Fantasy Football: NFL Training Camp Round-Up

Jordan Cohn
July 24, 2019 - 2:28 pm

Training camps are underway, and here is a weekly dose of the top storylines around the NFL, sorted by how much they can impact your fantasy league and draft approach.

CONCERNING

Todd Gurley “Ready To Go” According to HC Sean McVay

Sean McVay told late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel that Gurley is “feeling great” despite a lack of any detail.

Fantasy Fallout: We still haven’t gotten an actually reassuring update on Gurley’s progress, and so drafting him comes with more risk than perhaps any other player. Darrell Henderson is a crucial handcuff, and drafting him solo in the fifth or sixth round isn’t an unpopular move at this point. This scenario is the precise reason that drafts should occur in late August or early September. Drafting Gurley right now is nearly a toss-up.

Buffalo Bills Running Back Situation Still Uncertain

LeSean McCoy should be “done” in Buffalo, says CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson, as he believes “there’s no reason to keep Shady around.” Backup RB Frank Gore was placed on the non-football injury list, per reports from the Associated Press.

Fantasy Fallout: Buffalo is a team that is full of fantasy red flags heading into the season. Josh Allen may be the only worthwhile pick, as the offensive line struggled continually last season, there aren’t any trustworthy receivers on a weekly basis, and the already-muddy running back situation got even worse this week. McCoy had an unimpressive year last season and there is a ton of speculation that he could be traded or cut. Gore, at 36, doesn’t offer much promise and the injury only makes that worse. The only interesting scenario is if, at the start of the season, both McCoy and Gore are out of the equation, leaving a void for rookie RB Devin Singletary. All in all, steer clear of the Bills.

KEEP AN EYE ON

RB Phillip Lindsay Showcasing Strong Return from Wrist Injury

Lindsay reportedly showed off his burst and cutting ability on numerous plays, according to Broncos reporter Andrew Mason.

Fantasy Fallout: Lindsay was perhaps the biggest surprise in fantasy this past season, finishing as the No. 12 RB in standard scoring (via Fantasy Pros). A broken wrist forced him to miss the final game of last season, but the first day of camp provided an encouraging sight for a Broncos coaching staff that looked to ease him in and get him back up to speed. A defensively-oriented team like Denver is a situation that Lindsay can thrive in, but the Broncos haven’t made it clear that he’s the starter over Royce Freeman yet. If they do, draft Lindsay confidently as a reliable RB2.

Melvin Gordon Follows Through on Threat to Hold Out, Chargers Stand Strong

Yahoo’s Charles Robinson reported that the Chargers aren’t budging on Gordon’s holdout, and Gordon has discussed requesting a trade.

Fantasy Fallout: The Chargers present a great offensive line and overall game flow for running backs, so should Gordon continue to hold out and perhaps even move teams, both Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson would become fantasy-relevant running backs. Ekeler figures to be the main back, as he clearly claimed the most touches in the two games last season where Jackson and Ekeler replaced an injured Gordon. Ekeler’s value is boosted in PPR leagues as well. Jackson should see low double-digit carries if him and Ekeler split the show, but could ultimately be touchdown-dependent. Most importantly, Gordon is an extremely risky pick until this is figured out because, although it would work against him, he could miss some games (think back to Le’Veon Bell last season.)

Sony Michel, Demaryius Thomas Among Patriots on PUP List

ESPN’s Field Yates reported that both RB Sony Michel and WR Demaryius Thomas will begin training camp on the PUP list.

Fantasy Fallout: Sony Michel is obviously the more important name here in terms of fantasy relevance. The second-year running back enjoyed a terrific rookie season, capturing the lead role early on in the ever-changing New England backfield. While he didn’t meet his goal to start training camp, he had been showing encouraging progress beforehand, running at full speed in late June (per Michael Giardi). The Pats have a crowded backfield, however, and they may not rush Michel back if he’s not ready. It’s a toss-up as to who would receive the most work in his absence, but James White is the safest option due to his receiving ability, followed by Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead. Demaryius Thomas should not be drafted regardless of his health.

Cooper Kupp Fully Cleared to Start Training Camp

NFL Network’s Steve Wyche reports that Kupp (ACL) will avoid the PUP list to open camp, but that “his work load will be measured.”

Fantasy Fallout: This is encouraging news considering the severity of Kupp’s injury, and he should continue to find ways to receive a good target share despite the crowded LA offense. Kupp was on pace for nine or ten touchdowns last season, and a 1,000 yard, 10-TD season isn’t out of the picture for any of him, Brandin Cooks, or Robert Woods. However, if he’s eased back into the offense, his reps may be down early in the season. Still, you can draft Kupp as a high-end flex or low-end WR2 option with confidence.

Duke Johnson to Report to Browns Camp

Despite trade requests, Duke Johnson is still expected to show up to training camp, according to Ian Rapoport.

Fantasy Fallout: It makes sense for Johnson to want out in Cleveland despite the powerful offense. His role will almost certainly diminish with the additions of Odell Beckham Jr. and (eventually) Kareem Hunt. He’s a versatile player that could benefit several teams as a change-of-pace running back with elite receiving skills. Keep an eye on where he might end up, as this will dictate his usage and overall value. If he does stay with Cleveland, he still figures to stay involved throughout the first half of the season before Hunt’s return.

Expert Weighs in on San Francisco RB Situation

Matt Barrows of The Athletic says that Coleman should assume the bulk of the running back responsibilities despite the presence of Matt Breida and Jerick McKinnon.

Fantasy Fallout: There is no official report to back up this thought, but a lead role in San Francisco for such a dual-threat back would be intriguing for fantasy. Both Breida and McKinnon were good running backs and make the 49ers’ backfield as crowded as any. It’s hard to trust anyone in San Fran until the situation becomes clearer, but it wouldn’t come as a surprise if all three guys saw decent shares of action throughout the year, making it tough to invest in just one of them.