Training Camp Preview: NFC South

Mon Jul 29 10:49am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Newton is a question mark


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.

Falcons

The Falcons didn’t have the season as expected last year, failing to finish above .500. The big issue was the defense, allowing more than 400 points last year. The offense was very good with the passing game excelling. So much of this camp will be focused on getting the defense right. If that happens, the Falcons can make a playoff push.    

Position battle: Receiver Calvin Ridley had a solid rookie season but was a little up and down. Mohamed Sanu is the starter opposite Julio Jones right now but could lose that starting spot to Ridley. Sanu has been a productive NFL player but isn’t off the charts by any means. Ridley is the more talented player of the two with more upside for the big things. He should push Sanu for playing time and likely take over as the starter at some point. 

Injury watch: Running back Devonta Freeman played just two games last year, needing surgery to fix a groin injury. He is back to full strength and will be back to his lead duties for the Falcons. Atlanta needs him healthy with Tevin Coleman gone. Freeman will be counted on to carry the load a little more, so being healthy is pertinent for the Falcons and Freeman’s fantasy owners. 

Saints

The Saints don’t have a lot to be decided this training camp. Much of camp could be getting this team primed for a Super Bowl run. There are high expectations for the team after a good showing last year. Drew Brees doesn’t have a whole lot of time left to make another Super Bowl, so this season could be a big one for his legacy. 

Position battle: The Saints like to rotate receivers, giving plenty of guys chances during the season. But the starter opposite Michael Thomas still has a little more value than the other guys. Right now, Ted Ginn is the favorite to start but Tre’Quan Smith and a healthy Cameron Meredith could push Ginn for the starting spot. This will be a battle to watch because it has fantasy implications. Smith is an intriguing player that showed his rookie year he is capable of the huge game. 

Injury watch: Receiver Ted Ginn played just five games last year because of a knee injury. If he hopes to have a big role this year and keep his starting job, he will need to be healthy and stay healthy. Ginn seems back to his old self during offseason workouts but his age and last year is a concern going forward for him.  

Panthers

The big thing to watch in Panthers camp this year is Cam Newton. How is he going to recover from another surgery to his throwing arm? Newton really is the key to the season for the Panthers. The team needs him healthy and playing at a high level if they hope to have any success this year. The offense really goes through Newton. 

Position battle: D.J. Moore is going to start at one of the receiver spots and Curtis Samuel will work out of the slot, but the No. 2 receiver is up in the air. Devin Funchess is gone, leaving a hole at the position. The candidates to start are Jarius Wright, Torrey Smith and Chris Hogan. It really is a wide open battle without a favorite. We’ll know more as camp and the preseason progresses. 

Injury watch: Quarterback Cam Newton had major shoulder surgery this offseason. He is throwing but will be on a pitch count in camp. The Panthers will take it slow with their star quarterback. Newton has progressed well from the surgery but seeing how he is throwing the ball will be something fantasy teams should monitor closely. Newton is a real wild card this year after having shoulder surgery once again. 

Bucs

The Bucs made changes to the coaching staff once again, hiring Bruce Arians. He should be a big plus for the offense, including starting quarterback Jameis Winston. So the big focus of camp is likely being the Bucs getting up to speed both offensively and defensively with their new schemes. Hopefully, the offense picks things up quick because it could be pretty potent from a fantasy perspective. 

Position battle: The Bucs should have a real battle on their hands for the starting running back spot. Peyton Barber was the starter last year and has a leg up for the job, but second-year back Ronald Jones is looking to rebound from a poor rookie year. A new coaching staff should be a plus for Jones, who had a strong offseason of work. Jones should be given a fair shot to unseat Barber. 

Injury watch: Tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout season last year but missed six gams because of an ankle injury. He is yet to play a full season since entering the NFL. He has a chance for another big year but needs to be on the field for that to happen. Howard has not shown he can on the field to date but hopes to change that perception this season. He could be a star. 

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
Jimmy Graham Oct 15 7:30am ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham pulled in just two of his five targets for 17 yards during the Monday night win over the Lions. With Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) both missing some time in this one, fantasy managers were hoping for an increase in production. That did not happen. If Davante Adams (toe), Allison, or Valdes-Scantling miss more time moving ahead, look for Graham to see a slight uptick in looks from Aaron Rodgers. However, continue to expect the worst and hope for the best from week-to-week.

From RotoBaller

Marquez Valdes-Scantling Oct 15 7:20am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling finished with two catches for 48 yards in the win over the Lions on Monday night. Valdes-Scantling would briefly exit this one after injuring his leg but would return to haul in a 46-yard catch to offset his lack of fantasy progress up to that point. With Davante Adams (toe) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) potentially not playing against the Raiders on Sunday, the 25-year-old could see an increased role in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Geronimo Allison Oct 15 7:20am ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest) hauled in three catches (seven targets) for 40 yards in the win over the Lions on Monday night. After leading the way in looks from quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the 25-year-old would exit the game prematurely in the second half. He did not return. With Allison's status for Sunday's showdown with the Raiders in question, fantasy managers will want to monitor his progress throughout the week.

From RotoBaller

Jamaal Williams Oct 15 7:00am ET

Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams ran for 104 yards on 14 carries to go along with four catches in the win over the Lions. After Aaron Jones fumbled and dropped a wide-open pass from Aaron Rodgers that would have led to a score, Williams was inserted and made the most of it. Though the 24-year-old will likely continue as the No. 1 option out of the backfield, Williams may have some value against the Raiders on Sunday. If Davante Adams (toe), Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest), or Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) aren't able to suit up in Week 7, look for Jones to get more looks as a receiver, with Williams coming in for relief, especially on rushing downs.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Jones Oct 15 6:30am ET

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones ran for 47 yards on 11 carries in addition to four receptions for 13 yards in the win over the Lions. It was a much different performance than the four-touchdown outing that Jones had against the Cowboys in Week 5, and while it wasn't a horrible performance, he did fumble and drop a wide-open, 33-yard toss from Aaron Rodgers that would have led to a score. Jamal Williams did get some touches, rushing for 104 yards on 14 carries to go along with a few receptions after Jones hit the sidelines, but expect the 24-year-old to reclaim his role as the No. 1 option against the Raiders in Week 7.

From RotoBaller

Aaron Rodgers Oct 15 6:10am ET

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went 22-for-39 for 283 yards and a touchdown in the narrow win over the Lions on Monday night. Though he did throw an interception, it was an acceptable performance for the signal-caller who was without top receiver Devante Adams (toe), while also dealing with the in-game losses of Marquez Valdes-Scantling (leg) and Geronimo Allison (concussion, chest). Despite the injuries on the offensive end, Rodgers' outlook against the Raiders in Week 7 is still promising.

From RotoBaller

Rashaad Penny Oct 14 9:03pm ET

Seattle Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny (hamstring) should be a full participant during practice Wednesday, Oct. 16, according to head coach Pete Carroll.

Fantasy Spin: Penny was held out of the Week 6 game but likely will be available for Week 7. He will receive a handful of carries if he plays but may only be a flex option in deeper leagues because of the matchup.

From TheHuddle

Mitch Trubisky Oct 14 8:23pm ET

Chicago Bears QB Mitchell Trubisky (elbow) participated in practice Monday, Oct. 14.

Fantasy Spin: Trubisky has been sidelined for a few weeks but appears to have a decent chance to play in Week 7. He would be facing a tough New Orleans Saints defense if he is active and could be benched in leagues if fantasy players have better options.

From TheHuddle

Todd Gurley Oct 14 8:23pm ET

Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley (quadriceps) hopefully will be available to play in the Week 7 game, according to head coach Sean McVay.

Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation during the week to see if Gurley will be able to practice this week. He likely would have a favorable matchup if he is able to play and would be a starting option in leagues.

From TheHuddle

Stephon Tuitt Oct 14 8:13pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt (pectoral) has been diagnosed with a torn pectoral muscle and will miss the rest of the 2019 season. He will undergo surgery in the near future.

From TheHuddle

Dre Kirkpatrick Oct 14 8:03pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals CB Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) is expected to miss around four weeks because of a hyperextended knee, according to sources. He is scheduled to meet with a doctor Tuesday, Oct. 14, to confirm the diagnosis.

From TheHuddle

Nathan Stupar Oct 14 7:53pm ET

New York Giants LB Nathan Stupar was released Monday, Oct. 14.

From TheHuddle

Amari Cooper Oct 14 7:43pm ET

Updating a previous report, Dallas Cowboys WR Amari Cooper's (quadriceps) quadriceps injury is no worse than it was for the last two weeks, but his status for Week 7 is uncertain, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to monitor Cooper's practice participation during the week to have a better idea on his status for Week 7. Cooper is a solid starting fantasy option when healthy, but players will need other options ready is case he does not play.

From TheHuddle

Laquon Treadwell Oct 14 7:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell caught his only target for 15 yards in Week 6's 38-20 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Treadwell played 7-of-71 (10%) offensive snaps operating as the fourth receiver and hasn't been in on more than 15% of snaps in a game since being re-signed prior to Week 4. Treadwell will likely continue to work in as the fourth receiver moving forward but won't offer any fantasy value with his very limited role in the offense.

From RotoBaller

Kyle Rudolph Oct 14 7:30pm ET

Minnesota Vikings tight end caught 3-of-3 targets for 36 yards in a Week 6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. This was Rudolph's best game this season by quite a large margin, which just reinforces that he can't be trusted as a starting tight end even with the position being as shallow as it is. He played in 68-of-71 (96%) offensive snaps and had the third-most targets this week, but he still possesses a low weekly floor and ceiling with his lack of red-zone usage. Rudolph is only a desperation play as a TE2 heading into Week 7's road game against the Detroit Lions.

From RotoBaller

Danny Amendola Oct 14 7:13pm ET

Detroit Lions WR Danny Amendola (chest) is officially active for the team's Week 6 game.

Fantasy Spin: Amendola posted 104 yards in Week 1 but has posted only 34 combined yards in his other two games this season. He probably will see a handful of targets this week but can be avoided in most leagues.

From TheHuddle

Cam Newton Oct 14 6:53pm ET

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton (foot) is making good progress in his recovery and is expected to return to practice after the team's Week 7 bye, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Kyle Allen has won each of the last four games with Newton hurt, so it is not known if Newton will regain his starting job when he is healthy. Fantasy players will need to monitor the situation over the next few weeks to see if Allen or Newton will be the starting quarterback.

From TheHuddle

Davante Adams Oct 14 6:53pm ET

The Green Bay Packers have declared OL Adam Pankey, TE Robert Tonyan, S Darnell Savage, WR Davante Adams, CB Tony M. Brown, RB Dexter Williams and OT Cole Madison inactive for Week 6.

From TheHuddle

Quandre Diggs Oct 14 6:53pm ET

The Detroit Lions have declared CB Amani Oruwariye, DL Mike Daniels, OG Beau Benzschawel, DE Da'Shawn Hand, OT Oday Aboushi, CB Quandre Diggs and QB David Blough inactive for Week 6.

From TheHuddle

Zach Brown Oct 14 6:43pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles LB Zach Brown was released Monday, Oct. 14, according to a source.

From TheHuddle