News from Training Camp: 8/24/2020

Ben Brown highlights some noteworthy tidbits from Training Camp.

As training camp progresses and the regular season gets closer, there’s a lot going on that may be tough to keep track of. Our goal with this series is to keep you updated on any fantasy-related injuries and positional battles, while also throwing in some tidbits that may prove useful for your fantasy draft. Expect to see these updates on Mondays and Wednesdays right up until Week 1.

 

AFC East

 

New England Patriots

 

Damien Harris the story in Patriots camp

With Sony Michel and Lamar Miller on PUP to begin camp (and potentially into the season), someone had to take the 1st team RB snaps in camp. So far those chances have gone to 2nd year back Damien Harris, and he’s turned many heads with his size, slipperiness, and wiggle.

From Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal:

RB Damien Harris: When there’s only three running backs on a run-heavy day, you’re going to get a lot of opportunities. Harris seemed to stand out with his vision and cutbacks, although he seems a little bigger than last year. Not quite as fast right now.

Bedard again:

RB Damien Harris ran very well inside the tackles and has a real chance to run away with this competition.

Harris’ ADP sits around 120, the 51st RB off the board. That should continue to rise the longer Michel is out.

 

Jarrett Stidham injures his hip

Cam Newton started training camp off slow, struggling with his decision making as he slowly tried learning the complex Patriots offense. There was even talk about a potential QB-by-committee, an approach that almost never works but when asked, Bill Belichick didn’t immediately shoot it down. If that plan was ever in place it’s now out the door, as Jarrett Stidham has missed the last few practices with an injured hip. Barring an unforeseen injury, Newton will be the starter in Week 1 for the Patriots after all.

 

J.J. Taylor getting praised as “Little Dion”

Ivan Fears is one Patriots coach who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and he’s already comparing rookie UDFA J.J. Taylor to former Patriots RB Dion Lewis. Now, Taylor has a long way to go to be fantasy relevant, let alone to actually make the team. But the Patriots have carried a UDFA into the season each of the last sixteen seasons, so the possibility is there if Taylor continues to impress.

 

Miami Dolphins

 

Preston Williams looks healthy

From Joe Schad of The Palm Beach Post

WR Preston Williams — Williams looks as good as Miami could have possibly hoped in his return from a torn ACL. Williams is dynamic, athletic, quick and agile, bringing all the skills he did as a rookie undrafted performer. Williams has caught long balls and he has looked good on slants and he can compete for 50-50 balls just like Parker. Williams has shown he still has good footwork along the sidelines and the back of the end zone. There is no reason to think that Williams and Parker, if each stays healthy, will not be a dynamic duo this season.

This would be huge news for the Dolphins. Williams was one of many rookie WRs that broke out in 2019 but his season was cut short by a torn ACL in Week 8. When he was on the field he outperformed DeVante Parker, who didn’t fully break out until after Williams went down for the year. Williams’ ADP (146) is much lower than Parker’s (69), and if Williams is healthy and will be starting out of the gate I’d much rather take a flier on him.

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick misses practice, returns and looks like the starter

It would be in the Dolphins’ best interest to begin the season with the proven leader behind center, so it would make sense if they’re trying to keep Ryan Fitzpatrick healthy and rested heading into Week 1. Tua Tagovailoa will be the starting QB eventually, but that may not come until later in the season. Fitzpatrick should start for at least the first three or four weeks unless he looks absolutely terrible out of the gate (which is possible, given the Dolphins’ schedule). If I were a betting man I would put my units on Fitzpatrick having the better season, but with so much uncertainty I wouldn’t be investing in either player as anything more than my QB4.

 

The Dolphins OL might be massively better in 2020

It shouldn’t take much to improve what was easily the worst offensive line in 2019, but anything that can help RBs Jordan Howard and Matt Breida find running room will help fantasy managers tremendously. They invested significant draft capital in tackle Austin Jackson (1st), guard Robert Hunt (2nd), and guard Solomon Kindley (4th) so that line should theoretically benefit from an infusion of talent, but it’s good to see that the investment has so far paid off.

 

New York Jets

 

Breshad Perriman dealing with an unspecified injury

Breshad Perriman missed Sunday’s practice with an injury, but he should be cleared to go on Monday. The vagueness is a bit scary but his quick return relieves those concerns. I’m personally a Perriman Stan so I’m rooting hard for him this season, and practicing with the team in his first season in New York is super important.

 

Denzel Mims dealing with a hamstring injury

I don’t like to hear that Gase is “hopeful” that Denzel Mims will see the field this coming week. That to me sounds like they really have no idea when he will be back, which would seriously hinder Mims’ ability to pick up the offense in time for Week 1. Even if he’s healthy by then I can’t imagine a scenario where Mims is a reliable contributor on offense until he’s had ample time to gel with Sam Darnold and learn the playbook. I’m not drafting Mims anywhere this year.

 

AFC North

 

Cleveland Browns

 

Nick Chubb enters, exits concussion protocol

Chubb missed most of last week with a concussion but has been cleared to return. This is good news for Chubb and those who roster him, but these can linger and it’s never a good thing when head injuries are involved. Keep an eye on his usage to make sure he’s still in line for RB1 duties come Week 1.

 

AFC South

 

Indianapolis Colts

 

Nyheim Hines getting work all over the field

“Big year” may be nothing more than your typical preseason hype, but there’s no doubt that new Colts’ QB Philip Rivers loves dumping the ball off to his backs. Despite not being involved in the offense much in each of the last two seasons, Hines is arguably the most talented pass-catching back on the roster, so theoretically he could be in line for more usage. I’ll believe it when I see it, but it’s interesting to note that he’s been as active as he has been in training camp so far.

 

AFC West

 

Las Vegas Raiders

 

Theo Riddick signs with Raiders

Yawn. That is all.

 

NFC East

 

Dallas Cowboys

 

Tony Pollard getting more involved in the offense

There’s no doubt that Tony Pollard is a talented RB, so why not get him involved in the offense? Fantasy managers should be drafting Pollard as one of the best backups in the league, but with more touches, he could be a sneaky RB3 at his current ADP (118).

 

Philadelphia Eagles

 

Miles Sanders = PPR Stud

Get this man the ball. He showed last season he’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands, and the Eagles would be smart to feed him the rock as often as possible. Unfortunately, Sanders is week-to-week with a lower-body injury, but he should be good to go for Week 1. Draft this man and he will take you to the promised land.

 

Greg Ward is carving out a role for himself

The Eagles were desperate for WRs in the offseason, and they drafted Jalen Reagor early to give them the stud they need for the future and while Alshon Jeffrey is out. Don’t sleep on Greg Ward, though, as he projects as the third receiver in this offense and looks to be earning the trust of his coaches and his QB alike. At an ADP of 235, Ward might be worth a speculative look in deeper leagues.

 

Washington Football Team

 

Bryce Love getting plenty of work catching passes out of the backfield

In the wake of former Washington RB Derrius Guice’s release, there is now an opening behind Adrian Peterson for the team’s all-purpose back, and that role may go to Bryce Love. The team has been hyping him up in camp and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him as the starter by the end of the season. His ADP has been skyrocketing lately, and it’s currently sitting at 133. That will likely continue to rise as he continues to see opportunities in the offense.

 

Steven Sims developing rapport with Haskins

I personally have not drafted Steven Sims anywhere this season, and after seeing this tweet I’m probably going to change that. Sims was a return specialist last season who sometimes played offense, that is until Week 14. He received 36 targets from Week 14-Week 17, compared to 20 targets from Week 1 – Week 13. He’s now likely the starting slot receiver and they clearly have some chemistry. Sign me up in PPR leagues.

 

NFC North

 

Chicago Bears

 

Bears QB competition won’t be a quick decision

The Bears’ plan to stretch out the QB competition is working so far since neither Mitchell Trubisky nor Nick Foles is running away with the job. That’s bad news for Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller, but I wouldn’t let it have an effect on their draft stock. We all expect bad QB play in Chicago so that is already baked into Robinson and Miller’s prices, but it would be nice to have someone (preferable Foles) take charge and win the job with flying colors.

 

Detroit Lions

 

T.J. Hockenson lighting up camp, ankle still not at 100%

Most of the reports around Hockenson have been about his dominance in camp, but don’t let this one slip by. Lingering injuries often tend to rear their ugly head at inconvenient times, and if Hockenson’s ankle is still bothering him I don’t think he can be counted on as a starting TE in fantasy. There’s no doubting the talent, just don’t be surprised if Hockenson either is held back early or ends up missing a few games because of his ankle at some point.

 

NFC South

 

New Orleans Saints

 

Alvin Kamara tore his knee last season

So Alvin Kamara tore an unspecified knee ligament(s) last season, didn’t have surgery to repair it in the offseason, and is back feeling 100% and still being drafted everywhere as a consensus top 6 pick? I don’t buy it. Knee injuries terrify me, especially when the player attempts to play through them. Running backs are especially prone to extended knee issues – just look at Sony Michel – and I’m totally out on Kamara this year as a result. I really hope he proves me wrong, but that’s a risk I simply am not willing to take given this news. Give me Latavius Murray and his 95 ADP all day.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Ronald Jones dropping passes left and right

 

This isn’t a good look for the projected starter. Tom Brady has shown in his 20 years in New England that he won’t put up with drops and if Jones can’t be a reliable option out of the backfield in Tampa Bay then those snaps will go elsewhere. I personally wasn’t planning to roster Ronald Jones at his current ADP anyway (ADP: 57.7), but seeing these drops (and that poor route running) I would much rather take a flier on a guy like Dare Ogunbawale (ADP: 252). As we saw in New England, the pass-catching back can be extremely valuable in a Tom Brady-led offense.

 

NFC West

 

Los Angeles Rams

 

Van Jefferson getting high-stakes opportunities during Saturday night’s scrimmage

Rookie WR Van Jefferson received some looks with the first-team offense on Sunday, including a matchup against lock-down corner Jalen Ramsey. The second-round pick out of Florida is projected to start the year 4th on the depth chart behind Josh Reynolds, but an injury to Reynolds or Robert Woods could vault Jefferson into a starting opportunity. The fact that he’s already being tested against top tier NFL talent goes to show just how much the team likes him.

 

Darrell Henderson injured

Darrell Henderson sustained a “soft tissue” injury on Saturday night, and it may impact his ability to suit up in Week 1. Keep an eye on this, but the immediate beneficiary is Cam Akers who should be starting the year as the lead dog in the Rams backfield regardless of Henderson’s status.

 

San Francisco 49ers

 

Brandon Aiyuk, Jalen Hurd injured

News broke early in camp that popular late-round fantasy target Jalen Hurd would miss the entire season with a torn ACL, which meant more opportunity for rookie Brandon Aiyuk while Deebo Samuel is out. On Sunday, news broke that Aiyuk himself also went down with a hamstring injury. There has not been any word on the severity of the injury, but it’s worth monitoring. If Aiyuk misses any time it would mean more opportunities the rest of the unproven WR corps, consisting of Kendrick Bourne, Dante Pettis, Jaron Brown, Tavon Austin, and J.J. Nelson.

 

Will Dante Pettis get another chance?

I knew Dante came in a little bit behind last year and I tried everything I could to try to get that fire and I didn’t get that done last year with him. I do see that as a two-way street. I love how Dante came back and accepted his part in it, but I also accept mine. I’ve got to find a better way to get it out of him. What’s cool is, I think he’s found a way to get it out of himself right now.

Kyle Shanahan

 

With all of the injuries to WRs in 49ers camp, Dante Pettis has a chance to earn a role and contribute early in the season. He had that chance last season and apparently didn’t put in the work to get there. If Shanahan is right, and Pettis is putting in the work this year, maybe that potential can finally be realized.

 

Seattle Seahawks

 

Chris Carson absent from Seahawks camp

Carson is attending to multiple deaths in his family, and understandably he’s been away from the team dealing with that. Nothing to worry about here from a fantasy perspective.

 

DeeJay Dallas making the most of his opportunity

In Carson’s absence, rookie DeeJay Dallas has stepped in and looks to be earning a role with the team. He’s currently listed as 4th or 5th on the depth chart depending on where you look, but he will have to battle Carlos Hyde and Travis Homer for snaps behind Carson, not to mention Rashaad Penny if he returns from his injury at some point this year. Dallas was recruited to Miami as a WR and transitioned to RB, so a pass-catching role out of the backfield is a natural fit. Keep an eye on him.

 

 

(Photo by Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire)

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