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J.W. Gordon | Archive | Email |
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Training Camp Report - AFC
News, Notes and Post-Game Report for Preseason Week 1

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



Denver Broncos

RB Montee Ball had an emergency appendectomy early in the week. He has been released from the hospital and recovering. Ball will miss most of the preseason but should be available for the season opener. Ronnie Hillman was tabbed the starter for Denver’s preseason opener and he responded with a touchdown. C.J. Anderson however only rushed the ball once and has since been held out of practice this week with a concussion. For now Hillman has value as a potential Week 1 starter and handcuff to Ball.

Emmanuel Sanders has been dealing with a strained quad and personal issues over the past several days. His injury isn’t considered serious so expect Sanders to be more involved next week. Peyton Manning picked up right where he left off going 10 for 13 in the passing game. Similarly, Demaryius Thomas paced the receivers with five catches on six targets for 52 yards.

Kansas City Chiefs

It seems like the Chiefs always have an explosive return game. Over the past decade or so the “Human Joystick” Dante Hall and Dexter McCluster have made just enough plays to stay on the fantasy radar in deep leagues. With McCluster now departed to Tennessee, it is rookie De’Anthony Thomas making splashes early. The fourth round selection out of Oregon returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown in the Chiefs preseason opener against the Bengals. Just like the guys that came before him in KC, Thomas offers some late round appeal in leagues using return yardage. Ultimately, it’s hard to ignore the Kansas City defense/special teams unit in your upcoming fantasy drafts with the quality of return game. Cyrus Gray got most of the work in the backfield, scoring from two yards out in the fourth quarter. Unless you adhere to a very strict handcuff policy or play in a very deep league, there isn’t any reason to own Knile Davis or Cyrus Gray with Jamaal Charles getting fed the ball in this offense.

Oakland Raiders

In the words of their new starting quarterback, the Raiders first installment of the preseason could be summed up with the words “pretty sloppy.” Both Matt Schaub and rookie Derek Carr failed to impress against the Vikings this week. In fact, Schaub’s first pass was almost intercepted and he ended up completing only three passes in the first quarter. When most teams are playing their first team starters only a series or two, Oakland felt it necessary to leave their starting quarterback in the game for an entire quarter. It’s too early to write off this team’s offensive potential for fantasy purposes but the play at the quarterback position needs to improve before anyone else can become a solid weekly starter on fantasy squads this season. Despite the fact that Maurice Jones-Drew started the game, Darren McFadden reminded everyone that he is still capable of being the lead man by ripping off 23 yards on his only rushing attempt. Both running backs are likely to share duties in the Oakland backfield this year, marginalizing the fantasy value of each player.

San Diego Chargers

The Chargers completed 14 of 16 passes to eleven different receivers against the Cowboys. That is the same type of efficiency that helped Phillip Rivers to post a 69.5 completion percentage in 2013. Rivers’ best throw was a 20-yard completion to TE Ladarius Green. Other than a Ryan Mathews fumble in the end zone, the running game was also very effective. Branden Oliver’s 16-yard touchdown scamper put the Chargers on the board in the second quarter while rookie Marion Grice carried the ball 14 times. Overall, the depth of the Chargers stood out and that bodes well for the fantasy producers in Mike McCoy’s offense.


Houston Texans

Even in Week 1 of the preseason, it’s troubling to see a team fail to score a single point. Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick played the entire first half and failed to complete half of his passes. There seems to be some bugs to work out in Bill O’Brien’s first year with the team. He has three more weeks to turn around a squad that wants to erase an abysmal 2-14 2013 season. In the backfield, Jonathan Grimes and rookie Alfred Blue were featured. Neither of them excelled while Arian Foster sat out with a “minor” hamstring issue. Houston will play it extremely safe with any Foster ailment, keeping their fingers crossed that it won’t pop up in the regular season. Still, fantasy owners will want to check back next week to see whether or not his status changes. Andre Johnson also sat out of the game with a “minor” hamstring issue. It’s hard to tell whether his veteran status and the fact that it is early in preseason are contributing to the decision to keep him out of practice or whether he actually has an injury that requires some time off. With Johnson missing time, DeAndre Hopkins continues to be the talk of the offense this preseason. Until Ryan Fitzpatrick shows more consistency and Andre Johnson returns, it is tough to determine Hopkins’ ceiling for 2014. Regardless, the future looks bright for dynasty owners looking to snatch up the next big thing at the wide receiver position.

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck was efficient in leading the offense for one series, completing four of five passes. He remains a solid fantasy choice after the position’s elite names are called. Hakeem Nicks is playing but he doesn’t appear to be the same player he once was. If Nicks leaves the door cracked open, Da’Rick Rodgers and Donte Moncrief may just kick it open. Both players are gaining traction as deep sleepers and should be monitored going forward. Outside of one eight-yard run, Trent Richardson was ineffective. He is one more lousy performance away from seeing his stock plummet further. After missing most of 2013 with a torn pectoral muscle, Dan Herron performed very well in his bid to make the team. He racked up 62 yards and a touchdown on 13 touches. With former reserves Vick Ballard (Achilles) out for the season and Chris Rainey cut from the team there is a giant opportunity awaiting Herron.

Jacksonville Jaguars

It doesn’t take much to inspire the Jacksonville fan base. After seeing Blake Bortles have a solid outing in his first game action, HC Gus Bradley has already had to remind fans that Chad Henne is the starting quarterback. However, the larger issue for either quarterback is finding a reliable target in the passing game. Marqise Lee's effort is already being questioned by the coaching staff and Cecil Shorts is out with a hamstring injury. Shorts is ahead of schedule with his rehab but is not expected to play next week. Toby Gerhart missed time this week dealing with a hip flexor so Jordan Todman was given the starting nod. Fantasy owners shouldn’t be too worried about Gerhart unless he misses multiple weeks. Meanwhile, Todman failed to impress in his opportunity, rushing for five yards on five carries.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans battled the Packers in a preseason monsoon that didn’t really provide much insight for fantasy owners. Plenty of fumbles and a ground game that saw Shonn Greene, Jackie Battle and Bishop Sankey (through the air) reach pay dirt was about all there was to glean for fantasy purposes. Sankey toted the rock a team-high thirteen times but only managed 37 yards. He also had a few receptions, one going for 23 yards and another for a 5-yard touchdown. The good news appears that Sankey is definitely the lead runner heading into the season and a dual threat with plenty of fantasy potential. However, Shonn Green is still around as a potential touchdown vulture. In the passing game, Jake Locker led the huddle eight times, fumbled twice and completed one of two passes before being pulled from the game in an effort to prevent injury. We’ll have to punt and wait for a better assessment of Locker next week. Charlie Whitehurst provided the team with solid backup play as the rain calmed. Rookie Zach Mettenberger had a couple of turnovers in his first game action but he is more of a project that shouldn’t show up on fantasy radars for another year or two.


Baltimore Ravens

The big news affecting fantasy owners after the first week of the preseason is Ray Rice’s suspension. Rice got the starting nod against the 49ers but didn’t do much with three carries. Rice is splitting time with Bernard Pierce in practice and some say he has looked like the better running back. Rice’s leash won’t be nearly as long in 2014 as it has been years past making Pierce, who is set to start at least two weeks, an upside pick this season.

The first installment of Gary Kubiak’s offense was a hit and it might just revitalize Joe Flacco. Considering the addition of Steve Smith and return of Dennis Pitta to the offense, fantasy owners may want to take a second look at their ranking of Baltimore’s veteran signal caller. However, it was Tyrod Taylor that turned the most heads against San Francisco. Taylor completed 13 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown through the air and added 59 rushing yards.

Cincinnati Bengals

Andy Dalton signed a six-year extension and looked good on the opening drive of the game against Kansas City. He hit stud fantasy receiver A.J. Green for a 53-yard strike that led to a field goal before watching the rest of the game from the sidelines. Backup Jason Campbell was shaky offering up two interceptions that went for touchdowns. The running game offered fantasy owners their first looks at Jeremy Hill. The rookie turned six carries into 36 rushing yards. He is ahead of Benjarvus Green-Ellis on the depth chart and that isn’t going to change so long as he stays healthy. Giovani Bernard got a few token carries and caught one pass in this game. Bernard will open the season as the starter but buyers need to pay attention to Hill as the preseason plays out. If the teams choose to limit Bernard’s touches closer to the 15-16 mark he would be overvalued at his current ADP. However, if given a true lead role, he would have a chance to eclipse 100 total yards in every game.

Cleveland Browns

The hype surrounding Johnny Manziel was at a peak leading up to the Browns’ first preseason game. He looked quick but he also looked to run quickly out of the same pistol formation that head coach Kyle Shanahan used with Robert Griffin III a year ago in Washington. Brian Hoyer, still the team’s starter, looked like the same guy we saw last season - a pocket passer who looks far more boring than a scrambling Manziel. Hoyer will have a tough time earning the job without help from his receivers. The contrasting styles seem suited for the growing trend of using running quarterbacks a few series each game. For now, fantasy owners will just have to wait and see whom HC Mike Pettine chooses as his starter. Running backs Ben Tate and Terrance West gave the Browns solid production. It’s not clear how the carries will be split, but the rookie showed nice patience and burst through the holes to be productive should Tate miss any time.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The good news is that the offense moved the ball well enough to allow Shaun Suisham to hit on all three of his field goal tries. The bad news is that the offense failed to find the end zone in the team’s first preseason contest against the Giants. With Ben Roethlisberger leaving after only one series, Bruce Gradkowski completed eight of his twelve passes. Second-year quarterback Landry Jones continued to struggle with accuracy issues proving he has a ways to go in his development as a NFL passer. Le’Veon Bell didn’t do much but did finish the game without injury so that’s a plus considering the expectations of the running game this season. Outside of rookie Dri Archer’s 46-yard catch from Roethlisberger early on, the passing game was pretty tame. Rookie wideout Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Antonio Brown all registered catches. The trio should give the team its best set of receivers since Mike Wallace departed. Heath Miller is a year removed from an ACL injury and looking fully healthy in practice.


Buffalo Bills

Buffalo’s stable of capable runners might make it tough on fantasy owners this season. Bryce Brown led the way against the Panthers, rumbling for 64 yards on 11 carries. Building off his performance against the Giants in the Hall of Fame game, Brown looked explosive. He should provide the team with plenty of energy when his number is called. C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson are healthy and chipped in with a few carries. Fantasy owners will want to watch Spiller in the coming weeks as he presents a potential value going outside the top 15 at the position with plenty of upside. Rookie WR Sammy Watkins made his debut and he connected with QB EJ Manuel twice against the Panthers. Manuel was better in his second showing but isn’t winning over many fantasy owners early this preseason.

Miami Dolphins

First impressions of Bill Lazor’s offense in Miami were positive. Ryan Tannehill’s six-for-six stat line reflected the type of command expected from a franchise quarterback. He heads into his third year after just missing the 4,000-yard passing mark in 2013 and could move up a few ADP spots if he can build off of this outing. Mike Wallace has missed multiple practices due to a hamstring injury and did not play against the Jets. Those owners expecting a rebound from Wallace will want to make sure he returns to practice this week as expected. In the running game, Knowshon Moreno (knee) was taken off the PUP list. Moreno faces a tough challenge in getting his job back from Lamar Miller prior to the start of the season. Miller played well with the first team and will is looks like the favorite to open the season as the starter. How long he can keep the job remains to be seen.

New England Patriots

The Patriots were described as being very intense in their practices with the Redskins last week. Despite the focused approach from Brady he opted to sit out the actual game against Washington. In his stead, rookie Jimmy Garoppolo shined as one of the few bright spots for the Patriots. He looked good in the pocket and made quick reads. Ryan Mallett on the other hand, was unable to lead the offense effectively. The third year pro out of Arkansas was never comfortable in the pocket and was missing as many throws as he was making. So long as Tom Brady is healthy, fantasy owners shouldn’t be worried. A lot of people touched the ball but wide receiver Brian Tyms had the best performance. The 25-year-old was signed during training camp and Garoppolo found him on several plays. One of those plays was a 26-yard touchdown reception late in the game to put New England on the board. He’s still considered a long shot to make the team, but he just earned a longer look.

New York Jets

Geno Smith started the Jets’ game against the Colts and had a nice two series before exiting with 33 yards passing. He didn’t do anything to really stand out, but also didn’t do anything to lose his status as the team’s starter under center. Michael Vick’s performance was similar. He used his legs and arm to work his way down the field that ultimately led to a Chris Johnson 1-yard touchdown plunge before the end of the first half. With one week in the books, New York’s quarterback play looks to be improved from a year ago. Whether that is enough to make Eric Decker anything more than a flex option remains to be seen. Decker has been slowed by foot and hamstring issues this week but did manage to catch a couple of passes before exiting. He is one player fantasy owners will need to monitor over the next few weeks with his value likely to be much greater in PPR leagues. The aforementioned Chris Johnson may have tallied a score, but he was far from impressive. Three carries to produce one-yard reeks of fantasy bust, not fantasy resurgence. Chris Ivory posted a typical stat line rushing for 17 yards on 7 carries and a rib injury. Ivory’s history with injuries will limit his workload even if he makes it to the regular season healthy. Bilal Powell remains on the fringes of fantasy rosters, yet has never been a bell cow on an offense desperately hoping Chris Johnson will take the lead.

NFC Report - Wk 1