Preseason Week 1: Arizona at Green Bay

Arizona

QB Carson Palmer’s strange odyssey through the NFL opened a new chapter with an efficient and effective debut for the Cardinals.  I would champion Palmer as a sneaky top 12 fantasy QB this year, but for his health and playing behind a traditionally awful Arizona O- Line.  Toss in new coach Bruce Arians who loves to throw deep and gets his QB hit a ton (last year in Indy his scheme was at least partly responsible for rookie QB Andrew Luck taking the most hits in the league) and I just can’t get too excited about Palmer.   He has the weapons, and the arm strength, and the experience – but he doesn’t have the Oline, a safe scheme, or a young body – and playing San Fran, Seattle, and St Louis for over  1/3 of his schedule is bound to get him hurt…if not killed.

The Cardinals started RB Alfonso Smith in this one while RB Rashard Mendenhall and RB Ryan Williams sat with injuries.   There was nothing to like about Smith’s performance and nothing to like about the lack of the 2 guys ahead of him who sat out.  Mendenhall should be back for the next preseason game, but Ryan Williams looks like he may be headed down a similar career path as former Cards RB Beanie Wells – who is a FA with no interest from teams this season due to his chronic injuries.

Rookie RB Stephan Taylor got a massive 20 carry workload (64 yards total) in this one.  Over such a sample size of course he had ups and downs – and my evaluation of him is that way as well – he seems to have good vision, makes solid cuts and above average choices – but he seems to lack some fluidity and speed.  Often times he got where he was going, but it looked like it was painful to develop – against NFL starters I’m not sure he would have even the limited success he did here.

Green Bay

WR James Jones and TE Jermichael Finely have been two players I’ve always been down on because of inconsistent play.  And I’m not talking about inconsistent fantasy production- that can be dependent on a lot of things – I’m talking about dropping the football.   Jones caught a 50 yarder in this one, and was targeted on a bad throw in the endzone,  on the 1st play when the Packers were inside the 10.  So with WR Jordy Nelson out with injury, and Randal Cobb expected to be battling his biceps injury most of the season, Jones will see his stock continue to trend up.   If he can hang on to the ball he could be as a high as a WR 2 on your fantasy team in 2013.  You’ll want to draft him like he’s a WR3 however and hope for that upside.

Finley has been said to be having an excellent camp, and Rodgers looked for him early in the 1st drive on a nice 7 yard quick timing route.  But, just when I start believing even a little in him Finley drops a TD pass from Rodgers on the Packers 2nd play inside the 5 yard line.  I don’t think Finely ever gets it together and becomes a fantasy dominant TE, ever since he burst on to the scene he’s regressed season after season – I’m starting to think players like Jared Cook have a chance to pass him this season.  It’s just tough to like a guy with stone hands.

If you feel uneasy about the Broncos potential RB mess – welcome to Green Bay 2013.   They  started this one with RB James Starks who is said to be on the roster bubble this year.  Starks ran hard (12 carries for 38 yards), but he did get stuffed at the goaline, and running hard in Green Bay has these past few years meant modest production at best.

RB Jonathan Frankin was next up, the “other” rookie RB that Green Bay drafted.  Franklin looked like an all around RB – threw a nice block in pass protection on LB Darryl Washington, caught 2 passes for 12 yards, and ran ok without much results (6 carries for 14 yards) he had all of his carries behind the 2nd unit OL.

RB Alex Green the “other” veteran said to be on the roster bubble was next.  I like Green – but I admit he’s probably going to be a roster causality.   It wasn’t a good sign for him when in his 1st series they gave him the ball once on a shotgun draw which had no blocking, and then he didn’t get another carry for over a quarter (Franklin rotated back in during this time).  He mostly encountered no blocking with the 3rd and 4th stringers – and it will be tough for him to move up the depth chart.

RB Ed Lacy and RB Dujan Harris who might both be the real starting candidates for this team did not play.   When they get added to the mix you’ll be looking at a true 5 man competition – for a job where the RB might be better than the OL.

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