NFL Training Camp Battles - July 28
Brett Talley has updated some of the more notable training camp battles as we near the end of the preseason.
Training Camp has officially begun in earnest as all 32 teams have reported to camp. Once a week throughout camp, I’ll be here updating you on the most fantasy-relevant training camp battles, hence the name of the article. There’s not much to talk about this week since practices are just getting started, but we should have plenty more to talk about in just one week’s time. You can check out our Training Camp Battles piece from the 2019 NFL Draft Guide in which we discuss the most notable battles on each team.
Though the battles have yet to intensify, there is some noteworthy news at the running back position that makes a few backfields more interesting to watch in camp.
Los Angeles Chargers
It’s not a surprise that Melvin Gordon didn’t report for camp, but he was officially placed on the Reserve/Did Not Report list Wednesday. If Gordon took his holdout into the regular season or if the Chargers chose to trade him, Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson would benefit greatly. While Jackson is a talented back that many fantasy analysts like, Ekeler would likely be the main beneficiary. Ekeler currently has a consensus ADP of 42 among running backs in PPR leagues, though that’s likely to rise the longer Gordon holds out. But you could make the case that Ekeler’s ADP should be much higher even if Gordon signed a long-term deal with the Chargers tomorrow given that Ekeler finished 25th at the position in PPR leagues last year.
Just one player in the NFL checks these three boxes over the past two seasons:— Evan Silva (@evansilva) July 24, 2019
Over 5.0 yards per carry
Over 10.0 yards per reception
He is the backup to a running back threatening to hold out into the regular season. #Chargers
There hasn’t been any actual news out of Buffalo that they’re considering the release of LeSean McCoy , but the Pick Six Podcast made a decent case for his release recently. McCoy carries a $9M salary cap hit and was highly ineffective last year. The Bills have Frank Gore on the roster at a minimal salary along with T.J. Yeldon , who finished 22nd among backs in PPR scoring last year, and third-round pick Devin Singletary , who got some first team reps in OTAs. It’ll be interesting to see how that group shakes out in camp.
Duke Johnson requested a trade quite some time ago, but the Browns don’t appear willing to oblige. You can understand why as Johnson makes a ton of sense to pair with Nick Chubb . Chubb caught only 20 passes last season averaging 7.5 yards per reception while Duke has averaged just under 60 receptions in his four seasons averaging 9.2 yards per reception. But let’s say Johnson does get traded at some point. With Kareem Hunt not due back until Week 10, the guy most likely to fill Duke’s role would be Dontrell Hilliard . Hilliard was on the practice squad for one-third of his rookie season and was never given a single carry once activated. But he was targeted 10 times and made nine receptions with an average of 11.7 yards per catch. Johnson was not at OTA’s, and it was Hilliard who took pass catching reps. It’s something worth watching in camp.
After an ACL season ended his rookie season before it started, Derrius Guice received clearance to participate in camp without any limitations. Washington’s RB coach has said he sees a 50-50 or 60-40 split between Guice and Adrian Peterson with Chris Thompson getting passing down work. If it all shakes out like that, this is going to be a disappointing backfield from a fantasy perspective. For fantasy owners, it would be nice if Guice took his clean bill of health and excelled in camp so that he earned more than a maximum 60-percent of the workload.