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Training Camp Preview: NFC West

Tue Jul 30 1:21am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Gurley's knee is a concern


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 made it all the way to the Super Bowl but came up just short in the big game. The team has some question marks heading into this year, though, most notably the health of star running back Todd Gurley. This should be the story of camp, seeing if Gurley can regain his old form. 

Position battle: The Rams tight end position continues to be up in the air. Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee look to grab the starting job, which has been the case the last few seasons. Both guys normally just end up splitting work. But for now, there could be a player that emerges and gets more playing time. Everett is the favorite to land more playing time but nothing is certain with the tight end spot in Los Angeles. 

Injury watch: This is not a surprise but Todd Gurley is the big injury situation to watch this training camp for the Rams. Gurley was slowed late last year because of a knee injury, a knee that has been surgically repaired. Gurley is a big question mark coming into the season. You just aren’t sure how his knee is going to respond and if he will be at full strength. He might be the biggest fantasy question mark going into the year. You will want to watch his progress closely. 

Cardinals

The Cardinals used the first overall pick on quarterback Kyler Murray. He should be the story of training camp, seeing their face of the franchise in action for the first time. His development is likely the key to the season. Arizona needs Murray to get up to speed in a hurry if the team hopes to have any sort of turnaround this year. 

Position battle: The Cardinals are another team with their starting tight end job up for grabs. Ricky Seals-Jones and Charles Clay will battle it out for the right to start. Seals-Jones had a mixed first season as starter in Arizona. He showed potential but was hit or miss. Clay is a veteran with a lot of starting experience, but you have to wonder how much he has left in the tank. This is likely Seals-Jones’ job to lose. 

Injury watch: Arizona took a chance on receiver Kevin White, who has done little since entering the league. His big issue has been staying healthy. He has played 14 games in three seasons. White has a lot of talent and is a former top-10 pick. He will be given every chance to win a roster spot, but will need to prove he can stay healthy and perform at the level that made him such a high draft pick. 

49ers

The 49ers had injury issues again last year, which marred their season. The big issue for the team is keeping starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on the field. He has played all of nine games since being acquired by the team. So the key to the season for the 49ers might be the health of Garoppolo. They need their franchise quarterback on the field if they hope to have success in 2019. 

Position battle: San Francisco has quite the mess at running back with three viable starters on their roster. Any of these guys could start and have success. Tevin Coleman, Jerrick McKinnon and Matt Breida are the three backs vying for playing time. Coleman seems the best fit to be the lead back because he knows the offense and has three-down ability, but he won’t be handed anything. He will have to hold off the other talented backs to start. This could just end up being a rotating back situation, which could be a nightmare for fantasy teams. 

Injury watch: Starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL last year, playing in just three games. He has recovered pretty well from the injury, though, and expects to be ready for the start of training camp. He should be a full go for Week 1 of the season, but you will want to make sure all is well by keeping an eye on him in camp and preseason action. Needless to say, this is a tough injury to return from, so nothing is ever certain. 

Seahawks

The Seahawks made the playoffs last year but came up short in the postseason. This team has plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, though. The coaching staff remains intact as well as most of their key players. The defense has seen some turnover in recent seasons, though, with a few mainstays moving on. So the big thing to watch this camp might be the defensive side of the ball to see if any of the younger players emerge to become the next mainstay on that side of the ball for the Seahawks. This team has produced some great players defensively in recent seasons. 

Position battle: Running back Chris Carson was a surprise last year, emerging as the lead back for the Seahawks and having a ton of success in that role. He had his first 1,000-yard season as a pro and was the workhorse back for the team. Rashaad Penny took a backseat to Carson most weeks because of nagging injuries but will get a chance to earn a bigger role this year. The Seahawks are very high on Penny and expect big things from him going forward. He will challenge Carson for the right to start in Seattle. We would not discount Penny because of Carson’s big season last year.

Injury watch: The aforementioned Chris Carson had minor knee surgery this offseason. He missed some offseason workouts. The surgery is not supposed to be an issue going forward but any surgery on the knee is something to monitor. Carson should be fine for the start of camp but keep watch of his training camp work to make sure there isn’t some sort of setback. He is trying to win the starting job, so any issue could impact that position battle. 

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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Odell Beckham Jr. Sep 16 10:33pm ET

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (undisclosed) returned for the second half of the Week 2 game against the New York Jets. He jogged off with an apparent lower leg injury near the end of the second quarter.

From TheHuddle

Minkah Fitzpatrick Sep 16 10:30pm ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers are acquiring defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Fitzpatrick requested a trade late last week and it was reported that the Dolphins wanted a first round pick for the 11th overall selection in the 2018 draft. As a rookie, he totaled 80 tackles, two interceptions, and nine passes defended. The 22-year-old can play safety and slot corner, but the Steelers Defense could use help at both spots so it will be interesting to see how they utilize him. Pittsburgh has a Week 3 matchup with San Francisco, but it's not advisable to stream them in a road matchup.

From RotoBaller

Demaryius Thomas Sep 16 10:23pm ET

New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) aggravated his hamstring injury in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns and he will not return.

Fantasy Spin: Thomas is clearly not 100 percent, was rushed into action and he is now hurt. Avoid him in all fantasy leagues until he can return to health, get familiar with the playbook and show a little consistency.

From TheHuddle

Odell Beckham Jr. Sep 16 9:53pm ET

Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (lower leg) suffered an apparent lower leg injury late in the second quarter after landing awkwardly in the end zone in Week 2 against the New York Jets. He attempted to get up, couldn't walk, and went back down to his backside. He then jogged off to meet with the training staff before trotting to the locker room right before halftime.

Fantasy Spin: Beckham looked to be in obvious discomfort initially, but he ran rather briskly into the locker room on third and long, suggesting he might be OK to begin the second half. We'll keep an eye on it.

From TheHuddle

David Njoku Sep 16 9:33pm ET

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (concussion) suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the Week 2 game against the New York Jets and he will not return.

Fantasy Spin: Njoku was upended on a pass play and landed awkwardly after having his legs taken out, hitting his head on the field turf surface. Demetrius Harris, Ricky Seal-Jones and Pharaoh Brown are the next men up at the position, with Harris likely to see the most targets.

From TheHuddle

Trevor Siemian Sep 16 9:30pm ET

New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian (ankle) suffered what looked to be a serious ankle injury in the second quarter on Monday night against the Browns. Siemian was hit hard and got his ankle caught underneath him while being taken to the turf. Somehow he was able to walk off the field under his own power and is being taken to the locker room. We'd be surprised if he were able to come back into this game. Third-stringer Luke Falk is now in the game. The Jets haven't been able to get any offense going and are leaning heavily on running back Le'Veon Bell. Siemian was an embarrassing 3-for-6 for three yards before he departed.

From RotoBaller

Trevor Siemian Sep 16 9:23pm ET

New York Jets QB Trevor Siemian (leg) was hit in the second quarter of the Week 2 game against the Cleveland Browns and it appeared he suffered a lower leg injury. The telecast immediately cut away after the replay which showed the gruesome injury.

Fantasy Spin: Siemian was started in place of Sam Darnold (mononucleosis), and he didn't even last until halftime. The Jets will now turn to Luke Falk, the sixth-round pick of the Tennessee Titans in 2018, takes over under center. Siemian was able to walk off gingerly to the locker room with the help of the training staff.

From TheHuddle

David Njoku Sep 16 9:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (concussion) suffered a concussion in the first half on Monday night against the Jets and will not return. Njoku was targeted just once on the play that resulted in his injury in which he went up in the air to receive the ball and was upended. The tight end came down hard on his head and neck and was taken to the locker room for evaluation. With Njoku out the rest of the way, Demetrius Harris and Ricky Seals-Jones should share repetitions. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are in for more targets in the second half.

From RotoBaller

Jordan Jenkins Sep 16 9:03pm ET

New York Jets LB Jordan Jenkins (calf) suffered a calf injury during the Week 2 game and is considered doubtful to return.

From TheHuddle

David Njoku Sep 16 9:03pm ET

Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (head) left the Week 2 game early and is being evaluated for a concussion.

Fantasy Spin: Njoku will need to be medically cleared before he can play again, so he may not return to the game. He can be considered a low-end No. 1 tight end when he is healthy.

From TheHuddle

Minkah Fitzpatrick Sep 16 9:00pm ET

The Miami Dolphins are likely to trade defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick by Tuesday, and the team is expected to receive a first-round pick in exchange for him. The Redskins, Cowboys, Chiefs, Steelers, Eagles and Seahawks are the teams in the mix to acquire Fitzpatrick and offers are being made. In full-on rebuilding mode, the Dolphins are trading all of their best players. The 11th overall pick last year, Fitzpatrick has been unhappy with his role moving all around Miami's defense to start the year, which aided in him asking to be dealt. Miami's defense is likely to be gashed by opponents all season long, and the Cowboys are next up in Week 3 in Dallas.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Higbee Sep 16 8:50pm ET

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay said that tight end Tyler Higbee (lung) suffered a lung contusion in Week 2 against the Saints and will be day-to-day. Higbee was coughing up blood and was sent to the hospital as a precaution, but this looks like an injury that luckily may not even cause him to miss any games. The 26-year-old caught two of his three targets for 21 yards before leaving on Sunday. If he plays on Sunday night against the Browns, he'll be a low-end, touchdown-dependent TE2. Gerald Everett would be a desperation TE2 if Higbee sits out.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Higbee Sep 16 8:43pm ET

Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (lung) and C Austin Blythe (ankle) are considered day-to-day after suffering injuries in Week 2.

From TheHuddle

Drew Brees Sep 16 8:23pm ET

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees (thumb) said he is scheduled to meet with a specialist Tuesday, Sept. 17, and will make a decision in the near future.

Fantasy Spin: Brees is expected to miss at least six weeks because of the thumb injury, but fantasy players may want to wait for an official timetable for making any decisions. Teddy Bridgewater will take over the starting job while Brees is sidelined but may only be a No. 2 fantasy quarterback.

From TheHuddle

Amara Darboh Sep 16 8:23pm ET

Free-agent WR Amara Darboh was signed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad Monday, Sept. 16. The team also released WR Emanuel Hall from their practice squad.

From TheHuddle

David Johnson Sep 16 8:23pm ET

Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson (wrist) will be available to play in the Week 3 game despite the wrist injury he suffered in Week 2, according to head coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Fantasy Spin: Johnson was held to only 14 total yards in the Week 2 game but should be more involved in the offense this week. Fantasy players in all leagues should have Johnson in their starting lineups.

From TheHuddle

Sep 16 8:03pm ET

Atlanta Falcons DT Ra'Shede Hageman (undisclosed) was waived/injured Monday, Sept. 16.

From TheHuddle

Dee Ford Sep 16 8:00pm ET

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (knee) is "still hurting today," according to head coach Kyle Shanahan. Ford has been playing through tendinitis since the preseason. It's the reason why he's had his snaps limited through two weeks, but he's been effective while on the field and has one sack and a forced fumble. The Niners defense has looked much better through two weeks but hasn't been tested much by the Bucs and Bengals. For them to continue their production all year, they'll definitely need a healthy Ford and second overall pick Nick Bosa rushing the passer.

From RotoBaller

Sterling Shepard Sep 16 7:53pm ET

New York Giants WR Sterling Shepard (concussion) is still going through the concussion protocol but has been cleared to practice in a non-contact jersey.

Fantasy Spin: Shepard needs to be cleared by doctors before he is allowed to play, so fantasy players should monitor his practice participation this week. He is the team's top receiver when he is healthy but may only be a No. 3 fantasy receiver or flex option when he returns.

From TheHuddle

Ben Roethlisberger Sep 16 7:53pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Sept. 16. The team also signed practice squad QB Devlin Hodges to their 53-man roster.

From TheHuddle