Training Camp Preview: AFC West

Mon Jul 20 9:39pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Williams still hopes to play role


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.

Raiders

The Raiders made strides last year and will look to take another step forward this year. Much of the season might depend on Derek Carr, who has not been super consistent since joining the league. Carr will need to take his game up a level if the Raiders hope to compete in the very tough AFC West. Carr and his teammates will attend training camp at Raiders Headquarters in Henderson, Nevada.

Position battle: The Raiders were a mess at receiver last year and looked to correct that this offseason with moves in the draft and free agency. There is a lot yet to be sorted, though. Henry Ruggs is the only likely starter out of the group. After Ruggs, the Raiders have Tyrell Williams, Zay Jones, Nelson Agholor, Bryan Edwards and Lynn Bowden looking for playing time at the position. All these players have their positives and negatives, so it should be an interesting battle this camp for playing time at the receiver spot.

Injury watch: Running back Isaiah Crowell tore his Achilles’ before the start of last year and missed the entire season. He is trying to return from the injury and win a roster spot with the Raiders. He has 850-plus rushing yards two of the last three seasons he has played. Crowell can be a solid backup if healthy. He will need to prove he is all the way back from this injury if he hopes to win a role with the Raiders. 

Broncos

Denver is hoping to take a step forward this year, hoping many of their young players continue to get better. The Broncos have a lot of young, offensive talent, so much of their season might depend on the development of those talented youngsters. Denver will need these guys to improve if they hope to make the playoffs, especially second-year quarterback Drew Lock. Denver holds training camp at Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Center in Dove Valley, Colorado.

Position battle: The Broncos signed Melvin Gordon this offseason, pairing him with Phillip Lindsay at the running back spot. Lindsay has been a 1,000-yard rusher each of the past two season for the Broncos, so don’t discount him for a big role again this year. He won’t just sit back and let Gordon take over as the lead back for the Broncos. Remember, Gordon did not look like himself last year, so he has a lot to prove in camp and preseason action if he hopes to start and get a ton of work in the Broncos offense this year.

Injury watch: Phillip Lindsay is expected to be just fine for training camp but is recovering from offseason wrist surgery. It is something to at least watch a little, especially since Lindsay has a lot to prove with Gordon now on the roster. Lindsay can’t afford any setbacks if he hopes to have a decent role with the team this year.    

Chargers

The Chargers have a new quarterback for the first time in a long, long time, so the quarterback position should be the focus of this training camp. Tyrod Taylor is expected to start this year with Justin Herbert getting groomed to take over at some point in the near future. The two quarterbacks will battle it out in training camp at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, California.

Position battle: Melvin Gordon is gone, leaving Austin Ekeler as the starting back for the Chargers. The Charges like to rotate backs, though, so the backup has good fantasy value. And that backup job is up for grabs between Justin Jackson and rookie Joshua Kelley. Jackson impressed with his limited work last year but isn’t going to be handed the backup job. Kelley is a talented rookie that could unseat Jackson as the No. 2 back.

Injury watch: Hunter Henry missed four games last year because of injury and is yet to play a full season since entering the NFL in 2016. He is not recovering from any injury at this point but his injury history makes him a player to keep an eye on in camp. Henry can play a big role in this offense as long as he is healthy and on the field.

Chiefs

The Chiefs are the defending Super Bowl champs, so expectations will be high for this team. Every team in the NFL will be gunning for the Chiefs. Kansas City will need to try to play with the same intensity of last year and maybe even up their game even more if they hope to repeat. The Chiefs quest for back-to-back championships begins at the Kansas City Chiefs Practice Facility in Kansas City, Missouri.

Position battle: The Chiefs took the first running back in the draft, selecting Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round. Edwards-Helaire is a capable three-down back that seems a great fit for the Chiefs offense. Damien Williams is still around, though, and done well with his chances in past seasons for the Chiefs. He is not going to just roll over and let Edwards-Helaire start. This two should have a legit battle for the right to be No. 1 back for the Chiefs.

Injury watch: The Chiefs really don’t have any injuries of note, which is kind of surprising since they won the Super Bowl last year. The team played more games than nearly every team in the NFL but did a good job of staying healthy. Patrick Mahomes missed some time last year because of a knee injury, so he might be a player to watch in camp to make sure he is back to normal after that scare last year. Obviously, the health of Mahomes is key to the Chiefs having any chance at a repeat.

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
Julian Edelman Sep 19 12:53am ET

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman was on the field for five of the 27 offensive snaps played with two receivers against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. From 2017 to 2019, he was on the field for 41 percent of the snaps in two-receiver sets.

Fantasy Spin: One game isn't a big sample, and Edelman was still New England's most productive receiver in the opener. Fewer snaps would lead to less consistency, but Edelman is going to have WR3 potential regardless.

From TheHuddle

Mark Andrews Sep 19 12:43am ET

Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews played a career-high 71 percent of the offensive snaps against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, topping his previous high of 55 percent of the snaps.

Fantasy Spin: Andrews emerged as an elite fantasy tight end last year despite playing about half the snaps. If his increased usage from Week 1 becomes the norm, he should be a lock for top-five production.

From TheHuddle

Gerald Everett Sep 18 11:33pm ET

Los Angeles Rams TE Gerald Everett (back) is expected to play against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, according to head coach Sean McVay. 'We put him as questionable, but he ended up going today,' McVay said. 'He felt good. I fully expect him to be ready to go.'

From TheHuddle

Doug Middleton Sep 18 11:03pm ET

Free-agent S Doug Middleton (Titans) was signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squad Friday, Sept. 18.

From TheHuddle

Devante Bond Sep 18 10:53pm ET

Free-agent LB Devante Bond (Bears) and OG Dieter Eiselen (Bears) were signed to the practice squad of the Chicago Bears Friday, Sept. 18.

From TheHuddle

Mason Schreck Sep 18 10:43pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals TE Mason Schreck was promoted from the practice squad to the 53-man roster Friday, Sept. 18.

From TheHuddle

C.J. Uzomah Sep 18 10:43pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah (Achilles) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Friday, Sept. 18.

From TheHuddle

Antonio Callaway Sep 18 9:43pm ET

Miami Dolphins WR Antonio Callaway will be eligible to return from his suspension after the Dolphins have played seven games in 2020.

From TheHuddle

Lamical Perine Sep 18 9:20pm ET

New York Jets rookie running back La'Mical Perine (ankle) is questionable to face the 49ers in Week 2. Perine was limited in practice the last two days, so he has a real chance to make his NFL debut after he was inactive in the season-opener. The Jets could really use some depth with Le'Veon Bell on Injured Reserve. But even if Perine suits up on Sunday, he's unlikely to see much of a workload behind veteran Frank Gore. Plus, he'll be facing a really tough San Francisco defense after an offseason in which he didn't get many on-field repetitions.

From RotoBaller

San Francisco 49ers Sep 18 9:10pm ET

San Francisco 49ers defensive end Dee Ford (neck) is listed as questionable for Week 2 against the Jets. Ford didn't practice the last two days after dealing with some neck stiffness following the season-opening loss to the Cardinals. San Francisco placed cornerback Richard Sherman on the Injured Reserve this week, so they won't be at full strength against New York. Ford had just three combined tackles in Week 1. He should be avoided in IDP leagues because of his injury, but even at less than full strength, the 49ers Defense remains a must-start fantasy defense against a Jets team that will be missing both Le'Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder.

From RotoBaller

Brandon McManus Sep 18 9:00pm ET

Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus didn't attempt a single field goal in the 16-14 Week 1 loss to the Titans, but he did make both of his extra-point tries. McManus has a very strong leg and kicks half the time in high altitude, but he'll be on the road this week and just can't be trusted in fantasy yet while the Broncos offense tries to get in sync. Quarterback Drew Lock showed potential last week, though, and he has plenty of talented weapons to work with in 2020. The 29-year-old kicker will become a streaming option at some point this year, but it won't be in Week 2 against the Steelers, especially if wide receiver Courtland Sutton (shoulder) misses another game.

From RotoBaller

Noah Fant Sep 18 8:50pm ET

Denver Broncos tight end Noah Fant caught five of his six targets for 81 yards and a touchdown in the Week 1 loss to the Titans, leading the team in receiving yards with Courtland Sutton (shoulder) inactive. Sutton is questionable heading into Week 2 against the Steelers, so Fant could once again be the team's leading receiver this Sunday. He'll obviously be a better upside TE1 if Sutton sits out, but at the very least, Fant will have some low-end TE1 appeal as one of quarterback Drew Lock's favorite targets. Some people believe the second-year tight end is primed for a breakout season with Lock under center for a full year.

From RotoBaller

Denver Broncos Sep 18 8:50pm ET

The Denver Broncos won't have any rowdy fans to worry about on their trip to Pittsburgh in Week 2, but a healthy quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his cast of weapons will pose a big challenge to a defense missing Von Miller (ankle) for the year and cornerback A.J. Bouye (shoulder) for at least three weeks. Inside linebacker Mark Barron (hamstring) will also be out. Denver's run D didn't allow Derrick Henry to run wild last week, but their inexperienced rookie cornerbacks Michael Ojemudia and Essang Bassey will surely be tested by Big Ben with talented wideouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson leading the charge. While the Broncos Defense was worth starting last week, they should be avoided this week with key injuries mounting.

From RotoBaller

Jerry Jeudy Sep 18 8:40pm ET

Denver Broncos rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy showed off some of his trademark route-running ability and quick feet in the team's Week 1 loss to the Titans, but he also had a couple uncharacteristic drops in his NFL debut. The 21-year-old from Alabama caught only four of his eight targets for 56 yards as the team's lead wideout last Monday with Courtland Sutton (shoulder) inactive. There's a lot to like in the long-term with Jeudy in this offense, but there will continue to be some growing pains throughout his rookie campaign. He'll be a more attractive upside WR4/flex in deeper leagues if Sutton misses another game, but the matchup against the Steelers is a difficult one regardless.

From RotoBaller

Melvin Gordon Sep 18 8:30pm ET

Denver Broncos running back Royce Freeman will be the primary backup to Melvin Gordon in the team's Week 2 matchup against the Steelers after Denver ruled Phillip Lindsay (toe) out for the week. Freeman won't have any standalone fantasy value, though, after he saw just two touches -- a carry for no gain and a 12-yard reception -- in the second half of the Week 1 loss to the Titans when Lindsay didn't return after the first half. On top of it, Pittsburgh's rush defense was one of the best in the league last year and held Saquon Barkley down in their season opener. The 24-year-old will see more than two touches over the full game, but he should be ignored in pretty much any fantasy format.

From RotoBaller

Courtland Sutton Sep 18 8:13pm ET

Denver Broncos WR Courtland Sutton (shoulder) was limited during practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is listed as questionable for Week 2.

Fantasy Spin: Sutton is expected to be a game-time decision, so fantasy players will need to check the inactive list. Players will need to have other options available in case Sutton is ruled out, but Sutton would be a risky option if he is active.

From TheHuddle

Chris Godwin Sep 18 7:53pm ET

Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin (concussion) was limited during practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is listed as doubtful for Week 2.

Fantasy Spin: Godwin likely will be a game-time decision, so fantasy players will need to monitor his progress during the weekend. He is a must-start option when healthy, but players should have other options available in case he is ruled out.

From TheHuddle

Mike Evans Sep 18 7:53pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans (hamstring) fully participated in practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is not on the injury report for Week 2.

Fantasy Spin: Evans should be more involved in the passing game this week since he was limited in Week 1 because of the hamstring injury. He should be considered a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Will Fuller Sep 18 7:43pm ET

Houston Texans WR Will Fuller (non-injury) did not participate in practice Friday, Sept. 18, but is not on the injury report for Week 2.

Fantasy Spin: Fuller led the team in receptions, receiving yards and targets last week and showed good chemistry with Deshaun Watson. He will be facing a tougher opponent in Week 2 but can still be a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Corey Davis Sep 18 7:43pm ET

Tennessee Titans WR Corey Davis (hamstring) fully participated in practice Friday, Sept. 18, and is not on the injury report for Week 2.

Fantasy Spin: Davis was upgraded during each day of practice this week and will be ready for his normal workload against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He likely will be the main option in the passing game for the Titans and can be at least a No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle