Mon Jul 29 10:49am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Newton is a question mark
This is the seventh 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 Falcons didn’t have the season as expected last year, failing to finish above .500. The big issue was the defense, allowing more than 400 points last year. The offense was very good with the passing game excelling. So much of this camp will be focused on getting the defense right. If that happens, the Falcons can make a playoff push.
Position battle: Receiver Calvin Ridley had a solid rookie season but was a little up and down. Mohamed Sanu is the starter opposite Julio Jones right now but could lose that starting spot to Ridley. Sanu has been a productive NFL player but isn’t off the charts by any means. Ridley is the more talented player of the two with more upside for the big things. He should push Sanu for playing time and likely take over as the starter at some point.
Injury watch: Running back Devonta Freeman played just two games last year, needing surgery to fix a groin injury. He is back to full strength and will be back to his lead duties for the Falcons. Atlanta needs him healthy with Tevin Coleman gone. Freeman will be counted on to carry the load a little more, so being healthy is pertinent for the Falcons and Freeman’s fantasy owners.
The Saints don’t have a lot to be decided this training camp. Much of camp could be getting this team primed for a Super Bowl run. There are high expectations for the team after a good showing last year. Drew Brees doesn’t have a whole lot of time left to make another Super Bowl, so this season could be a big one for his legacy.
Position battle: The Saints like to rotate receivers, giving plenty of guys chances during the season. But the starter opposite Michael Thomas still has a little more value than the other guys. Right now, Ted Ginn is the favorite to start but Tre’Quan Smith and a healthy Cameron Meredith could push Ginn for the starting spot. This will be a battle to watch because it has fantasy implications. Smith is an intriguing player that showed his rookie year he is capable of the huge game.
Injury watch: Receiver Ted Ginn played just five games last year because of a knee injury. If he hopes to have a big role this year and keep his starting job, he will need to be healthy and stay healthy. Ginn seems back to his old self during offseason workouts but his age and last year is a concern going forward for him.
The big thing to watch in Panthers camp this year is Cam Newton. How is he going to recover from another surgery to his throwing arm? Newton really is the key to the season for the Panthers. The team needs him healthy and playing at a high level if they hope to have any success this year. The offense really goes through Newton.
Position battle: D.J. Moore is going to start at one of the receiver spots and Curtis Samuel will work out of the slot, but the No. 2 receiver is up in the air. Devin Funchess is gone, leaving a hole at the position. The candidates to start are Jarius Wright, Torrey Smith and Chris Hogan. It really is a wide open battle without a favorite. We’ll know more as camp and the preseason progresses.
Injury watch: Quarterback Cam Newton had major shoulder surgery this offseason. He is throwing but will be on a pitch count in camp. The Panthers will take it slow with their star quarterback. Newton has progressed well from the surgery but seeing how he is throwing the ball will be something fantasy teams should monitor closely. Newton is a real wild card this year after having shoulder surgery once again.
The Bucs made changes to the coaching staff once again, hiring Bruce Arians. He should be a big plus for the offense, including starting quarterback Jameis Winston. So the big focus of camp is likely being the Bucs getting up to speed both offensively and defensively with their new schemes. Hopefully, the offense picks things up quick because it could be pretty potent from a fantasy perspective.
Position battle: The Bucs should have a real battle on their hands for the starting running back spot. Peyton Barber was the starter last year and has a leg up for the job, but second-year back Ronald Jones is looking to rebound from a poor rookie year. A new coaching staff should be a plus for Jones, who had a strong offseason of work. Jones should be given a fair shot to unseat Barber.
Injury watch: Tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout season last year but missed six gams because of an ankle injury. He is yet to play a full season since entering the NFL. He has a chance for another big year but needs to be on the field for that to happen. Howard has not shown he can on the field to date but hopes to change that perception this season. He could be a star.
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.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (ankle) plans to play against the 49ers on Sunday. Mixon injured his ankle during the Week 1 matchup against the Seahawks and finished with just 10 yards on six carries to go along with two receptions for seven yards. The 23-year-old practiced in a limited capacity on Friday, with the final determination regarding his status coming during pregame warmups. If Mixon is in the lineup, Giovani Bernard's stock will decrease significantly in Week 2.
Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley (groin) is not expected to play against the Detroit Lions. Badgley did practice throughout the week, and despite feeling good, he likely won't be available in Week 2, leaving punter Ty Long to handle the kicking duties once again. Long went 1-for-1 with three extra points against the Colts but shouldn't be considered a reliable fantasy option on Sunday.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams (knee) will likely play against the Lions. Williams returned to practice on Friday after sitting out the previous two days, but even though he is likely to suit up, the plan is to utilize him in red-zone situations only. With tight end Hunter Henry (knee) not available in Week 2, Williams could get some targets but not enough to justify his place in formats outside of 14-team leagues.
In Week 1, Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines caught all four of his targets for just four yards. He also added four carries for 13 yards. In Week 2, he's nothing more than a dart throw in very deep leagues. During his rookie season, Hines' value came from his volume in the passing game with an average of 3.9 receptions per game. Against the Tennessee Titans this week, the outlook is not the brightest for him. The Titans allowed just four receptions to Cleveland Browns running backs for 24 yards. Unless you're playing in an ultra-deep league, you're avoiding Hines until he sees an uptick in his workload.
Seattle Seahawks S Lano Hill likely will start at safety in Week 2 if S Tedric Thompson (hamstring) is not able to play.
Minnesota Vikings LB Ben Gedeon (groin) is not expected to play in Week 2 because of his groin injury, according to a source.
Buffalo Bills running back T.J. Yeldon only played two offensive snaps in the Bills' opening game against the Jets in Week 1 and there's little reason to believe that will change much in Week 2. He's the clear third-string running back in a rushing offense that's yet to get going. Veteran Frank Gore is the current starter and rookie Devin Singletary is the second-stringer who could be taking more and more of the load off of Gore in coming weeks. Yeldon is on the outside looking in and should remain on waivers in all fantasy leagues.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Zay Jones caught two passes for 18 yards in Week 1. He was targeted four times in the game. He's the team's No. 2 receiver on paper, but slot receiver Cole Beasley will be soaking up many of the targets that would be going to a No. 2 receiver in most offenses, relegating Jones to minimal targets for the foreseeable future. Jones could end up scoring half-a-dozen touchdowns on the year, but when they'll occur will be extremely tough to predict and he's unlikely to put up solid catch and yardage totals as long as Beasley and John Brown are healthy and productive. Jones can be left on waiver wires until further notice.
New York Jets LB Neville Hewitt is expected to start at inside linebacker in Week 2 since LB C.J. Mosley (groin) has been ruled out.
New York Jets wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) is questionable to play on Monday night against the Browns in Week 2. Thomas hasn't practiced all week and is probably on the wrong side of questionable for this one. Quincy Enunwa's season-ending injury is good news for Thomas having a role with Gang Green this year, but fantasy owners must wait and see if Thomas develops as a pass-catching threat. He'll have to prove that he's healthy first behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder. Even if DT plays on Monday, he's not a fantasy option with Trevor Siemian at quarterback. Josh Bellamy could see more of a role in three-receiver sets if Thomas is inactive, but he's not on the fantasy map.
Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews is expected to play in Sunday's matchup against the Arizona Cardinals despite being held out of practice Friday with a foot injury. Andrews caught all eight of his targets in Week 1 against Miami for 108 yards and a touchdown. He also caught three of quarterback Lamar Jackson's five third-down completions, which boosts his potential of becoming Jackson's "security blanket" going forward. The growing chemistry between these two will prove to be a nice bonus for your fantasy lineups as the season progresses. It is safe to start Andrews against a Cardinals Defense that allowed rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson to rack up 131 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert was able to make it through Week 1 without injury while registering a modest five-catch, 27-yard performance. Although fellow tight end CJ Uzomah played more snaps (70.67%) than Eifert (49.33%) in Week 1, Eifert participated in a greater percentage of the Bengals passing routes, meaning Uzomah is being asked to block more than Eifert on passing plays. That being said, Eifert has a four-inch height advantage over San Francisco 49ers safety Tarvarius Moore, which bodes well for his chances of catching a touchdown when the Bengals have the ball in the red zone. Eifert should be considered an extremely touchdown-dependent TE2 in 12-team leagues.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd had the second-most targets (11) for the Bengals in Week 1, but he should lead the Bengals in that department this week. In Week 2, wide receiver John Ross should line up against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman for roughly 50 percent of his routes. If quarterback Andy Dalton chooses to stay away from Sherman, it could mean more passes for Boyd. The Pittsburgh product should be able to exploit his matchup against 49ers cornerback K'Waun Williams, who has been dealing with a knee injury.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross had a huge Week 1 performance against the Seattle Seahawks, catching seven passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Expectations for Ross have increased, but he has a much tougher matchup in Week 2 against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman. Although Sherman is getting older (31), he's still a solid cornerback and quarterbackAndy Dalton could simply look to avoid the matchup. It's possible that Ross could run by Sherman for a deep ball, but absent that it's quite possible the Bengals speedster comes back down to Earth in this one. Ross will be difficult to trust as a WR3 in 12-team leagues in Week 2 and should be considered a boom-or-bust commodity.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill was limited to 27 rushing yards and no touchdowns on seven carries in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. The Ravens gave the ball to all three backfield options in the opening drive against Miami and it's clear they will be looking to utilize all three as the season progresses. There's no question that Hill will get touches, but Baltimore may look to push the ball through the middle of the Cardinals front line with talented outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Chandler Jones helping Arizona's edge. This type of game plan would result in running backs Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards seeing the bulk of touches to start. Hill can be played as an RB3/4 in Week 2 with the most touchdown potential going to Ingram and Edwards.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Willie Snead caught 2-of-3 targets for 41 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. Snead is the third receiver on the depth chart being Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin, but was targeted more than Boykin in Week 1. Expect Brown and tight end Mark Andrews to receive the bulk of targets from quarterback Lamar Jackson, but Snead has sneaky upside against a Cardinals Defense that allowed quarterback Matthew Stafford to throw for 385 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1. Snead can be played as a WR4/5 flyer in most formats for Week 2.
Baltimore Ravens practice squad CB Maurice Canady was signed to the 53-man roster Saturday, Sept. 14. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The team also waived OT Greg Senat.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram was a full participant in practice Thursday and Friday despite being listed as questionable for Week 2. Expect Ingram to lead the backfield in touches against a Cardinals Defense that allowed the most rushing yards in the league in 2018 (2,479). The Cardinals only gave up 116 rushing yards to the Lions in Week 1 and limited running back Kerryon Johnson to 49 yards with zero touchdowns. Baltimore's run-first offense allows for Ingram to slide in your starting lineups as he will be utilized to wear out the Cardinals front line and keep the defense honest under the looming presence of quarterback Lamar Jackson's seemingly improved passing game.
Coming off an uninspiring performance in Week 1, the future doesn't look much brighter for Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in a Week 2 home matchup with the New England Patriots. Fitzpatrick completed 14-for-29 passes for 185 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in his first start for the Dolphins but most of the damage came after the game was already out of hand, with the Dolphins ultimately losing 59-10 at home to the Ravens. Surrounded by few offensive weapons and protected by a shaky offensive line, Fitzpatrick is only worth a desperation start in leagues starting more than one quarterback.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has good potential for another nice outing against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2. The Week 1 star faces a Cardinals Defense that allowed the fourth-most passing yards in the league in 2018 (3,262). The Cardinals defense allowed Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford to throw for 385 yards and three touchdowns in Week 1. Despite the Ravens run-first offense, expect Jackson to connect with wide receiver Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews for good fantasy output again in Week 2. Thrust him into your starting line up in good faith against the porous Cardinals secondary.