NFC Training Camp Report 8/8
Training camp is underway and fantasy football players already have a lot to think about after just one week. Fantasy owners need to keep an eye on key position battles, injuries, and the way teams divvy up playing time during camp to help make important decisions on draft day.
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 NFC training camp.
NFC EAST Training Camp Report
Rookie wide receiver Cedrick Wilson was placed on injured reserve with a torn labrum. This is not good news for a Dallas team already low on options at wideout. Michael Gallup may be required to take on a larger role, with more pressure to produce in his rookie campaign. Maybe cutting Dez Bryant was not such a great idea after all?
Free-agent signing Allen Hurns has been limited at training camp due to a groin injury. Hurns has had a fairly injury-prone career, missing 11 games over the past two seasons. Look for Hurns to be held out of Thursday’s preseason opener.
Dak to Allen Hurns, comin’ right at ya pic.twitter.com/uFOwWZZ75T
— Schuyler Dixon (@apschuyler) July 29, 2018
The Cowboys’ offense has struggled to find a rhythm so far in training camp. Quarterback Dak Prescot blames the slow start on a lack of chemistry, but the simple fact is that the Cowboys lack offensive talent outside of superstar running back Ezekiel Elliot. Fantasy owners will likely find a good source of points somewhere, given the targets left on the table by Dex Bryant and Jason Witten have to go somewhere. Just don’t expect the process to be painless.
New York Giants
Odell Beckham Jr. has been getting a ton of looks in the slot so far in training camp. This may come as a surprise to many, especially since Beckham has run over 80 percent of his routes in the NFL from the outside. However, the Giants superstar receiver has actually been a more efficient receiver from the slot when given the chance. I am not saying this is permanent or this is even a good idea, I am just saying it is nothing to panic about. Beckham is locked in as a WR1 and should be in for a huge season.
Nelson Agholor has been the Eagles’ best receiver so far in camp. He has caught 20 passes on 25 targets with four touchdowns so far. It would not be a surprise to see Agholar expand on the breakout he had last season and he could be the guy to own considering Alshon Jeffery’s injury history.
Nelson Agholor ??
“You gotta embrace being the one people want to go against. Some of the best players, best teams are those that know that. It fuels you. You know the person in front of you is trying to stop you from getting what you want. So do you want it more than they do?” pic.twitter.com/mfScXOYRr8
Jay Ajayi has been running with the first-team offense, but the carries have been split between himself, Darren Sproles and Corey Clement. Ajayi is in his walk year, armed with new high powered agent Drew Rosenhaus, so many expect a big year out of Ajayi. I expect he will try, but Clement may be the back that comes out of this trio with the most fantasy value, especially in PPR. Clement has caught 10 passes so far in training camp.
Quarterback Nick Foles has missed the last three practices with muscle spasms in his neck. He is not expected to participate in the preseason opener, along with team captain Carson Wentz (knee). Nate Sudfeld should play the majority of the first preseason game.
Rookie tight end Dallas Goedart could be in for a boost in value as the Eagles plan to feature two-tight end sets in 2018. Most considered Goedart “buried” behind Zack Ertz, which he may very well be. However, if Philly decides to play them both at times, Goedart could see some red-zone action while Ertz acts as a defensive decoy.
Jordan Reed is admittingly not in shape and did not begin running until a month before training camp. He has plenty of time to get into game shape and is quoted as saying he is looking to get some of his explosiveness back. At age 28, I am not sold that is possible, but if Reed can put together a healthy season he will be a dangerous weapon for Alex Smith. That is a big “if” though.
Wideout Josh Doctson landed hard on his shoulder during last Wednesday’s practice but appears to not be serious. The 25-year-old receiver has had a rough start to training camp, beginning with an MRI on his leg followed by this shoulder injury, and now rumors of him having his heel drained of fluid (which have been denied). Even though there is nothing concrete to be worried about, there is still concern enough to move him down your draft board if you planned of reaching for a breakout season.
— Chick Hernandez (@MrChickSports) August 1, 2018
Running back Chris Thompson doesn’t expect to be fully recovered from his leg injury until November. Well, that’s not encouraging news. Thompson had a breakout year in 2017, catching 39-of-51 targets for 510 receiving yards, and four touchdowns ass the Redskins third-down back. Thompson is certainly a dangerous player, but this news should do nothing but drown his ADP while increasing interest in rookie teammate Derrius Guice.
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NFC NORTH Training Camp Report
Rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller is having a fantastic training camp and is expected to be the starting slot receiver when the season opens. He should have some sneaky redraft appeal in Matt Nagy’s new high powered offense that should allow an uptick in value for every offensive weapon in Chicago. Quarterback Mithcell Trubisky could be in for a major breakout with Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, and Tarik Cohen at his disposal. Jordan Howard is also one of the quietest and safest RB1s available in drafts. I am all-in of the Bears offense.
PLAY OF THE DAY!
— Greg Braggs Jr. (@GBraggsJr) August 4, 2018
Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson has been working on his pass protection throughout training camp and has impressed the Detroit coaching staff. This is important for the first year back, as his ability to “do the little things” will go a long way in determining how many snaps he sees in his rookie campaign. Johnson’s fantasy ceiling is crippled by the presence of veteran LeGarrette Blount and pass-catcher Theo Riddick, so he needs every edge he can get.
Green Bay Packers
Wide receiver Randall Cobb missed Saturday’s “Family Night” while managing soreness in his surgically repaired ankle. This is the same ankle that kept him in a walking boot for most of the preseason. The Packers are making this out to be nothing serious, but fantasy owners should have some concern. Heel issues for a wideout are nothing to dismiss and the Packers need healthy bodies for Aaron Rodgers to throw to. Consider bumping Geronimo Allion and rookie J’Mon Moore (who caught a TD pass during Cobb’s “Family Night” absence) up your draft boards.
— Uncle Odds (@Uncle_Odds) August 5, 2018
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer feels confident that Dalvin Cook is ahead of schedule from his knee recovery and will be ready to start the season. Cook is coming off a torn ACL that ended his stellar rookie campaign but has shown no ill effects during training camp. Prior to his Week 4 injury, Cook picked up 354 rushing yards on just 74 attempts.
There is always a risk when drafting a running back recovering from a knee injury, but Cook should be considered an RB1 with tremendous upside.
NFC SOUTH Training Camp Report
There is not a great deal going on fantasy-wise in Falcons camp, other than star wide receiver Julio Jones coming to agreement on a restructured contract that would prevent a holdout. So you could say this is huge news, but it is also old news. Sanu has looked great in camp, while rookie wideout Calvin Ridley seems to be fitting in. Nothing to see here.
If you were playing a drinking game where you drank every time Christian McCaffrey got a checkdown pass you would be like this halfway through every practice. pic.twitter.com/RjeE2V25nY
— The Riot Report (@RRiotReport) August 2, 2018
Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner stated that it is “realistic” that sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey could get 25-30 touches per game this season. Well, that would be bonkers, and in my opinion very unlikely. Either way, this is great news for those with a McCaffrey share going into the season. The Panthers seem serious about getting him involved as much as possible. I would say that this news, although an exaggeration, gives McCaffrey RB1 appeal even in non-PPR formats.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have released wide receiver Brandon Coleman, citing a failed physical. This should increase the value of veteran wideout Ted Ginn Jr., Cameron Meredith, and rookie Tre-Quan Smith with some targets becoming available.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Veteran wideout DeSean Jackson has seen a lot of work in the slot during training camp. Chris Godwin taking on a larger role would have hindered Jackson’s fantasy value, so this is good news. Jackson may have lost some speed at his age, but he could be dangerous on the inside. The Buccaneers offense has a lot of mouths to feed, but if Jackson can flourish in the slot he could be of use in the flex. It may be worth a late round flier to find out.
Desean Jackson with the hops in red zone drills… pic.twitter.com/FwtwNOjHmD
— Riley Auman (@AumanacDraft) August 4, 2018
As stated above, the Buccaneers plan to have Chris Godwin start across from Mike Evans this season. Many will see this as a chance for Godwin to shine, and it could be, but he will be fighting for targets with a ton of competition. His fantasy value is limited to a late-round flier at the moment.
NFC WEST Training Camp Report
The Cardinal’s starting quarterback spot is Sam Bradford‘s job to lose according to coach Steve Wilkins. It should be noted that Josh Rosen is having a fantastic training camp. However, the WR2 job is wide open and ready for someone to jump up and grab. Unfortunately, there has been little to no clarity in this department so far. Brice Butler, Chad Williams, Christian Kirk, J.J. Nelson and Greg Little have all been given first-team reps. There is no clear front-runner and this is a situation to monitor closely.
Los Angeles Rams
The only real news out of Rams camp is the fantastic play of sophomore wide receiver Josh Reynolds. L.A. coach Sean McVay said he is “really excited about” about the wideout, but it’s hard for fantasy owners to be with Brandin Cooks, Cooper Kupp, and Robert Woods blocking the way.
San Francisco 49ers
Seahawks veteran wideout Brandon Marshall (toe, ankle, hamstring) has been cleared to participate in team drills. I am not sure how much of a chance Marshall has at cracking the Seahawks roster. However, with Baldwin on the shelf, he certainly has seen those odds improve. I would say Marshall is not worth monitoring, but with his talent, he is still worth keeping tabs on. Remember, he was very useful before last season.