AFC Training Camp Report for 8/17
Training camp continues as we march toward the regular season in the NFL. Injuries are the central theme this offseason. with several big names being added to the scrap heap this week. Pittsburgh saw their quarterback get a concussion scare, while the Titans wait and see if their star tight end will have to miss some time. The Colts running back situation did not gain any clarity, while the Jaguars wide receiver battle only continues to get cloudier.
I’ll be taking a close look every week during the preseason at the latest news 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 recently in AFC training camp.
AFC EAST Training Camp Report
LeSean McCoy has had a personal injury lawsuit filed against him by ex-girlfriend Delicia Cordon. There have been no criminal charges filed, however, and McCoy has already reported to Bills training camp and participated in team drills. There is not a lot to go on, and the Milton Police Department still considers the investigation “open and active.” Regardless of how the situation turns out, the NFL could still place McCoy on the Commissioner-Exempt List at their own discretion.
Here’s what we know about the lawsuit LeSean McCoy faces: pic.twitter.com/ZlOrUTvjX8
— Mel Orlins (@Mel_Orlins) August 14, 2018
Obviously, this situation goes a lot further than Fantasy Football, and I do not wish to make light of it. I hope everyone involved gets the closure they need, and it’s terrible that this happened. However, I am here to talk about how the possible absence of LeSean McCoy could impact your fantasy league, so that is what I am going to do.
McCoy’s current ADP is sitting at 22.76 on Fantrax, while teammate Chris Ivory sits around 195. Now, there is obviously a huge talent gap between the two players, but opportunity is opportunity. The Bills were fourth in the NFL with 487 rushes last season, they are a running football team. If McCoy is going to miss time his carries are going to fall to someone. That someone is Chris Ivory folks. It’s possible that McCoy misses no time, but let’s be serious, there is a very good chance he does. The commissioner’s office has not handled domestic violence well in the past and is unlikely to let this skate by unnoticed. Even if not formally charged criminally, McCoy stands to face a league suspension if the NFL deems it necessary.
Fantasy owners need to prepare for this. Chris Ivory may not be a player that many want to draft based on his individual abilities, but he stands to gain a tremendous amount of value if something were to happen. He is a possible draft-day steal that many are leaving on the waiver wire. Do yourself a favor and invest your last pick in him, it may pay off big. Ivory is also a must-own handcuff for LeSean McCoy owners, it would be silly not to in their situation.
DeVante Parker, who has already been struggling in training camp, is now reportedly questionable for Week 1 due to a broken finger. A player that fantasy owners were already down on, Parker’s ADP should see a sharp downturn following this news. Teammate Kenny Stills is already sidelined with an ankle injury, leaving the Dolphins with Albert Wilson as their current WR1 in camp. Not good.
It’s possible that either Parker or Stills becomes an absolute steal in drafts if one of them emerges at their current ADP. After all, someone has to catch the ball when Tannehill throws it (aside from the other team). However, this is more than likely shaping up to be a situation to avoid entirely. Miami could end up having one of the poorest fantasy rosters in recent memory. The best course of action is to let the Dolphin wideouts fall in your draft, with Stills being the main target to grab.
New England Patriots
Free-agent signing Eric Decker has struggled mightily with drops since joining the Patriots. He is owed just $75,000 of guaranteed money in his contract, so New England has little reason to put up with this kind of performance. After dropping the very first pass Tom Brady delivered to him upon arrival, Decker has since dropped five more passes in training camp. It’s hard to imagine the Patriots allowing him to make the team if he does not make a drastic improvement. Still, while Julian Edelman is out, Decker stands a good chance of making the team with only Phillip Dorsett to beat out and Kenny Britt still injured.
WR Eric Decker is still having a pretty hard time in Patriots camp. He pushed off on Patrick Chung to make a catch in 1-on-1s and dropped his second target.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) August 13, 2018
New York Jets
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News stated that “it’d be an upset” if Sam Darnold is not the Jets starter Week 1. Well, that is interesting. There is no doubting the talent of Darnold, who has been hogging the majority of the reps with the first-team offense the past few days. Still, this would be a deviation from what most thought going into the season, especially given the lack of talent that surrounds the young quarterback.
It would be a shame for Darnold to suffer from “Andrew Luck syndrome”, being stuck behind a subpar offensive line to start his career. It would be exciting though. Darnold had a less than stellar performance in Thursday’s preseason game, completing 8-of-11 passes for 62 yards and an interception. But still, keep an eye on the situation as Darnold has the ability to be fantasy relevant. Unlike his veteran teammates.
However, I would be remissed if I did not mention the fantastic play of Terry Bridgewater in Thursday night’s preseason game. This man is a starting quarterback, whether it happens in 2018 (and for what team) is another question.
AFC North Training Camp Report
Wide receiver John Brown has received consistent praise for how great he has been in camp. Coach John Harbaugh admits that Brown has been better than expected, and expects him to be a big factor. Even QB Joe Flacco has credited the wideout with giving him a redeeming confidence in throwing deep. These are all amazing things to hear, given that Brown spent most of the past two years fighting complications from his sickle-cell trait. Fantasy owners should definitely keep an eye on Brown, he is a great late round flier with a chance to be a steal. If healthy.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, who somehow still has a job, stated he never wants Tyler Eifert to play 50 snaps in a game in 2018. I am not sure if this is just an attempt to keep the often-injured tight end “fresh”, but it is not good news from a fantasy perspective. If the touchdown dependent tight end is not going to be on the field consistently, his bust potential grows ten-fold. Eifert’s draft potential is becoming a hard pass.
The Browns still expect Josh Gordon to return for the 2018 season, citing week as a possibility. A possibility? When did this happen? The red flag parade is in full swing as reports of Dez Bryant signing in Cleveland start to pick up steam. Gordon’s ADP is about to take a steep tumble amid the reports and it will be hard to believe anything you hear about the troubled wide receiver’s return until you see it with your own eyes. The Bryant news will not be an earth-shattering change of landscape in fantasy by any means, but he should have decent value as the WR2 in Cleveland is Gordon somehow does not return. If he does, he may be a draft day steal depending on where is ADP falls. The smart play is to draft Jarvis Landry, and no one else in the Browns wide receiver corps. Just how risk averse are you?
Browns still expect Josh Gordon’s return, but when? https://t.co/BpV0a94iyc
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 16, 2018
Ben Roethlisberger cleared the concussion protocol after getting hit in practice this week during training camp. Not to worry, the fact that Big Ben cleared the protocol so quickly likely suggests he was never concussed. Fantasy owners, Antonio Brown owners, and Steelers’ fans can all relax.
Coach Tomlin told me pre-game that #Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger went through the protocol and does NOT have a concussion. He is with the team in Green Bay. It will be”business as usual” for Ben when the team gets back to Pittsburgh.
— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) August 16, 2018
AFC South Training Camp Report
Nothing to report here, carry on.
Rookie running back Jordan Wilkins received reps with the first-team offense Thursday. Fantasy owners should not jump to any conclusions, as the Colts have been rotating backs on a daily basis. Still, it is a good sign that the Colts have confidence in their rookie back. He will compete for carries with fellow rookie Nyhiem Hines while Marlon Mack is sidelined with a hamstring injury. It would not hurt to throw a late round flier Wilkins way in your draft, although Hines is the superior talent (especially in PPR).
Jacksonville’s rookie wideout D.J. Chark has been opening some eyes so far in training camp. Many see him as the most impressive talent amongst the wide receiver core. Chark has made countless catches against cornerback Jalen Ramsey (yes, the guy who thinks all QBs are awful), and A.J. Bouye. It’s tough to predict how the target share with break down for the Jaguars with Donte Moncrief, Marquise Lee, Dede Westbrook, and Keelan Cole all in the mix. It may be a good problem to have for Jacksonville, but it makes the lives of fantasy owners a bit complicated.
DJ Chark may end up being really really good. pic.twitter.com/zIdCLJl1qp
— Another Jags Podcast (@AnotherJagsPod) August 11, 2018
Titans star tight end Delanie Walker suffered a lower-body injury during Thursday’s practice. He is currently being evaluated, and reports suggest the injury may be to Walker’s toe. Unfortunately, that is all the news we have for now. Hopefully, he will be fine, but foot injuries tend to be more of a pain than people realize. Just ask Greg Olsen.
Wide receiver Tajae Sharpe has been seeing more reps with the first-team offense. Sharpe is taking full advantage of the injury that has befallen Richard Matthews. It is important to note that once the opportunity presented itself, the Titans chose Sharpe to fill-in almost entirely. He will need to continue to prove himself to steal real playing time in the regular season though. Sharpe is likely to fall back on the depth chart upon Matthews’ return, but its good to know he has recovered from the foot injury that plagued him in 2017.
AFC West Training Camp Report
Rookie Royce Freeman is working his way into being the primary running back in Denver. It’s going to be a timeshare of sorts with Devontae Booker, but the talented Freeman has shown off his wheels during the preseason. The Broncos coaching staff are also impressed with Freeman’s blocking abilities, so staying in on third-down should not be a problem. Fantasy owners will need to temper expectations, as Booker is still around to play “spoiler”, but make no mistake, Freeman is the man to own in the Denver backfield. That being said, the rookie back is going at a near 5th round ADP. That is drafting him more towards his ceiling at the moment, so make sure not to reach for Freeman in drafts.
Broncos RB Royce Freeman with a 23-yard TD.pic.twitter.com/sWvCECmDTM
— LeadingNFL (@LeadingNFL) August 12, 2018
Kansas City Chiefs
Tyreek Hill has been the primary target so far in Chiefs’ training camp. This may seem like a surprise to some, as many expected Sammy Watkins to somehow take the spotlight away. You knew better though right? That continued in the preseason opener when Hill was thrown to twice, while Watkins sat on his thumbs watching. This shouldn’t really impact how you view either player unless you were a Hill doubter. Both wide receivers should garner plenty of attention from Pat Mahomes and should be drafted accordingly. Just remember, Tyreek Hill is the WR1 in Kansas City. He has seen a slight dip in his ADP, do not let him slip too far in your draft.
Tyreek Hill is not human ? pic.twitter.com/pZbMytn1rC
— Receiver School (@ReceiversSchool) August 13, 2018
Raiders new head coach Jon Gruden has been impressed with Derek Carr so far in training camp. He even made the point of claiming the quarterback has mastered his offense already. This is good news, considering reports already have Carr looking sharp in practice and Gruden is traditionally a hard man to impress. The Oakland QB could become a steal later in drafts with a bounce-back likely for Amari Cooper and the addition of veteran Jordy Nelson.
Derek Carr in real command of Jon Gruden’s offense. Vocal before snap. At line of scrimmage, directing traffic to degree he hasn’t in past. Never a question whether he’d buy in. But work they’ve put in evident on practice field. His fluency level exceeds their time together.
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 14, 2018
Los Angeles Chargers
Honestly, the only fantasy relevant story this week in Chargers camp is the riveting battle for starting kicker between Caleb Sturgis and Roberto Aguayo. I will leave it at that.
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