With the third week of the preseason ready to kickoff, it's the final chance for most fantasy owners to get one last look at the players they are thinking about drafting. There has been a lot of fluctuation in the value of the mid-round running backs already this preseason. Here are a few of the most erratic running back situations to monitor during preseason week 3.
Denver Broncos Running Backs
Fantasy owners have not forgotten how valuable Knowson Moreno was during the fantasy playoff push last year, and they know there is tremendous upside in owning Peyton Manning's running back. So who is the guy to own, or will this be a running back committee? Hillman has been the starter, and would look like the front runner if he did not have two fumbles against Seattle last week. Ball has not looked very impressive when running, and his pass protection has been very poor during preseason game action. Moreno has not gotten many first team reps during preseason games, but he has a proven track record as a good runner with solid pass protection. Hopefully the Broncos' third preseason game will shed some light on this situation and give fantasy owners some evidence on who to draft.
Preseason Week 3 Impact: If Hillman has a solid game then he could move up 3 - 6 rounds. If Hillman is named the starter then he could be taken as early as the third round. Ball needs to show a lot of improvement to keep any sort of draft value. If Ball does not overly impress, then he should drop below Moreno on draft day. Knowshon Moreno's value is the toughest to determine because the Broncos already know what he can do. Denver does not need to give Moreno extended game action in order to evaluate him, therefore, it may not mean much if Moreno does not see lots of game action . If Hillman and Ball have poor outings, then Moreno could jump to a mid-round pick moving up 5 - 8 rounds.
Everybody loves a repeated underdog story, and Maurice Jones-Drew fits that description heading into the 2013 season. Maybe it's an initial thing or maybe it's simply a matter of will, but if AP came back from an injury to have one of the greatest seasons of all-time, then why can't MJD? Jones Drews is still young and in a contract year. If he shows even the slightest glimpse of his old self against the Eagles on Saturday, then he will get back into the 1st round conversation.
Preseason Week 3 Impact: Fantasy owners that are hoping to pair MJD with the likes of AP, Foster or Lynch should probably start coming up with a new plan. If Jones Drew has a huge game, then he will be drafted as a late first round pick. If MJD has a decent game, then he still may go in the first round, but more likely he will be picked in the early second round. And if Jones-Drew has a poor game, then he just might keep his current value as a late 2nd round to early 3rd round pick.
The Green Bay Packers have not had a good running game since 2009, and now it appears Eddie Lacy is finally going to fill that void. Lacy dominated the SEC at Alabama, and he has carried that over to dominate the preseason. Dujuan Harris is still listed as the top back on the Packers' depth chart, but everyone has seen that Lacy is the most powerful and explosive runner in the Green Bay backfield. He is one more good preseason performance away from sky rocketing up draft boards.
Preseason Week 3 Impact: If Lacy comes out and dominates against the super stout Seattle defense, than his average draft position up to this point will become completely irrelevant. Fantasy owners will start drafting Lacy much earlier than anticipated. He could go from being drafted in the 5 - 6 round range to as high as a late 2nd to early 3rd round pick.
Bengals Running Backs
In an interesting move during the second week of the preseason, the Bengals sat Green-Ellis and gave Bernard a chance to start the game. Bernard played very well, and many fantasy owners took notice. If this was a sign of things to come, then Bernard could end up a draft day steal. It appears Bernard has gotten one step closer to getting out of Green-Ellis's shadow.
Preseason Week 3 Impact - Depending on the performance and playing time for Bernard, his draft stock could soar. If Bernard has a very productive and promising game, then he could move from the round 7 - 9 range to as high as a 4th or even 3rd round pick.
Other situations to monitor
Who will become the Dolphins starting running back, Thomas or MIller? Can the Titans offensive line keep progressing and opening holes for Chris Johnson and Shonn Greene? Will the Colts continue to struggle running the ball without Bradshaw in the lineup? Can Wilson or Brown take the lead in the Giants backfield? Who will be the starting RB for the steelers when the season kicks off?