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AFC Training Camp Update: Waller and Diggs dealing with injuries

Welcome back to week three of AFC training camp updates. Teams are resting players as they get ready to kick off week one of the preseason this weekend. Some big headlines have been Darren Waller missing eight straight practices and Stefon Diggs leaving practice with an injury he suffered in the playoffs.

Enough talk, let’s get into what’s going on in the AFC.

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AFC Training Camp Update

AFC South

Tennessee Titans

Training camp has been on the quiet side in Tennessee, with star players in Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones not practicing. This news shouldn’t be alarming in terms of fantasy. Brown showed up early to camp in the first weeks and didn’t show any signs of setback. Henry is just doing individual workouts and not team drills.

This is great news for fantasy players as we’ve seen multiple injuries happen in camp. The Titans are just making sure their top players are rested and ready to go. However, with Brown and Jones not practicing there has been some standout players at the receiver and tight end positions.

Wide receiver Marcus Johnson and tight end Anthony Firkser have been the standouts in training camp so far. Now, this is mainly because both Brown and Jones have not been on the field. But, injuries do happen during the season and these two building more chemistry with Ryan Tannehill is a good sign for fantasy.

Johnson has been making big plays all training camp including a red zone grab on Aug. 9. Firkser on the other hand has been a catching machine from Tannehill, working well in red zone drills.

With the tight end positions shallow, keep an eye on Firkser for a possible tight end option.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have been the most frustrating team going into early fantasy drafts. More and more Jonathan Taylor looks like a bust as a first-round talent.

On top of Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson going down, both Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines look like they will cut into Taylor’s snaps. In most drafts, Nick Chubb is falling late because he has to share the ball with Kareem Hunt. This goes the same for Taylor, I see him as a high-risk reward in the first round as he won’t be the workhorse we thought he would be.

In terms of quarterback play, reports show there is no clear winner. However, Sam Ehlinger has been shining in training camp over Jacob Eason. Depending on who the quarterback is will determine how early you take Taylor or T.Y. Hilton.

Right now anything but the Colts defense seems like a high risk in fantasy right now.

But, if there is anyone I would take a chance on in a late round it would be Michael Pittman Jr. In training camp, the Colts have targeted Pittman more than any other receiver. I see Pittman having a breakout year especially if the Colts can’t get the run game down.

Houston Texans

If there is one thing I’ve learned since keeping up with the Texans over training camp, it is DON’T DRAFT DESHAUN WATSON. The whole Watson deal has been messy all offseason and there are so many other viable options at quarterback over Watson.

Watson is not traveling with the team to play the Packers in the preseason opener. And from the looks of it, I don’t see him playing at all during the preseason. Now, this is just preseason, but how do we know if he will play in the regular season? I don’t think Watson truly needs the practice, but right now there is no knowing if he will play in the regular season.

That being said, they have Tyrod Taylor as the backup quarterback. Tyrod Taylor will still be a solid quarterback to get the ball to Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins, who has been solid in camp.

Collins has been active in training camp, coming down with passes and touchdowns. Collins is one of the deep sleepers I love in fantasy this year.

Jacksonville Jaguars 

Remember when Minshew mania was a thing? I do, but for this year Trevor Lawrence is going to be the starting quarterback. Even though the Jaguars selected Lawrence number one, I don’t trust him as a number one quarterback.

But, the rookie I do trust on the Jaguars is Travis Etienne. The team looks like they will run him out of the backfield and at the wide receiver position. This leaves Etienne as a PPR monster in the late rounds.

Not much else to report on the Jaguars as they haven’t made any huge adjustments. But it looks like both Etienne and James Robinson will still have big roles in the offense. It will take till preseason to see who shines.

AFC East

Buffalo Bills

The Bills are having a mist of injuries including Stefon Diggs missing practice with a knee injury. It was reported that he played through a torn oblique in the playoffs last season. This is something to look at, but the missed practice does not seem like a red flag.

With Diggs out, Emmanuel Sanders made his return to practice after missing the last three. In his first practice back it was reported he and Josh Allen looked clean in their connections.

Zack Moss has been the stand-out running back during training camp, but left practice early with a hamstring injury on Aug. 9. This is alarming as Moss has been the leading running back for the Bills. This is something to monitor over the next weeks as Moss should be the lead back.

Miami Dolphins

Tua Tagovailoa might be the one to watch for Dolphins fans, but for fantasy owners, Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed are the players to watch.

Last year Gaskin averaged the 10th most scrimmage yards in just 10 games. The Dolphins aren’t the fanciest in fantasy but I love Gaskins as a third or fourth-round pick. Gaskins is a top pass-catching back and if he doesn’t go through injuries like last year I see him as a top 10 back this year. Also, you can grab him in the third or fourth!

I know this is only training camp but reports show Jaylen Waddle has been a stud so far. I know in past articles I said I loved Ja’Marr Chase as the top rookie receiver, but Waddle might take over.

This is a great year to draft rookie receivers as Tagovailoa has Waddle, Jalen Hurts has Devonta Smith and Joe Burrow has Chase. But, at this point, Waddle might be the clear number one rookie this year.

New England Patriots

I won’t lie. The Patriots are the most boring team to watch in fantasy but their offensive players could be the savior of your draft. There is no way a player on the Patriots is going to be drafted by a team besides Hunter Henry or Jonnu Smith because the tight end position is so shallow.

Cam Newton and Mac Jones are still in a position battle for quarterback but there is no telling what Bill Belichick wants to do.

There is not too much to report on the Patriots, as they are one of the most low-key teams in the AFC, but we’ll see more when preseason starts.

New York Jets

The eyes may be on Zach Wilson, but in terms of fantasy, I’m watching rookie running back Michael Carter. The Jets might have Tevin Coleman listed above Carter, but come midseason I see Carter taking over the workhorse role like Cam Akers last season.

People might not pay attention but the Jets might have one of the most underrated offensive lines in the league. And that is why I see Carter having huge upside this season.

It is only a matter of time till Carter takes over the role, but we’ll have to see this week after their first preseason game.

Wilson has not had the ideal training camp as he has been struggling. But, rookie Elijah Moore has continued to show up despite the downside of Wilson. Also, Wilson is a rookie and this is just training camp.

In terms of fantasy, I will not draft Wilson or Moore, but I will 100% watch Moore in this preseason to see how he performs. We’ll keep an eye out.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers gave us a first look at some rookies and their second unit on Aug 5. We finally saw Najee Harris hit the field and though it was only for a short bit, Harris looked like he can be that workhorse running back.

Jaylen Samuels led the game with the most carries with 11, but only had 20 yards. Kalen Ballage and Anthony McFarland Jr. also got some action but after their first preseason game, it is clear Harris will be the lead back.

Ben Roethlisberger didn’t take the field against the Cowboys, which shouldn’t be alarming as he is an 18-year veteran. But, in recent practices, Roethlisberger couldn’t get it going with his receivers and offensive line.

Given this, I still don’t trust Juju Smith-Schuster and the other receivers as I don’t see Roethlisberger being consistent throughout the season.

But, I do see Harris being the breakout rookie of the year in fantasy.

Baltimore Ravens

Lamar Jackson returned to practice after being cleared from the COVID-19 list. Reports have it that he is noncommittal on the vaccine. Considering this is his second time running into the virus in less than a year, it could be worrisome in terms of him missing games in the regular season.

Another player who also came out of the COVID-19 list is running back Gus Edwards. It is reported in recent camps that Edwards and J.K. Dobbins will have an even split in carries. The duo did split an even amount of carries last season.

But, I still see Dobbins as the lead back and like his ADP in the third or fourth round. Last season both Dobbins and Edwards saw just about the same amount in carries in around 10 on average. Even with the split Dobbin still scored 13 or more fantasy points from weeks 11 to 17. Including a 28 fantasy point game in week 17.

I see Dobbins set for a breakout year this season.

Aside from the COVID-19 list, one of my favorite deep sleepers, Rashod Bateman, suffered a groin injury in practice. The injury is week to week but seems like he could miss extended time in the regular season.

Cleveland Browns

Trending in Browns training camp has been the tight end, Harrison Bryant. This is a perfect example of who to watch in training camps for fantasy reasons. Austin Hooper is the number one tight end and David Njoku is the number two. But, as we’ve seen in the past, Njoku can’t stay healthy.

Njoku has been sidelined during training camp and Bryant has taken advantage of that. He gained 13 pounds that is said to help with blocking as well. This could work well for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

Odell Beckham Jr. is still working on individual drills and has yet to practice in team drills. It is a great sign to see Beckham on the field after his ACL injury, but I still don’t trust him in fantasy.

Remember just because the name is big doesn’t mean the fantasy season will be. We’ll have to see how he performs in the preseason this week.

Cincinnati Bengals

As training camp goes on, Joe Burrow looks more and more like he could be the comeback player of the year. In Tuesday’s practice, Burrow led the offense in back-to-back touchdown drives, hitting multiple receivers down the way.

Burrow also showed some mobility by scrambling out of the pocket. This is a great sign as the Bengals might have some of the top fantasy players at the skill positions in Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins.

Speaking of Mixon, offensive line coach Frank Pollack has some tricks up his sleeve to help the run game. Pollack is using a zone run game for Mixon which has transitioned well in training camp.

This blocking scheme will be huge for the back who went for back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons before his injury last season. Mixon is looking more and more like a safe bet for a second-round pick.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs

Once again the Chiefs have no surprises in training camp. Well, they do have some standout players, but the likelihood of them getting playing time in the regular season is low.

Rookie tight end Noah Gray has been turning heads in training camp. He has been playing with confidence and already has the Chiefs playbook down. But, the likelihood of him playing is low and he isn’t worth drafting as a sleeper.

Other than rookies here and there showing up, the Chiefs already have their firepower in Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce. Can’t go wrong with any of those fantasy options.

Denver Broncos

Drew Lock will be the starter for the opening preseason game against the Vikings and Teddy Bridgewater will start the next week against the Seahawks. Time will tell who will be the starter in the regular season.

These two quarterbacks are not going to be high in the fantasy rankings but their production will be key to players like Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Javonte Williams.

Speaking of Jeudy, in practice this week he came down with a 50-yard touchdown from Bridgewater. Jeudy has been huge in training camp working on his route running and separation.

I love Jeudy in fantasy this year and have him over Sutton. Just like CeeDee Lamb is projected to have a breakout year, I project the same for Jeudy. But, Jeudy has been showing out when Bridgewater is the quarterback. So that will be something to keep an eye on.

Los Angeles Chargers

Things have been getting spicy with the receivers at the Chargers training camp. Justin Herbert has so many options with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Jalen Guyton.

But, I do have to say I still don’t love Mike Williams as a fantasy option this year. He has a habit of dropping a lot of passes and I would stay with the safe route in drafting Allen.

But the other option I love on this offense is Austin Ekeler. I would even take him toward the end of the first round over players like Nick Chubb and Aaron Jones. The Chargers added more all-pros on the offensive line and that will only help the pass-catching back in Ekeler.

Las Vegas Raiders

The biggest news in Raiders training camp is that Darren Waller has missed multiple eight straight practices with a mystery injury.

There is still no sign if he will be ready for preseason or the start of the season. But, this news hurts both the Raiders and fantasy owners. I have Waller as the second-best tight end in the league.

If he misses time or the injury is worse then that can change how a fantasy draft will go down. Keep an eye on Waller and hopefully, he is just resting for the season.

For more Rankings and Analysis please check out our full 2021 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.

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