Training Camp Notes – Monday, August 4th
August 4, 2014 | Jeff
The NFL preseason is finally underway, so we actually have a real live football game to talk about! The Hall of Fame Game was, well, a Week 1 preseason game so the Giants and Bills starters were used sparingly. In any event, we saw a few notable items in this contest and have a full weekend of NFL training camp notes to toss around:
– The New York Giants backfield has just two fantasy relevant running backs at the moment, with David Wilson still dealing with neck issues. No, Peyton Hillis is not one of them. Rashad Jennings got the start on Sunday night against Buffalo with rookie Andre Williams getting some run as well. Jennings is being drafted far higher than Williams (4.12 vs. undrafted) in fantasy drafts right now for good reason, but Sunday’s game gave us some further evidence on how they will be used.
Jennings is the starter here, and will get the majority of the work early in the season. Just as we expected, new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s west coast offense got Jennings involved in the passing game right away as he caught three passes in limited playing time. Jennings’ pass catching skills will be the back bone of his fantasy usefulness.
Williams came in and smashed in a short touchdown run and looked great as he racked up 48 yards on seven carries. Williams won’t contribute much in the passing game, but goal line work appears to be in his future. This backfield reminds me of the old Ahmad Bradshaw/Brandon Jacobs backfields of the past. Jennings will still be very useful in fantasy leagues but may not blow up into RB1 or high RB2 levels with Williams in heavy rotation. I wouldn’t let Jennings slip past the 5th round in drafts though, as he will still see plenty of the field.
– The Bills offense didn’t provide a ton of fireworks in this game, but there were a few interesting items. The first is that Fred Jackson looks as spry as ever despite just blowing out all 74 candles on his birthday cake. The second was that Mike Williams got involved early and started at wide receiver for the Bills. Despite a lost 2013 season, keep in mind that Williams has 25 touchdowns in 54 career games and could be a moose near the goal line this season.
– For the one percent of dynasty players still holding out hope for 49ers wide receiver Jon Baldwin, you can go ahead and click the “cut” button on your roster page. Baldwin was released by San Francisco this weekend and will probably be looking for employment outside of the NFL in the future.
– Carolina rookie Kelvin Benjamin returned to practice and apparently looked every bit like the first round receiver the Panthers were looking for. According to David Newton from ESPN.com, the Panthers coaching staff is excited about the youngster. “Yes, he does,” wide receiver coach Rick Proehl said when I asked if Benjamin looked like a No. 1 receiver. “It’s obvious.” For fantasy purposes, Benjamin could easily be the top option in Carolina’s barren wasteland of wide receivers. The guy is a monstrous 6’5”, 240 pounds and would provide a mighty fine red zone option for Cam Newton. Imagine the Panthers at the goal line with Cam, Benjamin, and fat Mike Tolbert! That is a lot of beef for opposing defenses to handle. Benjamin is an afterthought in drafts right now, so keep tabs on his preseason development as we may have a late round special on our hands.
– Josh Gordon‘s appeal meeting will continue on Monday, as he attempts to get some wiggle room on his potential one year banishment for breaking Lord Goodell’s substance abuse policy. Keep all horse shoes, rabbit’s feet and Lucky Charms on deck.
– Another rookie wide receiver generating piles of buzz so far this summer is New Orleans’ Brandin Cooks. ESPN’s Mike Tripplet insists that Cooks has been the star of New Orleans’ entire camp, and has impressed everyone who has seen he rookie play. Cooks currently carries a late 8th round average draft position, and is a great target in PPR leagues. Drew Brees loves using the short passing game to move the ball and Darren Sproles’ targets and catches have moved out of town, leaving a nice chunk of work available for Cooks. Sean Payton has a knack for using unique talents like that of Cooks, so he could be a smash hit in fantasy leagues this season. If your draft hits the middle rounds, Cooks is a fine option to scoop up.
– Green Bay rookie Jared Abbrederis tore his ACL over the weekend and will miss the 2014 season. He was a long shot to see any work this season with a stacked deck of receivers already in Green Bay, but dynasty leaguers can go ahead and store him in the I.R. department and look to pick up another training camp buzz candidate before roster cuts are due.
– Fantasy lightning rod Trent Richardson told ESPN’s Mike Wells that he is more comfortable in the Indianapolis offense this season. “The comfort level is so much better now,” Richardson said. “I know the plays, and I’m not playing so tight. I’m really comfortable with the offense, and the timing with the offensive line is coming. I know all my cuts and reads before the snap.” Well, Trent, I would certainly hope this is the case as 3.0 yards per carry will not cut it in the NFL or in fantasy leagues. Richardson’s value has bottomed out, but he just turned 24 and has plenty of time to turn things around. Richardson’s 5th round ADP is probably fair, but there are other backs being drafted after him like Ben Tate, Joique Bell and Lamar Miller who I would prefer to draft instead.