August 3rd Training Camp Fantasy Notes
August 3, 2015 | Chet
The Cincinnati Bengals and newly re-acquired Michael Johnson took an early season shot in the gut Sunday afternoon when the DE went down during a drill clutching his knee. After much speculation the leading cause seems to point at a strained MCL (via @GeoffHobsonCin) though Marvin Lewis said “From everything right now it seems like everything should be OK”. We’ll see if that was just some coach-speak. Johnson was a large part of the Bengals defense that finished 4th two seasons in a row in total fantasy points during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Last year in 2014 Cincy finished 31st (!!!) without him and were looking to turn things around, using MJ as part of their core. With Vontaze Burfict not likely to come off the PUP list any time soon, there’s not a lot of good news involving this D. Not a likely candidate for early season streaming option outside of Week 1 at Oakland.
Friday was the first time AJ Green, Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert had lined up together since a matchup against the Vikings in December of 2013. Eifert did have a clumsy fumble during Day 3 of camp but didn’t get hit hard enough to sideline him for an entire year like the last time I saw him take a hit. Jermaine Gresham was let go of in the offseason and his 79 targets/5 TDs have nowhere to go but into Tyler Eifert’s hands as he is the bonafide no.1 TE in this offense now. He should be able to pass as the TE on your fantasy team as long as he is feeling the 100% he claims to be.
Andy Dalton had the worst season of his career in 2014, tossing 3,398 yards (worst since rookie season), 19 TDs (worse than rookie season) and 17 INTs (more than rookie season). But what do you expect when you’re playing without your #2 WR, your #1 WR for what amounted to about seven games AND your #1 TE? Whether the Red Rocket makes some timely errors and awful plays in the playoffs matters not to his wide receivers’ regular season production. Andy can spread the ball around when his main studs are on the field to bail him out. In 2013 a healthy Marvin Jones and a healthy AJ Green combined for 149 receptions, 2138 yards and 21 touchdowns. Green/Jones/Eifert can all make an impact for your team, even with Mohamed Sanu and Denarius Moore nipping at their heels. In 2013 Cincy scored a TD on 71.43% of their red zone possessions, 2nd in the league only to the Denver Broncos. If this offense continues to stay healthy through camp, we could have a ferocious offense again.
The Atlanta Falcons have put together what they hope to be an effective logjam of tight ends on their roster, including incumbent Levine Toilolo, Tony Moeaki and Jacob Tamme. Judging by the two additions to the catch/blocking position, Atlanta seemingly doesn’t think too highly of Toilolololo and are probably hoping for one of the new guys to take over most of the snaps. Tamme is 3 years removed from a 52-555-2 performance in the ’12 season for Denver and has had two miserable seasons since then. He could very well turn into a big (6’-4”, 234) red zone target, especially if Roddy White continues his ailing ways. I could envision him sneaking his way into Bye Week plug-in territory or cheapie DFS buy-lows. The oft-injured Moeaki has 88 receptions in 37 career games so for fantasy purposes this is not the guy we want starting for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. Unless of course we have one of their running backs, as Tony was once a great run blocker; scoring a fantastic +19.8 run blocking grade via Pro Football Focus’ metric in his rookie season of 2010.
The RB corp is more than likely going to turn into the dreaded RBBC, headed by 2nd year man Devonta Freeman and rook Tevin Coleman who was drafted in the third round of the draft out of Indiana University. In case you had any hopes that the Falcons were going to let Devonta have all the fun; the first three days of camp have started a pattern of 1st-team reps that has went like this: Freeman-Coleman-Freeman. The two runners are actually penciled in at the exact same weight (206) but Devonta looks more like MJD at 5’8” while Coleman carries his weight a little different at 5’11”. No matter how much we close our eyes and squint there is practically no way we’re going to see Atlanta turn either of them into a bellcow. The upside play here is most assuredly Freeman who has some pretty decent hands and should add a bit of a boost to PPR leagues; he caught 30 passes last year with Steven Jackson catching 20 of them himself. That number of 30 could possibly double if he continues to break ankles after the catch as he was seen doing in Sunday’s camp.
Per Zach Berman of Philly.com, Sam Bradford is at full health and practiced without limitation in the Philadelphia Eagles’ first training camp practice Sunday. Bradford has removed his bulky left knee brace and seemed comfortable moving around with his rubber brace. Health has always seemed to be an issue for the 27 year old QB, his last full season was 2012 when he tossed for 3702 yards and 21 TDs to a receiving class of nobodies. He ranked 16th in fantasy points that year, or, a great QB2 and a decent streaming option.
Mark Sanchez and Nick Foles combined for a whopping 4,581 yards and 27 scores in 2014 which should give you an idea of what Bradford could do if he had the best season of his career. He’ll have to try to reach those numbers without the help of the Eagles best WR, Jeremy Maclin, who took his 143 targets, 1318 yards and 10 scores to Kansas City in the offseason. It will be interesting to see if Nelson Agholor can fill the shoes for maybe even 100 of those targets and maybe more importantly; can Sam Bradford throw the ball far enough to get Agholor some yardage. Through 7 games in 2013 Sam had an aDOT (average depth of target) of 7.1 yards, good enough (bad enough) for 3rd worst in the NFL.