Training Camp is back and so is fantasy football. Whether you’re already starting to prep or if you are planning on winging it at the last minute, the season will be here before you know it. With just 5 weeks until the start of the season, stay ahead of the game and up to date with our Thursday Training Camp series that will continue through the preseason!
Names to Watch
Elijah Moore – Moore has been one of the bigger names that is being thrown around since camp has started. It doesn’t take much, but he is emerging as the most exciting Jet on the field to this point. Zach Wilson and Elijah Moore seem to have great chemistry, so don’t be surprised if Moore emerges as the WR1 this season. Moore comes in as 54 on our overall rankings and as a solid 5th rounder and could turn into a solid discount buy.
Bryan Edwards – Edwards has been receiving many Terrell Owens type comparisons thus far in camp and seems to be taking over as a starter for the Raiders. This could just be preseason hype, but all roads point to Edwards being the top receiving threat over fellow Sophomore Henry Ruggs.
Deshaun Watson – there has been quite a stir this offseason involving Watson, but as of now it appears that he is slated to be the week 1 starter for the Texans. He is a must start option if he is on the field but carries too much risk to really take him too early. It could certainly pay off if you draft an elite QB in the 5th round or later, but certainly follow his situation closely before making any huge moves on Watson.
CeeDee Lamb – Lamb is my favorite breakout candidate coming into this season, and when I say breakout, I mean top 5 fantasy receiver. He had a solid rookie season but was often overshadowed by a historic season from fellow rookie Justin Jefferson. With Dak returning and a healthy Amari and Elliott helping spread the field, look for a huge season out of CeeDee. As of now, we have CeeDee as our 26th overall player and a 3rd round grade.
Darrell Henderson – Darrell Henderson has gained more than any other player this offseason thanks to Cam Akers’ missing the 2021 season. Henderson faces a make-or-break challenge this season and there is still a chance the Rams bring in a vet to add to the backfield, but as of now he is a solid late round steal. The Rams have typically ran the ball really well under McVay and a much improved passing offense should create more opportunities to score. Henderson had a tough time carving himself a consistent role in 2020 but salvaged 6 TDs and roughly 800 yards.
Javonte Williams – Williams is another name to monitor in August and was one of top-rated recruits in the 2021 NFL Draft. Williams was the third RB off the board in May but landed in one of the best situations out of the entire class. The Broncos have built up an extremely solid offensive line and Williams faces just Melvin Gordon when it comes to playing time. When other players in your league are reaching on 30-year-old running backs, don’t be afraid to take a shot on the young buck in the 5th or 6th round.
Brandin Cooks – Cooks’ success is largely impacted by Deshaun Watson’s availability, so he is a training camp name to monitor. He isn’t the flashiest draft pick, but he has been an extremely consistent fantasy option throughout his career. Since 2015, Cooks has finished as a top 15 PPR receiver in all but one season (2019) and played in 93 out of the 96 games in that period. With both Cobb and Fuller gone, look for Cooks to be near the top of the league in targets (has averaged over 100 targets per season throughout his career). If you are looking for a solid flex and Cooks is on the board, take a shot.
Sam Darnold – All news out of Panthers’ camp is that Darnold is looking sharp and seizing his opportunity for an NFL reset. The Panther offense is extremely QB friendly and even had Teddy Bridgewater and Kyle Allen looking like All-Pros at times. If you need a cheap QB or want some insurance for someone like Watson then roll the dice on Darnold.
Laviska Sheneault, Jr. – Trevor Lawrence inevitably upgrades the Jags offense and Sheaneault could certainly become the breakout guy on the receiving front. Follow Jags camp closely…if he is a week 1 starter then he is worth a pick in the top 10 rounds.
Sterling Shepard – Kadarious Toney has been a bit unimpressive this camp, but Shepard is all but guaranteed to start the season in the slot. Shepard was solid as a rookie and seemed to be much more comfortable than on the outside, so a return to his natural spot could also turn around his career.
Injuries to Watch
Dak Prescott – Prescott is coming off a severe ankle injury but has looked great at camp. He has been sidelined lately due to a sore shoulder, but that is nothing to worry about. Coming off such a tough injury has bumped his draft stock down a bit, but if he falls in your draft don’t be afraid to take him as early as the 5th round.
Julio Jones – Julio has no doubt been elite throughout his career, but lately has faced nagging injuries that have deteriorated his draft stock. He landed awkwardly this week and has been sidelined for a leg injury since Monday, but it is likely just a sign of caution from his new team. Julio is a 5th round pick for us due to the injury risk and being across the field from one of the best young talents in the league, A.J. Brown.
Kenny Golladay – Kenny G. is certainly a huge addition to the Giant’s offense but is already sidelined with a hamstring injury. These injuries are tricky, especially for a receiver and the team will certainly not rush back their newest asset. If he is slated to miss time in the early season don’t be afraid to pick him higher than his ADP.
Carson Wentz – Wentz already finds himself in a tough decision as he is slated to miss at least 5 weeks with a foot injury. For such a mobile quarterback who has faced his fair share of injuries, be cautious when selecting Wentz as your QB1. In the meantime, look for Jacob Eason to lead the offense.
Odell Beckham, Jr. – OBJ looks to pick up where he left off when he tore his ACL last season. He has struggled to get back to his potential since joining the Browns but could bounce back to being a solid flex option in 2021.
Courtland Sutton – Sutton is another victim of a 2020 ACL tear, but was just starting to hit his potential before his injury. The 25-year-old finished the 2019 season as the 19th overall receiver, which is just a glimpse at what could have been last season. Buy low on Sutton while you can.
DeVonta Smith – DeVonta Smith truthers are now feeling the pain following an early camp knee injury, however, it likely has nothing to do with his size or durability. We still don’t know the severity of the injury, so follow along closely if you want to take a shot on the Heisman Receiver.
Saquon Barkley – Barkley is coming off an early 2020 ACL tear, but seems to be progressing well. There is still a high chance that he is the team’s week 1 starter but has not fully been cleared for practice. Barkley is our 2nd overall player but could be bumped down if it looks like he is going to miss much time.
QB Battles – There are a handful of QB competitions that likely won’t have a huge fantasy impact but are worth monitoring. Jimmy G. appears to be keeping his job locked down, but Trey Lance is applying a lot of pressure with a strong camp. Cam Newton and Mac Jones in New England and Justin Fields and Andy Dalton are two solid competitions where the rookies seem to really be gaining steam on the vets. Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence are likely to start week 1. Possibly the most competitive battle at this point of training camp is in Denver between Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock, however, neither are likely to be high scoring fantasy players.
WR Battles – at this point, there are receivers who are certainly dueling for spots both on the roster and on the field. Teams like Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia and the New York Jets seem to have completely open battles where the depth chart is wide open. Another interesting team to watch is the Carolina Panthers, who have had rookie’s Terrace Marshall, Jr. and Shi Smith have tremendous camps.
RB Battles – As mentioned above, Javonte Williams is a great name to watch as he will compete with Melvin Gordon III for playing time. The Falcons have a revamped backfield that will likely be led by vet Mike Davis, but don’t sleep on Quadree Ollison who has looked great thus far. The Jets also are in an interesting scenario, but Tevin Coleman has been a solid vet and familiar with some of the new staff. If Saquon missed time, Davontae Booker will likely assume the job as the bell cow, so if you could land him in the later rounds he would be a great plug and play flex.
Potential Breakout – I’ll leave you with one last name to remember. Russell Gage could be in for a massive breakout and currently sits as our 61st rated player overall. The 25-year-old finished with 72 receptions for 786 yards and 4 TDs in 2020 as the team’s third option, but now emerges as the number two guy who should rotate in and out of the slot. Look for a huge season out of Gage.