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12 Pre-Season Stats You Need to Know - Week 3
David Dorey
August 26, 2008
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This week was the most important with many first team offenses playing the first half in a tune-up for the season's start. These stats definitely matter the most.

1. The rookie Josh Morgan went 0-3 as a starting wideout in the game against the Bears. That came on the heels of being the story of training camp and hype that had him being drafted earlier and earlier in fantasy drafts. Morgan remains the starter but week three was a reminder that he is just a rookie on a rebuilding (AKA bad) offense. There is reason to have optimism, but it should not extend into considering Morgan as a fantasy starter quite yet.

2. After completing 7 of 8 for 126 yards and one score, J. T. O'Sullivan has beaten out Alex Smith for the starting job in San Francisco. Now that only guarantees week one and Smith could still potentially show up later in the season, but for now the little-known O'Sullivan gets to be a Martz quarterback and challenge for the league lead in passes, interceptions and sacks.

3. With Kevin Curtis gone and Reggie Brown still nursing his hamstring, Donovan McNabb still was able to pass 13 of 17 for 180 yards and one score against the Patriots. L.J. Smith had three catches for 44 yards and that was from just the first series. DeSean Jackson had four grabs for 67 yards and Westbrook remains an obvious target. Smith and Jackson are both players that are available as back-up players for a fantasy squad but you could end up like Donovan when you find out they are two of your better players.

4. After three preseason games, Vince Young has completed a total 16 of 37 passes for 156 yards and no touchdowns. If he is going to take the next step up to being a better passer, he is really saving himself for the regular season because there has been nothing this summer that suggests that the Titans won't continue to have one of the worst passing attacks in the league. Chris Johnson remains the lone right spot but even he only gained 35 yards on 11 carries against the Falcons and did not have a signature long run. Without any passing game to respect, that will affect both LenDale White and Johnson.

5. The rookie Dustin Keller has found a new friend in Brett Favre. Keller had three catches for 43 yards last week including receiving the first pass of the game and had two receptions for 26 yards and one score the previous week. Keller was brought on expressly for his abilities as a receiver and while most tight ends need two years to have a big season, Keller may not be willing to wait.

6. Larry Johnson carried 13 times for 36 yards last week and now has a surprisingly heavy preseason load of 35 carries over three games. Unfortunately he only gained 115 yards for a 3.3 yard average. Not only does Johnson seem likely to have another season that makes you forget about the "good years", he will have Brodie Croyle as his quarterback. In three games, Croyle has completed 25 of 44 passes for 230 yards and no touchdowns. So far, so not that great.

7. Jonathan Stewart left his performance last week of four rushes for three yards and went to see his doctor who told him to chill out and stop worrying about the toe that he wasn't going to hurt because that funny feeling was just some scar tissue that would eventually go away. Stewart responded by running with the first team and gaining 100 yards on 10 carries that included a 50-yard touchdown run. Just as important was DeAngelo Williams also gaining 101 yards on nine carries and scoring a 60-yard touchdown only minutes after Stewart had his. Both runners looked great which means expect to see both runners this year.

8. The Bengals added ex-Colt Ben Utecht in the offseason and normally that would spell a demise to a tight end's stats because the Bengals just never used the position. They ranked #32 last year for tight ends in both yards (333) and touchdowns (0) among all NFL teams. But Utecht was brought on to be a receiver and over the three games, he has caught 10 passes for 108 yards and one score. Often undrafted in most leagues, Utecht could be a very nice sleeperish surprise.

9. In the important third preseason game when most teams play the starters for a half, the Ravens used Joe Flacco for the entire game. He completed 18 of 37 for 152 yards and one score. The previous game had him passing 10 of 15 for 74 yards and no score. The Ravens are very seriously considering Flacco as a week one starter. If nothing else, it signals that you cannot rely on any Baltimore starting quarterback until it becomes Flacco.

10. Matt Leinart could have used a big game against the Raiders last week but instead he laid his worst egg of the preseason by completing four of 12 passes for 24 yards and three interceptions. Now everyone is saying that Kurt Warner is the week one starter except for head coach Ken Whisenhunt who no doubt has thought it and now has to figure out how to say it without looking like he is listening to others for starting advice. Don't worry Ken, every Larry Fitzgerald owner will think more highly of you when you make the change to Warner.

11. Robert Meachem has 211 yards on just nine catches during the preseason to currently rank second in preseason receiving yardage. While they hardly give out trophy for that sort of achievement, it does illustrate that he is well on his way to make up for a lost rookie season in 2007. Last week he was working with the first team and had four catches for 71 yards. He's not going to be a secret in any league by now.

12. Just for a reality check, these are all preseason stats and things can and will change in the regular season. For the 2007 preseason, the leading passers were J. T. O'Sullivan, Kevin Kolb and Seneca Wallace and they didn't do much when it counted. The best rushers were Thomas Clayton, Gary Russell and Pierre Thomas. There are meaningful numbers to be sure, but in the end all they are meant to do is get a player a job.

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