Training Camp Notes – Monday, August 11th
August 11, 2014 | Jeff
Happy Monday! If your morning java isn’t quite strong enough to offset the dread of another work week beginning, then just consider the fact that we are one day closer to Week 1. That should help. Now that we are in the right mood, let’s check out a few fantasy relevant notes from NFL training camps:
– Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett’s suspension is now over as he returned to practice over the weekend. The Bears passing offense is the real deal, so it’s nice to see that one of Jay Cutler’s many targets will get back to work quickly after his incident at practice last week. Even though Bennett is the fourth passing game option behind Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Matt Forte, he still hauled in 65 catches last season and is a fine tight end target for those who wait at the position in drafts. Our preseason consensus staff ranks have Bennett 15th, which makes waiting on a tight end a great idea if you dont lock in one of the Top Four options early.
– Marshawn Lynch returned from his hold out with the Seattle Seahawks but didn’t suit up for their Week 1 preseason contest with Denver. Head coach Pete Carroll told the Seattle Times that he isn’t worried about the conditioning of his stud running back. “He doesn’t need a lot of carries, I know that. We need to get him some work. So we’ll work him a little bit throughout and we’ll see how this week goes first and we’ll make a determination. He looks great. He’s in great shape, he looks just as fit as he ever has. His weight is way down.”
Beast Mode has never gotten big usage in the preseason but Seattle loves to ride their main man during the regular season as Lynch has cracked 300+ touches in each of the last three seasons. It’s good to hear that Lynch stayed in shape during his time away from the team and I am perfectly fine with drafting Lynch after Charles, McCoy, Peterson, Forte and Lacy come off the board.
– The New Orleans Times-Picayune seems to think that Pierre Thomas is falling down the depth chart in New Orleans, stating that “…it has become apparent that Ingram and Robinson have moved ahead of Thomas, who has been listed with the third team on the unofficial depth charts. Thomas was reportedly on the trading block in the offseason before taking a pay cut to return with the Saints.”
Go ahead and file this little bit of information in the “overreaction file.” Thomas will be just fine this season as he will continue to hog targets from Drew Brees as he did last season. PT is the best pass catching back in New Orleans and that same New Orleans team targeted Thomas and Darren Sproles 166 times last season! 166! Thomas will have his hands full once again and is a great mid-round pick at his current ADP of 7.03 (per ffcalculator.com).
This does shed a little light on the fact that Mark Ingram will be more involved in New Orleans’ offense this season and he is my Saints running back of choice after Thomas is off the board. Ingram ran for 83 yards and a touchdown in New Orleans’ first preseason game and his ADP of 12.11 is very generous given his potential for piling up short yardage scores in this offense.
– Jonathan Stewart returned to practice this week after pulling a hamstring last month. This is good news for those (me) who are planning to invest in some J-Stew this fantasy season, as a few healthy game efforts would be nice to see before Week 1 rolls around. We know the Panthers love to run the rock but they also love passing to their backs as well, as Carolina’s RB1, RB2 and RB3 have averaged a total of 60 receptions a season over the last three years. Sprinkle in the fact that Stewart snagged 47 passes in his last full season and we have potential here with a very friendly late-round price tag in fantasy drafts. We will keep tabs on this fella over the next few weeks and see if he stays on the field and keeps our sleeper hopes alive.
– Here is another reason for fake footballers to feel excited when drafting Jamaal Charles early in drafts, as if you needed more. Andy Reid told the USA Today that he is “comfortable if Charles hits 320 touches for the third straight year.” Saddle up for another year of the great JC Superstar and keep the name Knile Davis handy if you like a side of handcuffing with your fantasy strategery.
– Browns safety Donte Whitner told SI’s Peter King that he “…thinks the Browns locker room’s 50-50 Hoyer/Manziel.” It sounds like Cleveland’s coaching staff is feeling the same way about their quarterback race, or are perhaps giving that notion to the public. The bottom line here is that fantasy football folks would really like to see Johnny Manziel get the nod in Week 1, as his running skills will offer a boost that Brian Hoyer doesn’t possess. This was evident in Cleveland’s first preseason game this weekend and we can only hope Johnny Football continues to play well in August and gives us yet another great late quarterback option in fantasy leagues.
If you are drafting in the next week or two, go ahead and grab Manziel late and stash him on your bench, as a few hot weeks of preseason action could turn that 12th round pick into a serious asset.