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Training Camp Preview: AFC West

Wed Jul 24 9:29pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Henry returns from torn ACL


This is the fourth 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.

Raiders

The Raiders made a big splash this offseason, acquiring receiver Antonio Brown. He gives the team a whole new dimension at receiver and should be a big lift to the entire offense. It will be intriguing to watch how Brown influences the entire team because of his experience and success. Oakland hopes that Brown rubs off on some of his teammates, helping this team start a turnaround. We should get a better idea if that happens, watching camp and preseason action. 

Position battle: The Raiders lost tight end Jared Cook this offseason, leaving a big hole at the tight end spot. Darren Waller is the odds on favorite to start but Derek Carrier and Luke Willson also will push Waller for the chance to start. None of these players have much starting experience, so the door is open for any of them to start. This will all be sorted out in camp and preseason action. 

Injury watch: Oakland doesn't really have any injury situations of note, which is a good thing. One guy we might keep an eye on is Antonio Brown. He is not hurt but is 31 years old and has a ton of work under his belt. You have to wonder if he will slow down or have the injury bug hit him at this time of his career. We would keep an eye on him in camp to see how he is performing and if he is showing any signs of slowing down. 

Broncos

The big thing to watch in Broncos camp is the quarterback spot. Denver continues to try to find their franchise player. Joe Flacco was brought in to stabilize the position but rookie Drew Lock is the future at the position. Is either one of these guys the answer? The Broncos sure hope so. We’ll have a better understanding of the position, seeing how both these guys perform in camp and preseason games.  

Position battle: Quarterback Joe Flacco is the starter in Denver but the team drafted Drew Lock to be the eventual starter in Denver. Flacco has not played at a high level in recent years, so if he shows any signs of struggle, don't be surprised if Lock pushes him for a chance to start. Lock has a swagger about him and all the tools to be a successful pro quarterback. You’ll want to watch Lock’s progress during camp and preseason action. 

Injury watch: Tight end Jake Butt has not been able to stay healthy since entering the NFL. He has played just three games. He suffered a torn ACL last year and has now torn an ACL three different times. He has a long road back once again. Butt has some talent, though, and could push for playing time if he is able to come back healthy. 

Chargers

The big issue to watch this training camp is the holdout of star running back Melvin Gordon. He is seeking a new contract and says he will holdout until he gets a new deal or is traded. This is obviously a huge situation to monitor, especially after the Le’Veon Bell fiasco of last year. The longer Gordon holds out, the scarier this gets for fantasy teams. 

Position battle: Running back Austin Ekeler should be the top backup to Gordon this year, but Justin Jackson will compete for that job. Jackson did pretty well with his chances last year and will try to unseat Ekeler for the top backup job. Ekeler has a clear advantage for the job but if Jackson keeps progressing, he can continue to get chances and move up the depth chart. 

Injury watch: Tight end Hunter Henry missed all of last year because of a torn ACL suffered during the spring. Henry has been pretty close to full strength the last few months, though, and should be just fine for the start of the season. But even with that said, you’ll want to keep an eye on him in camp to make sure he doesn’t suffer any setbacks. This is a major injury to return. Anything can happen. But if healthy, Henry has the potential to be an elite fantasy tight end. 

Chiefs

The Chiefs were really close last year to making the Super Bowl but came up just short. Can the team get over the hump this year? That is the big question. The other big question is Tyreek Hill. Will his presence impact the team negatively after his off the field issues? Hill avoided suspension but you can expect the Chiefs to field many questions on the matter in camp. Will this distraction impact the team? We should know soon enough. 

Position battle: Damien Williams is the starter for the Chiefs but the backup job is up for grabs. Carlos Hyde was signed to fill that role but isn’t going to be handed the job. He will be pushed by rookie Darwin Thompson, who might bring more to the table than Hyde at this point. Thompson is a good runner and receiver, and seems like he could be a good fit for the offense. Hyde has the experience, though, and will get first shot at the job. He will need to show he has picked up the offense. 

Injury watch: Tight end Travis Kelce had offseason ankle surgery. He is expected to be 100 percent for the start of training camp. He has not had setbacks in his recovery. Kelce is the clear No. 1 fantasy tight end, so making sure he is back to full strength is a good idea for fantasy teams. He should be fine but keep an eye on practice reports to be sure.

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
Jacoby Brissett Sep 22 7:00pm ET

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett was one completion away from breaking former quarterback Peyton Manning's team record. On the day, he finished 28-of-37 for 310 yards and two touchdowns. Brissett takes care of the ball, and he makes low-risk throws. On a day where running back Marlon Mack was limited, those throws eventually added up. Brissett is unlikely to have nearly 30 completions every week, but he showed this week that he can have QB1 upside in the right circumstances.

From RotoBaller

Carson Wentz Sep 22 7:00pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz was solid in Sunday's Week 3 loss, tossing two touchdowns. He completed 19 of his 36 passes for 259 yards. He added 33 yards on four carries as well. Wentz's touchdowns came on a 20-yard pass and a two-yard pass, both to wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Even without his top two wide receivers, Alshon Jeffery (calf) and DeSean Jackson (groin) in the game, Wentz was still able to move the offense for most of the game.

From RotoBaller

Ezekiel Elliott Sep 22 7:00pm ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball 19 times in Week 3, picking up 125 yards on the ground. He added two catches for 14 more yards. Elliott's 125 yards were clearly great, but his fantasy owners were likely expecting at least one touchdown against the sport's worst team, the Miami Dolphins. Elliott was on the sidelines when his backup, Tony Pollard, scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter since the Cowboys were running down the clock in an obvious win. Elliott looked back to his usual workload, and should be an easy RB1 going forward.

From RotoBaller

Marlon Mack Sep 22 7:00pm ET

Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack continues to be a consistent player for fantasy footballers. Despite being a questionable game-time decision coming into Sunday, he was able to suit up, and he had an effective day. He finished with 16 carries for 74 yards and one touchdown. He also added two catches for 14 yards on the day. Unless he sustains a more serious injury, Mack is proving to be a consistent starter on a weekly basis.

From RotoBaller

Tony Pollard Sep 22 7:00pm ET

Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard had an excellent game in Week 3, running the ball 13 times for 103 yards and a touchdown while adding three catches for 25 more yards. Pollard scored on a fourth-quarter run from 16 yards out. In a game where the Cowboys had control all afternoon, Pollard got a bit more run than he would have in a closer contest. This game showed how much value Pollard could have if Ezekiel Elliott were forced to miss any time.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Sep 22 6:50pm ET

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had a productive Week 3, throwing two touchdowns and running one in as well. Prescott completed 19 of his 32 passes for 246 yards. His passing touchdowns both went to Amari Cooper, one for five yards and another for 19. His rushing touchdown was on an eight-yard run in the third quarter. Overall, it was a solid performance for Prescott, although his owners may have expected even more with him taking on the listless Miami Dolphins.

From RotoBaller

Saquon Barkley Sep 22 6:40pm ET

After leaving the game shortly before halftime with an ankle injury suffered against Tampa Bay, New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley returned to the sidelines with a protective boot on his right foot. While the results of his x-rays have not yet been released, Barkley was using crutches to get around on what appeared to be a severely sprained ankle. If this is the dreaded high-ankle sprain, Barkley could be in for an extended absence and his owners are in for an extended punch to the stomach. Backup Wayne Gallman needs to be added in all leagues until more is known about the severity of Barkley's injury.

From RotoBaller

Frank Gore Sep 22 6:20pm ET

Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore saved his best production for last, plunging in for a late one-yard touchdown to put Buffalo up for good over the Cincinnati Bengals 21-17 on Sunday. With Devin Singletary declared inactive prior to the game, Gore rushed 14 times for 76 yards, outpacing T.J. Yeldon who rushed eight times for thirty yards - and who also had a costly second-half fumble. With the likely return of Singletary in Week 4 and facing a Patriots teams that will likely require a pass-heavy game script, Gore will be relegated to the fantasy doldrums.

From RotoBaller

New York Jets Sep 22 6:10pm ET

The New York Jets Defense got shredded by Tom Brady and the Patriots but salvaged their fantasy day late. With the Patriots up 30-7 in the fourth quarter backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham came into the game. His third pass hit Jamal Adams right between the numbers and the star safety returned it 61-yards for a garbage-time touchdown. The Jets also scored a touchdown on special teams after Gunner Olszewski muffed a punt and Arthur Maulet fell on it to score the Jets first touchdown since Week 1. Despite the scores, the Jets defense only recorded one sack and looked like a defense that shouldn't be owned in fantasy, especially with a bye in Week 4 followed by a tough matchup at Philadelphia.

From RotoBaller

Josh Allen Sep 22 6:10pm ET

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen completed 22-of-36 passes for 243 yards on Sunday, with one touchdown and an interception as the Bills held off the Cincinnati Bengals for a 21-17 victory. Allen also added 46 yards on nine rushes and a two-point conversion, with Buffalo moving to a surprising 3-0 on the season. Allen still has trouble with his decision-making at times but continues to have a high floor considering how often he's willing to run. Allen and the Bills will get their first real test of the year in Week 4 when the Patriots come into town for a showdown of the AFC East undefeated.

From RotoBaller

Saquon Barkley Sep 22 5:40pm ET

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is questionable to return after suffering an ankle injury against the Tampa Bay Bucs. He suffered a minor injury earlier in the game but returned. This one appears to be more severe and with the Giants already down 25-10, they may choose not to rush their star back. This would obviously be a massive hit to the entire Giants offense if it proves to be a multi-week injury.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Griffin Sep 22 5:40pm ET

New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin caught his only target for five yards in a loss to the Patriots Sunday afternoon. Griffin now has four catches for 15 yards on the season and continues to be a non-factor in fantasy. Griffin had an opportunity to start with Chris Herndon serving a four-game suspension but has done nothing to prove he should be more than a blocking tight end when Herndon returns in Week 6. The Jets are on bye in Week 4 and Griffin will make one more start in Week 5 vs the Eagles but should not be owned in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Jamison Crowder Sep 22 5:20pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder made two catches for 25 yards Sunday afternoon against the Patriots. The Jets struggled to move the ball all afternoon with Luke Falk making his first career start as they had only 105 net yards against a strong Patriots Defense. Crowder made 14 catches in Week 1 but has only six since as starting QB Sam Darnold (mono) has been sidelined. The Jets will have a bye week next week and hope Darnold will be back for a game at Philadelphia in Week 5. If Darnold plays, Crowder is in the WR3 discussion in fantasy but it will be hard to trust him the Jets continue to trot out backup quarterbacks.

From RotoBaller

Sam Ficken Sep 22 5:20pm ET

New York Jets kicker Sam Ficken made two extra points and didn't attempt a field goal in a loss to the Patriots Sunday. Ficken has now made all three attempts as a Jet after signing with the team prior to Week 2. That should be enough to keep Ficken employed with the team given the Jets kicker struggles in the preseason, but fantasy owners should look elsewhere as the Jets offense will severely limit Ficken's scoring opportunities.

From RotoBaller

Mohamed Sanu Sep 22 5:20pm ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu caught all six of his targets for 75 yards during the Week 3 loss to the Colts. Despite failing to score a touchdown yet this season, Sanu continues to be a reliable option for quarterback Matt Ryan. He isn't the best option in 10 or 12-team leagues, but his ability to pull in receptions in a pass-first offense gives him some credibility moving ahead.

From RotoBaller

Julio Jones Sep 22 5:10pm ET

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones had eight receptions (nine targets) for 128 yards and a touchdown against the Colts in Week 3. After catching 11 passes and racking up three trips to the end zone coming into this one, Jones caught a 10-yard pass from quarterback Matt Ryan late in the game for his fourth score of the year. He will look to keep it going against the Titans in Week 4. Obviously, keep him starting in all fantasy formats.

From RotoBaller

Braxton Berrios Sep 22 5:10pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Braxton Berrios made two catches for 29 yards in a loss to the Patriots Sunday. Berrios led the Jets with six targets but couldn't get much done against a stout Patriots Defense. Berrios served as the team's third wide receiver today, but would see his role decrease if Demaryius Thomas (hamstring, knee) gets healthy and joins the active roster after a bye in Week 4. Despite leading the team in targets, Berrios doesn't need to be owned in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Austin Hooper Sep 22 5:10pm ET

Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper had six receptions for 66 yards and two scores during the loss to the Colts on Sunday. After failing to score a touchdown through the first two weeks of the year, Hooper finally came to life against Indianapolis. His absence in the end zone up to this point has been somewhat troubling, but his ability to haul in passes gives him some PPR appeal moving ahead.

From RotoBaller

Robby Anderson Sep 22 5:00pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson made three catches for 11 yards in a loss to the Patriots Sunday. Anderson was targeted five times but could get nothing done as the Jets had just 105 yards of total offense with third-string QB Luke Falk making his first career start. Of all the Jets offensive weapons, Anderson has suffered the most with starting QB Sam Darnold (mono) out of action as Anderson has always been a receiver reliant on big plays and the Jets simply can't throw the ball downfield given their current QB situation. The Jets have a bye in Week 4 but will face another tough matchup in Week 5 at Philadelphia. If Darnold plays, Anderson is a boom-or-bust WR3 but he should be avoided as long as Darnold is out.

From RotoBaller

Jalen Richard Sep 22 5:00pm ET

Oakland Raiders running back Jalen Richard was on the field for a season-high 29 snaps in the team's Week 3 loss to the Vikings. It helped that Josh Jacobs was dealing with an illness and a hip injury earlier this week, not to mention the team trailed by three scores for most of the game. Richard didn't do much with his playing time, however, picking up 29 scrimmage yards on two rushes and three catches as his involvement in the passing game has faded this year. Owners of Jacobs shouldn't worry about the rookie losing his bell-cow status, as Richard is no threat to his workload. The 25-year-old doesn't carry any standalone value and will be off the fantasy radar as long as Jacobs is active.

From RotoBaller