Training Camp Preview: NFC West

Wed Jul 29 11:02am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Mostert hopes to have big role


This is the final 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.

Rams

The Rams should have an interesting back, mainly because they have a real running back battle on their hands. This should make for some quality entertainment for fantasy owners. The winner of that job will have obvious fantasy value in this offense. The big battle will happen this year at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.

Position battle: The Rams will be without Todd Gurley as their starting running back for the first time in several seasons. This leaves the job up for grabs. The Rams drafted Cam Akers with a high pick, making him maybe the favorite for the job. Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown are still around, though. These three will battle it out for the job. Akers is the favorite, but he’ll need to perform in camp and preseason action to hold off Henderson and Brown .

Injury watch: Cooper Kupp played a full season last year for the first time in his career. He has missed games two of three seasons because of injury. Kupp has struggled to stay healthy at times, but last year was a big step forward. Either way, injury is a concern when it comes to Kupp. He is a huge part of the Rams offense and can be a top fantasy player, but needs to be on the field for that to happen. Make sure he has a healthy camp, though, before taking him come draft day.

Cardinals

Arizona is a team on the rise with a lot of young talent on both sides of the ball. The offense made a big splash this offseason, acquiring DeAndre Hopkins. The offense has a chance to be really good if all the pieces fall into place this season for Arizona. It should be interesting to see how the offense plays out this training camp. The Cardinals hold camp at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Position battle: The Cardinals starting tight end spot is up for grabs. Maxx Williams seems to have the best shot to start of the group, but will be challenged by Dan Arnold and Darrell Daniels. Arizona’s starting tight end doesn’t have a ton of fantasy value, but the starter could be worth a spot start or two in a pinch, making this a job some might want to keep an eye on. 

Injury watch: Larry Fitzgerald just keeps chugging along. He plays every game and produces on the field. It is pretty amazing. He is 37 years old, though, so you have to wonder if he can keep his current pace. It just seems natural that he will slow down sooner than later, maybe because of injury. This makes Fitzgerald a player to keep an eye on in training camp to make sure he comes out healthy and ready for the season.

49ers

The 49ers made it to the Super Bowl last year but lost in the big game. Expectations will be high for this team once again this year. There should be a lot of pressure on Jimmy Garopppolo, who wasn’t great in the playoffs. He might need to up his game a little more if the 49ers hope to win the Super Bowl. Garoppolo and his teammates will train at the San Francisco 49ers Training Facility in Santa Clara, California.

Position battle: Raheem Mostert is threatening a holdout because he wants a new contract. He is expected to start for the 49ers but a possible holdout could open the door for Tevin Coleman. This is a situation to watch going forward. Coleman’s value would take a big step forward if Mostert missed any amount of time. And even if Mostert doesn’t holdout, don’t forget about Coleman as part of a rotation at running back for the 49ers. It is not a slam dunk that Mostert is going to be handed the starting job. (UPDATE: Mostert restructured his contract and ended his holdout)

Injury watch: Deebo Samuel injured his foot in offseason workouts, suffering a Jones fracture. There is a good chance he is not ready for the start of the season, missing a few games to start the year. We’ll have a better idea when camp opens, though. Big things are expected from Samuel this year, but this injury clouds those expectations.

Seahawks

Seattle just keeps chugging along, winning a lot of games while making the playoffs. The big issue is getting over the hump of recent years and making a legit run at the Super Bowl. The team will need to get a little better on both sides of the ball for that to happen. Seattle will need some of that young talent to make progress this year, so that might be the big thing to watch this training camp. The Seahawks hold training camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton, Washington.

Position battle: Chris Carson is the starter for the Seahawks but his backup is up in the air. Carlos Hyde and Rashaad Penny are the top options to backup Carson. Hyde is coming off a 1,000-yard season, so he has the leg up on Penny. But Penny is a talented player that has struggled with injury start his career. When healthy, Penny has made plays for the Seahawks. Penny is recovering from a torn ACL, though, so he will need to prove he is healthy if he hopes to win the job over Hyde. This clouds things even more for Penny. 

Injury watch: Chris Carson had his season cut short because of a hip injury last year. He is not 100 percent certain to be ready for the start of training camp. He might be brought along slowly to make sure he is ready for the start of the year. He’ll need to get up to speed in camp to show the team he is 100 percent and ready for the start of the year. Make sure he has an injury free camp before taking Carson come draft day.

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
Tee Higgins Aug 5 8:20pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins was selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft and has a high ceiling without a doubt, especially since he will be catching passes from No. 1 overall selection Joe Burrow. Both rookies have built a rapport already as the duo conducted workouts together during the offseason. Higgins finished his final season at Clemson with 59 catches and 13 touchdowns off of 1,167 yards. While he is a risky selection in redraft leagues this season due to his potential limited playing time, he is surely worth a first-round pick in dynasty formats as he will likely rack up plenty of receptions from Burrow for years to come.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Boyd Aug 5 8:10pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd has begun catching passes from rookie signal-caller Joe Burrow as the team kicks off training camp. The 25-year-old has plenty of hype heading into the 2020 season after racking up over 1,000 yards in his previous two seasons. With A.J. Green seemingly healthy along with the addition of Clemson wideout Tee Higgins, Boyd could see things open up more on the offensive end, while also remaining the team's top pass-catcher.

From RotoBaller

A.J. Green Aug 5 8:00pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green went through his first walkthrough under second-year head coach Zac Taylor on Tuesday. The veteran, who recently signed a one-year tender a few weeks ago, missed all of 2019 after injuring his ankle during training camp. While consistent ailments have been the theme for the 32-year-old over the past seasons, there is no denying his ability when healthy. He is no longer considered an elite wideout, however, he is worth a mid-round pick for those looking for an option with an enormous upside.

From RotoBaller

Joe Mixon Aug 5 7:40pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon is still without a new deal as the team heads toward the 2020 season. However, according to director of player personnel, Duke Tobin, the organization views the 24-year-old as a "cornerstone piece of the franchise." Mixon is looking for a contract that would pay him north of $8 million per year, a significant increase from the $1.2 million that he is expected to earn in the final year of his rookie deal. The former Sooner is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and is projected by many to be a fantasy breakout by year's end.

From RotoBaller

Ezekiel Elliott Aug 5 7:10pm ET

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was quick to respond to Ed Werder's Twitter post regarding a potentially reduced role for the former rushing champ, quipping "we all gonna eat." Though Elliott is a shoo-in, first-round pick in fantasy drafts for the 2020 campaign, many still wonder how he will co-exist on an offense that has plenty of mouths to feed, notably Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and 17th overall pick, CeeDee Lamb. Elliott finished 2019 as a top-five back in the majority of formats. Under new head coach Mike McCarthy, who has overseen some productive runners throughout his career, the 25-year-old could be in store for another productive year.

From RotoBaller

Michael Thomas Aug 5 6:50pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas broke the single-season receptions record last year by racking up 149 catches, surpassing Marvin Harrison's 2002 mark of 143. While that accomplishment would be good enough for most throughout the league, the 27-year-old is aiming to exceed his 2019 total heading into the 2020 campaign. Thomas convincingly dominated the fantasy picture last season, and in addition to his catch total, he also accumulated over 1,700 yards while finishing fifth in yards after the catch. He is expected to finish as the top fantasy wideout this season, and will likely get snagged off the draft board within the top three picks, especially in PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

Travis Benjamin Aug 5 5:43pm ET

Updating a previous story, San Francisco 49ers WR Travis Benjamin was officially placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5.

From TheHuddle

Albert Wilson Aug 5 5:33pm ET

Updating a previous story, Miami Dolphins WR Albert Wilson was officially placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5.

From TheHuddle

Davon Godchaux Aug 5 4:43pm ET

Miami Dolphins DT Davon Godchaux was placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5.

From TheHuddle

Tyeler Davison Aug 5 4:43pm ET

Atlanta Falcons DT Tyeler Davison was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday, Aug. 5. LB Ahmad Thomas was released.

From TheHuddle

Austin Hooper Aug 5 4:33pm ET

Cleveland Browns TE Austin Hooper lived part of the summer with QB Baker Mayfield while the two worked out together.

Fantasy Spin: It certainly could help Hooper to at least be somewhat familiar with his new QB despite all the lost reps from canceled offseason programs following his signing as a free agent. Hooper is expected to be the No. 1 tight end over David Njoku and should be drafted as a top-tier option at his thin position.

From TheHuddle

Jayon Brown Aug 5 4:33pm ET

Tennessee Titans LB Jayon Brown (undisclosed) passed his physical Wednesday, Aug. 5, and was activated from the Physically Unable to Perform list.

From TheHuddle

Stefon Diggs Aug 5 4:13pm ET

Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs restructured his contract Tuesday, Aug. 4, according to a source. He'll receive an extra $3.3 million in 2020, an extra $7.7 million in guaranteed money but a decrease of $300,000 cash in 2021 and a drop from $25.55 million to $22.67 million in 2022-23 cash.

From TheHuddle

LeSean McCoy Aug 5 3:53pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB LeSean McCoy probably will have a role in the passing game this season, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Fantasy Spin: It appears like McCoy may be in line for the third down back job, but fantasy players should keep an eye on the situation. McCoy probably would see a handful of touches each games if he makes the roster but may only be a depth option in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle

Kentrell Brice Aug 5 3:53pm ET

Free-agent S Kentrell Brice (Bears) signed with the Arizona Cardinals Wednesday, Aug. 5. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

From TheHuddle

Avery Williamson Aug 5 3:23pm ET

New York Jets LB Avery Williamson (knee) said he expects to be ready for the start of the regular season.

From TheHuddle

Jeremy Hill Aug 5 3:13pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders RB Jeremy Hill was released Wednesday, Aug. 5.

From TheHuddle

Ronald Jones II Aug 5 3:10pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Ronald Jones II was called "the main guy" in the running back room by his coach Bruce Arians. Arians said he is confident in Jones II and that the other guys are fighting for roles. The other guys include third-round draft pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who will lose valuable practice time after he hit the COVID-19 list, and veteran running back LeSean McCoy, who won't challenge for a lead back role at this point in his career. Jones II looks the part after an offseason spent bulking up and catching hundreds of passes to address a weakness in his game. The 23-year-old has RB2 upside in the 7th round but it's likely that Vaughn and McCoy cut into his ceiling in 2020, despite what Arians said.

From RotoBaller

Kentrell Brice Aug 5 3:03pm ET

Free-agent S Kentrell Brice (Bears) is expected to sign with the Arizona Cardinals as long as he passes a physical and tests negative for COVID-19, according to a source.

From TheHuddle

Ronald Jones II Aug 5 2:13pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones will be the main ball carrier for the Buccaneers this season, according to head coach Bruce Arians.

Fantasy Spin: Jones rushed for 724 yards and six touchdowns last season and should improve those stats with more playing time and touches. He will be a part of one of the better offenses in the NFL and can be considered a No. 2 running back in fantasy leagues.

From TheHuddle