Wed Jul 11 9:33 am
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Giants need a healthy Beckham
This is the fifth 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.
The Eagles won the Super Bowl last year, so expectations will be very high for the coming year. And much of this camp will focus on the return of quarterback Carson Wentz from injury. Wentz was playing at an MVP-level before getting hurt. He will have a lot of pressure on him to play at a high level once again, especially with the backup leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl victory.x
Position battle: The Eagles signed Mike Wallace this offseason with the hopes he still had something left in the tank. Wallace will have to earn a starting spot but could be the starter opposite Alshon Jeffery if all goes well for him this camp. Nelson Agholor had his best season as a pro last year, though, and won't go away quietly for Wallace. Those two should compete for the right to start opposite Jeffery. Both will have a role this year, but the starter carries a little more value for fantasy teams in a pass-first offense.
Injury watch: Quarterback Carson Wentz was on his way to a breakout season before tearing his ACL. He had to watch backup Nick Foles lead the Eagles all the way to a Super Bowl victory. There was some concern with Wentz being ready for the start of this season but all signs are very positive for him right now. He has progressed very well and might not even have any limitation for training camp. All expectations are he will be ready for Week 1 and his usual self for the start of the year.
The Giants were a mess last year because of injury and coaching shenanigans. Much has changes this offseason, so this camp will be focused on getting all the players and coaches on the same page. The talent is there for this team to do well, but might depend on the play of Eli Manning, which wasn't good last year. How much does Manning have left in the tank? We will have a better idea about Manning when training camp gets going.
Position battle: The Giants moved on from Brandon Marshall this offseason, making Sterling Shepard the starter opposite Odell Beckham. This leaves the No. 3 receiver job wide open for the Giants. Roger Lewis, Cody Latimer and Travis Rudolph are the top candidates to man the slot for the Giants. The winner of this job doesn't carry a ton of fantasy value but might be worth a spot start or two in a pinch.
Injury watch: Star receiver Odell Beckham suffered a broken ankle last season and needed surgery on the injury. He still hasn't done a ton this offseason but reports are he should be near 100 percent for the start of training camp. This injury shouldn't be much of an issue moving forward. It is still worth watching, though, to make sure Beckham is back to his normal self. He might be the best receiver in the game at 100 percent health.
Dallas had a disappointing season last year but will look to get it turned around, starting in training camp. As always, expectations will be high for the Cowboys, especially with Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott healthy and ready to lead the offense. Dallas has the talent to win some games, but needs some receivers to step up and emerge, and the defense to play more consistently.
Position battle: The Cowboys released Dez Bryant this offseason, leaving some openings at the receiver spot. There really isn't a No. 1 receiver on the roster right now. Terrance Williams, Allen Hurns, rookie Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley and Deonte Thompson are the top candidates to start for the Cowboys this year. There really isn't anything too certain with this position for the Cowboys. We could see any of these guys starting. Keep an eye on this situation in training camp to see how this all shakes out.
Injury watch: He wasn't hurt last year but missed time because of suspension. Running back Ezekiel Elliott probably is the key to the entire offense, so the Cowboys need him on the field for all 16 games. Dallas can't afford for Elliott to get suspended once again or go down with an injury. Hopefully, Elliott stays out of trouble and can stay healthy. He is the most important cog in the offense.
The big thing to watch this camp is the quarterback change in Washington. The Redskins lost Kirk Cousins but traded for Alex Smith to take over as their starter. It will be interesting to see how the offense functions with Smith now at the helm. These two quarterbacks have different styles, so don't be surprised if the offense functions differently now with Smith running the show. You can get a better idea of how Smith operates, starting in camp and seeing him in preseason action.
Position battle: The Redskins took Derrius Guice in the second round of this year's draft with the hopes he can fill the void at running back for the team. Guice is not going to be handed the starting job, though. He will have to earn it from Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. It isn't a slam dunk that Guice will start for the Redskins, especially with how the team has rotated backs in recent years.
Injury watch: Tight end Jordan Reed missed most of last year with various injuries and needed offseason surgery on his toes. Reed has never played a full season and is a big injury risk going forward. Reed is a difference maker in the offense, though, so getting him back to full strength is essential for the Redskins to have big success offensively. Reed also can be a huge fantasy factor when on the field. It would be great to see him play a full season.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Seattle Seahawks FS Bradley McDougald (knee) suffered a knee injury against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 15.
Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (knee) is questionable to return in the second half on Sunday night against the Eagles. The Rams offense runs through Gurley, so they'd be in trouble if this is a serious injury, as would his fantasy owners. The good news is Gurley had already carried the ball 11 times for 47 yards and a touchdown and caught all five of his passing targets for 38 extra yards. Justin Davis and rookie John Kelly will handle touches in the backfield if Gurley is unable to return. Davis will be a popular waiver addition next week heading into fantasy championship week if Gurley's injury puts him in danger of missing Week 16.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford finished 22 of 29 for 208 yards and a touchdown in the 14-13 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. While nothing special, this was a better day than the Week 14 offering from Stafford. The Lions offense is a mess due to injuries and the 30-year-old is dealing with a nagging back injury himself. Next week against the Vikings, Stafford will have his hands full with a defense that has been tough all season. Due to the lack of explosiveness in the Lions offense right now, it's best to avoid him altogether, especially in many leagues' championship week.
San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis caught all five of his targets for 83 yards in a 26-23 win over the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15.
Fantasy Spin: The rookie continued his recent hot streak, and he has emerged as a quality flex option late in the season.