Mon Jul 29 10:49am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Newton is a question mark
This is the seventh 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 Falcons didn’t have the season as expected last year, failing to finish above .500. The big issue was the defense, allowing more than 400 points last year. The offense was very good with the passing game excelling. So much of this camp will be focused on getting the defense right. If that happens, the Falcons can make a playoff push.
Position battle: Receiver Calvin Ridley had a solid rookie season but was a little up and down. Mohamed Sanu is the starter opposite Julio Jones right now but could lose that starting spot to Ridley. Sanu has been a productive NFL player but isn’t off the charts by any means. Ridley is the more talented player of the two with more upside for the big things. He should push Sanu for playing time and likely take over as the starter at some point.
Injury watch: Running back Devonta Freeman played just two games last year, needing surgery to fix a groin injury. He is back to full strength and will be back to his lead duties for the Falcons. Atlanta needs him healthy with Tevin Coleman gone. Freeman will be counted on to carry the load a little more, so being healthy is pertinent for the Falcons and Freeman’s fantasy owners.
The Saints don’t have a lot to be decided this training camp. Much of camp could be getting this team primed for a Super Bowl run. There are high expectations for the team after a good showing last year. Drew Brees doesn’t have a whole lot of time left to make another Super Bowl, so this season could be a big one for his legacy.
Position battle: The Saints like to rotate receivers, giving plenty of guys chances during the season. But the starter opposite Michael Thomas still has a little more value than the other guys. Right now, Ted Ginn is the favorite to start but Tre’Quan Smith and a healthy Cameron Meredith could push Ginn for the starting spot. This will be a battle to watch because it has fantasy implications. Smith is an intriguing player that showed his rookie year he is capable of the huge game.
Injury watch: Receiver Ted Ginn played just five games last year because of a knee injury. If he hopes to have a big role this year and keep his starting job, he will need to be healthy and stay healthy. Ginn seems back to his old self during offseason workouts but his age and last year is a concern going forward for him.
The big thing to watch in Panthers camp this year is Cam Newton. How is he going to recover from another surgery to his throwing arm? Newton really is the key to the season for the Panthers. The team needs him healthy and playing at a high level if they hope to have any success this year. The offense really goes through Newton.
Position battle: D.J. Moore is going to start at one of the receiver spots and Curtis Samuel will work out of the slot, but the No. 2 receiver is up in the air. Devin Funchess is gone, leaving a hole at the position. The candidates to start are Jarius Wright, Torrey Smith and Chris Hogan. It really is a wide open battle without a favorite. We’ll know more as camp and the preseason progresses.
Injury watch: Quarterback Cam Newton had major shoulder surgery this offseason. He is throwing but will be on a pitch count in camp. The Panthers will take it slow with their star quarterback. Newton has progressed well from the surgery but seeing how he is throwing the ball will be something fantasy teams should monitor closely. Newton is a real wild card this year after having shoulder surgery once again.
The Bucs made changes to the coaching staff once again, hiring Bruce Arians. He should be a big plus for the offense, including starting quarterback Jameis Winston. So the big focus of camp is likely being the Bucs getting up to speed both offensively and defensively with their new schemes. Hopefully, the offense picks things up quick because it could be pretty potent from a fantasy perspective.
Position battle: The Bucs should have a real battle on their hands for the starting running back spot. Peyton Barber was the starter last year and has a leg up for the job, but second-year back Ronald Jones is looking to rebound from a poor rookie year. A new coaching staff should be a plus for Jones, who had a strong offseason of work. Jones should be given a fair shot to unseat Barber.
Injury watch: Tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout season last year but missed six gams because of an ankle injury. He is yet to play a full season since entering the NFL. He has a chance for another big year but needs to be on the field for that to happen. Howard has not shown he can on the field to date but hopes to change that perception this season. He could be a star.
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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Fantasy Takeaways from Week 2
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.
Las Vegas Raiders WR Nelson Agholor was limited to just one reception for 19 yards on one target in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.
Fantasy Spin: Agholor was mostly invisible, with fellow wideouts Bryan Edwards (two), Hunter Renfrow (three) and Henry Ruggs III (three) each seeing more targets, and Zay Jones scoring the lone touchdown among the group. As such, Agholor has a ways to go before regaining fantasy relevance. The Raiders travel to meet the Patriots in Week 3.
Las Vegas Raiders WR Zay Jones posted a 15-yard touchdown on his only target in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.
Fantasy Spin: Despite the score he isn't someone for fantasy owners to count upon going forward outside of the very, very deepest of leagues. The Raiders travel to meet the Patriots in Week 3.
Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr completed 28-of-38 passes for 282 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.
Fantasy Spin: Carr's favorite target was Darren Waller (12-103-1), and he targeted the tight end 16 times while targeting 10 others players a total of just 18 times. The Raiders travel to meet the New England Patriots in Week 3.
Las Vegas Raiders RB Jalen Richard rushed twice for 26 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown scamper, in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.
Fantasy Spin: It wasn't a great night, and he didn't have any receptions. Two touches, even with a touchdown, won't make him terribly attractive for fantasy owners in most leagues. The Raiders travel to meet the Patriots in Week 3.
New Orleans Saints S Malcolm Jenkins posted seven total stops, a sack, a tackle for loss, a pass defensed and a quarterback hit in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
New Orleans Saints TE Jared Cook posted just two grabs for 13 yards on five targets in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders, but he was able to score a touchdown.
Fantasy Spin: Cook salvaged the line with the touchdown, even if his yardage total was way down. He had five grabs for 80 yards in Week 1, so he has found a way to contribute each game. He remains a decent low-end TE1 in leagues of 12 or more teams heading into Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers.
New Orleans Saints LB Demario Davis registered eight total stops with one tackle for loss and a pass defensed in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
New Orleans Saints CB P.J. Williams posted seven total tackles, including five solo stops, and he added a fumble recovery in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
New Orleans Saints WR Emmanuel Sanders registered just one catch for 18 yards on three targets in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Fantasy Spin: Sanders was very disappointing given the fact Michael Thomas was out due to injury and he figured to have a much larger role. Fantasy owners will want to keep him reserved until he gets more acclimated to his new surroundings and he gets more involved. The Packers visit the Saints in Week 3.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz connected on his only field-goal attempt and made three extra points in the Week 2 loss to the Raiders. Lutz didn't get to try for many field goals considering the Saints offense capitalized with touchdowns when they were in the red zone. As part of a high-octane offense, Lutz remains a weekly starter considering his large role and reliability.
New Orleans Saints WR Ty Montgomery posted two receptions for 25 yards on three targets in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Fantasy Spin: Montgomery is a versatile player who has lined up in the backfield for rushes, as well as as a wideout, during his time with the Green Bay Packers, Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets. However, he has plenty of company at both spots and isn't going to get enough touches to make him fantasy worthy in most leagues.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara had a tremendous performance in the Week 2 loss to the Raiders, getting 13 carries for 79 yards and two touchdowns along with leading the team with nine receptions for 95 yards on nine targets. The absence of Michael Thomas thrust Kamara into a huge role and he put on a great display in both the passing and rushing game. He remains a solid RB1 going forward.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith came through in the Week 2 loss to Las Vegas, getting five receptions for 86 yards on seven targets. With Michael Thomas sidelined, it was only natural to see Smith see some more targets and he delivered with a great performance. He should see some targets as long as Thomas is out, keeping him in the flex tier for the foreseeable future.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders only managed one reception for 18 yards on three targets in the Week 2 loss to the Raiders. It was certainly a disappointing performance for the temporary WR1 of the Saints as Drew Brees even eclipsed 300 passing yards. Sanders will look to get back on track in Week 3 against the Packers, but his value should be downgraded to a flex considering his Week 2 struggles.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook only managed two receptions for 13 yards on five targets in the Week 2 loss to the Raiders. After coming off an 80-yard performance in Week 1, the tight end was certainly disappointing. Nevertheless, with Michael Thomas sidelined, he should still see a decent number of targets and can redeem himself in Week 3. Cook can be explosive, thus keeping him in the TE1 tier going forward.
New Orleans Saints RB Alvin Kamara rushed 13 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns and he also added team highs with nine receptions, 95 yards and nine targets in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Fantasy Spin: Kamara was the apple of Drew Brees' eye with Michael Thomas inactive due to injury. Kamara is off to a monster start for fantasy owners, posting just 95 rushing yards in two games, but he has three rushing scores with 14 receptions, 146 receiving yards and another score through the air. Next up is a home game against the Green Bay Packers on SNF in Week 3.
New Orleans Saints RB Latavius Murray rushed three times for 14 yards and he added two receptions for 19 yards on two targets in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Fantasy Spin: Murray's touches will be limited as long as Alvin Kamara is healthy and going well. He is a solid handcuff for Kamara and only worth starting in the deepest of fantasy leagues heading into Week 3 against the Green Bay Packers.
New Orleans Saints WR Tre'Quan Smith posted five receptions for 86 yards on seven targets in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders, leading all wide receivers in yardage.
Fantasy Spin: Smith stepped up with Michael Thomas sidelined due to injury. In fact, he was the only effective wideout for Drew Brees in this one. If Thomas is sidelined again in Week 3, Smith is worth a look as a WR4 or flex fantasy option on Sunday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees went 26-for-38 and put up 312 yards, one touchdown, and one pick in the loss to the Raiders on Monday. After a hot start, the Saints cooled down and the offense couldn't get going deeper into the game. It was obvious the absence of Michael Thomas was felt, but this was the type of performance that is now expected of Brees, which is generally not explosive in terms of touchdowns. He should remain a low-end QB1 or high QB2 going forward.