Tue Jul 10 10:39 pm
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Doug Martin hopes to start
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 have a lot of new this training camp, most notably head coach Jon Gruden. Much of camp will focus on Gruden, who has a lot of pressure on him to get this squad going back in the right direction. Gruden was given a huge contract, so expectations are high for him. He already started putting his stamp on the team during the offseason, so we will get an idea if his personnel moves are the right ones, starting in training camp.
Position battle: The Raiders should have a battle on their hands with veteran running backs Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin competing for the starting running back spot. Lynch might be the logical choice, but don't count out Martin. He seems a better fit for the offense and might have more left in the tank at this stage of their careers. It should be a legit battle for the job and one worth monitoring for fantasy teams.
Injury watch: The Raiders signed Jordy Nelson this offseason with the hopes of him starting and producing like he has past years. Nelson missed just a game last year but his production was way down. Nelson did not look like the player from past years. His health will be something to monitor in training camp, especially if you consider he is 33 years old. Oakland needs a healthy and production Nelson if this team hopes to have a big season.
The Broncos had a disappointing season last year, mainly because of a poor offense. The team signed Case Keenum to a big contract this offseason, hoping to have finally found their franchise quarterback. So much of camp will focus on Keenum to see if he is the right man for the job. Keenum will be counted on to lead the offense and get things turned around on that side of the ball.
Position battle: The Broncos had C.J. Anderson as their starting running back last year, but he is gone. This leaves an opening for the No. 1 running back job. Devontae Booker should get first crack at the job, but he will be pushed by rookie Royce Freeman. Booker has not done a whole lot with past chances, so he will need to show better in camp and preseason action if he hopes to hold off Freeman, who might be the more complete back of the two.
Injury watch: Tight end Jake Butt missed all of his rookie season as he recovered from a torn ACL. He has a chance to play a big role this year as long as he is healthy. He should be considered the favorite to start because he is a dual threat at the position, doing well as a receiver and blocker. Butt has the talent to help fantasy teams as well as long as he is starting.
The Chargers already had the injury bug hit this offseason and this has been an issue for the team in recent years. San Diego is getting older, so keeping their veterans healthy will be a priority for the team this training camp. If any of their star players go down once again, it could be a long year for San Diego. But if the Chargers can stay healthy, they have the makings of a playoff team.
Position battle: The Chargers have a huge hole to fill, losing Hunter Henry this offseason to a torn ACL. He is out for the season. San Diego doesn't have much behind Henry on the depth chart right now. Virgil Green seems the likely starter but the team could bring in other veteran options, such as Antonio Gates, if Green doesn't show well in camp. This position isn't decided by any means and is one to watch because the tight end in San Diego normally gets a lot of targets.
Injury watch: Mike Williams was a bust his rookie year, having a lost season because of injury. He had back and knee issues that limited him to 11 receptions in 10 games. The Chargers still have high hopes for him, though. and he should play a big role as long as he is healthy. His targets could even increase because of the loss of Hunter Henry at tight end. Williams will need to be healthy from day one, though, if he hopes to take advantage of his more chances.
The Chiefs made a big change this offseason, handing over the starting quarterback duties to second-year player Pat Mahomes. He will be the player to watch this training camp. Mahomes has a lot of pressure on him to produce right away, taking over as the starting quarterback for a good team. The Chiefs hope Mahomes can take their offense to another level. We will get a sense of if that can happen by watching Mahomes in camp and preseason action.
Position battle: The Chiefs have their starting receivers set but the No. 3 job is up for grabs. They have a host of options competing for that job. Demarcus Robinson, De'Anthony Thomas and Chris Conley probably will get first shot at the job. These guys all bring a little something different to the table, but have the skill set to produce at the position. We should have a better idea on the winner of the job as camp and the preseason gets going. It should sort itself out.
Injury watch: Running back Spencer Ware tore his PCL and LCL before last season and missed the entire year. He is still recovering from the injury and no sure thing to be ready for the start of camp or even the regular season. These are very serious injuries to return, so keep an eye on his status during training camp for the latest. He will be the top backup for the Chiefs when he his healthy and playing.
Seattle Seahawks DE Frank Clark (elbows) disclosed via Twitter on Tuesday, Jan. 15, that he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in both of his elbows in Week 14 against the Minnesota Vikings and played 'the whole season at 60 percent.'
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (shoulder) is not guaranteed to play at all in 2019 as the team considers all of its options regarding his injured shoulder. Per ESPN.com's David Newton, the organization has been in discussions with medical personnel on the best plan to strengthen the shoulder - whether that's with rest or another surgery. A surgery opens the possibility Newton could miss a season - just as Andrew Luck did in 2017 - after undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder.
Fantasy Spin: It sounds as if missing all of 2019 is only a worst-case scenario, but the fact it is even on the table this early in the offseason is concerning. Kyle Allen played well in the regular-season finale and could conceivably be asked to fill in, but Carolina will probably try hard to secure a capable placeholder in free agency or spend a relatively early pick in the draft at quarterback to protect itself. At this point, it's probably best if fantasy owners assume the worst and hope for good news sometime this summer.
The Denver Broncos reached an agreement on Tuesday to make former Chicago Bears defensive backs coach Ed Donatell their next defensive coordinator, according to a source. Donatell served behind Vic Fangio in Chicago, who is now Denver's head coach. Expect Fangio to have most of the say with defensive play-calling moving forward. Denver still has a solid pass rush in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, as well as a top cornerback in Chris Harris Jr. They ranked 22nd in yards allowed per game (365.1), 20th in passing yards allowed (245.6), 21st in rushing yards allowed (119.6) and 13th in points allowed per game (21.8) in 2018. Their strength was creating turnovers, coming in tied for fifth in the league with 28 takeaways.
Free-agent QB Alex McGough (Seahawks) was signed to a Reserve/Futures deal by the Jacksonville Jaguars Tuesday, Jan. 15.
Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper said he has "no idea" on whether quarterback Cam Newton (shoulder) will need offseason surgery. Newton's right shoulder hampered him down the stretch and he was shut down for the final two games with the team eliminated from postseason contention. We'd be surprised if he didn't undergo right shoulder surgery for the second straight season based on how he looked in the second half of the season. While a second straight year of surgery would have many scared to take Newton as a QB1 in 2019 drafts, he'd still have QB1 upside based on his running abilities.
Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton's (shoulder) offseason recovery remains unclear as team owner David Tepper admitted he has 'no idea' if Newton will have surgery.
Fantasy Spin: Newton's rushing numbers were down in 2018 - including a career-low four rushing touchdowns - but his passing statistics were better. He even completed a career-high 67.9% of his attempts. His rushing ability will always have him in QB1 territory.
New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas is just the fourth player since 1970 to achieve multiple playoff games with at least 130 receiving yards.
Fantasy Spin: Thomas led his position in catches in the regular season (125) and has kept it going in the playoffs. Drew Brees may not play much longer, but Thomas will be a WR1 candidate no matter who his quarterback is.
Kansas City Chiefs TE Travis Kelce is just the fifth tight end since 1999 to achieve multiple 100-yard playoff games.
Fantasy Spin: Kelce's value is sky high as long as Patrick Mahomes is on the field. He was the No. 1 fantasy tight end in both PPR and standard scoring and deserves to be the first tight end selected in 2019 fantasy drafts.
Cincinnati Bengals WR Tyler Boyd (knee) is about two weeks away from being fully recovered from his sprained medial collateral ligament.
Fantasy Spin: When they're full go, Boyd and A.J. Green form one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL. Boyd broke out in his third season to the tune of 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games. He's on the WR2 radar heading into the offseason.
The Indianapolis Colts want to re-sign impending free-agent kicker Adam Vinatieri, according to a source. Despite a missed kick and extra point in the divisional round loss to the Chiefs, the 46-year-old had a fantastic season, making 85.2 percent of his 27 field-goal tries in 2018. Vinatieri has said he's open to another season, so he should return to an Indianapolis offense on the rise. The ageless kicker should remain fantasy relevant in 2019.
The New York Jets are finalizing a deal to make former Cleveland Browns interim head coach Gregg Williams their next defensive coordinator on Tuesday, according to a source. Williams was previously the defensive coordinator in Cleveland before he was promoted to interim head coach when they fired Hue Jackson midway through the 2018 season. He oversaw a rising Browns defense and overall team led by rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Jets ranked near the bottom of the league in most major defensive categories in 2018, so Williams has his work cut out for him.
Former Cleveland Browns interim head coach Gregg Williams is finalizing a deal to become the next defensive coordinator of the New York Jets, according to a source. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent PK Adam Vinatieri may return to the Colts if the Colts have their way, according to a source.
Fantasy Spin: Vinatieri has been historically accurate and consistent, but he's avoided No. 1 fantasy kicker numbers for two consecutive years now. Even if he's brought back in one of the league's best offenses, there are plenty of better options at kicker.
Free-agent DT Tyrunn Walker (Bills) is signing with the New Orleans Saints Tuesday, Jan. 15.
Philadelphia Eagles QB Nick Foles is a player the team would like to have return even though Foles can buy out of the final year of his contract if the Eagles pick up his 2019 option. 'We would love to keep Nick Foles,' Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said Tuesday, Jan. 15, at the team's year-end news conference. 'You talk about a guy we've drafted here and grown incredibly close with. Certainly, as we go into the substance of those discussions, no question ... we'd love to keep him.'
Fantasy Spin: With the Eagles already saying earlier Tuesday that they remain fully committed to Carson Wentz as their starting quarterback, Foles appears to be luxury who will become too expensive to retain. The ideal situation for Philly might be retaining or placing the franchise tag on Foles and then find a team willing to to pay the price in a trade.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson reiterated that quarterback Carson Wentz remains the team's QB of the future, not Nick Foles. Wentz's season-ending injuries the last two years and Foles' improbable Super Bowl run in 2017 and his short playoff run this year has many questioning who is the better signal caller for the team. But while Wentz is now injury-prone, he's the better quarterback when healthy and is also heading into only his fourth season in the NFL. Wentz had 33 touchdowns and only seven interceptions in 13 games in 2017 before his knee injury. He'll be a risk/reward QB1 pick in 2019 drafts, while the Eagles will likely look to trade Foles this offseason.
Philadelphia Eagles WR Golden Tate's trade-deadline acquisition from the Detroit Lions 'no question' worked out the way the Eagles hoped it would, general manager Howie Roseman said Tuesday, Jan. 15.
Fantasy Spin: It didn't exactly work out for Tate's fantasy owners, who saw the wideout catch only 30-of-44 targets for 278 yards and a TD in eight regular-season games with the Eagles. Tate added seven catches for 64 yards and a TD in two playoff contests, but there's little doubt his fantasy-WR stock will be down next summer.
Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz (back) is the team's 'starting quarterback going forward ,' head coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday, Jan. 16, at the team's season-ending news conference.
Fantasy Spin: As expected, the Eagles remain fully committed to Wentz even though he's been unable to finish each of the last two seasons. Look for Nick Foles to return on the final year of his current deal and be dealt if Philly can receive any kind of decent return in a trade.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd (knee) said he has roughly two weeks left of rehabbing the sprained MCL he suffered in Week 14. Boyd should be fine for organized team activities in the spring and will go into training camp at 100 percent. The 24-year-old had a career year in 2018, catching 76 passes for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games. It helped that he was the team's top wideout for a stretch after A.J. Green's season-ending injury. Still, Boyd will be on the radar as a strong WR3 next season after putting himself on the fantasy map in 2018.
Former Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith said on Sirius XM Tuesday, Jan. 15, that he has no desire to coach again.