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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Cold Plays: Week 2
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews looks to build off his effective Week 1 performance on Sunday against the Texans. The 25-year-old had a spectacular start to the season against the Browns, finishing with five catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns. His ceiling for the remainder of the season is high, primarily since opposing defenses will be focused on slowing down Lamar Jackson. Fantasy managers in all formats should keep Andrews rolling in Week 2.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram II is a risky play heading into Sunday's meeting against Houston. The veteran had an unfavorable performance during the Week 1 slaughter over the Browns, rushing for just 29 yards on 10 attempts. While Ingram may have a few more solid performances throughout the 2020 campaign, the presence of rookie back J.K. Dobbins, who had seven carries and two touchdowns against Cleveland, will undoubtably lower his stock moving forward. For those with nowhere else to turn, the 30-year-old should still hold a spot as a starter as the upside is still barely there against the Texans, as long as fantasy managers are comfortable with the potential for another shoddy performance as well.
Baltimore Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins has a favorable upside on Sunday against the Texans. Although Mark Ingram II will potentially continue to snag some carries, the rookie managed to find the end zone twice against the Browns despite only touching the ball seven times. Dobbins is still a risky option, but he also has a high ceiling in Week 2, especially inside the five-yard line. For those in deeper leagues looking to throw a dart, the former second-round pick has plenty of potential against Houston to produce another effective fantasy performance.
Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander (hand) was added to the injury report, but he is expected to play against the Detroit Lions in Week 2.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was impressive during the season-opener against the Browns and will look to keep that momentum going into Week 2 against Houston. The Texans Defense didn't impress against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs during the Thursday night matchup, allowing the former MVP to compile three touchdown tosses. Heading into Sunday, Jackson has all the tools needed to make some noise for fantasy owners. The third-year signal-caller threw for 222 yards and four touchdowns on nearly 71 percent passing against the Texans in Week 11 of 2019. He also added 10 carries for 79 yards. While Jackson's previous success against Houston doesn't mean another stellar outing is on tap, his ceiling is higher than usual on Sunday.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (knee) is listed as questionable for Monday night's game against the Saints. Ruggs III didn't practice on Wednesday or Thursday before getting in a limited session on Friday. The rookie is at least trending in the right direction and probably has a good shot to suit up, especially considering he was on the practice field Saturday. The matchup against the Saints isn't great, as they were stingy against the Buccaneers' wideouts in Week 1. Consider Ruggs III a risky WR3/4 if he plays.
New York Jets running back Josh Adams was promoted from the practice squad on Saturday ahead of the team's Week 2 matchup with the 49ers. With Le'Veon Bell (hamstring) on Injured Reserve, the Jets are bringing up Adams for some depth. Frank Gore will see most of the carries, with the leftovers going to fellow backs La'Mical Perine (ankle) and newly acquired Kalen Ballage. Adams did score a garbage time touchdown in Week 1, though his role is far too unpredictable to count on for any production. This backfield is one of the more unappealing ones in fantasy football at the moment.
Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen is working on a contract extension with the team. The talks have progressed well and the two sides were pushing to get the deal done in advance of Week 2, though it may have to wait until after Chicago's game against the Giants on Sunday. The dynamic halfback has averaged 4.2 yards per carry on 257 career attempts and has exceeded 300 receiving yards in each of his three seasons in the league. The Bears are clearly viewing him as an important part of their future, which is music to the ears of fantasy managers. Stay tuned for details on any potential contract signing.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill gets a favorable matchup against the Jaguars in Week 2. Tannehill looked good in his opening game of 2020, completing 29 of 43 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Denver Broncos. Now he'll square off with a Jacksonville defense that surrendered 363 passing yards to Philip Rivers. Tannehill is certainly skilled enough to dissect the Jaguars' defense, though he may take a backseat to Derrick Henry in this one. The veteran could be a good streaming option this week, but his upside is capped because Tennessee may not need to rely on his arm to win this week.
Free-agent DB Grant Haley (Giants) and DT Anthony Zettel (Vikings) were signed to the New Orleans Saints' practice squad Saturday, Sept. 19.
Baltimore Ravens DB Jordan Richards was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Sept. 19.
Chicago Bears LB Devante Bond was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Sept. 19.
New York Jets LB Alec Ogletree was signed to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 19. WR Josh Malone was also promoted to the active roster from the practice squad.
San Francisco 49ers DL Dee Ford (neck) was ruled out Saturday, Sept. 19, and won't play Week 2 against the New York Jets.
Tennessee Titans RB Jeremy McNichols and WR Cameron Batson were promoted from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Sept. 19.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) has been ruled out for Monday night's game against the Las Vegas Raiders. There was a "glimmer of hope" that Thomas would be able to suit up a week after suffering a high-ankle sprain, though that was probably false hope at best. This is ideal for fantasy managers because now they can pivot to options on their bench from Sunday's slate of games. Fellow wideout Emmanuel Sanders and tight end Jared Cook should see a larger share of targets while Tre'Quan Smith has some appeal as a sleeper against the Raiders' suspect secondary.
Green Bay Packers WR Equanimeous St. Brown (knee) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Sept. 19, due to a knee injury.
Houston Texans RB C.J. Prosise was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 19.
New Orleans Saints DE Marcus Davenport (elbow) and LB Chase Hansen (hip) didn't practice Saturday, Sept. 19, and have been ruled out for the Week 2 game against the Las Vegas Raiders Monday, Sept. 21. OL Cesar Ruiz (ankle) and S P.J. Williams (hamstring) both practiced in full and have been cleared for Week 2.