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. I’ll post a new Market Report every week during August to help our subscribers to keep the pulse of what’s happening in the fantasy marketplace. I’ll update this article on a daily basis during the week so make sure to check back for the latest training camp buzz.
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 14 days.
EARLY CAMP MOVERS
This is our first Training Camp Market Report but here’s the cliff notes version of the risers and fallers from the early part of camp.
Green Bay Packers Skill Players — He’s back!
Trey Lance (QB, SF) — Lance has been impressive in training camp and he’s starting to get first-team reps. HC Kyle Shanahan has also been using him on designed run plays and on zone reads, which gives him even more upside for our purposes.
David Montgomery and Damien Williams (RBs, Chi) — Tarik Cohen is “weeks away” from being activated from the PUP list, per HC Matt Nagy. Cohen is a candidate to start the season on the PUP list, which would keep him out for the first six weeks of the season.
Michael Carter (RB, NYJ) — Carter, as a fourth-round pick, has been working as the team’s primary back since the start of training camp.
Rashaad Penny (RB, Sea) — Penny avoided the PUP list to start training camp and he’s slimmed down to 223 pounds. He did pick up a thigh injury and has missed some practices.
CeeDee Lamb (WR, Dal) — The second-year WR has been drawing rave reviews throughout training camp, and he has a great chance to be the team’s #1 WR with the Cowboys bringing Amari Cooper along slowly off of off-season ankle surgery.
Chase Claypool (WR, Pit) — The Steelers have Claypool on the fast track heading into his second season, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by fourth-year WR James Washington, who requested a trade on Aug. 6.
Elijah Moore (WR, NYJ) — Moore has been the talk of the Jets’ WR corps all summer long and it didn’t take him long to earn a promotion to the first-team in training camp. He did pick up a quad injury on Aug. 12, which required an MRI so we’ll see if he’s looking at an extended absence. (Updated 8/12)
Indianapolis Colts Skill Players — Both Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson will each miss 5-12 weeks after undergoing foot surgeries last week. Wentz, Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman, and T.Y. Hilton each have worse outlooks heading into the season.
Tarik Cohen (RB, Chi) — Cohen is “weeks away” from being activated from the PUP list, per HC Matt Nagy. Cohen is a candidate to start the season on the PUP list, which would keep him out for the first six weeks of the season.
Amari Cooper (WR, Dal) — Cooper is expected to be ready for Week 1 but the Cowboys are bringing Coop along slowly in training camp. They activated him off the PUP list and he returned to practice on Aug. 10. He’ll have a battle holding off CeeDee Lamb for the #1 WR role, who has dominated at Cowboys’ camp. (Updated 8/11)
Denzel Mims (WR, NYJ) — Mims is buried down the depth chart and the new coaching staff seemingly has no interest in playing him. He’s a candidate to be traded or cut before the season starts. He has started to turn it around in recent practices and he revealed he lost 20 pounds early in the off-season from a severe case of food poisoning. (Updated 8/12)
Dallas Goedert (TE, Phi) — Zach Ertz reported to training camp and it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll open the season with the Eagles, which is likely to put a small dent into Goedert’s potential target share.
Joe Burrow (QB, Cin) — Burrow has struggled in the early part of camp off of last season’s ACL injury, and Tyler Boyd even said that Burrow is “iffy on his knee.” It’s not totally unexpected given the nature of his injury and his status for the start of the season is a little more up in the air than it was before the start of camp. Burrow described his early camp struggles as more of a “mental thing” than a physical issue.
Dak Prescott (QB, Dal) — Dak is dealing with a shoulder injury and he resumed some light throwing off to the side at practice on Aug. 10. He’s still expected to be ready for the opener, but he’s missing out on some valuable reps in his recovery from his catastrophic leg injury. (Updated 8/11)
Deshaun Watson (QB, Hou) — Watson reported to training camp to avoid fines. A trade doesn’t sound imminent with the legal process playing out, the Texans don’t seem to be in a rush to play him, and the NFL has stayed completely mum on the situation. There’s little to see here so far but the situation will develop the closer we get to Week 1 so stay tuned.
Kenny Golladay (WR, NYG) — Golladay is nursing a hamstring injury at the start of camp and he’s expected to rest until at least mid-August. Golladay resumed straight-line running at half speed on Aug. 11.
DeVonta Smith (WR, Phi) — Smith suffered a knee sprain that will sideline him at least until mid-August. It isn’t expected to be an injury that lingers but the rookie is missing out on valuable training camp reps.
Will Fuller (Mia) — Fuller left Miami’s first training camp practice on July 28 with an undisclosed injury and he’s yet to return to practice. It’s a less than ideal start for Fuller, who will be forced to sit in Week 1 anyway for the final contest of his six-game suspension for PED use last season.
Marquise Brown (WR, Bal) — Hollywood picked up a hamstring injury to start training camp and he was cleared for conditioning drills on Aug. 7.
UPGRADES (WEEK OF AUG. 9)
Players whom we’re feeling more optimistic about based on training camp reports and injury news.
Justin Fields (Chi) — Fields is still working with the second-team offense through the early part of training camp, but it’s only a matter of time before he gets starters reps as his “natural arm talent is captivating camp.” Fields has been impressive with his deep passes and his off-platform throws, and HC Matt Nagy said Fields’ understanding of the offense is close to his physical talent. Andy Dalton has also played well with the starters and the Bears are still sticking with their plan to use him as the starter to open the season. Dalton could start a few games in September but Fields should crack the starting lineup sooner rather than later so don’t be afraid to pull the trigger on Fields as a high-upside QB2 with his current ADP sitting at 149.5 (QB20). (Added 8/10)
Saquon Barkley (NYG) — Barkley has been falling in drafts in recent weeks based on the organization’s decision to not give a timeline for his recovery from an ACL tear, which he suffered 11 months ago. Well, his timeline is starting to come into focus after the Giants activated him from the reserve/PUP list and he practiced on Aug. 9, more than a month before the Giants open the season against the Broncos on Sept. 12. Barkley could be on a snap count early in the season but he now has a legitimate chance to play in the season opener. Barkley’s ADP has sunk to 9.9 (RB7) in the last two weeks and it will be on the rise in the next couple of weeks. We held steady with our Barkley projection the last couple of weeks and hopefully, you were able to nab some cheap Saquon shares at the end of the first round or early in the second round.
Joe Mixon (Cin) — The Bengals set the stage for a bell-cow role for Mixon when they released Giovani Bernard in early April, and it became more of a reality when they passed on adding a notable running back in the draft or in free agency. Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan once again reiterated in the early part of training camp that Mixon is going to be given all the work he can handle. Callahan said, “The expectations are high for Joe, as I’ve said before, to be on the field quite a bit. Obviously, he can’t play every snap of every game, but he has the ability and the skill set to be a three-down player.” The Athletic’s Jay Morrison wrote that Mixon has “clearly been the best offensive player” in camp, and Mixon said he feels great after a foot injury shut him down for the final 10 games of last season. Mixon’s ADP has been on the rise this summer and he’s now being drafted in the mid-second round (18.3, RB12). He’s strung together strong stretches of play in his first four seasons, and he’s looking to do it over a full season if his offensive line and his body cooperate.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC) — The Chiefs have been expanding CEH’s role in the passing game during training camp, per The Athletic’s Nate Taylor. Edwards-Helaire has been running more routes in the middle of the field in recent practices, and Taylor believes CEH’s route tree will be more sophisticated this season. CEH didn’t run a very diverse route tree for some reason last season with 44% of his targets coming on simple flat or screen routes (per SIS). CEH needs a little better touchdown luck and more use as a receiver to pay off his second-round price, and there’s more hope that he can check the receiver box with his work in training camp. (Added 8/13)
Zack Moss (Buf) — Moss has consistently been the best running back in Buffalo’s camp, per The Athletic’s Matthew Fairburn, ahead of Devin Singletary, Matt Breida, and Antonio Williams. Moss is pushing for a bigger role this season after he struggled through foot and ankle issues as a rookie, but Fairburn notes that OC Brian Daboll will still likely divide up carries and he’ll ride the hot hand this season. This is a tentative upgrade since it’s tough to get too excited about Moss since Josh Allen will still vulture goal-line carries and since Singletary isn’t going to disappear. Still, Moss will have a higher ceiling and a safer floor if he becomes the clear top option in this backfield. He did pick up a hamstring injury on Aug. 10 with Sean McDermott describing his status as day-to-day. (Updated 8/11)
Phillip Lindsay (Hou) — Lindsay is expected to handle the majority of carries for the Texans this season with David Johnson sliding into the “third-down role” that Duke Johnson held last year, a team source told ESPN’s Sarah Barshop. Lindsay is going to get more run than initially expected, but the news doesn’t exactly move the fantasy needle too much since the Texans aren’t going to have many scoring opportunities and they’re going to be playing in negative game scripts most weeks. Lindsay’s ADP is sure to rise until the season starts (167.9, RB53) while Johnson’s ADP is going to dip a bit (103.2, RB38). This is still a situation to avoid with Rex Burkhead and Mark Ingram each potentially getting weekly touches in what could be an ugly committee in the league’s worst offense. It’s also notable that the Texans’ PR department, which updates the team’s depth chart, listed Lindsay and Ingram as co-starters with Johnson behind them. You’ll be better served to treat this backfield like it doesn’t exist in your fantasy drafts. (Added 8/12)
Xavier Jones (LAR) — Darrell Henderson has received strong reviews for his performance in training camp and in a scrimmage against the Cowboys on Aug. 7, but The Athletic’s Jordan Rodrigue has reported multiple times that the Rams want to use some sort of committee to “maximize Henderson’s availability.” Henderson will likely lead this backfield in touches when he’s healthy but the Rams have mixed Jones and Jake Funk in with the first-team offense at the start of training camp. HC Sean McVay said Aug. 10 that Jones is “going to carve out a role for himself” while noting his willingness in pass protection. The Rams are also candidates to add a back before the start of the season if the right player becomes available when the league cuts down to 53-man rosters by Aug. 31. Jones recently cracked the top-200 picks with an ADP of 196.4 (RB58,) and he’s more than worth a look if he’s going to play on passing downs and with Henderson’s shaky track record of durability. (Added 8/11)
Darrynton Evans (Ten) — The Titans are pacing workhorse back Derrick Henry through training camp after he racked up 784 carries over the last two seasons (postseason included). Evans, a 2020 third-round pick, has been the biggest beneficiary with a big workload in his second training camp after he managed just 16 touches in five games because of a hamstring injury last season. With Henry slated for another massive workload in 2021, Evans isn’t going to have much standalone value even if he carves out a passing-down role. He’s still an intriguing late-round dart throw with his ADP of 203.0 (RB61) just in case he stumbles into more work than anticipated if Henry hits a bit of a wall after two heavy-usage seasons. (Added 8/10)
Antonio Brown (TB) — HC Bruce Arians said Brown is moving at speeds that he last saw four or five years ago after he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in May. Arians noted that Brown’s knee has been bothering him for a couple of years and he finally underwent the knee scope after aggravating the knee in the Divisional Round. Brown is looking to return to his Steelers’ form with a healthy knee and a full training camp to work with Tom Brady and the rest of the offense. TB12 didn’t have a favorite receiver in the final nine weeks of the regular season with Mike Evans (21%), Brown (20%), and Chris Godwin (18%) each finishing with similar target shares in Weeks 9-17. Brown isn’t the safest WR4 option because of his advanced football age at 33 years old and because of his past off-the-field indiscretions, but he should beat his current ADP (95.7, WR44) if he stays on the field with Brady spreading the ball all over the field in one of the league’s best offenses.
Darnell Mooney (Chi) — Our guy Adam Caplan turned us onto Mooney well before he even took the field as a rookie last season, and the speedy 2020 fifth-round pick has been turning heads ever since. He’s developing into a more complete receiver entering his second season with HC Matt Nagy remarking that Mooney is “on fire” with his route running in training camp. The Bears are hoping rookie QB Justin Fields can unlock Mooney’s potential as a downfield threat, and the Bears didn’t make a major move at receiver this off-season to take away targets from the second-year receiver. Our John Hansen recently revealed that Mooney is one of his favorite breakout players with an ADP north of 100+ picks, so that should be a good enough reason to target him in the ninth or 10th round. He’s rising quickly in sharper best-ball rooms with his ADP of 113.5 (WR49) the last two weeks.
Jakobi Meyers (NE) — The drumbeat for Meyers has been steady all summer long out of Patriots’ off-season workouts and training camp practices. He continues to be the team’s most consistent wide receiver and he’s tied with Jonnu Smith for the most completions with Cam Newton through Aug. 9. Meyers will certainly have more competition for targets with Smith, Hunter Henry, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne added to the mix, but don’t forget that he led the Patriots with a 29% target share last season. Meyers has consistently earned praise this summer but he can still be had for cheap with an ADP of 178.4 (WR70). He’s unlikely to crush it for fantasy but he has a chance to settle in as a steady WR3 option in PPR formats. (Added 8/10)
Bryan Edwards (LV) — Edwards has consistently run as the X receiver with the first-team offense to open training camp, playing opposite of Henry Ruggs on the perimeter with Hunter Renfrow lining up in the slot. Veteran John Brown is slotted in behind Edwards with the second-team WRs of Zay Jones and Willie Snead. HC Jon Gruden may have gone a little over the top when he said Edwards has been looking like Terrell Owens in training camp, but it’s clear Edwards has been impressing his head coach. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler also reported that Edwards and Derek Carr have built a palpable trust this summer. Our Greg Cosell saw some similarities between Edwards and Justin Jefferson coming out of the SEC before last year’s draft, and Edwards is looking to stay healthy to show off his potential. Darren Waller is the no-doubt top option for Carr this season, but Edwards is worth a late-round dart throw in all formats in this otherwise barren Raiders’ WR corps. (Updated 8/13)
Terrace Marshall (Car) — The Panthers rested Marshall for most of their off-season workouts, and the second-round pick has come out looking healthy and making plays in the early part of training camp. Marshall appears to have a leg up on David Moore in the battle for the #3 WR role, and he could be the team’s primary slot receiver at 6’2”, 200 pounds after playing inside at LSU in OC Joe Brady’s former offense. It’s going to be difficult for Sam Darnold to support multiple fantasy WRs based on his shaky track record, but Marshall is still a bet-on player at his ADP of 171.0 (WR69) in case Darnold breaks through this season.
Marquez Callaway (NO) — Callaway could go from being an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee last season to being New Orleans’ #1 WR to open the year. Michael Thomas is set to miss at least the first month of the season after needing ankle surgery in June, and an even longer absence isn’t out of the question since a rift has developed between Thomas and the organization. Tre’Quan Smith has also missed practices since Aug. 3 with a leg injury, which has allowed Callaway to operate as the top WR for QBs Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. Callaway has practiced so well that NOLA.com’s Jeff Duncan labeled him as the “breakout star” at the start of training camp while The Athletic’s Katherine Terrell dubbed him the “go-to man” for the quarterbacks. Callaway’s ADP is about to skyrocket from his current spot at 226.8 (WR85), and he’s worth a late-round flier in best ball and season-long formats. (Updated 8/11)
Sammy Watkins (Bal) — Rashod Bateman’s bid for a large role right out of the gates of his rookie season hit a snag when he pulled up lame and fell to the ground while running a slant route during an Aug. 10 practice. Bateman’s injury was serious enough that he’ll need surgery to repair the issue, which HC John Harbaugh said will keep him out until some time in September. Our Edwin Porras believes Bateman’s surgery could keep him out closer to two months, which would put his return more in the early to mid-October range. Against all odds, Watkins is the Ravens receiver who has managed to stay healthy with Bateman, Marquise Brown (hamstring), and Miles Boykin (hamstring) each missing time early in training camp. Fifth-round pick Tylan Wallace could also get some run with the first-team offense while Brown, Bateman, and Boykin are out of the lineup. Watkins has been generating buzz since off-season workouts began earlier this summer with OC Greg Roman even calling Watkins one of the NFL’s best receivers early in training camp. It’s conceivable that Watkins could be Baltimore’s leading WR this season if he’s somehow able to stay healthy. He’s more than worth an investment with his ADP sitting at 212.3 (WR81). (Added 8/12)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (GB) — We’ve heard MVS is having a strong training camp and he’s been a standout among a crowded receiving corps behind Davante Adams. The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman took it to a whole other level when he predicted MVS could go for 1000 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. That projection is certainly a bit ambitious but MVS is the best fit to be Green Bay’s #3 WR since he adds a vertical element to the offense with Adams and Randall Cobb dominating in the intermediate and underneath areas. It’s going to be difficult for any secondary WR to emerge for fantasy with MVS, Cobb, Allen Lazard, Amari Rodgers, and Devin Funchess all competing for limited targets behind one of the league’s biggest ball-hogs in Adams. MVS is the best bet to make a major impact after leading the league in YPR (20.9) last season and his ADP (219.0, WR83) makes it quite easy to roster him. (Added 8/12)
Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyrell Williams (Det) — St. Brown has been the Lions’ “best and most consistent” WR in the early part of training camp, per The Athletic’s Lions’ beat writers. Top WRs Williams (groin), Breshad Perriman (hip), and Quintez Cephus (head) have each missed some practice time, which has helped Detroit’s fourth-round pick out of USC to get some extra run with Jared Goff. MLive’s Kyle Meinke also believes St. Brown has been the team’s most consistent target in camp while noting that Williams is the team’s #1 WR and best deep threat. Tyrell is the best fantasy target in this receiving corps with his ADP sitting at an absurdly low 224.7 (WR85) while St. Brown is looking like a solid floor option as a late-round pick in deeper season-long leagues and in best ball drafts. It doesn’t hurt that Goff has targeted receivers out of the slot the most since 2018. (Updated 8/12)
T.J. Hockenson (Det) — Hockenson is still dominating Detroit's passing attack during training camp after he tore it up in minicamp. MLive’s Kyle Meinke wrote that Hock has been Jared Goff’s top target in training camp and that it hasn’t been close, and he wouldn’t be surprised if he leads the Lions in targets this season. The Lions vacated a league-high 360 targets from last season with Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones leaving in free agency. Hockenson could push for a quarter of the team’s targets after seeing an 18% share last year, and it doesn’t hurt that he could get more opportunities to run routes after the Lions signed Darren Fells this off-season. Hockenson may not get a ton of scoring opportunities in Detroit’s lowly offense but he has a chance to finish third in TE receptions behind Travis Kelce and Darren Waller this season. (Added 8/12)
Mike Gesicki (Mia) — Hunter Long, a 2021 third-round pick, had to be carted off the field on Aug. 8 with an injury to his left knee, on which he couldn’t put any weight on. The Dolphins drafted Long to push Gesicki for playing time as a rookie and to potentially be Gesicki’s replacement in 2021 since he’s set to hit free agency next off-season. Gesicki’s competition for playing time would be significantly weaker if Long is set to miss extended playing time with just Cethan Carter and Adam Shaheen behind him. Gesicki could also have more of a future with the franchise if Long will be rehabbing a major injury over the off-season. The Dolphins removed Gesicki from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Aug. 10 after a 10-day stay on the list. The Palm Beach Post’s Joe Schad also reported on Aug. 10 that Long’s injury isn’t believed to be season-ending, which is a small victory for the Boston College product. (Updated 8/11)
Dan Arnold (Car) — The Arnold and Darnold duo has been generating some buzz during training camp as the former Saints/Cardinals TE has quickly struck up a relationship with new QB Sam Darnold. It doesn’t hurt that Arnold worked closely with OC Joe Brady for two years in New Orleans, and he could look to move Arnold around to create mismatches against smaller safeties and linebackers. Arnold will primarily be used in passing situations this season since he’s never been much of a blocker at 6’6”, 240 pounds, but it’s looking like he could be another playmaker at Darnold’s disposal this season. Arnold is dirt cheap with an ADP of 234.7 (TE30) and he has a chance to break through as a sleeper TE3 in TE-premium and best-ball formats.
DOWNGRADES (WEEK OF AUG. 9)
Players whom we’re feeling less optimistic about based on training camp reports and injury news.
None of note.
David Johnson (Hou) — Phillip Lindsay is expected to handle the majority of carries for the Texans this season with Johnson sliding into the “third-down role” that Duke Johnson held last year, a team source told ESPN’s Sarah Barshop. It’s a blow to Johnson’s fantasy value since the Texans were expected to split up work in the backfield with Johnson serving as the featured back and getting the majority of carries and targets. Johnson still has the more coveted role in the backfield since the Texans’ will be playing in heavy negative game scripts, but the Texans want Lindsay and Johnson to split up the work in the backfield. Lindsay’s ADP is sure to rise until the season starts (167.9, RB53) while Johnson’s ADP is going to dip a bit (103.2, RB38). This is still a situation to avoid with Rex Burkhead and Mark Ingram each potentially getting weekly touches in what could be an ugly committee in the league’s worst offense. It’s also notable that the Texans’ PR department, which updates the team’s depth chart, listed Lindsay and Ingram as co-starters ahead of Johnson. You’ll be better served to treat this backfield like it doesn’t exist in your fantasy drafts.. (Added 8/11)
Michael Thomas (NO) — Thomas is set to miss at least the first month of the season after waiting until June to get his troublesome ankle repaired, and it’s a situation that could have easily been avoided if there was better communication between Thomas and the organization. Thomas decided to bypass surgery last winter to try to rehab his injured ankle, and he went radio silent until he reported for off-season workouts in June when it was discovered he still needed to have the surgery. Thomas added to the rift when he tweeted on Aug. 9, “They tried to damage your reputation. You saved theirs by not telling your side of the story.” Thomas has fallen into the fifth round with an ADP of 52.7 (WR24) over the last two weeks, which is still way too rich for my taste. Thomas has the potential to put fantasy teams over the top late in the 2021 season if owners are able to survive the first month or two of the season without him. He could also be a wasted pick if he struggles to get healthy and/or if his ongoing tensions with the franchise remain unresolved and he decides not to play. This is a situation that’s best to avoid on draft day.
D.J. Chark (Jax) — Chark needed surgery to install a plate in a finger in his right hand, but HC Urban Meyer expects his fourth-year WR to be ready for the season opener, which is more than a month away. Chark is being drafted like he’s the no-doubt #1 WR in Jacksonville with his ADP sitting at 73.1 (WR32), but Laviska Shenault (89.2, WR39) and Marvin Jones (121.8, WR53) are very much in the mix to be Trevor Lawrence’s favorite target. The #1 WR spot is now even more up for grabs with Chark set to miss a chunk of training camp while his hand heals. It’s best to look elsewhere in the late sixth round and the early seventh round, but his absence could open up a buy-low opportunity if his ADP dips by a round or two over the next month.
Curtis Samuel (Was) — Samuel’s Washington career is off to an inauspicious start. He opened camp on the active/PUP list with a groin injury he initially suffered during off-season workouts in June before landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list in late July. HC Ron Rivera said on Aug. 8 that Samuel has no timetable for a return, and he reverted back to the PUP list on Aug. 9 after he was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list. Samuel does know the offense well after playing under OC Scott Turner with the Panthers in 2018-19, but he’s losing out on practice reps with new QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Samuel’s ADP (94.9) has slipped into the eighth round over the last two weeks and it may not be long until he moves outside the top-100 picks if he doesn’t start practicing soon.
Rashod Bateman (Bal) — Bateman’s bid for a large role right out of the gates of his rookie season hit a snag when he pulled up lame and fell to the ground while running a slant route during an Aug. 10 practice. Bateman’s injury was serious enough that he’ll need surgery to repair the issue, which HC John Harbaugh said will keep him out until some time in September. Our Edwin Porras believes Bateman’s surgery could keep him out closer to two months, which would put his return more in the early to mid-October range. Either way, this is an ugly situation for a rookie WR since he could potentially miss several games to open the season while also missing valuable practice reps with Lamar Jackson. he’ll Don’t forget that Jackson missed the opening of camp with COVID-19 so they haven’t worked together much. Against all odds, Sammy Watkins is the Ravens receiver who has managed to stay healthy with Bateman, Marquise Brown (hamstring), and Miles Boykin (hamstring) each missing time early in training camp. Fifth-round pick Tylan Wallace could also get some run with the first-team offense while Brown, Bateman, and Boykin are out of the lineup. Bateman is looking at missing significant time so his once-rising ADP (142.3, WR59) is sure to cool off quite a bit before the start of the season. It’s best to look elsewhere for help in season-long drafts. (Updated 8/12)
None of note.
WATCH LIST (WEEK OF AUG. 9)
Players who we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade but their situations demand monitoring based on training camp reports and injury news.
Carson Wentz, Jacob Eason, and Sam Ehliger (Ind) — It was looking like Eason, a 2020 fourth-round pick, was the favorite to open the season as the Colts’ starter with Wentz facing a 5-12 week recovery period after an early August foot surgery. That changed this week with news that both Wentz and Quenton Nelson are trending toward being ready for the season opener. Color this fantasy analyst just a bit skeptical of the report since both players are just over a week into their recovery for an injury with a timeline of 5-12 weeks. With that said, it’s at least looking like both Wentz and Nelson are trending in the right direction to at least appear in games in September so Wentz recent ADP (169.1, QB25) should rebound.
Ehlinger, a 2021 sixth-round pick, has impressed in the early part of training camp and he’s pushing Eason for the starting gig if Wentz isn’t ready for the start of the season. Ehlinger received his first snaps with the first-team offense on Aug. 10, and Frank Reich said after that practice that Eason and Ehlinger would split first-team reps for the next week with Eason getting all of the first-team reps during the first preseason game. Eason is the slight favorite to win the backup job to Wentz, but Ehlinger is more intriguing for fantasy purposes since he averaged 41.4 rushing yards per game in four seasons at Texas. It could end up being an important battle if Wentz’s struggles continue into 2021 with a gimpy foot. (Updated 8/11)
Austin Ekeler (LAC) — HC Brandon Staley told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler the Chargers want to use different styles of running backs and that they’ll use a variety of runners who can change the pace on a defense. It’s not totally unexpected since Ekeler has never averaged more than 12.0 carries per game in his first four seasons, but there was some hope the new coaching staff could ramp up Ekeler’s usage in the running game. It looks like Justin Jackson, Larry Rountree, and Joshua Kelley could all factor into their rushing attack but Ekeler will once again dominate the passing-game work in this backfield. The big question is if Ekeler can see more goal-line opportunities to unlock his elite fantasy RB potential since he’s never topped three rushing touchdowns in any season. (Added 8/13)
D’Andre Swift (Det) — Swift has missed “significant practice time” because of a sore groin in recent practices. It’s notable that Swift is still suiting up for practice but he’s rarely participating in team drills. It sounds like new HC Dan Campbell is playing it extra cautious with his top offensive weapon since Swift is still getting padded up for practice. This is a situation to monitor and we’re far from panic time. (Added 8/10)
Darrell Henderson (LAR) — Henderson has received strong reviews for his performance in training camp and in a scrimmage against the Cowboys on Aug. 7, but The Athletic’s Jordan Rodrigue has reported multiple times that the Rams want to use some sort of committee to “maximize Henderson’s availability.” Henderson will likely lead this backfield in touches when he’s healthy but the Rams have mixed Xavier Jones and Jake Funk in with the first-team offense at the start of training camp. HC Sean McVay said Aug. 10 that Jones is “going to carve out a role for himself” while noting his willingness in pass protection. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler believes the Rams are going “all-in” on Henderson this season after stopping by Rams’ camp. The Rams are also candidates to add a back before the start of the season if the right player becomes available when the league cuts down to 53-man rosters by Aug. 31. Henderson has settled into the low-end RB2 range with an ADP of 52.1 (RB22), which is more than a fair price for a talented player in a potentially potent offense. (Updated 8/13)
Myles Gaskin and Malcolm Brown (Mia) — Gaskin is the favorite to lead this backfield in touches and snaps, but it’s looking like he could lose out on goal-line work to free-agent signee Brown this season. Brown put on a touchdown-scoring clinic on Aug. 12 during 11-on-11, goal-line drills in a joint practice with the Bears, which is nothing new for Brown. According to the Miami Herald, Brown has converted an impressive 27-of-50 short-yardage carries — defined as 1-to-3 yards — for either first downs (18) or touchdowns (9) in his career. Gaskin is still going to make his fantasy living in the Dolphins’ passing game, but Brown could hurt his value by vulturing a handful of goal-line touchdowns this season. (Added 8/12)
Justin Jefferson (Min) — Jefferson had fantasy players collectively holding their breath when he suffered a left shoulder injury in practice on Aug. 6, but he escaped the incident with a sprained AC joint. A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the injury is “nothing serious” so it looks like Jefferson won’t miss any regular-season time with the regular season more than four weeks away.
Michael Gallup (WR, Dal) — The Cowboys started increasing Gallup’s snaps from the slot during off-season workouts, and it’s carried over into training camp. Gallup has focused on his route running and his route tree this off-season, and he’s determined to show he’s more than just a “deep-ball threat.” The Cowboys’ WR corps will be more versatile if OC Kellen Moore actually follows through with lining his three WRs all over the field, and it will make it more difficult for opposing defenses to shadow the Cowboys’ WRs this season. It will also increase Gallup’s fantasy consistency if he’s able to get a few shorter aDOT targets per game after his aDOT sat at 16.8 yards in his four full games with Dak Prescott last season. (Added 8/10)
Mike Williams (LAC) — Second-year QB Justin Herbert said the team needs to get the ball to Williams more this season, including more as an underneath receiver and in the quick-passing game. Williams has never reached 50+ catches in any season to start his career largely because his aDOT has sat at 14.5 yards or longer since he became a full-time player the last three seasons. Williams will still be at his best for fantasy in the red zone and as a downfield target, but a low aDOT catch or two per game would help him find some fantasy consistency that he's been lacking in his first four seasons. Williams did pick up a “minor” hip flexor, which forced him to sit out practice on Aug. 13. It’s an issue to follow next week to see if he misses additional practice time since he’s had issues staying completely healthy in the past. (Added 8/13)
Tre’Quan Smith (NO) — New Orleans’ #1 WR Michael Thomas is set to miss at least the first month of the season after undergoing ankle surgery in June. Smith had a leg up to be the new top WR with Thomas out of the lineup but he’s missed practice time since he picked a leg injury on Aug. 3. He started running on the side at practice on Aug. 11 so he could return to practice in the near future. His absence has allowed second-year WR Marquez Callaway to operate as the team’s #1 WR with QBs Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill. Smith will still likely open the season as a starter with Callaway based on the first couple weeks of training camp practices, but he’s missing out on a chance to build some chemistry with his new quarterbacks the longer he sits out in training camp. (Updated 8/11)
Van Jefferson and DeSean Jackson (LAR) — It’s looking like Jefferson will be the team’s #3 WR with D-Jax rotating in behind him, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. We’ve anticipated all summer that Sean McVay would use Jackson more as a situational deep threat in an effort to keep him healthy for as long as possible after he played in just 8-of-32 games the last two seasons. Both Jefferson and D-Jax are fine late-round fliers to stack with Matthew Stafford in best ball formats, but they’ll be off the radar in all but deep season-long formats. (Added 8/13)
Darren Waller (LV) — Waller has missed the last two weeks of training camp with an ankle injury that isn’t concerning, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. Waller would be ready to play if the Raiders had meaningful games on the schedule, and the organization is pacing him for September since he has nothing to prove after a dominant 2020 campaign. Waller doesn’t seem to be in danger of missing any regular season time so keep drafting him in the late second-round as the TE2. (Updated 8/13)
Hunter Henry (NE) — Henry picked up a non-serious shoulder injury during an Aug. 8 practice, which will keep him off the field for a couple of weeks (per Adam Schefter). The Patriots also moved TE Dalton Keene to injured reserve after he opened training camp on the PUP list, which is the second straight season he’s ended his year on the IR since being drafted in the third round in 2020. Henry has missed at least one game in each of his first five seasons, and he’s missed 31.3% of his games (25 of 80) to start his career. Jonnu Smith is our preferred New England tight end in fantasy drafts and Henry’s early injury woes in 2021 reinforce our decision. (Updated 8/10)
Hunter Long (Mia) — Long, a 2021 third-round pick, had to be carted off the field on Aug. 8 with an injury to his left knee, on which he couldn’t put any weight on. The Dolphins drafted Long to push Mike Gesicki for playing time as a rookie and to potentially be Gesicki’s replacement in 2021 since he’s set to hit free agency next off-season. Long was off the radar in all formats for the 2020 season and his stock in dynasty leagues would take a small hit if he’s set to miss extended time. The Palm Beach Post’s Joe Schad reported on Aug. 10 that the injury isn’t believed to be season-ending, which is a small victory for the Boston College product. (Updated 8/11)