The most prevalent question with the most divergent opinions during preseason football is, of course, How much should pay attention to the games? If you play fantasy football in a dynasty league the answer is quite a bit. The production that these end of the roster players earn shouldn’t be weighted heavily, but watching how they get their yardage and touchdowns is worth a look. Here’s a list of players I’m watching this year. They’re battling for roster spots, much less any significant playing time. However, this is where players like Victor Cruz and LaRod Stephens Howling got their start.
RB Adonis Thomas, Browns
The former star at Toledo reminds me of LaMichael James in terms of his style. The difference is that he’s not as fast as James, but the 49ers rookie isn’t as powerful and tough between the tackles as Thomas. The Browns saw enough from Thomas in a tryout that they signed him and Pat Shurmur commented that Thomas could not only make the roster but earn playing time. Thomas scored against the Lions and added a 25-yard reception as well. Chris Ogbonnaya and Brandon Jackson have the prototypical size, but they are mediocre talents. Thomas has more upside. Keep an eye on him.
TE Garrett Graham, Texans
It’s probably not fair to list Graham in this category, but when buried behind Joel Dreesen for two years he qualifies. Graham was one of my favorite prospects at the tight end position in a class that included Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Graham has reliable hands, underrated athleticism in open space, and good skill as a blocker when used strictly to double-team edge rushers or as a wing back or H-back. With Dreesen in Denver, the Texans are giving Graham a chance and he’s thriving. He’s a player I believe we’ll be hearing more about this year when the regular season begins.
WR Chris Owusu, 49ers
The biggest reason he wasn’t a third or fourth-round pick (at worst) was multiple concussions as a senior. In any other era, Owusu would have been a valued much higher. He has excellent deep speed and toughness after the catch. He’s a solid return specialist with the potential to develop into a more sure-handed Darius Heyward-Bey if he can stay healthy. The long-term future of the 49ers receiving corps is murkier than it might appear. Keep an eye on Jim Harbaugh’s former recruit.
RB Cedric Peerman, Bengals
No, he doesn’t pay me. Nor do we go to the same church. And no, there isn’t a bandwagon for the former Virginia runner with 4.3 speed. But I am driving a beaten up taxi for the guy. Peerman is a highly valued special teams player for the Bengals and more often than not, he’s show something when he has earned a chance to touch the ball in the offense. I think he’s the most overlooked talent in football. Neither Bernard Scott nor Brian Leonard can stay healthy and BenJarvus Green-Ellis will need some relief. If Peerman gets his shot, I think he’ll make something of it.
TE Cornelius Ingram, Broncos
I gave Ingram a poor draft grade when he was at Florida. Not because of his athleticism and talent, but his effort and consistency. After two ACL tears, Ingram has bounced from Philadelphia to Detroit to Denver. He emerged with 45 yards on 2 catches, including a 25-yard touchdown last weekend. If he can stay healthy, there’s not a more tight end friendly team west of the Mississippi than Denver. Julius Thomas isn’t fulfilling his potential and there’s a logjam of talent. If Ingram makes the roster, he’s worth watching.