The first NFL training camps are beginning in two and a half weeks and there are going to be a lot of position battles to watch. If you’re drafting at this point in the summer you can find value if you want to gamble a little bit. There will always be cases where running backs will supplant a starter from the previous season in training camp and we will certainly get to that, but there are also battles at other positions. If there is a battle at quarterback, that affects all of the other positions for that team and therefore the rankings. If there are position battles at the wide receiver position, that will affect snap counts and where receivers line up and that affects targets and match ups. I see a few position battles that can affect the landscape of the fantasy season.
At the quarterback position, it looks like Ryan Fitzpatrick is getting the better of Josh Rosen by all accounts. This is actually a very good thing for fantasy. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a gun slinger. We all remember the peak games in Tampa that Fitzpatrick had last season. Those highs are definitely a possibility in 2019. The great thing is that Devonte Parker, Albert Wilson, and Kenny Stills are all very cheap. So while you definitely don’t want to bank your fantasy season on the success of Fitzpatrick, grabbing one of his receivers in the later rounds could definitely beneficial.
The Dolphins also have two pretty good running backs. Kalen Ballage and Kenyan Drake both had flashes of brilliance last year. The problem was, Adam Gase is very bad for the running back position. Also it doesn’t help that the dinosaur Frank Gore kept taking vulturing a big chunk of the work load. With Gase no longer at the helm, I believe that Ballage and Drake can both out-earn their draft day price. I think that Drake will begin the season with the bigger share of the touches in Miami, but if Ballage is able to produce when given the opportunity, he could be this season’s Nick Chubb.
Tampa Bay Running Backs
Ronald Jones II was a disaster last year. He wasn’t able to get any momentum going. Peyton Barber and his 3.7 ypc wasn’t that much more productive. But, Barber was able to string together just enough games from October to the end of the season for Jones to never really string together consecutive series and gain any momentum. These guys both could be values. But the way that this offense operates, it will be one or the other. So far, reports from Tampa have been promising for Jones. In the drafts that I have been partaking in, he’s been sliding into the top 100 and that’s a little expensive considering the way that he performed last season. Peyton Barber is going a few rounds after Jones and has actually been productive in NFL games. I’m not recommending drafting Peyton Barber, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he sees the majority of the carries at the beginning of the season.
Chicago Bears Backfield
This is one of the most interesting backfields for the purpose of fantasy football. Tarik Cohen has etched himself a unique role as a pass catching back that can also carry the ball when the Bears want a change of pace. Jordan Howard was traded in the off season for a 6th round draft pick to the Philadelphia Eagles leaving 250 carries up in the air. I mean, there may not be EXACTLY 250 carries up for grabs but Mitch Trubisky isn’t a good quarterback and the Bears defense should still be able to get off of the field quickly a lot of the time even if there is some regression there.
The Bears signed a running back that I really like while also drafting my favorite running back from the NFL draft. The Bears signed Mike Davis had a really good season in Seattle in 2018 because of an injury-riddled backfield after starting as the 3rd-4th stringer. Basically, Davis went from the roster chopping block to a back with over 700 all-purpose yards on 4.6 yards per carry and a handful of touchdowns. I really think that he could succed in Chicago.
Then there is David Montgomery. What a value the Bears got in the draft. Montgomery is an all purpose back from Iowa State that averaged 4.6 yards per carry and a touchdown per game in the 2018 college season. Montgomery’s stat line in college may make him seem like a 3 down ground and pound type of back that has to split snaps with the dynamic Cohen. Actually, reports from Chicago during OTAs suggest that Montgomery has a talent for catching the ball as well. So what is Chicago going to do with three running backs that all deserve a lot of touches? Cohen’s role isn’t going to change in the passing game but I can see him lining up more and more in the slot. While I believe that Mike Davis is a dependable running back, I don’t view him as being as talented as David Montgomery. I don’t think that Mongomery will touch the ball as much as Jordan Howard did in 2018 with Mike Davis in the mix, but I believe that Montgomery is the Bear’s running back to own for early down and red zone situations. I project that 5th or 6th round draft pick for David Montgomery isn’t the worst price of a pick in fantasy drafts. While touching the ball over 200 times in 2019 seems like a stretch for the rookie, there isn’t much of a reason to believe that Montgomery won’t live up to the hype. I don’t think that the Bears would draft a running back in the 3rd round if they didn’t have a game plan for that backfield. Signing Davis was absolutely the correct move for the Bears. After all, injuries happen all of the time at the running back position. That doesn’t mean that the Bears have to give him a bunch of carries if Montgomery lives up to him billing.