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Camp Talk Campfire

Gage Bridgford (@GbridgfordNFL) takes a look at the last week of reports out of NFL training camps and attempts to decipher what the news really means.

In the world we’re operating in, people are taking any shred of news, and they are running with it. Something as simple as a coach saying one player looked good on one rep turns into that player is the new starter and the greatest thing since sliced bread. This article is all about deciphering through that smoke to find out the truth at the back end of it. Coach speak is impossible to understand, but I’m going to do my best to help you out.

The main reason to not overreact to news is that there are constantly conflicting reports being put out that can be confusing. For example, David Montgomery suffered a leg injury last week. Within the hour, that leg injury had turned into a full-blown ACL injury in the Fantasy Football Twittersphere. It later came out that it was a much more minor injury that will sideline him for 2-4 weeks. Overreactions like that, especially if you’re in the middle of a draft or have one coming up, will leave you making a mistake.

We’re never going to fully understand coach-speak because a lot of it is misdirection anyway. Bruce Arians said O.J. Howard would be heavily involved last season, and he couldn’t buy a target if his life depended on it. Coaches and teams are always looking for the key to get a leg up on their opponents. If you can learn to trust videos you see along with the actual play on the field, you’ll have your a leg up on the rest of your league.

Arizona Cardinals

What was said: AzCardinals.com reports December waiver claim Dan Arnold has “quickly proven to be the Cardinals’ top pass-catching threat” at tight end.
What it means: This one is pretty straight forward. Since he was claimed by the Cardinals, Arnold’s name has been on the consistent upswing. He was buried on the New Orleans Saints, but he’s not buried here. He’s only contending with former first-round pick Maxx Williams, who’s listed as the starter, but he has yet to show anything that would guarantee his spot. Instead of targeting Williams, you can go after Arnold. He averaged 17 yards per catch last season with the Cardinals, and he had two touchdowns. Grab Arnold as your late-round TE2, and he can pay big dividends.

Atlanta Falcons

What was said: Falcons OC Dirk Koetter expects a “minimum” of 15 weekly touches for Todd Gurley. 
What it means: This one means something great from the standpoint of Gurley’s workload, but it also tells me something else. He’s not going to be the only back getting touches. Unless a team is down by a huge amount, they’re going to run at least 20 times a game at a minimum. Gurley “could” get up to 25 touches, but he’s going to be splitting touches with someone. I expect Gurley to still be the lead guy, but he could easily be in a 60-40 split by season’s end.

Baltimore Ravens

What was said: The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec said rookie RB J.K. Dobbins has solidified an early-season role in the Baltimore backfield. 
What it means: For those of you that targeted J.K. Dobbins in rookie or redraft leagues, congratulations. You have a supremely talented running back on the league’s best running team from a year ago. He can catch passes, and he’s a great runner. While this is great for Dobbins, it’s not for Mark Ingram, unless Dobbins is taking the Justice Hill and Gus Edwards’ roles. If Ingram sees his touches impacted by more than just Lamar Jackson, that will hurt the floor that he had last year. In short, Dobbins is trending up while everyone else is trending down.

Buffalo Bills

What was said: The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia reports Devin Singletary has been having “fumbling issues” in Bills camp. 

What it means: As an individual report, this just ties to last year where Singletary had fumbling issues. Combine it with other reports about the progress that Zack Moss has made, then Singletary is quickly seeing his stock slide. Singletary was viewed as a popular name this offseason because Frank Gore was now gone. While the addition of Moss didn’t mean much before, it’s starting to mean more now. I think they both cannibalize each other’s value, and, as a result, neither of them will be highly valuable for fantasy.

Carolina Panthers

What was said: Panthers RB Mike Davis has stood out as a “dual-threat” in training camp, emerging as the clear backup to Christian McCaffrey. 
What it means: He’s the clear backup to McCaffrey, but that still means absolutely nothing. Unless you’re getting him as a late-round stash as your handcuff, you should not be targeting him in your drafts. This Panthers offense flows through him, and, even if he takes a slight step back in workload this year, there still won’t be any meat on the bone for anyone else. Ignore the report. Unless you fear a CMC injury, Davis shouldn’t even be on your radar.

Chicago Bears

What was said: ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Mitchell Trubisky is expected to start Week 1.
What it means: After months of uncertainty, we finally have our answer. Trubisky will be under center for the Bears in Week 1, and he showed the improvements that the coaching staff was looking for to beat out Nick Foles. Trubisky gives this team a more athletic presence on offense which can mitigate some of the offensive line’s issues while they get their footing. Foles still has a shot at starting later on, but this is clearly Mitch’s spot.

Cincinnati Bengals

What was said: Speaking Sunday, Joe Burrow predicted a “big season” for slot WR Tyler Boyd.
What it means: Tyler Boyd is being underdrafted. He’s going to be utilized as Burrow’s WR1 this year, and you’re going to get him for the price of a WR3 with his current ADP. Boyd is likely to play the Cooper Kupp role in the Zac Taylor offense, and Burrow loved feeding his slot receiver at LSU last season. If you haven’t been going after Boyd, you’re going to regret it by season’s end.

Cleveland Browns

What was said: Browns TE Harrison Bryant has “stood out” with his play on the field and ability to grasp the offense.
What it means: Pour one out for the David Njoku owners. After missing time with a wrist injury, he gave up his reps to Bryant, and Bryant has been running with them. Austin Hooper has a firm grasp on the TE1 role, but that TE2 role is up for grabs now. In this offense, that’s actually a valuable commodity. Kevin Stefanski likes to use two tight ends a lot, and Bryant may actually have some value as a rookie this season.

Dallas Cowboys

What was said: Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones said on 105.3 The Fan that Blake Jarwin has “had an amazing camp”.

What it means: There were a few things to be considered here, but I’m looking at Jarwin. With Jason Witten gone, Jarwin is far and away the lead option at tight end. Witten saw 83 targets last year while Jarwin saw just 41. Those were all just opened up, and you can now get Jarwin, who is a TE1 option, at a super discount. He’s being drafted as TE20 right now in the 13th round. If he’s crushing it at camp, no one on the roster can threaten his work type. I’d be giving a very hard look at him.

Denver Broncos

What was said: Broncos coach Vic Fangio said he anticipated both Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay “playing enough where we really don’t have to designate a starter.

What it means: You can’t trust either of these players. We’re less than a month out from the season starting, and Fangio is openly stating that neither of them are good enough to warrant the entire workload. Gordon has relied on volume throughout his career to be relevant for fantasy. Meanwhile, Lindsay has outperformed expectations for both seasons. He could do it again, but I wouldn’t be targeting either of these guys for the upcoming season.

Detroit Lions

What was said: The Detroit Free Press reports Kerryon Johnson will likely open the season in a starting role.

What it means: Shoutout Quintez Cephus who has also seen good reviews thus far. Moving on. Kerryon Johnson will be splitting touches the entire season. D’Andre Swift is dealing with a leg injury that will sideline him for Week 1, but, once he’s healthy, he’ll be a heavy factor in the gameplan. Due to Johnson’s injury history, they’re planning to manage his touches, and he can’t be counted on as a reliable fantasy option. It’s unfortunate for him, but we’ve also seen reports that Swift has played well thus far in camp. Swift is trending up while Johnson’s going down.

Green Bay Packers

What was said: The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman reports Allen Lazard has “solidified” the Packers’ belief that he can be the primary receiving threat behind Davante Adams.

What it means: Lazard AKA Alien Lizard, is the number two in Green Bay. With Devin Funchess opting out, that role was opened up, and he has grabbed onto it. He gives quarterback Aaron Rodgers a consistent jump-ball threat that he can go to on the rare occasion Adams can’t break free of coverage. We were all looking for a consistent receiver to rely on behind Adams, and it looks like we now have one.

Houston Texans

What was said: Texans coach Bill O’Brien said TE Kahale Warring “has improved and is a good route runner.”

What it means: The Texans are searching for a consistent tight end, and they have been for some time. They’ve seen constant names cycled through, and Warring could finally give them a legitimate target there. The former third-round pick dealt with multiple injuries last year that resulted in him being placed on injured reserve. If he’s truly able to break out and make a difference early, he has the potential to be something special thanks to his size at 6’5” & 252 pounds with good amounts of athleticism.

Indianapolis Colts

What was said: Colts head coach Frank Reich said tight end would be a “really, really important dynamic” for the team’s offense this year. 

What it means: This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Eric Ebron was a top five tight end just two years ago in this same offense. If he or Jack Doyle had stayed healthy last year, we likely would have seen the two of them put up some good numbers together. This year, it’s going to be Doyle and a combination of Mo Alie-Cox and Trey Burton. I’m not sure which of those two you can rely on, but Doyle is a cheap consistent option that usually gets a few targets every single week. Combine that with Phillip Rivers, who has a history of featuring tight ends, and the recipe for success is there.

Jacksonville Jaguars

What was said: Sports Illustrated’s John Shipley reports Tyler Eifert has shown a “strong connection” with Gardner Minshew throughout camp.
What it means: For Eifert, the question has never been about his abilities. It has always been about his availability. In 2015, when he played 13 games, he caught 13 touchdowns en route to his lone Pro Bowl appearance. The Jaguars grabbed Josh Oliver last year, but they had no problem taking a flyer on Eifert. Similar to the other tight ends we’ve talked about, he’s cheap with a ton of upside.

Kansas City Chiefs

What was said: Chiefs GM Brett Veach said Clyde Edwards-Helaire is “on pace to have a big year, to be our primary ballcarrier.”
What it means: The Chiefs lost Damien Williams for the year when he opted out, and Edwards-Helaire saw his stock go soaring. That steam is only continuing to build with reports like these. I’ve been down on him all offseason due to him being a rookie, but I’m starting to warm up to him. I’m still not taking him in the early first round as some people are, but I’m comfortable taking him in the middle of the second round as my RB2 with no hesitation.

Las Vegas Raiders

What was said: Bryan Edwards has been the starting X receiver at Raiders camp.
What it means: To those of you that have been riding the Bryan Edwards train since the riding the Edwards train, congratulations. It is about to pay off. Not only is he projected to contribute, he’s on pace to start. His ADP has risen over 100 spots in the last month. He operates close to the line of scrimmage where Derek Carr likes to throw. He’s going to be featured early in this offense, and you need to get him while you have the chance.

Los Angeles Chargers

What was said: The Athletic’s Daniel Popper said Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, and Joshua Kelley could all see rush attempts and targets in the Chargers’ offensive attack.
What it means: For those of us in Ekeler’s camp, this isn’t outstanding news. I still expect him to get the lion’s share of the work, but you now have to factor in that his overall workload will likely take at least a slight hit this year. I think he’s a lock to be in the RB2 conversation this year, but I think his RB1 possibilities could have been shattered with this news.

Los Angeles Rams

What was said: The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue believes Cam Akers will separate from Darrell Henderson in the second half of the season.
What it means: Cam Akers needs to be drafted. The Rams saw Todd Gurley finish as a high-end RB2 last year despite splitting touches with Malcolm Brown and Henderson. Akers is younger and healthier than Gurley. While he may struggle out of the gate, he’s the type of player that can give you a lot of value really late in the year.

Miami Dolphins

What was said: The Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley has been impressed with Preston Williams’ performance through the first six days of Dolphins practice open to the media
What it means: You need to be targeting Williams in your drafts. He doesn’t need to be a priority pick because he’s going to fly under radars, but he absolutely needs to be a guy you look at as a deeper wide receiver. He was efficient last year prior to his ACL injury, and, with only Devante Parker ahead of him on the depth chart, he’s in for a big increase in his 2020 workload.

Minnesota Vikings

What was said: First-round WR Justin Jefferson has “distanced himself” from the rest of the Vikings receivers.
What it means: The first-round pick may have started camp a little slow, but he is coming on hot. Stefon Diggs is gone, and all of his targets up for grabs. The Vikings couldn’t find a consistent receiver outside of those two last season, so, despite Olabisi Johnson being the third receiver in three-wide sets, Jefferson is the one to be looking at. Go get him in your drafts, and you’re going to be rewarded handsomely.

New England Patriots

What was said: ESPN’s Mike Reiss believes Patriots WR Damiere Byrd is the “top candidate” for the No. 3 role.
What it means: If you’re wise, you generally avoid the Patriots’ skill-position players. This offense just features all of them enough to be relevant, but it’s not enough for them to be quality assets. Byrd has a rapport with Cam Newton, which is great, but he’s still the third receiver on what will likely be a low-volume offense. You could stash him in deep leagues, but he won’t give you any consistent production to count on.

New Orleans Saints

What was said: Speaking in a Thursday radio interview, Drew Brees predicted a breakout season for third-year WR Tre’Quan Smith.

What it means: Buy Tre’Quan Smith. It’s that simple. Michael Thomas and Emmanual Sanders win on the underneath routes, but Smith has the speed to win down the field. He’s struggled with inconsistency through two years, but, when a quarterback like Brees is giving you praise, it’s for good reason. Smith is dirt cheap, and, in standard leagues, he gives you big-play potential every time he touches the ball.

New York Giants

What was said: The Athletic’s Dan Duggan said Giants WR Sterling Shepard has dominated opposing cornerbacks in training camp, establishing himself as the clear No. 1 wideout. 
What it means: This means that Shepard is still the player we thought he was. He has the skills to be a top wideout for his team, but he has dealt with injuries in the past. Fully healthy, he’ll give Daniel Jones a consistent receiving option on the outside, and he’s a decent YAC option as well. He’s coming off the board as the 43rd receiver. Getting a WR1 for that cheap price is pretty good value to me.

New York Jets

What was said: The Jets have used a 60-40 backfield split between Le’Veon Bell and Frank Gore as head coach Adam Gase looks to keep Bell fresh for the entire season. 
What it means: This hurts the bottom line for Bell because he had zero competition for his touches last season. This year, while Gore will be present, I don’t expect him to actually impact the raw totals for Bell. If anything, it will give Bell more energy late in games. He looks like he’s in the best physical shape of his life, and I think that 60-40 split is actually going to turn more into a 75-25 split by the end of the year.

Philadelphia Eagles

What was said: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports “it will be a shock” if Jalen Reagor doesn’t have a significant role in the Eagles’ offense.
What it means: If you didn’t buy Reagor yet, you’re out of luck. His stock continues to go up with every report that comes out, and they aren’t slowing down. This also points to a significantly reduced role for everyone else in the receiver room. Alshon Jeffery, Desean Jackson and Greg Ward will see some looks, but I think Reagor is going to be the one that finishes the best at the end of this season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

What was said: Steelers RB Benny Snell is the “no-doubt No. 2” back in the Pittsburgh backfield after an impressive training camp during which he’s shown improved receiving ability. 
What it means: While I wouldn’t be targeting Davis as a handcuff, I would be looking at Benny Snell. The Steelers consistently rely on a lone back to carry the workload, and James Conner has struggled to maintain his health over the last couple of seasons. With that in mind, Snell is someone you should be grabbing if you take Conner earlier just to give yourself that insurance policy. You could even draft him then use him as leverage against the Conner manager in a trade.

San Francisco 49ers

What was said: RB Raheem Mostert has continued to start in 49ers’ camp practices
What it means: Mostert needs to be a guy that you’re grabbing as a priority. This room has roughly three players that could be starters, but Mostert is clearly the guy at the top. He was a monster in the playoffs for them, and the system isn’t changing. If you grab two wide receivers and two running backs in the first four rounds, I’m grabbing Mostert as my RB3. He gives me a lot of touchdown upside in run-heavy offense.

Seattle Seahawks

What was said: The Seattle Times reports fourth-round rookie DeeJay Dallas’ pass-catching ability has shown up in practice. 
What it means: It means that he has a lot of long-term potential in Seattle, and he could even show off some PPR value this year. The Seahawks have no problem splitting touches among their running backs, and each of their current ones are dealing with their own health issues. Dallas is young and healthy, and, if he is catching passes well, that’s a role on the field that needs to be filled. He won’t be James White in his first season, but, in deep leagues, there is some potential there.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What was said:Bucs QB Tom Brady said Scotty Miller has earned a role in the offense.
What it means: Scotty Miller isn’t going to be Julian Edelman this year. The two guys ahead of him are just too good. Now, what this could do is hurt the value of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Miller is going to get touches this year, and, instead of featuring two WR1s, Tampa could have a WR1 and a WR2 with a streaming option in Miller. That’s great for Miller, but it does hurt the other two, especially with this tight end room that’s present.

Tennessee Titans

What was said: Ryan Tannehill said Derrick Henry is “catching the ball more confidently.”
What it means: If this is true, this is amazing for Henry. He’s caught 18 or fewer balls in all four seasons. He’s always relied on heavy workloads and touchdowns, but this would firmly cement in him in the top five running backs. He has absolutely no competition for his touches, and you would have no choice but to slot him in right behind Alvin Kamara. You’re also going to have to pay a lot more for him if you’re planning to roster him this year.

Washington Football Team

What was said: Washington RB Antonio Gibson has received “a fair amount of first-team reps.”
What it means: This one is a little late in the news cycle, but it bears a hard look with Adrian Peterson now in Detroit. This team has a massive question-mark at the running back position as things stand currently. With that in mind, it will only take one big week for Gibson to establish himself as the starter and man to own. If you’re looking for a dart-throw running back to give you upside for a cheap price, he is a pretty good option to be that guy.

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