Fantasy players to watch in training camp revisited: AFC
A little over a month ago, I took a look at 32 different players across the NFL as they got set to embark on training camps across the country. The goal was to feature players with the most to prove, the most room to go up/down ADP wise, and the players involved in the most intriguing camp battles
Now, with preseason winding down, we’re taking a look back at all 16 AFC players to see where they’re at now. For some of these players, not much has changed. For others, the lightbulb came on or slowly dimmed out entirely. Either way, it will impact your final drafts and valuations. Check back for the NFC list.
Powell’s ADP rose even higher due to Matt Forte’s injury during the final weeks of training camp and the first two weeks of preseason. When we first visited his situation prior to training camp, Powell was being drafted in between his ceiling and floor. Forte’s injury in camp and age have pumped up Powell’s ADP to his ceiling and he is now someone you want to consider avoiding. His passing-game role makes him a safe PPR play on a losing franchise, but don’t go crazy as his upside is severely capped.
We wrote about both Gillislee and Burkhead before camp and little separation has emerged since. Both players have been injured and both players have flashed. Gillislee carries touchdown upside while Burkhead carries an all-around skill set unique to the Patriots backfield. With both Dion Lewis and James White involved with the first-team offense in preseason, this looks like a backfield to avoid unless you can grab for cheap at the end of your drafts or auctions.
Sammy Watkins, WR, then-Buffalo Bills
Watkins has been traded since we wrote about keeping an eye on him. In Los Angeles, he enters a Rams situation where he has no established rapport with his quarterback, minimal knowledge of the offensive scheme, but the same desire to earn his keep in a contract season. Watkins has become a value pick as everyone looks to avoid him due to his situation. At his current ADP, his upside makes him worth the risk.
Thomas benefits from the addition of Jay Cutler, who has notoriously utilized his tight ends, but banking on Thomas feels like a touchdown Hail Mary for every week. There are safer options and higher upside options from a PPR standpoint. Don’t be afraid to take Evan Engram over him. The Giants have utilized the rookie like a starter in preseason and he has burned linebackers in third-down mismatches.
Bryant has stayed out of trouble, but he hasn’t produced any big plays in the preseason. That’s a good thing. Bryant’s ADP would shoot up multiple rounds after an explosive preseason, but his quiet performances, during a time where the Steelers have rested Ben Roethlisberger, play right into his draft-day value. It’s time to capitalize on other owners not taking advantage of the unknown. Bryant has looked explosive as ever in training camp and that will translate to Week 1 more than a few preseason games where Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley refused to game plan for.
If you’re stuck in the final two rounds of your draft, I advise to consider taking Ross. Despite missing most of the preseason, Ross ran at times with the first-team offense during the Bengals’ third preseason game. This signifies what the team expects Ross to add to the offense with his 4.22 40-yard dash speed. He is the arbitrage play for DeSean Jackson and you can get him for free.
West has maintained most of the team’s first-team offensive work, but Javorius Allen is lurking after a strong offseason. Danny Woodhead is also lurking. The premise that the Ravens offense could completely tank if Joe Flacco (back) can’t stay healthy is also lurking. West is becoming less of a value and more of a solid mid-round pick.
The Browns have named DeShone Kizer their starting quarterback and all preseason practices and games indicate that he favors Corey Coleman as his No. 1 target. Although Britt possesses a better track record than Coleman, he’s older and less naturally gifted. Britt has gone from a late-round value to someone you might want to avoid.
Davis has become a must-draft player after missing the entire preseason with a hamstring injury. Sure, you might have to wait, but don’t forget about the days he dominated Titans training camp. Davis is the most talented wide receiver on the Titans and offers true WR1 upside in the double-digit round range. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft should not be overlooked even it takes him some time to realize his potential. It will be worth it.
Miller has a stranglehold on the running back job, but his workload in the red zone seems more tenuous. The Texans didn’t invest a mid-round pick on D’Onta Foreman to redshirt him in year one. Foreman projects to mix in with Miller at some point and if he takes over the red-zone role it will be a devastating blow for Miller’s value. Miller has not done an excellent job of separating himself from the competition this offseason.
Fournette’s hype seems to be based on his projected lack of competition, what he was able to do in space out of a spread offense at LSU, and a fake narrative that Tom Coughlin and Doug Marrone will implement a ground-and-pound offense. Fournette hasn’t stood out in the preseason because he injured the same toe that limited him in 2016 at LSU. He is overdrafted based on his actual real-life draft capital.
Mack has looked explosive in the preseason, but his warts as a runner (and his tendency to bounce every run outside) could be exposed in the regular season. The Colts like veteran Robert Turbin. Even if Frank Gore finally breaks, it’s not certain Mack would inherit a workhorse role similar to what we expect from Kareem Hunt in Kansas City.
Charles sat out the entire preseason before playing in the third game. He mixed in almost evenly with starter C.J. Anderson and looked much more explosive. Charles’ trademark ability to cut and start-and-stop were all still there. He is currently in a timeshare with Anderson even if drafters in your league don’t realize it yet. He is someone you need to now reach two rounds ahead of ADP and make sure that you draft based on unaccounted for opportunity alone.
We had our eye on Hill, and instead of putting it all together, he had a strong training camp followed by a lackluster preseason. He remains one of the truest boom-or-bust draft picks in 2017.
Washington has separated himself from Richard, in terms of second-team practice reps, but both players would likely form a fantasy-busting committee if Marshawn Lynch went down with an injury.
Rivers declared Allen 100 percent back during the spring and we haven’t heard much about the veteran since. Allen now presents an upside play for those who take advantage of recency bias and his injury history downplaying his ADP.