Not all of you have the time to obsess over training camp reports and constantly adjust fantasy football takes, all while calling it a job. There has been a deluge of information out of the first week plus of training camp practices. I've attempted to boil it down to "need to know" and provided some hot takes to give you my spin on the news.
Kenneth Dixon is going to miss the season with a meniscus injury. Crockett Gillmore is going to miss the season with a meniscus injury. Joe Flacco is being kept out of practice with a sore back. Breshad Perriman has been sidelined this week with a hamstring issue.
Hot Take: See a pattern here? The Ravens offense is bleeding. Danny Woodhead could get a lot of cheap targets if none of Ben Watson, Maxx Williams, recent signing Larry Donnell, and Nick Boyle are up to playing a big role, but otherwise, it’s don’t expect this offense to have any pleasant surprises.
Hot Take: Kizer has the running ability and likely frequent losing game scripts to be fantasy relevant as a rookie once he is the starter. Quarterback streamers and two quarterback/superflex league players should especially take notice.
Hot Take: The unknown upside of rookie running backs always has an allure and could pay off in fantasy leagues, but the possibility of Joe Mixon being that rookie back home run pick went down when Bernard was healthy and in usual form to open camp. It might have taken a steep fall when Mixon limped off with a foot injury, but we are waiting for more information.
Will Fuller V is out for 2-3 months with a broken collarbone. Left tackle Duane Brown is holding out for a new contract.
Hot Take: There isn’t one, really. DeAndre Hopkins could see an uptick in targets. Lamar Miller could see more stacked boxes. Braxton Miller and Jaelen Strong will get more early season opportunities. Still, none of this should significantly change anyone’s outlook except Fuller, who should be off of your draft boards. We will be watching for Brown to break his holdout, although the offense was okay without him at the beginning of 2016.
Andrew Luck looks unlikely to play in the preseason and Week 1 is not a given.
Hot Take: As this news is absorbed by the fantasy community, Luck and other Colts’ ADP will drop in a non-trivial way. The team has given no outside indications that they are worried about his recovery, and Luck was playing with an injured shoulder for most of the last two years. If Luck falls to the eighth round, he’s worth the risk. If TY Hilton falls to the late second, he’s worth the risk. Chances are, this will be back to normal (ie a strong fantasy offense) by Week 2 or 3.
Left tackle Branden Albert retired instead of joining the team.
Hot Take: The Jaguars already had a hill to climb to get this offense on track in the form of quarterback Blake Bortles. Albert was by far the most established offensive lineman, and second-round pick Cam Robinson will likely be pressed into duty as a replacement. In a division that features JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Derrick Morgan/Brian Orakpo (when healthy) pinchers, this isn’t a good development. It’s hard to be excited about investing in any Jaguar or otherwise put your hopes in this offense exceeding somewhat low expectations.
Los Angeles Chargers
Second-round guard Forrest Lamp was lost for the year due to a torn ACL. First-round wide receiver will miss all of camp with a disc issue in his back, and surgery has not been ruled out.
Hot Take: The Chargers offensive line was set to improve greatly, and Lamp was part of that. He’ll be missed, but the offense can still be improved without him. Watch reports on third-round guard Dan Feeney. We should project the Chargers offense without Williams this year, which means Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin are undervalued at current ADP.
Ryan Tannehill has at least a hyperextended knee after a non-contact injury, but avoided serious injury. It doesn’t look like the team is going to extend Jarvis Landry, whose contract expires after this season. DeVante Parker continues to get universally positive reviews.
Hot Take: Tannehill to Matt Moore is one of the smaller dropoffs among NFL quarterback depth charts, so there wasn't a huge adjustment to make even if he was going to be out a while. If you are a Parker believer, he is probably still worth a pick at ADP. Landry isn’t considered central to the team’s future plans, so his place in their current plans probably doesn’t merit the 3rd/4th round pick he is costing. We never want to see a lead back get that first concussion, but if he can practice and play in the preseason without incident after clearing protocol, that injury shouldn’t do more than drop him to the bottom of that second RB1 tier - keeping him in play as a late first/early second round pick.
Chris Hogan is the clear #3 receiver and he led the team in catches from Brady through five practices.
Hot Take: Hogan avoided a leg injury in a practice scare, so he’s right on track to be a potential steal as an end game wide receiver pick. He is the fourth option in this passing game, but one that should see the best matchups when he is on the field.
New York Jets
Matt Forte has been sidelined for a week with a hamstring issue.
Hot Take: Forte had a hamstring issue last summer and recovered to have one of the hottest starts of any back in the league. By the end of the season, he was on the bench with an injured knee and Blial Powell was helping fantasy teams advance in the playoffs with RB1 scores, especially in PPR league. This injury is foreshadowing a similar path this year, albeit with no Chan Gailey to make chicken salad. Still, if you were inclined to target Powell in drafts, you should feel more encouraged.
Donald Penn holding out for a new contract.
Hot Take: The Raiders have one of the best lines in the league, outside of a right tackle position that will be resolved by a camp battle between Marshall Newhouse and Vadal Alexander. If Penn decides to take into the season, it will adversely affect the passing game, but at least they avoid the murderous AFC West pass rushers until October. Stay tuned.
Martavis Bryant’s “conditional” reinstatement apparently means that he still has hoops to jump through before being allowed to practice with the team. Bryant indicated that he is close to a full reinstatement.
Hot Take: None of us like trying to predict what the league office will do when it comes to discipline. It’s hard to understand their thinking here, as all reports say that Bryant has satisfied their “conditions”. Bryant is experienced with Ben Roethlisberger and his upside is worth the risk of the league dragging their feet assuming you can get him in the fifth round, but we have to be open to this keeping Bryant out at the start of the regular season and making Eli Rogers or rookie Juju Smith-Schuster a surprise hit in September.
Hot Take: Davis injury is clearly more severe and could cost him all of camp if not more. He was dominating practices, so we should remember how Odell Beckham missed the offseason and summer with hamstring issues and then was a league winner. Davis’s ADP should fall and maybe make him worth a pick despite the wait for the reveal on how good he will be as a rookie. In the meantime, Eric Decker, Rishard Matthews, and Delanie Walker represent value with the prospect of Davis coming on slow or missing regular season time and the Tennessee offense on the verge of getting to a new level this year with added weapons and continuity everywhere else. Murray already being a little sore just reminds us that he was showing wear late last year and Derrick Henry could be a league winner if Murray goes down. The team could also use Henry enough to make him a weekly flex option to pace Murray’s workload. One of the two should be a value at ADP this year.
John Brown suffered a quad injury on Friday July 28 and is expected to miss only up to a week.
Hot Take: It has been a week and hopefully Brown will return very soon. While you never want to see players who lost value because of chronic issues in the previous year break the seal on injuries so early in camp, Brown’s true ceiling as the WR2 in this offense wasn’t reflected in his relatively low ADP. This lowers the “value” a bit, but Brown is still a target and value as long as he’s available in the eighth round or later.
Cam Newton has stopped throwing for three practices because of soreness in his surgically repaired shoulder. Kelvin Benjamin showed up to camp at 243 pounds. Curtis Samuel has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Hot Take: This certainly wasn’t the plan for Newton, but it is not a reason to sound alarm bells… yet. We need to see Newton play in the second or third preseason game to be convinced that he didn’t have a setback. Benjamin has put the weight problems of the offseason behind him and he could be a value in the sixth or later. Samuel is going to have trouble making an early impact unless this hamstring clears up soon, which could mean even more targets right away for Christian McCaffrey.
Ezekiel Elliott is waiting for news on his suspension from the league. A long suspension is not out of the range of possibilities.
Hot Take: Nothing we have heard publicly points to more than a 1-2 game suspension. If that is the case, then Elliott shouldn’t be moved down on our boards. There are no guarantees and the league action on suspensions sometimes defies logic, but for now keep drafting Elliott as you normally would.
Eric Ebron has been sidelined with a hamstring injury.
Hot Take: Like John Brown and Jordan Reed, you don’t want to see a player who already has some injury questions coming out of last year end up on the shelf so early in camp this year. Ebron hasn’t had a healthy year yet, and this reminder takes some of the shine off of his post-Anquan Boldin improved outlook. He still has the potential to outperform ADP, but if you were on the fence about him, this is a reminder why.
Los Angeles Rams
Lance Dunbar is out indefinitely due to an issue related to his catastrophic knee injury from 2015. Dominique Easley was lost for the season due to a torn ACL. Aaron Donald is holding out for a new contract.
Hot Take: Dunbar was slated to be the “Chris Thompson” of this offense. He’s not looking like he’ll be a factor this year, which opens major passing game opportunity up for Todd Gurley. He might be worth a look in the late 2nd/3rd after all. The defensive end position in Wade Phillips 3-4 defense is going to be very weak without Easley if Donald holds out into the season, possibly making the Rams a good matchup to target early on as they transition to a new scheme.
Hot Take: Cook has the smallest bandwagon of the four running backs taken in the first two rounds of the draft, which means he’s the cheapest. The Vikings need Riley Reiff to get over the back issue that is keeping him out, but otherwise the line should be improved from the 2016 debacle. If you’re going to take a chance on a big ticket rookie back in your drafts, Cook looks like the best risk/reward proposition right now, as Zimmer is not one to blow smoke about players in public comments.
New York Giants
Sterling Shepard suffered what looked like a serious leg injury at first, but ended up being a low-ankle sprain.
Hot Take: This could nudge you to take Brandon Marshall if you are on the fence, as Shepard could get off to a slow start, but chances are this will be a non-story unless the MRI reveals more damage.
Hot Take: Hyde is probably undervalued after his ADP dropped all offseason due to uncertainty about his standing with the organization and their assessment of him and his competition.
Head coach Pete Carroll said the team “managed” Jimmy Graham’s knee last year.
Hot Take: Graham is looking more like his old self and all restrictions are off in camp this year. He could easily outproduce his 6th/7th round ADP and put up top five tight end numbers, in addition to enhancing Russell Wilson’s stock.
The Buccaneers are not committing to Doug Martin as the starter when he returns from a suspension in Week 4. They are not even committing to him being on the roster. They appear to be open to Jacquizz Rodgers winning the job outright with his performance in the first three weeks of the season. There is also a belief that they will employ a committee and the team has kept Martin all offseason despite a non-guaranteed 5.7 million dollar salary.
Hot Take: The team is keeping Martin motivated after that approach worked and he regained 2015 form this offseason. Rodgers gets a lot of what he has, but that is limited. Unless Tampa is a cruel organization and they wanted to deny Martin a real chance to build a relationship elsewhere, they are keeping him and he will be good enough to take over the backfield on running downs once he returns. If his ADP falls to the ninth round or later, he’ll be a risk worth taking, offering low RB1 upside if he truly is back to 2015 form in this improved situation.
Jordan Reed has been sidelined with a toe injury. He saw a specialist but the team said “nothing earth-shattering” was revealed. Rob Kelley has improved and appears to be ahead of Samaje Perine for the #1 running back job.
Hot Take: It sure sounds like Reed is going to be playing through a sore toe all season. This is a recipe for a player staying in your lineup but consistently underperforming projections. The tight end position has lots of compelling players at current ADP, so unless Reed is falling out of the top 50-60 players, don’t feel compelled to take advantage of this “value”. Terrelle Pryor, Jamison Crowder, and Josh Doctson all could be values at current ADP, and the undervalued Kirk Cousins becomes a little less undervalued, but still worth a target outside of the top 10 quarterbacks. “Fat Rob” was written off when Perine was drafted, but he looks like a great value at ADP, often going in the teens. He should at least be a solid flex play, although he could be overtaken at some point in the season if his play falls off.
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