Fantasy Football: Best games to watch on NFL's 2017 preseason slate

By Alex Butler   |   April 10, 2017 at 9:02 PM
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April 10 (UPI) -- Preseason isn't typically the best time to go to an NFL stadium in the hopes of watching superstars perform, but there are plenty of intriguing matchups on the NFL's recently released 2017 preseason schedule.

Each of the four preseason weeks features a few battles that could have important fantasy football implications. Paying attention to how the preseason action unfolds could give you the upper hand about position battles, game strategies, and sleepers to target.

Dates and times for some of the matchups have yet to be announced.

Week 1: Denver Broncos at Chicago Bears, Aug. 10-Aug. 13

On paper, this matchup at Solider Field wouldn't be particularly close during the regular season. The reason it will be enticing this preseason is because of the brewing quarterback battle for the Denver Broncos. Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch will have a shot at coming out of Week 1 with an edge for the starting gig. Although Siemian has a bit more experience after last season, don't discount Lynch's first-round pedigree, as the Broncos won't be defending a title in 2017. Broncos general manager John Elway reportedly "has a plan" for the second-year gunslinger and that plan could involve Lynch getting the nod if he shows enough in the preseason.

The Bears are also grooming a new quarterback and could get Mike Glennon some reps here. This matchup should provide some clarity regarding which wide receivers will be stepping up for the Bears after the departure of Alshon Jeffery.

Week 2: New York Giants at Cleveland Browns, 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21 on ESPN

The first genuine Monday Night Football matchup of the season pits the New York Giants against the host Cleveland Browns.

This will likely be your first chance to see Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall take the field together, if only for a single drive. The Browns could also get projected No. 1 draft pick Myles Garrett some work here.

The Browns offer some low risk investment skill players that can be had in the later rounds of your fantasy drafts. Pay close attention to Isaiah Crowell's usage and how the Browns break in Kenny Britt. There should be plenty of targets to go around for Cleveland after the departure of Terrelle Pryor.

#TBT to last week when @bmarshall signed with the #Giants! 📝🏈

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Week 3: Los Angeles Chargers vs. Los Angeles Rams, 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26 on CBS; Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons, Aug. 24-Aug. 27

The third week of the preseason features old teams in new places. The Los Angeles Chargers battle the Los Angeles Rams at the Coliseum. This will be the first time since the team moved that the Chargers will face off against a franchise from the same city and it should provide an interesting dynamic from the fan perspective.

The Arizona Cardinals also battle the Atlanta Falcons in the first game hosted at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. There will be plenty of storylines in this matchup regarding the Super Bowl runner up Falcons' attempting to slowdown David Johnson. How much Johnson is used will also be something to watch here as he has spent his offseason recovering from a sprained MCL. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said this offseason that he plans a bigger workload for the All-Pro.

2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan will have plenty of pressure on his shoulders this season to keep his prolific offense consistent. He could be a steal in your fantasy draft if he is still around after the fifth round. The Falcons offer studs in Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman, but you should also pay attention to the guys playing behind them. Examining the way that the other pieces within the Falcons' offense are used could be key in winning a game at some point in your fantasy football season.

Week 4: Dallas Cowboys at Houston Texans, Thursday, Aug. 31

This Texas tussle will get more interesting if the Houston Texans decide to draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. There will be no shortage of fantasy football firepower as Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant, DeAndre Hopkins, Lamar Miller, and others invade NRG Stadium. This game should provide a good indicator of what the Texans offense is capable of minus Brock Osweiler.

Prescott also no longer has Tony Romo peaking over his shoulder after the veteran departed the gridiron this offseason in favor of the broadcast booth. It will be interesting to see if the Cowboys' dominant offensive line keeps its title as one of the best in football after losing Doug Free and Ronald Leary this offseason. That could have wide-spanning implications on the production of both Elliott and Prescott.

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