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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
Marquise Goodwin Oct 18 1:20am ET

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwins fantasy stock skyrocketed in Week 6 after he amassed 126 yards including touchdowns of 67 and 30 yards. Goodwins explosiveness seemingly convinced quarterback C.J. Beathard to stray from his dink and dunk ways. The tandem will try to carry the momentum to Week 7 against the Los Angeles Rams who have struggled against the pass in the past three weeks, allowing almost three scores per game through the air and 7.8 yards per attempt. While his outcome variance remains wide, Goodwin is the perfect option to complement high-floor receivers on fantasy rosters. Hes a solid WR3 with upside.

From RotoBaller

Jeff Heuerman Oct 18 1:10am ET

Many a gym-goer have experienced the frustration of putting in a ton of work without seeing any immediate results in the mirror. Should you fall in that boat, Denver Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman feels your pain. Heuerman has seen 17 targets over the Broncos last three games (tied with Demaryius Thomas for the second-most on the team) but has produced a mere nine receptions for 98 yards. In other words, less than four fantasy points per game. Despite facing four of the league's premier TEs, Arizona has held opposing tight ends to an average of 43.8 yards per game (eighth-fewest) so while quarterback Case Keenum has looked his way quite often in recent weeks, Heuerman shouldn't warrant much consideration outside of the deepest of leagues.

From RotoBaller

Raheem Mostert Oct 18 1:00am ET

San Francisco 49ers running back Raheem Mostert was the teams biggest surprise in Week 6, racing for 87 yards on 12 carries. After experiencing fumbling issues throughout his career, Mostert earned the trust of head coach Kyle Shanahan by working on ball security. He was rewarded with 40% of offensive snaps, rendering veteran Alfred Morris to the bench. Shanahans played coy on Mosterts usage going forward, but its apparent the fourth-year back provides a spark spelling starter Matt Breida (ankle, shoulder). Mostert shouldnt be on starting rosters in Week 7, but his role is something to monitor. Hes a speculative add for managers with bench flexibility.

From RotoBaller

Matt Breida Oct 18 12:40am ET

San Francisco 49ers Matt Breida (ankle, shoulder) isnt fully healthy but has suited up for all six games in 2018. Breidas proven his toughness and also been effective, leading the NFL in yards per carry (6.8). The Niners take on the Los Angeles Rams in Week 7, who surrender just 99.0 rush yards per game but are fifth-worst in yards per attempt (4.8). With the Niners structurally dedicated to a committee running game, hell share snaps with backfield mates Raheem Mostert and Kyle Juszczyk. However, hes immune to game script. This bodes well against the high-powered Rams offense. Despite the timeshare risks, Breida is a back-end RB2 with upside if he factors into the passing game.

From RotoBaller

Demaryius Thomas Oct 18 12:30am ET

Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas ranks 46th among WRs at 55 receiving yards per game. Unsurprisingly, all three of his double-digit fantasy point performances this season (standard scoring) have come in games where he was able to showcase his dancing ability. Thomas has found the end zone in two-straight games, and while I'd normally ride the wave, the Cardinals have yet to allow a TD to an opposing WR at home this season - while allowing the fewest to the position overall (two). Even more concerning is the fact that Thomas has now seen a total of 22 targets over the Broncos last four games after amassing 21 through their first two. Factor in the inconsistent quarterback play and Thomas should be viewed as a WR3/flex option heading into this Thursday night matchup.

From RotoBaller

Emmanuel Sanders Oct 18 12:10am ET

Michael Jordan once told us that "The ceiling is the roof!" Well, the floor might be the ceiling this week for Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders has seen seven or more targets in five of six games -- catching at least five passes in all five -- so it's safe to assume he'll see around five receptions Thursday night against the Cardinals. Problem is, Arizona has yet to allow a receiver to find the end zone at home and the two touchdowns opposing WRs have put up on them on the season are the fewest in the league. Sanders should be viewed as a WR2 in PPR leagues -- based on volume alone -- but owners in standard leagues would be wise to look elsewhere if upside is the goal this week.

From RotoBaller

Phillip Lindsay Oct 17 11:20pm ET

Having put up at least 75 yards from scrimmage in four of his six games this season, Denver Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay quietly ranks among the Top-20 RBs in terms of scrimmage yards per game (including the ejection-shortened Week 3). Meanwhile, the Cardinals have allowed opposing RBs to pick up 138.8 rushing yards per game on 4.5 yards per carry while giving up an additional 57 yards through the air - all of which rank among the dregs of the league. He doesn't see the volume some of the league's elite backs see -- his 12.5 touches per game rank 32nd -- but he's averaging 14 PPR fantasy points per game (over the five games in which he played all four quarters) and shouldn't have much trouble surpassing that number this week given the matchup.

From RotoBaller

Royce Freeman Oct 17 10:40pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman has been held out of the end zone in two-straight games but a matchup with the Arizona Cardinals could be just what he needs to bring the scoring drought to an end. No team has allowed more rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs than the eight allowed by the Arizona Cardinals, and while I could run through their statistics, just trust me when I say their run defense has been lousy. In nearly every way imaginable. Freeman lands in the RB2 conversation this week -- due to the presence of Phillip Lindsay -- but don't be surprised if he outperforms his ranking on Thursday night.

From RotoBaller

Luke Willson Oct 17 10:20pm ET

Detroit Lions tight end Luke Willson is the starter in name only. He did not garner a target in Week 5 against the Packers and only has seven targets on the season, which leads all Lions tight ends. He's been able to corral four of those looks for 29 yards, but hasn't found the end zone, and has yet even draw a red zone target. The tight end position isn't of use to the Lions right now and is often the fourth, and sometimes fifth option in the passing game. Fade Willson and any other Lions tight end until we see a shift in target share.

From RotoBaller

Case Keenum Oct 17 10:10pm ET

The boos were audible Sunday, but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Unfortunately, the bad for Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum is that his back-to-back 300-plus yard, two touchdown passing performances have been overshadowed by Denver's four-game losing streak. It also doesn't help that this offense is averaging the seventh-fewest points per game at 20 or that he's riding an every game this season interception streak. Keenum enters this Week 7 matchup against the Cardinals on the heels of his two best games of the season, yes. However, Arizona's defense has held opposing QBs to the second-fewest passing TDs (6), 243.2 passing yards per game, and the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game (14.99) - making him nothing more than a last resort option for fantasy owners.

From RotoBaller

Marvin Jones Oct 17 10:00pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones saved his owners in Week 5 when he hauled in an eight-yard touchdown, his only reception against the Packers. As each game is played, it seems as though Kenny Golladay has supplanted Jones as the big-play threat for the Lions. With just 16 receptions for 231 yards, Jones has served his purpose by finding the end zone three times. This week against the Dolphins, things won't get any easier for him as Miami's secondary has been one of the best in the league this year. In his favor though is that the average yards per attempt against the Dolphins is 8.1 yards, so if Stafford can find Jones for one deep ball, it could pay off big for owners. However, tread lightly this week and label Jones as a boom-or-bust WR4.

From RotoBaller

T.J. Jones Oct 17 10:00pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver TJ Jones has played just 20 combined snaps in his last two games and has not been targeted once. Jones is an afterthought in the offense with receivers like Golden Tate, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones in the mix. Especially in a tough matchup with the Dolphins, leave the Lions fourth wide receiver on waivers where he belongs.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Oct 17 9:30pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay has vaulted himself into the fantasy limelight with a strong start to the season, posting 27 catches for 428 yards and three scores through five games. However, Golladay is welcomed out of the bye week with a likely matchup of Xavien Howard. Despite the tough matchup, the second-year receiver very well may be the best pass catcher on his team, and that alone will have Matthew Stafford looking his way. Expect a floor of a WR3 with his touchdown upside giving him a big boost. Regardless, he should be in your lineup.

From RotoBaller

De'Angelo Henderson Oct 17 9:23pm ET

Free-agent OT Dieugot Joseph was signed to the New York Jets practice squad Wednesday, Oct. 17. The team also released RB De'Angelo Henderson from their practice squad.

Stacy McGee Oct 17 9:13pm ET

Washington Redskins DT Stacy McGee (groin) participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 17. He is currently on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list.

Devante Bond Oct 17 9:13pm ET

Free-agent TE Devante Bond (Buccaneers) signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Oct. 17.

Elijah McGuire Oct 17 9:03pm ET

New York Jets RB Elijah McGuire (foot) participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 17. He is currently on the Reserve/Injured list.

Andy Jones Oct 17 8:53pm ET

Detroit Lions WR Andy Jones (undisclosed) participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 17. He is currently on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list.

Andre Hal Oct 17 8:53pm ET

Houston Texans SS Andre Hal (illness) participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 17. He is currently on the Reserve/Non-Football Illness list.

Mike Hull Oct 17 8:43pm ET

Miami Dolphins C Jake Brendel (calf) and LB Mike Hull (knee) participated in practice Wednesday, Oct. 17, and are the two players that will be activated from the Reserve/Injured list this season.