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

Training Camp Report - AFC
News, Notes and Post-Game Report for Preseason Week 4

Week One | Week Two | Week Three | Week Four



Denver Broncos

For the outset of the season, fantasy owners should consider this backfield a true RBBC between Ronnie Hillman, Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball. None are reliable options out of the starting block but any of the them could become flex worthy as the season unfolds. Ball has the most upside and talent of this group and should be the focus of fantasy owners drafting this week. Veteran RB Lance Ball was waived in favor of undrafted and currently injured rookie C.J. Anderson (knee). With so many teams needing a RB, expect Ball to find a new home quickly.

This team will pass the football with Peyton Manning or Brock Osweiler at the helm. Osweiler led the Broncos down the field 80 yards to score on its opening possession against the Cardinals during their final game of the preseason. A second-round draft choice out of Arizona State, Osweiler would become a hot fantasy commodity if Peyton Manning were to miss any time. Rookie Zac Dysert scooted in under the roster deadline to be the teamís #3 QB.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs released TE Tony Moeaki after he fractured his shoulder this week. That means veteran Anthony Fasano will be the primary starter and although he may turn in a nice game every now and then, heís not going to be a reliable fantasy TE. If rookie third-rounder Travis Kelce can get over a bothersome knee he might factor into the passing attack later in the year as a ďmoveĒ tight end.

RB Jamaal Charles finished the preseason right on cue, tantalizing fantasy owners with his skills to be a stud RB1 while casting just enough doubt about his durability to give prospective owners pause before anchoring their fantasy season to him. The offensive playbook favors Charlesí receiving skills, but lingering injury concerns relating to his foot continue to loom over his head like an anvil waiting to drop at the most inopportune time. In this case, the immense upside outweighs the risk-especially in PPR formats. Knile Davis and Cyrus Gray will open the season as the #2 and #3 RBs behind Charles.

Oakland Raiders

QB Terrelle Pryor disappointed instead of stepping up going 3 of 8 passing for 31 yards and an interception. His three rushes for 48 yards provided a glimpse towards his fantasy upside if he can become a more efficient passer. Matt Flynn feels better after a week of rest and should be closer to returning for Week 1. The teamís decision to keep four quarterbacks on the roster is a telling sign that the coaching staff isnít confident with their quarterback options and fantasy owners should follow suit. Inconsistent play at the quarterback position will likely push wideouts Denarius Moore and Rod Streater into fantasy waiver wire material in standard formats. One of these guys might be useful when the bye weeks come around but do you really want to use a precious roster spot hoping Matt Flynn can turn around his career in Oakland?

The injury to starting LT Jared Veldheer will definitely have a negative impact on the offense out of the gate. Itís not that Veldheer is indispensable, but rather the team lacking quality depth to replace a solid starter. Rookie second-rounder Menelik Watson may turn out to be a very solid player, but he will have his hands full being on the road against the Colts in his first career start.

San Diego Chargers

The Bolts released wideout Robert Meachem, who suffered a concussion last week. Vincent Brown and Malcom Floyd sit atop the depth chart in San Diego with Eddie Royal, Keenan Allen and Seji Ajirotutu providing depth. Brown seems like the better fit for the offense and is expected to be the better fantasy player this season. TE Ladarius Green capped off a strong preseason with 5 receptions for 49 yards. The 6í6Ē Green led the team in receptions and receiving yards and in doing so,has positioned himself to become fantasy relevant if aging fantasy star Antonio Gates continues to decline out in 2013.

Starting RB Ryan Mathews isnít losing his ďinjury proneĒ label despite running well and escaping the preseason without injury. With Fozzy Whittaker earning a roster spot after running for 59 yards on 10 carries, the Chargersí backup and third down duty gets a little more interesting. Danny Woodhead remains the best fantasy option behind Mathews and will see the bulk of the snaps on passing downs. Still, Whitaker would step into Woodheadís role and have some value in PPR leagues if the opportunity presents itself at any point this season.


Houston Texans

ďObviously I donít think Arian is going to be a 30-carry guy opening night without camp," head coach Gary Kubiak said on Friday afternoon. The Texans play on Monday night so fantasy owners get a tough lineup decision right off the bat. Even if the practices reports continue to be encouraging this week, Iím not sold on Foster getting more than 10-12 touches in this game. 17 weeks of football and a very capable Ben Tate should give Gary Kubiak all the more reason to be cautious with Fosterís return. Meanwhile, Cierre Woodís 107-yard rushing performance against Dallas helped elevate him over Deji Karim, who was subsequently cut, to be the teamís third-string running back.

WR DeAndre Hopkins is expected to pass the final phase of his recovery from a concussion and return to practice this week. Thatís great news for the passing game because the receiving corps after Hopkins gets thin quick. TE Owen Daniels has dealt with shoulder issues this preseason, but figures to be ready to go to start the year. His ADP puts him outside the top 100 despite being the 6th most targeted TE in 2012 makes him a decent value pick and/or trade target for owners who donít land Jimmy Graham early.

Indianapolis Colts

Various ailments havenít allowed fantasy owners to see much of tight ends Coby Fleener (knee) or Dwayne Allen (foot) this preseason but both should make a fantasy impact in 2013. With limited playing time comes limited confidence from the fantasy community. Neither player is having much luck finding a home on fantasy rosters right now but the TE position is expected to be a more prominent part of OC Pep Hamiltonís game plan. I suspect Allen and Fleener wonít be flying under the radar once the real games begin. Allen is the better blocker at this point and probably begins the year as the starter, but Fleener is a more talented weapon in the passing game. Both players represent TE2s with upside to crack the top 12 at the position with Fleener having the greater fantasy upside.

In the receiving game it looks like Heyward-Bey will slide into the #2 WR position. This doesnít mean T.Y. Hilton should be knocked down in your rankings. Hilton has the greater chemistry with QB Andrew Luck and will still see plenty of snaps each week making him the better fantasy option once the season gets underway.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags will enter the season with a completely healthy Maurice Jones-Drew after a Lisfranc injury derailed his 2012 season. MJD is just one season removed from making a run at 2,000 total yards and is a solid value in the second round where he is currently being drafted. RB Jordan Todmanís strong finish to the preseason included an 18-yard touchdown run against the Falcons to solidify his place on the team. Justin Forsett (toe) is still considered the backup once healthy but Todman will be the one spelling MJD if Forsett canít suit up. Additionally, rookie Denard Robinson will be utilized as the QB in wildcat formations. Itís too early to tell whether the team will utilize this package enough to give Robinson enough chances to have an impact in the fantasy realm but heís worth keeping an eye on throughout the season.

QB Blaine Gabbert (thumb on throwing hand) is on schedule to be ready to go for the teamís opener against Kansas City; however he is not likely to be pain free. Look for the first update to come mid-week as to whether he can manage the pain. Whoever starts at QB will also be without WR Justin Blackmon who begins serving a 4-game suspension.

Tennessee Titans

During the week, HC Mike Munchak reminded everyone that Kenny Brittís knee swells up. LINK He is considered healthy entering the season but after a few NFL games that could all change. Britt is destined to be a regular on the injury report and you would be rolling the dice by making him a WR3 in standard formats. Nate Washington will see just enough targets to remain relevant in deeper formats while Kendall Wright remains more of an upside flier in PPR and dynasty formats if you are betting against Kenny Brittís body holding up for 17 weeks. New TE Delanie Walkerís largest fantasy impact will likely be seen in helping the run blocking improve from last season making the longtime 49er an afterthought for fantasy purposes.

Shonn Greene (ankle) did not participate in the final preseason game against the Vikings, but it was simply a matter of giving him some extra rest. Greene doesnít provide the kind of upside youíd like in a handcuff situation to warrant rostering in most leagues. Meanwhile, Jackie Battle beat out Jalen Parmele to garner #3 RB honors. Starter Chris Johnson has looked more confident and comfortable, making him one of the better RB2s to target this year.


Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens release of Caleb Hanie means they will head into the year with only Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor at the quarterback position. RB Bobby Rainey couldnít parlay his two-touchdown performance against the Rams into a roster spot. So, that leaves only two running backs on the roster in Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce. The Ravens are accustomed to playing with only two quarterbacks on the roster, but a third tailback in the NFL is almost essential so expect GM Ozzie Newsome to add another player in the coming days. The trend continued at the TE position where only Ed Dickson and Dallas Clark reside as viable options.

Brandon Stokley will find a home in the slot with Jacoby Jones holding off Tandon Doss and company to be the teamís starter opposite Torrey Smith. Doss was let go in favor of up rookies Aaron Mellette and Marlon Brown. Besides Smith, no other Ravens receiver offers enough fantasy appeal to be worthy of a roster spot at this time.

Cincinnati Bengals

Gio scored from inside the 5 yet again (thatís three times for those scoring at home) and one has to wonder if he has taken over the lead role in Cincy. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was such a big part of the offense last season it is too early to cast him off for 2013. However, based on Bernardís big play ability and early success getting the job down around the goal, BJGEís leash just got a whole lot shorter heading into the regular season. Although the passing game continues to evolve, itís interesting to note that when it came to play selection, the Bengals still opted to run more than the pass throughout the preseason.

TE Tyler Eiffert failed to dress for the second week in a row. Although no injury has been mentioned it is odd for a rookie to miss these games without reason. He claims heíll be ready to go when the team takes on Chicago in Week 1. Cincinnati figures to open the season using single back, two tight end formations. Getting on the field is half the battle but whether Andy Dalton can turn one or both of these players into weekly fantasy contributors remains to be seen.

Cleveland Browns

Backup QB Brian Hoyer passed for over 300 yards against Chicago this week but heíll still be listed as the third QB on the depth chart to open the season. Second stringer Jason Campbell, had flu like symptoms and did not play allowing Hoyer to play the entire game. Between Hoyer and Campbell, the team has two worthy options behind Brandon Weeden.

Trent Richardson rested as expected and he doesnít have any competition for the lead role in Cleveland. Brandon Jackson gained 5 yards on 5 carries and was released late Sunday as the Browns claimed RB Dennis Johnson from the Texans and RB Bobby Rainey from the Ravens. In the meantime, the timing is ripe for Richardson to move into the upper echelon of running backs in 2013. With WR Josh Gordon suspended to open the season, wideout Davone Bess and tight end Jordan Cameron should be frequent targets in the short passing game while Greg Little handles the deeper routes. Cameron should be a viable fantasy starter from the outset but Bess and Little are less attractive flex options in deeper formats.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The last rehearsal for the Steelers showcased the battle in the backfield. RB LaRod Stephens-Howling was able to return this week and all indications point to a RBBC to open the year. Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones split the carries during their Week 4 preseason loss to the Panthers, however Isaac Redman (stinger) will likely be healthy enough to play for the team once the regular season begins. I doubt HC Mike Tomlin even knows how the carries will be split at this point. Dwyer is out of the mix as was cut on Saturday but fantasy owners need to be cautious here and use a wait and see approach before trusting a Pittsburgh RB in your starting lineup.

David Paulson locked down the starting TE position until Heath Miller returns. At 6-4, the second year player out of Oregon will provide a big target for Ben Roethlisberger that should produce a steady handful of targets over the first month of the season. Miller was activated off the PUP list so a return prior to week six seems likely at this point.


Buffalo Bills

Rookie QB EJ Manuel (knee) could start Week 1 if he can get back onto the practice field by Wednesday of this week. He was able to do some throwing prior to the Billsí Week 4 preseason game and the coaching staff is optimistic about his chance to play opening day. If he isnít quite ready then expect Jeff Tuel to be under center in a divisional matchup against the Patriots to open the season. The team placed veteran Kevin Kolb on season-ending IR and cut quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Thad Lewis. This leaves only two QBs on the active roster at the moment so it is possible the Bills are working on adding somebody else in the near future.

WR Steve Johnson appears to be healthy again following a hamstring injury. The quarterback situation may limit the teamís best wide receiver at the outset of the season. Nevertheless, he should be worthy of flex consideration on most weeks as the season progresses. Behind him on the depth chart could be Marcus Easley, who has put together two solid performances in a row to lead the Bills receivers. T.J. Graham and Robert Woods will also be in the mix but a limited passing attack figures means limited fantasy potential from this group.

Miami Dolphins

There wasnít much unsettled business for the Dolphins heading into the fourth week of the preseason. QB Pat Devlin and RB Mike Gillislee saw plenty of action and did just enough to make the team as third stringers. In the passing game it was Marvin McNutt that caught a 56-yard touchdown from Devlin to lead the way for the Dolphins. Rookie DE Dion Jordan (shoulder) returned to practice this week and is expected to be able to play in Week 1.

Overall, the Dolphins offense lacks depth and appeal in the fantasy game. RB Lamar Millerís fantasy stock is trending upward as we head into the regular season yet his upside comes without a track record of performance. Hartlineís sure handedness has intrigue to PPR owners, but his lack of touchdowns is alarming. Do we know if Mike Wallace is an elite all around WR or just a really fast talent who can keep safeties 30 yards off the line of scrimmage? Even if Ryan Tannehill takes a step forward, he isnít likely to finish in the top 20 at the QB position.

New England Patriots

Danny Amendola sat out of practice this week but this was considered precautionary and fantasy owners should expect him to be fully healthy to start the season. Ryan Mallet hasnít been stellar this preseason but he played better against the Giants this week. Mallet would toss a touchdown pass to Josh Boyce before giving way to Tim Tebow in the second half. Tebow had some success in the short game, but he routinely missed receivers down the field and was cut over the weekend. Tom Brady looks ready to take the reins of a revamped offense and although his ceiling figures to be a little lower in í13, the Pats franchise QB will still be more than capable of holding down the QB1 slot on your fantasy roster no matter who lines up on the outside.

New England also released TEs Jake Ballard and Daniel Fells in the wake of a strong preseason showing by Zach Sudfeld. Rob Gronkowski (back) avoided the PUP list, but heís expected to miss at least a few more weeks. Playing in this offense, Sudfeld should provide top 12 TE numbers until Gronkís return. Thus far, no definitive timetable has been set for Gronkís return to the field.

New York Jets

Mark Sanchez(shoulder) is looking like a long shot to be healthy in time to play for Week 1. Yet it was probably the 52 turnovers he had during the last two seasons as the Jetsí starting quarterback that swayed the teamís decision to go with Geno Smith in 2013. Whether Smith is officially named the starter by HC Rex Ryan or not, doesnít matter much to fantasy owners. There isnít much to like here. Smith is a developing rookie quarterback with some mobility but the surrounding collection of receivers and tight ends are probably the least talented in the entire league.

The running game still offers some fantasy intrigue. Khalil Bell cashed in on his opportunity during the final week with a pair of touchdowns. His 21-carry workload wasnít enough to keep him on the team, but provided fantasy owners with a glimmer of hope that the running game can be effective enough for someone to have fantasy value. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell will be ahead of Bell on the depth chart to open the season yet the delegation of carries between the two is still a question mark. RB Mike Goodson has returned to the team following an off-field incident and was promptly handed a four-game suspension. Based on the teamís decision to cut RB Joe McKnight, Goodson will find himself battling for playing time on passing downs once he returns with newly acquired Alex Green. If Ivory or Powell can take over the lionís share of the work for Gang Green, they could post low-end RB3 totals for fantasy owners. However, if the dreaded RBBC takes shape fantasy owners will need to look elsewhere.