By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports
This is the sixth preview in a series of training camp previews. We will continue to release the previews throughout the week. The previews give you a quick look at each team, going over position battles and injuries to watch in camp. The season is right around the corner.
Green Bay has high hopes again for the coming year. They were close to a trip to the Super Bowl last year but couldn't get over the hump. The expectation is the Packers win the NFC and make it to the big game. There is a lot of pressure on this group, but nothing they can't handle because of the experience of everyone involved. So much of camp should be focused on this team playing more consistent football from day one to get ready for a run in the playoffs.
Position battle: The Packers have already stated that Ty Montgomery is going to be the starter at running back this season, but this remains a situation to watch. Montgomery is converting from receiver to running back and has some question marks for the coming season. Plus, the Packers used a draft pick on Jamaal Williams, who could push Montgomery for playing time with a strong camp and preseason. We would not discount Williams in the battle for playing time at running back.
Injury watch: The Packers really don't have any injuries of note to watch during camp, which is a good thing for the team. But one player we might keep an eye on his veteran receiver Jordy Nelson. He is getting older and has endured serious injury in recent years. You have to wonder how much he has left in the tank as the No. 1 receiver for the Packers. We might watch him during camp to make sure he is healthy and looking like the same receiver of past years. His price tag should be high once again this year.
The Vikings took a bit of a step back last year but injuries were a major factor. The team is healthier this year and added some new pieces on the offensive side of the ball, which should help them in their quest for the playoffs. The defense remains solid but the offense needs to play more consistent, especially the running game. Much of camp should be focused on getting the running game going again. It is something fantasy teams should watch going forward.
Position battle: The Vikings made some changes at running back this offseason, signing Latavius Murray and drafting Dalvin Cook. These two should compete for the starting job in Minnesota this season. Cook is the likely starter because he is better setup for three-down work, but he won't be handed anything. He'll need to pick up the offense and perform well with his chances in camp. Murray seems setup to get situational work, mostly working as a short-yardage back. We'll have a better feel for this situation in training camp and preseason action.
Injury watch: Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater continues to try to recover from the horrific knee injury suffered during last year's training camp. There really isn't a timetable for his return and the Vikings aren't saying much about his recovery. We should get a better idea during training camp if he will be able to play this year. Either way, it looks like Sam Bradford starts at quarterback again this season until Bridgewater shows he is fully recovered from his injury.
The Lions were a bit of surprise last year, finishing with a winning record and making the playoffs. Much of their success had to do with the MVP performance of Matthew Stafford. He carried the team at times last year. A lot of pressure will be on Stafford to continue to play at a very high level. If he doesn't, the Lions could struggle to make the playoffs again. The defense also has to continue to make strides, especially the secondary. The team can't rely on Stafford to carry them, which should be the focus of training camp, getting the entire team playing at higher level.
Position battle: As long as he is healthy, Ameer Abdullah should be the starter for the Lions. But the team has a lot of depth at the poison looking for playing time. It is something to monitor in training camp, especially if you consider the injury issues Abdullah has faced in recent years. Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Zach Zenner and Dwayne Washington are all looking for playing time at the position. You will want to know how the depth chart shakes out before draft day for your teams.
Injury watch: Running back Theo Riddick had surgery on both wrists this offseason. He is being brought along slowly and done little in offseason workouts. He is expected to be ready for the starting of training camp. Riddick is a big part of the offense, serving as a top pass catcher out of the backfield. He is a player to watch during camp to make sure he is fully recovered from his wrist problems.
The Bears were in a mess last year and could be in the same boat this season. The team does have some exciting, young players, but also have some holes on both sides of the ball. A top running game and decent defenses should keep this team in more games this year, but concerns in the passing game could really bog down this unit. The team lacks top options at receiver and could experience some growing pains at quarterback. We should have a better idea of the team identity during camp and preseason action, though.
Position battle: The Bears used traded up in the draft to select Mitchell Trubisky to be their franchise quarterback for years to come. He probably will open the season as the backup to Mike Glennon, though. But you can count on Trubisky getting his chance to start if he is ready to play. The Bears will play Trubisky when he is ready to go.
Injury watch: Receiver Cameron Meredith injured his thumb during the offseason and there is a chance he might even need surgery on the injury. He might not be ready for the start of camp, which is a concern for Meredith. He has a chance to be the No. 1 receiver for the Bears, so it is important for Meredith to get healthy and on the firstname.lastname@example.org