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
Miles Sanders (RB, Phi) — Sanders has missed nearly two weeks of training camp with a hamstring injury, but our own Adam Caplan noted that Sanders was doing shadow drills during an Aug. 30 practice. It sounds like Sanders is close to returning but we wouldn’t be surprised if the Eagles play it extra cautious with their bell-cow back. He should be ready to roll against Washington in Week 1, and he could see a big workload right out of the gates with the Eagles favored by 6.5 points. (Posted Aug. 31)
D’Andre Swift (RB, Det) — Swift has fallen behind some after missing 10 days with a leg injury, but he was able to get back on the field in a limited fashion on Aug. 31. HC Matt Patricia hinted on Aug. 28 that Swift’s absence in camp could cost him some playing time early in the season as he needs to get fully acclimated in the offense. It could lead to more snaps for Kerryon Johnson early in the season, but we’re begging our subscribers to not fall into the Kerryon trap. We have legitimate concerns about Johnson holding up this season with his bad knees — he’s been wearing a brace in camp. We’re actually warming up to Swift more as we head into the season and hopefully, his ADP continues to dip, potentially into the sixth round. (Posted Aug. 31)
Kenyan Drake (RB, Ari) and DeAndre Hopkins (WR, Ari) — Drake created a stir when he wore a boot to an Aug. 24 practice, and both Drake and HC Kliff Kingsbury diffused the situation afterward. Drake never seemed to be in jeopardy of missing game action and it appeared that Kingsbury was just being extra cautious with both Drake and Hopkins (hamstring). Kingsbury said on Sept. 1 that both Drake and Hopkins were close to returning to practice in full, which is just in time for the end of training camp. Drake fell nearly four spots to an ADP of 14 since his injury first came out, and we hope that you were able to take advantage of it. (Posted Sept. 2)
A.J. Green (WR, Cin) — Green is still limited in practice after “tweaking” his hamstring in an Aug. 17 practice. The 32-year-old WR, who has missed 23 straight games, has been doing individual drills during practice, but he hasn’t worked with Joe Burrow and the offense during team drills. The Bengals are handling Green with kid gloves right now, which isn’t a bad idea, but Green has some glaring red flags with his recent injury history and with his lack of practice time with Burrow heading into the season. (Posted Sept. 2)
Mike Williams (WR, LAC) — Williams landed hard on his shoulder during an Aug. 23 practice, and he luckily escaped serious injury with a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. Williams was looking at a multi-week absence, but OC Shane Steichen said on Sept. 3 that the team is optimistic to have Williams for Week 1. 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. The Chargers would love to have Williams on the field in Week 1 based on the depth chart behind him, but he’s still facing a bit of an uphill climb to be ready. Williams is truly questionable heading into Week 1 but at least his price has dipped a bit to an ADP of 137 since his injury. (Posted Sept. 4)
Deebo Samuel (WR, SF) — Deebo may not be ready for Week 1 after suffering a Jones fracture back in June but it sure looks like he’ll be ready to play at some point in September. At the very least, he’s going to avoid missing the first six weeks with a stay on the PUP list. He’s been sprinting at close to full speed off to the side in recent practices, and he’s hopeful to be donning a helmet and pads next week. Deebo’s ADP has plummeted two rounds into the 90s in recent weeks, but we could be looking at a buying opportunity with his improving outlook and with all of the 49ers receivers injuries. It’s still probably more on the doubtful side for Week 1, but he’s likely to be playing by Week 2 at the latest, barring a setback. (Updated Sept. 4)
Parris Campbell (WR, Ind) — Campbell returned to practice on Sept. 1 after landing in the concussion protocol due to a minor car accident on his way to the team’s facility on Aug. 26, and Campbell left concussion protocol on Sept. 3. 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 172, but this concussion is yet another troublesome injury for a player that’s had plenty of them in just 16 months in the league. (Updated Sept. 4)
Breshad Perriman (WR, NYJ) — We’re starting to get a little concerned with Perriman’s knee as he’s now missed more than a week of practices with swelling in his knee. Perriman has a lengthy history of knee injuries dating back to his high school days and, according to Adam Gase, Perriman is currently unable to run without pain. The good news is that Perriman returned to running on the side during a Sept. 2 practice, so we’ll see how his knee responds in the near future. Perriman has a potentially massive role in this Jets passing game, but now he just needs to get healthy and to stay healthy to take advantage of his chance. I’m still happy to draft Perriman at his current ADP of 133, but I’m no longer being proactive to draft him a round or two earlier. (Updated Sept. 2)
K.J. Hamler (WR, Den) — Hamler is back to working on the side of practice 10 days after he injured his hamstring in training camp. The speedy second-round receiver was initially given a four-week window for a return but it now looks like he could potentially return a little sooner than the initial timeline. Hamler is still looking at a missed game or two, and he’s still an undraftable player in all but large formats. (Posted Aug. 31)
Players whom we’re feeling more optimistic about based on training camp reports and injury news.
Cam Newton (QB, NE) — Patriots HC Bill Belichick rarely throws around glowing praise, even with his own players, but he laid it on thick when it came to his new quarterback in a recent interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio. Belichick revealed that he did his due diligence before signing Cam and the biggest takeaway from talking to people at Carolina and at Auburn was that Newton was an extremely hard worker. Belichick then said that Cam has been putting in the same work in New England, and he labeled him in the “top echelon” of competitors that he’s been around. So it came as no surprise when the Boston Globe reported that Belichick informed the team that Cam is their starting QB during a Sept. 3 meeting. Cam is a fine upside pick as the QB19 with an ADP of 150. (Updated Sept. 4)
Tyrod Taylor (LAC) — We usually gain some knowledge about the team(s) featured on Hard Knocks each August, and this year’s season is no different. As anticipated, Justin Herbert is well behind Taylor at this stage of the season, and he’s so far behind that The Athletic’s Daniel Popper believes Taylor could hold onto the starting for most of the season after watching the Sept. 1 episode. The Chargers aren’t going to throw Herbert into the fire until he’s ready and the Chargers aren’t going to pull Taylor from the lineup until they’re out of the playoff mix. Taylor could make some early noise with matchups against the Bengals, the Chiefs, and the Panthers to open the season. He’s the perfect player to target in two-QB leagues if you hold off until the very end to draft your quarterbacks. (Posted Sept. 2)
Antonio Gibson and Bryce Love (Was) — Washington is going with a youth movement in their backfield this season after they surprisingly released a still effective Adrian Peterson. The Football Team apparently saw more than enough from third-round pick Gibson and from second-year pro Love in training camp to release the 35-year-old pro, which vacated 211 carries and 23 targets from this backfield from last season. Gibson and Love figure to step into most of the work left behind by Peterson, but Peyton Barber will be a factor on early downs while J.D. McKissic could steal some passing-down work from Gibson.
Peterson had some enlightening comments to Josina Anderson about the Washington backfield upon his release. AD said of Gibson, “This system really fits him. I feel like I can do that pony style too, more as a receiving back. We were all working on it, but they really want one main guy to do it and they drafted Gibson for it.” Peterson is clearly anticipating Gibson to be top back in Washington’s backfield this season, and he has all the tools to be a league-winning pick starting in the mid-fourth round. Gibson is a traits player with his combination of size (6’2”, 220 pounds), speed (4.39), and power. Our Greg Cosell said of Gibson to John Hansen, “You’re dealing with a powerful, explosive athlete with big-play ability.” Gibson has the potential to be a menace as a receiver and as a runner, after he averaged a ridiculous 11.2 YPC (33/369/4 rushing) and 19.0 YPR (44/834/10 receiving) in two seasons at Memphis. The only concern for Gibson is that he lacks polish as a true back with just 77 career touches in college as a part-time RB and WR.
Love was a Day Two draft talent but he missed his entire rookie season after tearing his ACL in his final game at Stanford, which plummeted him a couple of rounds to the fourth round in 2019. The Football Team should be motivated to get Love and Gibson on the field as much as possible this season as they build toward 2021. I’ll start considering Gibson starting in the fourth round after another rookie RB Cam Akers is off the board while I’d throw a late-round dart on Love in case he wrestles away the majority of the lead-runner snaps from Barber and Gibson. Be sure to look for Graham Barfield’s full breakdown of the Washington backfield on the afternoon of Sept. 4. (Posted Sept. 4)
Leonard Fournette (TB) — Fournette is the latest player to force his way out of Jacksonville who came away smelling like roses. I felt confident when I wrote after Fournette’s release earlier this week, “Fournette will get a shot to latch on somewhere, but he won’t come anywhere close to his old ADP in the third round.” Well, Fournette will continue to be drafted in the late third to the early fourth round by landing in the best possible location in an unsettled backfield in Tampa. The Buccaneers handed Fournette a one-year, $2 million contract that’s worth up to $3.5 million with incentives, which is a solid commitment to the former #4 overall pick in 2017. I never understood Fournette’s third-round appeal in Jacksonville playing on one of the league’s worst teams for a franchise that was actively looking to move on from him. I still won’t be drafting Fournette inside the first four rounds, which is likely where he’ll be selected the rest of the summer, but I can at least see upside now if he sees the majority of the work in this backfield in a potentially top-five offense.
HC Bruce Arians did his best to build up the confidence of Ronald Jones this summer by pumping him up in the media, but the organization clearly didn’t feel comfortable with RoJo as the lead back heading into the season. Tampa Bay drafted Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the third round before signing both LeSean McCoy and Fournette in training camp. Now Fournette is the guy who will be given every chance to win the lead-back role this season so we’ll see if he can avoid disappointing Arians and Tom Brady. I’m skeptical that Fournette is capable of pulling away from the rest of this backfield to become a bell-cow back, but he’s the odds-on favorite to be the team’s lead runner and their goal-line back in an offense that could put up major points this season. Fournette is also an underrated receiver who will get some opportunities in the passing game as Arians and Brady sort through who their best back is for passing situations.
We currently have Fournette projected as the RB23, which could go down a bit if McCoy does make the team since the NFL Network’s Mike Gararfolo believes Shady is still in the Bucs’ plans in passing situations, which was confirmed on Sept. 4 when the Bucs cut Dare Ogunbowale. Arians indicated McCoy would make the team on Sept. 3 when he said Shady would still have his role after the Fournette signing. Arians also called RoJo “our guy” after signing Fournette 12 hours earlier, but none of Tampa’s moves this off-season indicate that Jones is the no-doubt top back here. Fournette could be a little slow out of the gates in September as the Buccaneers work him into the offense with just 10 days before the season starts, but he’s been given a golden opportunity to get his career back on track. I’m skeptical that he’ll be able to fully take advantage of this great opportunity, and his initial ADP of 49 in NFFC drafts on Sept. 3 is before when I’d start considering him around 60 picks into drafts. Check out Graham Barfield’s piece on the Buccaneers backfield for a more comprehensive breakdown. (Updated Sept. 4)
Ryquell Armstead, Devine Ozigbo, and Chris Thompson (RBs, Jax) — The Jaguars waived fourth-year running back Leonard Fournette, whom they drafted fourth overall in 2017. We knew Fournette was on borrowed time in Jacksonville after the franchise declined his fifth-year option, which is why we’ve been advising our subscribers to draft Armstead and/or Ozigbo since May. We hope you loaded up on Armstead shares while his ADP was at 187 because he’s about to become a top-100 pick the rest of the summer.
The Jaguars selected Armstead in the fifth round last season and our Adam Caplan told us in the spring that the organization is high on him because “he’s tough, he can catch the ball, and he’s faster you think.” Armstead will get the first crack to be the lead runner for the Jaguars but Ozigbo will also likely be a factor. Our Greg Cosell described Ozigbo back in May as a big, powerful runner who stylistically reminded Greg of Todd Gurley coming out of Georgia. I’d be hesitant to pull the trigger on Armstead before the seventh round because this backfield may not bear much production this season.
Undrafted free agent James Robinson is also having a strong training camp, and he could be a factor at some point if Armstead and/or Ozigbo disappoint. HC Doug Marrone said on Sept. 3 that both Ozigbo and Robinson can play all three downs, which is an indication both players could be in the fold this season. Jaguars beat writer John Shipley believes Ozigbo could have a bigger role than anticipated in Week 1 since Armstead has missed significant chunks of time in training camp after being placed on the COVID-19 list. Camp star Thompson is also going to be factoring in on passing downs, which means he could be on the field plenty with the Jaguars owning the league’s worst win total. Thompson is worth a look late in drafts, especially in PPR formats. (Updated Sept. 3)
James Conner (Pit) — The Steelers held a “mock in-season Wednesday” practice this week, and HC Mike Tomlin used Conner as the team’s featured back after steadily working in the team’s other backs throughout camp. The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly wrote that it looks like Conner will be a “60-snap-per-game back” this season after being the “workhorse” in offensive script periods during the practice. Conner’s ADP has steadily been on the rise all summer, and you’ll have to be ready to spend an early third-round pick to draft Conner with ADP sitting at 28. (Posted Sept. 4)
Joe Mixon (Cin) — Mixon found the perfect remedy for his recent “migraines”: a fat new contract. Mixon had been sitting out of recent practices as he angled for a new contract, and he got his new deal with $48 million over four seasons through the 2024 season. Mixon is once again safe to draft at the end of the first round, and he has top-five fantasy RB potential if he can wrestle away more passing-down opportunities from Giovani Bernard in this potentially potent offense (Posted Sept. 2).
J.K. Dobbins (RBs, Bal) — Ingram will be the team’s starting RB to open the season, but HC John Harbaugh told the Baltimore media on Sept. 1 that second-round pick Dobbins would have a “significant role.” Harbaugh added that the Ohio State product has the talent and the confidence to go along with being coachable. Dobbins is going to be fantasy gold at some point in the near future but it’s just a matter of when, whether it’s by mid-2020 or during the 2021 season. I’ve typically been loading up on RBs early in drafts, but Dobbins is a player to target in the sixth round if you’re looking for upside after taking a zero-RB approach. (Posted Sept. 2)
Raheem Mostert (SF) — Mostert has been running as the first back through the team’s rotation consistently throughout camp, ahead of the likes of Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon at the top. The 49ers were hesitant to anoint Mostert as the starter last season as Coleman famously started in the backfield for the Super Bowl. HC Kyle Shanahan has never been shy about tinkering with his rotations in his backfields, which makes us hesitant to invest in Mostert at his ADP of 52. We’d rather take chances on Coleman (ADP of 105) and McKinnon (ADP of 186) at their current prices, but it looks like Mostert will at least have a chance to establish himself as the top option early in the season. (Posted Aug. 31)
Darrel Williams (KC) — The Chiefs are so happy with Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s performance in camp so far that they’re considering cutting DeAndre Washington when they shrink down to 53-man rosters. Williams has been significantly cheaper because the fantasy-playing public viewed Washington as the more talented player, but the Chiefs love Williams’ knowledge of the offense and they love his size (5’11”, 224 pounds) to bring some tough running into the offense. The Athletic’s Nate Taylor even suggested Williams could split carries with CEH early in the year if they’d ease the first-round pick into a big workload. It’s not out of the question that Williams could have some low-end FLEX appeal this season if he sees 25-30% of the snaps next to CEH, and he’d be a high-end RB2 Edwards-Helaire would miss time. Make sure to find Williams on your drafting platform so you remember to draft him late. (Posted Sept. 4)
Adam Thielen (Min) — To no one’s surprise, Thielen is locked in as a volume receiver for Kirk Cousins. Thielen has performed well throughout training camp, and he was the star of their Aug. 28 scrimmage as he hauled in three receptions for 65 yards. We’ve been well above market (FP: WR9, ADP WR14) on Thielen all summer long, and I love drafting Thielen as my top WR in the middle of the third round after going RB-RB in the first two rounds. (Posted Aug. 31)
T.Y. Hilton (Ind) — We’ve been a little cold on Hilton this summer because of our concerns with his mounting lower-body injuries at 30 years old, but he’s quickly developed into Philip Rivers’ top receiver during training camp. Hilton has been lighting it up with Rivers in practice, including an impressive performance during a team scrimmage on Aug. 29. Rivers and Hilton finished a perfect 6-for-6 in the practice, which included a 47-yard touchdown. We don’t completely trust Hilton to stay healthy for long stretches this season, but he does have some upside if Rivers targets Hilton as he did with Keenan Allen the last three seasons — Allen posted 136+ targets and 97+ catches in each of the last three seasons. (Posted Aug. 31)
DeSean Jackson (Phi) — Rookie Jalen Reagor is likely to miss at least four weeks after suffering a slight tear in his labrum during an Aug. 30 practice. The first-round pick out of TCU will avoid surgery and rehab his shoulder for now before he steps back onto the field later this fall. Reagor is unlikely to see the field in September, which will force him to miss at least three games. We also have to leave open the possibility that he won’t be nearly as effective the rest of the year playing through the tear in his shoulder. D-Jax is the biggest beneficiary early the season with Alshon Jeffery’s availability still up in the air since he’s still on the active/PUP list after Lisfranc surgery last December. Our own Adam Caplan believes Jeffery is likely to miss the season opener but that he could return by the end of September. The Eagles will open the year with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as the starting X and Greg Ward in the slot next to D-Jax if both Reagor and Alshon aren’t ready for Week 1. Jackson, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert will be the most active receivers early in the year, and the Eagles could use even more 12 personnel early in the season while Reagor is out. (Posted Aug. 31)
Bryan Edwards (LV) — Tyrell Williams tore the labrum in his shoulder for the third time in his career, but this time around he couldn’t make it back to the field to play after the Raiders placed him on the season-ending IR. Williams was running out of time with the Raiders organization even before he injured his shoulder after the team drafted Henry Ruggs and Edwards in the first three rounds of this year’s draft. Edwards is by far the biggest beneficiary from Williams’ season-ending injury. He’s now slated to take over as the team’s full-time X receiver next to Z receiver Ruggs and slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. Edwards has been getting rave reviews throughout, and he’s already gained the trust of Derek Carr, who compared him to his former college teammate Davante Adams. Edwards is now on the fast track to snaps and targets, and he should be considered in all formats in the final rounds of drafts. (Posted Sept. 2)
N’Keal Harry (NE) — Patriots beat reporter Ryan Hannable told our John Hansen last week that Mohamed Sanu wasn’t a lock to make the 53-man roster out of training camp. Longtime Patriots beat reporter Mike Reiss backed up that statement when he left Sanu off his projected 53-man roster before the Patriots made it official by releasing Sanu on Sept. 2. Sanu did next to nothing playing through an ankle injury with the Patriots last season, and he just wasn’t playing well enough in camp to justify his $6.5 million cap hit this season. Harry, Gunner Olszewski, and Damiere Byrd are the biggest beneficiaries from Sanu’s release. The Patriots could have an ugly passing attack this season if Harry doesn’t take a big step forward in his second season. Harry is being given every chance to break out in this thin receiving corps, and we’ll see if he can handle a likely uptick in targets this season after an uneven camp. We’re not in love with Harry, but you can do worse for your WR5 with an ADP of 166. (Posted Sept. 3)
Scotty Miller (TB) — Miller has been one of the standouts of 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. Brady joined the chorus of people praising Miller when he said that Miller is a “trustworthy player” who has earned a big role. Miller is going to be 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. 31)
Blake Jarwin (Dal) — Jarwin is flying under the radar heading into the season and rightfully so since this offense features Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, and Ezekiel Elliott. Jarwin, the fifth option in this offense, isn’t too bad himself and Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones talked up Jarwin in a recent interview with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. Jones said that Jarwin is going to get to spread his wings this year after playing behind Jason Witten last year, and he added that Jarwin has had a strong training camp. Cowboys beat writers are a little worried that Jarwin’s blocking could limit his snaps, but it’s a smaller concern since he should be featured in every passing situation. We’re actively targeting Jarwin 150+ picks into drafts because of his big-play ability and his opportunity in one of the league’s best offenses. (Updated Sept. 3)
Hayden Hurst (Atl) — We’ve been extremely high on Hurst all off-season, and his recent comments about working with Matt Ryan in Dirk Koetter’s offense has us pretty excited. Hurst told the NFL Network on Sept. 1, “It’s kind of similar to what I did in college. It’s more pass-heavy, option routes. Like I said, getting synced up with Matt (Ryan). It’s a little bit more familiar for me and what I’m comfortable with. In Baltimore, everything went through Lamar obviously. It was more run-heavy. For me to be in a pass offense where I can use my size and my speed to get open and make plays with Matt — I think it’s a perfect fit.” Hurst’s ADP has been soaring in recent weeks, but we’re begging our subscribers to draft him in the eighth round. (Posted Sept. 3)
Noah Fant (Den) — Fant told the Denver Post is excited about working in new OC Pat Shurmur’s offense this season because he’s been lining up in the slot and on the outside in addition to his in-line role. Shurmur figures to use Fant more in the screen game and on crossers as he did with Evan Engram with the Giants the last two seasons when he was healthy. ESPN’s Jeff Legwold reported Fant worked to diversify his short-to-intermediate route tree this off-season. Fant is the perfect upside target late in drafts — his ADP is 132 — if you hold off drafting your TEs until late. (Posted Sept. 4)
Dallas Goedert (Phi) — Rookie Jalen Reagor is likely to miss at least four weeks after suffering a slight tear in his labrum during an Aug. 30 practice. The first-round pick out of TCU will avoid surgery and rehab his shoulder for now before he steps back onto the field later this fall. Reagor is unlikely to see the field in September, which will force him to miss at least three games. We also have to leave open the possibility that he won’t be nearly as effective the rest of the year playing through the tear in his shoulder. Goedert figures to be one of the biggest beneficiaries during Reagor’s absence since the Eagles could use even more 12 personnel early in the season. The Eagles would have J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as the starting X and Greg Ward in the slot next to DeSean Jackson if both Reagor and Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc, PUP) aren’t ready for Week 1. It didn’t take long for the Eagles WR corps to get a bit ugly again, which means Zach Ertz and Goedert will be active again. (Posted Aug. 31)
Vikings (Min) — The Jaguars did some house cleaning before the start of the season, releasing Leonard Fournette and trading pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue to the Vikings for a second-round pick and a conditional 2022 fifth-round pick. Ngakoue agreed to a one-year, $12 million contract with his new team, and he’ll form one of the league’s best pass-rushing tandems with Danielle Hunter. Ngakoue has at least eight sacks in each of his first four seasons, and he’ll help speed up quarterbacks for this extremely young secondary. Feel free to target the Vikings as your fantasy defense at the end of drafts. (Posted Aug. 31)
Players whom we’re feeling less optimistic about based on training camp reports and injury news.
Carson Wentz (Phi) — This downgrade hurts a bit since Wentz has been one of my most-drafted QBs this summer, but there’s no denying his situation is looking a little worse than it was earlier this summer. The Eagles offensive roster is already getting stretched thin with Jalen Reagor (shoulder) joining Alshon Jeffery (Lisfranc) on the shelf for potentially the first couple of games of the season. The Eagles also lost left tackle Andre Dillard (biceps) for the season as he joined All-Pro RG Brandon Brooks on the season-ending injured reserve. Wentz’s margin of error is much smaller now if the Eagles suffer another injury to their receiving corps and/or their O-line. I had been drafting Wentz when he fell into the ninth round, but I’ll be looking later in the draft for QB help now that he has more downside than he did just a week ago before Dillard and Reagor’s injuries. (Posted Sept. 1)
Ronald Jones (RB, TB) — HC Bruce Arians went out of his way to pump up his third-year back throughout training camp, which started when Arians called RoJo the “main guy” at the start of August. Arians had been trying to build up Jones’ confidence throughout training camp, but the Buccaneers told us what they think of Jones’ current development when they first signed veteran LeSean McCoy before inking the recently cut Leonard Fournette to a one-year, $2 million contract that’s worth up to $3.5 million with incentives
Fournette is expected to be the lead back ahead of Jones and whoever remains in this backfield after cuts — McCoy reportedly has a role in passing situations. Jones is unlikely to be a major factor in the passing game with Fournette, McCoy, and Dare Ogunbowale each being better options, and RoJo is also unlikely to wrestle many goal-line touches away from Fournette. Jones’ primary workload will come as a change-of-pace back, which isn’t appealing in a crowded backfield. He’s looking at an 8-10 carry per game workload with limited opportunities in the passing game. Jones’ price is unlikely to fall far enough where we’d consider him in the mid to late rounds of drafts. RoJo is going to need Fournette to fall flat on his face to have any chance of returning value from his old ADP of 61, and we didn’t like his chances of doing it even when Fournette wasn’t in the fold. RoJo’s best chance for a bigger role this season is if he puts together a strong performance or two right out of the gates while Fournette is eased into the offense. Arians once again called RoJo “our guy” after signing Fournette 12 hours earlier, but it’s clear as day that Fournette and, to a lesser extent, McCoy are going to have big roles in this backfield. (Updated Sept. 3)
Adrian Peterson (FA) — Washington surprisingly released the 35-year-old Peterson after two productive seasons with the Football Team. Peterson showed he had plenty of life left in his legs by posting 462/1940/12 rushing (4.2 YPC) over 31 games in that span, and he’s likely going to latch on with another team before the start of the season. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported that a couple of teams already checked in on Peterson right after his release. AD is unlikely to be a major fantasy contributor wherever he lands, but he will likely to throw a wrench into whatever backfield he lands in. (Posted Sept. 4)
Le’Veon Bell (NYJ) — Bell’s bell-cow status is in doubt heading into the season since HC Adam Gase seems intent on mixing in Frank Gore heavily this season. Bell and Gase were at odds over his usage in a recent practice — Gase said it was a miscommunication — and reports about Bell haven’t been too flowery coming out of training camp. The New York Post’s Brian Costello reported that Bell doesn’t look like the “centerpiece of the offense,” while ESPN’s Rich Cimini reported that Bell and Gore have been used in a 60-40 split during training camp. Gase said on Sept. 1 that he wants to do a better job of utilizing Bell in the passing game after he averaged 7.0 YPR. Gase continues to toy with his high-priced back at every turn, and Gore figures to have a much bigger role than expected, as well, so beware drafting Bell at his current ADP of 38 as the RB20. (Updated Sept. 4)
Aaron Jones (GB) — The Packers didn’t draft A.J. Dillon in the second round to sit him on the bench during his rookie season behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. HC Matt LaFleur said on Aug. 30 that he intends to use his entire backfield on gamedays, “We feel really confident with our running back core as a whole unit. I think you’re going to see all of those guys in the mix. They all bring something a little different to the table.” The Packers also have scatback Tyler Ervin ready to potentially steal a couple of snaps per game after generating some training camp buzz. Jones and Williams split the backfield 60-40 last season but Jones could be looking at an uphill battle to be on the field more half the time this season with Dillon thrown into the mix. Jones was never going to match his 19 TDs from last season, and he won’t come close if Dillon becomes the preferred goal-line option. I’ve been reluctant to draft Jones in the second round this summer because of the possibility of a three-man backfield, and the possibility is looking more like a reality with training camp winding down. (Posted Sept. 31)
Damien Harris (NE) — The Patriots backfield has been a headache to keep track of in training camp, and now Harris has thrown another wrench into this RB corps after he recently had surgery on his pinky finger. Harris had nosed ahead of Sony Michel in the battle for the lead-runner role in this offense, but his availability for the season opener is now in question. It’s not a bad idea to draft Harris in the double-digit rounds of drafts as a bet against Michel and Lamar Miller with their knee issues this season. However, be prepared for Harris to be a frustrating player to own with Bill Belichick constantly tinkering with his backfield already this season. (Posted Sept. 3)
Jalen Reagor (Phi) — Reagor is likely to miss at least four weeks after suffering a slight tear in his labrum during an Aug. 30 practice. The first-round pick out of TCU will avoid surgery and rehab his shoulder for now before he steps back onto the field later this fall. Reagor is unlikely to see the field in September, which will force him to miss at least three games. We also have to leave open the possibility that he won’t be nearly as effective the rest of the year playing through the tear in his shoulder. Reagor went from being a player we were targeting starting in the ninth or 10th round to a player who now has some downside as a pick 150+ spots into re-draft formats. (Posted Aug. 31)
Mohamed Sanu (NE) — Patriots beat reporter Ryan Hannable told our John Hansen last week that Sanu wasn’t a lock to make the 53-man roster out of training camp. Longtime Patriots beat reporter Mike Reiss backed up that statement when he left Sanu off his projected 53-man roster before the Patriots made it official by releasing Sanu on Sept. 2. Sanu did next to nothing playing through an ankle injury with the Patriots last season, and he just wasn’t playing well enough in camp to justify his $6.5 million cap hit this season. N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski, and Damiere Byrd are the biggest beneficiaries from Sanu’s release. The Patriots could have an ugly passing attack this season if Harry doesn’t take a big step forward in his second season. (Updated Sept. 3)
Curtis Samuel (Car) — Samuel has had a quiet camp and he hasn’t done much to impress in his first training camp with Teddy Bridgewater and new OC Joe Brady, according to The Charlotte Observer. Samuel did have a hamstring issue early in camp, which contributed to his slow camp, but both D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson have impressed more in training camp. Samuel’s name was floating around as a potential trade candidate before the draft so we’ll see if the Panthers could potentially move him this weekend when teams need to get down to 53 players. I’ve drafted Samuel some this summer in hopes that he could hit as a post-hype sleeper as a slot receiver playing with the conservative Bridgewater. He’s still worth a look at cost in the 14th round, but there’s no need to reach for him in drafts at this point. (Posted Sept. 2)
Tyrell Williams (LV) — Williams tore the labrum in his shoulder for the third time in his career, but this time around he couldn’t make it back to the field to play after the Raiders placed him on the season-ending IR. Tyrell was already off the radar in most re-draft formats and he was a fringe option in best-ball formats before his injury. Williams was running out of time with the Raiders organization even before he injured his shoulder after the team drafted Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards in the first three rounds of this year’s draft. Williams is a strong candidate to be released after he signed a four-year, $44 million contract during the 2019 off-season. (Posted Sept. 2)
Jace Sternberger (GB) — Sternberger’s second season has started just like his first season: on the wrong foot. Sternberger finally got activated from the COVID-19 list after an 18-day stay on the list, this after an ankle injury put him behind the eight-ball and limited him to just one catch during his rookie season. He’s failed to make much noise since his return to practice, which is bringing third-year TE Robert Tonyan into the mix next to veteran blocker Marcedes Lewis. The Packers still have a huge void for their #2 receiver spot for a motivated Aaron Rodgers, but it’s starting to look like Sternberger could be slow off the mark this season. The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman projects Tonyan to be the top receiving TE to start the season. Sternberger still has the talent and the opportunity that we like to bet on, but it looks like he’ll start the year as a waiver wire material. (Updated Sept. 2)
Chargers — Derwin James is looking at a 6-8 month absence after injuring his meniscus in an Aug. 30 practice. James needs surgery to repair the tear, and the Chargers ended his season by placing him on the injured reserve. James played in just five games last season and the Chargers defense suffered without one of the best safeties patrolling the middle of the field. The Chargers were a fringe top-12 defense for fantasy before James’ injury, and we’d look elsewhere when you take a defense at the end of drafts. (Updated Sept. 2)
Players who we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade but their situations demand monitoring based on training camp reports and injury news.
Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray (RBs, NO) — ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Aug. 31 that Kamara missed the last three days of training camp with an unexcused absence as he angles for a new contract. Kamara is set to be paid just $2.133 million in the final year of his rookie contract and the two sides are said to be $2 million apart per season. The Saints are open to trading Kamara but their top option is to re-sign their featured back. Meanwhile, Kamara told NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that he has not requested a trade and that he isn’t holding out. It’s never great when parties start negotiating contracts in the public, but the Saints have a team built to win the Super Bowl with a 41-year-old quarterback so I think both sides will be motivated to get a deal worked out.
The NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that Kamara has missed practice in recent days because of an epidural shot in his back, which would be no small matter if he can’t get over a back injury. However, we’re extremely dubious that Kamara actually received the pain-management shots since he’s looking to avoid fines for unexcused absences — think Joe Mixon with his “migraines.” I've personally been drafting Kamara third overall, and I’ll be selecting Ezekiel Elliott, Derek Henry, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire ahead of Kamara while he holds out for a new deal. I don’t think there’s a massive drop off from Kamara to those players, and they carry much less risk at this point. Murray has been going off the board as a 10th-round pick over the last month, but I wouldn’t be afraid to draft him a round or two earlier on the chance that Kamara could miss some time if his holdout extends into the season or if the unthinkable happens and he gets traded. Mixon signed his extension for four years and $48 million on Sept. 1, which will likely serve as the baseline for Kamara’s deal. Kamara returned to practice on Sept. 2 despite his current contract negotiations, which is hopefully a sign that they’re nearing an extension. (Updated Sept. 3)
Derrick Henry and Darrynton Evans (RBs, Ten) — Evans has fallen behind a bit over the last week-plus as he’s missed six straight practices with an undisclosed injury. The Titans desperately need Evans to be a viable option this season because they have no RB depth behind Henry. Tennessee notably signed RB Jeremy McNichols last week after Evans suffered his undisclosed injury, which is a bit worrisome. Henry has consistently been putting in extra work in on his conditioning and his receiving at practice during training camp.
Our Greg Cosell told us the Titans want to use Henry more in the passing game this season, and we’ve also been told the Titans still plan on using Evans as the team’s passing back. NBC’s Peter King reported this week that one Titans staffer thinks Evans could have Alvin Kamara type of impact on the offense. Evans' progress as a rookie is one of the most important developments to follow this season because Henry has top-three RB upside if he’s needed to be on the field close to full time if Evans isn’t ready to make an impact as a rookie. I’ve been aggressively drafting Henry in the middle of the first round over the last couple weeks just in case Henry can get to 25+ catches this season to unlock even more of a ceiling. ESPN’s Turron Davenport projected only Henry and Evans to make the 53-man roster out of camp. (Updated Sept. 3)
Devin Singletary and Zack Moss (RBs, Buf) — If you’ve been reading our site for any amount of time, you’ll know that we much prefer Moss at his ADP (94) over Singletary at his ADP (55). These two backs are heading toward a split backfield this season with the Bills likely riding the hot back from week to week. The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia offered up his opinion for how playing time may be divvied up during the season. He thinks OC Brian Daboll would prefer Singletary and outside runs in weeks when they can exploit slower LBs and edge defenders who can’t contain. Meanwhile, Daboll would prefer Moss and inside runs when the Bills are going against exploitable defensive lines. Of course, that may be thrown all out the window if Singletary can’t get his ball-security issues under control after he struggled with fumbles as a rookie and during training camp, which is just another reason to draft Moss at his ADP. (Posted Sept. 4)
Amari Cooper (WR, Dal) — Cooper has been out or limited in four straight practices, which owner Jerry Jones has called a precautionary move. Coop doesn’t seem to be in danger of missing the season opener and the Cowboys are likely playing it safe and limiting his workload before the season, but it’s at least notable considering the issues he had making it through last season with his knee issues. (Posted Sept. 3)
Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky (QBs, Chi) — HC Matt Nagy said the team won’t announce a starter prior to their Week 1 showdown with the Bears. The decision may be part of gamesmanship with the Lions, but it also speaks to the coaching staff’s lack of confidence in their quarterback room. We’ve been told that Trubisky continues to be inconsistent in practices while Foles has been just a slightly better option to begin the year. We’ll see how the rest of camp plays out, but we’re currently projecting Foles as Chicago’s top passer heading into the season. (Posted Aug. 31)
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Ind) and Michael Pittman (WR, Ind) — We’re high on both of the Colts second-round picks as rookies this season, but they had some issues with drops during their Aug. 29 scrimmage. Taylor dropped two passes in the scrimmage while Pittman dropped a pair of passes from Philip Rivers, and the rookies haven’t been immune to drops throughout camp. Pittman did battle back later in the scrimmage to make three straight contest catches, but they happened to come from Jacoby Brissett. Taylor bounced back and scored a receiving touchdown in an Aug. 31 scrimmage, and Philip Rivers has never been shy about checking the rock down to his backs. Taylor is likely to have a limited role in the passing game this season playing next to Nyheim Hines and Marlon Mack while Pittman is in a battle with Parris Campbell for the #2 receiver role. Both players are both talented enough to finish among the rookie leaders at their positions, but they need to do better jobs of warranting targets from Rivers going forward. Pittman has performed well as a run blocker, which could help him in his battle with Zach Pascal for a starting job. (Updated Sept. 1)
Lamar MIller (RB, NE) — The Patriots activated Miller (knee) from the PUP list on Aug. 31, giving them just a few days to see if they want to keep him around before the Patriots are required to trim their roster down for the regular season. Damien Harris is the favorite to lead the team in early-down snaps when the season starts while Sony Michel (foot) and Miller will look to prove they’re healthy enough to be major factors, as well. The Patriots seem likely to roll with Harris, Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead heading into the season so we’ll see if there’s room for Miller on the final 53-man roster. Miller could have a path to make the roster out of camp with Harris dealing with a hand injury heading into Week 1. (Updated Sept. 3)
Tee Higgins, John Ross, and Auden Tate (WRs, Cin) — The Bengals are looking at a full-blown committee at their #3 WR spot heading into the season. Higgins has shown well when he’s been on the field — he missed time to a hamstring injury — which included a strong performance with the first-team offense in an Aug. 30 scrimmage. Tate starred in training camp when Higgins, Ross (personal), and A.J. Green (hamstring) missed time, which has created a logjam at the position. The Athletic’s Paul Dehner sees Green and Tyler Boyd as the team’s starters at WR, and he believes Higgins will be a rotation piece with Tate and Ross early in the season. Higgins is the best bet out of these three players to eventually be an impact player in this offense but it could take some time to get a big enough role, barring an injury. (Posted Sept. 1)