Training Camp Preview: NFC North

Fri Jul 24 10:02am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Lazard could start for Packers


This is the sixth 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.

Packers

The Packers should have an interesting training camp because of friction between Aaron Rodgers and head coach Matt LaFleur. The two will need to get along if the Packers hope to reach their potential, which is high. Green Bay holds training camp at the Don Hutson Center in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin.

Position battle: The Packers continue to search for a legit No. 2 receiver opposite Davante Adams. The candidates to start this year are Allen Lazard, Devin Funchess and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Lazard might have the leg up to start right now but this job is up for grabs. There is nothing certain with this position. Hopefully, one of these guys can emerge and be a real help to the passing game, which hasn’t been the case in recent years.

Injury watch: Star receiver Davante Adams missed four games last year because of injury and has failed to play a full season three straight years. The Packers need a healthy Adams in their lineup for a full season if they hope the passing game has any success. There is a huge drop in talent after Adams. 

Vikings

Minnesota is close to making a Super Bowl run but just haven’t gotten over the hump in recent years. The Vikings will hope to take things up a notch this season, starting in training camp. Minnesota needs Dalvin Cook to stay on the field a full year and for Kirk Cousins to play a little more mistake free football. Training camp for the Vikings takes place at the TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota.

Position battle: Kyle Rudolph has been the starter for years in Minnesota but second-year tight end Irv Smith could push him for the job this year. Rudolph is a better blocker, which probably helps his chances to start over Smith. But Smith is a better, more explosive player in the passing game. Both should play a role offensive even if they don’t start, but the starter might hold a little more fantasy value, especially if Smith can wrestle away the job from Rudolph.

Injury watch: Dalvin Cook is a supreme talent but injuries have been an issue for him to start his career. He is yet to play a full season in three years. He had a huge season last year despite missing two games. Cook needs to shed his injury prone label and get a full season under his belt. He also is threatening a holdout this year because he is searching for a new contract, which is something else to watch during camp.   

Lions

The Lions didn’t have quite the season as expected last year, mainly because Matthew Stafford went down with injury. Getting a healthy Stafford back might be the key to the season for the Lions. The offense just didn’t function nearly as well with Stafford out. Stafford and teammates will train at the Detroit Lions Training Facility in Allen Park, Michigan.

Position battle: Kerryon Johnson has performed well in a starting role the last two seasons but hasn’t been able to stay on the field. The Lions added D’Andre Swift in the draft this year to give Johnson some competition for the job. Swift is a very talented back that can be a three-down player in the NFL. He has a good chance to unseat Johnson for the starter’s job in Detroit. You’ll want to keep a close eye on the competition in camp. It should be a good one.

Injury watch: Marvin Jones battled an ankle injury much of last year, causing him miss games while playing hurt in others. This impacted his production. He should be just fine for the start of training camp, but keep an eye on his health just to be sure. Jones could be a surprise fantasy player this year after his injury issues last year. He has the talent to produce well in this pass-friendly offense opposite Kenny Golladay.

Bears

The Bears should have a very interesting training camp, mainly because of their quarterback battle. This should be something entertaining to watch, seeing who emerges as the starter for the Bears. Obviously, getting solid quarterback play is very important for the success of the Bears season. They need one of these guys to steady the ship. Chicago holds training camp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Position battle: The Bears brought in some competition for Mitchell Trubisky, adding Nick Foles to the roster. This will be a wide open competition for the starter’s job. Trubisky has a lot of talent but just hasn’t progressed as expected. Foles is a steady veteran that seems a good fit for the Bears offense. Foles might have the upper hand right now, but don’t rule out Trubisky if he can show improvements from the last few years.

Injury watch: Anthony Miller needed shoulder surgery this offseason. He might not be quite 100 percent for the start of training camp. His health is something to watch, especially since he has injured the same shoulder two straight years. This is an injury concern going forward for Miller. He has a wealth of talent but hasn’t quite reached that potential and this injury might be something that holds him back from reaching that potential.

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