When the Minnesota Vikings square off against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Aug. 9 to open the preseason NFL schedule, there are several players who fantasy football owners should be watching.

Don’t get too interested in the final score. Instead, watch these players and see if they’ve gained or lost a step since the last time they set foot on a football field. This list would start with Adrian Peterson, but he’s not likely to play in the preseason.

Teddy Bridgewater

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater turned in a nice rookie campaign with a quarterback rating of 85.2 with 2,919 yards and 14 touchdowns. If he was your quarterback last year, though, then we apologize for your near-cellar finish.

With a year under his belt, those numbers should increase. Oh, and that running back named Peterson should help a bit, since Peterson missed 15 games last year due to a suspension. Bridgewater will have more weapons (Peterson and wide receiver Mike Wallace) and can rely on a healthy Kyle Rudolph.

He will likely only play a series in the preseason opener, but that series should give a glimpse if his accuracy has improved during the offseason.

Charles Johnson

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Charles Johnson came out of nowhere last season.┬áThe lack of skill players on the Vikings’ roster was evident throughout the season, until Johnson caught fire toward the end. He became a boon off the waiver wire in fantasy football leagues, and he should be a higher draft pick this year as the main weapon on the Vikings.

With Wallace, Peterson and a healthy Rudolph in the mix, can fantasy football owners expect as many touches for Johnson this season? Johnson didn’t start until week 12, but during those final six games, he registered 328 of his 475 yards receiving. He is likely to be the main target this year, but expectations aren’t clear based on Johnson’s sudden rise in productivity and the now multitude of weapons on the Vikings roster.

Heath Miller

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller has long been a dependable tight end in the NFL. However, his fantasy football value has dropped significantly during the last few years.

Miller is entering his 11th season and if his touchdown production doesn’t improve, then his value will shrink even more. Miller caught three touchdowns last year, ranking him tied for 22nd among tight ends in that category. His yards of 761 last year still had┬áranked in the top-10, but barely at nine.

With the emergence of big target receiver Martavis Bryant (who would be on this list, but is expected to miss the first preseason game), it’s likely Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will look to other weapons instead of Miller. Age also may be creeping up on Miller, with him being 32, so keep an eye on him in the preseason to see what the Steelers have planned for him.

Sammie Coates

Roethlisberger has plenty of weapons with Miller, Antonio Brown, Bryant and Le’Veon Bell. How will rookie wide receiver Sammie Coates fit into the mix?

Coates is a big, fast receiver out of Auburn, that coaches already seem to have an eye on. Coates should get plenty of work in the preseason to showcase how well he can compete against NFL defensive backs. As a wide receiver, that’s usually a position a rookie can make a fantasy football impact. It may take awhile, but Coates may be a player to keep an eye on during this season.

This article has 2 comments

  1. Really like the Steelers for fantasy this year, perhaps more than any other team. Loaded in both backfield and outside. Although poor Heath might suffer from the suddenly plentiful array of weapons they have.

    • Could be a big year for Big Ben. I shouldn’t have been surprised with how many weapons they have, because they were pretty good last year. But they are stacked across the board on offense.

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