Sun Jul 19 8:56pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Fuller could play big role
This is the third 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 Titans were a win away from the Super Bowl last year, surprising many. The emergence of Ryan Tannehill was a big reason for the success. He starts from day one this year and will be watched closely in camp to see if he can build off last season. Tannehill might have a lot of pressure on him, so it will be interesting to see how he handles it. Tennessee opens camp at Saint Thomas Sports Park in Nashville, Tennessee.
Position battle: Jonnu Smith should be the starting tight end for the Titans this year but the team won’t hand him the job. He was up and down in a starting role last year, so he’ll need to show more consistency if he wants the job full time. Anthony Firkser and MyCole Pruitt will provide some competition for Smith for the starting job. Again, Smith should be the starter but this isn’t a 100 percent slam dunk.
Injury watch: Running back Derrick Henry is not injured but it will be interesting to see how the Titans handle his workload. Henry topped 300 carries for the first time in his career last season. He is expected to be the workhorse back for the offense again this year, getting a lot of work. Tennessee should take it easy with their star back in camp and preseason action. They need him 100 percent for the start of the year and for him to stay healthy all season.
The Colts made a big change at quarterback, getting Philip Rivers to take over. So much of this camp will be focused on Rivers and his switch to a new team and offense after so many seasons with the same team. Can Rivers make a smooth transition and take the Colts offense to a new level this season? We’ll get an idea, starting in training camp at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Position battle: The Colts surprised some by taking Jonathan Taylor in the second round of this year’s draft. Many considered Taylor the most talented back in the draft, so he has a chance to make a big impact his rookie season. He will need to beat out Marlon Mack for the staring job, though. Mack had his first 1,000-yard season last year and was a productive back in a starting role. Taylor has a lot of talent, though, and seems to have a real shot to open the season as the starter, beating out Mack for the job.
Injury watch: Receiver Parris Campbell battled injury much of his rookie year. This really derailed his once promising season. Campbell was a shell of himself because of a foot injury. He is supposed to be 100 percent now, though, and will challenge for a big role offensively. He has the talent to be a difference maker in the passing game, so keep an eye on his status this training camp. As long as he is healthy, Campbell should play a role in this offense.
The Jaguars were a disappointment last year, finishing 6-10. The team will look to get things going in the right direction again, starting in training camp. Much of the season might depend on the development of Gardner Minshew. He will need to take a step forward if the Jaguars hope to win more games. Minshew and his teammates train at the TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.
Position battle: The Jaguars have a lot to sort out at receiver. D.J. Chark is the top option in the passing game but after him, there is a lot up for grabs. Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook, Laviska Shenault and Keelan Cole are vying for playing time behind Chark. This should be a fierce battle because many of these players have similar ability. The starter opposite of Chark should have some fantasy value in an offense that will air it out on occasion.
Injury watch: Tight end Tyler Eifert is not injured right now but has missed a lot of time three of his last four seasons. He played a full season last year but played just 14 games the previous three years. He is a big-time injury risk. Eifert will start for the Jaguars as long as he proves he can stay healthy and looks 100 percent this training camp.
Houston had a lot of turnover this offseason as head coach Bill O’Brien continues to put his stamp on the team. O’Brien has a lot of pressure on him to succeed after getting rid of some of his top players in recent seasons. He will need to prove his moves were right if he hopes to keep coaching this team. O’Brien and his players will train at the Houston Texans Training Center in Houston, Texas.
Position battle: The Texans made a big change at receiver this offseason, trading DeAndre Hopkins. The team added some new players, getting Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. The Texans also have Will Fuller, Kenny Stills and Keke Coutee. These five will try to earn big spots on the depth chart and battle it out in camp for the right to start. You’ll want to watch this depth chart play out because the Texans are going to be a pass first team, meaning the receivers playing often could have a high fantasy ceiling.
Injury watch: Receiver Will Fuller missed five games again last season and has failed to play a full season all four seasons in the NFL. He is recovering from offseason core surgery and might not be 100 percent for training camp. Fuller should be ready to go for the start of the season but his injury history makes him a player to watch in training camp. Fuller has a chance to start and play a huge role in the Texans passing game, but needs to stay on the field for that to happen.
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 email@example.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are retaining defensive coordinator Keith Butler for at least one more season, according to a source. The 64-year-old has been with the team since 2003 and in his role as the defensive coordinator since 2015. Pittsburgh's defense was a top-five unit in 2020, finishing first in total QBR (55.9) and sacks (56). However, they began to fall apart in the final month of the season. They allowed 111.4 rushing yards per game and 4.31 yards per carry after being the best run defense in the first half of the year. They ranked third in the NFL in passing yards per game (194.4) and yards per attempt (5.91). Losing linebackers Devin Bush and Bud Dupree to injuries during the season was a big reason why Pittsburgh's defense wasn't as strong to close out the year. Despite the disappointing finish, this unit should be a top target for fantasy managers late in drafts in 2021.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said on Wednesday that he's "not apologizing" for quarterback Lamar Jackson's style of play or the team's run-first approach on offense. Baltimore scored just three points in the Divisional Round loss to the Bills, and offensive coordinator Greg Roman received criticism for what looked like a simplistic passing attack. The Ravens finished last in the NFL in passing for the first time since 2003. Harbaugh points out that they finished seventh in scoring in 2020, averaging 29.3 points per game. While Baltimore doesn't air the football out like other teams, they've also led the league in rushing each of the last two years, and Jackson has been a big part of that. Despite his limitations as a passer, Jackson remains a high-end QB1 for fantasy managers entering the 2021 season. Running back J.K. Dobbins will only see his stock rise as well in one of the NFL's most run-heavy offenses heading into his second season.
The Buffalo Bills Defense has improved dramatically since their Week 11 bye, allowing only 17.1 points per game, fewer than 340 total yards per game and just a 35.1 third-down conversion rate since Week 12. Buffalo's D held the Baltimore Ravens to just three points and 340 total yards in the their win in the Divisional Round last weekend. The Bills defense made a point to limit big plays in their Week 6 loss to the Chiefs. They held wide receiver Tyreek Hill to three catches for 20 yards and tight end Travis Kelce to five catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns. KC carried the ball 46 times for 245 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Buffalo will have their hands full again and will probably be avoided in most DFS formats this weekend, making them mostly a contrarian play if Patrick Mahomes (concussion) is active.
Former Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins has a visit with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, according to sources. Haskins could represent potential quarterback depth and upside. The free agent and former first-round pick also had a recent visit with the Carolina Panthers after being cut by Washington after their Week 16 loss. Although Ben Roethlisberger is expected to return for another season in 2021 following a disappointing end to their season, the Steelers could use more depth behind Big Ben and Mason Rudolph, with Joshua Dobbs being the other signal-caller currently on the roster. The 23-year-old Haskins has struggled mightily in his two seasons in the NFL, and he hasn't helped himself with some off-field issues. He's hoping to rehabilitate his image and eventually get another shot with a new organization.
Miami Dolphins WRs Albert Wilson, Jakeem Grant and Allen Hurns are all potential cap casualties, in the opinion of The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson.
New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees dealt with more injuries than were previously known as, according to a post from his wife on Instagram, the veteran played with a torn rotator cuff and a torn fascia in his foot. Those are in addition to the 11 broken ribs and collapsed lung that were previously reported. Brees is expected to retire during the offseason, though he has not made that official, yet.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to let WR JuJu Smith-Schuster 'walk' in free agency, in the opinion of ESPN's Brooke Pryor, who notes the team's cap issues and presence of WRs Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and James Washington on the roster.
Chicago Bears WR Anthony Miller was warned not to get involved with New Orleans Saints CB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson ahead of the team's Wild Card matchup but ended up getting ejected from the game, which team chairman George McCaskey had a 'problem' with. That's 'bad news' for Miller's future with the team, according to the Chicago Sun-Times' Patrick Finley, who noted that Miller has just one year left on his contract.
Former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone agreed to become the new offensive line coach at the University of Alabama on Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Seattle Seahawks S Jamal Adams has posted 78 quarterback pressures since the start of the 2017 season - 32 more than any other defensive back over that span - according to Pro Football Focus.
Arizona Cardinals S Budda Baker has posted 46 quarterback pressures since the start of the 2017 season - the second-highest total of any defensive back over that span - according to Pro Football Focus.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers CB Carlton Davis (37) and Green Bay Packers CB Jaire Alexander (30) rank first and second, respectively, in the league in most forced incompletions since the start of the 2019 season, according to Pro Football Focus.
Free-agent CB Tramon Williams (Ravens) worked out for the Green Bay Packers Wednesday, Jan. 20, and is expected to sign to either the practice squad or the 53-man roster.
Cleveland Browns DT Larry Ogunjobi said he'll assess his options in free agency as it's unknown if he'll return to the Browns. 'When I go into training this offseason, just kind of figure out what fits best for me and then obviously when you get into March, you figure out where the team wants you as, what they see you as and what role they want you to play here or somewhere else,' Ogunjobi said Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II (quadriceps) and wide receivers Mike Evans (knee) and Chris Godwin (quadriceps) were all limited participants during Wednesday's practice. Jones was able to practice in a limited fashion last week before ultimately suiting up against the Saints, while Evans' and Godwin's reps are being managed as precautions. Jones has a good matchup against Green Bay's front, though he and Leonard Fournette are trending towards a timeshare after head coach Bruce Arians described them as a "1-2 punch." Meanwhile, Evans will likely tango with star corner Jaire Alexander on the outside, as tough a matchup as any. Godwin is due for a rebound performance after dropping a surefire touchdown last week and could see more targets if Evans struggles and Antonio Brown (knee) is banged up.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is wanted on a long-term contract, according to head coach John Harbaugh Wednesday, Jan. 20. 'Absolutely, we want Lamar to sign a long-term deal and be with us,' Harbaugh said. 'I'm totally certain that's going to happen. When it happens, that's the details.'
Fantasy Spin: Harbaugh also said they aren't going to adjust the offense to be more pass-heavy. So long as Jackson is healthy, he'll be a top fantasy QB for the foreseeable future due to his added production on the ground.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones (quadriceps) said Wednesday, Jan. 20, he already feels better than last week and he's all good for the NFC Championship against the Green Bay Packers.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (knee) was listed as a non-participant for Wednesday's practice. Brown sustained the knee injury during the divisional-round win over the Saints, with Tampa Bay officially listing him as day-to-day. The veteran wideout will look to ramp up his activity during Thursday and Friday's sessions to give him a chance at suiting up against Green Bay in the NFC title game. Fellow wideouts Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson- who both made big plays in the victory over New Orleans- would be in line to receive more targets if Brown isn't healthy enough to play.
Philadelphia Eagles DB Nickell Robey-Coleman was removed from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Jan. 20.