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Training Camp Preview: NFC West

Tue Jul 17 10:31 am
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Marshall hopes to make team


This is the final 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.

Rams

The Rams had a breakout season last year, so hopes are high for this squad this year. The big thing to watch this training camp is how the team adjusts in year two, especially with the team adding some high-priced talent on both sides of the ball. Will the new talent mold well with players left from last year? This will be the job of the coaching staff to get all the team on the same page for the coming year. Expectations are high for the Rams for the first time in several seasons.

Position battle: Most positions are set for the Rams but the tight end spot remains a bit up in the air. It is likely to be a timeshare with Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett, but those two will compete for the right to start. And the starter in this explosive offense will have a little more value than the backup. So this position battle is one to maybe keep an eye on in training camp. Both these players are young guys with upside for good things. If one emerges and grabs most of the playing time, the fantasy value of that player will increase.

Injury watch: Kicker Greg Zuerlein had his season cut short last year because of a back injury. He was having a career season before the injury. Zuerlein needed surgery to repair a herniated disc. He is expected to be ready for training camp, though, and shouldn't be impacted much by this past injury. It is something to watch because back injuries are worrisome for a kicker.

Cardinals

The Cardinals have a new coaching staff and starting quarterback, so this should be the story of camp for the team. Plus, the return of star running back David Johnson will be closely watched. Arizona seems in rebuild mode for the first time in a few years, which isn't great news for veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald. The new staff will do all they can to get this team going in the right direction in a hurry, so Fitzgerald can have another year of success.

Position battle: Larry Fitzgerald is the clear No. 1 receiver for the Cardinals but after him, there is a wide open competition for the other starting job. Rookie Christian Kirk, J.J. Nelson and Chad Williams are the top options to start for the Cardinals. Kirk has the top skill set of the bunch but he won't be handed the job. He will need to show he knows the playbook and is ready to start in the NFL. This will be a position battle to watch as the starter for the Cardinals has some obvious value in an offense that likes to throw the ball.

Injury watch: Tight end Jermaine Gresham tore his Achilles' late last year. He is not expected to be ready for the start of training camp but there is hope he will be ready for Week 1. The veteran will be brought along slowly to make sure he doesn't have a setback. His injury opens the door for Ricky Seals-Jones to earn the starter's job and play a big role offensively this year. If healthy, Gresham is likely headed to backup duty for the Cardinals.

49ers

San Francisco is a team on the rise. There is a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball. This team is expected to compete for a playoff spot and take a big step forward this year. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo gets his chance to be a No. 1 quarterback from day one this year. He has a lot of pressure on him to play at a high level, but certainly seems up to the task to be an elite NFL quarterback. The 49ers are an exciting team that should be closely watched this training camp to see the progress they are making.

Position battle: The 49ers have a true battle for the No. 3 receiver job. Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson, Dante Pettis and Kendrick Bourne will battle it out for the right to man the slot for the 49ers. Taylor is the favorite but he will need to hold off the others gunning for his job. This could end up being a rotation, especially since the 49ers have so many options vying for the job. We should have a better idea about how this all shakes out in training camp and preseason action.

Injury watch: Receiver Trent Taylor had minor back surgery this offseason and might be slowed for the start of training camp. This is an injury to watch because he is battling for the No. 3 receiver job. If he isn't healthy or sidelined any of camp, this could really hurt his chances to win the job. Nothing is certain for Taylor right now.

Seahawks

Seattle lost some players on the defensive side of the ball that had been stalwarts the past several seasons. It will be intriguing to see if the Seahawks can replace these key players, guys there were leaders on this team. These are big losses. The Seahawks are trying get a little younger, though, on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Russell Wilson still leads the offense but will need his offensive line to play better and a running game to take some pressure off of him. The transformation on both sides of the ball begins to take place in training camp.

Position battle: The Seahawks took Rashaad Penny in the first round of this year's draft, hoping to have found their No. 1 back for the next several years. But Chris Carson is still around and No. 1 on the depth chart right now. He has been very impressive in offseason workouts and most consider him the best back on the roster right now. Penny will be given a shot to unseat Carson, though, and should at some point. But for now, Carson will try to hold onto the job and open the season as the starter for the Seahawks.

Injury watch: Newly acquired receiver Brandon Marshall had toe and ankle surgeries last year, which cut his season short. Marshall is expected to compete for a starting job this year but will need to show he is healthy and able to perform near his level of past years if he hopes to just make the team. Marshall is at an age where injuries can start to mount, so keep an eye on his health this training camp to make sure he doesn't have any setbacks.

Player Notes
Alshon Jeffery Dec 17 12:40am ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had a strong game in Week 15, catching eight passes for 160 yards. Jeffery had been fading fast with Carson Wentz under center, but with Nick Foles starting tonight and likely for the remainder of the season, Jeffery could end up finishing the season strong. He's back in the WR2 conversation for the final two weeks of the season.

From RotoBaller

Robert Woods Dec 17 12:40am ET

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods continued his solid season in Week 15 against the Philadelphia Eagles when he had seven catches for 74 yards. There has rarely been a week that Woods didn't finish with at least 10 points in PPR scoring formats. He wasn't the best player for the Rams, but he wasn't the worst. In Week 16, Woods gets a matchup with the Arizona Cardinals where he will have a very different role from the one he had earlier in the season. Since the Cooper Kupp (knee) injury, Woods has been moved to the slot, which will help him avoid cornerback Patrick Peterson this week. As usual, he won't be a WR1 candidate, but he will be a strong contender to finish as a WR2.

From RotoBaller

Golden Tate Dec 17 12:40am ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Golden Tate caught five passes on Sunday night, gaining 43 yards. With Nick Foles filling in at quarterback for the injured Carson Wentz (back), Tate had a slightly expanded role. He was still well behind Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery, but Tate could again be usable in deeper leagues for the final two weeks of the season.

From RotoBaller

Nick Foles Dec 17 12:30am ET

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles completed 24 of his 31 pass attempts for 270 yards on Sunday night. He threw an interception but did not connect for a touchdown. Foles was filling in for starter Carson Wentz (back) and will likely do so for the rest of the season. He may be useful in 2QB and deeper superflex leagues, but standard league players can leave Foles on the wire.

From RotoBaller

Richie James Dec 17 12:20am ET

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Richie James Jr. returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks. James first quarter return sparked an inspired performance by the Niners, who ultimately won in overtime. The seventh-round rookie has just five catches on the season but has been a prominent special teams player. With only two games left this season, its possible James gets some run on offense, but hes miles from fantasy relevance.

From RotoBaller

Todd Gurley Dec 17 12:10am ET

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley didn't have his best day on the ground due to the team falling behind big in Week 15. He did show off his dual-threat ability with 10 catches for 76 yards to go along with 12 carries for 48 yards and two touchdowns. Gurley is the engine that drives this offense, and he was humming along this week. In Week 16 against the Arizona Cardinals, Gurley gets a matchup against that he played very well against earlier in the season. He might not put up the three touchdowns that he did previously, but he will still put up a solid day. Gurley is a consistent RB1, and that will hold true this week.

From RotoBaller

Jared Goff Dec 17 12:00am ET

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff was one of the best and most consistent quarterbacks for the majority of the year, but he has struggled over the last month, including the team's Week 15 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. He had 339 yards with two interceptions to go with two carries for 11 yards. For whatever reason, Goff just hasn't looked as comfortable as of late. In Week 16, Goff gets a good matchup against the Arizona Cardinals who he had a great game against earlier in the season. The Cardinals have been exploited a lot in recent weeks, and Goff will likely finish as a QB2 next week.

From RotoBaller

Marquise Goodwin Dec 17 12:00am ET

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (calf) saw just one target in Week 15, netting it for seven yards. Goodwin battled a calf injury all week so its possible he was limited. With emerging rookie wideout Dante Pettis and stud tight end George Kittle dominating target share, Goodwins become a whisper in the San Francisco offense. Hes not an advisable start in Week 16 against the Chicago Bears lockdown defense.

From RotoBaller

Garrett Celek Dec 16 11:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers tight end Garrett Celek caught two passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in Week 15 against the Seattle Seahawks. Celeks 41-yard touchdown in the second quarter was his first catch since Week 3. His yardage total for the year spiked from 29 to 90 after the big game. The Seahawks focused on containing fellow tight end George Kittle, opening opportunities for Celek. With just five catches on the year, hes not on the fantasy radar.

From RotoBaller

Levine Toilolo Dec 16 11:30pm ET

Detroit Lions tight end Levine Toilolo caught all four of his targets for 28 yards in the loss to Buffalo on Sunday. Toilolo has been the only tight end used in this offense recently and in turn has provided the most steady play from the position all season. He's now caught 12 passes for 144 yards in his last three games. While his upside is capped because his scoring potential is low, Toilolo is gaining traction as a viable option for Matthew Stafford. However, a matchup with Minnesota' defense looms in Week 16, so Toilolo is yet again an afterthought for fantasy purposes.

From RotoBaller

T.J. Jones Dec 16 11:20pm ET

Detroit Lion wide receiver TJ Jones caught one of three targets for just five yards in Sunday's loss to the Bills. Jones was expected to be the direct beneficiary to Bruce Ellington (hamstring) missing the game but that was not the case. Three targets ties his season-high but he still has nothing worthwhile to show for it. In a Week 16 matchup with Minnesota, even if Ellington misses a second-consecutive game, Jones has no business being on your mind for fantasy purposes.

From RotoBaller

Brandon Powell Dec 16 11:20pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Brandon Powell caught all three of his targets for 11 yards, while also taking a carry for four yards in the 14-13 loss to the Bills on Sunday. This was the busiest game of Powell's young career, having only caught one career pass coming into the game. While his name as always popped up as a possibility to see an chances on offense, his work has strictly been related to special teams. If Bruce Ellington is forced to miss a second game next week against Minnesota, Powell could maintain a similar role but that does not make him a fantasy relevant player in this stagnant offense.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Dec 16 11:10pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay caught seven of eight targets for 146 yards in Sunday's loss to the Bills. This is the third game this season in which Golladay has had over 100 receiving yards; it was the first time since Week 11. Golladay has enjoyed decent success as the Lions WR1; however, the overall ineffectiveness of the team's offense has capped Golladay's production. It's encouraging to see the second-year man have a solid day against a streaky defense because he'll have a tough matchup in Week 16 against the Minnesota Vikings. Consider Golladay as a WR2 heading into championship week.

From RotoBaller

Andy Jones Dec 16 11:10pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Andy Jones caught two passes for just nine yards but he scored his first career touchdown in the loss to Buffalo on Sunday. It's nice to see Matthew Stafford connecting with other receivers than Kenny Golladay but Jones isn't a game changer the Lions are looking for. It's impossible to trust in a similar outcome next week when the Lions host the Vikings, especially if Ellington returns to action. Stay away from any Lions pass catcher not named Golladay right now.

From RotoBaller

Zach Zenner Dec 16 11:00pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Zach Zenner took 10 carries for 45 yards, while also finding pay dirt in the loss to the Bills on Sunday. The score was Zenner's second on the season and the second in consecutive weeks. He also caught three passes in the game, but didn't net any positive yardage. The 27-year-old has come on in the past two weeks to take a solid bulk of the rushing opportunities away from LeGarrette Blount. It will be interesting to see if Kerryon Johnson returns next week against the Vikings, because if he does, Zenner is sure to take a seat to the rookie. However, in the meantime, Zenner is the Lions running back to own heading into a tough matchup with Minnesota. It's safe to assume his increase in volume means he has gained the trust of head coach Matt Patricia, but he's still not a start-able option heading into Week 16.

From RotoBaller

LeGarrette Blount Dec 16 10:50pm ET

Detroit Lions running back LeGarrette Blount took seven carries for just nine yards in Sunday's loss to the Bills. This continues a trend downward for Blount, as both Zach Zenner and Theo Riddick have been receiving the bulk of the rushing work. The bruising back heavily relies on volume to produce, so on an offense that is devastated by injuries, his production is set up for failure from the beginning. Next week against the Vikings, Blount is essentially un-usable because there are so many question marks with the Lions offense right now.

From RotoBaller

Theo Riddick Dec 16 10:40pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Theo Riddick rushed for 47 yard on just eight carries, while also hauling in two passes for a paltry nine yards in the loss to the Bills on Sunday. Riddick has seen an increase in carries the past three games which typically would help increase his floor; however, it has taken away from his work in the passing game and he still has yet to find the end zone this season. In Week 16 against the Vikings, Riddick will continue to be a low-end flex option in PPR leagues, but pay attention to Kerryon Johnson's availability because if the rookie returns from injury, Riddick's rushing numbers should all but disappear.

From RotoBaller

Julian Edelman Dec 16 10:33pm ET

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman registered seven receptions for 90 yards on 11 targets in Week 15 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Fantasy Spin: Edelman missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, but he has still managed 63 receptions, 711 yards and four scores on 92 targets. He remains a tremendous WR3 or flex fantasy option in PPR leagues with slightly lesser value in standard play.

DeForest Buckner Dec 16 10:33pm ET

San Francisco 49ers DL DeForest Buckner finished with 11 tackles, including seven solo stops and two sacks, in a 26-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15.

Cre'Von LeBlanc Dec 16 10:33pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles CB Cre'Von LeBlanc (concussion) was evaluated for concussion in the Week 15 game against the Los Angeles Rams and he was cleared to return.