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J.W. Gordon | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

Training Camp Report - AFC
News, Notes and Post-Game Report for Preseason Week 1

Week One | Week Two | Week Three | Week Four



Denver Broncos

Being on the field of any Peyton Manning offense typically translates to fantasy production on some level. Since the receiving corps is set in stone, the focus in Denver lies in the backfield. The first depth chart listed Ronnie Hillman as the starting tailback, with rookie Montee Ball slotted ahead of Knowshon Moreno as the top backups. Yet in the first preseason game, it was undrafted rookie C.J. Anderson who toted the rock 15 times; more than Moreno (6), Ball (5) and Hillman (3) combined. This is a fluid situation that may carry right into the regular season.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs broke out a hurry-up offense against the Saints to spark an 80-yard drive that was capped off by a 1-yard Jamaal Charles touchdown. That’s a great sign for prospective Charles owners in 2013 as durability concerns limited his goal line carries a season ago that led to a scant five rushing touchdowns despite eclipsing 1500 yards. Rookie OT Eric Fisher played well, but had to leave the game with a thumb injury. X-rays were negative and he is expected be able to practice this week.

Oakland Raiders

Raiders newly minted HC Dennis Allen wanted to get Darren McFadden roughly six to eight plays and he finished the first preseason contest with four touches. The lead back for Oakland (McFadden) has never played more than 13 games a season so it might be wise to save him for the regular season. Fantasy owners should also take a cautious approach and think twice before investing in him at his current third-round ADP.

Four quarterbacks played for the Raiders and the results were mixed. Matt McGloin accounted for the only passing touchdown in the game while Terrelle Pryor led in yardage but through an interception. Matt Flynn was the most efficient but tallied a paltry 37 passing yards. Tyler Wilson only completed three passes and appears to be the least likely of the four to earn the starting nod. The coaching staff is definitely impressed with Pryor from an athletic standpoint and he will likely be used in some capacity even if he isn’t the starter, but this battle is far from over.

San Diego Chargers

A new offensive system was displayed in San Diego under the direction of Mike McCoy and Philip Rivers. The offensive line was putrid last season and it appears the plan is to go with a quicker passing game to complement a balanced rushing attack. The passing attack will not feature Danario Alexander this season, as he was lost to another torn ACL. That leaves an opportunity for Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal and Keenan Allen to step up into a starting gig opposite Malcom Floyd. All three receivers are currently ranked outside the top 35 and present nice upside gambles for early drafters. Ryan Mathews made it through the first preseason game unhurt despite launching himself over the pile.


Houston Texans

Matt Schaub had a tidy 5 for 5 outing as the Texans beat the Vikings. DeAndre Hopkins stood out with a highlight reel touchdown catch and finished with 4 catches for 52 yards. Schaub seemingly gets knocked for being on a great running team, but he’s thrown for over 4,000 yards three out of the last four years and had the 12th most passing attempts in the NFL in 2012. If DeAndre Hopkins offers a legitimate receiving threat opposite Andre Johnson, Schaub could be in for a solid 2013 campaign even if Arian Foster gobbles up touches. By the way, the hype on Hopkins is gaining steam yet he is still being taken outside the top 50 WRs.

Arian Foster’s back was sore enough to keep him out of this game but fantasy owners shouldn’t get too worried unless he continues to miss time this week. His backup, Ben Tate, is being held back by a slight groin issue. That led to Dennis Johnson, Deji Karim and Cierre Wood carrying the load. Wood used his ten carries to amass 59 yards on the ground and hauled in one pass for another 14 yards.

Indianapolis Colts

RB Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) has opened the preseason on the PUP list so Vick Ballard is still the main man in the backfield… for now. This will be a tricky situation to decipher heading into draft season because Bradshaw isn’t likely to get many reps this preseason, but will still be a major factor for the new offense in Indy. We likely won’t know how the carries will be split until the regular season arrives. For now, Ballard and Bradshaw should be treated as low end RB3s for fantasy purposes.

TE Dwayne Allen will only miss a couple of weeks with a foot injury, leaving Coby Fleener with more opportunity to make an impact this preseason. He hauled in two of his three targets for 37 yards against the Bills. T.Y. Hilton notched a 45-yard TD reception from Matt Hasselbeck and continues to look sharp. Meanwhile, Darrius Heyward-Bey wasn’t a factor as he works through a minor knee injury.

Jacksonville Jaguars

New coach Gus Bradley has a QB to choose but he’s not going to make a decision after one preseason game. Incumbent Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne will continue to split reps with the first team in practice this week. For fantasy purposes, both quarterbacks are likely to suppress the fantasy value in Jacksonville.

Maurice Jones-Drew (foot), Justin Blackmon (groin) and Cecil Shorts (calf) did not play this week. The decision to sit MJD was considered a precautionary move as he continues to work his way back from a Lisfranc injury. Blackmon still made his presence felt, first jawing with opposing CB Nolan Carroll and then with defensive team leader Jason Babin. Considering his 4-game suspension, groin injury and being escorted off the field by MJD, Blackmon has a long way to go to being a mature and consistent contributor in this league.

Tennessee Titans

The first look of a rebuilt offensive line was positive as Chris Johnson exploded through a hole on his way to a 58-yard touchdown. Later that quarter, the line opened a nice lane for a 19-yard Shonn Greene scamper. It was only one game, but there are definitely signs of improvement here and that should help things open up in the passing game as Jake Locker tries to build on last season. Kenny Britt and Nate Washington appear to be the starters on the outside with Kendall Wright currently manning the slot. With everyone healthy and contributing in camp, the talent seems to be there for this offense to improve.


Baltimore Ravens

The receiving depth is an issue and the first pre-season game highlighted it even more. After Torrey Smith, the Ravens receivers have not been able to replace the loss of Anquan Boldin. Some of that is due to the injury of TE Dennis Pitta while the rest of it falls squarely on a lack of consistent production from the remaining wide receivers in camp. Baltimore brought in veteran Brandon Stokley and TE Dallas Clark over the weekend but neither is going to be a significant fantasy option. RB Bernard Pierce had a nice 20-yard touchdown run against the Bucs but sustained a sprained left knee later in the contest. There doesn’t appear to be any serious damage but look for more information this week to get a better timetable on his return. Pierce’s injury and a need for more in the passing game have Ray Rice’s fantasy value looking pretty good right now.

Backup QB Tyrod Taylor provided a glimpse to some option runs during this game. It’s too early to know whether this is going to be a part of the game plan during the regular season but it would be of interest if Flacco were to get hurt at any point this year.

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals starters played only two series and did not score against the Falcons Thursday night. More importantly, A.J. Green did not travel for the game as he recovers from a knee injury he sustained early in camp. Green is currently the 3rd ranked WR at and isn’t likely to play in the team’s second pre-season contest either. Fantasy owners should be cautiously optimistic with Green not missing any time to open the season but his current status will likely cause his ADP to dip next week. Additionally, WR Andrew Hawkins may start the season on the IR after sustaining an ankle injury.

First glimpses of TE Tyler Eifert and RB Giovani Bernard were also positive. The rookie TE from Notre Dame didn’t see the field much but did haul in one pass. As long Jermaine Gresham is healthy, Eifert won’t be reliable fantasy option this season. Bernard had 54 total yards and a touchdown on 14 touches. Regardless of whether the playmaking Bernard unseats The Lawfirm, he will be a solid upside play after the top 25 RBs are off the board.

Cleveland Browns

In the team’s first game under the new HC Rob Chudzinski, QB Brandon Weeden showed he can be efficient in the new offense going 10 of 13 passing for 112 yards. The bigger fantasy question surrounding the Browns to open the preseason is the health of RB Trent Richardson and G Shawn Lauvao. Richardson was out with a shin injury but is expected to practice this upcoming week and play on Thursday night against the Lions. The second year pro out of Alabama did well enough to play through injuries last season but his fantasy stock take a bit of a hit compared to the other top RBs as there is a definite injury risk with the Browns plow horse. Meanwhile, Lauvao had arthroscopic ankle surgery and will be out to start the season.

IDP leaguers take notice, Barkevious Mingo’s debut showed off a relentless motor and a knack to get to the quarterback. D’Qwell Jackson is still the top LB option on this team but it might be hard to keep Mingo off the field for passing situations; making him a nice backup with potential later in the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

RB Le’Veon Bell appeared to have outpaced LaRod Stephens-Howling as the starting RB heading into the game however a knee injury kept him sidelined. All Stephens-Howling did was show he can contribute if given the opportunity racking up 40 yards on just 7 carries. Jonathan Dwyer’s drops out of the backfield didn’t help his case to move up the depth chart. Bell’s knee injury doesn’t sound serious but keep an eye on the practice reports this week to see if he is close to returning. Pittsburgh looks like a team determined to run the football this year and that means 200+ carries for the rookie so long as he can stay on the field. Furthermore, potential red-zone threat Plaxico Burress is out indefinitely after having shoulder surgery and the TE position is lacking with Heath Miller recovering from an ACL injury. Add it up and you have a prime opportunity awaiting Bell when he returns.

In the passing game Antonio Brown failed to make a catch on three targets while Emmanuel Sanders snatched all three thrown his way. Overall, the passing offense was made up of shorter throws and a lot less Big Ben holding on the ball and taking hits. All signs are pointing to a conservative offense under OC Todd Haley this year in Pittsburgh.


Buffalo Bills

A knee injury to QB Kevin Kolb kept him out of the preseason opener. That left the door wide open for rookie EJ Manuel to walk right through it and he didn’t falter. Manuel completed 16 of 21 passes for 107 yards and a score in Sunday’s victory over the Colts. He also netted 28 yards on the ground on three carries.Kolb’s injury shouldn’t prevent him from rejoining the quarterback battle soon, but until he does it is Manuel’s job to lose.

C.J. Spiller broke off a 17-yard gain in route to a productive night despite carrying the ball only four times. In the passing game, it was Robert Woods and Marcus Easley stepping up to fill the void from Steve Johnson (hamstring) being sidelined. Easley hauled in all seven passes that came his way for 94 yards, while Woods has four receptions for 32 yards. The winner of the WR2 battle could become a nice target during bye weeks this season as defenses will focus on stopping Buffalo’s run game. Also of note to deeper leagues, TE Scott Chandler is on schedule to be back for the opener despite having ACL surgery in January.

Miami Dolphins

After sitting out of the Hall of Fame game, Mike Wallace suited up for the first time as a Dolphin. Unfortunately, QB Ryan Tannehill never threw him the ball and Wallace finished without a single catch. It’s early but if Miami and Tannehill do not get Wallace involved in the short and intermediate passing game his fantasy production stands to suffer mightily. It’s Lamar Miller’s job to lose at the running back position as he’s been given the most reps with first team during camp. OC Mike Sherman said the competition is “pretty close” between Miller and Daniel Thomas. We’re not buying that coach speak

New England Patriots

New England is retooling the offense after losing key contributors Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, and Aaron Hernandez. The new bunch held their own with Brady at the helm, highlighted by Kenbrell Thompkins in the passing game and LaGarrette Blount in the running game. Thompkins has been solid in camp, showing great hands and chemistry with Brady. He’s pushing Aaron Dobson for a chance to start opposite Danny Amendola.

In the backfield, Ridley started things off with a 62-yard scamper and he’s shown enough to be a reliable RB2 for 2013. Vereen looks solid in the Danny Woodhead role and should have some value in PPR leagues this year. Blount surpassed 100 yards on only 11 carries with two touchdowns proving he deserves some carries as well. Brandon Bolden and Leon Washington also got into the mix. A very effective collection for Brady, but after Ridley, fantasy production will be hard to forecast on a game-to-game basis.

New York Jets

Bilal Powell or bust might be an appropriate slogan for the Jets at this point. The Jets haven’t had any depth at the RB position this preseason despite signing Chris Ivory (hamstring) and Mike Goodson (yet to report due to personal reasons). Not even Joe McKnight can help while he deals with a head injury. Joe Martinek of Rutgers has been brought in to let Powell leave the huddle a few times during practice. Speaking of the third-year back from Louisville, he has impressed with the opportunity he has had and fantasy owners should bump him up their boards slightly. The impending return of Ivory and lackluster offense limit Powell’s upside but any NFL running back getting 15 or more touches a game has value in fantasyland.

At the quarterback position, Geno Smith is showing some toughness playing through an ankle injury during Sunday’s practice. Mark Sanchez threw a bad interception during the first preseason game and will need to step up if he wants to keep the starting job. Rex Ryan has not named a starter for the team’s second preseason game against Jacksonville.