Wed Jul 24 9:29pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Henry returns from torn ACL
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.
The Raiders made a big splash this offseason, acquiring receiver Antonio Brown. He gives the team a whole new dimension at receiver and should be a big lift to the entire offense. It will be intriguing to watch how Brown influences the entire team because of his experience and success. Oakland hopes that Brown rubs off on some of his teammates, helping this team start a turnaround. We should get a better idea if that happens, watching camp and preseason action.
Position battle: The Raiders lost tight end Jared Cook this offseason, leaving a big hole at the tight end spot. Darren Waller is the odds on favorite to start but Derek Carrier and Luke Willson also will push Waller for the chance to start. None of these players have much starting experience, so the door is open for any of them to start. This will all be sorted out in camp and preseason action.
Injury watch: Oakland doesn't really have any injury situations of note, which is a good thing. One guy we might keep an eye on is Antonio Brown. He is not hurt but is 31 years old and has a ton of work under his belt. You have to wonder if he will slow down or have the injury bug hit him at this time of his career. We would keep an eye on him in camp to see how he is performing and if he is showing any signs of slowing down.
The big thing to watch in Broncos camp is the quarterback spot. Denver continues to try to find their franchise player. Joe Flacco was brought in to stabilize the position but rookie Drew Lock is the future at the position. Is either one of these guys the answer? The Broncos sure hope so. We’ll have a better understanding of the position, seeing how both these guys perform in camp and preseason games.
Position battle: Quarterback Joe Flacco is the starter in Denver but the team drafted Drew Lock to be the eventual starter in Denver. Flacco has not played at a high level in recent years, so if he shows any signs of struggle, don't be surprised if Lock pushes him for a chance to start. Lock has a swagger about him and all the tools to be a successful pro quarterback. You’ll want to watch Lock’s progress during camp and preseason action.
Injury watch: Tight end Jake Butt has not been able to stay healthy since entering the NFL. He has played just three games. He suffered a torn ACL last year and has now torn an ACL three different times. He has a long road back once again. Butt has some talent, though, and could push for playing time if he is able to come back healthy.
The big issue to watch this training camp is the holdout of star running back Melvin Gordon. He is seeking a new contract and says he will holdout until he gets a new deal or is traded. This is obviously a huge situation to monitor, especially after the Le’Veon Bell fiasco of last year. The longer Gordon holds out, the scarier this gets for fantasy teams.
Position battle: Running back Austin Ekeler should be the top backup to Gordon this year, but Justin Jackson will compete for that job. Jackson did pretty well with his chances last year and will try to unseat Ekeler for the top backup job. Ekeler has a clear advantage for the job but if Jackson keeps progressing, he can continue to get chances and move up the depth chart.
Injury watch: Tight end Hunter Henry missed all of last year because of a torn ACL suffered during the spring. Henry has been pretty close to full strength the last few months, though, and should be just fine for the start of the season. But even with that said, you’ll want to keep an eye on him in camp to make sure he doesn’t suffer any setbacks. This is a major injury to return. Anything can happen. But if healthy, Henry has the potential to be an elite fantasy tight end.
The Chiefs were really close last year to making the Super Bowl but came up just short. Can the team get over the hump this year? That is the big question. The other big question is Tyreek Hill. Will his presence impact the team negatively after his off the field issues? Hill avoided suspension but you can expect the Chiefs to field many questions on the matter in camp. Will this distraction impact the team? We should know soon enough.
Position battle: Damien Williams is the starter for the Chiefs but the backup job is up for grabs. Carlos Hyde was signed to fill that role but isn’t going to be handed the job. He will be pushed by rookie Darwin Thompson, who might bring more to the table than Hyde at this point. Thompson is a good runner and receiver, and seems like he could be a good fit for the offense. Hyde has the experience, though, and will get first shot at the job. He will need to show he has picked up the offense.
Injury watch: Tight end Travis Kelce had offseason ankle surgery. He is expected to be 100 percent for the start of training camp. He has not had setbacks in his recovery. Kelce is the clear No. 1 fantasy tight end, so making sure he is back to full strength is a good idea for fantasy teams. He should be fine but keep an eye on practice reports to be sure.
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.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota looked sharp in limited action against the New England Patriots on Saturday, completing 6-of-9 passes for 63 yards and a touchdown strike to tight end Delanie Walker. Mariota capped off a solid week of camp with a convincing performance, leaving no room for speculation about a quarterback competition in Tennessee. Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky went as far as to say "There is no circumstance under which a healthy Marcus Mariota is not the Week One starter in Cleveland. Period." While Mariota's job is not in question, his ability to be a consistent fantasy option at a position filled with options is. Mariota is nothing more than a low-end QB2 option going into his fifth season.
New England Patriots wide receiver Dontrelle Inman caught only one pass but it was a crucial 17-yard reception in the fourth quarter of the Patriots 22-17 comeback preseason win. The veteran had seen only one target before he made the catch but Inman came through in the clutch. Inman has bounced around the league the past few seasons and certainly will be a 'bubble' player as he fights for a spot in the final two preseason games.
New England Patriots running back Brandon Bolden scored a 1-yard touchdown in the Patriots preseason victory over the Titans. Bolden registered only two yards on four carries but was able to convert in the red zone. Bolden is far down the running back depth chart on the Patriots but every year, it seems, he plays snaps during the regular season. Bolden will be not be fantasy viable unless multiple injuries hit the New England backfield.
New England Patriots running back Damien Harris carried the ball 14 times for 80 yards and added 23 receiving yards in the Patriots 22-17 preseason win over the Titans. Harris has been a non-factor in the early portions of training camp but has been dealing with a wrist injury. Harris made some solid, tough runs and looked like the talented prospect the Patriots selected out of Alabama. Harris has pass-catching ability and could find himself in the mix of the running back carousel in New England if he can maintain consistency moving forward.
New England Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers caught six passes for 82 yards in the Patriots 22-17 preseason win over the Titans. Meyers provided the only consistent offense in the passing game, joining teammate Damien Harris as the only players to post multiple receptions. Meyers made two key 10-yard receptions in the fourth quarter during a game-winning drive. The return of Josh Gordon makes things more complicated for players like Meyers but the 22-year-old is showing what he can do on the field.
New England Patriots tight end Lance Kendricks caught his first pass as a Patriot, a 28-yard reception in the team's preseason win over the Titans. One catch normally is not significant but Kendricks is expected to play a role early on this season with starter Benjamin Watson suspended the first four games. The Patriots have enjoyed production from the tight end position for almost a decade now and Kendricks could benefit playing in New England's offensive system. This is a very small step, but a step nonetheless for Kendricks.
New England Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham completed 14-of-19 passes for 193 yards, including a game-winning touchdown, in the Patriots 22-17 preseason win over the Titans. Stidham hit wide receiver Damoun Patterson down the left sideline for 23 yards to put the Patriots ahead for the first time in the game. It was an efficient performance for the fourth-round rookie, who is looking at starting the season as the third-string quarterback. It is impossible to say whether Stidham is the "future" at quarterback for the Patriots but should see plenty of snaps in the final two preseason games.
New England Patriots running back Nick Brossette totaled only 37 yards from scrimmage but scored a touchdown in his second straight preseason game against the Titans. Brossette's numbers have not been impressive but has executed in the red zone thus far in the preseason. Brossette will have to show more productivity than stuffing in one-yard touchdowns to be considered a serious factor when the regular season rolls around.
Cleveland Browns tight end Demetrius Harris was unable to corral either of his two targets in a 21-18 preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. Harris, who came over to Cleveland as a free-agent after spending five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs, is expected to serve as the team's second tight end after David Njoku. Of course, Njoku is dealing with a knee injury, which will give Harris more run with the first team during preseason practices. The Browns should run more 12 personnel this season, which would get Harris on the field alongside Njoku in certain situations. Harris doesn't need to be drafted but he is worth monitoring just in case the Browns show that he is a significant part of their plans, especially in the red zone.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins turned in a solid game in a 21-18 preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. Higgins caught all four of his targets for 34 yards in the win. The veteran receiver has been productive during the preseason as he further cements himself as the team's No. 3 wide receiver. While he won't see a high volume of targets behind Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, Higgins is likely to have a few big games this season on what should be an exciting Browns offense. Keep him in mind as a potential flex option in deeper fantasy leagues this season.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt saw two touches in a 21-18 preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. Hunt carried the ball twice for six yards and was unable to haul in his lone target in the win. The game action marked Hunt's preseason debut after he was not involved in the preseason opener last week. Hunt will begin serving an eight-game suspension once the regular season begins but he has some value as a flex option in PPR leagues when he does come back. Of course, using a draft pick on him will require a fantasy owner to keep him on the roster for over half of the fantasy regular season. That only seems like a viable plan in leagues with large roster settings.
Cleveland Browns kicker Greg Joseph missed a 53-yard field goal in a 21-18 preseason win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday. The 53-yarder was Joseph's only field goal attempt in the game although he added an extra point. Joseph has been in a preseason camp battle with rookie Austin Siebert for the right to be the team's kicker during the regular season. Both have been pretty even during their battle, with Siebert also missing his lone field goal attempt against the Colts. Whoever wins the starting kicker role will have plenty of fantasy value tied to what should be an explosive Cleveland offense.
Oakland Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson had an impressive season with the Silver and Black in 2018 and is primed to improve in this campaign. After getting waived by the Vikings following Week 2, Carlson finished the last 10 games of the season with the Raiders setting a new team record with a 94% field goal succession rate. With an improved offense likely providing more point-after attempts and better field goal positioning, the former fifth-round pick could put up a considerable point total this year if he can stay in the 90% conversion range.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Keelan Doss has turned a few heads through the team's first two preseason games. The undrafted rookie caught a touchdown pass in Week 1 and followed that performance with a five-catch 38-yard game in Week 2, making a case for a place on the 53-man roster. Doss is competing for one of the final roster spots at WR, but faces an uphill battle with only one spot available and three players ahead of him on the depth chart for the job. Even if the 23-year-old cracks the squad, he won't receive enough playing time to become a fantasy contributor in 2019.
Oakland Raiders running back Doug Martin is slated for a backup role with the Silver and Black this season after leading the team in rushing in 2018. The "Muscle Hamster" racked up an underwhelming 723 yards and four touchdowns last season and will play second fiddle behind rookie Josh Jacobs in 2019. Martin didn't hold much fantasy value as a starter a year ago and is off the radar this campaign in a backup role. With Jalen Richard finding work in the passing game, it would take a significant injury from Jacobs to give Martin any sort of fantasy relevance. He's a late-round handcuff in best-ball leagues and can be avoided in season-long formats.
Oakland Raiders running back Jalen Richard is coming off a successful 2018 campaign which saw him accumulate 55 rushes and 68 catches for 866 all-purpose yards. With the team using a first-round pick on Josh Jacobs, Richard finds himself third on the depth chart this season with a question mark surrounding his usage for this year. Richard was a huge factor in the passing game last season finishing seventh among running backs in receptions. With the coaching staff hopeful of Jacobs becoming an every-down back, Richard will struggle to find playing time on this improving offense. Unless Jacobs gets injured or struggles mightily as a pass-catcher, Richard won't hold any fantasy appeal in 2019.
Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck (ankle) worked out on the field before the preseason game Saturday, Aug. 17, and appeared to be moving around well.
Fantasy Spin: Luck is still uncertain for Week 1, so fantasy players will need to continue to keep an eye on his status. He is a No. 1 quarterback in fantasy leagues when he is healthy, but players may want to draft a strong No. 2 quarterback in case Luck misses a few games.
San Francisco 49ers DE Dee Ford (knee) is on track to play in Week 1, according to general manager John Lynch.
According to the Cleveland Browns pregame show, running back Nick Chubb is not expected to play on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts in his team's second preseason game. Chubb saw minimal work last week in the preseason opener as he played on the first series with the team and took one carry. Cleveland has little reason to risk injury to their No. 1 running back in the preseason, so Chubb will be a spectator. Look for Chubb to play more extensively in the preseason dress rehearsal next week.
The Cleveland Browns will rest many of their starters in the team's second preseason game on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts. Quarterback Baker Mayfield and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. are among the starters who will be watching from the sidelines in the contest. Mayfield played sparingly during the preseason opener last week while Beckham has yet to appear in a preseason game as he is dealing with a hip pointer. Garrett Gilbert will draw the start at quarterback against the Colts on Saturday. Look for Mayfield to play a good bit in preseason Week 3 next week. Beckham's status is unclear, although he is unlikely to play.