Mon Jul 27 11:13am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Gronk joins Brady in Tampa
This is the seventh 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.
The Falcons will look to get things going in the right direction again this year after a few disappointing seasons. Atlanta made a big change at running back, getting Todd Gurley. He should be the player to watch this camp. Can he regain the form of past years and provide a big lift to the Falcons rushing attack? We’ll get an idea, starting in camp at the Atlanta Falcons Training Facility in Flowery Branch, Georgia.
Position battle: Todd Gurley is the clear lead back for the Falcons, but his backup is up in the air. Brian Hill and Ito Smith are the top candidates to be the No. 2 back, but Qadree Ollison should also be in the mix. This job is wide open. And the winner has some fantasy value because Gurley has some injury concerns.
Injury watch: Ito Smith missed much of last year because of a neck injury. He is making his way back from the injury but might not be 100 percent recovered by the start of camp. Smith is battling for the top backup job, so he will need to get up to health in a hurry if he hopes to win that job. Nothing is certain with Smith right now.
The Saints have very high expectations this year, looking to make another run at the Super Bowl. And time might be running out for the Saints because Drew Brees is nearing retirement. This might be the last chance the Saints have to win another title with Brees at the helm. The Saints hold training camp at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility in Metairie, Louisiana.
Position battle: Tre’Quan Smith has not lived up to expectations to date, so he won’t be handed the No. 3 receiver spot. He will have to earn it. And he has some competition in Deonte Harris and Krishawn Hogan. Smith is going to need to up his game and show more consistency on the field if he hopes to hold off Harris and Hogan for the slot receiver spot.
Injury watch: Drew Brees missed five games last year because of a thumb injury. He is 41 years old and hasn’t played a full season in two years. You have to wonder if he can hold up at this stage of his career. He is not battling an injury right now, but you’ll want to monitor his health in camp to make sure he doesn’t get dinged, giving him an injury going into the season.
Carolina has a new quarterback for the first time in several seasons. Teddy Bridgewater takes over for the Panthers, replacing Cam Newton. Plus, the team has a new head coach (Matt Rhule) for the first time in a long time. These two big changes should be the focus of training camp for the team, seeing how the key pieces adjust to their new surroundings. Carolina will hold training camp this year at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Position battle: The Panthers offensive side of the ball is pretty sorted out when it comes to starters. There isn’t much debate. The one spot to watch is the top backup quarterback spot. Will Grier and P.J. Walker are the candidates for the job. Walker was arguably the top player in the XFL, turning a lot of heads with his great play. He gets a shot to make an NFL roster. Don’t discount Walker to win the backup job for the Panthers.
Injury watch: Graham Gano missed all of last season because of a knee injury. He is making good progress in his rehab and should be near full strength for the start of camp. Gano will compete with Joey Slye for the kicking duties in Carolina. Gano will need to prove he is healthy and over his injury if he hopes to start this season.
The Bucs made quite the splash this offseason, adding Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski to their team. Tampa might be the most watched team this training camp, seeing how Brady adjusts to his new team. There are going to be a lot of eyes on this team to see if Brady can lead his new squad to a Super Bowl title. Brady and teammates train at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Florida.
Position battle: The Bucs have a real battle on their hands for the starting running back spot. Ronald Jones and rookie Ke’Shawn Vaughn will battle it out for the right to start for the Bucs. This is a wide open competition. This might come down to the back that blocks the best. Tampa will need to keep Tom Brady upright, so the back that can pass protect best probably has the best chance to start.
Injury watch: The Bucs were able to get Rob Gronkowski out of retirement. He should be a big part of the offense, but health is always a concern for Gronk. He has not played a full season since 2011. Gronk has missed 13 games his last three seasons in the NFL. The year off should have done him some good in getting back to full strength, but you never know with Gronk. He has taken a lot of punishment throughout his career.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Five Sleepers: Week 3
New York Jets wide receiver Chris Hogan (ribs) was limited during Thursday's practice. However, he is fully expected to suit up for the Week 3 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. Both Jamison Crowder (hamstring) and Breshad Perriman (ankle) are going to be sidelined here. Hogan hauled in six receptions for 75 yards with both players banged up last week. He should see plenty of chances against Indy. However, the Colts pass defense is solid, so Hogan won't have great fantasy appeal. He might be worth a look as a desperation flex option in PPR leagues.
New York Jets running back Frank Gore saw plenty of chances versus the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2. The veteran back finished with 63 rushing yards on 21 carries in the loss. The Jets are still without Le'Veon Bell (hamstring), which means Gore is going to be leaned on in the running game. Sadly, he'll get a tough matchup against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3. The same defense that held Dalvin Cook to 63 yards. Gore is likely going to have a tough time finding room to run. He'll be a desperation flex option for this contest.
New York Jets running back La'Mical Perine (ankle) was able to fully practice on Thursday, which means he should be fine for the Week 3 matchup versus the Indianapolis Colts. He made his NFL debut last week, but didn't see many chances. Perine carried the ball three times for 17 yards in the loss. He could take away some touches from Frank Gore this week. It's unlikely that the Jets want Gore to see 21 carries again. Perine won't be worth starting in most formats, but he could be someone to stash in 12/14 team leagues.
New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry (ankle) is listed as questionable for their Week 3 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Pats also listed Julian Edelman (knee) as questionable for this one. It sounds like both players are expected to suit up, but fantasy owners should check back before game time. Harry hauled in eight of his 12 targets for 72 yards last week versus the Seattle Seahawks. He should be a reliable flex option, assuming he suits up.
New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold has not put together much success through the first two games of the regular season. To be fair, the Jets offense is facing a ton of injuries and they didn't have much talent around Darnold to start the season. He'll now face off against an Indianapolis Colts Defense that destroyed Kirk Cousins in Week 2. Honestly, Darnold belongs on the bench or waiver wire in almost all formats. There really is no reason to start Darnold here unless you absolutely have no other option.
New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead is likely going to see an increased amount of playing time with James White (personal) ruled out for Week 3. Burkhead rushed six times for two yards and caught four passes for 47 yards last week without White available. He doesn't have great fantasy value, but could be a low-end flex option for PPR leagues against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3.
New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman was able to destroy the Seattle Seahawks secondary in Week 2. He hauled in eight of his 11 targets for 179 yards in the loss. It was a promising performance after a fairly average season opener. The Patriots are likely going to lean on Edelman quite a lot this season. He'll get a favorable matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3. Fantasy owners should be able to count on Edelman as a WR2 for this one.
New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton has looked sharp through the first two games of the regular season. Last week, he completed 30 of 44 passing attempts for 397 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He was also able to rush for 47 yards with two touchdowns on the ground. Newton appears extremely comfortable in the Patriots offense. He'll get an excellent matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders young secondary in Week 3. Fantasy owners should be able to lean on Newton as a QB1 here.
New England Patriots running back Sony Michel has struggled to get anything going on the ground early in the season. He was basically a non-factor against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. Michel rushed seven times for 19 yards in the loss. He'll get a matchup against a weaker Las Vegas Raiders run defense. However, it's tough to trust Michel after his recent performances. He's a touchdown-dependent RB3 for this matchup.
New England Patriots running back James White (personal) has been ruled out for the Week 3 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders. It's unclear when White will return to the team after his father died in a car accident last weekend. His mother was in critical condition after the accident. Both Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead will see more touches with White inactive. Neither of them are more than a desperation flex option.
Buffalo Bills tight end Dawson Knox (head) has been ruled out for the Week 3 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. He is still in concussion protocol after exiting last Sunday's game due to a head injury. Knox didn't have much fantasy value when he was healthy. He belongs on the waiver wire in almost all formats. Tyler Kroft is expected to start versus the Rams, but that won't mean much. He probably won't see enough targets to warrant ownership.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (hip, thumb) was limited during practice earlier in the week. However, he is expected to suit up for the Week 3 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. Through two games, Beasley has nine receptions for 128 receiving yards and has been held without a touchdown. He is producing, but Stefon Diggs and John Brown see a higher volume of targets. Beasley could have some low-end flex value in PPR leagues for Week 3.
Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown (foot) is trending in the right direction for Sunday's game against the Los Angeles Rams, according to head coach Sean McDermott. Brown was limited during Thursday's practice, but that shouldn't mean a whole lot. He was also limited last week and played in that contest. Brown is not likely going to be 100 percent healthy for this one, but still has fantasy value. Fantasy owners should be able to count on Brown as a WR3 here.
Detroit Lions CB Desmond Trufant (hamstring) was downgraded to out Saturday, Sept. 26, and won't play Sunday, Sept. 27, against the Arizona Cardinals.
Dallas Cowboys DB Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Sept. 26.
Houston Texans RB C.J. Prosise was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster Saturday, Sept. 26.
Atlanta Falcons LB Edmond Robinson was activated from the practice squad as a COVID-19 replacement Saturday, Sept. 26.
New Orleans Saints RB Ty Montgomery (hamstring) was placed on the Reserve/Injured list Saturday, Sept. 26. WR Bennie Fowler and DL Margus Hunt were signed to the active roster from the practice squad. C/G Will Clapp was waived.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen has been fantastic through the first two weeks of the regular season. In Week 2, Allen threw for 415 passing yards with four touchdowns in the victory over the Miami Dolphins. However, he'll face a tougher battle against the Los Angeles Rams this week. The tough Rams secondary held quarterback Carson Wentz to zero touchdowns. Allen has looked good this season, so we'll give him the benefit of the doubt. He should be treated as a low-end QB1 for this matchup.
Buffalo Bills running back Devin Singletary has been fairly average through the first two games of the regular season. He rushed 10 times for 56 yards in the victory over the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. He continues to split up the carries with rookie Zack Moss, which hurts his value. However, he'll get a favorable matchup against the Los Angeles Rams this week. The same Rams Defense that allowed Miles Sanders to nearly rush for 100 yards last game. Although, Singletary is likely only going to see around 10 carries, so he should be treated as a high-end RB3.