Training camp is upon us and the NFL beat writers are heating up the twitter sphere with news. This article is an attempt to cut through the noise and figure out what if anything is most important. One vital component that needs to be pointed out is that we should never be relying on beat reporters, or on-lookers to evaluate the actual talent, or what is happening during practice. Writers do just that for a living, write. A few examples of opinions/misconceptions coming into play that were grossly misguided I’ve already seen in week 1:
- A video of David Montgomery breaking tackles on the way to the end zone. A caption to the tune of “David Montgomery is incredibly tough to tackle.” It was later stated that this was not a live tackling session and players just touching Montgomery.
- Miles Sanders spinning at the line of scrimmage with a caption reading “Miles Sanders has a spin move.” Sanders was stopped behind the point in which he spun. He lost yardage.
- A montage of Kyler Murray slinging the ball around in an 11 v 11 session showing only completions… A beat writer later stated that Murray looked significantly less crisp on the day… Which was it?
The point is to be weary of opinion-based analysis by writers and on-lookers!
Below are some camp stories with significance to me from Week 1 – ending Monday 7/29. I have a deadline you animals!
“There were at least a handful of instances when Conner and Jaylen Samuels were on the field at the same time. At least once they were lined up in the backfield together. Two things have become apparent: Samuels is going to be a significant part of the offense this year, and it’s likely not going to be in the backfield where he will be asked to pick up blitzes and rushing linebackers.” – The Athletic (subscription required)
Currently, James Conner is my #6 overall player. This snippet further cements his workload and helps clarify his comments from the offseason about multiple backs involvement in the offense. The Steelers finding creative ways to get Jaylen Samuels on the field with Conner is a positive as it makes the offense more multiple. Don’t miss that blocking component! If you can’t pass protect it’s difficult to siphon snaps.
Antonio Callaway is playing on the second team
This isn’t so shocking after seeing Antonio Callaway continuously drop passes and make mental errors last season. It is noteworthy. Not just to make Rashard Higgins a last round best ball consideration, but for the realization that the target share might be more centralized than we originally thought.
Robbie Anderson is being utilized in new ways – (The Athletic)
The article is vague, because many beat reporters aren’t allowed to report how players are utilized in non-open practices, but it notes that Robby Anderson is succeeding in practice on more than just go routes. This was not the case in the past. It feels like Anderson is a forgotten upside wide receiver. He is being passed in ADP by Chris Godwin, DJ Moore, and Mike Williams, but Anderson was a WR1 for the last 5 weeks of the 2018 season. It takes time for rookie quarterbacks to gain confidence in using the deep ball, and it is one of the primary reasons for the second-year jump. If Sam Darnold and Anderson can connect on the deep ball like the last half of 2018, and Adam Gase utilizes Anderson on multiple levels he is being significantly under drafted right now.
AJ Green goes down
Not optimal for a now 31 year old wide receiver to go down with injury. Happy Birthday AJ! There are reports that A.J. Green could be back for week 1 but I wouldn’t bank on it. Green’s ADP will fall, but this has the feeling of a mess you don’t want to be a part of. Sprained ankles are fickle injuries and it only takes one movement to re-aggravate. My recommendation is to avoid unless Green falls into the 6th round and you are extremely willing to take on upside. Additionally, this will affect Tyler Boyd’s target share. There has been a lot of talk about Boyd being better with Green in the lineup, but that isn’t necessarily true as Andy Dalton was injured for a significant portion of those games. The fact of the matter is we were drafting AJ Green around the middle of round 3 prior to the injury. Boyd is already at the end of round 5, which is a solid spot. If it rises to late 4th, or early 5th he just doesn’t have the same floor/ceiling combination as Robert Woods, Chris Godwin, and Tyler Lockett.
Theo Riddick gets cut
Many are focused in on the revised workload this creates for Kerryon Johnson, and it absolutely does. I think he is a slam dunk end of the 2nd round pick at this point and only slightly prefer Aaron Jones. However, don’t forget about CJ Anderson in best ball drafts. He is going in the 14th round, and is going to get a ton of work, and some goal line looks. It will be impossible to predict in redraft leagues, but if the computer is going to set the optimal roster for you he could end up being incredibly useful.
My favorite situation of the week, because both players involved could become useful. Kalen Ballage is taking the goal line and 1st team offensive snaps in the 1st week of camp. Ballage is a 12th round pick right now. If he gets half of the snaps, plus the goal line work he will no doubt pay off that draft price. That said, on a week-to-week basis he is not going to be dependable. The likelihood of negative game scripts, and of the Dolphins not seeing goal line looks in 2019 is strong. He is a decent pick in either best ball, or re-draft for depth, but be conscious of the scenario you are putting yourself in. Most importantly, this is going to create potential to buy the dip on Kenyan Drake. It is possible that the new coaching staff is ultimately getting a look at the talent on the roster by trying out Ballage, and they already know what they have with Drake. The likelihood of negative scripts makes Drake a great 6th round pick. He will remain efficient, and explosive.
The Giants Wide Receiver corps is a corpse
Corey Coleman tore his ACL. Sterling Shephard broke a thumb. Golden Tate is suspended for 4 games. This might make some drafters panic on Saquon Barkley. Don’t! This is elevating his floor. The limited options have made the likelihood of Saquan going under 100 total yards, 6 receptions almost impossible. David Johnson finished 2018 as the RB9 with a less talented line, and arguably a less talented quarterback. They also didn’t throw the ball to Johnson (50 receptions total). Saquan can tack on another 30 points just in receptions. He has the highest floor per week in fantasy football. Evan Engram is another conversation as his efficiency is going to plummet if he is facing bracket coverage on a play by play basis. Though, he may lead the league in tight end targets, and is a freak athlete. His ADP likely remain in a good spot.