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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Waiver Wire Adds: Week 3
The Seattle Seahawks are placing wide receiver Phillip Dorsett II (foot) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, according to a source. Dorsett will be eligible to return in three weeks, and it'll give him some time to let his injured foot heal. The earliest he'll be able to return will be in Week 6. He hasn't played yet in 2020. Dorsett's injury has opened the door for David Moore as the No. 3 behind wideouts DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Moore took advantage in the Week 2 win over the Patriots, catching all three of his targets for 48 yards and his first touchdown of the year. However, he's still a reach in deep leagues, as he's competing with rookie Freddie Swain and has only six targets through two games.
San Francisco 49ers DE Dee Ford (back) is expected to miss Week 3 against the New York Giants, and there appears to be no clear timetable for his return, according to multiple sources.
If all goes well with COVID-19 testing, the New York Giants will sign free-agent running back Devonta Freeman, according to sources. Freeman visited with the Eagles a few days ago, but it's looking like he'll land with the Giants after they lost Saquon Barkley (knee) for the season. The veteran back has 43 scrimmage touchdowns since 2014, which is tied for 11th in the NFL in that span. Freeman should eventually become the team's lead back, but it remains to be seen how long before that'll happen. Until then, Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman will split touches, making this a tough backfield to get behind until Freeman gets up to speed. For those hurting at running back early in the season, Freeman will be an attractive waiver pickup heading into Week 3.
Free-agent RB Devonta Freeman (Falcons) reportedly agreed to terms on an undisclosed contract with the New York Giants on Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Fantasy Spin: Freeman is reportedly waiting to get through COVID-19 protocols, but it appears the deal will happen if everything checks out OK. If the deal comes together as expected, the former Atlanta Falcon can't be expected to do much in Week 3 but should be expected to lead this backfield at some point early in October. Unfortunately, he graded out as one of the worst running backs analytically last season, so it's debatable what he might be able to offer fantasy owners. Consider him a low-end flex option at best.
Atlanta Falcons QB Kyle Lauletta was released from the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 22.
New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee Tuesday, Sept. 22. CB Ryan Lewis was elevated from the practice squad to take Barkley's spot on the roster.
The Indianapolis Colts placed wide receiver Parris Campbell (knee) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday with injuries to his MCL and PCL. The team also put safety Malik Hooker (Achilles) on IR, and he'll miss the entire season. The Colts are saying that Campbell will be out indefinitely, but he'll be eligible to return from the IR in three weeks. Without a timetable for a return, the 23-year-old can be dropped in shallow formats if you don't have the room to stash him. Rookie Michael Pittman Jr. and Zach Pascal will see more targets alongside T.Y. Hilton with Campbell out, but this Colts team could be transitioning to more of a run-first offense behind their stellar offensive line.
Indianapolis Colts WR Parris Campbell (knee) and S Malik Hooker (Achilles) were placed on the Reserve/Injured list Tuesday, Sept. 22. The Colts also elevated S Ibraheim Campbell and CB Tremon Smith from the practice squad and added free-agent TEs Hale Hentges and Ethan Wolf to the practice squad.
Los Angeles Rams running back Malcolm Brown (pinkie) had surgery on Monday to repair the fractured left pinkie finger that he suffered in the Week 2 win over the Eagles. The Rams expect Brown to play in Week 3 against the Bills, however. Just as we expected, this Rams backfield has been tough to figure out through two weeks of the season. Brown had 18 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 1 win over Dallas, but he came back to Earth against Philly, carrying the ball 11 times for 47 yards and didn't catch a pass. To make things worse, both Brown and rookie Cam Akers (rib) are injured heading into a tough Week 3 matchup with the Bills. Darrell Henderson Jr. could see more of a lead-back role this Sunday as a result, making Brown more of a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III had a quiet Monday night in the win against the Saints, catching just one pass for four yards on three targets. Tight end Darren Waller saw nearly half the targets among the team's pass-catchers, so there were not many to go around for the rest of the offensive weapons. Combining this with 35 rushes did not give Ruggs a whole lot of opportunity to catch passes. Ruggs also saw a lot of attention from the Saints secondary due to his speed and explosiveness. Things will not get easier next week against the Patriots, where Ruggs will likely see a lot of attention from star cornerback Stephon Gilmore. It is unlikely that Ruggs will only catch one pass again next week, but don't expect him to have a great performance either.
Detroit Lions RB Jonathan Williams was released from the practice squad Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller was dominant against the Saints, catching 12 balls for 103 yards and a touchdown on a whopping 16 targets. The Saints had absolutely no answer for Waller. He is too big and strong for safeties and cornerbacks and too fast for linebackers, so he is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. He is clearly quarterbackDerek Carr's favorite offensive weapon, leading the team in targets by a significant margin. He will match up against the Patriots next week, a team that has found success against opposing tight ends thus far, but they have not faced an elite tight end like Waller to this point. Look for Waller to have another strong performance next week. He's a must-start high-end TE1 each and every week.
Los Angeles Rams rookie running back Cam Akers (rib) is being listed as day-to-day after separating rib cartilage in the Week 2 win over the Eagles. Akers had just three carries for 13 yards before suffering the injury last Sunday, but he should be OK going forward. However, the Rams are uncertain on Akers' status for this weekend at the Bills, which is already a very tough matchup to begin with. Malcolm Brown (pinkie) is ailing, too, but LA also has Darrell Henderson Jr. in the picture, so Akers will once again be an extremely risky flex option in shallow leagues for Week 3. After two weeks, this Rams backfield has been extremely tough to predict, as was expected coming into the year.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had an impressive performance against the Saints, throwing for 282 yards and three touchdowns in a Monday night victory. Carr showed his efficiency once again, completing 73 percent of his passes and not throwing an interception. The Saints have a solid defense, so this was an encouraging performance from Carr. After a difficult first quarter, the Raiders were great on third down, and the Saints had no answer for the passing attack. Carr has led the Raiders offense to 34 points per game over the first two contests, but it will not be easy to keep this pace next week against the Patriots. Carr will need to have a couple more of these performances to start being considered as a legitimate fantasy starter.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs picked up 88 yards on 27 carries in a win against the Saints. The Saints have one of the best defenses in the league, so yards did not come easy for Jacobs. It was not the best fantasy day, considering he was not heavily utilized in the passing game, catching just three balls for 17 yards. However, he showed that he can still put up a significant amount of yards against stout run defenses, gaining over 40 yards after contact. He will look to build on this performance next week against the Patriots, who surrendered 115 rushing yards to running backs against the Seahawks in Week 2. Jacobs should remain a starter in fantasy lineups no matter who he matches up against.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski received four targets in the first two games, which head coach Bruce Arians said wasn't a surprise. 'We're not throwing the ball 50 times to the tight ends,' Arians said. 'That's what we have receivers for, that's the way our offense is built. Gronk's playing great run blocking in the fourth quarter, so I'm not concerned with his pass catches or his targets.'
Fantasy Spin: Gronk certainly could break out any given week, but if you need to drop him to replace an injured starter, we could certainly see it.
The Denver Broncos signed free agent quarterback Blake Bortles to a one-year deal on Tuesday morning. The former Jaguars signal-caller will officially sign once he passes his COVID protocols and will serve as some much-needed depth in the absence of Drew Lock (shoulder). Bortles owns an 80.6 career passer rating in 73 starts along with 103 touchdowns to 75 interceptions. Backup Jeff Driskel looked good in relief of Lock on Sunday and should remain the starter for the near future, though if he falters, Bortles could step in as a serviceable backup.
Free-agent QB Blake Bortles (Rams) is signing a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos this week. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
Free-agent QB Blake Bortles (Rams) is visiting the Denver Broncos Tuesday, Sept. 22.
Las Vegas Raiders TE Jason Witten posted one grab for three yards on his only target in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.
Fantasy Spin: Witten won't sniff the field for many snaps as long as Darren Waller is healthy and running hot. He is more of an on-field coach and mentor at this point of his career. His fantasy value is rather negligible at the moment. The Raiders travel to meet the Patriots in Week 3.