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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said that wide receivers Alshon Jeffery (calf) and DeSean Jackson (groin) and tight end Dallas Goedert (calf) are all day-to-day. There's a possibility that both Jeffery and Jackson miss both Weeks 3 and 4, as the Eagles play on a short week next Thursday. Continue to keep an eye on their day-to-day practice status, but it'd be smart to plan around them this Sunday against the Lions. Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins and rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside would function in three-wide sets if both Jeffery and Jackson were out this weekend. Even if Goedert plays against Detroit, he's not much of a fantasy option with Zach Ertz ahead of him.
Cleveland Browns running back Dontrell Hilliard (concussion) has cleared the league's concussion protocol and returned to practice on Wednesday. Hilliard was injured during his team's Week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans and was not able to play in Week 2. He is expected to return to the passing down role in the Cleveland offense, although he may have to split touches with D'Ernest Johnson, who filled in well while Hilliard was out. Neither amounts to much more than a handcuff to Nick Chubb in fantasy leagues.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard continues to work his way back from a concussion he suffered in Week 1. He was on the field at practice Wednesday but was in a non-contact jersey, which suggests he has still not reached the final step in the league's concussion policy. His presence would be a boost to rookie quarterback Daniel Jones, but we need to see him practice in full before even thinking about putting him into any fantasy lineups.
After being re-signed just before last week's game, New York Giants wide receiver T.J. Jones found himself thrust into the lineup and hauling in a touchdown pass. With Cody Latimer (concussion) not practicing and Sterling Shepard (concussion) still not cleared to play, Jones could have sneaky fantasy value in Week 3. He had established a good rapport with new starting quarterback Daniel Jones in the preseason and has the big-play ability to take advantage of the Bucs defense. Keep an eye on Shepard's status, but if he's unable to go, Jones could be a good option in deep leagues and a great low-cost play in DFS lineups.
The New York Giants Defense will get a good matchup when they face Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Bucs on Sunday. Winston's turnover issues have been well-documented, but the Giants secondary has played so poorly that they can't be trusted to really take advantage of them right now. However, the Giants were able to sack Josh Allen a few times last week, and the Bucs offensive line has been struggling so far this season, so there is a chance that they could put pressure on Winston and create sacks and turnovers. They shouldn't be started in season-long leagues, but if you wanted to punt defense in DFS, they could be an interesting option. You'll just have to hold your breath.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley finds himself even more solidified as the face of the Giants franchise after the team's decision to bench quarterback Eli Manning. Although the offense already revolved around Barkley, he will be leaned on even more as a safety blanket for rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. However, the Bucs defense is no longer an easy target. Under new coordinator Todd Bowles, they've allowed only 3.9 yards per carry and just held Christian McCaffrey to 37 yards on 16 carries. Hopefully Jones will include Barkley more in the passing game than Manning had been this year, which would give the second-year back more upside since you still need to run him out there as an RB1 in season-long leagues. But in another tough test for the Giants runner, it would be wise to look elsewhere in DFS.
The New York Giants will turn to Daniel Jones as their starting quarterback in Week 3. His first test will be against a Tampa Bay Bucs defense that just allowed 333 yards through the air to a banged-up and inaccurate Cam Newton. The Bucs defense has certainly improved this year, but there were many big-play opportunities for Newton and the Panthers last week, which could provide Jones with similar chances at splash plays. Still, with the Giants likely to be run-heavy on Sunday, the team's wide receiver corps banged up and this being Jones' first test not against a backup defense in the preseason, the rookie signal-caller is best left to two-quarterback leagues and ignored in DFS for the time being.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram is one of the few Giants whose value is not impacted by the change to a rookie quarterback. Engram is a matchup nightmare for most defenses and remains the Giants top receiving option. In Week 3, he'll get to face a Tampa Bay Bucs defense that just allowed Greg Olsen to put up 110 yards on six catches. Despite the fact that Engram will likely be a central focus for the defense, he can still be fired up as a locked-and-loaded TE1 in season-long leagues and an underrated pivot for DFS lineups.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard is not a recommended fantasy option in a Week 3 matchup against the Detroit Lions. Howard picked up just 18 yards on the ground in Week 2 and will only put up a decent fantasy score if he scores a touchdown. A running back that is so touchdown-dependent without any passing game upside is only worth considering in the deepest of formats. Howard could suddenly have some legitimate value if other members of the Eagles backfield were to get injured, but for now, he's little more than a bench stash just in case.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz likely won't be quite as strong a fantasy option as usual against the Detroit Lions in Week 3. Wentz watched both of his top wide receivers, DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery, leave the game in Week 2 with injuries. Both are officially questionable for Week 3, but most beat writers are expecting the two wide receivers to miss at least one game. Wentz will still have tight end Zach Ertz to throw to, but his top wide receiver will be drop-machine Nelson Agholor. Wentz is still a QB1 for Week 3, but he's on the lower 10-12 range instead of his usual 4-6.
Philadelphia Eagles rookie running back Miles Sanders was one of the few Eagles offensive starters to escape Week 2 without an injury, but he's still not a very exciting fantasy choice for Week 3. Taking on a decent Detroit Lions run defense, Sanders is currently ranked on the RB2/3 turn. He could make for a decent FLEX play, but shouldn't be trusted as a starting running back in most lineups. Sanders has had some decent flashes and is being used in a way that could ultimately end up making him a fantasy starter, but for now he looks like he's still somewhat acclimating to the NFL game and might need some time before he becomes a set-and-forget fantasy starter.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku (concussion) will not practice on Wednesday. Njoku was knocked out of the team's win over the Jets on Monday night during the first quarter when he was upended while trying to make a leaping catch. It doesn't come as a surprise that Njoku is still in the league's concussion protocol just two days after suffering the head injury. Njoku's fantasy owners will want to make alternate plans at the tight end position as he will have a tough time getting cleared on a short week. The Browns take on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night in Week 3.
Free-agent QB David Fales (Lions) signed an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Atlanta Falcons DE Austin Larkin and TE Carson Meier were released from the practice squad on Tuesday, Sept. 17. To fill their spots, free agents P Matt Wile (Vikings) and Nate Wozniak (Vikings) were signed. In a separate move, DT Ra'Shede Hageman (undisclosed) cleared waivers and was placed on the Reserve/Injured list.
Dallas Cowboys RB Darius X. Jackson was released from the practice squad Monday, Sept. 16; in a corresponding move, RB Jordan Chunn was re-signed.
The New England Patriots Defense have allowed only three points all season and now will go up against third-string quarterback Luke Falk and the Jets in Week 3. The Patriots have been suffocating through the first two games and picked up two defensive pick-6 touchdowns against the Dolphins. With the offense humming and perhaps their most talented defensive secondary in the Bill Belichick era, the Patriots are to a great start. The defense suddenly is a must-own in all fantasy formats and will be a top play against the Jets in Week 3.
New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown's first game with the Patriots was a rousing success, catching four passes for 56 yards and one touchdown in Week 2. Brown sat out the first offensive play but then immediately got in on the action and his quick chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady was evident. This week the Patriots will take on a banged up Jets team and Brown's snaps should increase. The All-Pro receiver still is learning the offense but has the kind of elite talent that can shine in any system. He may not be fully up to speed but Brown should still deliver solid fantasy numbers in Week 3.
New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon will try and rebound after catching only two passes for 19 yards in Week 2. Gordon has plenty of talent but the acquisition of Antonio Brown certainly is cutting into his chances. He will go up against a Jets Defense that was gashed by Odell Beckham Jr. and the Browns last Monday. The Patriots offense is so explosive that keeping everyone happy will be tough. Gordon may be the one to suffer for now and will be no higher than a WR3/4 heading into Week 3.
The Minnesota Vikings Defense got off to a rough start, allowing Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to jump out to a quick 21-0 lead in the first quarter. They righted the ship after that, though, holding the Packers scoreless for the rest of the contest. They also notched two sacks, recovered two fumbles, and allowed just 191 passing yards in what was an impressive bounce-back effort. Though this wasn't a productive day from a fantasy standpoint, it wasn't exactly expected to be - on the road against the Packers is not the greatest spot to be in. Slot the Vikings defense in as a top-10 play at home against the bottom-tier Oakland Raiders offense.
New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead has been a fantastic role player for an explosive offense through the first two games of the season. Burkhead has carried the ball 13 times for 5.0 yards per carry and has added seven catches for 88 yards. He clearly is the backup behind teammate Sony Michel but has outplayed veteran James White in the first month of the season. Burkhead is not worth a start in most fantasy formats but has produced when called upon in the Patriots offense. Barring injury, however, Burkhead carries little fantasy value heading into Week 3.