2020 Fantasy Football: AFC Training Camp Updates
Is Cam a given in Foxboro? Is Big Ben back? Brent Langlois breaks down the news you need to know in his initial AFC Training Camp Update.
It’s that time of year again! Finally, we’re about to learn which of our favorite rookies and young upside players will earn themselves a prominent role. If your fantasy football league drafts late, training camp storylines are a must follow to ensure you’re drafting with the best odds of success. If your fantasy football league drafts early, I guess it’s a time to rosterbate over positive player news, orrrrrr prematurely worry that you picked the wrong players. Here are the top storylines in AFC Training Camps to keep an eye on.
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AFC Training Camp Updates
New England Patriots
A couple of weeks ago, there wasn’t much to watch out for at the Patriots’ training camp aside from possible development from N’Keal Harry and Damien Harris. We should have known Bill Belichick had something up his sleeve though. Last week, the Patriots signed dual-threat quarterback Cam Newton to compete with Jarrett Stidham for the starting job (Poor Jarrett). Most assume this is Newton’s job, and it likely is, but he will still have to earn it. Newton has always been a better fantasy football quarterback than real-life quarterback, and his recent injury history still leaves a little concern. Furthermore, Jarrett Stidham knows the offense, while Newton does not. The Patriots also liked Stidham enough to not draft a quarterback, so there is reason to believe this job is up for grabs. If Newton can show he’s the same ol’ G and picks up the offense relatively quickly, the job is likely his. If not, he was a dirt-cheap signing that the Patriots won’t feel obligated to start. We should have a very good idea of what’s happening before the end of August. Perhaps the Patriots are still contenders in the AFC east after all; as if we should have ever doubted them.
There’s no shortage of things to watch in Miami this summer, and no, I’m not talking about the intellectually deficient young’uns packing the beaches of south Florida. The Dolphins training camp has a few storylines to keep an eye on. There’s Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Tua Tagovailoa, Jordan Howard vs. Matt Brieda, and Preston Williams vs. Devante Parker for No. 1 receiver. The odds are good that Tua spends at least half the season behind Fitzpatrick, but how Tua fairs in August could give us some insight as to whether or not he’s picking things up quickly. If early signs aren’t encouraging, expect Fitzmagic for most or all of the season. Perhaps the most interesting training camp storyline is that of the backfield. Who’s the lead back? Is there one or is it an even split? Both Jordan Howard and Matt Breida are great flex values at the moment, but that could change once we hear what Brian Flores has planned. The juiciest storyline? Who will be the #1 receiver for the Dolphins? The easy answer is Parker given his big second half, but Parker was playing behind Williams when Williams tore his ACL in November. If Williams takes a step forward in his development, he could quite easily be the top dog there with his immense upside. The ACL may be a worry, but the surgery and recovery time are much better than in the past, especially with younger players. We saw Cooper Kupp come back from the same injury in 2019 with the exact same recovery time, so training camp should answer that question.
Kansas City Chiefs
Hype in fantasy football is inevitable, and as a result, it can get a wee bit out of hand. The hype surrounding Clyde Edwards-Helaire is a perfect example (PPR RB16!). Yes, he’s a gifted young running back playing for a team with a bonkers pass attack, but he’s not alone in that backfield. Damien Williams may not be anything special, but he’s still a solid option the Chiefs trust. It will take a big-time training camp and start to the season for CEH to park Williams on the pine and prove worthy of his pricey ADP. It’s certainly possible, but the lack of an off-season will make it extremely difficult for CEH to carve out anything more than a committee role in the first half of the season. This summer should be a classic tale of trusted veteran Vs. talented rookie. One thing is for sure though, if either one of these two can seize a majority share of the work, they’ll be a very valuable asset. This is a prime fantasy football training camp storyline to keep an eye on.
Very similar to the battle about to commence in Kansas City, the Ravens have their own version of trusted veteran vs. talented rookie. Oddly enough though, unlike CEH, J.K. Dobbins (PPR RB41) isn’t being over-hyped despite playing on a team that runs much more than the Chiefs. Perhaps the love for Ingram is much stronger than it is for Williams. The presence of Gus Edwards and Justice Hill isn’t helping the Dobbins hype train either. It may be coach speak, but Harbaugh has been adamant that all four running backs will get some play. In any event, Ingram and Dobbins will be ready to dance in August. While it’ll be a surprise to see Dobbins unseat Ingram at any point during the season, all eyes should still be locked on this training camp storyline. Mark Ingram is well-rounded and proven, but he’s also a little long in the tooth, so it is possible we see a decline in ability this summer. Regardless, keeping an eye on Dobbins will be equally important. If he struggles to acclimate to the game in August, there’s a good chance it’s Ingram’s job for one more year. If Ingram looks like he’s lost a step, Dobbins is a solid later round pick regardless of how he looks in the summer.
The fantasy football community largely has this one wrapped up, but we still need to watch Diontae Johnson and James Washington in training camp. Assuming we know what will happen in fantasy sports is never the wisest decision. Both are very talented young wide receivers who likely haven’t hit their ceiling yet. Both of them also performed quite well in the absence of Big Ben. Johnson certainly shined as a rookie, despite the dingy quarterback play, but Johnson also took a huge leap in his second year under the same circumstances. Will one of them take a step forward? Will Big Ben take a shining to one over the other? Or perhaps they both end up with similar production in a 2/2A situation. We should also keep an eye out for training camp reports on Ben Roethlisberger to ensure he’s a quarterback we want attached to our receiver. At 38 years old and coming off a serious injury, nothing is guaranteed with Big ‘ol Ben.
This shouldn’t be a training camp storyline, but alas, Bill O’Brien wanted to tinker with his roster in ways no general manager should tinker. So who is the Texans No. 1 receiver? The obvious answer is Brandon Cooks. He has four seasons of 1000 receiving yards on his resume. Cobb is the only other receiver in Houston that has even one. The problem is, Cooks isn’t the prototypical No. 1 receiver. Combine that with the rumors that the ball will be spread around evenly between Cooks, Cobb, and Fuller, and we have a fantasy football training camp storyline worth following. Any tidbits we may hear in August will surely help us make an informed decision. As of now, the safe bet is targeting the best value of the three until its made clear that there will be ‘a guy’. Right now, Cobb is the best value at WR72, especially when you consider Fuller’s old lady like durability and Cooks’ long history of concussions.
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Which position battles are you watching in AFC Training Camp? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Also check out all of our Fantasy Football content to get ready for the season!
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