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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Fantasy Takeaways from Week 3
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins (concussion, neck) is active for Monday night's meeting against the Baltimore Ravens. An inconsistent weapon for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Watkins is best viewed as a risky DFS play this week for fantasy managers looking to differentiate their lineups from everyone else's, because you can't bet on Watkins having a solid night against a strong Ravens Defense. Still, the possibility that he finds the end zone will always exist in this high-powered Chiefs offense.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill is a healthy scratch on Monday night against the Chiefs, making it three weeks in a row that the second-year back hasn't played. Fantasy managers had high hopes for Hill last year, but it's become clear that he's not going to have a consistent role -- or even any role -- in Baltimore. Hill shouldn't be rostered in redraft leagues and is barely rosterable in shallow dynasty leagues.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Jordan Reed (knee) left Sunday's game against the New York Giants after injuring his knee on an end zone target. According to head coach Kyle Shanahan, Reed has a significant knee sprain that could keep him out between six and eight weeks. This is awful news for Reed, who has struggled with injuries throughout his career. He can be dropped in all fantasy leagues at this point. Hopefully he'll be able to progress through the injury and return later in the year.
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton said he was unhappy with how he played in the Week 3 win over the Raiders when he went 17-for-28 for 162 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Newton also ran nine times for only 27 yards. "Me, personally? With lackluster ball security, just a slow start offensively, this is subpar performance. I know I can play better, I know I can do better and I know I will be better," Newton said. New England had plenty of success on the ground in this one, so they didn't really need to rely on the former MVP. Newton definitely won't have QB1 upside each and every week with his new team, but he'll have plenty of rebound potential in a Week 4 game that could be a shootout with the Chiefs.
Atlanta Falcons kicker Younghoe Koo (groin) is expected to miss time with a groin strain and could be placed on the short-term Injured Reserve, which would cause him to miss at least three weeks. It's a blow for fantasy managers that have been enjoying Koo's contributions in the early part of the season. The 26-year-old has been a top-five fantasy kicker, with eight of nine field-goal attempts made in Atlanta's high-scoring offense. The Falcons will be in the market for another kicker this week with Koo expected to miss up to three weeks. You'll have to look elsewhere for a fantasy kicker in the meantime, with Koo being droppable in most formats.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Aldon Smith is the NFL's leader in sacks through three weeks with four, ahead of T.J. Watt and Akiem Hicks, who both have 3.5. It's surprising, since Smith hadn't played a down of football since 2015 entering the 2020 season. Despite his three sacks of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in Week 3, the MVP front-runner managed to throw for 315 yards and five touchdowns. The 31-year-old Smith has been one of a few bright spots for a Cowboys Defense early this year, and he's become a must-add in all IDP formats. Smith has four of the team's six sacks on the year, and they're allowing the fifth-most passing yards per game (287.7).
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy confirmed that running back Tarik Cohen (knee) tore his ACL in the Week 3 win over the Falcons, and he'll be placed on Injured Reserve for the rest of the season. It's a tough loss for the Bears, as Cohen was a nice pass-catching option out of the backfield and was difficult to bring down in space. The 25-year-old finishes the 2020 season with 14 carries for 74 yards and six catches for 41 yards in three games. Ryan Nall will have a bigger role as the backup to David Montgomery, but wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson might see more touches out of the backfield in a hybrid role in Nagy's offense. Patterson probably won't be worth a waiver-wire addition in the majority of leagues, but he's worth watching.
Seattle Seahawks safety Jamal Adams (groin) and rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks (knee) were both injured in the team's Week 3 win over the Cowboys. Adams left the game with a groin strain and is day-to-day, while Brooks is dealing with an MCL sprain and will likely miss a couple of weeks. Adams, who is the top IDP safety each and every week, should have a shot to play in Week 4 against the Dolphins. Brooks' injury is concerning since Bruce Irvin is already out for the season with an injury. Seattle's defense has allowed a league-high 439.7 passing yards per game through three weeks, so even in a nice matchup with Miami, they're a bit of a reach right now as a streaming option for fantasy managers.
Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said that running back Phillip Lindsay (toe) is "trending in the right direction" to play on Thursday night against the Jets. However, if Lindsay does play after missing the last two weeks, he'll be on a limited snap count. Even against a weak Jets Defense in Week 4, Lindsay would be a stretch as a flex option in standard 12-team fantasy leagues if he returns. It's good news for a Broncos team that has been decimated by injuries to key positions in 2020, but it'll be bad news for Melvin Gordon III, who was splitting touches with Lindsay almost evenly in the first half of Week 1 before Lindsay suffered his injury.
Indianapolis Colts rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (calf) underwent surgery to fix compartment leg syndrome in his calf on Sunday night, according to a source. The surgery was a success, but Pittman won't return until after the team's Week 7 bye. This could've been a lot worse for the rookie from USC, but he'll thankfully be able to return in 2020. With Parris Campbell on Injured Reserve, Zach Pascal's role will continue to grow as the No. 2 wideout behind T.Y. Hilton, albeit in an offense that has become very run-heavy. Pittman had nine catches on 12 targets for 73 yards in his three games before the injury. He can probably be dropped in shallow leagues for now, while Pascal is worth a flier off the waiver wire in deeper leagues.
The Houston Texans are conducting a visit with free-agent safety Earl Thomas on Monday after he was released by the Ravens on Aug. 23. Thomas would need to pass COVID-19 testing in order to play with Houston, but he'd be a big-name addition to the Texans secondary as they look to get in the win column in Week 4 against the Vikings. There is mutual interest between Houston and Thomas, and he'd certainly be an upgrade over current safety duo of Eric Murray and Justin Reid. Even though the Texans Defense has allowed just 217.3 passing yards per game through three weeks, they've scored just 2.3 fantasy points per game and are one of just three teams without an interception yet.
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase said that the team received good news on rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton (shoulder), who was forced to miss the team's Week 3 loss to the Colts. "The MRI turned out better than really we were thinking last night. Well see how he gets through the week and possibly he can play in this game," Gase said. The Jets really needed some good injury news given all of their injured offensive skill players early this season. Becton has been a bright spot on the team's offensive line through two games, and they'll need him this Thursday as they attempt to win their first game of the season against the winless Broncos.
Baltimore Ravens CB Tavon Young (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Sept. 28. S Jordan Richards was elevated from the practice squad to replace him on the roster.
Jacksonville Jaguars DT Timmy Jernigan was released Monday, Sept. 28.
Jacksonville Jaguars DL Daniel Ekuale was elevated from the practice squad Monday, Sept. 28. Jacksonville also waived PK Brandon Wright, place LB Leon Jacobs (knee) on the Reserve/Injured list and signed OL Jared Hilbers to the practice squad.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (hamstring) is scheduled to undergo an MRI on the hamstring injury Monday, Sept. 28, he suffered in Week 3 against the Denver Broncos.
Fantasy Spin: While he's been very productive when he's been on the field, it's been a rough start physically this season for Godwin, who missed Week 2 with a concussion he suffered in the opener. If Godwin is forced to miss some more time, Scott Miller would likely jump right back into the discussion as a possible flex option in deeper leagues. Godwin's absence would also likely mean more production for Mike Evans, who posted a 7-104-1 line without his tag-team buddy around in Week 2.
Updating a previous report, Denver Broncos DT Jurrell Casey (biceps) was diagnosed with a biceps tear Monday, Sept. 28, and will miss the rest of the season, according to head coach Vic Fangio.
Chicago Bears RB Tarik Cohen (knee) was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Monday, Sept. 28.
Fantasy Spin: Cohen signed a three-year extension just over a week ago after never missing a game through his first three-plus seasons as a pro. His absence will presumably open the door for David Montgomery to serve as a feature back in this offense, although Chicago could easily ask Cordarrelle Patterson to take on some of Cohen's passing-down work.