Training Camp Preview: NFC North

Tue Jul 20 11:42am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

This is the sixth in a series of training camp previews. The previews give you a quick look at each team, going over position battles and injuries to watch in camp. And for this season, all training camps will open at the same time with the exception of three teams. Camp will open Tuesday, July 27 for 29 of the 32 NFL teams. The Steelers and Cowboys will open July 21 because they play in the preseason Hall of Fame Game. And lastly, the Bucs got an exemption to open early because they have the first game of the regular season on a Thursday night. Tampa gets their camp started July 24. The season is right around the corner.

Packers

The Packers should have an interesting camp because of the Aaron Rodgers situation. Jordan Love might be the focus of the camp if Rodgers holds out. Green Bay will need Love to show he can handle the offense and lead the team. Love will have a lot of pressure on him as long as Rodgers is out. Can the young player handle it? We will see. Green Bay holds camp at Schneider Stadium in De Pere, Wis.

Position battle: It seems like this has been the case the last several years but it remains an issue for the Packers. Who is going to be the starter opposite Davante Adams at receiver. Allen Lazard is the favorite but he will get competition from Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Amari Rodgers, Equanimeous St. Brown and Devin Funchess for that job.

Injury watch: He isn’t hurt but Aaron Rodgers’ status will be the focus of this training camp for the Packers. Is he going to hold out? Will he come back at some point? This is the big situation to watch in Packers camp. Rodgers played at an MVP level last year, so his loss would be near impossible to replace. Plus, his fantasy value is all over the map right now because of the current situation. It would be nice to have a little more certainty surrounding his status. 

Vikings

Minnesota disappointed a little last year, going 7-9 and missing the playoffs. The defense was the big issue, allowing 475 points. This unit will have to get a lot better if the Vikings hope to make the playoffs once again. So the big thing to watch this training camp will be how the defense plays. The Vikings need that unit to improve. The defense and the rest of the team train at the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center in Eagan, Minn.

Position battle: The Vikings don’t have a whole lot to be decided on the offensive side of the ball. Their positions are pretty set. The only one that might be up for grabs is the No. 3 receiver spot. Olabisi Johnson, Chad Beebe, K.J. Osborn and Ihmir Smith-Marsette should battle out for that No. 3 receiver job. Johnson should have the leg up over the other guys, but he won’t be handed the job. If one of these other guys emerge, they can win the job.

Injury watch: Dalvin Cook is not returning from a major injury but his health is always a bit of a concern. He is yet to play a full season in four NFL seasons. He has played 14 games each of the last two years. When he is on the field and playing, Cook is one of the best in the game. He just needs to avoid the injury bug to make a run at top fantasy back in the game.

Lions

The Lions revamped their team this offseason, having a lot of new pieces throughout the team. This should make for an interesting camp, seeing if all these guys can get on the same page in a hurry. The big key to their season might be new quarterback Jared Goff, who gets a chance to jumpstart his career with a new team. Goff will need to play at a high level if the Lions hope to rack up a lot of wins. Goff and his teammates train at the Detroit Lions Training Facility, Allen Park, Mich.

Position battle: The Lions have all sorts of openings at receiver. The team lost their top receivers from last year. At this point, Breshad Perriman is listed as the No. 1 receiver but that isn’t guaranteed by any means. The Lions also have Tyrell Williams, Kalif Raymond, Victor Bolden, Quintez Cephus, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Geronimo Allison in the mix for playing time at receiver. This really is a wide open competition for playing time. All of these guys could emerge and find their way into the starting lineup.

Injury watch: D’Andre Swift is setup for a big second season. He should be the three-down back from day one and has less to compete with for playing time this year. He has a chance to get a big weekly workload. Swift did miss three games because of injury last year, though. This is a little bit of a concern, having some injury issues in his first season in the league. He is going to get a big workload, so Swift will need to be in top shape if he hopes to make it through a full season.

Bears

The Bears managed to go 8-8 last year despite getting erratic quarterback play throughout the year. The team hopes to have solved that problem by signing Andy Dalton and drafting Justin Fields. These two players should be the focus of camp, seeing if one can steady the position for the team and take the offense to new heights. The Bears hold training camp at Halas Hall in Lake Forest, Ill.

Position battle: The Bears claim the starting quarterback job is Andy Dalton’s job. But Justin Fields could change their minds with a strong camp and preseason. Fields is the future signal caller for the team and could make the decision to start Dalton not so easy if he plays well in camp. We wouldn’t count out Fields to start, especially if you look at how Dalton played in a starting role for the Cowboys last year.

Injury watch: Tarik Cohen Is trying to return from a torn ACL. He has a long road back and is not a sure thing to be ready for the start of training camp. He could be brought along slowly in camp. There is a pretty good chance he is ready for Week 1, but keep an eye on the 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 jeff@rtsports.com. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.

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RTSports Weekly: Week 2

Player Notes
Carson Wentz Sep 25 9:43pm ET

Indianapolis Colts QB Carson Wentz (ankles) is planning on starting against the Tennessee Titans in Week 3, according to a source.

Fantasy Spin: Wentz has posted pedestrian numbers in his first two games for the Colts, and while the Titans have been struggling on defense, taking a chance on a hobbled Wentz isn't recommended.

From TheHuddle

Carson Wentz Sep 25 9:30pm ET

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (ankles) is expected to be active against the Titans in Week 3. He missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday but was upgraded to limited on Friday. Through two games this season, he has gone 45-for-69 with 498 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. The Colts do have contingency plans in place if Wentz experiences a setback during the game. One would speculate that they could carry three quarterbacks (Wentz, Jacob Eason, and Brett Hundley) into the contest. Regardless, Wentz getting the start provides a significant boost to the fantasy values of all the Indianapolis playmakers.

From RotoBaller

Jacoby Brissett Sep 25 9:20pm ET

Miami Dolphins quarterback Jacoby Brissett should fill the starting job for at least three weeks after Tua Tagovailoa (ribs) was placed on injured reserve. After relieving the latter in Week 2, the former completed 24 of 40 passes for 169 yards, zero touchdowns, and an interception. He's worth rostering in superflex leagues and is a solid matchup-based play through at least Week 5 and perhaps beyond.

From RotoBaller

Evan Engram Sep 25 9:10pm ET

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (calf) is trending in the right direction for Week 3. The team is confident that he'll be able to suit up against the Falcons on Sunday. The 27-year-old missed the first two weeks of the season, meaning this weekend's contest will represent his 2021 debut. Fellow veteran Kyle Rudolph had filled the team's No. 1 tight end role during Engram's absence. The Mississippi product falls into the TE2 range against a poor Falcons defense. He's worth rostering in both redraft and dynasty but should not be started in single-tight end leagues.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Golladay Sep 25 9:10pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) is expected to play during Sunday's game against the Falcons. The team is reportedly "optimistic" regarding his status. Through two games this season, he has caught seven of 14 targets for 102 yards. Although the start to his tenure in New York has been disappointing, Golladay could bounce back against a poor Falcons defense in Week 3. He's worth starting as a flex option in what should be a pass-heavy game.

From RotoBaller

Denzel Mims Sep 25 9:00pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims is expected to be a healthy scratch against the Broncos on Sunday. The second-year player out of Baylor caught one pass for 40 yards in Week 1 but was inactive against the Patriots last week. The Jets reportedly still believe in Mims, though evidently he's not at the point where they feel comfortable starting him despite an injury to Jamison Crowder (groin). It will be interesting to see how New York incorporates him into its offense throughout the 2021 season. For now, though, he's limited to the bench. He's only worth rostering in deeper dynasty formats.

From RotoBaller

Andy Dalton Sep 25 8:50pm ET

Chicago Bears quarterback Andy Dalton (knee) is not expected to be placed on injured reserve. In fact, the veteran signal-caller has a chance to return as soon as Week 4. This situation is truly perplexing as Dalton's injury seems like the perfect time to pass the torch to Justin Fields. Instead, the rookie will start on Sunday but return to the bench once Dalton is healthy again. Between Week 1 and part of Week 2, Dalton completed 36 of 49 attempts for 262 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Despite head coach Matt Nagy's refusal to make a permanent change, Fields is the quarterback to roster in this offense rather than Dalton.

From RotoBaller

Kenny Stills Sep 25 8:40pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills was added to the active roster and will suit up for the upcoming matchup against the Patriots. With Tre'Quan Smith (hamstring) and Michael Thomas (ankle) listed as occupants on the injured reserve list, Stills will add much-needed depth and stability to a team sorely lacking options outside of Alvin Kamara. While the 29-year-old isn't an everyday fantasy option, he does have some value in deeper formats. He also should be on the DFS radar as a potential sleeper option with upside for Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Davis Mills Sep 25 8:40pm ET

Houston Texans rookie quarterback Davis Mills drew praise from head coach David Culley for his performance against the Panthers on Thursday evening. Specifically, Culley spoke fondly of the Stanford product's ability during the two-minute drill. "When we went into our two-minute offense right before half, he did an excellent job of taking us down the field and making some nice throws and nice plays," he said. "I thought he did a nice job for us." Mills completed 19 of 28 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown during his first career start. He should only be rostered in superflex leagues. Even then, he's only worth starting in very favorable matchups.

From RotoBaller

Buddy Howell Sep 25 8:40pm ET

Los Angeles Rams running back Buddy Howell has been promoted to the active roster. Howell was a member of the team's practice squad after having spent his first three seasons with the Houston Texans. While he likely won't get much action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the transaction possibly paints a more definite picture of Darrell Henderson Jr.'s (ribs) status heading into Week 3. If Henderson is confirmed absent on Sunday, Sony Michel would likely handle most of the reps out of the backfield, with rookie Jake Funk coming in for relief.

From RotoBaller

Brett Hundley Sep 25 8:40pm ET

Indianapolis Colts practice squad quarterback Brett Hundley was elevated to the active roster ahead of Sunday's game against the Titans. When Carson Wentz (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday, Hundley took the majority of starting reps over Jacob Eason. As of now, the Colts' quarterback situation remains very much up in the air. Wentz is a game-time decision. If he does play, Hundley would likely be inactive. However, if the former Eagle is ruled out, it's unclear whether Hundley or Eason would get the nod.

From RotoBaller

Antonio Brown Sep 25 8:20pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (illness) will not play in Week 3. The veteran had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and didn't travel to Los Angeles with the team as a result. It's unfortunate news, primarily since Brown has been one of Tom Brady's favorite wideouts this season, currently ranked second on the team with 138 receiving yards. Without the 33-year-old in the equation, Scotty Miller may get more involved. However, the likely scenario would spell more targets for Rob Gronkowski, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans in an anticipated shootout against Matthew Stafford and the Rams.

From RotoBaller

Ameer Abdullah Sep 25 8:10pm ET

Minnesota Vikings running back Ameer Abdullah will be on the active roster for the Week 3 matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. The veteran could get some chances out of the backfield, mostly on passing downs, if Dalvin Cook (ankle) can't suit up, with Alexander Mattison expected to do most of the heavy lifting in the run game. While Abdullah doesn't have appeal in standard leagues, he could be worthy of a roster spot in deep PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

Kerryon Johnson Sep 25 7:50pm ET

San Francisco 49ers running back Kerryon Johnson has been promoted to the active roster. Johnson had been a member of the practice squad for the last few weeks. However, with the injuries to Elijah Mitchell (shoulder) and JaMycal Hasty (ankle), the veteran may provide relief for Trey Sermon (concussion), who is anticipated to handle most of the work against the Packers on Sunday night. Still, Johnson and Jacques Patrick could get a few touches in Week 3, classifying them as borderline adds in deep fantasy formats.

From RotoBaller

JaMycal Hasty Sep 25 7:40pm ET

San Francisco 49ers running back JaMycal Hasty (ankle) landed on injured reserve on Saturday evening. Hasty sustained a high-ankle sprain during the Niners Week 2 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles and will be on the shelf for at least the next three contests. With Elijah Mitchell (shoulder) also listed as doubtful for Sunday Night Football versus the Green Bay Packers, rookie Trey Sermon (concussion) may finally get his chance to shine. Kerryon Johnson was also promoted to the active roster from the practice squad in a corresponding move and could also get involved.

From RotoBaller

Rashard Robinson Sep 25 6:53pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers DB Rashard Robinson and TE Deon Yelder were elevated from the practice squad as COVID-19 replacements Saturday, Sept. 25.

From TheHuddle

Michael Thomas Sep 25 6:43pm ET

New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas (ankle) was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, Sept. 25. However, Thomas will remain on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform until at least the end of Week 6.

From TheHuddle

Zach Ertz Sep 25 6:43pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles TE Zach Ertz was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list Saturday, Sept. 25.

From TheHuddle

Robert Nkemdiche Sep 25 6:43pm ET

Seattle Seahawks DT Robert Nkemdiche and WR Cody Thompson were elevated from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 25.

From TheHuddle

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Sep 25 6:33pm ET

Las Vegas Raiders S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and LB Patrick Onwuasor were elevated from the practice squad Saturday, Sept. 25.

From TheHuddle