Training Camp Preview: NFC South

2017-07-28 10:36:04
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
RealTime Fantasy Sports

Peterson heads to Saints

This is the seventh 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.

Falcons

The Falcons are sure to have an interesting training camp, trying to recover from last year's heartbreaking Super Bowl loss. Seeing how they recover from the second-half meltdown will be the story of training camp. Will this be a motivating factor for the coming season or cause problems for this season? The Falcons certainly have the offense to win a lot of games but need to shore up the defensive side of the ball to win it all.

Position battle: There isn't really a whole lot to decide on the offensive side of the ball. Most of the positions are pretty set. Maybe one spot to pay attention is the depth chart at receiver. The top-three receivers are set but it is pretty wide open for playing time after that. Justin Hardy, Andre Roberts and Nick Williams are the top candidates to serve as the No. 4 receiver for the Falcons. And that fourth option will get some playing time in an offense that likes to throw that ball. So that position might be one fantasy teams keep a watch on in training camp and preseason action.

Injury watch: Receiver Julio Jones had minor foot surgery during the offseason. He is expected to be just fine for the starting of training camp but the injury is one to watch, especially if you consider this is his third career foot surgery. Jones tends to have nagging injuries but plays through those injuries and still performs at a high level. It would be nice to see him 100 percent healthy, playing at full strength.

Saints

New Orleans was a bit of a disappointment last season but still finished just two games below .500. The team needs to make strides defensively for a return trip to the playoffs, but the story of this camp is likely Adrian Peterson. He will be closely watched by fantasy players and Saints' fans to see how he looks on the field. It should make for a lot of television coverage for the Saints, seeing Peterson back on the field.

Position battle: The Saints have not said it is an open competition at running back but you would have to think Mark Ingram and Adrian Peterson are going to battle it out to start for the Saints. Both will get playing time in this offense but one might emerge and get a few more touches on a weekly basis. It will be interesting to see how much Peterson has left in the tank. He is a real wild card for the coming season.

Injury watch: Running back Adrian Peterson isn't injured but he played just three games last year and has played 20 games the last three seasons. There are some concerns with his durability at this point of his career. If he hopes to make an impact with his new team, Peterson will need to stay healthy and show he can still produce near his same level of past seasons. He is a bit of an unknown as we get ready to start the season.

Panthers

The Panthers were a huge disappointment last season, winning just six games after making the Super Bowl the previous season. The team will look to get things going in the right direction again, starting in training camp. Much of the focus in camp should be on Cam Newton. He is the key to the offense and will need to get back near his MVP-level if the Panthers hope for a return to the playoffs and top of the division.

Position battle: The running back spot in Carolina is suddenly a little crowded after the team took Christian McCaffrey in this year's draft. McCaffrey is set to become the franchise back for years. But for this year, he still has Jonathan Stewart around, who could be the starter for the Panthers. But if McCaffrey shines in camp and preseason action, he could really cut into the playing time of Stewart and emerge as the clearcut starter for the team.

Injury watch: Quarterback Cam Newton had offseason shoulder surgery. He has been slowed during the offseason because of the surgery but expected to be ready and near 100 percent for the start of training camp. Newton is obviously a huge part of the Panthers offense, so his health will be watched closely this training camp. The Panthers might bring him along slowly to ensure he is full go for the start of the season.

Bucs

Tampa took a big step forward last season by posting a winning record but just missed out on the playoffs. The team will look to take another step forward this season. Much of that might depend on quarterback Jameis Winston. He will need to continue his ascent if the Bucs offense wants to reach it's true potential. The passing attack could be very good if Winston ups his game just a little.

Position battle: The Bucs have not said the running back spot is an open competition for the coming season, but it could end up that way. Doug Martin is the starter but is suspended the first three games of the season. This opens the door for Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers or rookie Jeremy McNichols to grab the starting job for early in the season and maybe run with it. It will be interesting to see how this all shakes out in camp and preseason action. The suspension comes at a bad time for Martin, who had a season to forget last year.

Injury watch: Running back Doug Martin is another player that isn't hurt but as mentioned, he is going to be suspended the first three games of the season. And he is going to need to show well in camp if he hopes keep his starting job when he returns from suspension. Martin cannot perform like last season if he hopes to keep starting for the Bucs. It is an important camp for Martin to get his career going in the right direction again.

jeff@rtsports.com