Fantasy Football Training Camp News: NFL training camp is just over one week old, but we’ve seen enough to get a sense of which direction a few players are going in. Here’s the latest, with news reports provided by our partners at Rotoballer.com.
[sc name=”Google Inline Ad”]
Andrew Luck (IND): Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni stated that “the rust has fallen off fast” for quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder). Sirianni further noted that Luck’s touch on deep throws has returned, which is surely a happy note for fantasy owners. With additional news that Luck will play in the Colts preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks, all signs point to Luck returning in spectacular fashion in September. The only question that remains is whether Luck can avoid re-aggravating his shoulder when players are moving at full speed.
Isaiah Crowell (NYJ): New York Jets running back Isaiah Crowell is showing his speed in training camp and is a better receiver than head coach Todd Bowles expected. Crowell will be a big factor in the offense. With Elijah McGuire injured, Crowell’s stock is slowly rising, especially in PPR leagues. He could be a decent RB3/flex type.
Chris Carson (SEA): Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson has easily been the most impressive running back so far in training camp and has added around 10 pounds of lean muscle. He also appears to be all the way back from the ankle/leg injury that cut his rookie season short last year. The common assumption is that rookie Rashaad Penny will overtake the role in 2018. He will play, perhaps in a third-down or change-of-pace role, but Carson looks to be the favorite to start the year as the starter. Penny is going much higher in fantasy drafts right now, which makes Carson a great value pick as an RB2/3 type.
Christian McCaffrey (CAR): Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner thinks it’s realistic for running back Christian McCaffrey to get 25 to 30 touches per game, which would be more than double what he had as a rookie. It doesn’t seem remotely possible, especially since C.J. Anderson should lead on early downs. Still, McCaffrey bulked up in the offseason to be able to withstand more pounding up the middle, so his workload will surely go up. He’s more valuable as a pass catcher for those in PPR leagues, but McCaffrey has RB1 upside in all formats.
Jarvis Landry (CLE): With Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon still absent at training camp, Jarvis Landry has become quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s go-to guy. The wideout had a vintage one-handed catch in the back corner of the end zone over cornerback E.J. Gaines on Thursday. Landry has caught everything within reach. While it’ll be extremely difficult for Landry to lead the NFL in receptions again, he should still see plenty of targets from Taylor in 2018 and is still a great WR2 in PPR leagues.
T.Y. Hilton (IND): Luck completed 16 of his 19 passes on Wednesday, with two drops. He looks to be in sync with wide receiver T.Y. Hilton. You can give Hilton a pass in 2017 without Luck for the entire season. Hilton doesn’t thrive in the touchdown department, but he should see plenty of targets from Luck this year and could even be undervalued as a WR2 based on his 2017 numbers.
Jordy Nelson (OAK): Oakland Raiders wide receiver Jordy Nelson has been exactly what the team thought they were getting so far in training camp and is moving like he’s 28 years old, not 33. He’s running polished routes and developing his timing with quarterback Derek Carr. Nelson was a fantasy disaster last year, but keep in mind Aaron Rodgers was also hurt for much of the year. He could be the team’s No. 2 receiver depending on what happens with Martavis Bryant. Nelson is worth a shot as a WR3 in fantasy drafts.
George Kittle (SF): San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle continues to shine through six days of training camp. “The Jimmy Garoppolo-to-George Kittle connection was cooking today,” according to 49ers reporter Joe Fann. Kittle hauled in three long passes, including a one-hander near the sideline on Wednesday. After finishing last year as the 19th best fantasy tight end, Kittle is starting to look more and more like a reliable starting option for fantasy owners in 2018. The second-year pro has a tremendous combination of size and speed and can break off a big play at any moment. He is currently being selected as a low-end TE1 with an ADP of the 10th round.
Mitch Trubisky (CHI): Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky continues to be very inconsistent in training camp as he attempts to learn new head coach Matt Nagy’s offense going into his second season. Trubisky has been picked off in all eight full-speed practices. “Obviously, he has turned the ball over too much,” offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said. “Some of that has been his fault, some of it not, which is usually the case. But the quarterback gets the blame. And so we’ll get it fixed. It’s so far so good. We’re nowhere — nowhere — near where we need to be. But we’re…trending in the right direction.” It’s not easy for a young QB to learn a new scheme, so the growing pains are understandable. The good news for Trubisky is he won’t be asked to be just a game manager in 2018, and he’ll have much better weapons in the passing game. That should make him more productive for fantasy owners, but the growing pains will continue throughout the year, making him more of a QB2 with upside.
Patrick Mahomes (KC): Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw three interceptions in training camp practice on Wednesday and has seven picks in six practices so far. “He had a few hiccups today,” offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. “But that’s a part of the process. When you’re young you need those hiccups because they become valuable lessons. … Would we like for him to be perfect? Yes. We’d like for him to have the highest quarterback rating ever. … He just needs to be poised under pressure.” It’s not unheard of for a young quarterback who played in just one game in his rookie season. Despite the picks, he’s making his fair share of big plays in practices, too. Mahomes will take chances and has a gunslinger mentality, which is drastically different than old QB Alex Smith. While Mahomes will have an up-and-down season in his first full year as a starter, he also has a lot more upside than Smith ever had. Consider Mahomes a QB2 with a lot of upside.
Marlon Mack (IND): The Indianapolis Colts are expected to employ a running-back-by-committee approach, and who the lead back will be could vary on a weekly basis. The unit includes Robert Turbin, Christine Michael, Marlon Mack, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. “What keeps them on their toes right now is that they have to learn everything,” head coach Frank Reich said. “But as we get more towards the games, we will be game-plan specific.” Mack is the best bet for early downs, but this could possibly be the toughest backfield to navigate fantasy-wise. Hines, a former slot receiver in college, is the most versatile and may have the most long-term upside. The rookie might be the most attractive in this backfield in PPR leagues.
Pierre Garcon (SF): San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garcon has gotten off to a slow start in training camp, and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has acknowledged that the two are still building chemistry after they didn’t get to work together in 2017. Garcon ranks eighth among active players in catches (604). Receiver Marquise Goodwin had a breakout year in 2017 and is emerging as the team’s top wideout, but not because of Garcon’s slow start. A neck injury limited Garcon to eight games in his first season in San Fran.
Doug Baldwin (SEA): Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin could miss the entire preseason due to a knee injury, but doctors are confident he’ll be ready by Week 1, according to Adam Schefter. Baldwin has been the team’s rock at the wide receiver position for years, and he has started 88 straight regular season games. Baldwin came up just short of 1,000 yards last season, ending his two-year streak, and he would be expected to be in that neighborhood again in 2018. Any injury news is concerning, but it sounds like everyone’s convinced he’ll be ready to go by the time the games start counting.