2014 NFL Training Camp Report: August 24th
Jeff Mans takes a look around NFL training camp 2014 and picks out all of the fantasy relevant information you need to stay ahead of the competition
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Well That Changes Things
Since early June I have been touting my prediction to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl as the St. Louis Rams. I love the additions of Gregg Williams as their defensive coordinator, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and left guard Greg Robinson. There isn’t a team in the NFL that is built better up front on both sides of the ball than the Rams. I also am excited to see what they can do now that they have a full season of running the offense they were meant to. If you recall early last year the Rams tried to go spread offense and it backfired miserably.
In addition, I was excited to see how this offense would run with a capable enough QB in Sam Bradford. Remember that Kellen Clemens played 11 games in Bradford’s place last year and they still won seven games. Well, none of us will get to see what could have happened with that Rams offense as Sam Bradford will miss the entire 2014 season with a re-torn left ACL.
As happens often in football, we now have to adjust our thinking on this Rams offense this season. In no way did I think that Bradford would play the Peyton Manning role in leading the Rams to the Super Bowl. Rather, he very well could have played the Russell Wilson role of managing a very talented team to the big game. For fantasy purposes, the downgrade from Bradford to Shaun Hill isn’t a dramatic one. But for the whole of the Rams offense this does create some problems.
Hill doesn’t have the big arm or gunslinging mentality of Sam Bradford. While that could be a good thing as far as turnovers go, defenses are going to double down on stopping Zac Stacy and the running game. They will force Hill to throw the football to a very unproven receiving corps.
I have no choice at this point to back off of my Rams in the Super Bowl prediction. It was a bold prediction but one that was encased in great facts and reasoning. Until I see some real good consistent performances from Shaun Hill I’m off of the Rams and you should probably take a second look at them overall too.
The Wes Welker Problem
Another concussion for Wes Welker has his season and career in doubt. Welker has now had five diagnosed concussions in his career and some speculate that he could have suffered up to four more while with the Patriots. The NFL isn’t playing games when it comes to concussions and thus it is highly unlikely for Welker to see the football field anytime soon.
The Broncos were very concerned about Welker’s concussions going into this past offseason which is why they not only signed Emmanuel Sanders but spent a second round pick on Cody Latimer. It turns out these were very wise moves for the Broncos.
I just dropped Welker about ten more spots in the Fantasy Alarm Rankings and may have to go further depending on the timetable they lay out for him. As of now, I am anticipating Welker missing the first two games of the season with a third being very possible.
Even with missing almost 25% of the season Welker could put up some great numbers once again for the Broncos in 2014. But the risk of another concussion will always loom for him now and thus he simply cannot be counted on as an every week starter on any fantasy football teams.
One last point here. Andre Caldwell is the replacement for Welker not Emmanuel Sanders or Cody Latimer. The entire receiving group will likely see bumps in playing time and production but Sanders has his own defined role that won’t change much as a result of Welker’s injury. Caldwell is now a very good target in the middle rounds for leagues with 12 or more owners.
The Raiders offense hasn’t looked very good this summer. New QB Matt Schuab has been particularly awful going just 24-47, 218 yards with 0 TD’s and 1 INT through three preseason games.
Schaub is suffering from right elbow soreness and missed Sunday’s practice. Evidently, Sahaub has been having some discomfort on and off throughout the summer and it has gotten to the point where the team wonders if this condition is causing the dramatic drop in efficiency. Schaub had started out well in training camp but has fallen completely off the grid in recent weeks.
Rookie QB Derek Carr got all the first team reps today and has greatly narrowed the gap between he and Schaub as of late. It is highly doubtful that Carr would get the start over Schaub unless there was an injury but this elbow condition definitely opens up that possibility. Keep a close eye on this situation in the next few days.
Human After All
Cam Newton is built unlike any other QB in history. He is so incredibly athletic that he resembles a linebacker. It is often discussed though that his penchant for running the ball and taking extra hits make him more prone to potential injuries. Coming off ankle surgery in the spring, Newton has been taking it easy in camp for the most part.
But Newton took a direct hit by Patriots LB Jamie Collins resulting in a hairline fracture to one of his ribs during Friday night’s thrashing at the hands of the Patriots. Newton was in obvious pain as he arrived at Panthers camp on Sunday. Head coach Ron Rivera has already ruled Newton out for Thursday’s preseason finale against the Steelers. But the real question is if Newton will be well enough to be under center when Carolina travels to Tampa Bay for the start of the regular season. Derek Anderson is the Panthers backup QB and would presumably start if Cam Newton wasn’t able to go. Eek!!