Training Camp Preview: AFC South

Wed Jul 24 10:12am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Funchess looks to start


This is the third 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.

Titans

The Titans were close last year but just missed out on the playoffs. The team made a few more changes this offseason and look to get over the hump. The big thing to watch this camp is the development of Marcus Mariota. This could be a make or break year for him. He needs to take his game to another level if the Titans hope to make the playoffs on a yearly basis. He battled injury much of last year, though, but seems to be over that. Mariota is likely the key to the Titans season. 

Position battle: The Titans are pretty crowded at receiver this year. The big battle should be for the starter opposite Corey Davis. Tajae Sharpe and rookie A.J. Brown should battle for that job. Sharpe has been a bit of a disappointment to start his career but has been around and knows the offense. Brown is an exciting, young talent but might take some time to get up to speed to the pro game. This should be a close battle this training camp. 

Injury watch: Tight end Delanie Walker broke his ankle the first game of last season and missed the rest of the year. He is healthy and ready for the start of training camp, but his health is something to keep an eye on. Walker turns 35 just before the start of the year and is coming off a season he played just a game. He can be a big part of the offense if he rebounds well from his injury. 

Colts

The Colts had a good season last year and will look to have a great one this season. The team is on the upswing and have a lot going for them. There isn’t a whole lot to decide in camp but keeping Andrew Luck healthy is key. He came back strong last year and could be even stronger this season. The Colts need Luck on the field and leading the way offensively. He makes this offense click. 

Position battle: The Colts made some changes at receiver this offseason, signing Devin Funchess and drafting Parris Campbell. This guys will compete for the right to start opposite TY Hilton. Funchess has done well in spurts throughout his career but has not played in an offense like this before. He could flourish in a more pass-happy system. Campbell is a speed burner at receiver that could be the top deep threat for the Colts this year even if he doesn’t start. He will be stiff competition for Funchess. 

Injury watch: Tight end Eric Ebron had offseason groin surgery. He missed most of offseason workouts but was near full strength during minicamp. He should be ready to go for training camp and not be limited. His injury situation is still something to keep an eye on, though. Ebron had a huge first season with the Colts and should be setup for more big things this year. 

Jaguars

The Jaguars took a step backwards last year. The team really disappointed, especially offensively. The team will need to get things going on that side of the ball if they hope to return to the playoffs. Jacksonville made a big splash this offseason, signing Nick Foles to take over as their starting quarterback. Foles might be the key to the season for the Jaguars. He can play at a high level but has lacked some consistency throughout his career. It will be interesting to see how he does in this offense, moving from the Eagles to the Jaguars.  

Position battle: It seems like this is the case every year but the Jaguars have some things to sort out at receiver once again. Chris Conley, Marqise Lee, Keelan Cole, Dede Westbrook and Terrelle Pryor will fight it out for playing time. Lee might be the only sure thing but is returning from a torn ACL and might not be ready for the start of the season. Westbrook is a good fit for the slot and seems destined to serve that role. Conley is a free agent acquisition that could play a big role with a strong camp and preseason. Cole has done well in spurts and has plenty of talent but lacks consistency. Pryor is a wild card. He has done little in past years but is a former 1,000-yard receiver.  

Injury watch: Receiver Marqise Lee tore his ACL last season and missed the entire season. He is still recovering from the major injury and might not be ready until late in camp and preseason action. He will have a big role in the offense once healthy, but nothing is certain about his status right now. You’ll want to check out his status in camp and preseason action before deciding if he is worth a draft pick this year. 

Texans 

The Texans won a very good division last year and will look for a repeat this season. The pieces are certainly in place for good things from this team. The big key for this team the last few seasons has been staying healthy. When that happens, good things tend to happen for the Texans. But when some key pieces get hurt, things don’t go so well for Houston. So for now, just staying healthy this camp and preseason is something the Texans hope happens.  

Position battle: The Texans should have a pretty good battle for the tight end spot with Jordan Thomas, Jordan Akins, and rookie Kahale Warring looking to start. Thomas is the odds on favorite to start but isn’t going to be handed anything. Akins and Warring will get their chances as well to show their stuff. Warring is the most intriguing of the two. He is a good pass catcher and has the potential to improve in a hurry. 

Injury watch: Receiver Will Fuller tore his ACL last year and missed most of the year. He is recovering well, though, and expects to be ready for Week 1. We’ll know more when camp and preseason action gets underway. Fuller will need to get some work in and show he is healthy to get the go ahead for Week 1. Fuller just produces when he is on the field but has endured injury issues throughout his career. Hopefully, this year is different for him. 

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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

Player Notes
Zach Pascal Aug 18 2:00am ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal was dead silent in their Week 2 preseason matchup against the Cleveland Browns. He was targeted twice, and he registered no catches. With the injury to wideout Daurice Fountain, there is a role open for a number of wide receivers to capture. With the performance fellow wide receiver Deon Cain put up, this was not the type of performance that he needed.

From RotoBaller

Eric Ebron Aug 18 2:00am ET

Indianapolis Colts tight end Eric Ebron was a touchdown machine last season, and he maintained that performance during the team's Week 2 preseason matchup with the Cleveland Browns. He caught just two passes for 28 yards during his limited work, and one of those two catches was for a touchdown. Regardless of the presence of fellow tight end Jack Doyle, Ebron will continue to have a role especially down in the red zone.

From RotoBaller

Deon Cain Aug 18 1:50am ET

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Deon Cain has been showing out throughout training camp. That remained true during the team's Week 2 of the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns. He was their best offensive player with seven catches for 80 yards. Behind wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and Devin Funchess, there is a role available for someone to capture, and Cain is doing his best to make his case. If he's able to maintain similar levels of performance moving forward, he can become a great weapon for this offense.

From RotoBaller

Jordan Wilkins Aug 18 1:40am ET

Indianapolis Colts running back Jordan Wilkins (foot) was expected to miss the team's Week 2 preseason game against the Cleveland Browns, and that remained true. With a cluster of running backs fighting for roles behind the two lead backs of Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines, he needs to get himself back onto the field. As long as he's able to show the consistency we saw from him last year, he should be fine.

From RotoBaller

Tony Pollard Aug 18 1:30am ET

Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard led the backfield in Saturday's preseason game, running the ball five times for 42 yards and a touchdown. He added a nine yard catch as well. Pollard got the most carries and yards and the only touchdown among Cowboys running backs. With Ezekiel Elliott possibly on the sidelines for Week 1 or more, Pollard could be in for a couple of RB1 weeks.

From RotoBaller

Dak Prescott Aug 18 1:30am ET

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott completed all five of his passes in Saturday's preseason game, gaining 64 yards. As expected, Prescott didn't play much but he should get a larger share of at least the first half in the Cowboys dress rehearsal next week. With Ezekiel Elliott far from a sure thing for Week 1, Prescott may have a bit more on his shoulders than expected to start the season.

From RotoBaller

Diontae Johnson Aug 18 1:10am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers rookie wide receiver Diontae Johnson caught three of five targets for 46 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's preseason win over Kansas City. Johnson's touchdown didn't come until the fourth quarter when fellow rookie Devlin Hodges was throwing to him, but Johnson made a spectacular catch in the end zone. The third-round pick from Toledo has been opening eyes in training camp in both offensive drills, as well as in the return game. He doesn't hold any redraft value but his dynasty value has seen a nice tick upward over the preseason.

From RotoBaller

Alex Barnes Aug 18 1:00am ET

Tennessee Titans undrafted free agent running back Alex Barnes led all running backs in rushing with seven carries for 42 yards in the team's Week 2 preseason matchup with the New England Patriots. Barnes showed an excellent combination of power and patience in only his second NFL game, but he is still considered a long shot to make the roster. Barnes' impressive combine and preseason showing help his chances at landing on a practice squad if he is cut by the Titans, but he should be considered droppable even in deep dynasty formats.

From RotoBaller

Delanie Walker Aug 18 1:00am ET

Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker only played two drives in his first action since Week 1 of the 2018 season, but that was enough for him to catch two passes for 26 yards and a touchdown. It seems Walker and quarterback Marcus Mariota are picking up right where they left off prior to Walker's season-ending injury. Walker remains a solid late-round value pick at tight end, but expect his ADP to start to creep up as we get closer to fantasy draft season.

From RotoBaller

Donte Moncrief Aug 18 1:00am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Donte Moncrief caught one pass for three yards before fumbling in Saturday's preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was the first play of Pittsburgh third drive and Moncrief caught the short pass to the right and was stripped. He only played the first quarter before James Washington saw the majority of the work from there on out. Even after fumbling, the fact that Moncrief only played one quarter means that the team is comfortable with where the veteran is at in his first year with the team. He's batting with Washington to be the second starting wide receiver besides JuJu Smith-Schuster but Moncrief continues to be the favorite to win the job. If he can earn the starting role, his 11th round ADP could prove to be an absolute steal for fantasy owners.

From RotoBaller

Vance McDonald Aug 18 1:00am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald caught his sole target for five yards on Saturday against the Chiefs. The starting tight end job is all McDonald's now that Jesse James is gone. McDonald is set to improve upon his 2018 season of 60 receptions for 610 yards and four touchdowns. Naturally, he's been climbing up fantasy draft boards recently due to the increase in opportunity. The 29-year-old has jumped into the seventh round of mock drafts and presents great PPR value.

From RotoBaller

Eli Rogers Aug 18 12:50am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Eli Rogers caught two of his three targets for 31 yards in Saturday's preseason win over Kansas City. The 26-year-old is looking to earn a spot in the offense after missing the majority of 2018 with an injury. However, he earned a start in the final three games and caught 12 passes for 79 yards. Rogers is fighting with Ryan Switzer, Diontae Johnson, and Diontae Spencer for work in the slot this year. Even though Rogers has never truly broken out in his three years with the team, they seem to really see something in him and will likely continue to target him heavily this preseason. Either way, he doesn't hold any fantasy value but could develop into a streamable flex option down the road if he can gain enough chemistry with Ben Roethlisberger.

From RotoBaller

Ka'imi Fairbairn Aug 18 12:40am ET

Houston Texans kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn was 3-for-3 on field goal attempts and 3-for-3 on extra point attempts in Saturday's preseason win over the Detroit Lions. His longest field goal was a 50-yarder. Fairbairn's one of the most promising young kickers in the NFL and has a chance to break into the top tier of fantasy kickers this season based on his accuracy and the opportunities he'll have in Houston's offense. If you're someone who doesn't want to stream kickers, Fairbairn is worth a look.

From RotoBaller

Ryan Switzer Aug 18 12:40am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Ryan Switzer caught his only target for five yards in Saturday's preseason win over the Chiefs. Switzer didn't see any action in the first preseason game but his limited role on Saturday causes some questions about his role on the team. The 24-year-old made his money in the return game last season but with the team's addition of Diontae Johnson and Diontae Spencer, Switzer is going to have to work extra hard to carve out a role on the offense. He's battling both previously mentioned as well as Eli Rogers for the slot position. Regardless, he holds no fantasy value and even if he's on the field he'll likely be the fourth and sometimes fifth best option for Ben Roethlisberger.

From RotoBaller

DeAndre Hopkins Aug 18 12:30am ET

Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught two passes for 17 yards and a touchdown on Houston's first series during Saturday's preseason win over the Detroit Lions. Hopkins continued to show good rapport with quarterback Deshaun Watson and reminded fantasy owners why he's the first wide receiver being drafted in most leagues. Notably, Houston ran a sharp, sped-up offense that could provide Hopkins with additional playmaking opportunities if it carries over to the regular season.

From RotoBaller

JuJu Smith-Schuster Aug 18 12:30am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was unable to catch any of his three targets in Saturday's preseason win over Kansas City. The 22-year-old saw his action in the first quarter before sitting the remainder of the evening. Smith-Schuster is the team's top pass catcher and is being targeted in fantasy drafts accordingly. His early-to-mid second round ADP has the chance to provide great value in PPR formats. However, he hasn't scored more than seven touchdowns in his first two season but now that Antonio Brown is out of town, the USC product has a chance at a career year in Pittsburgh.

From RotoBaller

Jordan Thomas Aug 18 12:30am ET

Houston Texans tight end Jordan Thomas has missed most of training camp and the preseason, but he was active in Saturday's preseason win over the Detroit Lions. Thomas caught two of his five targets for 17 yards and also had a touchdown called back by penalty. Thomas was originally expected to be Houston's top tight end, but he was third on the depth chart on Saturday. How fast he manages to work his way back consistently into the rotation will determine how much -- if any -- fantasy value Thomas will have. For now, he's somewhere in the high TE3 range but with upside to finish as a TE2.

From RotoBaller

Taiwan Jones Aug 18 12:20am ET

Houston Texans running back Taiwan Jones started Saturday's preseason win over the Detroit Lions. He rushed once for five yards. While Jones wasn't very involved offensively, head coach Bill O'Brien's decision to go with him as the starter with Lamar Miller and Duke Johnson out suggests that Jones may be in the lead for the third running back role in Houston. His ability to make an impact on special teams -- something O'Brien wants from the third and fourth back -- will be what gets him a spot if he earns one. Don't expect Jones to see much usage if Miller and Johnson are healthy.

From RotoBaller

Benny Snell Jr. Aug 18 12:20am ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. rushed seven times for 16 yards and caught two passes for five yards in Saturday's 17-7 win over Kansas City. The 2019 fourth-round pick is getting a strong look this preseason as the team knows what to expect from incumbent James Conner and Jaylen Samuels. Snell Jr. is Kentucky's all-time leading rusher so his talent is undeniable, but it might be awhile before he gets a solid workload in Pittsburgh. He has solid dynasty value but can be forgotten about in redraft, unless something were to happen to Conner or Samuels.

From RotoBaller

Vyncint Smith Aug 18 12:20am ET

Houston Texans wide receiver Vyncint Smith caught a 31-yard touchdown in Saturday's preseason win over the Detroit Lions. It was Smith's only catch on his four targets. Smith is embroiled in a tough battle to be Houston's fifth receiver, and Saturday night was a reminder that he has the big-play ability to perform in that role. There's still a chance someone like Steven Mitchell winds up beating him out, and even if Smith makes the team, he'd be too inconsistently used to be worth a fantasy roster spot unless injuries occur.

From RotoBaller