For those of you looking for an edge and committed to outworking your fellow coaches toward finding those hidden gems, there’s arguably no better place to spend your time now than digging through training camp stories.
Every year, we have virtually (sometimes completely) unknown players that find their way to the 53 man roster and onto game-day fields. And each year, those coaches that spend their time combing through camp reports get a head start on adding those players. Committed, as we always are, to helping you uncover those unknown names before any other site, this training camp report series will spin you around the league looking to uncover a few players each week.
One word of caution if I might. Roster management is an oh-so important aspect of developing a competitive roster. You must have a goal for building your team and a keen eye and steady hand when it comes to evaluating your team and determining who should be dropped, who should be retained and who should be added. Don’t be “that guy” that adds players every time they are mentioned on Rotoworld. The last thing you want to do is to release last week’s top riser for this week’s top riser, only to find that last week’s player goes on to be this year’s “hot add” when the season begins. If you have space on your roster, by all means pounce on these names. If, however, decisions need to be made, be careful of jumping on the most recent Johnny-come-lately.
I will not be highlighting every team. Only those with notable events will be listed.
Let’s get to it.
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All the news is really about Terrance West showing up in camp. With the somewhat unsettled running back situation, I’d roster West if he’s available. Receiver Kamar Aiken isn’t available in all likelihood but he’s having a great camp thus far and looks to be a starter. If you’re holding out hope for receiver Michael Campanaro, keep that light on as he has shined early in camp. It’s going to be an uphill battle for him but there’s a lot of youth on the roster and nothing is settled. There’s been a Dennis Pitta sighting and he’s got his eye on getting his starting role back. Outlook no so good for Pitta as Ben Watson is now in town. Remember Ryan Mallett? So far after one week, he’s slipping and has lost snaps to third stringer Jerrod Johnson. Nothing to see here.
Did you know ex-Browns receiver Greg Little is still playing? Did you know he plays for the Bills? Sure is. And he’s been making acrobatic plays in practice. I still don’t buy it. Unless you’re looking for today’s Karlos Williams weight update, there hasn’t been much useful information coming out of Buffalo.
Devin Funchess continues to mature and is said to be night-and-day better that last year. That’s hefty praise for one week of camp. For you IDP’ers looking for cornerbacks, it appears as if coach Ron Rivera is expecting to start this year’s rookie selections: James Bradberry and Daryl Worley. It’s still early but if you start cornerbacks, stay tuned. Normally I wouldn’t even mention Ted Ginn but he continues to have chemistry with Cam Newton and they are hooking up deep nearly every day in camp. Could it be?
For you Duke Johnson owners, there was a scare this week as Johnson went down with a lower leg injury – but quickly returned. Terrelle Pryor continues to make big plays on the receiving end from Robert Griffin III. It seems as though Pryor is set for a gadget type of role due to inexperience but his name is popping every day in camp reports. With the Browns selecting 104 receivers in this year’s rookie draft, anything is possible. Corey Coleman and Rashard Higgins appear to be in the lead to be the starters, at least until Josh Gordon returns in week five. Both rookie receivers have been showing daily but Coleman has been the star. Not much in the way of other rookie sightings.
It depends on who you speak with but Kevin White’s name is coming up often as the star of camp. For those of us sitting on White for a year, it’s looking like it could be a great year if not inconsistent. Temper expectations as even Cutler says he needs more consistency and experience. Looking for a deep stash, look no further than receiver Daniel Braverman who is stringing together impressive practices. He’s a seventh rounder in the body of Wes Welker but he’s been scrappy and catching big throws in practice. Hold your horses on Jordan Howard, Ka’Deem Carey is staking his claim as Jeremy Langford’s backup. Coach John Fox has committed to a committee in the backfield so any one of the backs could get time based on his play.
In Big D, all the news surrounded the the minor injury (hamstring) to Ezekiel Elliott. There’s not much to see here other than it will cost him likely a week of work. Alfred Morris continues to impress but my eye is on Brice Butler. Terrance Williams has yet to be a consistent threat and while he should be better with a healthy Dez Bryant across from him, I’m not so sure that Butler couldn’t push for the WR2 role. At 6’3″/220 lbs. and 26 years of age, there’s some intrigue there. Butler is having a solid camp. Dak Prescott has been impressing in his short time, said to be looking “comfortable” in the pocket. In his own words he says he’s working hard to “be a starter” in the league. For what it’s worth I have rostered Prescott in multiple leagues. You probably don’t need to do so now, but if you have a deep league, I like his upside. I liked Logan Thomas’ upside as well (oops).
Don’t sleep on Trevor Siemian but keep expectations in check. Hard to project Mark Sanchez as anything other than a starter but coach Kubiak will start the lesser known Siemian if he outplays Sanchez in camp. The greater likelihood is that, again, Sanchez would lose the job early into the season and Siemian would get a chance to show. No telling how it turns out but I have rostered Siemian in leagues.
Rookie Braxton Miller started slowly but is finally starting to show his athleticism. There’s upside at receiver in this offense so don’t lose sight of him.
Add Josh Ferguson immediately if you haven’t already. He’s getting hype in camp and could well be the RB2 to open the season behind the 54 year old Frank Gore. Andrew Luck probably isn’t available on your waiver wire (sarcasm) but word out of camp is that Luck hasn’t looked great thus far. It’s early yet and there’s no real cause of concern here but we’d be happier hearing that he’s firing on all cylinders.
Undrafted rookie receiver Jamal Robinson has put together a couple of nice days and continues to show athleticism and the ability to pull down tough catches. Let’s not run around like chickens with our heads cut off here just yet, he’s just a camp name to keep tabs on at this point.
Despite some hype to start camp, tight end Jordan Cameron has been average at best. Rookie Leonte Carroo has been starting with DeVante Parker out (hamstring). Arian Foster is ramping up and is the RB1.
If you’re looking for a flier in the teen rounds, might consider tight end Martellus Bennett. The tight end looks to be a fixture on the offense in two-tight end sets, also known as “12 personnel set” (one back, two tight ends) . This wouldn’t be noteworthy if not for the fact that this year the two tight end set could be the Pats standard offensive set. As for the running back pecking order, while it’s anyone’s guess as to how it will pan out, James White looks to be on the outside looking in. Receiver Aaron Dobson is, again, having a great camp. He just never shows up on game day. Rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell got off to a slow start in camp but is coming on. Looks like it’s safe to cut Nate Washington who is fighting chemistry with Tom Brady in addition to poor conditioning. He’s been a rarity on the field in between disappointing days.
All the buzz surrounds rookie receiver Michael Thomas who is said to be “easily the best player in camp so far”. Hard to improve on that. Normally this wouldn’t excite me but with Drew Brees at the helm and Colston gone, there’s a lot of fire beneath the smoke. I didn’t like the reports of Thomas’ sleepy demeanor coming out of the draft, but he’s showing up in camp and that is all that matters at this point.
New York Giants
Talk this week was that Rashad Jennings would be getting the bulk of the carries this season. Rookie Sterling Shepard appears to be a rookie on the rise … or, better put, meeting his first round fantasy expectation. Each day it seems more praise is being heaped upong Shepard while the air continues to come out of the Victor Cruz balloon. Will Tye has been everywhere on the field, both in pass catching and positionally. As a Swiss army knife type of receiver, he’s got an early lead on a starting role. Rookie back Paul Perkins has yet to separate from a half dozen backs in camp but has shown ability to break off a long run.
New York Jets
The big news out of camp is that it’s said that Matt Forte’ and Bilal Powell will likely share an even number of touches. That’s not what Forte’ owners want to hear but it makes sense. Powell was very productive behind Chris Ivory in 2015. Tight end Jace Amaro has been working hard and word is that he’ll be the TE1 in the offense
While rookie runner DeAndre Washington has showed up in running drills, he’s struggling in pass protection. Washington has shown ability out of the backfield in the passing game as well. If you haven’t heard of running back Jalen Richard, put him on your watch list. Most are focused on Washington but Richard has been looking ‘quick’. Quarterback and rookie Connor Cook has struggled. Oakland brass have been vocal in wanting second-year tight end Clive Walford to be the starter but Mychal Rivera has outplayed him thus far.
IDP Alert: Ben Heeney looks like he’ll be in the middle at linebacker this year. Many have Oakland playing a 3-4 base but it appears as though they’ll be running a 4-3. Might want to pick him up now!
Colin Kaepernick has taken a lead in the quarterback battle though both he and Blaine Gabbert are splitting reps. Knowing Chip Kelly’s proclivity to use speed in his offense to create space, I just can’t project Gabbert as the starter. CK just has too much dynamic to sit, expect him to win the job. That said, today he threw two interceptions completed 10-of-27 throws today. Tight end Vance McDonald is separating himself for the starting gig according to one report, while others favor Garrett Celek. Their receiver corps. remains a mess and I’ve heard fantasy ‘experts’ getting excited about Torrey Smith. Don’t get caught up in that. For what it’s worth, Quinton Patton is the early favorite to be the starter across from Smith.
C.J. Prosise will be sidelined for a spell with a hamstring, giving plenty of reps to fellow rookies Alex Collins (a personal favorite of mine) and Zac Brooks. The latter is said to be looking impressive as both a runner and a receiver.
Time to add Cameron Brate, tight end, to your roster right now. Brate has been showing in camp and is clearly running ahead of Austin Seferian-Jenkins thus far. ASJ has been in the doghouse and it seems that there he may stay. In this offense, the tight end could be a high target position. At WR3, Adam Humphries has been installed into the slot. This is obviously not what Kenny Bell fans want to hear, who is fighting for one or two remaining spots, likely one. Bell was a hot add in between the draft and camp.
Those of you picking up receiver Tajae Sharpe late in your rookie draft have to be feeling pretty good. The good looking rookie continues to draw praise while Justin Hunter, Kendall Wright and Dorial Green-Beckham are fighting consistency. Sharpe continues to turn heads and has an inside track for a starting role. In fact, he’s leading the group.
Much hyped Keith Marshall is falling behind and in a fight to stick on the 53, seems like a long shot. He was often seen going off the board early in the second round of some rookie drafts. This really appears to be the year of Matt Jones. Rookie Josh Doctson would miss two weeks (Achilles) and is in a precautionary walking boot.
Thanks for reading and I hope I have given you a few names to check out!
Follow me on Twitter: @DLF_Jeff
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