Training Camp Preview: AFC West

Thu Jul 21 12:45pm ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer

Related photo caption below

Hardman hopes to start for Chiefs


This is the fourth 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. The season is right around the corner.

Raiders

The Raiders made big waves this offseason. Las Vegas added Davante Adams to their offense and hired Josh McDaniels as their head coach. There are big expectations for this team this coming season. And it will start in training camp, seeing how quickly this team comes together. McDaniels will have a lot of pressure to get this unit going in a hurry. It will be interesting to see how McDaniels and the entire team handles it all. The Raiders hold training camp at the Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center in Henderson, Nev.

Position battle: Davante Adams is penciled in as the top receiver for the Raiders and Hunter Renfrow will work out of the slot. But the No. 2 job opposite Adams is up for grabs in Las Vegas. Keelan Cole, Demarcus Robinson, Mack Hollins and Tyron Johnson will battle it out for playing time at that No. 2 spot in the lineup. This is a pretty wide open battle. You could see any of these players emerge. 

Injury watch: Kenyan Drake broke his ankle late in the season. He recently stated he won’t be full speed for the start of training camp, but should be ready for the start of the season. The Raiders are likely to bring along Drake slowly, though, to make sure he doesn’t have any setbacks. Drake is expected to serve as the top backup for the Raiders and could have a big role in the new offense because of his pass-catching ability. 

Broncos

Denver finally landed their franchise quarterback this offseason, acquiring Russell Wilson. This solves a problem that has plagued the team for a long time. Wilson immediately gives the offense new life and makes the Broncos a playoff contender. Wilson should be the focus of this training camp for all Broncos fans. Wilson and his teammates get things going at the UCHealth Training Center in Englewood, Colo.

Position battle: The Broncos dealt Noah Fant this offseason, leaving a hole at tight end. Albert Okwuegbunam is the favorite to get that starting job, but the Broncos used a high-draft pick on Greg Dulchich. He could challenge Okwuegbunam for that starting job with a strong camp and preseason. Don’t count out the rookie. The Broncos are not going to just hand the job to Okwuegbunam. 

Injury watch: Jerry Jeudy suffered a groin injury during offseason workouts. He might not be 100 percent for the start of training camp because of injury. This is something to watch because Jeudy has a chance to finally have that breakout season. He needs to be healthy for that to happen, though. Hopefully, this injury isn’t too serious and Jeudy is ready to go shortly after camp opens. 

Chargers

The Chargers have one of the most exciting, young offenses in football, led by Justin Herbert. This team should be considered one of the best in football, heading into the season. There is a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. The big issue is getting over the hump in the playoffs. Can this team take the next step in their development? This will be question for the Chargers as they head into training camp and the preseason. The Chargers hold their training camp at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, Calif.

Position battle: The Chargers are pretty much set at all their key offensive positions. The only real spot up for grabs is their backup running back job behind Austin Ekeler. The Chargers drafted Isaiah Spiller in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Spiller might be the favorite to win that top backup job. But Larry Rountree and Joshua Kelley also will be in the mix. Rountree got some action his rookie season and made some plays. This battle is pretty wide open and carries fantasy value with the Chargers talking about scaling back the workload of Ekeler a little. 

Injury watch: Star safety Derwin James is still recovering from offseason labrum surgery. He has not done any offseason workouts and could be slowed in camp because of the surgery. We would expect him to be ready for the start of the season, barring a setback in camp and preseason action. James is one of the top talents in the game defensively, so the Chargers will need him healthy and on the field if this team hopes to reach their heights.  

Chiefs

The Chiefs remain one of the top teams in all of football, but have some holes to fill this year. The team traded top receiver Tyreek Hill, leaving a huge hole to fill in the Chiefs offense. Do the Chiefs have enough firepower at receiver to make up for the loss of Hill? That should be the big focus of camp. Kansas City still has Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce left, so this offense should remain plenty potent. It remains to be seen if losing Hill puts a big dent in that unit. We will get an idea, starting in camp and preseason action. Kansas City trains at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Mo.

Position battle: As mentioned, Tyreek Hill is gone. This leaves a huge hole at receiver for the Chiefs. Kansas City added plenty of talent to help make up for that loss, but it remains to be seen how the depth chart plays out. There are a lot of talented players competing for playing time. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, Skyy Moore, Josh Gordon and Marquez Valdes-Scantling will battle it out for targets in the Chiefs offense. This could be a tough situation for fantasy teams to figure out, seeing the player that emerges to get the most targets.

Injury watch: This is likely a make or break season for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. If he doesn’t perform, the Chiefs could be moving on from their young back. He had injury issues again last year, missing seven games. He has missed 10 games in two seasons. He needs to show he can be a durable three-down back if he hopes to continue to start in the NFL. And it starts in camp. If he has any injury issues in camp or the preseason, it could derail his entire season. 

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.

Top Headlines
The Paur Report

Draft Talk with Glenn Colton

Player Notes
Roquan Smith Aug 9 7:14pm ET
Roquan Smith

Chicago Bears linebacker Roquan Smith has been an integral part of the team's defense since he was drafted eighth overall in 2018. The Bears have traded away some big names from their once fierce defense, including Khalil Mack, and it appears Smith could be next. Smith released a statement officially requesting a trade, reporting the new management regime "won't negotiate in good faith" and "doesn't value me here." Smith is one of the few remaining superstars on this team, so losing him would big a big blow.

J.K. Dobbins Aug 9 7:14pm ET
J.K. Dobbins

Dynasty | The Ravens activated running back J.K. Dobbins from the PUP list Dynasty Analysis: Dobbins was pushing to return and was granted the green light on Monday and it's said he's on track to be ready for week one. It's been a year since Dobbins tore his ACL and his timeline for return was expected to allow for full-health by week one. It's great news for Dobbins, the Ravens and his dynasty coaches who badly missed his presence in 2021. The bruising runner rushed for 805 yards and nine touchdowns in his rookie year on only 134 carries, good for an amazing 6.0 ypc. average. The question for Dobbins will surround his role within the teams committee rotation, including the impact of Lamar Jackson's rushing prowess. But as seen with his rookie year production, a healthy allotment of touches should provide for an even greater runway for increased 2022 production. Touchdown totals will be a concern inside the five yard line as fantasy coaches wait to see how the team will utilize Jackson's capable legs, perhaps at the expense of Dobbins. He's listed as DLF's RB14, showing that there's more than a little concern about Dobbins' injury when paired with Jackson under-center.

Treylon Burks Aug 9 7:13pm ET
Treylon Burks

Dynasty | Titans rookie receiver Treylon Burks has been running with the second and third teams at camp Dynasty Analysis: Burks got off to a poor start in OTAs and was diagnosed with asthma earlier this off-season. As such, the rookie is still getting his legs under him and will have to work his way back with the starters. Rookies tend to hit the "rookie wall" near week 10 of the regular season and this could be an issue to watch with Burks here in his first season. The full expectation is that he'll eventually take the spot vacated by the traded A.J. Brown, but it won't be handed to him. Burks is listed as DLF's WR21 and possesses a fair amount of premium as a rookie.

Deshaun Watson Aug 9 7:10pm ET
Deshaun Watson

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on Tuesday that the league is seeking a tougher penalty for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson because his actions were "egregious" and "predatory behavior." The league formally appealed Watson's six-game suspension last week, which was given by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson earlier this month. The NFL is seeking a suspension of at least a year for Watson. It's unknown when former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey will make a ruling on the appeal. Watson was accused of sexual assault and other inappropriate conduct during massage sessions in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women. There's a chance this ends up playing out in federal court, but Watson will miss at least the first six games of the 2022 season, making him an extremely risky fantasy QB this year.

From RotoBaller

Adam Shaheen Aug 9 7:03pm ET
Adam Shaheen

Miami Dolphins TE Adam Shaheen was traded to the Houston Texans Tuesday, Aug. 9, in exchange for a 2023 sixth-round draft choice. The Texans will also receive a 2023 seventh-round draft choice in the trade.

From TheHuddle

Matthew Stafford Aug 9 6:40pm ET
Matthew Stafford

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (elbow) resumed throwing in individual drills at training camp practice on Tuesday. The Rams are managing Stafford's elbow pain this offseason in order to attempt to keep him healthy all years as the Rams try to defend their Super Bowl championship. The 34-year-old will likely continue to take it easy on his right arm throughout the rest of camp, and it's definitely something to watch as we get into the regular season. For now, fantasy managers should expect Stafford to be fine for Week 1. He has an amazing connection with All-Pro wideout Cooper Kupp and also has Allen Robinson II at his disposal, but Stafford should be targeted as a low-end QB1 in fantasy.

From RotoBaller

Adam Shaheen Aug 9 6:40pm ET
Adam Shaheen

The Houston Texans acquired tight end Adam Shaheen and a seventh-round pick in 2023 from the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday in exchange for a sixth-round pick in next year's draft. The Dolphins already have Mike Gesicki locked in as their starting tight end, with Durham Smythe, Hunter Long and Cethan Carter providing depth behind him, so Shaheen was expendable after catching 12 of 16 targets for only 110 scoreless yards in 12 games (seven starts) in 2021. Shaheen will now join a tight end group in Houston that already has Pharaoh Brown and Brevin Jordan. Jordan is expected to be the primary pass-catching option at the position, so Shaheen should remain well off the fantasy radar entering the 2022 campaign.

From RotoBaller

Jalen Ramsey Aug 9 6:33pm ET
Jalen Ramsey

Los Angeles Rams CB Jalen Ramsey (shoulder) participated in team drills during practice Tuesday, Aug. 9.

From TheHuddle

Marlon Mack Aug 9 6:30pm ET
Marlon Mack

Houston Texans running backs Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead are listed as co-starters at running back on the team's first unofficial depth chart of training camp. They are followed by rookie Dameon Pierce, Royce Freeman, Dare Ogunbowale and Darius Anderson. Coming off a serious Achilles injury that limited him to seven games the last two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, the 26-year-old Mack figures to lead Houston's backfield to begin the 2022 season. However, this could be a frustrating backfield to predict early on, and Pierce has the goods to become the starter by season's end in an offense run by quarterback Davis Mills. If you're betting on anyone as a last-round RB for depth, Pierce is probably the best low-cost investment with the most upside.

From RotoBaller

Danny Shelton Aug 9 6:30pm ET
Danny Shelton

The Kansas City Chiefs agreed to an undisclosed one-year deal with veteran free-agent defensive tackle Danny Shelton on Tuesday, according to his agents, Drew Rosenhaus and Ryan Matha. Shelton played in 13 games (zero starts) for the New York Giants last year, recording 31 tackles (12 solo) and half a sack. He was originally a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2015 out of the University of Washington, and he spent his first three seasons in the NFL in Cleveland. The 28-year-old pass-rusher has also spent time with the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions. Shelton will be looking to compete for a starting spot on the interior of KC's defensive line. He has 278 tackles (138 solo), 17 tackles for loss, 19 QB hits, six sacks and a forced fumble in seven NFL seasons.

From RotoBaller

Matthew Stafford Aug 9 6:23pm ET
Matthew Stafford

Los Angeles Rams QB Matthew Stafford (elbow) participated in team drills during practice Tuesday, Aug. 9.

Fantasy Spin: Stafford has been dealing with the elbow injury for a while and will continue to be a story moving forward. Fantasy players can monitor the situation because Stafford can be a low-end No. 1 fantasy quarterback if he is healthy.

From TheHuddle

Marcus Davenport Aug 9 6:23pm ET
Marcus Davenport

New Orleans Saints DE Marcus Davenport (finger) passed his physical Tuesday, Aug. 9, and has been activated from the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list.

From TheHuddle

Jalen Reagor Aug 9 6:20pm ET
Jalen Reagor

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor continues to stack good days at training camp in what has definitely been his most consistent camp as a professional. At the moment, he looks too good to consider releasing, in the opinion of The Athletic's Bo Wulf, although a trade remains on the table. The former first-round pick has been a disappointment through his two NFL seasons, compiling 64 catches (111 targets) for 695 yards and three touchdowns in 28 games (24 starts). The 23-year-old will probably only be fantasy relevant if he's traded to a team that gives him a realistic chance to start. As things stand now in Philly, he's behind the likes of A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins and Zach Pascal.

From RotoBaller

Jakeem Grant Aug 9 6:10pm ET
Jakeem Grant

Cleveland Browns All-Pro returner and wide receiver Jakeem Grant Sr. (Achilles) is feared to have torn his Achilles in training camp practice on Tuesday. He will undergo tests to confirm after he was carted off the field on Tuesday. This will be a big blow to Cleveland's special teams unit this year as well as their receiver depth. The 29-year-old speedy wideout was looking for a role on both special teams and as a pass-catcher in his first year with the Browns after catching 11 of his 17 targets for 132 yards and two touchdowns in 2021 with the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears. He was a Pro Bowler last year for his work as a returner, handling 23 kickoff returns for 539 yards and 26 punt returns for 309 yards and one touchdown.

From RotoBaller

Zach Pascal Aug 9 6:10pm ET
Zach Pascal

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Zach Pascal missed the first week-plus of training camp with food poisoning and has been slowly acclimating since, but Monday was his best day by a wide margin. He showcased nice route-running and dominated a portion of seven-on-seven drills with a one-handed catch. Pascal has yet to make much of an impact in team drills, though, and he's still trying to get on the same page as quarterback Jalen Hurts. Unfortunately for Pascal, he's currently fourth on the Eagles depth chart behind A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins, who had a productive day in team drills on Monday with a couple of nice catches. Pascal can be passed over on draft day in most leagues to begin the 2022 season.

From RotoBaller

Kalen Ballage Aug 9 5:43pm ET
Kalen Ballage

Free-agent RB Kalen Ballage (Steelers), RB Jaylen Samuels (Cardinals) and Stevie Scott (Broncos) recently worked out for the Green Bay Packers. The team also worked out undrafted free-agent RB Calvin Turner (Hawaii).

From TheHuddle

Jeremy Sprinkle Aug 9 5:23pm ET
Jeremy Sprinkle

Dallas Cowboys TE Jeremy Sprinkle (Achilles) participated in practice Tuesday, Aug. 9.

From TheHuddle

Donovan Peoples-Jones Aug 9 4:13pm ET
Donovan Peoples-Jones

Dynasty | Browns wide receiver and special teams ace Jakeem Grant was carted off with an apparent leg injury at practice. Dynasty Analysis: This has the looks of a potentially serious injury. Grant was making some headway on the depth chart and figured to be the Browns primary return man as well. If he's indeed lost for the season, it would open up more snaps and targets for the likes of Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Bell. As for Grant, he's already a fringe dynasty player and there would be little reason to keep him should this be a serious injury. Stay tuned.

From Dynasty League Fantasy

Danny Shelton Aug 9 4:13pm ET
Danny Shelton

Free-agent DL Danny Shelton (Giants) signed an undisclosed contract with the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday, Aug. 9.

From TheHuddle

Jakeem Grant Aug 9 4:13pm ET
Jakeem Grant

Updating a previous report, Cleveland Browns WR Jakeem Grant (Achilles) is believed to have suffered a torn Achilles tendon during practice Tuesday, Aug. 9, but is scheduled to undergo more test to confirm the diagnosis, according to sources.

From TheHuddle