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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Updating a previous report, New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (illness) said he's feeling much better and hopes doctors let him rejoin the team this week. He was told to take 21 days to recover from mononucleosis and is hoping to come back after the team's Week 4 bye. Darnold said he hasn't lost much weight at all. His illness likely affected his Week 1 performance in the loss to the Bills, but Darnold is nothing more than a backup fantasy quarterback until he proves otherwise. Trevor Siemian will start until Darnold can return, but he presents owners with limited upside as a low-end QB2. The Jets figure to give Le'Veon Bell a lot of touches to take pressure off of Siemian.
New England Patriots rookie running back Damien Harris and rookie wide receiver Jakobi Meyers are both healthy scratches for Week 2 against the Dolphins. Both players have exciting long-term appeal for those in dynasty leagues, but the Patriots are just too stacked at running back and receiver now for either of them to make an impact. If anything were to happen to Sony Michel this year, Harris could be in line for a big role and would be an immediate addition off the waiver wire in redraft leagues. With the Antonio Brown signing last week, Meyers gets pushed out of the rotation among Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper is being extra patient in contract-extension talks and is the only Dallas player less likely to re-sign this season, according to league sources. With Saints wideout Michael Thomas landing a deal that pays him $20 million a year and Falcons receiver Julio Jones earning $22 million per year, Cooper is intentionally being patient. The 25-year-old caught six passes for 106 yards and a score in the team's Week 1 win over the Giants, and he has an excellent matchup with the Redskins in Week 2. He's locked in as a WR1 in the second game of the season.
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Ziggy Ansah (shoulder) is inactive in Week 2 against the Steelers. Ansah will have to wait another week to make his debut with the team. The Seahawks are being very cautious with the injury-prone pass-rusher, but he should be back soon. It's good news for Ben Roethlisberger and company as they look to bounce back from their 33-3 drubbing at the hands of the Patriots last week. Big Ben will have QB1 appeal this Sunday, while fantasy owners are best off leaving Seattle's defense on the bench.
Buffalo Bills tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) is inactive in Week 2 against the Giants for the second straight week. Kroft is improving, though, and should be able to make his season debut in Week 3. However, Kroft will be a bottom-barrel TE2 whenever he does suit up. Rookies Tommy Sweeney and Dawson Knox will continue to split snaps at the position in the meantime. Neither of them are options in redraft leagues, although they have some stash appeal in dynasty/keeper formats.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (knee) is active for Week 2 against the Lions. It was reported early Sunday that Williams would likely be just a red-zone threat for the Bolts on Sunday if he played. That means that the Chargers will predictably lean on running back Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen with tight end Hunter Henry (knee) out indefinitely. Williams is an extremely risky and touchdown-dependent WR4/5 while playing through his injury. Travis Benjamin has a better shot at big-play potential with Williams' snaps being limited, but he's an even worse flex option in deep leagues.
Arizona Cardinals rookie wide receiver Andy Isabella is a healthy inactive for Week 2 against the Ravens. The 22-year-old didn't have a single target in Week 1 and is well behind fellow rookie teammate Keesean Johnson on the depth chart. He also has Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Michael Crabtree and Damiere Byrd ahead of him, so Isabella definitely belongs on the waiver wire in redraft leagues. The only place you're stashing him is in dynasty/keeper leagues. Expect the Cardinals to mix in the veteran Crabtree more against Baltimore, which hurts the upside for Johnson.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram (shoulder), tight end Mark Andrews (foot) and rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown (hip) are all active in Week 2 against the Cardinals, as expected. All three players had huge weeks in the season opener and could all shine again against a weak Cardinals Defense at home. Ingram has clear RB1 upside in what could be the team's second straight blowout win. Andrews is a firm TE1 after rookie T.J. Hockenson lit up Arizona's D last week. Brown is the most risky flex play at wideout after playing just 14 snaps in his NFL debut. There's big-play potential with the Cardinals without their top two cornerbacks, but Brown will be as boom or bust as they get.
San Francisco 49ers rookie defensive end Nick Bosa (ankle) is active in Week 2 against the Bengals. Bosa had his snaps limited in his NFL debut last week against the Buccaneers, but when he was on the field he was productive, so his presence on Sunday won't be good news for quarterback Andy Dalton in front of a shaky offensive line. Bosa cannot yet be trusted in IDP leagues as the Niners try to get him past his nagging ankle issue. While San Fran's D looked much-improved last week, they also shouldn't be in fantasy lineups just yet.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (ankle) is active for Week 2 against the 49ers. Mixon does have a good matchup against a Niners team that gave up healthy ground yardage against Tampa in the season opener, but Mixon will have a lot of volatility and could have his snaps limited while playing through his injury. Consider him a risky low-end RB2/high-end RB3/flex, with Giovani Bernard mixing in to spell him. Bernard would've had RB2 upside if Mixon was inactive, but instead he'll revert back to being an unexciting flex option.
The Los Angeles Chargers have declared DL Cortez Broughton, TE Hunter Henry, C Michael Davis, LB Jatavis Brown, PK Mike Badgley, QB Easton Stick and S Roderic Teamer inactive for Week 2.
The Tennessee Titans have declared OT Kevin Pamphile, LB Reggie Gilbert, C Hroniss Grasu, CB Tye Smith, DL Brent Urban, RB David Fluellen and OG Nate Davis inactive for Week 2.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have declared CB Justin Layne, DL Isaiah Buggs, FB Roosevelt Nix, LB Jayrone Elliott, OT Chukwuma Okorafor, OL Fred Johnson and TE Zach Gentry inactive for Week 2.
The Dallas Cowboys have declared OG Adam Redmond, S Donovan Wilson, DE Taco Charlton, WR Tavon Austin, DT Trysten Hill, OL Brandon Knight and LB Luke Gifford inactive for Week 2.
The Seattle Seahawks have declared WR David Moore, S Tedric Thompson, C Joey Hunt, CB Neiko Thorpe, WR Gary Jennings, DT Poona Ford and DL Ziggy Ansah inactive for Week 2.
Detroit Lions left tackle Taylor Decker (back) has been ruled out in Week 2 against the Chargers. It's a downgrade for quarterback Matthew Stafford on Sunday, and he could be facing a lot of pressure from pass-rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Stafford looked good in Week 1 throwing the football, but that was also against a Cardinals team missing their top cornerbacks. Consider Stafford a low-end QB2 in a much tougher matchup against the Bolts.
The Miami Dolphins have declared WR Albert Wilson, SS Reshad Jones, OT Bryan Witzmann, RB Myles Gaskin, OG Chris Reed, DE Trent Harris and OT Isaiah Prince inactive for Week 2.
The New York Giants have declared TE Garrett Dickerson, QB Alex Tanney, WR Sterling Shepard, WR Darius Slayton, RB Paul Perkins, OG Chad Slade and OL Eric Smith inactive for Week 2.
The Indianapolis Colts have declared DE Kemoko Turay, LB Jabaal Sheard, S Rolan Milligan, OT Le'Raven Clark, S Marvell Tell, RB Jonathan Williams and TE Hale Hentges inactive for Week 2.
The Arizona Cardinals have declared WR Andy Isabella, OG Jeremy Vujnovich, C Lamont Gaillard, DL Jonathan Bullard, OT Brett Toth, OT Joshua Miles and DL Michael Dogbe inactive for Week 2.