News from Training Camp: 8/31/2020

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.

If you missed the first installment from last Monday, you can check it out here

Wednesday’s second installment can be found here.

 

AFC East

 

New England Patriots

 

Sony Michel activated from the PUP list

Sony Michel was activated off the PUP list on Wednesday and it will be interesting to see how many carries he earns back from Damien Harris. The Patriots have a really strong backfield corps between Michel, Harris, Rex Burkhead, James White, Lamar Miller, and J.J. Taylor. Granted, Miller will likely start the year on PUP, Taylor is a candidate to make the roster but in all likelihood will end up on the practice squad, Harris only had four carries in his rookie year, and both Michel and Burkhead have long injury histories, so anything can happen. That is why I’m drafting “Sweet Feet” James White in as many leagues as possible.

 

An update on Cam Newton’s targets

It’s interesting to note that both Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene are leading the charge at TE, as it makes a ton of sense that the Patriots would be working hard to integrate them into the offense, and tight ends are an important part of what makes the Patriots offense tick. Gunner Olszewski has a legitimate shot of earning significant reps in this offense that’s desperate for WRs, so keep an eye on him in the first couple weeks because he could emerge as a PPR waiver add if he sees time in the offense along with his return game duties.

 

N’Keal Harry is working on his routes

I can’t say I would have ever noticed this had I not seen this video, so props to Evan Lazar over at CLNS Media for pointing this out. We all know the Patriots focus on the fundamentals so it will be interesting to see if Harry can make this change and if it helps him gain separation during the season. Now that Harry is back in camp and apparently putting in the effort to improve, I feel much better about his fantasy prospects this year.

 

Cam Newton thinks he still has to earn the starting QB job

As a Patriots fan this is great to hear. I was worried that Cam would come in feeling entitled to the job and that attitude would translate to game action. It’s not easy to learn this offense, as evidenced by the rotating carousel of WRs we saw during the Brady era. I was worried about the Cam signing because he seemed to me like a guy who would try to get by on his ability alone, but hearing that he recognizes the importance of the pre-snap reads and having to get on the same page with the rest of the offense is comforting. I anticipate some growing pains for Cam in the first few weeks of the season – the Patriots have historically used the first month of the season as a warmup period, even after a normal four preseason games that they won’t have this year. They also value preservation for the all important month of January, so I don’t see Cam running as often as he has in the past. I’m avoiding Cam in all leagues, just because there are so many question marks around him and we’ve already seen him at his best, so I would rather chase the upside of a Joe Burrow or Drew Lock instead, but I wouldn’t blame you for taking a shot at him.

 

High praise for Gunner

That sounds a lot like how teammates felt about Julian Edelman early in his career…

 

Miami Dolphins

 

Ryan Fitzpatrick’s mother passes away

Sad news out of Dolphins camp on Saturday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s mother passed away. Fitzpatrick left the team and there is apparently no rush for him to come back. It’s too early to speculate on his Week 1 availability, but our thoughts are certainly with Fitzpatrick and his family at this time.

 

Buffalo Bills

 

Steven Hauschka cut, rookie Tyler Bass wins the job

Tyler Bass was a sixth round pick for the Bills and out-kicked incumbent Steven Hauschka in camp. Bass is know as a short kick specialist, going 54 of 68 (79..41%) in four years at Georgia Southern with a career long of 50 yards. I wouldn’t trust him as your fantasy kicker just yet, but whatever you do, don’t draft Steven Hauschka (and make fun of the one guy/gal who inevitably does).

 

New York Jets

 

Chris Herndon as Sam Darnold’s safety valve?

Let’s be honest – the Jets are going to be bad, once again. The offense has already suffered through injuries to top WRs Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims in camp and they likely won’t be on the same page with Darnold early on. The safety valve in this offense could be immensely valuable in PPR formats, and I’m drafting Herndon everywhere at his current ADP of 154.

 

Ain’t nothin’ wrong with LeVeon Bell’s hamstrings

You heard the man.

 

Kalen Ballage traded to the Jets..

This trade isn’t super noteworthy, except that inter-division trades don’t happen often and the Jets already have Bell, Frank Gore and La’Mical Perine on the depth chart. We’ll see if he makes the team out of camp, but he’s not fantasy relevant.

 

Then Kalen Ballage fails a physical…

So, even less fantasy relevant now.

 

And then La’Mical Perine gets injured

What a whirlwind of a weekend for the Jets and their RBs. Their depth chart went from four deep to only two notable names in just a few days. Still, not much changes fantasy wise because of this but we certainly hope for a speedy recovery for La’Mical Perine.

 

AFC North

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Ben Roethlisberger having timing issues

When you miss nearly a full season of football, naturally there are going to be some kinks to work out. Throw in the fact that Roethlisberger hasn’t worked much with Diontae Johnson or Chase Claypool, two young WRs who figure to have big roles in the offense this season, and that there aren’t any preseason games, I would expect the Pittsburgh offense to get off to a slow start in the first couple weeks as they figure some things out. Temper your expectations early.

 

Benny Snell the #2 back in Pittsburgh?

… but it appears Snell has easily beaten out rookie Anthony McFarland for direct backup duties. Snell could earn a standalone role if the Steelers commit to keeping a typically banged-up Conner fresher.

I’m a fan of Benny Snell, but this does come as a bit of a surprise. The thought after the draft was that Anthony McFarland was the more talented back of the two and would easily run away with the backup role; Well, that apparently isn’t the case. We all know James Conner‘s injury history so the backup role in Pittsburgh can be valuable. Snell is a high effort guy who won’t wow you with top end speed, but he has good feet and has some size so he can bounce off defenders and always seems to fall forward. He’s not a must draft backup along the likes of Alexander Mattison, Latavius Murray or Chase Edmonds, but if Conner goes down make sure you run to the wire to grab Snell.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

 

A.J. Green practicing with the team

A.J. Green has been a full participant at practice in recent days, but still needs to get back into football shape apparently. It’s a great sign for the talented receiver, but temper your expectations early in the season.

 

Joe Mixon dealing with migraines

I’ve personally never had a migraine (knock on wood) but I’ve heard horror stories from everyone I know that has, so I’m sure some of you reading this can relate. We all know about former Broncos great Terrell Davis and his struggles with migraines, so hopefully Mixon can find some sort of treatment that works for him.

 

John Ross injures arm/shoulder

There’s no word yet on the severity of the injury, but it’s yet another setback for the still young John Ross. The fact that he returned to practice is a good sign but it did sound like he was still bothered by whatever happened. Hopefully everything checks out and he can suit up for Week 1.

 

Cleveland Browns

 

Donovan Peoples-Jones leaves practice early

It sounds like it’s just a case of dehydration, which luckily can be remedied. By most accounts it’s been a roller coaster ride in camp for Peoples-Jones, and at this point there’s no reason to be drafting him anywhere except the deepest of redraft leagues and dynasties.

 

AFC South

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

 

Leonard Fournette waived

If you hadn’t had your morning coffee yet when you first heard the news (like me), it was quite the wake-up call for a Monday morning. This news completely shakes up the Jaguars backfield and gives both Ryquell Armstead (ADP: 218) and Devine Ozigbo (ADP: 440) a chance to run away with the starting job. This also cements Chris Thompson (ADP: 152) as the third-down back, but with his injury history he probably can’t be counted on for an entire season.

This move will also inevitably end up shaking up whatever backfield Fournette lands in. Will it be Chicago, where David Montgomery is now out for a few weeks? Will it be Detroit? What about Tampa Bay or dark-horse candidate Kansas City? Only time will tell, but the Fournette waive has not crested yet.

 

Tennessee Titans

 

A.J. Brown caught 1,000 footballs a day in the offseason

Earlier this offseason, Brown said he’s worked tirelessly to improve for his second NFL season. In addition to watching film and working out, part of his routine also included catching 1,000 footballs a day.

-Jim Wyatt, TennesseeTitans.com

They say that in order to master something you need to spend 10,000 hours doing it… my guess is that A.J. Brown is well on his way to mastering the art of catching a football, because 1,000 a day is a ton of balls. All aboard the Brown train!

 

Indianapolis Colts

 

Parris Campbell in concussion protocol after car accident

Tough break for Campbell, who was looking good in camp up until now. He has missed a few practices and there has not been an update to his status, but my guess is that the Colts will take it easy with the young receiver. Hopefully he’s back soon.

 

A Colts tight end will have a great season – will it be Trey Burton?

Philip Rivers has always thrown to running backs and tight ends – the Colts happen to have capable receivers at both positions, so one would assume the tradition will continue. Incumbent Jack Doyle suffered a neck injury on August 19th, so newcomer Trey Burton has been filling in and has been getting a ton of looks. Tight end is shaping up to be really deep on 2020, with a ton of talented guys in situations all over the league who figure to be fantasy relevant. In Indianapolis, so far, it’s looking like their guy is Trey Burton (ADP: 346).

 

Nyheim Hines seeing increased usage in camp

Jonathan Taylor has had a case of the dropsies in camp so far, and Marlon Mack has seen his targets decrease from 33 in 2017 to only 17 last year, so he isn’t a preferred option as a pass catching back. We’ve all known Nyheim Hines is a perfect fit for the role but has had some drops of his own in his past, but this might finally be the year he is able to put his talents to good use. At his current ADP around 143, he’s a solid late round flier if you’re in the need of some PPR RB depth.

 

AFC West

 

Kansas City Chiefs

 

Darrel Williams the #2 back in Kansas City

Darrel Williams‘ current ADP of 157.6 is still behind teammate DeAndre Washington, but that is likely to rise with this news. WIlliams is definitely worth a speculative grab later in drafts, because who knows how much of the workload rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire will actually get early in the season. Williams has looked good in his few opportunities from past seasons, so take a shot here and it may pay off.

 

NFC East

 

Philadelphia Eagles

 

Injuries already piling up for the Eagles

 

 

It sounds like Wentz’ injury is thankfully minor, but losing both Andre Dillard for the season and Jalen Reagor for the first month or so are huge blows for a team that really struggled with injuries last season. Dillard was the Eagles’ first round pick last season and performed well in his first season. He finished the season ranked 53rd out of 82 tackles in the league but was still in line for the starting left tackle gig. Meanwhile, a torn labrum isn’t a season ending injury for Reagor but it should hinder his development enough that he won’t be making an immediate impact even when he returns. This should hurt his draft stock, but if you’ve already drafted then hang on to your investment.

 

Miles Sanders still attending practices, getting in side work

This is really good news, because if he were really that hurt he wouldn’t even be on his feet at practice. I’m still feeling good about him for Week 1.

 

Quez Watkins getting red zone looks

With Reagor out, someone else will have to step up and maybe that guy can be Quez Watkins. I wouldn’t go out of my way to draft him at his current ADP of 325, but he might be worth a speculative add if he sees a high snap share in Week 1.

 

New York Giants

 

Saquon Barkley is good at football

You should draft this guy ^^

 

Washington Football Team

 

The Logan Thomas hype train keeps on rollin’

Washington was desperate for a red zone target last season so I feel really good about Thomas’ chances to see some of those targets in an improved offense. His ADP has crept up a little bit to 349, so he’s still a phenomenal value if you wait on TE in deeper leagues. Don’t be surprised if he’s a popular waiver add in all leagues after the first couple weeks.

 

J.D. McKissic has likely earned a role in Week 1

There has been lots of hype surrounding J.D. McKissic in the last week and there’s growing beliefs that he will make the team and have a role in Week 1. It sounds like his inclusion could come at the cost of Bryce Love’s projected roster spot, so you may want to pump the breaks on the late round Love drafting until this situation clears up.

 

Antonio Gandy-Golden hurt

But it’s nothing serious.

 

NFC North

 

Green Bay Packers

 

AJ Dillon as the #4 back in Green Bay?

Green Bay does love their pass catching backs in their current offensive scheme, and that is not one of Dillon’s strong suits. He’s certainly uber talented but the production and opportunity may not be there for him in his rookie season.

 

Detroit Lions

 

Kerryon Johnson likely to begin season as starter at RB

 

This was becoming more and more likely the longer D’Andre Swift has been absent from practices, and honestly we all kinda had and idea this would happen anyway. It’s going to take some time for Swift to get caught up, and as long as Kerryon Johnson stays healthy he should be a good option. I still wouldn’t invest in him in drafts, because the job should become Swift’s by the end of the year, but Johnson could be a good option in DFS leagues in weeks two and three against Green Bay and Arizona, respectively.

 

Chicago Bears

 

David Montgomery’s chances for Week 1 in doubt

It sounds like there is still some hope for Montgomery after injuring his groin in practice, but I would be planning for a life without him just in case. Tarik Cohen is the natural successor at the position, but he’s not the type of player that is able to shoulder the load as an every down back. Whoever would be taking over lead back duties is likely not fantasy relevant, but the Bears have been experimenting with Cordarrelle Patterson at RB in camp so who knows what Matt Nagy has up his sleeve.

 

NFC South

 

Atlanta Falcons

 

Russell Gage is the WR3 in Atlanta

Not sure this is surprising many people, but Gage looks like he’s secured the WR3 job in Atlanta and that brings with it some fantasy upside. His ADP is currently at 189, around guys like Randall Cobb, Steven Sims and Myles Boykin. I think I like all three of those guys better than Gage, but any one of them could be a steal or a bust, and there’s no denying that the Falcons will be airing it out often. He’s a worthy of a late round flyer.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

 

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are still on the same page

This is amazing. This tells me that Brady and Gronk are still thinking on the same wavelength and that’s good news for anyone rostering Gronk in fantasy.

 

Scotty Miller catching punts is a sight to see

It’s becoming pretty clear that Tom Brady likes Scotty Miller a lot, which makes him worthy of a speculative add in deep leagues on its own, but after watching this video I’m all in on the Scotty Miller train. He’s no more than the fourth best option on the field, but in the event of an injury he could step up and gain some PPR relevance.

 

Ronald Jones with a foot injury?

There hasn’t been any word on what the injury could be, but it’s good to hear it may not be serious.

 

Tom Brady’s got jokes

This is a friendly reminder that Tom Brady was 3-1 in the RCA dome, with his only loss being the 2006 AFC Championship game where the Patriots defense blew a 21-3 halftime lead. He should have been 4-0.

 

NFC West

 

Arizona Cardinals

 

Kenyan Drake, DeAndre Hopkins still not practicing

We have some time before we can actually start worrying about Kenyan Drake and DeAndre Hopkins, but I would feel much better if they returned to practice sooner rather than later.

 

San Francisco 49ers

 

Don’t forget about Jerick McKinnon

This is just typical preseason beat writer fluff, but some of you may have forgotten about 49ers RB Jerick McKinnon and I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen. His current ADP around 153 seems a bit too high for a guy coming off back to back torn ACLs, so I wouldn’t be seeking him out but if he falls in deeper drafts he’s worth taking a flyer on.

 

Deebo Samuel pushing to be ready for Week 1

This would be huge for a team struggling to keep their WR corps healthy. Deebo dropped late in a lot of early season drafts, but you’re no longer able to get him at a steep discount at his current ADP of 89.9. Even if Deebo does make it back for Week 1 I’m guessing they will try to ease him back into football shape, so the offense may run through George Kittle and the RBs early.

 

J.J. Nelson injured in 49ers camp

Man, the hits just keep on coming for San Francisco WRs. Hopefully Deebo can make it back because this team is in desperate need for any healthy bodies at the position.

 

Los Angeles Rams

 

Van Jefferson is standing out against Jalen Ramsey

Rookie WR, looking like a pro against one of the best corners in the game. I see you Van Jefferson, and your 267 ADP is starting to seem low. His name keeps popping up everywhere I look – keep your eye on his usage in Week 1, or just draft him to ensure you’re part of the Van Jefferson Revolution when it eventually arrives.

 

Seattle Seahawks

 

Chris Carson has returned

We’ll see what role DeeJay Dallas has now that the lead back has returned, but those of you rostering Carson can rest easy now.

 

 

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