Wed Jul 24 9:29pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Henry returns from torn ACL
This is the fourth 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 Raiders made a big splash this offseason, acquiring receiver Antonio Brown. He gives the team a whole new dimension at receiver and should be a big lift to the entire offense. It will be intriguing to watch how Brown influences the entire team because of his experience and success. Oakland hopes that Brown rubs off on some of his teammates, helping this team start a turnaround. We should get a better idea if that happens, watching camp and preseason action.
Position battle: The Raiders lost tight end Jared Cook this offseason, leaving a big hole at the tight end spot. Darren Waller is the odds on favorite to start but Derek Carrier and Luke Willson also will push Waller for the chance to start. None of these players have much starting experience, so the door is open for any of them to start. This will all be sorted out in camp and preseason action.
Injury watch: Oakland doesn't really have any injury situations of note, which is a good thing. One guy we might keep an eye on is Antonio Brown. He is not hurt but is 31 years old and has a ton of work under his belt. You have to wonder if he will slow down or have the injury bug hit him at this time of his career. We would keep an eye on him in camp to see how he is performing and if he is showing any signs of slowing down.
The big thing to watch in Broncos camp is the quarterback spot. Denver continues to try to find their franchise player. Joe Flacco was brought in to stabilize the position but rookie Drew Lock is the future at the position. Is either one of these guys the answer? The Broncos sure hope so. We’ll have a better understanding of the position, seeing how both these guys perform in camp and preseason games.
Position battle: Quarterback Joe Flacco is the starter in Denver but the team drafted Drew Lock to be the eventual starter in Denver. Flacco has not played at a high level in recent years, so if he shows any signs of struggle, don't be surprised if Lock pushes him for a chance to start. Lock has a swagger about him and all the tools to be a successful pro quarterback. You’ll want to watch Lock’s progress during camp and preseason action.
Injury watch: Tight end Jake Butt has not been able to stay healthy since entering the NFL. He has played just three games. He suffered a torn ACL last year and has now torn an ACL three different times. He has a long road back once again. Butt has some talent, though, and could push for playing time if he is able to come back healthy.
The big issue to watch this training camp is the holdout of star running back Melvin Gordon. He is seeking a new contract and says he will holdout until he gets a new deal or is traded. This is obviously a huge situation to monitor, especially after the Le’Veon Bell fiasco of last year. The longer Gordon holds out, the scarier this gets for fantasy teams.
Position battle: Running back Austin Ekeler should be the top backup to Gordon this year, but Justin Jackson will compete for that job. Jackson did pretty well with his chances last year and will try to unseat Ekeler for the top backup job. Ekeler has a clear advantage for the job but if Jackson keeps progressing, he can continue to get chances and move up the depth chart.
Injury watch: Tight end Hunter Henry missed all of last year because of a torn ACL suffered during the spring. Henry has been pretty close to full strength the last few months, though, and should be just fine for the start of the season. But even with that said, you’ll want to keep an eye on him in camp to make sure he doesn’t suffer any setbacks. This is a major injury to return. Anything can happen. But if healthy, Henry has the potential to be an elite fantasy tight end.
The Chiefs were really close last year to making the Super Bowl but came up just short. Can the team get over the hump this year? That is the big question. The other big question is Tyreek Hill. Will his presence impact the team negatively after his off the field issues? Hill avoided suspension but you can expect the Chiefs to field many questions on the matter in camp. Will this distraction impact the team? We should know soon enough.
Position battle: Damien Williams is the starter for the Chiefs but the backup job is up for grabs. Carlos Hyde was signed to fill that role but isn’t going to be handed the job. He will be pushed by rookie Darwin Thompson, who might bring more to the table than Hyde at this point. Thompson is a good runner and receiver, and seems like he could be a good fit for the offense. Hyde has the experience, though, and will get first shot at the job. He will need to show he has picked up the offense.
Injury watch: Tight end Travis Kelce had offseason ankle surgery. He is expected to be 100 percent for the start of training camp. He has not had setbacks in his recovery. Kelce is the clear No. 1 fantasy tight end, so making sure he is back to full strength is a good idea for fantasy teams. He should be fine but keep an eye on practice reports to be sure.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown has had communication 'with a few teams that are interested,' according to agent Drew Rosenhaus Saturday, Sept. 21. Rosenhaus adds those teams 'want information regarding his legal situation and the NFL investigation.' A deal isn't likely to happen until the league's investigation is resolved, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
New England Patriots S Nate Ebner (groin) was added to the injury report Saturday, Sept. 21, and is considered questionable for Sunday.
Arizona Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson won't be traded, according to general manager Steve Keim Friday, Sept. 20. 'We're not trading Pat and that's something we've been very consistent with, from (team President) Michael (Bidwill) to myself to coach (Kliff Kingsbury),' Keim said. 'When you look at the kind of player Pat is, and I think arguably the best corner in the National Football League, all you have to do is say, 'Does this make your team better or worse?' And I think to lose someone like Pat Peterson would make us worse.' Peterson remains under contract with the Cardinals through the end of next season when he'll carry a $13.2 million cap hit.
Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) could be 'weeks' away from a return to the field, according to a source Saturday, Sept. 21. Reed hasn't played yet this season and has already been ruled out for Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears.
Fantasy Spin: Reed is free to drop in all formats with fantasy managers best off streaming the position based on weekly matchups.
Detroit Lions DE Da'Shawn Hand (elbow) was ruled out for Week 3 Saturday, Sept. 21. Hand had been considered questionable.
Detroit Lions WR Marvin Hall was added to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 21. WR Chris Lacy was released from the active roster and DE Jonathan Wynn was signed to the practice squad.
Washington Redskins DL Jonathan Allen (knee), CB Fabian Moreau (ankle), OT Morgan Moses (knee), S Montae Nicholson (foot) and WR Robert Davis (knee) were all full participants in practice Saturday, Sept. 21. CB Quinton Dunbar (knee), QB Colt McCoy (fibula) and LB Cassanova McKinzy (hip) didn't participate. Allen and Dunbar are considered questionable for Monday against the Chicago Bears. McCoy and McKinzy have been ruled out.
Seattle Seahawks DE Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) will make his season debut Sunday, Sept. 22, against the New Orleans Saints. 'Ziggy's ready to play,' Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said Friday, Sept. 20. 'Ready to play football. We're excited to see that. It has been a really good process to get him to this where he's in good shape too. He's worked hard and long, so he's in better shape than sometimes when a guy is just coming back. We'll be able to get him a bunch of plays here in this game, and we're looking forward to his participation with us.'
Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (concussion) was ruled out for Week 3 Saturday, Sept. 21. He'll miss Washington's game against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football.
Fantasy Spin: Backup Vernon Davis has seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown through two games in place of Reed this season. Fantasy managers should be moving on from Reed at this point with Davis just one of the viable replacements available on the waiver wire.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has seen his production capped by Kirk Cousins' rough start, though he secured 5-of-8 targets for 75 yards in Week 2. He has a golden opportunity to break out in Week 3's tilt as the Vikings will face the Raiders and their tissue-soft secondary at home. Thielen lines up everywhere, but he should see Daryl Worley (4.64 40-yard dash) the most in coverage on Sunday. Advantage - Adam Thielen. The Vikings are big favorites (-8.5), which will likely lead to featuring Dalvin Cook and the rushing attack. However, Thielen should still be started as a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 as his 26% target share leads the team and he should be able to torch the Raiders even on limited opportunities. He's also a sneaky tournament play in daily formats as he could go under-owned and has a high ceiling.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs is coming off a Week 2 performance where he caught just 1-of-7 targets, but the catch resulted in a 49-yard touchdown that saved his fantasy day. He had another touchdown called back in the contest. Diggs has been a victim of Cousins' erratic play and low passing volume, but his Week 3 matchup against the Oakland Raiders is enticing. He'll square off against Gareon Conley and the rest of the Oakland defensive backfield, a group that has gotten absolutely ripped by receivers this season. They've allowed a combined 104.9 PPR points to wide receivers through Week 2 (vs. DEN, vs. KC). Start Diggs as a mid-range WR2 in this beatable matchup. His high target share in this offense gives him a decent floor and a high ceiling, which also puts him in play for daily tournaments as a reduced-ownership play.
Chicago Bears DT Bilal Nichols (hand) did not participate in practice Saturday, Sept. 21 and has been ruled out for the team's Week 3 game Monday, Sept. 23. OG Kyle Long (hip) also did not practice Saturday and is listed as questionable. TE Trey Burton (groin), S Eddie Jackson (shoulder) and PK Eddy Pineiro (knee) were limited as are listed as questionable. DT Eddie Goldman (oblique) fully participated in practice and was removed from the Week 3 injury report.
Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) attracted interest from the Seattle Seahawks after his release from the Oakland Raiders, but that no longer appears to be the case after he was released Friday, Sept. 20, by the New England Patriots. 'We're pretty well set (at wide receiver) right now,' Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said when asked about Brown at a Friday news conference. 'We kind of know where we're going with that.'
Fantasy Spin: With the issues surrounding Brown morphing from bizarre to decidedly more serious, don't expect to see him in the league for the rest of the season.
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook is leading the league in rushing through two weeks, carrying 41 times for 265 yards (6.5 YPC) and three touchdowns. His 20.5 attempts/game only trails Marlon Mack, and his three runs of 20 or more yards also lead the NFL. Minnesota has run the highest percentage of run plays in the NFL and that is unlikely to change this week as they are 8.5-point favorites at home. The Oakland Raiders have only allowed 98 rushing yards (vs. DEN) and 31 rushing yards (vs. KC) through Week 2, but they haven't faced a running back like Dalvin Cook and the likelihood of seeing 20+ touches yet again pushes him way up the rankings. Consider "Chef" Dalvin a top-tier RB1 in this delicious matchup at home.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson had a huge game versus the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. He caught all six of his targets for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the victory. Robinson was one of the most popular pickups throughout the week, but fantasy owners should get ready for disappointment. Robinson will once again be involved in the offense, but Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman will see targets as well. It was rare that Robinson caught all of his targets, and one of them being a 44 yard touchdown due to blown coverage. The Baltimore Ravens secondary isn't much better, but fantasy owners shouldn't expect the same result twice. Robinson is someone to be looked at as a shaky WR2 or a reliable WR3 for Week 3.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce came to play in the Week 2 victory over the Oakland Raiders. Kelce caught seven of his nine targets for 107 yards and one touchdown. The Chiefs offense doesn't seem to ever slow down and that should be the case again in Week 3. The Baltimore Ravens Defense is coming off a game where they gave up 349 passing yards to rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. Earl Thomas should be able to slow down Kelce somewhat, but fantasy owners should expect a TE1 type of performance from him once again.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman was able to make some noise for the team in the victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. Hardman caught four passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in that contest. Tyreek Hill (shoulder) remains sidelined, so Hardman will continue to have decent fantasy value. Demarcus Robinson outplayed Hardman last week, but who knows if that will happen again. The Baltimore Ravens secondary is shaky, so the Chiefs should have no issues on offense. Hardman has WR2 upside, but at worst he's a solid WR3 for Week 3 against Baltimore.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins saw a team-high 13 targets in the victory over the Oakland Raiders in Week 2. However, Watkins hauled in just six of those balls for 49 yards and didn't find the end zone. It was a disappointing game for fantasy owners as Watkins was expected to be much better with Tyreek Hill (shoulder) sidelined. Watkins will get a chance to rebound here against a Baltimore Ravens Defense in Week 3. The same defense that just got carved up by rookie quarterback Kyler Murray last week for 349 passing yards. Fantasy owners can hope that Watkins will fulfill his WR1 potential in Week 3.
Chicago Bears WR Cordarrelle Patterson has a fan in Bears head coach Matt Nagy, who is trying to find the best way to utilize Patterson's speed and play-making ability on offense. 'Now what he's morphed into as a player throughout his (NFL) career, it's pretty unique,' Nagy said. 'As a play-caller it allowed you to be flexible with what you can do. You saw (against the Broncos) we were able to get him on the edge. He's a big dude that's flying around there with a lot of speed.'
Fantasy Spin: Courtesy of a big 46-yard run in Week 2, Patterson only has 51 yards on four touches, including a 3-yard reception, this season, meaning he's most likely to play the role of fantasy vulture -- as he did a season ago in New England -- stealing valuable touches and points from the rest of the Bears' already fringe fantasy cast.
Kansas City Chiefs running back LeSean McCoy should be looking at a heavier workload for Sunday's Week 3 contest versus the Baltimore Ravens. Lead back Damien Williams (knee) has already been ruled out for this one. McCoy has been battling an ankle issue, so the Chiefs will be cautious about that. Darwin Thompson is going to see some snaps as well, so McCoy isn't overloaded. McCoy is a low-end RB2 for Week 3, but he could have more upside. It all depends on how McCoy's ankle is feeling on Sunday.