Training Camp Preview: NFC West

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.

Rams

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. 

Cardinals

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. 

49ers

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. 

Seahawks

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

Player Notes
Devonta Freeman Jul 13 9:23am ET

Free-agent RB Devonta Freeman (Falcons) was informed that his agent, Kristin Campbell, has terminated their relationship Sunday, July 12.

Fantasy Spin: Freeman still looks to be holding out for more money than his market value is dictating at the moment. He might have to wait for an injury to sign, but he'll be a potential RB3 in fantasy when he does.

From TheHuddle

Dak Prescott Jul 12 10:23pm ET

Updating previous reports, Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and the team are reportedly 'not close' to agreeing to a contract extension as of Sunday, July 12, according to Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News via a source. The two sides have until July 15 to reach a long-term agreement or Prescott will be forced to play the 2020 season under the $31.4 million franchise tag he signed recently.

From TheHuddle

Richard Sherman Jul 12 10:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers CB Richard Sherman has allowed a completion rate of 47 percent to receivers in his coverage since 2010 - the best mark in the NFL over that span per Pro Football Focus.

From TheHuddle

Ezekiel Elliott Jul 12 7:00pm ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was recently ranked as the 11th best at his position by an anonymous NFL offensive coach. The coach would go on to state that the 24-year-old "doesn't look as strong anymore. Feels like he's about 60 to 70 percent of what he was." Elliott was quick to dismiss these comments, but some fantasy managers may pay attention to these remarks, especially if they are drafting after the selections of Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley. The fifth-year back did have one of the most productive years as a professional in 2019, finishing with 1,357 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns off of 301 attempts. He also added 54 catches for 420 yards and two additional scores. While those numbers don't indicate a downward trend, the former Buckeye will be without the guidance of former head coach Jason Garrett in 2020, who is now the offensive coordinator for the New York Giants.

From RotoBaller

Jamar Taylor Jul 12 4:03pm ET

San Francisco 49ers CB Jamar Taylor has a chance to make the final roster because he has experience at outside cornerback as well as slot cornerback and plays on special teams, in the opinion of NinersWire's Kyle Madson.

From TheHuddle

Jadeveon Clowney Jul 12 1:43pm ET

Free-agent DEs Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks), Everson Griffen (Vikings) and DE Markus Golden (Giants) likely will not receive interest from the New York Jets because the team wants to move their unspent salary cap space to next season, in the opinion of the New York Post's Brian Costello.

From TheHuddle

Christian McCaffrey Jul 12 1:40pm ET

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has plenty of hype entering the 2020 campaign and should continue to be the No. 1 fantasy selection in the majority of fantasy drafts heading into September. However, according to a poll conducted by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, more than 50 percent of league executives view Saquon Barkley as the top back in the league. As claimed by one anonymous AFC executive, McCaffrey is "not as sturdy as Saquon. Not the same speed-and-power combo." While this declaration may not hinder fantasy managers from taking McCaffrey first overall in drafts, it could give many something to think about.

From RotoBaller

Sony Michel Jul 12 12:33pm ET

New England Patriots RB Sony Michel (foot) is no longer wearing a walking boot on his surgically repaired foot.

Fantasy Spin: Michel will be ready for training camp and should receive most of the carries this season but will have to share snaps with several other backs. He should be considered at least a No. 3 running back in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Terrelle Pryor Jul 12 12:23pm ET

Free-agent WR Terrelle Pryor (Jaguars) said he is looking to play in 2020 and has talked with five teams this offseason. He said he would like to play for the New England Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers.

From TheHuddle

A.J. Green Jul 12 11:33am ET

It remains unknown if Cincinnati Bengals WR A.J. Green will sign his franchise tag or agree to a long-term deal before the NFL deadline for contract extensions Wednesday, July 15, at 4 p.m. ET, according to multiple sources.

From TheHuddle

Dak Prescott Jul 12 11:03am ET

The Dallas Cowboys remain optimistic that QB Dak Prescott will accept their best contract extension offer before the NFL deadline Wednesday, July 15, at 4 p.m. ET. However, multiple league sources believe that no long-term deal will be completed by the deadline because he has already signed his franchise tag tender.

From TheHuddle

Chris Conley Jul 12 10:23am ET

Jacksonville Jaguars WR Laviska Shenault Jr. will compete with veteran WR Chris Conley during training camp to be the team's No. 2 receiver behind WR DJ Chark.

Fantasy Spin: Shenault is fully recovered from core muscle surgery and is expected to play an integral role in the Jacksonville offense this season. He has a great deal of upside and is worthy of consideration as a WR5 option in this year's fantasy drafts.

From TheHuddle

Jadeveon Clowney Jul 11 7:23pm ET

Free-agent DE Jadeveon Clowney (Seahawks) could show interest in the Philadelphia Eagles because he wants to join a winning team, according to 710 ESPN's John Clayton.

From TheHuddle

Rodney Gunter Jul 11 6:13pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars DE Rodney Gunter and DE Dawuane Smoot could receive some snaps at defensive tackle this upcoming season.

From TheHuddle

Antonio Brown Jul 11 3:43pm ET

Free-agent WR Antonio Brown (Patriots) reached a settlement with the New England Patriots regarding the compensation grievance Brown filed against the team.

From TheHuddle

Hunter Henry Jul 11 3:20pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry isn't expecting a long-term contract extension before the deadline of Wednesday, July 15, so he expects to play the 2020 season under the $10.6 million franchise tag. The 25-year-old doesn't seem to be too worried about it, though, and he's focused on the 2020 season. He views this year as a prove-it deal because he hasn't played a full season in his four-year career due to injuries. Henry spent May and June working out with rookie quarterback Justin Herbert and recently had throwing sessions with Tyrod Taylor. Henry had career highs with 55 catches and 652 receiving yards in 2019. Among tight ends, Henry has the best passer rating when targeted at 132.3 since 2016. He's surely a top-10 fantasy tight end, but injuries and a downgrade at QB limit his overall ceiling.

From RotoBaller

DeSean Jackson Jul 11 2:30pm ET

The Philadelphia Eagles announced on Friday that they fined wide receiver DeSean Jackson "for conduct detrimental to the team," which included controversial posts on Instagram and sharing an image of a quote falsely attributed to Adolf Hitler earlier this week. Jackson has since offered multiple apologies, but he "must also commit to supporting his words with actions" in order to remain with the team. The 33-year-old missed all but three games in 2019 because of an injury and is now desperately trying to repair his image before the season. If healthy, D-Jax should be the team's primary deep threat, but as usual, he'll be a boom-or-bust WR3 for fantasy owners.

From RotoBaller

Le'Veon Bell Jul 11 2:30pm ET

New York Jets running back Le'Veon Bell had a "great talk" with disgruntled All-Pro safety Jamal Adams on Thursday and came away with the impression that Adams wants to stay in New York if he gets a new contract. Bell doesn't oppose Adams' hard-line stance in negotiations. Adams formally requested a trade last month and has two years remaining on his rookie contract. He's making $3.6 million in 2020 and $9.9 million in 2021 under the fifth-year team option. Adams is believed to be looking to become the highest-paid safety in the league, and the Jets continue to say they want to make him a "Jet for life," but they aren't putting a timetable on it. Bell doesn't want Adams to be traded and doesn't think he will. Adams hasn't had a ton of interceptions, but his ability to play the run and rush the passer makes him unique and the top overall IDP defensive back.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Higbee Jul 11 2:23pm ET

Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee had a 33-percent target rate when the Rams were trailing in 2019. That matched San Francisco 49ers TE George Kittle for the highest percentage in the league, according to Pro Football Focus data.

Fantasy Spin: Higbee closed out 2019 with a stellar five-game run and has placed himself squarely in TE1 territory for 2020. He's a tight end to target if you miss out on the top five.

From TheHuddle

Davante Adams Jul 11 1:43pm ET

Green Bay Packers WR Davante Adams is the only wide receiver with 4,000 receiving yards and 40 touchdown receptions since 2016.

Fantasy Spin: Injuries limited Adams to a career-low 12 games in 2019, ending a run of three straight top-12 fantasy wideout finishes. With any kind of better health fortune, expect a WR1 bounce-back season for Adams.

From TheHuddle