Our Training Camp Market Report is intended to be a one-stop shop for the most important news from around the NFL during training camp. We’ll post a new Market Report every week during training camp to help our subscribers keep the pulse of what’s happening in the fantasy marketplace. With teams finally practicing in pads, we’ll update this article on a daily basis during the week.
Note: All ADP data used in this article is courtesy of our partners at the NFFC and the data is used from drafts in the last 30 days.
Catch up on previous training camp Market Reports
INJURY UPDATES FROM PREVIOUS REPORTS
Nick Chubb (RB, Cle) — Chubb stayed just four days in the league’s concussion protocol after LB Mack Wilson hit him high in practice last week. Chubb is fine for the start of the season, but this episode is something to remember if Chubb would have any other concussion issues moving forward this season and during his career. We’ve been lower than consensus on Chubb (FP: RB15, ADP: RB11) and higher than consensus on his backup Kareem Hunt (FP: RB26, ADP: RB27) this summer. (Posted Aug. 24)
Chris Carson (RB, Sea) — Carson returned to practice on Aug. 26 after missing 9-of-11 practices because of multiple deaths in his family. Carson suddenly has some competition for carries behind him with Carlos Hyde impressing in practice and during an Aug. 26 scrimmage. Carson should still get the majority of carries in this backfield, but Hyde could be a bigger factor than initially anticipated when he signed this summer. (Posted Aug. 27)
K.J. Hamler (WR, Den) — Hamler could be out at least a month with his hamstring injury, according to longtime Broncos beat writer Mike Klis. Hamler’s game is built completely around his electric speed so this a troublesome start to his career since he also missed the Combine because of a hamstring injury. Hamler wasn’t a draftable player before his injury, and it’s now going to be even tougher for him to make an impact as a rookie since he’ll be losing valuable practice reps. (Posted Aug. 24)
A.J. Green (WR, Cin) — Green resumed running on the side at practice on Aug. 24 after tweaking his hamstring on Aug. 17. The Bengals are being extra cautious with their 32-year-old WR who has missed 23 consecutive games due to foot and ankle injuries. Green then returned to practice on Aug. 26, getting in limited work in individual drills. (Updated Aug. 27)
Tee Higgins (WR, Cin) — Higgins returned to practice on Aug. 24 after about a two-week absence. He suddenly has some catching up to do as Auden Tate has been the start of camp in the early going with Higgins, A.J. Green (hamstring), and John Ross (personal) missing time. Higgins has a crowded path to make an impact early in the year as a rookie, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he starts to emerge by the time November rolls around. (Posted Aug. 24)
Deebo Samuel (WR, SF) — HC Kyle Shanahan said last week that the team is hoping Deebo can play in Week 1, but they’re “not counting on it.” On Aug. 24, Shanahan remained hopeful that Deebo would play against the Cardinals in the season opener, but he confirmed the second-year WR won’t practice this week. Deebo was seen running sprints on a side field during an Aug. 26 practice, which is a great sign that he could return to practice in the near future. It would be shocking at this point if Deebo landed on the reserve/PUP list to start the season, which would keep him out for the first six games of the season. I would still put Samuel on the doubtful side for the season opener, but it seems probable that he may at least find the field at some point in September. The 49ers WR depth chart has been decimated this summer, and Deebo’s improving outlook is creating a buying opportunity if Deebo falls into the ninth rounds of your drafts. (Updated Aug. 27)
Players whom we’re feeling more optimistic about based on training camp reports and injury news.
Joe Burrow (Cin) — Burrow has been routinely shredding the Bengals defense during 11-on-11 drills in the early part of training camp. He’s shown a particularly strong connection with Auden Tate with A.J. Green (hamstring), Tee Higgins (hamstring), and John Ross (personal) missing practice time. TE C.J. Uzomah described Burrow’s play to ESPN after an Aug. 24 practice, “He’s a beast. He’s an absolute beast. He’s an animal out there.” Uzomah added that Burrow has shown a strong command of the offense already, checking into plays and protections that he didn’t know was possible. Burrow is my most-drafted QB in best-ball drafts this summer, and I wrote that Burrow was the single best value at the position in terms of upside potential back in June. The first overall pick has done nothing to slow my optimism in training camp, and he continues to be incredibly affordable with an ADP of 143. (Posted Aug. 24)
Daniel Jones (NYG) — Jones put the work in this off-season to make a leap in his second season after an uneven rookie campaign, according to a story by Giants beat writer Jordan Raanan. Jones transformed his body during the off-season, bulking up from 220 pounds to 229 pounds while also working on his speed. He also worked with his own personal QB coach and with his former Duke coach David Cutcliffe, and they emphasized cutting down on his mistakes after he threw 12 INTs and he lost 11 fumbles as a rookie. Jones also worked with his teammates like Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley. I’ve personally soured a bit on Jones as the summer has gone along because of a brutal schedule, but there’s no doubt he has a ton of upside with his ability to run and because the Giants could be playing in some shootouts with their shaky defense. (Posted Aug. 24)
Ben Roethlisberger (Pit) — Big Ben told Yahoo Sports that he’s been dealing with pain in his throwing elbow for the last 13 to 14 years. Roethlisberger said that he had a small tear in his elbow during that entire period of time, and he had three torn flexor tendons reattached in his right elbow after playing six quarters last season. Big Ben is feeling as healthy as he has since early in his career, and he said he’s felt no fatigue after throwing three days in a row in camp. Big Ben could have an absolutely loaded cast of receivers with rookie Chase Claypool giving him a potential fifth target in the passing game after a hot start to camp. Roethlisberger can be had at a cheap QB17 price with an ADP of 134 over the last month. (Updated Aug. 28)
Cam Newton (NE) — The New England quarterback race is turning into a runaway race with Jarrett Stidham “fading out” of the competition, according to Mike Reiss. This was the expected outcome after the Patriots signed Cam at the end of June. Now the big question is how long it will take for Newton to feel comfortable in Josh McDaniels’ offense. Cam is a fine upside pick in the double-digit round of drafts as the current QB19 with an ADP of 147. (Posted Aug. 25)
Derrick Henry (Ten) — I noted in last week’s Market Report that Henry has been putting in extra side work as a receiver in addition to extra conditioning drills this training camp. Henry is preparing for a bigger role this year with just rookie Darrynton Evans working behind him right now, who has a mixed bag of performances in training camp. QB Ryan Tannehill has noticed Henry’s receiving work in camp, “He understood coming into this year that's something that he wanted to get better at. I think I've seen some strides out of him. He's catching the ball more confidently.” Tannehill added that the Titans offense will be even more dangerous if defenses have to account for Henry as a receiver. Our Greg Cosell, who has connections in Nashville, also told us this summer that the Titans are going to get him more involved in the screen game this season. Henry has the potential to challenge the likes of Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley to be the top fantasy back (as Graham Barfield noted) if he just doubled his previous career-high of 18 catches from last season. (Posted Aug. 26)
Cam Akers (LAR) — Darrell Henderson suffered what Sean McVay described as a “mild” hamstring injury on Aug. 23, and the Rams are hopeful that he’ll be ready for their season opener in three weeks — Sean McVay reiterated that belief on Aug. 27. Akers is now the heavy favorite to lead this backfield in work this season while Henderson is now staring at a backup role early in the year with veteran Malcolm Brown also in the mix. Akers had a great first week of practice, getting elevated to the first-team offense late in the week after opening camp with the second-team unit. We’ve elevated Akers to the RB20 over the last week, and you’ll have to be prepared to use a late fourth-round pick to draft him after Henderson’s injury. (Updated Aug. 28)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) — I really don’t need to give you more reasons to draft CEH in the middle of the first round, but Kansas City’s leadership keeps giving us reasons to love Edwards-Helaire even more. GM Brett Veach told Peter King, “He’s on pace to have a big year, to be our primary ballcarrier.” We don’t typically take fantasy advice from King, but we agree with his take from the article that you won’t regret taking CEH in the first round of your fantasy draft. We have Edwards-Helaire ranked inside the top-10 at the position because of his massive upside in one of the league’s best offenses, and Veach’s description of Edwards-Helaire’s role makes us feel much better about his fantasy floor this season. (Posted Aug. 24)
Adrian Peterson and Antonio Gibson (Was) — Peterson has been the primary first-team running back so far in training camp running back, but rookie Gibson has been receiving his fair share of starter’s reps, even catching a few passes during practice on Aug. 25. Peyton Barber has been working as the third back with the second-team offense while second-year RB Bryce Love has been working behind him with the second- and third-team offenses. J.D. McKissic has mixed in with every unit in specific formations. Gibson and Love are still the most intriguing backs to target in drafts, but it looks like Peterson and Barber aren’t necessarily going anywhere just yet. The Redskins backfield could be an ever-evolving unit for much of the season depending on the performances of their young RB prospects. (Posted Aug. 26)
Zack Moss (Buf) — Moss has received plenty of hype in Bills training camp, and the latest hype came from The Athletic’s Bills reporters who have been impressed with his work in passing situations. Moss has fared well in pass protection, which can be a weakness for young RBs, and he’s been featured a bit as a receiver out of the backfield, as well. This backfield has the potential to be a major headache on a week-to-week basis. It looks like the Bills could use a hot-hand approach in every game since Devin Singletary and Moss can do a lot of the same things. I still like Singletary more after he was the Bills’ best skill player in the second half of last season but, at the end of the day, drafting comes down to opportunity cost. Singletary has way too much downside with the rookie breathing down his neck at his current price (ADP 52). It also doesn’t help that Singletary’s fumbling issues are creeping back in during training camp with two lost fumbles in seven padded practices. Meanwhile, Moss offers plenty of upside if he can muscle away a goal-line/passing back role at his current price (ADP 106). (Updated Aug. 28)
Mike Davis (Car) — Davis has emerged as the front-runner for the backup role to Christian McCaffrey through the early part of training camp. Davis landed in the doghouse under former HC Ron Rivera’s coaching staff, but Davis has reemerged as the #2 option ahead of Reggie Bonnafon this August — the Panthers released Jordan Scarlett on Aug. 23. Davis told The Athletic on Aug. 16, “It’s refreshing to have new coaches come in. Basically, you can show them what you can do.” Davis may not take over all of Christian McCaffrey’s workload if the top overall fantasy pick missed time, but it appears that he would at least lead this backfield in work if CMC went down. (Posted Aug. 25)
Stefon Diggs (WR, Buf) — Diggs seem to be getting quite familiar with Josh Allen in their first camp together. Allen completed 15/19 passes in an Aug. 25 practice and Diggs caught all nine of his targets (47.4 target share), which included some nice adjustments from Diggs on off-target passes. John Brown did rest during the practice, but it’s still notable that Diggs is quickly building some chemistry with Allen in just their second week working together. (Posted Aug. 26)
Preston Williams (Mia) — Williams has been lighting it up since the start of padded practices (per Palm Beach Post), easing any concerns about his knee after he tore his ACL last November. Williams previously tore an ACL in high school, which he said helped him with the recovery process this time around. The Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley also wrote that Williams is back and “potentially better than ever” off his torn ACL. The Dolphins have been cautiously optimistic about Williams’ availability for the season opener, and they’ll need him more than last year after Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson opted out for the season. Williams’s ADP is on the rise at 137, but he remains an exceptional late-round value. (Updated Aug. 25)
Bryan Edwards (LV) — Edwards ascent to the starting lineup could happen a little sooner than expected after Tyrell Williams tore the labrum in his shoulder for the third time in his career. Williams previously played well through a torn labrum in his right shoulder as a senior at Western Oregon in 2014 when he posted 56/950/8 receiving. He then tore his right labrum again for the final five games of the 2016 season. He didn’t miss a game and averaged 3.6/53.8/.4 receiving per game in that stretch with the Chargers. It’s unclear if Williams has once again torn his right labrum, but he’s going to rehab the injury to play through the injury for the third time in his career. Edwards was already getting praise from his QB Derek Carr, who compared him to his old Fresno State teammate Davante Adams, and he’s been soaking up first-team reps with Williams rehabbing his injury. We’ll see if Williams can play through a torn labrum for the third time in his career but, either way, Edwards is on the fast track to snaps and targets sooner than anticipated. Edwards should be considered late in best-ball formats and he’s knocking on the door as a dart-throw pick in re-draft formats in deeper leagues. (Posted Aug. 25)
Scotty Miller (TB) — Miller has been one of the standouts Tampa’s training camp, and he appears to be the favorite for the #3 WR role ahead of Justin Watson and Tyler Johnson. Miller has quickly become one of Tom Brady’s favorite receivers during training camp after he and several other players worked with Brady this summer. ESPN’s Jenna Laine noted that Miller is making the case for the #3 receiver role and that he’s made some of the biggest plays of camp. Miller is going to be way down the passing-game pecking order in Tampa if he does earn the #3 WR role, but he’s definitely a player to monitor early in the year on the waiver wire if he becomes a reliable force for Brady out of the slot. (Posted Aug. 25)
Hayden Hurst (Atl) — Both The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Falcons team site called Hurst the clear top TE so far in training camp. Both QB Matt Ryan and Dan Quinn noted Hurst’s speed and his ability to get vertical on seam routes as a huge selling point to trade for him this off-season. We’re anticipating a massive role for Hurst immediately in Atlanta after Austin Hooper left a generous 18% target share, a 15% air yards share, and a 20% reception share from last season. The Falcons also traded away Mohamed Sanu last season and Todd Gurley was dust in the Rams passing game last season so Hurst has a chance to carve out a large role in one of the pass-happiest offenses. We’ve been driving Hurst’s rising ADP all summer long, and you’re now going to have to spend an eighth-round pick to draft him. (Posted Aug. 24)
Chris Herndon (NYJ) — Let me briefly pump up Herndon one more time. The Athletic’s Connor Hughes wrote that the Jets have been raving about Herndon all camp long, and his relationship with Sam Darnold has blossomed from their excellent rookie seasons together in 2018. As I wrote in last week’s Market Report, Herndon is the closest player to a Darren Waller type at the end of drafts this season as a late-round TE who has a legitimate chance to lead his team in receiving this season. Like Waller last season, Herndon has been my most-drafted TE with his ADP sitting around 160. (Posted Aug. 26)
Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard (TB) — The Buccaneers have moved Gronk along slowly in his first training camp since stepping away from the game in 2019, but HC Bruce Arians thinks the time away from the field has helped the veteran TE. Arians told the Tampa media, “No similarities at all [to 2018 Gronkowski]. He looks like he was five or six years ago, before all the injuries. The back surgeries have healed, so he’s had a year of healing. He looks to me like he was five or six years ago.” Gronk has some major competition for snaps and targets at the position from Howard and Cameron Brate, but Gronk does have some valuable chemistry working with Tom Brady for nine years. Howard has also turned some heads after a shaky season, earning some praise from Arians for his great camp. Gronk is likely going to be more touchdown-dependent than ever before playing in this loaded offense, but at least he’s one of the league’s all-time greats in the red zone. (Posted Aug. 24)
Jimmy Graham (Chi) — Our Adam Caplan has said all summer that the Bears are excited to get Graham involved in their passing attack this season after Matt LaFleur failed to take advantage of Graham as a move tight end last season. Graham is coming off his worst season since his rookie campaign back in 2010, but he’s dominated against the Bears’ defensive back in 1-on-1 drills with The Athletic’s Adam Jahns calling Graham a significant upgrade over Trey Burton. Graham can be had for nothing in drafts (ADP of 258) right now, but he’s viable as a third TE in best-ball formats or as a late-round flier in deeper re-draft formats. (Posted Aug. 24)
None of note.
Players whom we’re feeling less optimistic about based on training camp reports and injury news.
None of note.
David Montgomery (Chi) — Montgomery suffered a non-contact lower-body injury during an Aug. 26 practice, but he looks to have avoided a season-ending injury with reports surfacing that he’s dealing with a groin injury. Montgomery could be looking at some missed regular-season time depending on the severity of the injury, but at least it looks like he’ll still be available. Montgomery had shed five pounds to get down to 218 pounds after his speed and quickness didn’t live up to his standards after he averaged a shaky 3.7 YPC as a rookie. After Montgomery’s major injury scare, the Bears are more likely to make a move for some RB insurance in the form C.J. Prosise, Devonta Freeman, or another back who can contribute on early downs, which would obviously take some of his work away. We’ll keep an eye on the situation but, either way, Montgomery’s situation is looking worse after his injury scare. Montgomery is expected to miss 2-4 weeks, which puts his availability for Week 1 in question. (Posted Aug. 26)
Le’Veon Bell (NYJ) — Bell and HC Adam Gase continue to be at odds like they have been since Bell’s signing last off-season. In the latest disagreement between the two, Bell watched from the sidelines as the Jets’ first-team offense had a disastrous practice against their second-team offense. Bell then took to Twitter after the practice to point out that he wasn’t on the sidelines for a hamstring issue as one reporter speculated. Bell shed some weight this off-season and has looked impressive in camp, but Gase continues to toy with his high-priced back at every turn. Frank Gore figures to have a much bigger role than expected, as well, so beware drafting Bell at his current ADP of 35 as the RB20. (Posted Aug. 26)
Devin Singletary (Buf) — Zack Moss has been generating plenty of camp buzz for his prominent role and his performance so far in camp. It doesn’t help that Singletary’s ball-security issues have re-emerged as he’s lost two fumbles in seven padded practices. Singletary fumbled once in every 45 touches last season and he tied for the third-most fumbles last season, finishing behind only Chris Carson (6) and Derrick Henry (5). I still like Singletary more after he was the Bills’ best skill player in the second half of last season but, at the end of the day, drafting comes down to opportunity cost. Singletary has way too much downside with the rookie breathing down his neck at his current price (ADP 52). Meanwhile, Moss offers plenty of upside if he can muscle away a goal-line/passing back role at his current price (ADP 106). (Posted Aug. 28)
Darrell Henderson (LAR) — Henderson suffered what Sean McVay described as a “mild” hamstring injury on Aug. 23, and the Rams are hopeful that he’ll be ready for their season opener in three weeks — Sean McVay reiterated that belief on Aug. 27. Rookie Cam Akers is now the heavy favorite to lead this backfield in work this season while Henderson is now staring at a backup role early in the year with veteran Malcolm Brown also in the mix. Henderson’s stock has been plummeting in recent weeks, and he’ll soon be drafted outside of the top-50 RBs after his hamstring injury. (Posted Aug. 28)
MIke Williams (LAC) — Williams landed hard on his shoulder during a recent practice, and he luckily escaped serious injury with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. Williams is looking at a multi-week absence, and HC Anthony Lynn wouldn’t roll out the possibility that Williams could miss the season opener. The Chargers have a wide-open depth chart behind Keenan Allen and Williams with Joe Reed, K.J. Hill, Jalen Guyton, and Darius Jennings competing for the #3 WR role. This injury shouldn’t drastically affect his fantasy outlook for this season, and it could make him a more appealing fantasy pick if he slides a round or two from his current ADP of 120. (Updated Aug. 25)
Allen Lazard (GB) — Lazard is locking himself into the #2 WR role behind Davante Adams with a strong training camp performance (per The Athletic). His quarterback Aaron Rodgers raved about his performance after Lazard posted a 77-yard TD and a 33-yard catch in a recent practice. Rodgers said, “Everybody’s talked about Allen, and it’s pretty easy because the guy is a professional. He has worked on his game. I think for him to separate himself, he needs to continue to improve on the things he did last year.” Marquez Valdes-Scantling created some buzz for stringing together a couple of good practices, but Lazard is still the favorite to finish second in receiving in Green Bay. Lazard is a free pick 150+ picks into drafts, and it’s notable that Davante Adams has missed games in each of the last three seasons. (Posted Aug. 26)
Tyrell Williams (LV) — Williams, yet again, has a torn labrum in his shoulder for the third time in his career, which could speed up rookie Bryan Edwards’ ascent to the starting. Williams played well through a torn labrum in his right shoulder as a senior at Western Oregon in 2014 when he posted 56/950/8 receiving. He then tore his right labrum again for the final five games of the 2016 season, and he went on to average 3.6/53.8/.4 receiving per game in that stretch with the Chargers. It’s unclear if Williams has once again torn his right labrum, but he’s going to rehab the injury to attempt to play through the injury for the third time in his career. Tyrell was off the radar in most re-draft formats and he was a fringe option in best-ball formats, but he can be left on the waiver wire entering the season. (Posted Aug. 25)
Parris Campbell (Ind) — Campbell can’t seem to catch a break early in his career after landing in the concussion protocol after getting into a minor car accident on his way to the team’s facility on Aug. 26. HC Frank Reich said Campbell would be fine during his press conference on Aug. 28. Campbell flopped last season as a second-round pick out of Ohio State because of a slew of injuries. It’s amazing he even managed to appear in seven games as a rookie last season as he broke his hand, he broke his foot, he needed sports-hernia surgery, and he dealt with a balky hamstring. Campbell is still worth a look with an ADP of 175, but this is yet another troublesome injury for a player that’s had plenty of them in just 16 months in the league. (Updated Aug. 28)
David Njoku (Cle) — Njoku is missing time with a wrist injury in training camp, which is notable since he missed 10 games with a wrist fracture last season. Njoku’s role was already going to decrease after the Browns signed Austin Hooper this off-season, but there’s now a chance he could fall behind rookie Harrison Bryant if he’s looking at an extended absence. The new front office selected Bryant in the fourth round, and the 2019 Mackey Award winner is already turning heads at camp. Njoku isn’t guaranteed to have a significant role when the season opens. He returned to practice on Aug. 28, but he’s not guaranteed to have a significant role with Bryant pushing for snaps now. (Updated Aug. 28)
Ravens — Safety Earl Thomas earned his outright release for conduct detrimental to the team after punching teammate Chuck Clark in training camp. Thomas had been living on borrowed time in Baltimore after grating on coaches and players for missed meetings last season. He then became the butt of jokes around the country for his bizarre cheating incident that ended with Thomas being held at gunpoint by his wife, which came to light in May by TMZ. Thomas has become more trouble than he’s worth in both Seattle and Baltimore, which is saying a lot since he’s still one of the best safeties in the game. The Ravens are still one of the best D/ST options in drafts even with Thomas’ release. (Posted Aug. 24)
Browns — The Browns defense has been hit hard by injuries in the early part of camp with LB Mack Wilson (knee), S Grant Delpit (Achilles), and CB Greedy Williams (shoulder). Wilson hyperextended his knee and he could miss 6-8 weeks while Delpit, a 2020 second-round pick, tore his Achilles tendon and he’s out for the season. Williams suffered a shoulder injury in practice and the extent of the injury isn’t yet known, with HC Kevin Stefanski saying the team is still evaluating the injury. The Browns are off the radar for re-draft formats and they’re a bottom rung #2 D/ST in best-ball leagues. (Posted Aug. 27)
Giants — You shouldn’t be drafting the Giants D/ST, but you should know that the Giants lost a pair of potential starters to injuries in practice this week in LB David Mayo (meniscus) and S Xavier McKinney (foot). Mayo tore the meniscus in his left knee, which could keep him out for the first game or two this season. McKinney, the 36th overall pick in April, is expected to miss 2-3 months with a fractured left foot. The Giants already figured to have one of the league’s worst defenses before these injuries, and we’ll be actively playing our fantasy players against them this season. (Posted Aug. 27)
Players who we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade but their situations demand monitoring based on training camp reports and injury news.
Josh Allen (QB, Buf) (WR, Buf) — Allen and Stefon Diggs seem to be getting quite familiar with each other in their first camp together. Allen completed 15/19 passes in an Aug. 25 practice and Diggs caught all nine of his targets (47.4 target share), which included some nice adjustments from Diggs on off-target passes. John Brown did rest during the practice, but it’s still notable that Allen and Diggs are building chemistry already. On a bit of a down note for fantasy, Allen said he’s looking to run less this season. The third-year QB said, “My mindset this year is a little different. I’m going to try to get the ball into my playmakers’ hands and let them make some plays because they’re a lot quicker and shiftier than I am. But when my number is called, I’ll step up to the plate for sure.” Allen should still be among the QB leaders in rushing yards this season, but he needs to see a significant spike in his career passing yards per game (184.4) and his career passing TDs per game (1.1) to offset any loss in rushing production. (Posted Aug. 26)
Carson Wentz (QB, Phi) — The Eagles lost their second starting offensive lineman of the season with second-year LT Andre Dillard going down for the year with a torn biceps. Philly previously lost standout RG Brandon Brooks (Achilles) earlier this summer, which was the spot Jason Peters was expected to man this season. It now looks like the 17-year veteran Peters will move back to his left tackle spot with Matt Pryor the next man up at right guard. The Eagles offensive line has been a major strength in recent seasons but there’s now reason to be concerned with this group as their depth has been tested before the season has even started. (Posted Aug. 28)
Josh Jacobs (RB, LV) — The Raiders have been saying Jacobs will have a bigger role in the passing game all year, but their actions have been saying he’s going to have the same, limited role in the passing game from last season. HC Jon Gruden told ESPN last week, “We have to get more out of him in the passing game, more on the field on third down.” That backs up what GM Mike Mayock told our own John Hansen at the Combine this past winter. However, the Raiders re-signed passing-back Jalen Richard in February, they drafted Swiss-army back Lynn Bowden in April, and they signed receiving specialist Theo Riddick on Aug. 22. Jacobs is unlikely to have a full-blown role as a receiver, but the Raiders have pumped him up enough that we should at least expect a small increase in targets per game (2.1) and receptions per game (1.5) this season. (Posted Aug. 24)
Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard (RB, Cin) — Mixon has been sitting out practices this week with migraines, which he’s had a history of suffering from during his career. However, the length of the absence this week is fueling speculation that Mixon is sitting out as part of his ongoing contract dispute. HC Zac Taylor doesn’t believe Mixon’s absence is contract related, which isn’t exactly the most definitive statement that Mixon is all-in for this season. Mixon has slid down our projections to the RB9 spot, and we wouldn’t blame anyone for passing on him for safer options at the end of the first round. On the flip side, you should leave all your drafts with Gio with his ADP sitting at 200+ picks. (Posted Aug. 28)
Kenyan Drake (RB, Ari) — Drake wore a walking boot from the sidelines during an Aug. 24 practice, and HC Kliff Kingsbury tried to diffuse the situation by calling it a precautionary move, adding that Drake was dealing with soreness and “normal camp” nicks and bruises. Drake doesn’t seem to be in jeopardy of missing significant time with Week 1 less than three weeks away, and it appears that Kliff Kingsbury is being extra cautious with his offensive weapons in Drake and DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring). FWIW, Drake wrote on Twitter after practice that he’s all good. We’ll take a discount on Drake if he falls a spot or two in drafts. (Updated Aug. 26)
Benny Snell and James Conner (RB, Pit) — Snell is pushing for a role next to James Conner this season after coming into Year Two slimmer and quicker. Snell’s stock is rising heading into his second season with Jaylen Samuels potentially being on the roster bubble and with rookie Anthony McFarland doing nothing of note in camp — the rookie landed in concussion protocol. As discussed on our recent Draft Strategy Livestream, I believe Snell could be looking at a 6-8 carry per game outlook with Conner getting most of the early-down work. The shared backfield would be a bit of a ding to Conner’s overall outlook, but he should still handle the vast majority of the passing-game work. The big question is who would handle the goal-line work, which is by far the biggest concern for Conner. I’m still feeling good about drafting Conner in the third round and Snell is now a viable late-round option, especially in non-PPR formats. (Updated Aug. 28)
Ronald Jones (RB, TB) — Jones’ bid for a passing role hasn’t gone smoothly in recent days with several dropped passes from Tom Brady in practice on Aug. 23-24. Jones wasn’t the only Bucs back struggling with drops either as LeSean McCoy and Ke’Shawn Vaughn have also shown shaky hands recently. HC Bruce Arians called RoJo the “main guy” in the backfield earlier in camp, but his recent performance is opening the door for a guy like Dare Ogunbowale to potentially play as the team’s passing back since he’s been the only reliable receiver out of the backfield so far. Jones needs to start building some trust from Brady in the passing game if he wants to fill anything more than a lead runner role in this offense. (Posted Aug. 25)
Sony Michel and Damien Harris (RBs, NE) — The Patriots activated Michel off the PUP list on Aug. 26 after he missed the start of training camp recovering from a May foot surgery. Michel is the incumbent lead runner in this backfield, but second-year RB Damien Harris has been making waves to potentially unseat Michel. We also can’t forget that Lamar Miller (ACL - PUP) could be in the fold in the near future to make this lead-runner spot a complete trainwreck. Harris is the only back I’m looking to draft from these three lead-runner types in New England, and he’s not even that appealing if he’s going to be stuck in a committee while losing passing-down work to James White and Rex Burkhead. Harris continued to take the majority of first-team snaps on Aug. 27 but the Patriots could also be easing Michel back into the mix. The first-team snaps next week will likely paint us a better picture of who is leading the competition for the early-down role. (Updated Aug. 28)
Devonta Freeman (RB, FA) — David Montgomery suffered a non-contact lower-body injury during an Aug. 26 practice, but he looks to have avoided a season-ending injury with reports surfacing that he’s dealing with a groin injury. Montgomery could be looking at some missed regular-season time depending on the severity of the injury, but at least it looks like he’ll still be available. The major problem is the Bears are now more likely to make a move for some RB insurance potentially in the form of a player like Freeman or another lead runner. Freeman is waiting patiently for a job this off-season, and he’s likely to find work in the near future with a major running back injury likely to happen in one of the 32 backfields across the league. (Updated Aug. 26)
Diontae Johnson (WR, Pit) — Johnson has missed practice since Aug. 19 with what is believed to be a calf injury, although the Steelers haven’t revealed the actual injury. Chase Claypool and James Washington are getting extra reps while Johnson is out of the lineup. We’re not yet to the point of concern with one of our favorite WR draft targets, but it’s definitely a situation to keep tabs of since we’re nearing a week’s worth of missed practices. (Posted Aug. 24)
Michael Pittman (Ind) — Pittman had been generating some positive buzz in Colts camp through the first week of padded practices, but he was a ghost during their team scrimmage on Aug. 24. He saw just one target and he failed to catch a pass despite the Colts quarterbacks combining for 40 completions. I still like Pittman’s long-term outlook for this season as a big X receiver playing with Philip Rivers — especially as a potential red-zone weapon — but it could take him some time to make an impact early in the season. (Posted Aug. 25)
Brandon Aiyuk (SF) — Aiyuk has had a strong first training camp from all indications, including from his coach Kyle Shanahan. The Athletic’s Matt Barrows revealed just how much Aiyuk has been involved in the early going. Barrows pointed out Jimmy Garoppolo has been targeting Aiyuk a lot early in training camp, which is a great indication. Aiyuk has also been used creatively in practice by getting screens and handoffs, but he’s also been used as a deep threat too. It looks like Aiyuk could be stepping into Emmanuel Sanders’ role from last season as a vertical threat and as a weapon at all three levels of the field. Aiyuk’s stock is on the rise with the 49ers dealing with a plethora of injuries, and you should be proactive drafting him around 140+ picks into your draft. Unfortunately, Aiyuk joined the list of injured 49ers WRs when he suffered a “mild” hamstring injury. I’d still be willing to draft Aiyuk since he should be ready for Week 1, but he carries more downside now if he aggravates the injury this season. (Updated Aug. 26)
Breshad Perriman (WR, NYJ) — Perriman has missed consecutive practices with what HC Adam Gase is calling a mild knee injury. I normally wouldn’t list a player with a couple missed practices this early on the Watch List, but we want to keep a close eye on his progress given Perriman’s long history of knee issues. There’s no need to panic about Perriman just yet, but it’s a little disconcerting that his knee is swelling up after a week of padded practices. Gase said after Aug. 23’s practice that Perriman should be back the next day, and he’s now saying he should be back on Aug. 29. Hopefully, the Jets are just being extra cautious with Perriman because of his injury history and because of their dreadful WR depth chart. (Posted Aug. 25)