By Chet Gresham – @ChetGresham
Updated Sept. 3, 2019.
Follow @walterfootball for updates.
There truly is no offseason in the NFL, and that applies to fantasy as well. Below, I gather some of the more interesting tidbits from the news and look at them with a fantasy perspective.
Sept. 3 Updates
Real football starts in two days! But before that hits, we just went through a frenzy of moves this Labor Day weekend, and I’m here to wrangle and deposit them into your brain cavities before you set those 2019 lineups.
News concerning Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout and contract negotiations looked good entering Labor Day weekend, but it appears negotiations broke down a bit. They could still get a deal done before Sunday, as it appears, they are on the same page in guaranteed money, but not in per season money, i.e. Elliott being able to say he’s the highest=paid running back in the league. An agreement needs to happen quickly to give Elliott a chance for a big workload against the Giants. Right now, Tony Pollard appears destined to see a decent role come Sunday.
LeSean McCoy and his contract were released by the Bills, who seem happy with Devin Singletary as the lead back. Andy Reid says he sees McCoy and Damien Williams both as starters. Reid hasn’t been a running back committee kind of coach in the past, so I expect one of the two to take the reins at some point. McCoy didn’t look awful this preseason, and he knows Reid’s playbook, so there is a real chance that McCoy takes over the job, but there’s nothing to give us a strong lean to one or the other. Williams should get his shot as the lead back early on, as McCoy hasn’t practiced with the team and will need to catch up with the offense, so I’m giving him a slight lead in the yearly rankings, but both have a legitimate shot at being the lead back in the best offense in the league.
Devin Singletary becomes the lead back in Buffalo, but Frank Gore will split time with him, while T.J. Yeldon could be the primary third-down back. The hope for Singletary is that Josh Allen won’t scramble as much this season and give his running back more dump-off passes. I like this Buffalo offense better than some, so there is upside if Singletary can win more work as the season goes on.
Deshaun Watson got a big improvement to his line and receiving corps, as the Texans traded for offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills. Tunsil doesn’t make the Texans’ line great, but to shore up Watson’s blindside is a huge relief for his health, while Stills adds a consistently healthy and above-average receiver to the mix.
Keke Coutee takes a hit with Kenny Stills’ acquisition. It’s not exactly clear how the Texans will use the two, but Stills isn’t going to stick to the bench, and he can play out of the slot. If Will Fuller were to get hurt again, we’d see Stills take over for Fuller and Coutee get his slot work back consistently.
Laremy Tunsil’s absence will hurt the Dolphins’ offense badly, including Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage. Ryan Fitzpatrick is probably the best choice to start, as far as his ability to read blitzes and sidestep the pass rush, but Miami is in full tank mode and will have trouble producing much fantasy goodness.
Melvin Gordon does not plan to report for Week 1. That’s all the information we have there, but it’s better than nothing, as we now can prepare for our first matchups of the year with Gordon on the shelf. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson will split time with Ekeler as the lead back. Ekeler should get the nod in both standard and PPR leagues, but Jackson is much closer in standard than in PPR. The Colts’ defense gave up short passes all day and night to opposing offenses last year, so Ekeler should be set up for an easy 5-7 receptions with upside for more.
Derrius Guice will get more carries than Adrian Peterson, according to head coach Jay Gruden. That’s good news for Guice, but he’ll also have Chris Thompson, as well as Peterson taking away work in an offense that likely will be bottom-10 this season. That doesn’t mean Guice can’t carve out a fantasy flex role this season, but his upside is limited.
Jordan Reed remains in concussion protocol after missing Monday’s practice. He’ll need to be cleared quickly to get ready for the Eagles this Sunday, which doesn’t look likely. Vernon Davis would get the start and have some value, but the Eagles aren’t the best matchup though.
Amari Cooper practiced without pain on Monday, but also said that he didn’t do everything. He believes he’ll be fine for Week 1 against the Giants, and as long as he practices all week, I’m on board with him as a top start in a good matchup.
Trey Burton has a “mild groin strain” that kept him out of practice on Sunday and limited on Monday and is considered “day-to-day” at the moment. He had sports hernia surgery this offseason and had a groin strain earlier this Summer. None of this news is good. and right now. it appears more likely that Adam Shaheen will start on Thursday night against the Packers.
Cam Newton was a full participant in practice on Monday, which is a great sign that his foot isn’t a problem going into a good matchup against the Rams in Week 1. Play him as usual.
Robby Anderson has a calf injury but expects to play against the Bills in Week 1. Of course, we will need to see him practice before feeling good about his ability to go, especially in a tough matchup.
Jalen Hurd didn’t practice on Monday and doesn’t look like he will be ready for Week 1. Trent Taylor will also miss a great matchup against a poor Tampa Bay defense, while Dante Pettis is dealing with a groin strain. We’ll need to see how well Pettis can practice this week, but Marquise Goodwin, Deebo Samuel and Richie James are next up on the depth chart in this great matchup.
Ed Dickson was placed on injured reserve, which will keep him out eight weeks. That helps Will Dissly and Nick Vannett, but they will likely hurt each other for fantasy. If I’m taking a flyer on one, it is no doubt Dissly.
N’Keal Harry has been put on injured reserve with various injuries and will be able to return after eight weeks. Harry started out as a promising rookie receiver, especially with Josh Gordon and Rob Gronkowski not playing, but the reinstatement of Gordon killed Harry’s fantasy appeal and then this happens. He’s a drop in redraft and a hold in dynasty.
Josh Gordon should see an “almost full share of snaps” as the Patriots’ No. 2 receiver, according to beat writer Dough Kyed. I don’t know if I’d trust Gordon in a cash-game lineup on DraftKings, but otherwise, he’s in play for your redraft and GPP lineups against Pittsburgh’s middling pass defense.
The Panthers cut Elijah Holyfield and Cameron Artis-Payne, which leaves UDFA Reggie Bonnafon and fifth-rounder Jordan Scarlett as Christian McCaffrey’s backups. Scarlett could win some goal-line work, but right now, McCaffrey looks safe for another season with huge usage.
The Jaguars put Alfred Blue on injured reserve. That leaves Leonard Fournette followed by Ryquell Armstead, Tyler Ervin and Devine Ozigbo. The Jaguars’ depth chart isn’t anything that Fournette backers should worry about. As long as Fournette can stay upright, he will get plenty of work on the ground and through the air.
Carolina’s wide receiver depth chart is a graveyard with Chris Hogan and Jarius Wright below D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel on the depth chart, which means the starters will see huge run and usage to start the season. If they can stay healthy, both should be strong fantasy plays all year.
Carlos Hyde was traded to the Texans for a pork chop and will likely get a shot as the short-yardage back while splitting time with Duke Johnson. Hyde hasn’t done much to prove himself of late, and I like Johnson’s skill set much more at this point, but Hyde will likely see enough work to hurt Johnson’s upside.
Dez Bryant is working to make a comeback to the NFL sometime in October, saying, “I’m way better than I was before I went to the Saints last year.” At this point, he’ll need to prove it on the field before I get excited about his return, but in extremely deep leagues, you could probably throw him on your bench or injured reserve or wherever.
The Rams cut John Kelly and Justin Davis, leaving just Todd Gurley, Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson. All three will be active on gameday, and it is still expected that Gurley will see fewer snaps than last season to help conserve his knee. Brown is the likely direct backup to Gurley, while Henderson will remain a change-of-pace back with home run-hitting appeal.
Aug. 30 Updates
Week 4 of the preseason is thankfully in the books and we have less than a week until real NFL football commences. Cutdowns are coming.
Jay Glazer believes Ezekiel Elliott will be on the field for Week 1. This is his guess, so we can’t go all in on this information, but he knows the NFL better than almost all of the media insiders. He called the Odell Beckham Jr. trade, which means we need to respect his opinion in such matters. This doesn’t mean we can feel confident Elliott will play, but I’m still drafting him as a first-rounder.
Julian Edelman left Thursday night’s preseason game after falling on his previously injured thumb and walking to the sideline shaking it. Hopefully this is nothing, but we’ll need to keep our ears and eyes peeled for news.
Daniel Jones ended up completing 29-of-34 passes – 85% – for 416 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 137.3 passer rating. Of course, most of his work came against backups at best, but I expect Jones will end up playing more games than Eli Manning does this year.
Beat writer Cameron Wolfe believes the Dolphins will end up starting Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1. The fact that Fitzpatrick is sitting out the fourth preseason game and Josh Rosen suited up is a pretty clear indication that Fitzpatrick will get the start. This situation will be extremely fluid though, and there is no doubt in my mind that Rosen will see multiple starts this season, as the Dolphins need to know what they have in him before going into the 2020 NFL Draft.
I don’t usually blurb kickers here, but Graham Gano doesn’t look like he’ll be ready to start the season and the Falcons signed Matt Bryant again. That means you need to dump Gano if he’s on your team and grab Bryant if he’s not. The Falcons play 13 games indoors this season.
Ty Shalter wrote a piece on Leonard Fournette, and it looks like he has matured quite a bit. After a suspension from the Jaguars last season that appeared to sever good relations, it appears that he’s back on track and in a good place. With Nick Foles taking over, the Jaguars have a slim chance at making some noise this season, and the promise of more receptions for Fournette is appealing.
Jon Gruden wants to throw the ball deep more often this year. That goes against Derek Carr’s instincts, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out. If the Raiders can push Carr to be more aggressive, it would help not only Antonio Brown, but Tyrell Williams as well.
Robby Anderson has a calf injury that is keeping him out of practice at the moment. We’ll know more next week, as teams will need to submit injury reports. If Anderson is iffy going into Week 1, Quincy Enunwa and Jamison Crowder would get good bumps.
Beat writer Eric Williams has a hunch that Melvin Gordon will report before Week 1, but there have been no reports that he and the Chargers are actually negotiating a deal. We’re flying blind here, and that’s why Gordon’s ADP has dropped significantly. Cross your fingers and hope for some kind of definitive information soon.
D.K. Metcalf is still considered day-to-day after his knee scope, and it doesn’t look great for his full participation in Week 1 even if he suits up. For the time being, Tyler Lockett is the only receiver in Seattle we can feel comfortable starting.
Tampa Bay Beat writer Rick Stroud believes Bruce Arians will go with the hot hand at running back to start the season. That means you really can’t start Peyton Barber or Ronald Jones, but Stroud also believes Dare Ogunbowale is in the lead for the third-down job and has room to secure more work as the season goes on. I don’t see much value in the Buccaneers’ backfield, but if I’m going after anyone it’s the receiving back and if he has some upside for more work, he makes for a nice flyer in drafts.
Jerick McKinnon had another setback with his knee, so it looks like he’ll go on injured reserve. That keeps Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida both as strong fantasy picks in an offense that knows how to use running backs.
Jalen Hurd has a back injury and could miss Week 1. With Trent Taylor also out, that likely pushes Jordan Matthews to the slot job against the Buccaneers in Week 1. Dante Pettis and Marquise Goodwin should be the outside receivers, and of course, George Kittle will be a big target to start the season.
Aug. 27 Updates
We are closing in on Week 1 of the NFL season, and news will hit hard and fast as teams start to cut down to 53 guys and other teams scavenge the remains. We haven’t seen any big cuts yet, but there is plenty of news to take in and consternate over before you log on for one of your 30-some-odd drafts this season.
You can also check out my thoughts on Andrew Luck’s retirement here.
Lamar Miller has a torn ACL and will miss the 2019 season. That should vault Duke Johnson into a prominent role. There is a good chance the Texans sign a veteran back, which would likely cut into Johnson’s work, but Johnson’s ability is good enough to believe in him doing well with a big chunk of work.
Cam Newton wasn’t wearing a walking boot, but didn’t practice on Monday; instead, he worked with trainers on the side. It’s a good sign that he has shed his walking boot, and all signs point to him being ready for Week 1, but we also don’t know if he’ll be able to do much running.
San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan continues to push Dante Pettis on the field and in the media. Pettis played into the fourth quarter in the 49ers’ third preseason game, and Shanahan said that he wants Pettis “to earn a role on the team.” Shanahan has often talked about Pettis not being where he needs to be this summer, and even if it’s mostly motivation for a player Shanahan sees as the No. 1 receiver or desperation for a player he hoped would be better, this isn’t good news for Pettis starting out this season.
Josh Gordon was taken off the NFI list and returned to practice on Sunday. As long as he’s ready to go, his upside is sky-high in the Patriots’ offense. I’m all-in.
Keke Coutee returned to practice on Monday. This is a great sign for his possible availability come Week 1, and it gives us a little more safety when drafting him in the next couple weeks.
Jay Morrison of The Athletic believes A.J. Green returning for Week 3 is the best-case scenario. That probably means you should factor in four missed games when drafting him. But, as long as the Bengals don’t rush him, he should be set up to be his usual self once he gets back up to game speed. So, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says they are being “ultra conservative” with Amari Cooper’s heel injury, but that he is on schedule to play in Week 1. A seemingly lingering foot injury isn’t something we should take lightly, but it does look as though they are giving Cooper the proper amount of time to get better. I did drop him a couple spots in my rankings, but I was pretty high on him as is. With Michael Gallup looking great according to beat reports, I could see targets getting spread out a little more than last season.
Carlos Hyde was seen working exclusively with the second team while Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams all saw touches with the first team. If this is any indication of where Hyde stands with the team, he is a for sure cut soon.
The Seahawks had a bit of good news on Monday, as it appears David Moore won’t need to go on injured reserve and should be back “sooner than later,” according to Ian Rapoport. Of course, Tyler Lockett, and possibly D.K. Metcalf when he gets healthy, are the players with the best chance to put up fantasy numbers, but Moore is in the equation if the team has to pass more due to defensive holes or Lockett or Metcalf missing time.
Anthony Miller returned to practice on Monday. His ability is good, and if he can get targets, he’ll be a useful fantasy piece, but if the Bears’ defense can continue to dominate, Miller is only useful in deep leagues.
Parris Campbell returned to practice on Monday after missing most of training camp. His ability is perfect for Jacoby Brissett, who loves targeting tight ends, as Campbell is great running routes in tight spaces close to the line of scrimmage. He likely won’t have much of an impact early in the season, but with Frank Reich guiding the offense, he could have value after getting back into the swing of the offense.
Kenyan Drake returned to practice on Monday. He’s behind Kalen Ballage, but he could make a push to at least split work to start the season and his ability should be able to push him ahead of Ballage as the season goes on.
James Conner has gotten the work of a no-doubt every-down back this preseason and is one of the safer picks going into the 2019 season. There was some scuttlebutt that he would split time with Jaylen Samuels, but so far in preseason, that has not come to fruition. Samuels has looked great and is one of the best, if not the best, backups in the league, but he’ll need a Conner injury to break out.
Sterling Shepard missed time with a thumb injury but is “good to go” for Week 1, according to beat writer Jordan Raanan. And with Golden Tate out for the first four games, Shepard will have plenty of targets to start the season.
Case Keenum will start for Washington in Week 1. If Jay Gruden is smart, and that’s a big if, Dwayne Haskins will see plenty of work this season. Of course, Gruden is trying to save his job by playing conservative football and grinding out a win or two early on, but he probably should just go all-in on Haskins and hope for the best.
The Raiders released Doug Martin, which should solidify Josh Jacobs as the bell-cow back. Just how efficient Jacobs is and how many touchdown opportunities he gets are real questions, but his ADP appears to have taken a weak offense into account, so I don’t see any reason not to grab him at his ADP this season.
Aug. 23 Updates
The start of Week 3 of the preseason was eventful, especially if you were in Winnipeg and paid hundreds of dollars to see the Raiders and Packers backups play on an 80-yard field due to a big hole in the end zone. I suspect the Hard Knocks people dug the hole.
The Cam Newton suffered a foot injury while being sacked in his first preseason action of the year. We likely won’t get any solid updates from the team very soon, so we’ll get to speculate and curse the coach for letting him play until we know more.
Jordan Reed was being evaluated for a concussion as I typed this. If it turns out to be one, this would be the seventh documented in his career. If this sidelines him for an extended period of time, Vernon Davis would start in his place.
Derrius Guice had a strong start to his 2019 season, rushing 11 times for 44 yards and looking the part as the lead back for Washington. He had a touchdown called back for holding, but it wouldn’t have affected the play. Guice was just cleared for live action, so Adrian Peterson will likely be heavily involved to start the season, but Guice should take over as long as his health looks stable.
Daniel Jones continues to show some moxie and/or spunk, as he hasn’t been afraid to throw downfield and has shaken off sacks and fumbles to then lead his team to touchdowns, while Eli Manning hasn’t played very much and has been average at best. We will see Jones at some point this season.
Sony Michel had 10 rushing attempts for 36 yards, but he also had two explosive runs called back for holding. He looked good, and after a shaky start to training camp due to a knee scope, he has practiced in full and showed good shiftiness in the open field. He’s still an injury risk, but most running backs are to some extent.
Kenyan Drake wasn’t wearing his walking boot on Thursday and was seen jogging. This is a good sign that he’ll at least make a run at playing in Week 1. Kalen Ballage may have won a share of the starting job while Drake was out, but Drake is just too good to relegate as the No. 2 back.
George Kittle returned to practice on Thursday and told fantasy players that he’ll be ready to go for Week 1.
Dede Westbrook has “shown good chemistry” with Nick Foles in practice, and then against the Dolphins in preseason, Foles targeted Westbrook six times, completing four passes for 29 yards and a touchdown. Westbrook should be moving up your fantasy draft rankings as we speak.
Keke Coutee remains out with an ankle injury, and we don’t have a timeline for his return. This isn’t the same as the hamstring injury that kept him out for much of last season, so I have hope that once he is fully healed, he should be able to return and play well, but I do hope he returns sooner than later.
KeeSean Johnson had the best training camp of all of Arizona’s players, according to ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss. The Cardinals also signed Michael Crabtree, so they must be somewhat worried about their depth, but it appears Johnson is ahead of that depth problem and is the favorite for the No. 3 job to start the season.
Anthony Miller appears to be behind the 8-ball after missing time due to recovering from surgery this offseason and now has an ankle injury. He should be able to play in Week 1, but it looks as though he will be limited. This could help Tarik Cohen in the meantime, but not enough to bump him up your rankings.
Browns running backs coach Stump Mitchell believes Nick Chubb had a great camp and will also see an increase in passing game work this season. That makes perfect sense with Duke Johnson gone, but Chubb has never done much in the receiving game. He did average two receptions when starting last season, so if that number were to bump up to three, he’d have 48 receptions, which would be a nice chunk and elevate his ceiling.
Aug. 19 Updates
If you checked out of the football festivities this weekend – HOW DARE YOU! – then I’ve got you covered with all the fantasy football news that is fit to digitize onto the screen of your choice.
Even if you were in your fallout shelter eating Pringles dipped in baked beans, you probably got wind that Josh Gordon has been conditionally reinstated. Any slip-up and he’s gone again, but the league seems to believe he’s on track and he put up great numbers last year when Rob Gronkowski was out. Gordon also should be able to get back in synch with the offense quicker than he did last year since he has familiarity with the playbook and what Tom Brady wants. Right now, I’d grab him as a WR3 in fantasy with plenty of upside.
Josh Gordon’s reinstatement is likely a big blow for N’Keal Harry’s fantasy value, but it’s a big boost for Tom Brady, who averaged 56.6 more passing yards per game when Gordon played than when he did not play in 2018.
Antonio Brown looked like he had settled down and was ready to play, but now it appears his helmet didn’t pass the safety inspection and he’s left camp in a huff. GM Mike Mayock called him out in the media, so here we are. That helmet has ahold of Brown worse than the one ring had Bilbo. We await news of Brown’s return to camp or that he has joined a monastery in the Alps.
Andrew Luck warmed up before the Colts’ second preseason game and appears to be on his way in his recovery. The team doesn’t seem worried about anything structural and at this point, believe it’s just pain management. It is starting to look better for him to be available for Week 1, but we aren’t out of the woods yet.
Beat reporter Ben Violin believes that Marcus Mariota’s starting job isn’t locked in, as Ryan Tannehill has looked competent and Mariota hasn’t stood out. Mariota, of course, has the edge and likely will start the season behind center, but the odds of him playing 16 games, even if healthy, aren’t great.
Aaron Rodgers is dealing with a tight back that had him miss the second preseason game and practice last weekend. At the moment, neither the team nor its beat writers don’t seem overly concerned, but back issues can linger and the Packers play the Bears and their rabid pass rush in Week 1, which is also a Thursday night game, giving him less time to get back to 100%. Coach Matt LeFleur doesn’t seem to be that worried, so hopefully this is more of a maintenance rest than anything.
Sterling Shepard practiced without his non-contact jersey on Sunday and says his thumb is near 100 percent. He remains a solid pick as a No. 1 wide receiver at a decent ADP.
Keenan Allen has an injured ankle and won’t play in the preseason. We don’t really have a good timeline for his recovery but missing all of preseason is a bit worrisome for his readiness Week 1. Hopefully, he’ll be able to practice sooner than later, and the Chargers will just be cautious with him for the actual preseason games. This is a situation to monitor.
Reports have Cam Newton’s deep ball returning to his pre-shoulder injury self. With Curtis Samuel looking unstoppable in camp and plenty of talent with Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and Greg Olsen to throw to, I expect a big year from Newton.
Tony Pollard looked great in his start against the Rams on Saturday. He ran the ball five times for 42 yards and a touchdown and caught his only target for nine yards. His 14-yard touchdown run showed off his speed and ability to break tackles. Pollard will get work even if Ezekiel Elliott plays, but Pollard’s fantasy value would be on the edge of being a flex play. If Elliott misses any time at all, Pollard becomes a top-10 fantasy play.
Darwin Thompson played well in Kansas City’s second preseason game as the third-string back behind Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde. Thompson also looked great in Week 1 of preseason. Andy Reid praised his ability as a runner, receiver and blocker, while Carlos Hyde fumbled. Hyde’s experience is what keeps him ahead of Thompson, but if Thompson keeps this up and Hyde doesn’t start matching him, it’s time for The Evolution! That’s my nickname for Darwin. Love it or love it.
With Colt McCoy’s leg not looking like it will be ready for game action anytime soon, Case Keenum appears locked in to start Week 1 in Washington. But with that team, I expect we’ll see McCoy and Dwayne Haskins play as well. Jay Gruden is the coach to put your cash on to be dismissed first this season.
It appears that Jimmy Graham dislocated his finger in practice today. We’ve yet to hear any details on the injury, but usually a dislocation is a day-to-day injury. There is a slight chance of a fracture, but that’s not usually the case, according to medical professionals on Twitter.
Parris Campbell remains out for the Colts with a hamstring injury. It’s looking like Chester Rogers will win the No. 3 job in Indianapolis. Unfortunately, there are a lot of mouths to feed there, so Rogers will have trouble putting up fantasy numbers in most leagues.
Kerryon Johnson was taken out of the second preseason game on third downs for C.J. Anderson and Ty Johnson. Johnson is a good receiver, so I don’t quite understand this move, but it’s something to keep a close eye on in the third preseason game.
Trey Quinn returned to practice on Sunday. It’s not clear how much work he did, but it’s a good sign that he’ll be a full-go come Week 1. Quinn could be one of the few useful receivers in Washington if he can get a good amount of targets out of the slot. Touchdowns will be few and far between, but in PPR, Quinn could have value.
Aug. 16 Updates
Week 2 of preseason action is underway. I’ll give you a rundown of all the news and some thoughts on the first five games of Week 2, which frankly, weren’t that good.
Andrew Luck needs his ankle/calf injury to get better quickly if he is going to be ready to play Week 1. Colts coach Frank Reich wants to have his starter named after Week 3 of the preseason so they can get him ready for the opener against the Chargers. Chris Mortenson said the team has “guarded optimism” that Luck will be ready to go, but that’s a mostly useless report. It appears like he won’t have any trouble playing this season, but is iffy for Week 1, but we also thought his calf injury wasn’t going to be a big deal months ago and now look at where we are. I’d have guarded pessimism when drafting him.
Antonio Brown ran routes at what appeared to be full speed before the Raiders’ game against the Cardinals on Thursday and appears close to practicing. Thankfully, it looks like we’re back on track with Brown, who has gone a little off the map over the last year. Hopefully he can settle down enough to give us some vintage AB this year.
Keenan Allen has an ankle injury that will likely keep him out of the preseason, but according to Adam Schefter, he should be available for Week 1. Not knowing the extent of the injury, it would behoove us to plan for him to miss Week 1 due to the fact that if this is a high ankle sprain, it could linger. If he does miss any time, Mike Williams gets a big boost.
Adam Schefter also reports that Melvin Gordon is prepared to sit out regular-season games and the two sides haven’t made any progress. They have 24 days before they face the Colts, so there is still time, but without any movement in talks, if Gordon doesn’t cave, he could sit for a while, giving Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson plenty of fantasy relevancy.
There’s been some talk of Carlos Hyde being on the roster bubble, but all of it seems to be pure speculation at this point. But if Darwin Thompson can beat him out, there’s a good chance Hyde goes bye-bye.
The Charlotte Observer considers Curtis Samuel the offensive MVP of training camp, which is just another beat of the drum for the third-year receiver. At this point, there might not be a true No. 1 receiver between D.J. Moore and Samuel, but I still believe Moore is going to continue to be the better player.
Last week was Kyler Murray’s debut, but this week against the Raiders, he was tested and it didn’t go well. He had a couple false starts, missed throws and was just completely out-of-synch. It was also a flag fest for the whole team. There’s nothing positive to take from this other than realizing everything about this team is new, it’s still early, and this should give the Cardinals a nice jolt of reality and hopefully push them to get things going.
With Le’Veon Bell not playing against the Falcons, Ty Montgomery got the start and rushed seven times for 36 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t see a target but has been used extensively as a receiver in camp. His touchdown was of the goal-line variety, showing that he would likely be the main guy if Bell were to miss any time. Montgomery has ability and could see more work to start the season with Chris Herndon suspended four games.
Miles Sanders didn’t go all Gale Sayers on his six rushing attempts, but he did look good, especially on a 16-yard run on which he made a nice cut to the outside and then ran through defenders to gain extra yards. He also showed good pass-blocking when given the chance. Sanders played ahead of Jordan Howard and continues to look like the better back. If things keep going like this, Sanders should be the starter Week 1.
Dwayne Haskins wasn’t perfect as he completed 7-of-14 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown, but he didn’t turn the ball over and made a nice deep pass to Robert Davis for a 55-yard touchdown. Case Keenum didn’t do much to inspire confidence, but he’s likely still in the lead with Colt McCoy unable to play in actual games yet. Washington is going to be bad.
Andy Isabella returned to practice this week and then was able to play against the Raiders and made a nice grab on a 59-yard touchdown. The Cardinals appear to be a mess right now, but they have the components to put fantasy points up on the board. Maybe this catch will get Isabella back up the depth chart and push him to a starting job Week 1.
Justice Hill looked good, rushing 10 times for 49 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a goal-liner where he maneuvered and bulled his way through multiple defenders. Mark Ingram is still ahead of him and likely will stay that way, but Hill has the stuff to beat him out and John Harbaugh isn’t one to let veteran status dictate who he plays. Hill is climbing my draft rankings as we speak.
Aug. 14 Updates
It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s time to freak out about Andrew Luck! Let’s get to freakin’!
Andrew Luck’s calf injury has migrated down to his high ankle and who knows where it might show up next. What’s that behind you? Oh, never mind, false alarm, but I’d be wary. Colts General Manager Chris Ballard was on a conference call with local reporters yesterday and said a lot of stuff, but nothing too concrete or positive. Lucks injury will keep him out of the preseason, but Ballard does say, “This is not 2017,” that they believe they’ve found the source of the pain finally and that they’ll be able to focus his rehab and will not be shutting him down. All of this is to say that I will knock Luck down the rankings, as there is a real chance he isn’t ready for Week 1.
Case Keenum appears to be the front-runner to start Week 1 over Dwayne Haskins, according to The Washington Post. There is still time for Haskins though, as he just needs to put together a couple of strong preseason games to push to start. Neither of them is going to be good for fantasy or their receivers at this point, but I’d rather see what Haskins has, as we know Keenum’s upside at this point.
Amari Cooper has plantar fascia irritation. The Cowboyes aren’t worried about his availability for Week 1, and as long as they give it time to heal, he should be ready to go. Of course, this is something that could reoccur and bother him throughout the season, but it appears to be manageable.
Golden Tate’s appeal of his suspension was denied as expected. He’ll miss the first four games and then return to Eli Manning throwing him the ball. Evan Engram is getting the most hype in New York right now, and he could be set up to lead the team in receiving this year. He’s the receiver I’d target there.
Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer wants Chris Carson to see around 50 targets this year. That’s not elite in terms of target, but it doubles his number from last season. If he caught the same percentage from last season, he’d have 42 receptions. That would put him in the top-20 running backs from last year and top seven for backs with 200-plus carries. That would be enough of a boost to make him a screaming value right now.
Jay Gruden expects Antonio Brown to be ready to go for Week 1. He also returned to camp on Tuesday, but not to the practice field yet. Brown also tweeted, asking for help finding a helmet. It’s still weird, but I expect him to be ready to go Week 1.
Derrius Guice has yet to be cleared to play in games, so he will miss Washington’s second preseason affair. He has been practicing, so it seems like a formality at this point, but it sure would be nice to see him get out there for the third preseason game when the starters get their most work. If he continues to have trouble getting cleared, Adrian Peterson should get a good boost.
Tony Romo believes it is a coin-flip on whether or not Ezekiel Elliott is suited up Week 1. That feels about right at this point even though I do believe he will play this season. Jerry Jones says Elliott doesn’t need much practice to be ready to go, and Jones is probably right, but it sure would be nice if Elliott did get in sooner than later. At this point, I think we have to knock his ranking down slightly to compensate for a game or two missed to start the season.
Texans tight end Jordan Thomas returned to practice after a week out with a hamstring injury. He has been running with the first team, so it’s good that he’s back. I don’t expect much from Houston’s tight ends, but in deep tight end leagues, starters need to be rostered and Thomas has a slight edge at this point.
Ravens rookie receiver Marquise Brown “doesn’t appear to be at full strength,” according to beat writer Jamison Hensley. That should push Miles Boykin into one of the top target roles to start the season, as he has looked great in camp. Baltimore’s passing game isn’t a place you want to spend much time for fantasy, but I expect some spike games from these receivers and Boykin is first in line.
Browns beat writer Anthony Poisal believes Dontrell Hilliard will “fill the void Duke Johnson leaves as a pass-catching running back used mostly on third-down plays.” With Johnson’s five touches a game last season, I don’t expect Hilliard to find much more work than that, but he is a name worth monitoring in deep PPR leagues.
N’Keal Harry has a hamstring and ankle or toe injury, according to NFL Network’s Michael Giardi. He looked great in limited work his first preseason game, but he likely will miss the second preseason game. His ability should keep him on track to start this year but getting back on the practice field is key.
Washington’s rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin looks like a “lock” to have an early-season role, according to Albert Breer. With a weak group of receivers, McLaurin could win plenty of snaps and targets, but he’ll also be on a poor offense. If I’m grabbing late-round fliers, I want them to be connected to great offenses.
Damien Williams is back to getting the majority of the first-team reps. Talk of Kansas City implementing an running back committee is likely motivational more than anything, and I expect Williams to lead the way to start the season. His ability to be a standout all 16 games is a different story, but as long as he can stay healthy, he will have a good role in an outstanding offense.
Aug. 12 Updates
The weekend is gone. We’ll never get it back. Thankfully, there’s football to ease our furrowed brows and cause us to furrow them even more. Let’s get to furrowing!
Keke Coutee avoided a season-ending injury, but it does look like he has a high ankle sprain which could keep him out the first couple games. This of course knocks him down in the rankings and boosts Duke Johnson and Will Fuller up a little to start the year. Coutee is still worth drafting though, as he will be a solid contributor when healthy.
Theo Riddick fractured his shoulder in his first preseason game and will be out 6-8 weeks. That should keep Devontae Booker on the team and also help Phillip Lindsay see a few more targets. The Denver backfield is a mess, but Lindsay remains the high-upside play.
Trent Taylor had surgery for a fracture in his foot and is likely to be out 4-6 weeks. That has him returning around Week 1 through 3. He had been getting a good amount of praise and appeared to be in the lead for the slot position, but his injury and a strong showing by Jalen Hurd in the 49ers’ first preseason game could move the needle in Hurd’s favor.
Calvin Ridley returned to practice after missing a big chunk of camp with a hamstring injury. He’s bound to regress on his touchdowns-per-target numbers, but he should also be the no-doubt No. 2 receiver in a strong offense that plays 13 games in a dome this year.
The Athletic’s Connor Hughes loves what he has seen from Jamison Crowder this summer and believes he could push toward 100 receptions. Crowder has always been a strong receiver, but injuries have hurt his numbers of late. He’s still likely going to be a bargain in PPR leagues if he can play the bulk of the season.
Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller is dealing with a sprained ankle. Coach Nagy doesn’t believe it will linger into the season. Miller has plenty of ability, and as long as he’s on the field getting targets, he’ll be a useful fantasy player, so hopefully Nagy is right, and Miller will return sooner than later.
Jerry Jones believes Tony Pollard is capable of “carrying the load” for Dallas. Pollard looking good in practice probably gives Jones a little more breathing room in negotiations with Ezekiel Elliott, which means we could see Elliott’s holdout spill into the regular season. I expect a deal to get done, but for Elliott to be worth his high price tag, he needs to be starting Week 1.
Jerrick McKinnon’s setback has beat writer Matt Maiocco projecting him to IR, which would keep him out the first eight weeks. This makes plenty of sense and continues to make it much easier to draft Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman without worries.
Darwin Thompson looked great in his first preseason action, totaling 51 yards and a touchdown on six touches. Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde are ahead of him for the moment, but they aren’t the Mount Everest of running backs to climb over. He’s very much worth drafting as a lottery ticket this season.
Aaron Jones returned to practice after a 9-day absence due to a hamstring injury. This is great to see for the Packers’ starting running back, and hopefully, he can get some work in the preseason as soon as this week. As long as he doesn’t have another setback, he will continue to be a target in drafts.
James Washington put on a show against Tampa Bay in the Steelers’ first preseason game. He caught 4-of-5 targets for 84 yards and a touchdown and looked great in multiple aspects of his game.
Marqise Lee looks like he won’t be ready for the start of the season and could end up on the PUP list, which would keep him out six weeks. He should be taken off all of your draft lists if he is there.
Devin Singletary looked good in his preseason debut and should be a serious contender for snaps in a crowded backfield. The Bills have talent, but they will also have trouble getting that talent to perform its way into a run in the playoffs, so I would expect Singletary will get plenty of work his rookie year over old timers like LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore. If the Bills don’t trade McCoy at some point, I’d be surprised.
N’Keal Harry looked great in his first preseason game, making two strong receptions before suffering an injury. The team says he will miss some practice, but don’t believe it will drag on. It’s worth keeping an eye on, but his limited work was a nice sign after getting inconsistent reviews during camp.
Aug. 9 Updates
Preseason started last night in earnest with 11 games. Games were still going on I wrote this, and it was glorious. Football is back baby!
The Texans traded a third-round pick for Duke Johnson. Johnson requested a trade, and here it is. The Texans just released D’Onta Foreman, but that little boost for Lamar Miller’s fantasy prospects was short-lived with Johnson coming in. If the Texans want to use Johnson as just a receiving back, Miller won’t see a huge drop-off, but I suspect Johnson’s ability keeps him on the field enough to hurt Miller’s upside. There is a chance that Johnson shows up and takes over as the lead back, but I expect a committee with neither player getting enough work to be a top fantasy back. But I do like Johnson more than Miller and would bet on the former’s ability.
Keke Coutee hurt his ankle and looked to be in a lot of pain. This would be a consequential injury for DeShaun Watson and the Texans as a whole if it kept Coutee out long term, but initial reports sound positive.
Jermaine Kearse’s season is over. He broke his left leg early on in the Lions’ preseason game against the Patriots. He was going to make the team and looked in line for the WR4 job, so that’s unfortunate, to say the least. This likely pushes Brandon Powell up the depth chart but doesn’t have a big impact on fantasy right now.
Jerick McKinnon had a setback with his knee and will be shut down for two weeks after he gets a platelet-rich injection into his janky knee. This makes things a little clearer in the San Francisco backfield, as Tevin Coleman appears to be RB1 with Matt Breida as RB2. We can look to Kyle Shanahan’s usage of Devonta Freeman and Coleman in Atlanta as a guideline, but both should have some fantasy value and Breida now won’t be in competition with McKinnon.
All reports continue to place Donte Moncrief as the Steelers’ No. 2 receiver and Dionte Johnson as the No. 3, ahead of James Washington. That No. 3 job isn’t set in stone, but Moncrief looks like he’ll need to lose the No. 2 job. He’s not Antonio Brown, so he won’t see huge targets with Vance McDonald, Jaylen Samuels and Johnson or Washington chipping in, but he could easily be a strong touchdown play every week.
Antonio Brown’s foot injury is weird, but according to Dr. David Chao of the San Diego Tribune, he shouldn’t have any trouble getting ready for Week 1. It doesn’t look as if he has frostbite, but instead a combination of trench foot and cold burn. I don’t know, but I don’t think we need to drop him in our rankings and maybe you can get him at a discount right now.
Preston Williams looked great in his first preseason game and looks like he will make the team. You’ll likely see some of his catches on ESPN over the next week. He ended up catching four passes for 97 yards, and he’s a guy you need to roster in dynasty ASAP.
Baker Mayfield only played one series, but went down the field easily, completing 5-of-6 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown to Rashard Higgins, who was integral on the drive and caught five passes for 98 yards and that touchdown. Mayfield might not throw the ball a ton this year, but he will make each throw count, especially with the receivers he has.
Jakobi Meyers caught six passes for a nice 69 yards and two touchdowns. According to multiple reports, he has been the best receiver in camp, and this performance likely has him on track to make the team despite his UDFA status. He’s another guy who needs to be rostered in all dynasty leagues.
Daniel Jones put together a nice start to his career, completing all five of his passes for 67 yards, including a passing touchdown to Bennie Fowler, and likely started the New York media into a frenzy of quarterback-competition articles. He needs to start ahead of Eli Manning, but that isn’t saying all that much.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said he talked to Saints coach Sean Payton about Teddy Bridgewater, and Payton said Bridgewater looks like their quarterback of the future. It could all be talk, but if it is true, Bridgewater is someone you want to stash in dynasty.
Adam Humphries saw six targets from Marcus Mariota and caught four, which was every completion Mariota made in his short time on the field. I can’t say Humphries is going to be a PPR stud in a run-first offense, but he should be a useful PPR player in a conservative offense.
David Montgomery played as advertised, breaking tackles and catching passes. He finished with three carries for 16 yards and a touchdown along with three receptions for 30 more yards. He is shaping up to take control of that backfield, and with the Bears’ defense, they should have game flow that allows plenty of running.
Sam Darnold, much like Daniel Jones and Baker Mayfield, went down the field and threw a touchdown on his only drive. Darnold completed 4-of-5 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown to camp sensation Jamison Crowder. Darnold has been hyped like crazy this summer and appears to have made a big step forward in his second year. The Jets are poised to also take a step forward this season, and Darnold, not Le’Veon Bell, is going to be the key to that progress.
N’Keal Harry hasn’t looked great in training camp, but he turned it up a notch in his first preseason game, making two great receptions before tweaking something and getting the rest of the night off. He looked fine on the sidelines and never had to go into the locker room for more evaluation, so he’s probably good. No matter the camp reports, he looks on his way to starting this year.
Aug. 7 Updates
It’s just another manic Monday (oh, oh) – I wish it were Sunday (oh, oh) – ‘Cause that’s my fun day (oh, oh) – My I don’t have to run day (oh) – And I get to watch football all day, day (oh)
Yes, another manic Monday in training camp news, so let’s, as the kids say, get it on.
The Chris Carson was asked about the difference between this year and last year for the offense, and the biggest change was getting the running backs more involved in the receiving game. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer echoed that sentiment when he said, “We need to get [Carson] more involved in the passing game. He’s got unbelievable hands, and he’s a problem for people coming out of the backfield.” I like the sound of that. If Carson, who is going to see plenty of rushing attempts on this team, can get anything going through the air, it will be a huge plus. He’s looking like a value at his current ADP.
Rams beat writer Vinny Bonsignore had high praise when talking about Todd Gurley, saying, “He looked every bit as explosive, athletic and dynamic as the Todd Gurley who was the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year and the one who was pushing for consideration for the same award late last season.” We will need to wait until he gets a good workload in a game to see how his knee recovers, so I’m not jumping back onto the Gurley train just yet, but this news is the best we can hope for right now.
Washington rookie Terry McLaurin is in the spotlight after the Washington Post singled him out as someone who has been “showered with praise from coaches and teammates” in training camp. The fact that he’s with his quarterback from college, Dwayne Haskins, is another bonus. The trouble is, Washington isn’t likely to be a great place for wide receiver production this season.
LeSean McCoy says that he’s been told that he’s “the guy” this season, but Devin Singletary has earned work with the first team and apparently is doing everything he needs to do to win snaps. What this tells me is that we should do our best to avoid this situation, as Frank Gore will also see some work and Josh Allen will run as well.
Panthers beat reporter Steve Reed tweeted, “I’m honestly beginning to wonder if Curtis Samuel might be Carolina’s No. 1 WR this season. Won’t surprise me. Not a knock on D.J. Moore at all, but Samuel has looked THAT good in training camp.” There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t read some praise for Samuel, and amazingly his ADP is still reasonable. I do believe Moore will continue to be the No. 1 and the better overall talent, but Samuel is going to be a factor in that offense, which is looking pretty good if it can stay healthy.
Antonio Brown reportedly went into a cryotherapy machine without the proper footwear and got frostbite on his feet. What in the hell? I assume he’ll be okay since all reports said his injury wasn’t concerning, but until he returns to the field, there’s no reason to seek his services out for your fantasy team.
If you’re going to draft any rookie tight end this season, make it T.J. Hockenson. The news out of camp has been consistently good and beat writer Tim Twentyman believes he’ll be a “big part of the offense.” Apparently, he catches everything thrown his way, and with Theo Riddick gone and nobody wowing out of the slot, the Lions will need that receiver over the middle.
There’s been some more Ezekiel Elliott chatter, but it sounds like both sides are sending messages through the media that aren’t all that useful to us. I believe Jerry Jones gets a deal done, but I’m also not going to stake my life on it.
Jerick McKinnon was activated from the PUP list and will be eased into practice. He’s behind the eight ball right now, and with his salary, he’ll likely need to show his worth at warp speed. The 49ers aren’t going to dress him, Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida all for game day, and I doubt they want someone making $3.7 million this season as an inactive starting Week 1. This will be a situation to monitor.
Tony Pollard continues to take first-team reps with Ezekiel Elliott holding out and has reportedly put together a strong camp. Pollard appears to be in line for the majority of the work if Elliott were to miss any time.
Dante Pettis has been underwhelming in camp according to beat writer Grant Cohn. He tweeted, “Through nine practices, Pettis has dropped four passes and caught just 7-of-18 targets from Garoppolo.” I like Pettis’ ability and think it will win out, but there are a lot of receivers in San Francisco who could win targets if he can’t get it going soon.
Aug. 6 Updates
We’re another weekend closer to real football, but until then, we have you covered with the tastiest tidbits of fantasy news around the league.
The Miles Sanders hype has been fast and furious over the last few days. He is now getting first-team reps, and NJ.com says that he has “easily been the most impressive runner.” Now, if we could get Doug Pederson to start him and give him the majority of the running back snaps, we’d be onto something, but that isn’t a given. Coaches were just praising Jordan Howard’s pass protection, and there’s no doubt the Eagles want to have some sort of committee. I expect Howard to still see short-yardage work and Darren Sproles and Corey Clement to get receiving work, which will hurt Sanders’ upside, but there’s no doubt he’s the back with the highest upside and if he can keep chipping away, he could earn a good chunk of work from Day 1.
Running back D’Onta Foreman was quickly picked up by the Colts, who were in the market for a running back with Spencer Ware needing surgery. It’s a good risk to take on Foreman, who is a great prospect when healthy, and maybe getting cut will help him focus a bit more.
The most recent wide receiver turning heads in Patriotland is Jakobi Meyers. After getting daily reports on how great Maurice Harris was playing, we are now being told, no, it’s Meyers dumb-dumbs! Greg Bedard, a longtime New England beat writer, says that Meyers has been Tom Brady’s favorite target in camp while N’Keal Harry has been pedestrian. Most of this means that Julian Edelman and James White are both going to be PPR studs, but Meyers is worth tracking or throwing in as a flyer due to the dearth of strong receivers in New England.
Seattle tight end Ed Dickson will need minor knee surgery and will be out around six weeks. Jacob Hollister is battling a groin injury, so Will Dissly is starting to look good for a big percentage of the tight end snaps to start the season. The offense doesn’t exactly scream big tight end production, as the Seahawks want to run, run and run, but in 2TE leagues, you need all the starters you can get.
Steelers beat writer Mark Kaboly reports that Jaylen Samuels has been a “significant part of the offense” as a backup to James Conner and on his own as a weapon in the passing game. More Samuels as a receiver could hurt Conner’s or Vance McDonald’s receptions, but if it works out, Samuels could have standalone value in PPR leagues.
Trey Burton has missed the last three practices, but it appears the Bears are just resting him as he returns from sports hernia surgery. Coach Matt Nagy insists they just want Burton 100% by Week 1 and are going to be extra cautious. And with Adam Shaheen having trouble staying on the field, that’s probably a good plan.
Texans beat writer Aaron Reiss said Damarea Crockett “has positioned himself as the current roster’s most natural replacement for the role D’Onta Foreman could’ve had.” Of course, the Texans could pick up a veteran who gets released from a team stacked at running back, but for now, Crockett looks to be a good spot as the backup to a lackluster starter on a team that should move the ball well.
Early depth charts are usually worthless, but when you see a rookie at the top, it usually means he’s got the starting job under control. And for the Raiders, that’s slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. He’s gotten good praise so far through camp, and barring something going south, he should start Week 1. That of course isn’t going to get him great fantasy numbers, but he’s someone to monitor in deeper PPR leagues.
Aug. 5 Updates
We’re another weekend closer to real football, but until then we’ve got you covered with the tastiest tidbits of fantasy news around the league.
Running back D’Onta Foreman has been released by Houston. His work ethic seems to be the main concern, but I assume if he had the ability, the Texans would hold onto him. He will get picked up by a team, but I doubt he’ll have any impact in the first half of this season unless he makes major adjustments. That leaves Lamar Miller as the unquestioned starter and bumps him up in ADP. Miller hasn’t done much to instill confidence, but he has been more efficient with DeShaun Watson on the field, so I’m not completely down on him. After Miller. there aren’t any names you’ll jump on, but Damarea Crockett, Josh Ferguson, Karan Higdon, Buddy Howell and Taiwan Jones make up the list. Crockett is a stash in dynasty and maybe even for this year, but the Texans could sign another back.
Josh Gordon has filed for reinstatement. It’s hard to know what that means exactly, but it is the first step he needs to take with the NFL to return. The reasons I’m still in on him are that the Patriots signed Gordon to a 1-year contract and Tom Brady practiced this offseason with him, plus reports did make it seem like a possibility he could be back sooner than later. Also, he’s a good player on a great team that needs his services. His ADP/projected value might shoot up too high when/if he is let back in the league, but he’s too good to not take some risk on.
Andy Reid is frustrated that Damien Williams is hurt still, like he has a choice. Williams has yet to practice fully in camp due to a hamstring injury, while Carlos Hyde takes the first-team reps. Darwin Thompson has more juice than Hyde, but Hyde is the veteran of the two. I’d expect some kind of split between the two if Williams were to need to sit in a regular-season game.
Andrew Luck will miss practice once again on Saturday with a left calf strain and every day going into their first preseason game. His injury popped up in April, and he had a setback recently. The news is starting to get a little worrisome. I’m guessing he will sit until it’s 100 percent, and maybe we can get past this situation for good before games start, but I could see knocking him down a couple rungs on your cheat sheets for the time being.
Antonio Brown isn’t practicing due to blisters on his feet. I think there are photos somewhere, unfortunately. John Gruden in response said, “I think we’re all disappointed. We think he’s disappointed. We’d like to get the party started.” And now reports are coming in of Brown visiting a foot specialist. But the team still doesn’t believe the injury is anything more than minor and he is considered day-to-day.
A Patriots beat writer projects Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry and Phillip Dorsett as the top-three receivers going into the season. Harry and Dorsett haven’t wowed in camp, but they’ve continued to run with the first team, and getting passes from Tom Brady is a good sign for where you are in the pecking order.
San Francisco beat writers continue to praise Trent Taylor, while The Athletic’s David Lombardi writes that Taylor has “taken his receiving presence to a new level.” We can’t count on him seeing massive targets with so many pass catchers in San Francisco, but it looks like he could easily be in the top three on the team and with Kyle Shanahan’s offense running well, that means fantasy points.
Beat writer Nick Wagoner tweeted, “Some strong reps today from RB Matt Breida, who continues to get used all over the place. He caught a touchdown pass in the flat in red zone drills and broke some big runs on the ground. Breida is also starting to get some looks at kick returner.” Breida played extremely well last season but was consistently hurting, even on the field. He appears to still behind Tevin Coleman, who appears fairly entrenched as the lead back, but Breida could really cut into Coleman’s workload if he can stay healthy.
Star cornerback Xavien Howard had some nice words for receiver Preston Williams on Saturday, “He’s special, man. He’s going to be a No. 1 receiver one day.” Why? “I’ve watched receivers for a long time. He’s special.” This comes after a practice where Williams dominated with Josh Rosen throwing him the ball. Unfortunately, the Dolphins don’t have a bunch of room for receiving targets and are also going to be bad, but there’s no doubt Williams has shown well this training camp and is worth an add in dynasty leagues.
The Dolphins’ tight ends are trash-like at this moment, as second-year player Mike Gesicki has been making sick plays this training camp and by sick, I mean stuff that will make your stomach churn. He’s been running behind a group of nothing and Dwayne Allen, who, despite just started getting in some practice, has looked much better. Allen though, might not even be ready for Week 1. Stay far away.
Darren Waller has a sprained AC joint in his shoulder that will keep him out of practice for a few days, but it appears to be nothing serious. Reports out of camp have consistently praised Waller, who is poised to take Jared Cook’s role in the offense. The Athletic’s Ted Nguyen says that Waller “has been unguardable in camp.” As long as this injury isn’t worse than they say, Waller remains a player you can get late as your backup TE with upside.
UPDATE: Waller returned to practice on Sunday.
Bruce Arians likes what he has seen from Jameis Winston so far in training camp. Winston gets a strong offense under a new head coach this season. After almost being thrown to the wayside last year, this is the last season Winston really has to prove himself as a starter, but all signs point to him at least putting up good fantasy numbers. He’s one of my targets in drafts this season, coming off the board 15th for quarterbacks.
Jaguars reporter Hays Carlton was asked which wide receivers have been running with the first-team, and he answered, “It’s Dede, Chark and Conley. Then a big gap. Then Cole and Pryor.” Dede Westbrook appears to easily be the No. 1 from camp reports and someone worth grabbing this season in fantasy. Carlton was also asked about Marqise Lee and he responded, “I think he’s got quite a battle on his hands to win a significant role.” Lee is out still, but should return soonish, but asking much of him before the midway point will likely be too much. With Nick Foles there instead of Blake Bortles, I’m giving Westbrook a chance, but laying off Jaguars players for the most part.
Josh Rosen has upped his game quite a bit from early in training camp, and Ryan Fitzpatrick has cooled down, as he is known to do. With the Dolphins not looking to win much this season, Rosen will play at some point, but it may be earlier than first thought.
Geoff Swaim appears to be Jacksonville’s starting tight end, especially with rookie Josh Oliver out with a “significant” hamstring injury. Swaim is not draftable unless you’re in a 2TE league, and even then, his upside and floor will likely remain low.
Aug. 2 Updates
The heat index in Austin is 107 as I start my daily roundup of training camp news, and I can tell you one thing; I need more efficient windows. Lawdy, lawdy it is hot. I could also use a nice refreshing IPA, but I’ll wait until I’ve gotten through the bulk of the news before I imbibe because I need to be sharp for you, dear reader. So, let’s get it on, as the Marvin Gayes say.
Theo Riddick signed with the Broncos in a move that will likely upset Phillip Lindsay backers everywhere. Riddick is a great receiver, but he’s not going to do much on the ground or after the catch. I don’t expect him to put a huge dent in Lindsay’s numbers, but there’s more reporting out there to couple with the Riddick signing that squashes Lindsay’s appeal, the Broncos are set on getting Royce Freeman work. Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports reports that Freeman has looked good this offseason and the team is excited to get him more involved in an even split with Lindsay. We knew Freeman had a shot at cutting into Lindsay’s snaps, but here is some more confirmation and on the same day the Broncos sign Riddick. The Riddick signing wouldn’t be that bad for Lindsay, but reports out of Denver had Lindsay seeing more work as a receiver this season. Riddick will likely take Devontae Booker’s spot and his targets, but I do expect Riddick to get more work as a receiver than Booker did, which should keep Lindsay from seeing a big boost in receiving work. All of this is to say, the pie is getting divided pretty thinly, and the Broncos are going to likely slow the game down, which will make that pie even smaller. I’m going to stay away from these running backs in fantasy unless they start falling quickly and far in ADP.
Melvin Gordon’s agent requested a trade last week, but the team said no thanks. The sides look to be about $2-3 million apart in their negotiations, and right now I don’t see this playing out well for Gordon. I have no idea if he’ll miss any time in the regular season, but the Chargers are preparing for that to happen. Justin Jackson and Austin Ekeler both have good upside if Gordon were to miss time.
Antonio Callaway showed up to camp out of shape, and Todd Monken wasn’t afraid to call him out on Thursday. Callaway has been running with the second and third teams while Rashard Higgins has been ahead of him with the first team. Higgins is no slouch and is a worthwhile target in deeper leagues if Callaway can’t overtake him, but there is still time and Monken did say that Callaway was working his way back. I think I’ll continue to wait to see how this plays out before I commit to one or the other.
Hunter Renfrow has a “legitimate shot” to win the No. 3 receiver job in Oakland, according to beat writer Jerry McDonald. Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams will eat up the bulk of targets, but Renfrow could have some deep PPR appeal if he can hold onto the job.
Jerick McKinnon looks like he’ll be on the PUP list a few more days. Beat writer Matt Maiocco reports he should come off the list in three days. After that, we’ll need to see how quickly he can get going in practice to see if he can make a run at Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida.
The Panthers want to limit Christian McCaffrey’s snaps this year after he was on the field over 91% of the time, but they say they’ll do that by not making him a decoy and using his snaps more efficiently, unlike my thin, thin windows. Did I mention it’s hot in Austin? Anyway, McCaffrey should remain one of the few running backs projected for over 300 touches this season, which is worthy of a top-three pick in any league.
ESPN’s Dolphins beat reporter Cameron Wolfe expects a near-even timeshare between Kenyan Drake and Kalen Ballage. Drake’s ability would likely push him ahead of Ballage statistically in an even split, but this team doesn’t want to be too good and they won’t, which means neither Drake nor Ballage has much in the way of upside in this offense if they are in a committee. I’ve dropped Drake in my rankings even though he’s a gifted back.
I’m not a fan of the Titans’ passing game, but I also can’t ignore the hype show for Corey Davis right now. There isn’t a day that goes by where we don’t hear something positive about him coming out of camp. Skill can’t beat out opportunity in fantasy, but it can help balance the books a little. This tweet from beat writer Turron Davenport was from Thursday, “Going to sound like a broken record, but Corey Davis is showing off. Ryan Tannehill tried to throw it away during goal-line team period. Davis skied over Jayon Brown, Adoree Jackson, Malcolm Butler to snap it out of the air w/one hand and get BOTH feet in bounds.” If I were to make a collection of tweets from camp, Davis’ ability to make the impossible look easy would be a major theme.
Kirk Cousins said that Chad Beebe is someone who “will make a major difference for our offense this year.” Beebe is likely a better player for real-life football, but the slot job is his to lose and that could give him deep PPR value. Beebe’s presence could keep Adam Thielen out of the slot, where he thrives, but Thielen shouldn’t see a big dip, as he’s also quite good on the outside.
Sony Michel backed up his increased work in practice on Wednesday with even more work on Thursday. He was also seen splitting out wide more, which is a good sign for his usage as a receiver. Of course, seeing him line up wide isn’t going to move the needle on his draft stock, but if this becomes a pattern, it can only help Michel’s fantasy opportunities.
Aug. 1 Updates
Hamstrings are tightening up all over the NFL, but still, we trudge on.
I usually don’t talk about offensive linemen here, but Washington’s Trent Williams appears to get his wish as the team shops him around. If he is traded or ends up sitting out, Derrius Guice gets a much-weakened line to run with and Dwayne Haskins or Case Keenum will be harassed much more often. I hope the Texans can somehow wrestle him away to bolster their weak line and help Deshaun Watson avoid getting murdered.
A.J. Green’s timetable to return after his ankle injury got a little bit longer on Tuesday after his surgery gave the doctors a much closer look at all his ankle’s inside parts. He’s now looking closer to 2-4 weeks of downtime to start the season, especially when you factor in his age and growing injury history. I’d still grab him if he falls into the sixth round, but only if I felt good about my wide receivers already.
Aaron Jones sat out practice on Wednesday after feeling something in his hamstring near the end of Tuesday’s practice. He joined Jamaal Williams at the trainer’s table, who has been out with a hamstring injury for four days now. That has allowed Dexter Williams to see more work, but for now, I believe we don’t need to worry much about Jones, and he remains one of my favorite picks this season.
Parris Campbell has now missed three practices in a row due to a hamstring injury. It’s probably not a big deal like many of these hamstring injuries, but it is up to three days and rookie receivers missing practice is never good. There are a lot of targets in the Colts’ offense, and Campbell will need to stay healthy and competitive to win enough to be fantasy relevant.
Bruce Arians on the Buccaneers’ running back competition: “Oh yeah, it’s going to be a heck of a one-two punch. Whichever one is the one [on the depth chart] and whichever one is the two – they are both going to play.” For a team that will throw the ball a bunch and will likely be losing due to poor defense, a committee backfield is in no way advantageous for fantasy. Neither Peyton Barber nor Ronald Jones are great receivers, which they’ll need to be in crunch time when playing from behind. Whoever wins the No. 1 job will have the most upside of course, but it won’t be very far “up.”
Jordan Reed says that he is stronger and more explosive than this time last season. That has shown in practices, as he has been looking good, according to beat writers. We’ll see if this little bit of hype moves him up in ADP, but right now, he’s sitting as the 16th tight end off the board – 155th overall. I think that’s about right for him, as he has top-five tight end upside, but reality usually sets in for Reed due to his many injuries. If he drops, I’ll grab him for the possible upside, but I’ll likely let others take on his risk this season.
Michael Thomas got paid. He’ll get $20 million a year and deservedly so. He now will end his holdout and likely put up another big year with Drew Brees throwing to him. There is some worry in dynasty that Thomas will take a major hit once Brees is gone, but he is an amazing player and should be able to continue putting up good numbers, if not quite as many, once Brees rides into the sunset.
Cardinals rookie receiver KeeSean Johnson continues to get praise from coaches and beat writers alike while he runs with the first team ahead of Andy Isabella. At the moment, Johnson has a good grip on the WR3 job, and without a strong tight end presence and with a lot of passing, that position is one that could put up valuable fantasy points this year.
Sony Michel returned to full speed and 11-on-11s Wednesday. This was his first full practice of the season and a good sign that he’s ready to lead the backfield again. I’m slowly inching back to the Michel bandwagon, but I’m going to take my time.
Diontae Johnson continues to run ahead of James Washington with Donte Moncrief out of practice due to a dislocated finger. Right now, Washington’s upside for this year isn’t near his ADP of the 44th wide receiver off the board, especially when players like Geronimo Allison, Curtis Samuel and Keke Coutee are behind him.
Texans beat reporter Patrick Starr tweets, “I always feel like I am writing something about WR Tyron Johnson every day. If he continues to do what he has done since he has arrived in Houston. Hard to see how the Texans do not find a way to keep him around. Long way to go but he is trending up each day.” With Will Fuller and Keke Coutee not known for their health, a player like Johnson could end up useful this season, but more likely he’ll be worth an add in deeper dynasty leagues.
N’Keal Harry has yet to get fully on track this summer, and he had four drops in Wednesday practice. But according to reporters, he also made a couple of great plays. He has the inside track to playing time, as he should be the best receiver on the team other than Julian Edelman right now. I’m not giving up on him based on inconsistent practice reports, but he will need to get a groove on if he’s going to start in Week 1. If he can’t, Phillip Dorsett should get a boost.
Jamison Crowder came back on Wednesday after an injury scare and looked good, according to multiple beat writers. He has been the best receiver in camp, and Sam Darnold looks to haven taken a step forward so far. Robby Anderson is still the No. 1 receiver, but Crowder is likely more versatile and could end up leading the Jets in targets if he can stay healthy.
Marquise Brown is off the NFI list and started practicing Wednesday. He’ll be eased back, but his speed was evident when doing drills. Miles Boykin and Mark Andrews have been the stars of camp do far, so it will be interesting to see how “Hollywood” does in comparison to them.
Browns wide receiver Rashad Higgins appears to be ahead of Antonio Callaway for the No. 3 job in Cleveland. Unfortunately for Callaway, Odell Beckham Jr. has taken his spot as the X receiver. Callaway has plenty of ability, but in this offense, he just doesn’t fit as a starter anymore.
Sterling Shepard has been cleared to participate in drills as his finger heals, which is good news for his ability to stay on track for Week 1. And with Golden Tate out for the first four games, the Giants need all hands on deck.
July 30 Updates
The beat keeps beating as training camp stops for no injury or fantastic play, but we do! I’ve stopped completely, and only my fingers are moving, oh wait, I just reached for a cracker. Look at that extension! Now the dip into the hummus … perfection! Oh wait, fumbled on the way up, time for a new shirt, cut.
Ezekiel Elliott is in Cabo San Lucas, which is in Mexico I’m told and probably doesn’t involve running into walls or through them. He’s on the lamb from Jerry Jones and waiting for a shiny new contract while he “trains” on the beach. Jones, for his part, said that “you don’t have to have a rushing champion to win a Super Bowl.” It looks like Jones has finally embraced analytics, at least when it comes to his pocketbook. The backups in Dallas aren’t quite up there with the Chargers’ backup running backs, but Dallas does have a fresh-legged Tony Pollard, who could go to town in this offense. Jones knows Elliott needs to report to accrue this season on his list of deeds done, and I expect Jones would rather not have Pollard as his lead back this season if he can help it, so something should get done. Maybe.
When John Harbaugh was told that the record for rushing attempts by a quarterback was set by Cam Newton at 139, he responded, “take the over.” Lamar Jackson probably won’t hit the number of rushing attempts he was on track for after starting last season, but he’s still going to run the ball often and probably, with more time in the offense, at more advantageous times. Even if he’s barely passable as a passer, he’s still going to horde fantasy points with his legs. He was the eighth-best fantasy quarterback after getting the starting job in Week 11 last season and never really had any blowup games, but his feet kept his floor high.
John Ross continues his reign as the fastest guy on the sidelines with a hamstring injury that could keep him out two weeks. He’s not highly touted in fantasy circles anymore, and I think we can keep his hype at the current level, even with A.J. Green hurt.
Eagles beat reporter Eliot Shorr-Parks reports that Jordan Howard is dominating carries with the first team. All the beat-reporter predictions I’ve seen have had Howard leading the team in rushing attempts with Corey Clement and Darren Sproles leading the way in receptions while Miles Sanders gets some early-down work behind Howard. Right now, it looks like Sanders’ best chance will come later in the season after he’s fully integrated into the offense, which would include shoring up his pass protection. The upside is all Sanders, but the predictable workload looks like Howard’s.
The Saints released Cameron Meredith. That’s too bad, as he had plenty of ability before his injury. This doesn’t move the needle on much in fantasy, but does get camp star Emmanuel Butler closer to a spot on the 53-man roster.
Jamison Crowder injured his lower left leg during practice and will get an MRI to determine the severity. Crowder had been on a tear according to beat reporters, so this is a let-down. Hopefully it’s not long lasting, because Crowder is a talented receiver and would really help Sam Darnold and the offense. Quincy Enunwa probably gets the biggest boost while Crowder is sidelined.
Donte Moncrief jammed his hand in practice and had to leave, which gave Diontae Johnson more reps with the first team. Johnson appears to have made good on those reps, according to beat reporters in attendance. Moncrief doesn’t appear to have done any long-term damage, but it’s good to hear some positive news about Johnson. If the Steelers can get JuJu Smith-Schuster, Moncrief, Johnson and Vance McDonald all playing well, Ben Roethlisberger could be a value pick this year.
Emmanuel Sanders returned to 11-on-11 reps on Monday and seems to progressing quickly. Joe Flacco usually relies on veteran receivers, and Sanders is the vet of the group. His upside isn’t sky high, but if he’s all the way back, his ADP hasn’t caught up yet.
DaeSean Hamilton missed his fourth practice due to his hamstring injury. There’s not much to add here, but injuries did slow him down last season and it would be good to see him have a nice long stretch of healthy reps before investing a pick in him.
I’ve written up Trent Taylor recently, but the drumbeat continues with another good day of camp. Beat writer Chris Biderman tweets, “Trent Taylor is having a strong camp. Looks night and day better than last year coming off back surgery.” I’ve read this in other places as well, that the surgery hindered him last season and he looks like a completely different player this year. That’s always interesting.
Another player who has reportedly looked better after another year removed from surgery is Bears receiver Allen Robinson. Robinson says about this year compared to last, “Last year, I don’t think I started running routes until about June. Being able to have the whole OTA time, training before OTAs, going into OTAs, being able to train after, I think that’s definitely going to be big for me.” When you look back on his huge playoff game against the Eagles, you remember a receiver who was in sync with his quarterback and ingrained in the offense. We should see that more often this year.
Even old time Raiders beat reporter Jerry McDonald tweeted about Derek Carr looking to scramble more often this year, so it does seem to be something the team and Carr are wanting to emphasize. Carr actually had a strong 40 time but has never been known as a rusher. This is something we could look back on mid-season and say, “I wish I’d taken that Carr rushing more blurb to heart,” but it’s also something that could amount to absolutely nothing.
July 29 Updates
It’s like they don’t stop training camp for the weekend or something! Come on NFL, I need my afternoon margaritas. But, of course, they conspire against my afternoon buzz. No Fun League indeed!
Here are some notes and observations from across Sunday’s action.
A.J. Green’s ankle injury was worse than first thought, as he has torn ligaments and will miss 6-8 weeks, according to Adam Schefter. That will take him out of the season opener and severely slow his progress down for when he does return. This takes him out of the third round of ADP and pushes him closer to the fifth unless he has a remarkable recovery. Tyler Boyd will take over as the WR1 while Green is gone.
Todd Gurley will get the “veteran plan” this training camp and preseason, getting practices off and skipping preseason games. This cautious approach is both good and bad, as they are obviously worried about stressing his knee with overuse, but the rest should keep him fresher during the season. He remains a risk to miss games with his arthritic knee while seeing fewer touches than in the past, and unfortunately, Darrell Henderson is not cheap.
Damien Williams suffered a hamstring injury and had to leave the field today. He was seen on a bike afterward, so I doubt it’s a lingering problem. Heat, upped strain on the body and lack of hydration early in camp is going to push a lot of players and their hamstrings to the sidelines this time of year. The hope is that teams are extra cautious and that many of these hamstring injuries are barely anything. Hopefully, that is how this injury will play out, but Carlos Hyde was the second man up in practice and continues to be Williams’ handcuff.
Colts coach Frank Reich has been impressed with rookie Parris Campbell, saying on Sunday, “What he did in the red zone weren’t hybrid, gadget, slot receiver-type plays. They were legit, NFL, I’m going to be a stud receiver plays.” Campbell didn’t see much work deep in college, but was great close to the line of scrimmage where the Colts throw a big percentage of their passes. He still has plenty of receivers to compete for targets, but his ability should get him on the field and ready him to see more work if someone goes down ahead of him.
D.K. Metcalf ran with the first team opposite Tyler Lockett on Sunday after starting camp with the second team. Pete Carroll has done his usual over-praising of players, including Metcalf, but so far it looks like Metcalf is playing well enough to grab that No. 2 receiver spot, which wouldn’t be stocked with targets, but would likely be a great spot for touchdown production.
Undrafted free agent Emmanuel Butler continues to get high praise from onlookers. He’s someone to look hard at in preseason DFS games, but also in dynasty. At the moment, there’s not much room for him to carve out a role in the offense, but his ability should help him make the team, and if he does, I like his long-term prospects in New Orleans.
There is no timetable for Derrick Henry’s injury, but the team and Mike Vrabel don’t seem to be concerned, with Vrabel saying, “should not be a big deal” when asked. So far, they’ve been able to keep news of specifics from leaking as of yet, but if it lasts much longer, I expect we’ll find out. Right now, I’m still going to wait a few days before I worry, but it’s not great seeing a physical runner get hurt.
The hype machine for Miles Boykin continues to run at full throttle, as coaches, his quarterback and beat writers all agree that he looks outstanding so far. With Marquise Brown still rehabbing, Boykin could stand out enough to win the lead receiver job in Baltimore, which is probably the only receiver worth rostering from Baltimore.
Jay Gruden says that Trey Quinn has the slot receiver position “locked down.” Quinn seemingly had the job this offseason, as Gruden heaped superlatives onto him, so this isn’t surprising. The question is, how many receptions can he total? Washington will likely trail in most games and will need to throw often, which could elevate Quinn enough in PPR leagues, but he’ll need to get those numbers up, as touchdowns aren’t likely going to elevate his numbers by much.
Cooper Kupp is practicing and looks like his old self after ACL surgery. Just how stable that knee is will be a continuing question as he is eased back into practices, but he was the glue holding that passing offense together last year and his numbers if he would have stayed healthy would have been WR1. Kupp’s ADP never really dropped as much as it should have with his injury, so he’s not getting much of a discount. I’ll likely let others draft him unless he falls.
Arizona’s rookie wide receiver KeeSean Johnson has gotten the most reps with the first team of the non-Christian Kirk/Larry Fitzgeralds and appears to be ahead of the curve with the playbook. There’s a good chance that nobody other than Fitzgerald, Kirk, and David Johnson will be reliable fantasy plays in Arizona, but we do know the offense will do its best to ramp the pace and receptions up as high as possible, so a third receiver could make an impact. Johnson or Andy Isabella look to have the inside track on those targets at the moment.
Beat reporter Patrick Starr – not a starfish -, gives his thoughts on the Texans’ top-two running backs, “‘Lamar Miller is the best pass protector.’ Of the running back group according to Bill O’Brien. Also, O’Brien mentions that D’Onta Foreman and the way they want to use him, pass protection is not necessarily the most important skill for him to know.” So, if Foreman can’t pass protect, it’s going to be tough for him to pass Miller on the depth chart, but he will at the same time take away work. With DeShaun Watson stealing goalline work as well, this backfield does not look fantasy-friendly.
Patriots beat reporter Andrew Callahan reports Maurice Harris has been the best wideout in camp by a “decent margin.” Of course, Julian Edelman is injured, but this is still noteworthy on a team that needs receivers. Harris is spending time ahead of rookie N’Keal Harry, who is taking some time getting his groove on as the kids probably don’t say ever. With Edelman an injury risk and Harry a rookie, Harris looks like a good backup plan in fantasy late in drafts. July 28 Updates
All teams have reported to duty. Football is officially official. News will continue to flow like a busted dam from now until the Super Bowl is over. There isn’t always BREAKING NEWS! but there are always beat reporters tweeting that so-and-so looked unstoppable and Joe Schmo ate dirt and so on and so forth, so, let’s go! Let’s go!
I mentioned that Kalen Ballage saw the first snaps with the first team on day one and the same thing continues. It seems we have a pattern. Beat writer Cameron Wolfe tweets, “One notable takeaway from the first two days of Dolphins camp: Kalen Ballage has a real chance to win the starting RB job. Brian Flores said he’s done a “great job” this offseason and he’s got a lot of run with the 1s. I mentioned it in May, but I don’t expect full Kenyan Drake show in 2019.” Ugh. Hey, Ballage is fine and if he beats Drake out, that’s one thing, but everything I saw last season showed Drake as the superior runner. It looks like they could be committee-ized and on a bad team with Ballage as the goal-line back; that’s the opposite of good.
Golden Tate has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s Performance Enhancing Substance Policy. Wow. The Giants are cursed, and not just because they are keeping Eli Manning around, but for other mystical reasons – but probably the Manning thing. Corey Coleman’s season is over after tearing his ACL in practice on Thursday. But there is some good news on Sterling Shepard, yet another injured Giants receiver, as he practiced with his fractured finger wrapped and saw a few passes thrown his way. At this point, Evan Engram will see 50 targets in Week 1.
A.J. Green hurt his left ankle and was carted off the field. He used crutches leaving the facility and will have an MRI. So far there is some initial optimism that it isn’t anything dire, but we’ll just have to wait for his tests. The good news is that the injury was suffered early in camp and if it is a mild to moderate sprain, he should be able to get back in time for the season, but he also has a new coach and offense and could be behind the 8-ball. Tyler Boyd would again be the No. 1 receiver, but with Green out last season, Boyd’s numbers were actually worse than when he was on the field.
The Patriots took Sony Michel off the PUP list on Saturday after his offseason knee scope. That was a quick stint, which is about as good as we could hope for. I’m still afraid of that knee though. My evaluation will likely depend on ADP and practice reports between him, James White and Damien Harris moving forward.
Derrick Henry was in a walking boot Saturday and considered day-to-day. The Titans aren’t giving out any information on his injury other than saying “day-to-day,” meaning we are flying blind on this one. If it turns into “week-to-week,” I’ll be more concerned. For now, I’ll take a wait to see approach.
Jerick McKinnon has been placed on the active/PUP list. McKinnon was expected to miss the start of camp, but he also had a recent “flare-up” in his knee. He’s likely to come off the list soon, but when he’s trying to pass Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida on the depth chart, this isn’t the best way. I expect at best this season he will be a bye-week PPR play if he can win some targets.
Ezekiel Elliott didn’t show up on Friday and is holding out. How long he holds out is up for debate, but if he doesn’t show up by August 6th, he won’t get an accrued year for this season and wouldn’t be able to become a free agent until 2021. I’m not going to worry unless he misses that August 6th date.
The Lions released Theo Riddick on Saturday. This move had been rumored, but now it’s official and I am moving Kerryon Johnson up my draft board as we speak. Johnson is the best receiver in that backfield now, and Riddick saw 74 targets last season. Johnson averaged four targets a game last season but also wasn’t playing a full complement of snaps with LeGarrette Blount ahead of him early. Johnson is a good receiver and route runner and should up his targets closer to 5-6 per game with C.J. Anderson as his main competition.
The Jaguars’ receivers coach Keenan McCardell said Dede Westbrook could “set himself apart from slot receivers within the league” this season. “He’s a guy you want to get the ball in his hands because he makes good things happen.” I’m a fan of Westbrook, and Marqise Lee started camp on the PUP list, so there is a good chance Westbrook builds a nice rapport with Nick Foles and is the favorite to lead the team in targets this season.
Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson split first-team snaps on Saturday as Melvin Gordon watched a re-run of Parks and Rec. I’m on Team Jackson by a sliver, but we will likely see a pretty even split in work if Gordon were to hold out into the season. Whichever one is the best value is probably the one I’ll draft, and Jackson is a few rounds later than Ekeler in ADP.
John Brown looks like the clear-cut No. 1 receiver in Buffalo. In practice Josh Allen and Brown have hit on numerous deep balls, and there’s no doubt that “Smoke” is working as the top receiver on the team. Allen’s arm and Brown’s speed and ability to track the deep pass will pay dividends in fantasy. The question is, how often will those checks come in? It’s tough to know, but there will be blowup games and Brown makes for a great best-ball pick at the very least.
New York beat reporters can’t stop praising Jamison Crowder so far in camp. He’s getting a ton of targets so far and looking good with each of them. The fact that Chris Herndon is out the first four weeks could help Crowder see fantasy-level work early on as well. He’s no lock for fantasy stardom this season, but he’s a good player and if he can stay healthy and get targets, he’ll make something out of them.
Donte Moncrief started training camp running with the first team ahead of James Washington. Moncrief has been given a good amount of hype this offseason and so far, it looks like he’s keeping that starting position. We’ve got a lot of time before Week 1, so this could change, but Moncrief is in the lead for a lucrative fantasy job in Pittsburgh.
Aaron Jones continues to be the lead back with training camp starting in Green Bay. He also cut his body fat percentage from 11% to 5.3% while adding muscle to keep his same weight. His main nemesis the last two season, Jamaal Williams, hurt his hamstring as well. Jones is also getting more work as a receiver under Matt LaFleur’s offense, and if he can stay healthy, the sky is the limit in fantasy.
July 26 Updates
We won’t be able to say that training camp is in full swing until Monday, but with reports coming in fast and furious it sure feels like we’ve got the go ahead to swing away. So, let’s start swinging!
The first substantial injury to an offensive player was inflicted on the New York Giants, or more specifically their No. 1 receiver Sterling Shepard. He fractured his thumb and looks like he’ll be out a few weeks and hopefully ready to go for Week 1. A not-completely-ready Shepard would help Evan Engram and Golden Tate, but this injury doesn’t move the needle on them much. The Giants have some strong skill players, but their quarterback is the weakest link, and that is in no way optimal for these skill players. For the most part, I’ll let others draft Giants players this season.
Miles Sanders suffered a hamstring strain in the offseason but was active at the start of camp. He’s a player to watch carefully this summer, as he has the skill to gain a big share of work but will need to beat out Jordan Howard, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles for touches. I’m taking a somewhat reserved approach and drafting Jordan Howard when he falls, but for the most part, the Eagles, other than Carson Wentz, are going to have their touches spread thin this year.
Chris Carson had offseason knee surgery and had to sit out all practices, but he’s back and appears to be healthy and practicing fully. As long as he can stay healthy, he has a shot at leading the league in rushing yards this season due to the insane amount of carries the Seahawks dole out.
Another running back with injury concerns practiced in full today, Derrius Guice. Guice had a hamstring strain in rehab, but he showed up at training camp ready to go. His upside isn’t great in Washington, but he’s the lead back as long as he’s healthy and his ability gives him a little more juice than your usual mid-round running back pick.
Ezekiel Elliott wasn’t on the team charter to Oxnard, where the Cowboys hold training camp. He could still show up Friday morning and not be a holdout, but I’m guessing he’s going to put the screws to Jerry Jones at least for a little while. I’m not nearly as worried about Elliott as I am Melvin Gordon and I am still drafting him as a top-three back.
Saints all-world wide receiver Michael Thomas didn’t show up for the start of training camp and won’t until he gets a new deal, which is in negotiations. He’s still safe to draft, but with all these holdouts, getting the player in to start practicing earlier is a lot better than later.
Broncos running back Devontae Booker may be on the roster bubble according to beat reporter Cecil Lammey, and that news also coincides with reports that Phillip Lindsay will get more usage in the passing game. Booker saw 51 targets last season, so that would be a nice chunk for Lindsay to pick up. All of this is speculation of course, but if it comes to fruition, Lindsay could be a beast in PPR this season.
San Francisco beat reporter Matt Maiocco believes that Trent Taylor has the slot position wrapped up and that he can lead the team in receptions this season. The 49ers have a lot of mouths to feed, but leading the team in receptions would still make him a huge value, as he’s free in drafts at the moment. I just grabbed him in one of my dynasty leagues for nothing.
Ryan Fitzpatrick appears to be far ahead of Josh Rosen to start training camp. The Dolphins will likely start both at times this season, but they also don’t have a ton invested in Rosen and will look to tank enough to get a quarterback in the 2020 Draft. Old Fitzpatrick may be able to hold onto the job longer than usual, which would help the offensive players put up stronger fantasy stats than if Rosen were starting.
Kalen Ballage saw the first snap with the 1’s but Kenyan Drake also worked with the first team. Drake should be the starter, as he outplayed Ballage with ease last season and Frank Gore is gone, so I’m not going to worry about Ballage unless he obviously is getting starters reps while Drake isn’t.
Will Fuller appears to be ready to go, as he won’t go on the PUP list. His presence has been a huge boon for DeShaun Watson’s numbers, so a healthy Fuller is key to a big fantasy season for Watson, which in turn would give Fuller a big fantasy season and so on and so forth ad infinitum.
Albert Wilson will be limited to individual drills to start training camp, but he will miss the PUP list and should be on track for meaningful snaps this season. He’s a master at yards after the catch, and I’d love to see him get a full season as a top target, even in the Dolphins’ offense. Now that we know he’s on track, I’ll grab him as a flier in many drafts.
Aaron Rodgers continues to hype Marquez Valdes-Scantling, saying “One guy that’s really jumped out is Marquez. He’s always timed very fast but now I think he’s playing to his time. Big difference between timing fast and playing fast. Marquez is starting to play with more confidence.” Right now, the Packers look set with Davante Adams and Valdes-Scantling on the outside and Geronimo Allison in the slot. The question is, who between Allison and Valdes-Scantling will win out in fantasy, and I can’t answer that with any kind of confidence. I think Allison in PPR and Valdes-Scantling in standard, but one will surpass the other, as there just aren’t enough targets to go around for all three to be top fantasy players.
Baltimore beat writer Jamison Hensley has been impressed with rookie Miles Boykin and thinks he will end up starting this season. The Ravens are extremely thin at wide receiver, so this isn’t a crazy idea, but it does seem early, and Hensley isn’t someone to just spout out takes.
Deon Cain didn’t go on the PUP list and showed out well in the Colts’ first practice. GM Chris Ballard has also continued to hype him this offseason. There are way too many receivers in Indianapolis unfortunately, but I still like Cain in dynasty.
July 23 Updates
Training camp is here! Well, sorta. It has had a soft opening and will be a full-go with all teams reporting by the end of the week. This is it, folks. The real deal. The pièce de résistance. The Big Kahuna. The National Football League. Welcome to the 2019 season. From now on, you won’t have a second of downtime as you follow camp news from all 32 teams on your way to a fantasy football league championship in at least one of your 53 leagues. It will be nice to have more concrete news about position battles and injuries. Teams won’t be able to say that Joe Schmo is doing fine and hopefully will be out there by training camp because it’s training camp now! I’m a little excited. So, let’s get to some of that early news.
The biggest news to come out since training camp started is that Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill received no punishment for alleged child abuse. The child’s mother wouldn’t talk to the NFL, which doesn’t seem all that odd after Hill threatened her on tape, but this is where they are, and Hill will report to training camp on time. There is a chance new evidence comes out and the NFL reassesses this situation, but for now, Hill once again becomes a top fantasy pick. Last season, he finished as the No. 1 fantasy wide receiver in non-PPR leagues and third in PPR leagues. Hill had five games with two or more touchdowns and nine games with none, so it is difficult to rank him as the No. 1 receiver due to “inconsistency,” but he’ll still have the same upside as last year.
Since Hill won’t miss any games, Mecole Hardman won’t get a chance to fill in for him, losing his chance for a good fantasy season, while Sammy Watkins will take a backseat and stick to the same role he had last year. Patrick Mahomes gets the biggest boost, as Hill’s speed and ability puts defenses on tilt, making it easier for the MVP to get the offense moving downfield. Right now, I have Deshaun Watson ahead of Mahomes, but it’s pretty much a dead heat. Damien Williams could lose some work with Hill back, but probably not enough for it to matter and Hill will help get Kansas City into the red zone more often and up Williams’ touchdown opportunities. Travis Kelce was set up to be a target hog if Hill missed time, but the extra targets would also be less effective targets without Hill taking away coverage. In the end, I think it evens out and Kelce easily remains the No. 1 tight end in the game.
Julian Edelman will likely miss the first three weeks of training camp with a left thumb injury. The fact that it isn’t a leg or foot injury is good for his ability to stay in shape, and his veteran status gives him miles of leeway. Edelman is somewhat injury prone, and you can’t bank on him playing 16 games, but without Rob Gronkowski or any another established receiver going into this season, Edelman is set up for huge usage and could easily be a PPR monster.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn says they may use a rotation behind starter Devonta Freeman this season because of their depth. Atlanta isn’t really deep at running back. When Quinn says the Falcons are deep, he means weak but wouldn’t say such things out loud. Ito Smith is the favorite for the No. 2 position, but he didn’t do much last season to solidify that perception. The problem is there isn’t anyone behind Smith who has enough versatility to do much with any touches they’re given. The good news is that Freeman is going to get plenty of work in a great offense. If he can stay healthy, his upside is much higher than his current ADP.
Yahoo NFL writer Charles Robinson reports that the Chargers are taking a hard line on Melvin Gordon’s request for a new contract. Now, we need to find out how committed Gordon is to his holdout and we really have no good insight other than what his agent says, which isn’t that helpful. I’m going to avoid Gordon in early drafts if I can, but at some point, his upside will get the better of any drafter, which would probably be the third round today and I’d want Justin Jackson and/or Austin Ekeler as a little insurance.
The Denver Broncos started camp first, so blurbs about players have been clogging up the fantasy pipeline for a week. The biggest news is that Phillip Lindsay was a full-go to start camp and that Emmanuel Sanders didn’t start camp on the PUP list. Sanders will be eased back, but he’s out there and looking good running drills. Unless he has a setback, I just don’t see Courtland Sutton taking over the No. 1 wide receiver job now. In reality, I expect the Broncos to go all-in on the rushing game with Sanders leading the way in targets, but Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton and Noah Fant will likely spread work out enough to cut into the upside of any one receiver.
Before camp started, it looked as if Royce Freeman had taken a lead in the running back battle in Denver, as he was healthy during the offseason program and “looked good” while Phillip Lindsay recovered from wrist surgery. Add to that the Broncos new coaching staff, and there is room for the running backs to jockey for new positions. The good news for Lindsay and his fantasy backers is that he was a full-go to start camp and practiced with the first team. He has the lead, as he should after a great rookie season, but there still is room for Freeman to carve out a good-sized role in what should be a more run-focused offense. Broncos beat reporter Cecil Lammey believes Freeman and Lindsay will split time about 50-50, so at the moment, it’s tough to feel great about either having a breakout season, but I’m still higher on Lindsay because he’s shown, so far, that he’s better than Freeman and early reports point to him catching more passes this season.
Sony Michel has been put on the PUP list to start training camp. That designation could last a day or weeks, so the news isn’t too precise, but it’s still bad news for Michel. He is coming off an offseason knee scope and had a similar problem early on last season as well, which should send up red flags in confetti dumps. All signs are pointing to Damien Harris getting a lot of work early in training camp, and if he can make a good impression, Michel will probably lose work as the Patriots try to manage his knee and get Harris on board if he needs to take over the lead role. I’ve moved Harris up ahead of Michel in my rankings by a sliver because I don’t want to draft Michel at this point.
Philadelphia signed the small shell of Darren Sproles to catch passes for one more season at the ripe old age of 36, which just makes me ripe. He’ll likely work as a kick returner and run a few routes to jumble up an already overcrowded running back room. His presence hurts Corey Clement and Miles Sanders, but at this point, that backfield is as clear as mud. Training camp and preseason should enlighten us as to who’s in the lead in Eagle-town, but if I had to wager right now, I’d put money on Jordan Howard leading the team in rushing attempts.
The Texans placed DeAndre Hopkins on the PUP list due to his shoulder injury in the playoffs. The ligament injury doesn’t appear to be one that will threaten his status this season, but they will ease him into training camp. Unless he lingers on the PUP, I don’t see any reason to knock him down in the rankings, but it’s still something to keep an eye on.
The Patriots placed veteran Demaryius Thomas on the PUP list coming off Achilles surgery. At this point in his career, there’s little upside even in the Patriots’ offense and he could end up getting cut. He’s not someone on my radar in fantasy this season.
For earlier fantasy notes from this offseason, check out the Fantasy Notes archive.
Also, check out our Fantasy Football Rankings.
More 2019 Fantasy Football Articles:
Fantasy Football Rankings
2019 Fantasy Football Rankings:
2019 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 8/26 (Walt)
Chet Gresham's Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings - 8/12 (Chet)
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