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Believe It or Not: Preseason Week 2

A look at coach speak and media darlings in the preseason and whether you should buy the hype.

It's time for week two of Believe It or Not, where I look at what you should, or shouldn't, believe from this week's training camp and preseason games. Thankfully there was no shortage of  hyperbole in week two between a rookie being compared to the best at his position and a running back that hasn't even practiced yet being talked about as a starter. The real question is: Is any of it real?

Tyler Eifert may have the biggest impact of any rookie from the 2013 class.

To quote John Clayton directly: "An Eifert-Gresham tight end duo gives the Bengals close to what the Patriots had with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez". Eifert has wowed just about everyone that's seen him at Bengals camp and is already drawing comparisons to some of the top tight ends in the league. He has the size and athleticism to dominate at the tight end position for years to come.

Verdict: Don't believe it. I do think Eifert is more talented than Gresham, but he's not in the same neighborhood as Gronkowski or Hernandez, not yet at least. The hyperbole is getting a bit out of control here. There's a solid chance that Eifert ends up producing low end TE1 numbers, but with talk like this his ADP is likely to move well past that range  Andy Dalton will spread the ball around a little more in 2013, but a large portion of the targets are still going to go to A.J. Green. What Green doesn't get will be split between Eifert, Sanu, Gresham, and Bernard.

Daryl Richardson is the starting running back in St. Louis.

“I think Daryl comes back as our starter,” Head Coach Jeff Fisher said Tuesday. Many in the fantasy community have spent the summer speculating whether it would be Isaiah Pead or Zac Stacy to take over as the starting back in St. Louis and ignored the obvious choice in Richardson. Richardson bulked up in the offseason to try to prove he could handle an every down role, and it appears Jeff Fisher may give him a shot.

Verdict: Believe it. Richardson beat out Pead in 2012 and there was never any reason to believe he wouldn't do it again this season. Stacy is a fine power back, but the Rams offense is built on speed, and that's one talent Richardson has in spades. Stacy will likely handle the short yardage role, cutting into Richardson's touchdowns, but Richardson will lead the trio in touches and production barring injury.

Once he gets healthy, DuJuan Harris is the back to own in Green Bay.

"I'm excited to see when DuJuan Harris comes back because I view him as our starter," McCarthy told Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports on Thursday. "I want him to get back in there and earn it like he did all of last season. He made an impact in our offense." This isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for the two rookies that have been at practice for the past few weeks. Harris wasn't exactly all-world in 2012, so these guys must be stiffs.

Verdict: Don't believe it. This is a clear case of a veteran coach trying to motivate rookies. Lacy's motivation has already been questioned multiple times and he's the back the Packers would like to win the starting job. If Harris comes back full strength, and soon, he could certainly get in the mix...but not as a lead back. The truth is, if DuJuan Harris is getting even half of the carries for the Packers, then no one is the back to own in Green Bay.

With a revamped offensive line the Titans will get back to running the ball well, making Chris Johnson an elite running back once again.

The Titans have been pretty steadfast this offseason in their intention to reestablish the the running game. They spent money and draft picks trying to fix an offensive line that hasn't been right for the last two years. Johnson showed that he still has it with a 58 yard touchdown run in the team's preseason opener, and fantasy owners should draft him expecting more of the same.

Verdict: Believe it. I've said all offeason that Johnson was being overlooked, and there's a reason why. He set the bar so high in his sophomore campaign that fantasy owners have viewed his last two seasons as a disaster. Over that time Johnson has been a borderline RB1 with an atrocious line and a confused game plan. In 2013 the team has spent the necessary resources to fix the line and have a clear plan to run the ball. He won't reach the heights of that 2009 campaign, but he will be a solid RB1.

Contact Heath at cummings@footballguys.com or on Twitter @heathcummingssr


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