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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
C.J. Anderson Sep 17 6:00pm ET

The Detroit Lions released running back C.J. Anderson on Tuesday and claimed running back Paul Perkins off waivers from the Giants in a corresponding move. If anything, this is good news for Kerryon Johnson, who lost five carries to Anderson, five to rookie Ty Johnson and two to J.D. McKissic in the Week 2 win over the Chargers. It doesn't mean that Detroit won't still include Ty Johnson and McKissic moving forward, though, and Kerryon Johnson will be more of a low-end RB2 on Sunday against a tough Eagles defensive front. Ty Johnson's outlook in dynasty and deep leagues just got a lot better as the No. 2.

From RotoBaller

Jacksonville Jaguars Sep 17 6:00pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue (hamstring) returned to a full practice on Tuesday after being limited on Monday. Jacksonville's best pass rusher should be able to return on Thursday against the Titans after being inactive in the Week 2 loss to the Texans. The Jaguars Defense/special teams is a low-end starting option for this week against a Tennessee unit that mostly runs the ball and rarely puts up a ton of points on the board. It could also be the Jags last game with shutdown cornerback Jalen Ramsey on the roster.

From RotoBaller

Marqise Lee Sep 17 5:43pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars LB D.J. Alexander (hamstring), TE Josh Oliver (hamstring) and CB Josh Robinson (foot) did not practice Tuesday, Sept. 17. WR Chris Conley (hip) and CB A.J. Bouye (hip) participated on a limited basis. WR Marqise Lee (knee), WR D.J. Chark (ankle), S Ronnie Harrison (ankle), DE Yannick Ngakoue (hamstring), OL Cam Robinson (knee) and OL Cedric Ogbuehi (hamstring) were full participants in practice.

From TheHuddle

Tom Brady Sep 17 5:40pm ET

The New England Patriots are placing left tackle Isaiah Wynn (toe) on Injured Reserve on Tuesday, according to a source. He'll miss at least eight weeks after getting injured in Week 2. Marshall Newhouse should take over on the left side. Wynn also missed all of his rookie season with an injury, so he just hasn't been able to stay on the field so far in his career. Right tackle Marcus Cannon is also injured, so New England's offensive line is a cause for concern just two weeks into the season. The Jets don't really have the personnel to exploit it in Week 3, but it's something to watch for quarterback Tom Brady moving forward.

From RotoBaller

Marqise Lee Sep 17 5:40pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee (knee) was a full participant in practice on Tuesday after being limited on Monday. Lee sat out of the Week 2 loss against the Texans, but it looks like he's on track to return on Thursday in a matchup with the Titans. Behind Dede Westbrook, D.J. Chark and Chris Conley with backup rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew at the helm, Lee can be left to the waiver wire in most leagues.

From RotoBaller

DeSean Jackson Sep 17 5:33pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson (groin) is not expected to play in Week 3 versus the Detroit Lions and he may be hard-pressed to go in Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers due to a short turnaround, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero.

Fantasy Spin: With Alshon Jeffery also not looking like he'll play in Week 3, fantasy owners get to look forward to another week (or two) of Nelson Agholor as the Eagles' top receiver. Agholor paid dividends with a 100-yard game in Week 2, and he would be a good bet for 10 or more targets against this week if Pelissero's information is correct. Owners should not hesitate using him as a WR3 this week.

From TheHuddle

Wesley Woodyard Sep 17 5:33pm ET

Tennessee Titans RB David Fluellen (hamstring), CB Christopher Milton (shoulder), OL Kevin Pamphile (knee) and LB Wesley Woodyard (quad) did not practice Tuesday, Sept. 17. LB Daren Bates (groin), CB Malcolm Butler (hip), QB Marcus Mariota (quad), WR A.J. Brown (knee), DB Dane Cruikshank (ankle), OL Jamil Douglas (knee) and LB Reggie Gilbert (knee) fully participated in practice.

From TheHuddle

DeSean Jackson Sep 17 5:30pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (groin) isn't expected to play in Week 3 against the Lions, and a quick turnaround on Thursday night against the Packers in Week 4 could make it tough as well. Jackson was injured early in Week 2 on Sunday night and never returned. You should prepare to be without him for the next two games. Alshon Jeffery is also expected to miss Week 3 and possibly longer, so Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside would be in on three-receiver sets. Agholor was second on the team behind Zach Ertz with 11 targets on Sunday, catching eight passes for 107 yards and a score. He played 96% of the snaps compared to Arcega-Whiteside's 93% and Hollins' 85%. Agholor has flex upside as the expected top wideout against the Lions this weekend, while Ertz should be fed heavily as well. Arcega-Whiteside is a waiver wire target in deeper leagues. Losing his top two receivers will hurt quarterback Carson Wentz's upside for however long Jeffery and Jackson are out.

From RotoBaller

Bruce Arians Sep 17 5:30pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians didn't seem too worried about tight end O.J. Howard after he didn't see any targets in the passing game last Thursday. "The balls will come. We don't dictate who gets the ball, the defense does, so sometimes it will spread around for different people every week," Arians said. The good news is that Howard played the third highest snap percentage (92%) behind Jameis Winston and Chris Godwin in Week 2. The concerning part for fantasy owners is that Howard has just five targets in two games, which is the same amount as backup Cameron Brate, and Brate has one more catch. The Giants are allowing the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends (10.0) per game this year, making Howard a bounce-back candidate as a TE1 this weekend. If he doesn't get going this Sunday, it's time to panic.

From RotoBaller

Drew Brees Sep 17 5:10pm ET

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (thumb) has decided to undergo surgery in Los Angeles on Wednesday after having his injured hand examined by two specialists. A timetable for his return won't be known until after the surgery is done, according to a source. Brees will be out at least six weeks, so you'll need to keep him stashed on your bench until he can return later this year. With the future Hall of Famer on the shelf, all of the Saints passing weapons need to be downgraded. Teddy Bridgewater will take over and will be in play in two-QB leagues, although he'll be a low-end QB2 in Week 3 on the road against the Seahawks.

From RotoBaller

Antonio Brown Sep 17 4:40pm ET

The NFL met with New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown's accuser on Monday for 10 hours in their investigation into sexual-assault allegations, according to a source. However, the matter looks to be a long way from being resolved, and two sources said the league hasn't scheduled a follow-up interview with Brown. It might take several weeks until the league has any updates on the investigation, which means Brown is unlikely to go on the commissioner's exempt list until then. As of now, the receiver is eligible to play in Week 3 against the Jets, where he'll be on the WR1/2 borderline. Brown's presence in the offense takes upside away from Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and James White in the passing game.

From RotoBaller

Willie Henry Sep 17 2:53pm ET

Free-agent WRs Anthony Ratliff-Williams, Quincy Adeboyejo and DaMarkus Lodge, LB Jawuan Johnson, DT Justin Hamilton, OT Paul Adams, DE Willie Henry, S Josh Jones and CB Deante Burton worked out with the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

From TheHuddle

Jacksonville Jaguars Sep 17 2:40pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator Todd Wash said that he expects cornerback Jalen Ramsey to play on Thursday night against the Titans. Ramsey's agent requested a trade on Monday night, and multiple teams are believed to have already made offers for the shutdown cornerback. Against a sluggish offense with a quarterback that very rarely beats defenses through the air, Jacksonville's defense/special teams is a low-end starting unit in Week 3. Ramsey is likely to cover Titans receiver Corey Davis throughout the game, making him a wideout to fade in DFS and season-long leagues.

From RotoBaller

Trevor Siemian Sep 17 2:30pm ET

New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian (ankle) will miss the rest of the season after an MRI exam on Tuesday on his left ankle revealed ligament damage that will require surgery, according to head coach Adam Gase. Siemian, starting in place of the sick Sam Darnold on Monday night against the Browns, was injured early in the second quarter when Myles Garrett fell on top of him with most of his weight. He was on crutches and in a walking boot after the game and will be placed on season-ending Injured Reserve. Third-stringer Luke Falk will start for however long Darnold is out. He'll be a bottom-barrel QB2 in Week 3 on the road against the Patriots.

From RotoBaller

Demaryius Thomas Sep 17 2:30pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) is listed as week-to-week after suffering a new injury in his Jets debut on Monday night against the Browns. Thomas caught only one pass before his injury on Monday for negative yards. It sounds like he won't be active in Week 3 against the Patriots, and he's not an attractive fantasy option with third-string quarterback Luke Falk now under center for the foreseeable future. When healthy, Thomas is the third receiver, at best, behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder. No player other than running back Le'Veon Bell has much upside in this offense until Sam Darnold (illness) returns.

From RotoBaller

Marcus Mariota Sep 17 2:30pm ET

Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said that quarterback Marcus Mariota (quadriceps) will practice in full on Tuesday. On a short week going up a very respectable defense, Mariota is a last-gasp QB2 in two-QB leagues on Thursday night. Tennessee's offense remains a slow-paced, run-first unit and Mariota just is way too inconsistent with the passing work that he does get. He's attempted less than 30 passes in each of the first two games of the season.

From RotoBaller

San Francisco 49ers Sep 17 2:00pm ET

NBC Sports Bay Areas Brian Witt believes the San Francisco 49ers should do whatever it takes to pursue Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey. The Pro Bowl corner requested a trade on Monday and the Niners could be a great fit. With veteran cornerback Richard Sherman locking down one side, the addition of Ramsey would be a significant upgrade to the inconsistent Akhello Witherspoon or oft-injured Jason Verrett. The Jaguars are asking for at least a first-round pick and the Niners are already without their 2020 second-round selection, but Ramsey is just 24 and a proven NFL asset. With Ramsey and the emergence of rookie defensive end Nick Bosa, the 49ers would instantly vault into a fantasy-caliber defense. Even with defensive end Dee Ford (quad) banged up, the Niners may be a worthy streamer at home in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with or without Ramsey.

From RotoBaller

Raheem Mostert Sep 17 1:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley (leg) suffered a broken left fibula in Week 2. Hes expected to miss six to eight weeks. The 35-year-old Staley is a lynchpin for the Niners strong offensive line and his absence could impair the teams running game, which annihilated the Cincinnati Bengals for 259 rushing yards last Sunday. Sixth-round rookie Justin Skule is expected to receive the start at left tackle in Week 3 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While Staleys injury impact may be far-reaching, running backs Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert still make for appealing RB2 and RB3/flex plays, respectively.

From RotoBaller

Kaden Smith Sep 17 1:40pm ET

The New York Giants claimed rookie tight end Kaden Smith on Monday. Smith was waived by the San Francisco 49ers over the weekend to make room for running back Jeffery Wilson on the 53-man squad. The 2019 sixth-round pick was buried on the depth chart behind George Kittle, Ross Dwelley and Levine Toilolo in San Francisco and could immediately benefit on the talent-barren G-Men. The lost draft equity is costly for the Niners, but Smith was thoroughly outplayed during the preseason. Drafted out of Stanford, the catch-first tight end likely has significant strides to make before hes fantasy-relevant.

From RotoBaller

Trevor Siemian Sep 17 1:33pm ET

Updating previous reports, New York Jets QB Trevor Siemian (ankle) is out for the season.

Fantasy Spin: No surprise here, and Luke Falk becomes the de facto starter unless they make a trade. Avoid the situation entirely in fantasy.

From TheHuddle