Fri Jul 26 9:16am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Rodgers played hurt last year
This is the sixth 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 Packers have a new coaching staff for the first time in a long time. This means the team has to learn a new offense and defense for the coming year. This will be the big theme of training camp for Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers has a new offense to learn for the first time in his entire career, so there could be a learning curve for him. Keep an eye on the team’s progress during camp. There could be some bumps along the way.
Position battle: The big position battle in Packers camp is for the right to start opposite Davante Adams. The two most likely candidates are Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. The Packers have a lot of young receiver vying for playing time but these two players stand out above the rest. Many think Valdes-Scantling is the most likely to earn the job but don’t discount Allison, who has produced with past chances. The winner of this job will have some fantasy value for the coming year in the Packers pass-first offense.
Injury watch: Aaron Rodgers played the entire season last year, but was hurt much of the year. He played at less than 100 percent because of a tibial plateau fracture and a sprained medial collateral ligament. It is pretty amazing he was able to play with these injuries. He is recovered from the injuries but his health is really a key to the Packers season. He played hurt last year and was limited to just seven games the previous year. Injuries have been a factor for him in recent years.
There were high hopes for the Vikings last year with Kirk Cousins now on board as their franchise quarterback, but things didn’t go quite as planned. Cousins had an up and down season and the team followed his lead with inconsistent play. Minnesota will look to right the ship this training camp. Much of the year might depend on Cousins. He will need to play more consistent football if the Vikings hope to return to the playoffs. Cousins has a new offense to learn but could be a better fit for the system, which bodes well for him. We will get our first look at Cousins and the new offense, starting in camp.
Position battle: The Vikings surprised some by using a second-round pick on tight end Irv Smith in this year’s draft. Smith is a pretty complete tight end that does well as a blocker and receiver. He will look to push Kyle Rudolph for the starting job this year. Rudolph has produced for the Vikings in recent year but probably hasn’t been the player the team hoped. He could lose out on playing time to the rookie this year.
Injury watch: Running back Dalvin Cook has played 15 games in two seasons. He missed time again last year after missing nearly all of his rookie year. Cook has really struggled to stay on the field to start his career. He seems to be over his hamstring injury from last year, though, and should be 100 percent for the start of the camp. The trick for Cook is now staying healthy for the entire season. We’ll see if he is able to do that.
Detroit had a season to forget last year, finishing 6-10. The team is in a bit of rebuild mode after trading and letting some key players from past teams go. Some younger players will get their chance to shine this year, though, so much of this camp should focus on the progress of those young players. Can guys like Kerryon Johnson and Kenny Golladay take their games to new levels this year? The Lions sure hope that is the case, giving them a chance to shine this year.
Position battle: The Lions made some changes at tight end this offseason, signing Jesse James and drafting T.J. Hockenson. Both these guys will challenge for the right to start. James might have the edge because of his experience, but Hockenson is the future of the position for the Lions. He should be given every opportunity to start because he provides the most potential for big things. James can be a bigger asset as a blocker.
Injury watch: Quarterback Matthew Stafford played every game last season but played with a back injury much of the year. He reportedly played with broken bones in his back, which could explain his down play. Stafford didn’t play at his usual level, struggling with accuracy and consistency. He should be over his back injury for the start of this year but keep an eye on him in camp to make sure he looks back to old form. Stafford could be a sneaky late pick for fantasy teams this year if he is healthy and back to his old self.
The Bears had a great season last year, going 12-4. Expectations are going to be very high for this team and with good reason. It is a pretty complete squad. The big thing to watch this training camp could be the progression of starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, though. He played well last year but had some consistency issues. If the Bears truly hope to be a special team, they will need Trubisky to play at a high level all season.
Position battle: The Bears will have a battle on their hands for the starting running back job. The team signed Mike Davis this offseason and drafted David Montgomery. These guys will battle it out for the right to start. Davis had a breakout season last year with the Seahawks, showing he could start and produce at a high level in the league. Montgomery is a three-down back that can carry the load. He probably has the edge to start but don’t discount Davis. He just made plays when given the chance last season.
Injury watch: Tight end Trey Burton had hernia surgery this offseason. He should be ready for the start of camp but nothing is 100 percent certain right now. Keep an eye on his progress to make sure he doesn’t have any setbacks. Burton can play a big role in the offense, an offense that likes to look for the tight end. He didn’t have quite the season as expected last year but could turn things around this year in year two with the Bears.
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.
The New York Jets Defense had three sacks, one interception and gave up 23 points in a lopsided loss to the Browns on Monday night. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams talked a big game in the week leading up to this matchup, but they couldn't back it up and got torched for 161 yards by Odell Beckham Jr., including an 89-yard touchdown where he was barely touched. The defense should be healthier next week with rookie Quinnen Williams and linebacker C.J. Mosley back in the mix, but they might be the worst defense to start in fantasy for Week 3, as they'll travel to New England to face the Patriots.
New York Jets running back Ty Montgomery had three carries for 25 yards and three catches for 15 yards in a loss to Cleveland Monday. Montgomery was a hot waiver wire add earlier in the week with Le'Veon Bell questionable with a shoulder injury but Bell was fine and handled the lion's share of the backfield work out-touching Montgomery 31-6. Head coach Adam Gase has made it clear through two weeks Bell is the centerpiece of this offense and Montgomery won't have much fantasy value unless Bell misses time.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry was quiet in a 23-3 win over the New York Jets on Monday Night Football in Week 2. Landry caught three of his seven targets for 32 yards in the win. The veteran slot receiver's biggest contribution on the evening was a 25-yard gain on third-and-20 at the end of the second quarter. Of course, Odell Beckham Jr was tending to an injury on the sidelines when Landry made that catch. Beckham's presence in town is a concern for Landry, who has just seven catches for 99 yards through two games. In Freddie Kitchens' offense, Landry is not getting fed targets the way he has in the past. He is dropping into the WR4 range in fantasy and will be tough to trust in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 19-of-35 passes for 325 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in a 23-3 win over the New York Jets in Week 2. While the second-year quarterback's final numbers look good, the Cleveland offense looked disjointed and had issues moving the ball at times against an overmatched Jets team. Mayfield's final stat line was bailed out by an 89-yard touchdown reception by Odell Beckham Jr in the third quarter in which the receiver did most of the heavy lifting after a short catch. Mayfield now has 610 passing yards, two touchdowns, and four interceptions through his first two games. He will look for his first multi-touchdown game in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams.
Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb carried the ball 18 times for 62 yards and a touchdown in a 23-3 win over the New York Jets in Week 2. Chubb also added four receptions for 36 yards in the winning effort. The second-year running back scored Cleveland's first touchdown of the evening in the second quarter when he broke several tackles in a bruising 19-yard run. Chubb often left the field for D'Ernest Johnson on third downs but he wound up handling 18 of Cleveland's 21 rush attempts. Chubb is locked in as a high-volume runner in the Cleveland offense and will be an RB1 again in Week 3 when the Browns face the Los Angeles Rams.
New York Jets kicker Sam Ficken made a 46-yard field goal on his only attempt of the night in a 23-3 loss to the Browns Monday. The home crowd didn't have much to cheer for but erupted when Ficken's kick sailed through the uprights after the Jets kicking disaster last week against the Bills. Ficken was signed after a tryout on Tuesday and didn't do anything tonight to lose the job, but won't have much fantasy value kicking for a Jets team that has scored only 19 points through two games and struggled mightily with backup quarterbacks Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk playing tonight.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr caught 6-of-10 targets for 161 yards and a touchdown in a 23-3 win over the New York Jets on Monday night. Beckham made the play of the game when he took a short pass over the middle in the third quarter and outran the New York defense for an 89-yard touchdown, the longest of his career. Beckham did survive an injury scare as he had to leave the game briefly at the end of the first half after he came down hard in the end zone following a catch attempt. He returned for the second half without any issues. Beckham now has 13 catches for 232 yards and a touchdown through two games. He will look to find the end zone again in Week 3 against the Los Angeles Rams.
New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder caught four passes for 40 yards on six targets in a 23-3 loss to the Browns Monday night. A week after tying the Jets record for catches in a game Crowder was seldom used tonight with the Jets playing backup quarterbacks and RB Le'Veon Bell getting most of the short targets Crowder thrived on in Week 1. Crowder's fantasy value will depend on who plays QB for the Jets moving forward as he simply didn't have the same connection this week as he did with a healthy Sam Darnold last week. Crowder will be in the WR3/flex mix most weeks but faces a daunting matchup next week against a Patriots Defense that has allowed only three points through two games.
New York Jets tight end Ryan Griffin got one target that he didn't catch in a 23-3 loss against the Browns Monday night. Griffin now has only five targets through two games and is not a viable fantasy option in any format, especially given the Jets are likely to be starting a third-string quarterback next week. The Jets tight end situation can be safely ignored in fantasy until regular starter Chris Herndon returns from suspension in Week 6.
New York Jets quarterback Luke Falk completed 20 passes in 25 attempts for 198 yards coming off the bench Monday night. Falk had no touchdowns and no interceptions in emergency duty after Trevor Siemian (ankle) left with an injury in the first half. Given the situation, Falk played a decent game but is not someone fantasy owners need to pay attention to, especially with a trip to New England lined up for next week. However, Falk did pepper Le'Veon Bell with 10 targets and made several good throws to Robby Anderson in garbage time so the Jets other fantasy assets could still be usable if Falk has to make a start next week.
New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson caught four passes for 81 yards on six targets Monday night against the Browns. Overall it was a good game for Anderson given the Jets started the game with backup QB Trevor Siemian and finished it with third-stringer Luke Falk running the offense. Anderson has always been a boom-or-bust big-play receiver and is likely to bust more often than not given the Jets current QB nightmare. He will be in the WR3 mix after the Jets Week 4 bye, when Sam Darnold should be back under center, but fantasy owners should leave Anderson on the bench next week in a brutal matchup at New England.
New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell carried the ball 21 times for 68 yards and had 10 receptions for 61 yards in a 23-3 loss to the Browns Monday night. The Jets offense could do nothing with Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk playing quarterback, but Bell was still able to put up a decent game thanks to 31 touches, eight more than he had in Week 1 when he played every snap. Given the injuries to the Jets quarterbacks, scoring opportunities will be few and far between for Bell but he has a safe floor in fantasy with all the targets he'll get and almost no competition for touches in the backfield. Bell will be in the RB2 mix in a difficult matchup next week at New England.
New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (ankle) suffered an ankle injury on Monday night against the Browns and is out for the rest of the game. Thomas had just one catch for minus-one yard on two targets. To be fair, Thomas was making his debut with the team and was taking passes from backup Trevor Siemian and third-stringer Luke Falk. He hadn't practiced at all with the Jets before being active on Monday, and he might miss more practice time this week on a short week ahead of Week 3. As the third wideout, at best, for Gang Green and with Sam Darnold (illness) likely out for at least another couple weeks, DT has very little fantasy appeal.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon was active and started on Sunday, leaving Giovani Bernard to backup duties. Bernard played just 40% of the snaps on Sunday as Mixon played through his ankle injury without any setbacks. Bernard carried the ball six times for six yards and hauled in just one of his three targets for seven more yards. The long-time Bengals running back remains a must-own player if you have Mixon on your roster, but he can't be trusted in standard-sized leagues, especially non-PPR ones.
Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (undisclosed) returned for the second half of the Week 2 game against the New York Jets. He jogged off with an apparent lower leg injury near the end of the second quarter.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are acquiring defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Fitzpatrick requested a trade late last week and it was reported that the Dolphins wanted a first round pick for the 11th overall selection in the 2018 draft. As a rookie, he totaled 80 tackles, two interceptions, and nine passes defended. The 22-year-old can play safety and slot corner, but the Steelers Defense could use help at both spots so it will be interesting to see how they utilize him. Pittsburgh has a Week 3 matchup with San Francisco, but it's not advisable to stream them in a road matchup.
New York Jets WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) aggravated his hamstring injury in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns and he will not return.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas is clearly not 100 percent, was rushed into action and he is now hurt. Avoid him in all fantasy leagues until he can return to health, get familiar with the playbook and show a little consistency.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (lower leg) suffered an apparent lower leg injury late in the second quarter after landing awkwardly in the end zone in Week 2 against the New York Jets. He attempted to get up, couldn't walk, and went back down to his backside. He then jogged off to meet with the training staff before trotting to the locker room right before halftime.
Fantasy Spin: Beckham looked to be in obvious discomfort initially, but he ran rather briskly into the locker room on third and long, suggesting he might be OK to begin the second half. We'll keep an eye on it.
Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (concussion) suffered a concussion in the first quarter of the Week 2 game against the New York Jets and he will not return.
Fantasy Spin: Njoku was upended on a pass play and landed awkwardly after having his legs taken out, hitting his head on the field turf surface. Demetrius Harris, Ricky Seal-Jones and Pharaoh Brown are the next men up at the position, with Harris likely to see the most targets.
New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian (ankle) suffered what looked to be a serious ankle injury in the second quarter on Monday night against the Browns. Siemian was hit hard and got his ankle caught underneath him while being taken to the turf. Somehow he was able to walk off the field under his own power and is being taken to the locker room. We'd be surprised if he were able to come back into this game. Third-stringer Luke Falk is now in the game. The Jets haven't been able to get any offense going and are leaning heavily on running back Le'Veon Bell. Siemian was an embarrassing 3-for-6 for three yards before he departed.