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 who find their way to a 53-man roster and onto game-day fields. And each year, those coaches who 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” who 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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Unfortunately, the dominating news leaking out of Atlanta was the visit of wrestler Ric Flair. Woooooo!
Beyond Flair’s presence, don’t sleep on the WR2 battle. Most have penciled in Mohamed Sanu across for Julio Jones but it seems that he’s running neck and neck with Justin Hardy. Hardy has been showing well and making tough catches. He’s worth a flier. Keep an eye on little-known veteran Aldrick Robinson at receiver as well.
For you IDP’ers, you certainly are aware that linebacker rookie Reggie Ragland will miss the season with an ACL.
On another note, Reggie Bush is looking good. The real star has been Marquise Goodwin who has been catching everything in sight and using his speed to separate. While this has been a positive development at receiver, their offensive coordinator said, “nobody’s really separated themselves yet.” So don’t read too much into anything coming out of Buffalo just yet. Blake Annen is staking trying to make a move as a possible backup tight end behind Charles Clay. With Clay’s ongoing injury issues, keep this name in the back of your little black book.
Looking at early roster projections, Mike Gillislee is projected ahead of Reggie Bush as LeSean McCoy’s backup. Receiver Greg Salas projects as no more than the WR4, fighting the aforementioned Goodwin for the WR3 role.
The most entertaining story coming out of Chicago is that of Jay Cutler calling the Bears “a dumb team” due to the number of fights thus far in camp. IDP’ers keep an eye on Danny Trevathan who projects as an immediate starter on the inside at linebacker.
Jeremy Langford faces no immediate threat from rookie back Jordan Howard. It’s said Howard will take on short yardage and some third down duty until he’s proven himself. Rookie receiver Daniel Braverman continues to look great in camp and could excel out of the slot. Tap the breaks just a bit on sophomore Kevin White. He’s a “work in progress” even though he’s been showing well thus far in camp. The coaching staff said he needs to be more consistent.
Robert Griffin III is your starter. No shocker there.
Receiver Terrelle Pryor continues to show well and is making a play for the WR2 role across from Corey Coleman. When Josh Gordon returns, Pryor will have to take a back seat. Regardless, I wouldn’t be rushing out to get Pryor.
Rookie quarterback Dak Prescott has strung together good practices and has looked sharp. Despite this, the Cowboys are expected to sign a veteran to backup veteran Tony Romo. Should Prescott continue to perform however, they could elect to roll with the rookie. In the battle for the WR2 role between Terrance Williams and Brice Butler, it seems Williams is still firmly in control. He’s been working on catching away from his body and has been quietly having a great camp. With Dez Bryant back, look for his production to increase. He’s been solid in his first three years but receives little credit. He does need to step up in 2016. We’ll see.
Mark Sanchez will be starting the first quarter in Thursday’s preseason game and checking the stats as it unfolds, he’s 10-13, 99 yards and a touchdown. Trevor Siemian will be starting the second half. This is a battle to watch.
Not a lot to watch in camp and news has been centered on the quarterback battle, but Devontae Booker is looking “as advertised.” I expect him to easily overtake Ronnie Hillman for carries behind C.J. Anderson. At receiver, Bennie Fowler and Cody Latimer are both having good camps and appear to be battling for WR3/WR4.
I’m not going to bore you with a veteran player dropping a few balls in camp, it just doesn’t matter. What does matter is that new receiver Marvin Jones has emerged as the new WR1 in the offense following the departure of Calvin Johnson. As a long time supporter of Jones, I couldn’t be happier about this. Also as a long time owner of Marvin Jones, let me be the first to say that I don’t necessarily believe that will translate into the regular season. Many are projecting Jones to eclipse 1,000 yards and 75 receptions. This may be true but I’m unsure if Jones possesses the separation skills as a WR1, perhaps better positioned as a WR2 across from a true WR1 receiver. But, I love Jones’ athletic ability and upside, own him in probably 50% of my leagues and am pulling for him.
I’m also starting to divest myself of rookie running back Dwayne Washington. I am trying to hang on through the first couple of preseason games but he hasn’t shown on the field and he’s looking like a long shot for even the practice squad. There are better opportunities elsewhere.
The talk of the receivers has been rookie Tyreek Hill. The 5’10″/185 lbs. speedster drafted for special teams has been a standout off the line of scrimmage as a receiver. He’s smaller and needs to be schemed but he can blaze and has generated a LOT of buzz.
Stefon Diggs has had a good camp and is catching everything in sight. The real story is who will win the WR2 role. At this point, Charles Johnson is ahead of rookie Laquon Treadwell. For how long? I’ll give it four games.
Rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell looks to have just suffered a bad elbow injury. It was a bit gruesome and was certainly a dislocation. As long as there’s not significant ligament damage, expect a 3-6 week time frame for return.
Everything is a mess here and there isn’t a lot of intrigue other than the likelihood that both Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett will be on the field at the same time a lot. At running back, it’s just a crap shoot until the regular season begins and, even then, it’s a crap shoot week-to-week. My recommendation is to let others roll the dice.
New York Giants
All eyes are on OBJ and rookie receiver Sterling Shepard, but many are eyeing the running back battle as well. Veteran Rashad Jennings is the clear RB1 and the hope has been that rookie Paul Perkins would show early and compete for carries. At this juncture, Andre Williams continues to run ahead of Perkins while Shane Vereen will most certainly earn third down work. It appears as though Perkins will play sparingly in ’16.
Perhaps the biggest news this week surrounds new tight end Ladarius Green. Green is still suffering from headaches and the “R” word has been mentioned. Should Green actually choose to retire if they don’t subside, second year player Jesse James stands to vault into the starting lineup. It’s time to add James now if he’s available. Sammie Coates continues to develop and should lock up the WR3 role as long as he’s consistent. Behind the recently upgraded Markus Wheaton, Coates has real upside.
Last week it seemed that the Colin Kaepernick may be in the lead at quarterback, this week comes the news that Blaine Gabbert is said to be the overwhelming favorite. Who knows!?! Neither has looked particularly sharp for long periods of time but have had their days. Receiver Bruce Ellington has been productive but things appear to be wide open at the position. Keep an eye on receiver Devon Cajuste who seems to drop a couple of big plays each day.
Melvin Gordon hasn’t looked great thus far in camp and it’s a concern depending on who you believe. Others have said he has flashed on occasion.
Rookie receiver Kenny Lawler has displayed both leaping ability and great hands. Even E.Z. Nwachukwu has shined early, showing Odell Beckham-like one-handed ability. Let’s not get too carried away here but the Seahawks are anything but settled at receiver and it’s a camp to stay abreast of. In the running game, rookie C.J. Prosise continues to “fall behind” while Christine Michael and Alex Collins continue to get reps, although Collins himself was down for a couple days with an ankle. Nearly forgotten tight end Jimmy Graham continues to progress and there’s optimism about his week one availability.
Dorial Green-Beckham continues to be hampered by inconsistent play and isn’t developing as quickly as the coaching staff hoped he would. For dynasty owners hoping for big things early in his career, the situation is getting a bit murky. He has the size, speed and athleticism to be a freak in the NFL and the concerns were far more about his mental make-up. Could it be these concerns were spot on and he may never emerge? It’s possible, though he should get another two years while we hope for signs of progress.
See you next week, enjoy the games as preseason is finally here!
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You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff