Training camp is starting to wrap up and we were hoping that position battles would start to become clearer. Well, that is not the case. We have learned that an early round running back may have been pushed into a committee. Fantasy owners have also been denied clarity of any kind in the Colts’ backfield, with a journeyman jumping into the competition for snaps. To top it all off, we were led to believe that both A.J. McCarron and Tyrod Taylor were out for the season for a brief period. Guess what? They are both fine, and both playing.
Training camp continues to be a circus and we would not have it any other way. Well, we would actually. Fantasy owners want some stability. They may not get it this week, but at least you can read this training camp report and stay up to date on the latest for every team in the AFC this week.
I have been taking a close look every week during the preseason at what has changed in training camp and how it impacts fantasy football. You can look for updates on the NFC every Tuesday while taking a look at the AFC training camps on Fridays. So without further ado, let’s dive into what happened during the past week of AFC training camp.
AFC EAST Training Camp Report
Hey, remember when A.J. McCarron broke his collarbone? Apparently, they read his x-ray upside down or inside out, because reports are that he is fine. In fact, McCarron is due to return to practice any day. Crazy right? It was reported on Friday that McCarron suffered a fractured collarbone after being driven into the ground by Myles Garrett. The Bills quarterback was expected to miss up to three months. Make of this mess what you will, but it’s great news that McCarron is healthy. Not for fantasy owners, but in general. Fantasy wise this means very little. Carry on.
the #bills when AJ McCarron says his collarbone is actually not fractured pic.twitter.com/OSC0l0TkVO
— Ryan Mura (@RyanMura) August 21, 2018
The news out of Dolphins camp is that veteran Frank Gore and early round fantasy pick Kenyan Drake will “split carries.” Wait, can you hear that? What is that sound? Oh, it’s a giant gasp by every Kenyan Drake owner. Adam Gase has made it obvious that Frank Gore is not going to stand around and look pretty. Look for both backs to be a part of the offense, sending their fantasy ADP’s trending in the opposite direction. So much for Drake being a bell-cow. The news makes Frank Gore a fairly interesting late round pick-up.
New England Patriots
Rex Burkhead returned to practice this past week after reports of a “slight tear” in his right knee. It is certainly encouraging that he suited up for practice, but this has to be a red flag for fantasy owners. Especially given the injury history of Burkhead. Given the uncertainty of the entire Patriots’ backfield, this injury scare may not impact Burkehead’s ADP as much as you would think. However, I would find it hard to make a big investment is a player who is starting the season with this kind of setback.
New York Jets
New Tork running back Isaiah Crowell cleared the league’s concussion protocol and returned to training camp on Monday. Crowell as forced to miss the Jets second preseason game with the injury. He is likely to be ready for the dress rehearsal game as the team prepares for the regular season. Crowell is due for a major workload with the injury to Elijah McGuire, hopefully, this injury scare does not change that. Still, Bilal Powell makes for an interesting end-game draft pick just in case.
Isaiah Crowell finished as the RB27 in PPR leagues last season, despite the fact that Cleveland was the lowest scoring offense in the league and Duke Johnson siphoned off 74 receptions. His current ADP of RB40 makes absolutely no sense to me.
— Matt LaMarca (@MattLaMarca) August 20, 2018
AFC North Training Camp Report
Joe Flacco continued his solid training camp by completing seven passes for 72 yards and a touchdown in the Ravens’ third preseason game Monday. The game is just another sign pointing towards a nice bounce-back campaign for the veteran quarterback. It’s possible that the presence of rookie Lamar Jackson is giving Flacco a reason to go all out. Whatever the reason, he looks fantastic.
In related news, Flacco connected with his new favorite target John Brown for a 7-yard touchdown in the contest. Joe Flacco looks like a solid QB2 that can be counted on as a streamer. Don’t look now, but the Ravens may have a few fantasy relevant options in 2018. By the way, draft John Brown is every league. Just do it. Thank me later.
Bengals’ wide receiver John Ross is not doing much for the confidence of fantasy owners so far this preseason. Scheduled to be the WR2 opposite A.J. Green, Ross has caught just two of eight passes thrown his way in preseason games. He recently caught just one pass for 29 yards in the Bengals’ second preseason game. Now, he is still likely to open as the WR2 in Cincinnati given that his only competition is Josh Malone and Tyler Boyd. I would not take that as a positive though. A.J. Green is going to be in for a rough season of extreme double teams.
Tyrod Taylor is either the toughest man alive or a big baby. Why do I say that? If you watched Thursday night’s preseason game you would know. Taylor appeared to break his wrist on the Browns second drive, being rushed off the field. Taylor;’s wrist was dangling limply at his side, and the Baker Mayfield era was imminent. Nope. Tayor returned to the field just two series later. This is crazy for multiple reasons but was more confusing than anything.
Taylor actually played well, completing 11-of-16 passes for 65 yards. He was most certainly outshined by Baker Mayfield, who performed far better than stats indicated. Expect Taylor to be a respectable starter in fantasy leagues while he is the QB1 in Cleveland. Just don’t expect that to last all season. Mayfield is coming folks, he is too good.
By the way, Nick Chubb is really good. Do not let him fall too far in your fantasy draft. If Carlos Hyde were to get injured he would have tremendous value. The Browns’ rookie rushed 14 times for 46 yards in Thursday’s preseason game vs. Philadelphia. Even better news, Chubb took snaps with the first-team offense. Unfortunately, for Chubb to make an impact in 2018, he would need a Hyde injury.
Not much happening in Pittsburgh training camp. Sorry folks. It was reported that they plan to run a no-huddle offense “more than ever.” Although this is hardly news as they already run the no-huddle the third most in the NFL. Anything else? Well, they signed their kicker to an extension. Want me to get into detail about that? No? Ok. Moving on.
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AFC South Training Camp Report
Rookie wide receiver Keke Coutee returned to practice Wednesday after, missing three weeks with a hamstring injury. The promising first-year player was an industry favorite to make some noise as the starting slot receiver in Texas. However, Coutee has missed too much time and has likely lost the opportunity to take on a large early-season role. Still, Coute makes for an interesting late-round flier if you can afford the roster space.
👋 @TheKekeCoutee pic.twitter.com/Q2AQrjmgZk
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) August 22, 2018
Colts’ running back Marlon Mack may not be ready for the start of the season. Head coach Frank Reich admitted as much when asked about Macks’ hamstring injury. The official word is still up in the air, but the Indy is not holding their breath. If he is unable to go, expect the Colts to deploy a running back by committee involving Jordan Wilkins, Nyhiem Hines, and Christine Michael. Wilkins would be the play in standard leagues while Hines gets the nod in PPR.
But Matt, Christine Michael has seen plenty of first-team reps in training camp. Yes, I saw that too. I’m choosing to ignore it because it’s crazy. There, I mentioned it. Are you happy? In all seriousness, do not draft Michael. If you had to pick one I would go with Wilkins, who has looked fairly impressive so far. Hines has simply fumbled the ball too much.
Jacksonville head coach Doug Marrone mentioned that he is trying to get Leonard Fournette more involved on third down in 2018. It makes sense, as Fournette caught 36-of-48 targets for 302 yards last year. However, Fournette is already looking at a massive workload and could probably use the time to recover between downs. That being said, being added into the third-down playbook more often would certainly boost Fournette’s value. Already going in the first round, look for a slight bump in ADP as the regular season grows closer for the Jaguars’ star running back.
Some good news out of Titans’ training camp, as Rishard Matthews (knee) is reportedly close to coming off the active/PUP list. This comes straight from the mouth of head coach Mike Vrabel. Matthews’ has been recovering from surgery to repair a torn meniscus. It’s unknown if Matthews will be ready 100% for the regular season, but it is a positive step forward. Savvy fantasy owners would be wise to follow his progress as he stands to be a draft day steal if he can round into form.
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AFC West Training Camp Report
Denver’s star wideout Demaryius Thomas returned to training camp this week after missing time with a wrist injury. There should be no lingering effects and should be good to go for the Broncos in the regular season. Thomas makes for a fantastic bounce-back candidate that is currently being drafted 43rd overall as the 20th wide receiver.
Kansas City Chiefs
Supposedly Sammy Watkins is starting to “find a groove” with Patrick Mahomes. The bottom line with Watkins is that he is unlikely to find a groove that will justify his current ADP. The Chiefs have lined up Watkins in the slot in over 40% of their offensive snaps in the preseason. This would be interesting to see, but it hardly presents fantasy owners with anything to get excited about. Being moved around this heavily for the first time of his career while learning a new offense will present challenges. The Chiefs wideout is currently being drafted ahead of players like Chris Hogan. He shouldn’t be.
#Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins isn't worried about the targets. He's worried about learning Andy Reid's offense from multiple positions. pic.twitter.com/o1iUKsrhKa
— Lynn Worthy (@LWorthySports) August 23, 2018
Literally, nothing happened in Raiders camp this past week, at least of the offensive side of the ball. Has Martavius Bryant learned the playbook yet?
Los Angeles Chargers
Tyrell Williams missed practice this week with a sore foot. Apparently, the injury is not serious according to coach Anthony Lynn, but the timing is not great for Williams to be missing snaps. The Chargers’ wideout was having himself a solid training camp, but so is teammate Mike Williams. The second-year wide receiver would love to carve out a spot across from Kennan Allen in the starting lineup. Mike Williams may be replacing Tyrell as the best “Williams” on the Chargers.
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