the 53 man roster, but until I have little faith in anyone in SF on Defense outside of Bowman and Bethea. Pretend Player.
1) Justin Trattou, DE MIN, 4.5 sacks. I’m pretty sure if you put up 10 preseason sacks, you still would not be starting over Everson Griffen in Minnesota. Trattou has done more work than previous preseasons, but he’s a Pretend Player all the way.
Top 3 Passes Defended:
3) Kendall Fuller, CB WAS, 6 PD. There has been a great deal of buzz around Washington’s Defensive Backs. Fuller’s problem is that he’s behind Josh Norman on the depth chart. The good news is he is behind Josh Norman on the depth chart. On multiple occasions last year Norman tempted suspension with his on-field actions during and after plays. Fuller does not appear to be at risk for not making the 53 man roster, and is the Real Deal when it comes to talent, he just needs more opportunity in a crowded part of the defensive roster.
2) Mackensie Alexander, CB MIN, 6 PD (2 interceptions). The starter in front of Alexander (Xavier Rhodes) was serviceable last year for the Vikings, and the back-up in front of Alexander has one of the most amazing names ever (Captain Munnerlyn). While the two Int’s will help him stay on the 53 man squad, he is a Pretend Player, as it will be a bit of a battle to overcome numbers and a name like those.
1) Corey White, CB BUF, 7 PD. White had the most valid of Int’s out of these three since it was Kirk Cousins and not the CIN third string QB (ie: #2 on this list Alexander). Unfortunately, White is the 3rd string on a relatively well-formed defense in Buffalo, specifically, he is 2 depth chart spots back of Ronald Darby, so yeah, Pretend Player.
While the majority of these players are listed as pretenders, remember what was stated above, they should all be on your radar, yes preseason games do not count, but they are where players get the chance to make teams and rise up through the ranks.
Your biggest takeaway here should not be that preseason stats do not count, but that the context of those stats are what really matter. A player can have a great preseason and be quiet the whole regular season, but that reason is because they are backing up a superstar that the team is trying to protect during the warm up games. Meanwhile, what may only be a slight statistical rise for a veteran is actually a window into what the season can hold.