Welcome back to another recap of AFC training camps. This week every team finally got the chance to put on pads. The biggest headlines this week were the Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson injuries, and how that will affect Jonathan Taylor. Some breakout receivers in Nico Collins and Tyron Johnson could be solid deep sleepers at the wide receiver position.
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Let’s get into what happened this week.
The Titans have been one of the more efficient teams as training camp has started. Lots of injuries have been going around the league in the last week, but the Titans have been looking solid.
Julio Jones did land awkwardly on his ankle earlier in the week and has missed the last few practices. Though it is reported that it is nothing major, and he is being held out as a precaution. But, it’s something to monitor.
Some good news is A.J. Brown has been out practicing in full pads and catching passes from Ryan Tannehill. His offseason injury has been a concern when it comes to drafting Brown. But the injuries have not slowed him down at all during camp. He is the clear number one receiver on the team.
2020 rushing leader Derrick Henry has been limited in practice. This isn’t due to injury, but just to watch his workload as he gets closer to the season. Henry will easily be a top-three pick this year.
The Colts couldn’t have started training camp any worse. First newly acquired quarterback Carson Wentz went down with a foot injury on July 29. He had surgery on Aug. 2 and is expected to miss five to 12 weeks. Then on the same day, Wentz had surgery, offensive lineman Quenton Nelson went down with the same foot injury as Wentz. Nelson is also expected to miss five to 12 weeks.
Along with Nelson going down, left tackle Eric Fisher is also coming off an Achilles injury and his start to the season will also be questionable.
With all these injuries, this should worry fantasy owners in drafting Jonathan Taylor. Taylor still has upside as he is a young second-year back. But, I think these injuries will push him out of the first round and I wouldn’t take him until the end of the second round.
Also, both Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines are back and healthy. Taylor will still be the workhorse, but Mack and Hines can cut into his production.
On the other hand, one Colts fantasy player to look for in the draft is Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman has been hauling in deep passes from Jacob Eason. Pittman has been showing out in training camp and is someone to monitor as a deep sleeper in the draft.
As for the Texans, quarterback Deshaun Watson has been absent for the last two practices. There is no knowing if Watson will be traded or if he will play this season. The good news is the quarterback position is still deep when it comes to fantasy football. But, at the moment I would not take a risk on drafting Watson.
As for position battles, the wide receiver three is up in the air between Nico Collins and Chris Moore. Collins has looked great throughout training camp and could move his way up to the wide receiver two slot. The receiving core is not the best in Houston so I wouldn’t suggest drafting any unless it’s Brandin Cooks.
Same with the backfield in Houston. With David Johnson, Philip Lindsay, and Mark Ingram II all in the mix, I don’t see a clear number one back. Last season Johnson showed glimpses of upside. But, this year Lindsay has been making impressive plays in training camp. Lindsay has been making quick plays on the ground finding the holes in the line.
Lindsay could have a big role in this offense as Johnson hasn’t seen much action in training camp. This will be a position battle to watch.
The Jaguars have some of the most interesting fantasy prospects for the 2021 season. With players in Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne, and Laviska Shenault Jr.
Lawrence continues to grow his confidence in the Jaguars offense. He drew some eyes on a pass to Marvin Jones where Lawrence threaded the needle between defenders. Shenault has also been a receiver gaining chemistry with Lawrence. I’d keep an eye on Shenault as he could be a breakout receiver for the team this year. Last year Shenault put up 600 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie year.
Etienne will be a solid choice in fantasy as the team is likely to run him as a receiver at times. But, second-year back James Robinson is the one showing off the speed in the backfield. In several one-on-one drills, Robinson has dominated with his speed. But, in terms of fantasy who do you draft?
We’ll have to keep an eye out but it looks like Robinson will be the downhill back and Etienne will be more of the receiving back. Each back will split carries as I don’t see a number one workhorse back.
The Bills are one of those teams that don’t attract too much attention but have been consistent in the last few years for fantasy. During this past week of training camp, both Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs have built upon their chemistry.
Another receiver to look out for is Emmanuel Sanders. The veteran has fit in well during camp, and though he may not be a top fantasy pickup, he helps Allen’s draft stock, as does Cole Beasley. Allen has been questioned if he can repeat what he did last season, but with the addition of Sanders, I see Allen building upon his game.
But, it’s the running game that is questionable. There is still no clear number one back between Zack Moss or Devin Singletary. Right now it seems as if the team is going to run with whoever is hot that week. I wouldn’t waste anything but a late-round flyer on one of these two backs just yet.
The biggest news coming out of Dolphins camp right now centers on rookie receiver, Jaylen Waddle. DeVante Parker is still the clear number one receiver but Waddle has been showing out in training camp all week.
Waddle showed he’s not just a speed threat but has also been able to snag catches in traffic as well. Waddle has the upside to be a WR2 on a fantasy roster. Also, the chemistry is already there with Tua Tagovailoa once again throwing to Waddle.
Aside from the receivers, running backs have been catching balls out of the backfield as well. That is gold when it comes to fantasy. Myles Gaskin is one of my favorite pickups in the third or fourth round. Gaskin has been hauling in multiple passes throughout camp which will up his value in PPR format.
Last season in 10 games, Gaskin had 584 yards on the ground with three touchdowns and 388 yards receiving and two touchdowns. The 388 yards and 41 receptions are what should catch your eye. And if he continues to develop his receiving game in camp, Gaskin will be a high-end RB2.
New England Patriots
The quarterback position battle is going to be the talk of training camp for the Patriots. In their practice on Aug. 5, it was Mac Jones who got the reps over Cam Newton. This isn’t to say Jones has won the job but is something to watch. In fully competitive 11 on 11, Jones went 10 of 14 and Newton went 2 of 6.
So far it isn’t looking too well for Newton, but neither he nor Jones are being drafted. At this point, these quarterbacks will be streamers until one of them breakout during the season.
In terms of the tight end duo of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, there is no telling who will get more of the volume. So far in camp Henry has looked like more of the reliable option, but Smith is nursing a hamstring injury. At the moment, I would take Henry as the more reliable tight end in the draft. It will be interesting to see them play in the preseason.
New York Jets
I think the Jets have some of the most interesting players in fantasy this year in Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, and Michael Carter. Moore has been the breakout stud in training camp so far. He is a player you will want on your roster this season.
In just his second day of camp, he caught an 80-yard touchdown pass and also snagged a couple of first downs on third-down drills. He is showing a lot of confidence for a rookie as well.
“He walks through the building, and you’ll think he’s been in this building for 10 years,” head coach Robert Saleh said. “He asks all the right questions. He’s working. He’s an impressive young man. I’m excited to see him grow.”
Moore could very well be the steal of the draft this year.
As much as I love Najee Harris as a running back, the offensive line is terrible in Pittsburgh. Last season the line finished last in the league and during training camp not much has changed.
Rookie offensive tackle Dan Moore Jr. and center Kendrick Green have been taking most of the first-team reps but they have still been getting blown by in camp. This could be bad for Harris in the run game. The team could result in passing out of the backfield which would be ideal in PPR.
On Aug 5. the Steelers had their first preseason game. Harris had some solid runs finding holes against the Cowboys defense. Harris went seven carries for 22 yards. This was without Ben Roethlisberger playing but there were good signs of hard running by Harris in this game. Though the numbers aren’t large I see Harris being a top prospect this year in fantasy. Even with an unreliable offensive line.
The Ravens may have found a gem at the receiver position in Rashod Bateman. Bateman has been making tough catches over the middle against Marlon Humphrey. Bateman could move into the wide receiver three or with Sammy Watkins’ injury history, Bateman could be a top receiver in the core.
The team is still waiting on Lamar Jackson to come back from COVID-19. This shouldn’t be a concern in drafting Jackson, but it is something to monitor.
Wide receiver Deon Cain has also made a splash in training camp, but it is unlikely he will be a solid fantasy player for the season. However, he is one to keep an eye on if players go out with injuries or COVID-19.
Jarvis Landry could be the most trustworthy receiver on the team, but he is another receiver that could be making a huge impact this season. Donovan Peoples-Jones could be the hidden gem in the Browns receiving core.
In his first practice he stood out and that hasn’t stopped at all since then. And with Odell Beckham Jr. coming off an ACL injury, who knows how productive he will be. Keep an eye on Peoples-Jones this season.
Now the question is, do you draft Baker Mayfield with all this firepower? In their Thursday practice, Mayfield bounced back from a rough outing by linking up with Peoples-Jones on a 70-yard touchdown.
Mayfield is boom or bust, but he could be a solid choice for a quarterback down the road.
Joe Burrow is out and practicing, but hasn’t got quite the hot start in training camp. He is coming off an ACL injury which is understandable. Though this shouldn’t be concerning, it will be something to monitor.
If Burrow isn’t 100% then that could hurt the production in the receiving core. The camp reported he still feels uncomfortable on that knee. We’ll have to see in preseason how Burrow performs.
However, with Burrow not being 100% rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase has been showing out in training camp. Chase has been running reps with the starters which should spark some interest in drafting him. Chase has been going toward the middle of the draft and is usually the first of the rookie receiving class.
At this moment I love Chase as a fantasy option and if Burrow is back healthy, Chase will be a high-end WR2.
Kansas City Chiefs
Tyreek Hill is dealing with knee tendinitis but reports say this is nothing to worry about. Hill missed back-to-back practices but was back on the field this week running full speed. So with that being said, Hill is still a first-round pick this season.
But, if you can’t grab Hill in your draft, Mecole Hardman has been one of the top performers of Chiefs training camp. Like Hill, Hardman is a deep threat. Patrick Mahomes has been connecting with Hardman on the deep ball throughout training camp.
The Chiefs are one of those teams where there aren’t many position battles going on. All you need to know is the offense is going to be high-powered as always and so far the Chiefs are one of the lucky teams that haven’t had many injuries.
After the first week of practice with the Broncos, the developing story is that Tim Patrick could be traded or lose his spot.
So far Jerry Jeudy has been the most impressive receiver on the field. While he dropped a lot of passes his first year, he has corrected that flaw in training camp. His tight route running is making him a top fantasy wide receiver this season.
But who will be throwing the balls to them? Right now there is no clear winner for the starting quarterback job between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater has looked slightly better in training camp, but it is still anyone’s game.
Either way, I see both of these quarterbacks doing fine getting the ball to the receivers. I just wouldn’t start them in my lineup.
As for injuries, Courtland Sutton looks close to being 100% coming off his ACL injury. On Wednesday Sutton was made some circus catches and looked like his old self. Sutton is going quite late in drafts and both he and Jeudy can be a solid flex or even WR2.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are another team that has a solid amount of fantasy options from Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler.
But in training camp, it’s second-year receiver Tyron Johnson who is drawing the eyes after the first full week of practice. Throughout the week Johnson has shown he is not just a deep threat but a versatile wide receiver.
Another receiver that has shown up is Josh Palmer. The rookie has been making acrobatic plays throughout training camp. Allen is the clear number one receiver and Ekeler will be the number two as a running back.
But, this leaves that third option up for grabs. Mike Williams hasn’t impressed in camp and if you’ve had Williams on your team, you know he tends to drop a lot of deep balls. Williams could be in trouble if these young wideouts take over.
Right now I wouldn’t waste a draft pick on Williams.
Las Vegas Raiders
Henry Ruggs looks like he can be the real deal this year. After a full week of practice, Ruggs and Derek Carr continue to impress coaches on their chemistry. How the training camp is going is making me more and more sure about drafting Ruggs as a top receiver on a fantasy team.
If you go down the list of receivers, Ruggs is the clear number one receiver. The Raiders do have a solid run game, but the defense isn’t the best. So the Raiders will have to air the ball out quite a bit throughout the season. And that is where Ruggs will come in.
Also, a good sign is Carr said he wants to “play free” this season. This is a great sign for Carr. Since his injury, he hasn’t been his free self like how he was when he was in the running for MVP. If Carr is good to air it out this season, expect Ruggs to rack in a lot of receptions and yards.
Check back next Friday for more updates at AFC training camps and the start of preseason.
For more Rankings and Analysis please check out our full 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.
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