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Jake Gordon | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer


Training Camp Report - AFC
News, Notes and Post-Game Report for Preseason Week 4
8/31/14


Week One | Week Two | Week Three | Week Four | NFC - Week Four

AFC WEST: DEN | KC | OAK | SD
AFC SOUTH: HOU | IND | JAX | TEN
AFC NORTH: BAL | CIN | CLE | PIT
AFC EAST: BUF | MIA | NE | NYJ

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos

Cody Latimer tallied 66 receiving yards to pace all wideouts in the teamís final preseason affair against the Cowboys this week. Latimer is battling Andre Caldwell for playing time but figures to be involved in red zone packages regardless of Wes Welkerís injury status. The youngster has tremendous upside if he were to get a shot at regular playing time. As a result, he is someone to stash in deep formats and a player to watch in all others. Additionally Denver made a trade with the Giants this week to provide a short-term solution in the kicking game. In the wake of Matt Praterís suspension, the team added You Tube extraordinaire Brandon McManus. The talented rookie kicker has plenty of leg and should be a useful option for the first three weeks of the season.

Kansas City Chiefs

The receiver position is a bit of a mess right now in Kansas City. Not only is Dwayne Bowe (suspension, groin) already out for week one, but Junior Hemingway (hip), Kyle Williams (shoulder) and A.J. Jenkins (concussion) were unable to finish the Chiefs fourth preseason game. That leaves Andy Reid with Donnie Avery, Frankie Hammond Jr. and Albert Wilson as the healthiest options to open the year. Expect the team to use the running back DeíAnthony Thomas and tight end Travis Kelce in expanded roles right out of the gate. Thomas has some appeal in deeper PPR formats but is only worth monitoring in most standard formats. Kelce will share time with Anthony Fasano but remains a low risk upside play for those owners rostering two tight ends. Additionally, kicker Ryan Succop was among the teamís final cuts. This makes Cairo Santos an unfamiliar yet useful name to know when the bye weeks start.

Oakland Raiders

Matt Schaub didnít play this week but has looked dismal over the course of the preseason and is making Oakland a barren wasteland for fantasy production. As a result, the team was happy to get another look at the guy they hope can lead the team in the not so distant future as Derek Carr returned and started against the Seahawks. The rookie out of Fresno State gave the offense a much-needed lift by tossing three touchdown passes. Matt McGloinís experience plays better as the teamís primary back up to open the year, but Carr could overtake him by midseason. His impact this year might be minimal but he could start paying dividends for dynasty league owners in 2014. Carrís big night helped Denarius Moore find the spotlight once again but he is still behind James Jones and Rod Streater on the depth chart.

San Diego Chargers

Malcom Floyd has come back from a severe neck injury to lay claim on the Chargersí number two receiver job. Filling a complementary role on the offense, Floyd wonít be a dependable fantasy player but his size and play-making ability should give him just enough targets to warrant a roster spot in deeper formats. Marion Grice and Brandon Oliver are buried on the depth chart but the teamís decision to keep both players despite having Ryan Mathews, Danny Woodhead and Donald Brown is interesting. Are the Chargers covering themselves because the risks involved with their preferred options are worse then they have let on or is this simply the result of the team choosing to keep Grice primarily as a return specialist with Oliver the choice as the teamís fourth running back? No matter the answer San Diegoís backfield may wind up being a Rubikís Cube for fantasy purposes.

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans

The fact that the Texans released 22 players on Saturday speaks to the teamís lack of overall depth. However, there is not expected to be much roster turnover affecting fantasy owners. Tom Savage has a new battle on his hands for the No.2 quarterback job as the Texans acquired Ryan Mallett from the Patriots. Case Keenum was released. For the second year in a row, Arian Foster failed to play a single snap in the preseason and we all know how last season played out. Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins may be a talented duo but the teamís decision to load up on running backs paints the picture of an offense looking to run the ball far more than it passes. In fact, you could argue that every Texans player being drafted is a lotto ticket this fantasy season, including the DEF/ST which features one of the best defenders in the entire NFL.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts left fantasy owners playing the ďwait and seeĒ game after deciding to keep their starters out of their final preseason game and crossing their fingers that the offensive line will be okay. The Coltsí interior line has suffered from injury and inexperience-as in they used a defensive lineman at tackle Thursday night, making it tough to predict how productive or unproductive this offense will be for fantasy owners. The hope is that everyone, including the coaching staff, can make adjustments on the fly. Having a guy with a degree from Stanford leading the way doesnít hurt but the fact remains, a poor offensive line spells doom for the entire offense. For now, just keep a level head and know that there could be a few hiccups over the first month of the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguarsí final tune up featured the passing game where Cecil Shorts (hamstring) suited up for the first time this preseason. Shorts didnít do much but looks like he will be able to play in the teamís opener if he can make it through practice next week. Marqise Lee notched a 57-yard touchdown from Blake Bortles on his only catch of the game to give Jacksonville fans and speculative fantasy owners a glimpse of a brighter fantasy horizon beyond 2014. Meanwhile, Allen Hurns has made the most out of his opportunity this preseason. If the injury plagued Shorts finds himself sidelined at any point this season, the unheralded Hurns would be a candidate to replace him in the starting lineup making him a player worth monitoring in deep formats. Jordan Todman showed a pulse by scoring from nine yards out late in the fourth quarter. He is one of a few uninspiring backup options that should yield plenty of touches for starter Toby Gerhart. However, the team has not been very effective in the running game this preseason.

Tennessee Titans

Tennessee head coach Ken Whisenhunt kept his starters off a rainy field this week, ehich makes Bishop Sankeyís seven rushes a negative despite averaging a robust 6.1 yards per carry. It is becoming increasing likely that the rookie will not hold down a featured role on the teamís offense when the season begins. However, Whisenhunt did acknowledged the improvements Sankey has made over the course of the preseason. Continued effort to improve should eventually lead to a larger role in the backfield. For now, he should be considered a RB4 with a chance at being a solid RB3 by seasonís end. Shonn Greene now becomes a quality short-term investment in the twelfth round of fantasy drafts. In a similar capacity to Sankey, wide receiver Justin Hunter looks destined to take on a bigger role at some point this season. He has separated himself as Jake Lockerís prime red zone threat and has room to grow into a worthwhile flex option if given more reps. Betting on Whisenhunt to ease the Titansí emerging talents into expanded roles should make Sankey and Hunter great buy low candidates if they get off to a slow start. Also of note, Travis Coons will open the season as the teamís kicker. The undrafted rookie out of Washington beat out Maikon Bonani.

AFC NORTH

Baltimore Ravens

Bernard Pierce (concussion) returned to practice Saturday and is on track to be the teamís starting running back for week one. With Pierce not in action this weekend, the team gave rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro an extended look. As a big hard-nosed 230-pound bowling bowl, Talieferro has knocked over the competition to be Baltimoreís number three man in the backfield. Anyone that big has the potential to snag a few short-yardage carries as well. If anything were to happen to Pierce or Ray Rice this year, the Coastal Carolina alum (27 touchdowns in his senior season) would have fantasy value in 12-plus team standard leagues. Wideout Deonte Thompson caught a touchdown in the Ravensí preseason finale and finishes the preseason fourth on the depth chart. Rice was officially placed on the Reserved/Suspended list but should be inserted into the starting lineup upon his return.

Cincinnati Bengals

There is no doubt that Giovani Bernardís role will be expanded this season yet his week ends with the release of BenJarvus Green-Ellis a couple of days after rookie Jeremy Hill compiled 160 total yards on 26 touches. Fantasy owners should take note. Gio is being drafted as the ninth running back off the board and will be sharing carries with a player the head coach feels is more than capable of carrying the full workload. Meanwhile, Hill is being had for pennies on the dollar. Regardless of not knowing exactly how the work will be split amongst these two runners, an eight-round gap between is way too large. Bernard will get his touches but it wouldnít be wise to bet against Hill seeing the field more and more as the season progresses.

Cleveland Browns

The anvil dropped on Josh Gordon this week when his appeal of a year-long suspension was denied. Outside of certain dynasty formats, Gordon should not be on any fantasy rosters in 2014. Miles Austin, Andrew Hawkins and to a lesser extent Taylor Gabriel stand to benefit the most but a ball control offense and likely inconsistent quarterback play will prevent either receiver from being a reliable fantasy asset this year. Jordan Cameron will be the focal point of the passing attack, which should push him past last seasonís 117 targets. However, his catch percentage is likely to suffer as defenses place more emphasis on stopping him. Nonetheless, he should be a top option around the goal and remains a popular option to round out the top five fantasy tight ends heading into the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The NFL will wait until LeíVeon Bell and LeGarrette Blountís fate is decided in court before determining any punishment. This would make a suspension for 2014 season very unlikely so fantasy owners should not downgrade either on account of them missing games. Considering Bell was rated as a potential first round fantasy pick just a few weeks ago, his current discounted price tag represents a buying opportunity for fantasy owners. Antonio Brown capped off his preseason with a tidy three-catch performance. Brown is entrenched atop the Steelers depth chart and should continue to be a heavy targeted player despite the teamís plans on running the ball more in 2014. Thus far, the additions on offense have made this unit deeper and harder to defend against. For both reasons, expect the Steelers frontline fantasy starters to post strong numbers this year.

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills

Usually it is the winters that are brutal in Buffalo, not preseason football. Not only is the team for sale and offense not moving the ball, but rookie receiver Sammy Watkins re-aggravated his rib injury. Early reports are stating that the rookie is day-to-day but more updates will be available in the coming week. If you are looking to buy stock in another wide receiver for the Bills, Mike Williams seems to have worked his way up the depth chart to receive consideration as the teamís other starting wideout over Robert Woods. Then again, EJ Manuel has been bad for over a month now and the team acquired Kyle Orton over the weekend. Super deep leagues aside, there is no reason to own a Bills receiver. Anthony Dixon and Bryce Brown split the rushing duties after C.J. Spiller came out with the rest of the offensive starters after three series.

Miami Dolphins

Daniel Thomas failed to impress in Miamiís preseason finale and lost his battle with Damien Williams to be a spare part in the running game. Williams outplayed Thomas during the preseason and should enter the year third on the depth chart. Meanwhile, the starting tailback has yet to be announced but the team is likely to open the year with both Lamar Miller and Knowshon Moreno splitting carries and head coach Joe Philbin riding the hot hand. The passing attack is still a work in progress. Ryan Tannehillís inability to deliver the deep ball effectively throughout much of the preseason could force the team to utilize more underneath routes. This would cast a dark cloud over those owners buying into a Mike Wallace rebound while also making Brian Hartline a PPR darling for yet another season.

New England Patriots

After much speculation, Ryan Mallett was traded to Houston for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2016 draft signaling New England feels comfortable with rookie Jimmy Garoppolo backing up Tom Brady. For his part, Garoppolo played very well this preseason and put the team into a position to consider cashing in on Mallet. The backfield has yet to shake itself out and fantasy owners will want to stay tuned to practice reports this week to see who is running with the first team. Stevan Ridley should lead all New England runners in touchdowns giving him more value in standard scoring groups. However, Ridleyís ball control issues and a capable fleet of runners on the roster add plenty of risk to those who invest in him this season. If Ridley can move past his fumbling issues and hold off Shane Vereen and James White, he should exceed his current ADP.

New York Jets

After cutting ties with former 2012 second round draft pick Stephen Hill this weekend, the New York Jets will roll into the 2014 season with Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson atop the depth chart at the receiver position. Decker finishes up the preseason without much fanfare but could be a nice depth option on fantasy rosters as a popular target for quarterback Geno Smith. Nelson and Kerley will split the few remaining targets and will only become viable fantasy options if something were to happen to Decker. With the dust settling on the preseason, the rushing attack appears to be a three-headed monster to open the year. Chris Johnsonís unpredictable touchdown total could make him a bargain or a dud depending on your leagueís scoring. Chris Ivory should have value in standard leagues as a goal line back with a chance for double-digit touches but most owners wonít be counting on him until the bye weeks and he could be hurt by then. Bilal Powell will struggle to get enough volume to be a useful fantasy resource unless one of the other two Jets runners misses time.

NFC Report - Wk 4