And just like that….BAM!!!! The fantasy football season is upon us. I suppose it’s the massive amount of fantasy baseball coverage that I do that keeps me from realizing that I have to start diverting some of my attention to the NFL preseason and the pre-draft work for fantasy football, so it’s a good thing I’ve got Jeff Mans guiding me along and hitting me with a pleasant reminder that those who are gearing up for their fantasy football drafts might be in more need of my services than those who are currently wrapping up their fantasy baseball year. So with that, it’s time to get things going over here at Fantasy Alarm’s In the Trenches blog and start looking at all the happenings of the NFL preseason.
With your drafts coming up, we’ve got a ton of ground to cover. We’ll be talking about all the daily happenings in training camp, fantasy ADP trends, position battles and all the general thoughts I have regarding players and situations that should help you in your decision-making. We’ll focus on the differences in drafting for standard leagues versus PPR leagues and some thoughts on where to draft certain positions (yes, it is safe again to wait on the tight ends) in each style of league. I’ve got a number of sleepers who have caught my eye, and of course, which guys you are probably better off avoiding. Like I said, there’s a whole lot of ground to cover and very little time to do it in.
So why don’t we just jump right in and highlight a few things that have happened recently in training camp this weekend and we’ll go on from there.
For a while now the Texas have been in need of a solid wide receiver to line up opposite Andre Johnson and they seem to have finally found on in DeAndre Hopkins. He’s looked good in practices this far and this past Friday he played in his first NFL preseason game. Overall, he looked solid, hauling in a 34-yard touchdown pass and finishing the day with four catches for 52 yards. However, coach Gary Kubiak isn’t writing his name in atop the depth chart in ink just yet. He says there are still a number of things Hopkins needs to work on and he won’t give his full endorsement until he sees some growth in a number of areas, none of which he was really specific about, but blocking and selling decoy routes were certainly involved. Hopkins should still be the guy lining up opposite Johnson this season and you’ll certainly want to give him a look in the middle to later rounds.
The Steeler s held rookie running back Le’Veon Bell out of their first preseason game with what is being called general soreness in his left knee. The team is downplaying the injury and it is not considered to be serious, so you can expect Bell to still be the top dog in the backfield for the next game and, should he continue his current path, Week 1 of the regular season as well. Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer will serve as back-up/complementary backs this season.
Though Geno Smith left Friday’s game with an ankle injury, he was already back at practice Sunday and will continue to compete with Mark Sanchez for the starting quarterback job. While it would probably be best for Smith to sit on the bench and learn in his first year, there’s a sneaking suspicion that the Jets are hoping that they have a good reason to turn the job over to the rookie.
With the hope of bolstering both the quality and quantity of targets for Joe Flacco, the Ravens signed a pair of veterans over the weekend – receiver Brandon Stokley and tight end Dallas Clark. With Dennis Pitta lost for the entire year, the Ravens were going to go with Ed Dickson as their top tight end. However, a recent hamstring injury that seems to be slow on the mend has kept him on the sidelines and now Clark will compete with Visanthe Schiancoe for reps. Meanwhile, Stokley should immediately slot into the receiver competition with Tandon Ross, David Reed (groin) and Deonte Thomspson (ankle) and stands a good chance of making the squad given the injuries the Ravens receivers have seen lately.
The Jets ground game is still in need of a boost this summer as Chris Ivory still hasn’t participated in team drills yet because he is still dealing with a hamstring problem. He did do some individual drills on Sunday, but he has now missed OTA’s, June mini-camp, the first few weeks of training camp and the first preseason game. Bilal Powell has been picking up the recent slack, but they’re really going to need to get Ivory up to speed, and fast. Mike Goodson and Joe McKnight are also there, but really, in name alone.
A slight bump in value for Colts tight end Coby Fleener as Dwayne Allen is now going to be out for a few weeks with an undisclosed foot injury. It was odd to not have specifics, but should it be something that lingers, then he is going to have a tough time making it back and/or supplanting Fleener as the top tight end.
Seattle rookie Christine Michael is currently sidelined with back spasms and there’s no timetable being given for his return. The Seahawks rushing attack in said to be one of the best in the league, but currently Robert Turbin is dealing with a sore foot, Michael has the back issue and Michael Ford is pretty darn green. With any luck, the back issue is extremely minor and he’ll be back within a few days.
Rashard Mendenahll is another step closer to locking in the starting job in Arizona as Ryan Williams remains sidelined with a knee issue. Originally, the team thought that Williams would be able to dress and play in this coming Saturday’s preseason game, but that seems unlikely now. Look for Mendenhall to secure his place on the depth chart soon enough and be the Cards starting running back come Week 1.
And finally, the 49ers got a little boost in their ground game when Kendall Hunter returned to the practice field for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon last November. Frank Gore still leads the charge and LaMichael James has impressed everyone in camp thus far, so there’s certainly no need to rush Hunter right now. The team will bring him along slowly for now and continue to evaluate him on a daily basis.
I’ll be back roughly every other day to discuss all things football, so stay tuned. And, as always, if you have any specific questions, you can hit me up through email or catch me on either Twitter or Facebook. The links are below.