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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
D.J. Moore Sep 19 12:00am ET

Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore will look to keep things going on Sunday in Arizona. Moore has been one of the focal points for Carolina this season, currently leading the team in targets (24), receptions (16), and receiving yards (165). Despite the potential start of sophomore quarterback Kyle Allen, who would fill in for Cam Newton (foot) if he is unable to go, Moore will still likely produce. The 22-year-old racked up six receptions (15 targets) for 100 yards with Allen under center in 2018. He should remain a starter in a majority of fantasy leagues even if Newton isn't able to suit up on Sunday against a lousy Cardinals Defense.

From RotoBaller

Christian McCaffrey Sep 18 11:40pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey will surely rebound in Week 3 against the Cardinals. After a dismal performance against the Buccaneers that saw the 23-year-old rush for just 37 yards on 16 attempts, the Panthers will next square off with one of the lousiest defensive teams in the league on Sunday. With the Cardinals allowing a league-worst 30.38 fantasy points per game to opposing backs this season, McCaffrey is a must-start in all fantasy formats in addition to being featured in daily contests. Get him in your lineup.

From RotoBaller

Paul Perkins Sep 18 11:13pm ET

Detroit Lions RB Paul Perkins is learning his new team's playbook this week, and he is excited about the chance and wants to be explosive. 'I'm going to go home and look over some stuff,' he said Wednesday, Sept. 18. 'But the offense seems pretty dope and it seems it can get a lot of guys the ball.'

Fantasy Spin: Initially Perkins is likely to see a bulk of his action on special teams, where he has excelled. He missed the 2018 season due to a pectoral injury. For now, avoid Perkins in all fantasy formats, but stash the name away. He might not be quite done yet, and could re-emerge as a fantasy option if injuries strike in the Motor City.

From TheHuddle

Shaquil Barrett Sep 18 11:13pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DE Shaquil Barrett earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for his three-sack performance in Week 2 against the Carolina Panthers.

From TheHuddle

Taysom Hill Sep 18 10:53pm ET

New Orleans Saints QBs Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill will both play in Week 3 against the Seattle Seahawks, with head coach Sean Payton declining to name a starter Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Fantasy Spin: Bridgewater is likely to play more snaps, with Hill subbing in for his regular assortment of Wildcat formation plays, especially in short-yardage situations and plays near the goal line. For those looking for a streaming option in fantasy, Bridgewater is certainly the better bet.

From TheHuddle

Kenny Golladay Sep 18 10:20pm ET

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay is in line to have a big day Sunday when the Lions take on the Eagles in Philadelphia. Golladay is coming off a 117-yard, one-touchdown performance and should be able to build off those numbers against a leaky Eagles secondary. Through the first two games of the season, the Eagles have already allowed three 100-yard receiving performances and six passing touchdowns and are seemingly not able to stop anything through the air. That bodes well for Golladay's chances in this matchup. Golladay can be considered a solid WR2 and has a very good opportunity to exceed the 100-yard mark for a second straight game.

From RotoBaller

Derek Carr Sep 18 9:20pm ET

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr failed to capitalize in a juicy Week 2 matchup, making him difficult to trust with a grimmer task ahead in Week 3. The team will travel to take on a stout Vikings Defense who finished third-best in 2018 giving up 196 passing YPG. Carr has looked more comfortable overall in year two under Head Coach John Gruden, but the deck is stacked against him this week as eight-point underdogs. He could save face with some late garbage time points, but he shouldn't be relied upon in any fantasy format in Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Tre'Quan Smith Sep 18 9:00pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. Smith got his legs caught underneath him at the end of the Week 2 loss to the Rams and could be questionable for Week 3 against the Seahawks. The 23-year-old has only five receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown through two weeks and is fourth in the pecking order behind Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn and Jared Cook, making him extremely inconsistent for fantasy owners in much deeper leagues. With Teddy Bridgewater now at quarterback with Drew Brees (thumb) out at least six weeks, Smith should be planted on benches where he's owned.

From RotoBaller

Darren Waller Sep 18 9:00pm ET

Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller has displayed a positive chemistry between himself and quarterback Derek Carr, and it should only grow stronger throughout the season. He currently leads the team with 13 catches and 15 targets through two games while showing a slick pair of hands and a dynamic athletic ability. With the Raiders playing a tough road contest this week versus the Vikings, Waller's ceiling isn't as high, but he should see plenty of volume as eight-point underdogs. Minnesota gave up a 9/77/0 line to Falcons tight end Austin Hooper in Week 1 while they played catch-up, giving Waller a projection somewhere in this neighborhood for Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Trevor Davis Sep 18 9:00pm ET

The Oakland Raiders acquired wide receiver/kick returner Trevor Davis from the Packers on Wednesday, according to a source. The speed demon is one of the league's better punt and kick returners and should compete for a spot on the receiver depth chart in Oakland. The 26-year-old had just one catch for 28 yards in two games this year in Green Bay and has nine receptions for 122 yards and one touchdown in 29 career games played. He'll mainly be used on special teams in his new home and can be ignored for fantasy purposes unless you're in a really deep league that counts return yardage.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Sep 18 8:50pm ET

Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will look to rebound after a so-so Week 2 performance when the Lions take on the Eagles in Week 3. Stafford faces an Eagles secondary that has allowed 680 yards through the first two weeks of the season, which places them just above the Raiders for second-most yards allowed through the air. He has also thrown the ball a healthy 75 times through two games, and this matchup is lining up to follow that trend. Stafford's floor can be considered in the high-upside QB2 range this week in a matchup where he should have no problem moving the ball.

From RotoBaller

Michael Badgley Sep 18 8:50pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (knee) and kicker Michael Badgley (groin) were both limited in practice on Wednesday. Allen should be fine to play in Week 3 against the Texans against a secondary that consistently gets burned deep. The Chargers top wideout ranks third in the NFL after two games with 25 total targets. Allen is a top-five fantasy receiver this Sunday. Badgley has yet to kick in a game this year but is getting closer to making his season debut. He can't be trusted in fantasy until he proves his health. Ty Long has been filling in but has made just two of his four field-goal attempts, including two big misses in the Week 2 loss to the Lions.

From RotoBaller

David Njoku Sep 18 8:40pm ET

Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (concussion, wrist) has a broken wrist that could require surgery, according to a source. Njoku was also knocked out of the Monday night game after suffering a concussion. He is seeking more opinions to determine if surgery is necessary and how long he'd be sidelined if he goes under the knife. It's a tough break for Njoku's owners, as they'll be without him for multiple weeks at least. Demetrius Harris is Cleveland's backup tight end, but he's unlikely to become a big part of the weekly game plan. Quarterback Baker Mayfield takes a slight hit in value, while wide receiver Jarvis Landry could be used more underneath and in the middle of the field.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Donald Sep 18 8:33pm ET

Los Angeles Rams C Austin Blythe (ankle) and TE Tyler Higbee (chest) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18. RB Malcolm Brown (ankle) and DT Aaron Donald (back) were limited during practice.

From TheHuddle

Tevin Coleman Sep 18 8:23pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (ankle), DE Dee Ford (quadriceps), S Jaquiski Tartt (ankle), WR Jalen Hurd (back), OT Joe Staley (leg) and WR Trent Taylor (foot) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18. DE Nick Bosa (ankle) and S Jimmie Ward (hand) were limited during practice.

From TheHuddle

Kerryon Johnson Sep 18 8:20pm ET

Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson could be in line for a big Week 3 performance against an ailing Philadelphia Eagles squad. Johnson should be able to do some damage through the air against an Eagles Defense that has allowed 15 receptions to running backs through the first two weeks of the season, and with Eagles defensive tackle Tim Jernigan sitting out this week, finding holes on the ground will be an easier task as well. Johnson has the chance to see an expanded workload after the recent release of C.J. Anderson and will slot in as a high-upside RB2 in what could be a shootout at the Linc.

From RotoBaller

Kyle Allen Sep 18 8:20pm ET

Carolina Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen is trending toward starting over Cam Newton (foot) in Week 3 against the Cardinals. Newton aggravated a foot injury he initially suffered in the preseason and missed practice on Wednesday. He was also seen in a walking boot, so it's looking doubtful that he plays this Sunday in Week 3. If Newton is inactive, it'll be a downgrade to all Panthers receivers, while running back Christian McCaffrey will likely be heavily utilized to take pressure off Allen. Even in a good matchup with Arizona's soft secondary, Allen would be a last-gasp QB2 for fantasy purposes.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Lockett Sep 18 8:03pm ET

Seattle Seahawks WR Tyler Lockett (non-injury) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Fantasy Spin: Lockett caught 10 of his 12 targets last week and finished with 79 yards. He will continue to be the main target in the passing game for the Seahawks and can be a No. 2 or No. 3 fantasy receiver.

From TheHuddle

K.J. Wright Sep 18 8:03pm ET

Seattle Seahawks OG Ethan Pocic (neck), CB Neiko Thorpe (hamstring), S Tedric Thompson (hamstring) and OG D.J. Fluker (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Sept. 18. OT Duane Brown (non-injury), DE Jadeveon Clowney (non-injury), LB K.J. Wright (non-injury), WR Jaron Brown (toe), OG Mike Iupati (foot), DE Quinton Jefferson (hip), WR David Moore (shoulder), DT Poona Ford (calf) and C Joey Hunt (ankle) were limited during practice. DE Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) fully participated in practice.

From TheHuddle

Ted Ginn Jr. Sep 18 7:53pm ET

New Orleans Saints WR Ted Ginn Jr. (thigh) was limited during practice Wednesday, Sept. 18.

Fantasy Spin: Ginn did not receive any targets last week and will need to adjust to a new quarterback. Fantasy players may need to see how he work with Teddy Bridgewater in a game before considering him a starting option.

From TheHuddle