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AFC Training Camp Position Battles

NFL training camps are right around the corner. Which means we will get our first (real) glimpse at how teams expect to set up their starting rosters. Although you can never take what happens in training camp as gospel, you can usually get a better idea of how some position battles are going to shake out. Here are some intriguing position battles (in no particular order) from the AFC that could have an impact on the fantasy landscape:

QB Brady Quinn v. QB Derek Anderson (CLE): Does anyone really care? Maybe. Or maybe not. But the resolution of one of the most over-hyped QB “controversies” in the history of the NFL will have an impact on guys like WR Braylon Edwards (aka “the Model”) and rookie WR Brian Robiske (one of my “sleepers“). I like Quinn. Not only for his boyish good looks, but also because I think he is a better QB. Anderson has the bigger arm. But he struggles on his short and intermediate routes. Which is where you make your money in the NFL. I think Quinn gets the nod, which is better for Robiske (who will be more of a possession WR) than Edwards (who needs to focus on catching the ball rather than the eye of modeling scouts).

RB Ray Rice v. RB Willis McGahee (BAL): I love me some Ray Rice. I loved him at Rutgers. I loved him coming out of Rutgers. And I loved him last year as a Raven when he got a chance to play. I think McGahee is done. But I also think the Ravens will continue to utilize McGahee and FB/RB Le’Ron McClain. Which means Rice will not get 25 carries a game. However, he is currently listed as the No. 1 RB on the Ravens depth chart, so if he can hold off McGahee during camp, he should be a solid RB2 option.

RB Larry Johnson v. RB Jamaal Charles (KC): Johnson used to be a stud. But he has been absolute garbage for the past two years. I think the Chiefs may have overworked him. But I am not going to point fingers. Either way, it is clear that he is not the elite RB he once was. And it is unclear how new HC Todd Haley will utilize these two runners. Most people assume he will pass the ball more, which definitely benefits Charles, who is the smaller and quicker of the two. But Johnson is not completely spent, so if he can come in healthy (and hungry), he could do some damage. Another name to keep in mind is RB Kolby Smith. He could see some carries, as well.

RB Sammy Morris v. RB Fred Taylor v. RB Laurence Maroney (NE): It is really hard to say what the Patriots will do. Former OC Josh McDaniels is now the HC in Denver, but that does not mean the Pats will not employ the same RBBC approach they have been so well known (read: hated) for over the past few years. I think Taylor will get a chance to be the main guy (whether that means 10 carries a game or 20 is hard to say, though), because he still has some life left in those legs. Plus, Morris is marginal and Maroney is a bust (injury prone, no vision, and he avoids contact). The main issue is that training camp and the preseason games might not really give us an indication of what will actually happen during the year. Because HC Bill Belichick apparently hates fantasy football.

RB Knowshon Moreno v. RB LaMont Jordon v. RB Correll Buckhalter v. RB Ryan Torain (DEN): It will be very interesting to see how this battle shakes out. I give Moreno the early edge, simply because he is probably the most talented and he is a first round pick (even though he is currently listed as 3rd on the depth chart). But we all know how HC Josh McDaniels liked to do things in NE — Well, actually we have no idea what he was doing. Which was why it was so frustrating. I could easily see a RBBC system that utilizes them all. But if Moreno flashes some real talent, it will be hard to keep him off the field. And, as always, Ryan Torain is my super-slepper… I love you Ryan! Seriously, though, look for Moreno and Buckhalter to share the load, with Jordan getting the goal line carries, while Torain is busy rehabbing his knee and staying hungry.

RB Joseph Addai v. RB Donald Brown (IND): Addai was a huge disappointment last year. He should come back this year healthy, but the Colts did not draft Brown in the first round to sit him on the bench. Brown played at UConn, so you can question the competition level he played against. But he is a very smart kid and gained a ton of yards. So I can see him stepping right in and having an impact. It all depends on whether Addai returns to form.

RB Justin Fargas v. RB Michael Bush (OAK): Maybe I am the only one who thinks this camp battle is intriguing. I have been a big fan of Bush since he came out of Louiseville. And I think he has finally recovered from his broken leg and is ready to be a legit NFL RB. Fargas is serviceable, but I think Bush has a much higher upside. And I list this battle here because I am convinced that RB Darren McFadden will not be able to carry the full load, either due to ineffectiveness or injury. So watch to see who his backup is, because they should see some carries as the year goes on.

RB Thomas Jones v. The Jets v. RB Shonn Green (NYJ): If Thomas Jones does hold out, that should open the door for rookie Shonn Green, who has a boom-or-bust quality to him. Even if Jones does not hold out, he is getting old, and could fall apart at any time (as all RBs his age tend to do). RB Leon Washington will be in the mix, as well, but he is more of a change-of-pace RB. It will be Jones or Green (or some combination thereof) that is the main guy. And if Jones holds out, keep an eye on Green.

Check out the NFC Training Camp position battles.

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