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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
Lamar Jackson Sep 19 9:10pm ET

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was impressive during the season-opener against the Browns and will look to keep that momentum going into Week 2 against Houston. The Texans Defense didn't impress against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs during the Thursday night matchup, allowing the former MVP to compile three touchdown tosses. Heading into Sunday, Jackson has all the tools needed to make some noise for fantasy owners. The third-year signal-caller threw for 222 yards and four touchdowns on nearly 71 percent passing against the Texans in Week 11 of 2019. He also added 10 carries for 79 yards. While Jackson's previous success against Houston doesn't mean another stellar outing is on tap, his ceiling is higher than usual on Sunday.

From RotoBaller

Henry Ruggs III Sep 19 8:00pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (knee) is listed as questionable for Monday night's game against the Saints. Ruggs III didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday before getting in a limited session on Friday. The rookie is at least trending in the right direction and probably has a good shot to suit up, especially considering he was on the practice field Saturday. The matchup against the Saints isn't great, as they were stingy against the Buccaneers' wideouts in Week 1. Consider Ruggs III a risky WR3/4 if he plays.

From RotoBaller

Josh Adams Sep 19 7:50pm ET

New York Jets running back Josh Adams was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday ahead of the team's Week 2 matchup with the 49ers. With Le'Veon Bell (hamstring) on Injured Reserve, the Jets are bringing up Adams for some depth. Frank Gore will see most of the carries, with the leftovers going to fellow backs La'Mical Perine (ankle) and newly acquired Kalen Ballage. Adams did score a garbage time touchdown in Week 1, though his role is far too unpredictable to count on for any production. This backfield is one of the more unappealing ones in fantasy football at the moment.

From RotoBaller

Tarik Cohen Sep 19 7:40pm ET

Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen is working on a contract extension with the team. The talks have progressed well and the two sides were pushing to get the deal done in advance of Week 2, though it may have to wait until after Chicago's game against the Giants on Sunday. The dynamic halfback has averaged 4.2 yards per carry on 257 career attempts and has exceeded 300 receiving yards in each of his three seasons in the league. The Bears are clearly viewing him as an important part of their future, which is music to the ears of fantasy managers. Stay tuned for details on any potential contract signing.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Tannehill Sep 19 7:30pm ET

Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill gets a favorable matchup against the Jaguars in Week 2. Tannehill looked good in his opening game of 2020, completing 29 of 43 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Denver Broncos. Now he'll square off with a Jacksonville defense that surrendered 363 passing yards to Philip Rivers. Tannehill is certainly skilled enough to dissect the Jaguars' defense, though he may take a backseat to Derrick Henry in this one. The veteran could be a good streaming option this week, but his upside is capped because Tennessee may not need to rely on his arm to win this week.

From RotoBaller

Michael Thomas Sep 19 4:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) has been ruled out for Monday night's game against the Las Vegas Raiders. There was a "glimmer of hope" that Thomas would be able to suit up a week after suffering a high-ankle sprain, though that was probably false hope at best. This is ideal for fantasy managers because now they can pivot to options on their bench from Sunday's slate of games. Fellow wideout Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Jared Cook should see a larger share of targets while Tre'Quan Smith has some appeal as a sleeper against the Raiders' suspect secondary.

From RotoBaller

Pittsburgh Steelers Sep 19 4:10pm ET

The Pittsburgh Steelers Defense was excellent in their season-opening road win over the New York Giants in Week 1. They will travel back home to take on the Denver Broncos in a plus matchup in Week 2. Denver's offense was generous to fantasy defenses last season and might be without top wide receiver Courtland Sutton (shoulder) this weekend. Even if Sutton does play, he is expected to be limited by a shoulder injury. Pittsburgh is installed as seven-point home favorites, indicating what should be a favorable game script for their defense against Drew Lock and the Denver offense. Fantasy gamers will want to fire up the Pittsburgh defense in all formats for Week 2.

From RotoBaller

Eric Ebron Sep 19 4:00pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron had a disappointing debut with his new team, catching just one of two targets for 18 yards in a Week 1 win over the New York Giants. Ebron will hope for a larger role in the offense when he takes on the Denver Broncos at home in Week 2. While Denver allowed Jonnu Smith to find the end zone in Week 1, Ebron is best left on fantasy benches until he proves that he is going to be a trustworthy part of the passing attack. Treat him as a mid-range TE2 in Week 2.

From RotoBaller

Chris Godwin Sep 19 3:40pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin (head) has been ruled out for Sunday's Week 2 matchup against the Carolina Panthers. Godwin was trending in the wrong direction after entering the concussion protocol late in the week on Wednesday, so this news doesn't come as too much of a surprise. Fellow wideout Mike Evans is in a smash spot and needs to be started in all formats while Scotty Miller should also see more targets. The tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard could see more usage, though Evans and Miller are the main beneficiaries here.

From RotoBaller

Diontae Johnson Sep 19 3:20pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson is coming off a Week 1 win which saw him lead his team with 10 targets. The second-year wideout will look to build upon that performance in Week 2 against the Denver Broncos. Johnson has been dealing with a toe injury for the past couple of weeks but he was able to practice fully on Friday ahead of his Week 2 tilt. The Broncos coughed up a 100-yard receiving game to Corey Davis in Week 1 and placed top cornerback A.J. Bouye on injured reserve earlier in the week. Fantasy gamers can trust Johnson as a rock-solid WR3 in Week 2.

From RotoBaller

Benny Snell Jr. Sep 19 3:10pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. burst on the scene with 19 carries for 113 yards in a Week 1 win over the New York Giants. Snell saw extra work after starter James Conner went down with an ankle injury. He was a popular waiver add earlier in the week while Conner's status for Week 2's matchup against the Denver Broncos was still unknown. Conner returned to full practice on Friday and is without an injury designation for this weekend, casting some uncertainty on the Pittsburgh running back situation. Fantasy gamers who were planning on starting Snell should consider the possibility that Conner takes the majority of the running back touches in Week 2, leaving Snell as a shaky flex at best.

From RotoBaller

Jacksonville Jaguars Sep 19 2:10pm ET

Tennessee Titans star running back Derrick Henry will face a Jaguars Defense against which he accumulated 203 rushing yards and three rushing scores in two matchups last season. That Jaguars have allowed an average of 31.4 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the past eight games. This forecast seems to bode quite well for Henry who should once again see a large volume of carries. He's undoubtedly a high-end RB1 in all formats heading into week two.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Brown Sep 19 2:00pm ET

Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith gets a plus matchup this week against a Jaguars Defense that allowed 363 yards through the air in week one. A.J. Brown (knee) is set to miss multiple weeks so the Titans will look upon Smith and Corey Davis more frequently. Smith hauled in four of seven targets for 36 yards and a touchdown during week one's 16-14 win against Denver. He's likely to see an uptick in targets and should be viewed as a high-end TE2 in week two against Jacksonville.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Brown Sep 19 1:50pm ET

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis (hamstring) who was listed as limited on Thursday, practiced full on Friday. He looks ready to go Sunday and should be in line for more targets with fellow receiver A.J. Brown (knee) ruled out. Davis will look to build upon the momentum from week one in which he hauled in seven of eight targets for 101 yards. The receiver is entering his fourth NFL season having yet to emerge as a go-to target after being drafted with the fifth overall pick of the 2017 draft. He should produce numbers worthy of a flex start in all league formats against the Jaguars Defense who gave up 363 yards through the air in week one. He could see double digit targets from Ryan Tannehill.

From RotoBaller

Sterling Shepard Sep 19 1:10pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Sheppard was a big part of the Giants offense in Week 1 and will look to carry that momentum into a road game vs the Bears. Shepard caught all six of his targets for 47 yards as he was the primary short-area target for Daniel Jones. If Golden Tate (hamstring) suits up that could cut into Shepard's target share, but he is still a solid WR3/flex play for fantasy managers, especially in PPR. Shepard would get a big boost in his fantasy appeal if Tate sits.

From RotoBaller

Darius Slayton Sep 19 1:00pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton had a huge game in Week 1 going for 100-plus yards and two touchdowns on six catches. Slayton tied with Saquon Barkley for the team lead with nine targets and will look to stay hot in a favorable matchup with the Bears in Week 2. Slayton had a nose for the end zone last season with eight scores on just 48 catches and, while that touchdown rate is unsustainable, he clearly has the trust of QB Daniel Jones in the red zone. Slayton is a startable WR3 in fantasy this week.

From RotoBaller

New York Giants Sep 19 12:50pm ET

The New York Giants Defense is not a strong unit for fantasy and managers should look elsewhere for a D/ST in Week 2. The Giants had just two sacks in Week 1 and only forced one turnover from a forced fumble. New York was gashed on the ground by Benny Snell Jr last week so expect the Bears to keep the ball on the ground, limiting fantasy-point-opportunities for Big Blue's defense. Fantasy managers streaming D/ST should look elsewhere in Week 2.

From RotoBaller

Daniel Jones Sep 19 12:40pm ET

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones struggled somewhat in Week 1 as he turned the ball over twice, but he also had some encouraging throws and will face an easier matchup in Week 2 at Chicago. The Bears secondary was carved-up by Matthew Stafford last week despite missing his top wide receiver so expect a better output from Jones this week. Jones threw for over 3,000 yards as a rookie with a completion percentage over 60-percent with several weeks as a QB1 in fantasy. He has the talent to put up numbers in this matchup and is a low-end QB1 for Week 2.

From RotoBaller

Evan Engram Sep 19 12:40pm ET

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram was a massive letdown for fantasy managers on Monday night as he caught just two passes for nine yards vs Pittsburgh. He'll have an easier matchup in Week 2 vs the Bears and should still be considered a starting tight end for fantasy. Engram struggled in Week 1 but was still targeted seven times so he has a role in the passing game. If he turns a few of those targets into catches Engram has the athleticism to be a top-5 tight end in fantasy. Start the Giants tight end with confidence Week 2 at the Bears.

From RotoBaller

Saquon Barkley Sep 19 12:30pm ET

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley left fantasy managers out in the cold on Monday night as he ran for just six yards on 15 carries vs a stout Steelers Defense. He'll look to atone for that performance in Week 2 with a much more favorable matchup in Chicago. The Bears allowed the ageless Adrian Peterson to rush for 93 yards on 14 carries (6.6 YPC) last week so there should be more running lanes for Barkley in the Windy City. Barkley did have 6 catches for 60 yards last week so he should be involved in both the passing game and rushing game this week making him a top-RB option in fantasy.

From RotoBaller