What to (Not) Watch for in the NFL Preseason

Aside from the Hall of Fame game, preseason football is right around the corner. Preseason is the first time fans can see the promising first-round draft pick that will change the franchise’s future, or another year for New England fans to appreciate the sustainability of the greatest quarterback ever. The ratings for preseason are somehow good, usually a factor of football withdrawal opposed to the actual quality of play on the field. Since you are going to be watching anyway, here are things to watch for during the NFL preseason, and things you are told that are important.

QB Battles

Besides the asinine logic that convinced Kyrie Irving to request a trade from the greatest basketball player of all time, the headlines are almost all position battles in the NFL. And what is the most important position in football? The quarterback. This is a clever trick by TV networks to create content because in the grand scheme of things, if a team has an open QB competition, then the team is not going anywhere and is probably irrelevant. An exception could be made for the Houston Texans, whose defense can carry a bad quarterback.The Texans won a playoff game with Brock Osweiler last year, so I think Houston should be fine with a rookie quarterback.  It does not matter who is the starting QB for the Browns or Jets, both teams will be drafting a young signal caller in the top five next year. Seriously ESPN, please do not give us anymore updates from Jets camp letting us know how the ball is coming out of Josh McCown’s hand.

Promising Draft Picks

The NFL preseason is clearly a watered-down version of the normal product as teams are not going deep into their extensive playbooks, making it pointless to make definitive statements highly-touted prospects. Veterans mail in the preseason and try to avoid injury, while guys who will soon be working at Wal-Mart are going all out. If a promising prospect looks bad and overmatched against scrubs, I understand starting to worry. But if a player is dominating, it means less than nothing. Maybe the player could move up the depth chart quicker than expected, but that is usually due to hard work at practice that fans do not get the opportunity to see. Fans can sell stock in preseason, but they are complete crazy if they decide to buy any in young players.

Scout for fantasy/Injury Watch

For fantasy football, every league should draft after the third preseason game. Is this due to the third game being a dress rehearsal so fans get an idea what their team will look like? Of course not. The idea is that starters do not play in the fourth preseason game to avoid injury. This way, fantasy owners feel safe that their team is healthy for week one. Do you really need to see David Johnson’s preseason production to justify taking him in the top three in the draft? I think not.

Is my team tanking?

Ok, I gave three good reasons why fans should not care or watch preseason games even if the media is telling fans that is important to do. This fourth reason is for a select few and actually makes a case for checking out your team. The Browns and Jets fit into this category this year because neither team wins four games if they tried. Fans need to pay attention to early cuts and quotes that emphasis building a culture. Last year the Browns cut Donte Whitner and Paul Kruger early and became clear the Browns decided to start the rebuild from scratch. When headlines start being thrown around after a veteran is cut like, “we wanted to give him a chance to go somewhere he would have a chance to win,” fans become suspicious that their team may tank the season. This is not a bad thing, it could be good. For example, Jets fans can get a head start scouting Josh Rosen and can also save money by not buying tickets.

In conclusion, there is no logical reason why fans should watch preseason football, unless the fans believe that their favorite team could lose to Alabama.  

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