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Steve Schwarz | Archive | Email |  
Staff Writer

Are pre-season stats worth analyzing?

Robby Anderson

Pre-season stud: Robby Anderson led all receivers with 264 yards during the pre-season of 2016.

Over the course of my career at giving out fantasy advice, I have always preached that “preseason results mean absolutely nothing.” That the only thing worthy of your attention from July to the end of August is the health of players.

However, nothing is forever. The world changes. Just because it’s been that way in the past, doesn’t mean it will continue to be that way in perpetuity. We must adapt or die. Looking back at the last 10 years of preseason football, I have noted a slight exception to my rule.

Look at the two information boxes below you will note that while only one quarterback and zero running backs from the preseason leaders list has ever amounted to anything (Kirk Cousins), the list of wide receivers has proven to be a better precursor to a career. No, they may not be immediately viable (the exception being Antonio Brown), but four of the 10 preseason receiving yards leaders developed into viable fantasy options. Along with four-time first team All-Pro Brown, Victor Cruz had two great seasons (2011-12), Allen Hurns one (2015) and Robby Anderson last season (2017) became useful fantasy wideouts the year after leading the league in preseason yards.

   Pre-Season Stat Leaders
Year Passing Yds Rushing Yds Receving Yds
2017 Matt Simms 613 Corey Grant 191 Dede Westbrook 288
2016 Matt Barkley 630 Mack Brown 227 Robby Anderson 264
2015 Landry Jones 724 Zach Zenner 183 Rashad Ross 266
2014 Z. Mettenberger 659 Lorenzo Taliaferro 243 Allen Hurns 232
2013 Pat Devlin 504 Khiry Robinson 228 Marcus Easley 224
2012 Kirk Cousins 560 William Powell 249 Travaris Cadet 246
2011 Stephen McGee 610 Kendall Hunter 231 Antonio Brown 230
2010 Charlie Whitehurst 635 Anthony Dixon 300 Victor Cruz 297
2009 Todd Bauman 485 Tyrell Sutton 191 Leonard Pope 100
2008 Quinn Gray 562 Marcus Mason 317 Billy McMullen 227

   Season Stats
Year Passing Yds Rushing Yds Receving Yds
2017 Matt Simms 0 Corey Grant 248 Dede Westbrook 339
2016 Matt Barkley 0 Mack Brown 82 Robby Anderson 587
2015 Landry Jones 239 Zach Zenner 60 Rashad Ross 0
2014 Z. Mettenberger 0 Lorenzo Taliaferro 292 Allen Hurns 677
2013 Pat Devlin 0 Khiry Robinson 224 Marcus Easley 0
2012 Kirk Cousins 466 William Powell 217 Travaris Cadet 44
2011 Stephen McGee 182 Kendall Hunter 473 Antonio Brown 1108
2010 Charlie Whitehurst 507 Anthony Dixon 237 Victor Cruz 0
2009 Todd Bauman 0 Tyrell Sutton 68 Leonard Pope 174
2008 Quinn Gray 76 Marcus Mason 0 Billy McMullen 124

Can Dede Westbrook become a viable option in 2018?

The Jaguars did lose both “Allens” to free agency – Allen Hurns (Dallas Cowboys) and Allen Robinson (Chicago Bears), but Westbrook will still have to deal with mediocre quarterbacking from Blake Bortles (315-of-523 for 3,687 yards 21 TDs and 13 INTs). He also has to fight “target-hog” Marqise Lee and up-and-coming Keelan Cole on a team that rushed the ball as many times as it threw it last season (527). The Jaguars added top free agent offensive lineman Andrew Norwell in the offseason, so they clearly plan to continue the “ground and pound” attack strategy.

Can Hurns return to the form of 2015 when he posted 64-1031-10? The move to Dallas can only help his chances. While his team change went from a Leonard Fournette dominated offense to an Ezekiel Elliott dominated offense, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott will be desperate to find his 2018 “go-to receiver” after tight end Jason Witten retired and free agent Dez Bryant wasn’t brought back. Hurns only has to beat out Terrance Williams (broken foot, off-the-field issue), slot man Cole Beasley and rookie Michael Gallup for targets and that seems eminently possible.

My favorite receiver from this list, beside Brown obviously, is Anderson. The Jets receiver came into his own last season scoring six times in a five-game span and nearly cracking the 1,000-yard mark. Had New York not started the completely ineffective Bryce Petty over the final three games (0-3, 55.1 QG Rating), it would have happened. This season Anderson will likely catch passes from both Josh McCown and Sam Darnold. He had most of last year’s success connecting with McCown and rookie Darnold is more talented, though raw. The biggest issue facing Anderson is a possible, make that probable, suspension after he pled “no contest” to a reckless driving charge this spring.

Who will lead the preseason in passing and rushing for 2018? I don’t know and it likely doesn’t matter.

However, the wideout who leads the league in preseason receiving yardage, will have my attention … at least for my dynasty leagues.

Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.

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