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Week 3 Injury Update

September 28, 2009 1 comment

Here are some key injury updates…

QB Chad Pennington (MIA): Pennington (shoulder) could be done for the year. QB Chad Henne will likely take over, and could be a decent QB2 against favorable matchups. But I would wait and see what he does.

QB Marc Bulger (STL): Bulger (shoulder) could miss some time. If he is out, QB Kyle Boller will start in his place. Boller actually looked alright against GB.

RB Frank Gore (SF): Gore (ankle) could miss a couple weeks. Go get RB Glenn Coffee now.

RB Kevin Smith (DET): It sounds like Smith (shoulder) should be okay, but if you own him, consider adding RB Maurice Morris.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): Westbrook (ankle) missed this week’s game with an ankle injury, and it is not clear when he will be back. Go get RB LeSean McCoy now.

RB Marion Barber (DAL): Barber (thigh) is inactive for the game tonight against CAR. Watch to see how DAL uses RB Felix Jones and RB Tashard Choice tonight, because Barber could miss another game or two.’

RB Jamal Lewis (CLE): Lewis was out this week. RB James Harrison got most of the carries in his absence, with RB James Davis getting some touches, as well. But neither really did much. And I would probably avoid any CLE players for the time being, given their woes on offense.

RB Willie Parker (PIT): Parker (toe) is dealing with a minor case of turf toe, which is a notoriously annoying injury. If Parker misses any time, RB Rashard Mendenhall would get the start. Although he has not looked good and the PIT OL is marginal.

WR Wes Welker (NE): Welker missed his second game in a row. WR Julian Edelman played in his place but did not have another Welker-esque outing. Edelman could be worth a roster spot, though, if Welker misses any more time.

WR Laurent Robinson (STL): Robinson (ankle) is likely done for the year after breaking his lower leg. Which is too bad. He was having a great start to the season. I expect WR Keenan Burton to get some extra looks with Robinson out.

WR Chris Henry (CIN): Henry (thigh) has been battling a leg injury all year, which could explain why he has yet to explode onto the scene like I expected/predicted. Or maybe he is just not going to explode. Either way, while he is slowed by injury, WR Andre Caldwell seems to be getting some extra looks.

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Preseason Wrapup

September 1, 2009 Leave a comment

Yeah, I know. There is still one week of the preseason left. But the starters rarely play any significant amount of time in the 4th preseason game. So now seems like as good a time as any to look back at the preseason and see what we learned.

So, with that in mind: I know it’s only preseason, but…

1. The Packers offense looks very good. I have said a few times already that I expect QB Aaron Rodgers to end the season as the top scoring player in fantasy (and to back this up, I picked him in two of my three leagues so far this year). Rodgers has looked very sharp in the preseason, completing 27 of 38 passes for 458 yards, with 6 TDs and no interceptions — and he did this in approximately 4 quarters of play. Which is, like, pretty good. Beyond Rodgers, though, there is RB Ryan Grant, who should get 300 carries and rebound from his poor 2008, WR Greg Jennings, who is a top-10 (and maybe even top-5) WR, WR Donald Driver, who is an undervalued WR3, and sleepers such as WR James Jones and TE Jermichael Finley, who could put up good numbers in an offense that should be in the top 5 in the league.

2. We have no idea what TO will do in Buffalo. TO looked like he could still play early during BUF’s 1st preseason game. But that is all we saw of him. He has missed the rest of the preseason with a mysterious toe injury. I have my own issues with TO — mostly related to the QB and OL in BUF — but there is no denying the guy’s talent. If you like to gamble, you can probably get a pretty good deal on him.

3. Chris Henry could be very good. I have had this kid on many of my fantasy teams in the past, only to end up disappointed by his inconsistency and apparent stupidity. But now it seems like he has things figured out. He caught a TD in each of the preseason games, and is a prime candidate to replace the production that went with WR TJ Houshmandzadeh to SEA. He is a great sleeper pick.

4. Brett Favre still has it. At least for a few more weeks. No one really doubted that Favre could still play. I think the real question is whether he can still play for 16 (or 19 or 20) weeks. I suspect he will look pretty sharp during the early portion of the season, but judgment day(s) will come later in the year when he is getting tired and beat up. Will he still have the desire? Will his body hold up? Who knows. But he does give the other offensive players in MIN a boost — at least in the short-term.

5. We have no idea what any of the rookie RBs will do. There is some great talent at RB in this year’s rookie class. Unfortunatley, we still do not know whether any of them will be productive. We finally got to see RB Beanie Wells last week against GB, and he looked good, but questions linger about his injury issues. Everyone was excited when RB Knowshon Moreno ended his holdout, but he only lasted half a game and then was injured. And we still have no idea how DEN plans to use him. RB Donald Brown was a popular sleeper pick, but IND does not seem like it has any plans to give up on RB Joseph Addai any time soon. RB LeSean McCoy finds himself in a similar position — if (when?) RB Brian Westbrook goes down, McCoy should blow up. But what if that does not happen? Enough people are predicting Westbrook’s demise that I am convinced it is not going to happen. RB Shonn Greene is also waiting behind an aging veteran. But we have no idea when or if he will see the field. In fact, out of all the rookie RBs, RB James Davis might have the best chance of seeing the field sooner rather than later. He is stuck behind an ineffective and aging RB Jamal Lewis, and there have been rumors that Lewis might not make the final roster. (But you know how rumors go…) Overall, I think Wells has the best chance to have a big fantasy season, but Brown and McCoy could blow up if injuries open the door. And keep an eye on Davis — he is a sleeper if I ever saw one.

6. The Seahawks could surprise some people. SEA was terrible last year. But that was mostly due to a rash of injuries. Although they still have some issues along the OL, and RB Julius Jones does not scare [m]any teams, their offense could be pretty good. QB Matt Hasselbeck is a sleeper at QB, WR TJ Houshmandzadeh is a very good value at WR, TE John Carlson is a great value at TE, and WR Deon Butler is a deep sleeper. Shoot, even Jones is the main ballcarrier, so he should put up solid yardage totals and can likely be picked very late in your draft.

7. Eli Manning is still a mouthbreather. Nothing has changed. Except now he has lost his favorite target at WR. Which means he will probably do a lot more mouthbreating and blaming his teammates when things do not go right.

8. The Raiders are one messed up franchise. There are guys in OAK with potential — RB Darren McFadden, RB Michael Bush, WR Chaz Schilens, TE Zach Miller — but can we really trust anyone in OAK to produce on a weekly basis? The team is so dysfunctional that it seems foolish to draft any of them. Which really makes me wonder why I took both Bush and Schilens in one of my recent drafts…

9. Brady and Moss could return to their 2007 form. The circus that is the Brady-to-Moss connection could be back. They make it look too easy. Way too easy. Which is why I made sure to grab Moss in a couple of my leagues. I expect him and Brady to put up huge numbers. And since Moss is going as the 3rd or 4th WR, he is a great value, because he could very well end up as the number 1 WR at the end of the year — especially since the other top WRs — WR Larry Fitzgerald, WR Andre Johnson, and WR Calvin Johnson — all have QB health/quality issues.

10. Fantasy football is fun. I am so glad the season is (almost) here. I have been thinking about this sh!t way too long. So I am happy that the season is right around the corner…

RB Handcuffs

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

As I have said before, you should not automatically grab the “handcuff” for the RBs you draft simply because they are their real life backup.

However, there are some “handcuffs” you should defnitely grab if you draft certain RBs. And here is a list of guys that, if you draft them, you should also draft their “handcuff”:

RB Adrian Peterson (MIN): Peterson has been a workhorse since he came into the league as a rookie. But he is not without injury concerns. And he may have one of the better backups in the league in RB Chester Taylor. If AP misses any time, Taylor should put up very good numbers in his stead.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX): MJD has had a very healthy career thus far. But he has also been limited in the amount of touches he’s had. This year JAX (finally) expects to use him as a fulltime ballcarrier. Although that increases his fantasy value, it also increases his chance to get injured. There has been no official word from JAX on his backup, but I expect RB Chauncey Washington would get the nod (initially) to take over the load. But also keep an eye on rookie RB Rashad Jennings, who could get some touches, too.

RB Michael Turner (ATL): Whether you believe “The Curse of 370” or not, you cannot argue with the fact that there is a body of statistical evidence out there that says it is very likely Turner will get injurd this year. So, even if you do not believe it, you should play the odds and pickup his backup. Unfortunately, his top backup, RB Jerious Norwood, suffered a knee injury recently. But he should be fine by the time Turner goes down. But you should also keep an eye on RB Jason Snelling and rookie RB Thomas Brown, who could get some work if Turner succumbs to “the curse”.

RB Frank Gore (SF): Gore is a highly-ranked RB this year, due to his skill level, the offense he is working in, and his history of being productive. However, he also has a history of being injury-prone. And rookie RB Glenn Cofffee is playing ver well. So add him if you have Gore, and look like a genius when Gore misses time and you casually insert Coffee into the lineup and pile up the points.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): If you gamble on Westbrook early, you need to make sure you get RB LeSean McCoy later in the draft. McCoy should put up very Westbrook-like numbers if/when Westbrook goes down.

RB Marion Barber (DAL): It is not entirely clear what role Barber will have in the DAL offense this year. But he should get enough touches to make him a very solid RB2. Either way, in the event that his brutish running-style causes him to miss any games, look for RB Tashard Choice to pick up his touches. RB Felix Jones should continue to get his own touches no matter what, although they would likely increase in the event that Barber goes down.

RB Pierre Thomas (NO): Thomas came into the year with high expectatoins, but an MCL injury has put his status for week 1 in doubt. If you have Thomas on your team, you should also add RB Mike Bell, who would benefit immensely if Thomas misses any time.

RB Clinton Porits (WAS): Those who had Portis on their team last year remember how much fun it was at the beginning of the season when he was killing it. And they also remember how miserable it was at the end of the year when he was getting killed. And now there are reports that he has a bruised rib. I love Portis and think he is about as tough as they come for NFL RBs. But as a result of his toughness, he often has nagging injuries. I think RB Ladell Betts will be involved more this year, and he should be on your roster if you own Portis.

RB Marshawn Lynch (BUF): We already know Lynch is going to miss the first 3 games of the year, which means RB Fred Jackson is going to get a majority of the touches during that time. Add him to your roster if you have Lynch, not only for those first three games, but also for later, just in case Lynch gets injured or cannot keep his nose clean.

RB Thomas Jones (NYJ): Thomas is getting older and has not looked good so far this year. But he did have a career-year in 2008, so it is hard to discount him completely. Either way, if he were to get hurt or become entirely ineffective, RB Shonn Greene would probably take over his role as the main ballcarrier. Although I think RB Leon Washington is the only NYJ RB worth owning, Greene will probbaly do alright in the event Jones goes down. But, like the situation in DAL, Washington would probably see his touches go up, as well.

RB Knowshon Moreno (DEN): Moreno has a ton of potential, unfortunately we have no idea whether he will ever meet said potential, because we have yet to see him play in the NFL for any legitimate amount of time due to a knee injury he suffered early on in his first preseason game (after a long holdout). I suspect he will be fine once he recovers, but if you took a flyer on him in your draft, you should also add RB Peyton Hillis, who seems (to me, anyway) as the best option DEN has if/when Moreno is out. RB Correll Buckhalter and RB LaMont Jordan are also in the mix, I suppose, but Hillis should be the most effective RB in the group.

RB Joseph Addai (IND): Addai has been fairly ineffective recently, and he has struggled to stay healthy. Enter rookie RB Donald Brown, who has looked sharp so far. It is hard to say what will happen with this RBBC, but it is safe to say that if Addai gets injured or cannot get the job done, Brown will step in and could do very well.

RB Jamal Lewis (CLE): Lewis has looked slow this preseason and is at that magical age (30) when RBs go down hill. So if you take him, you should also grab RB James Davis, who could supplant him as the starter by midseason.

RB Willie Parker (PIT): Parker has seen his YPC go down each year since becoming the starter. That is not a good sign of things to come. So if you take Fast Willie, make sure you also grab RB Rashard Mendenhall, who should see his role increase as the year goes along, especially if FWP cannot stay healthy.

Preseason Injury Updates

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Here are some notable injuries to be aware of as you draft your teams and/or scour the waiver wires after your drafts:

QB Kurt Warner (ARI): Warner is old and has a hip issue. Although his hip is reportedly getting better, it is still a concern.

QB Carson Palmer (CIN): Palmer missed nearly all of 2008 with an elbow injury, only to injure his ankle upon his return to the field in 2009. I do not expect either to be very serious, but it would be nice to see him play a little more before the real action begins.

QB Drew Brees (NO): Thankfully, Brees is not hurt. But his starting LT Jamaal Brown is. Which does impact Brees’ value. Brees is still a top-ranked fantasy QB, but this might be enough to bump QB Tom Brady above him.

QB Brett Favre (MIN): Favre ended 2008 on a down note due to a bum shoulder. He seems to be ready to go this year, but keep an eye on him and see how he feels after throwing a few passes.

RB Jonathan Stewart (CAR): The most recent reports say that Stewart will miss the rest of the preseason due to a lingering achilles injury. This is bad news for Stewart but very good news for RB DeAngelo Williams, who would benefit immensely from the absence of Stewart.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): Westbrook had offseason ankle surgery, and is likely recovering from any number of other injuries he sustained in 2008. Many think 2009 could be the end of the line for Westbrook, but he is a tough player and will not go away easily. But do pay attention to his injury status, because RB LeSean McCoy is lurking in the shadows waiting for his chance to shine.

RB Pierre Thomas (NO): Thomas suffered a minor sprain to his MCL recently, but should be fine by the time week 1 rolls around.

RB Reggie Bush (NO): Bush is reportedly going to see his first action in the next preseason game after missing time due to various injuries. Which is nothing new for Bush.

RB Knowshon Moreno (DEN): After all the hype and the holdout, all Moreno did was get injured. When healthy, he should get enough touches in DEN to make him a borderline RB2. Keep an eye on his knee.

RB Beanie Wells (ARI): Another rookie with some hype was Wells. But no one was surprised when he hurt his ankle on the first day of camp. Wells has dealt with injury issues throughout his career. So it is worth seeing how quickly he recovers.

RB Marshawn Lynch (BUF): Lynch is not injured, but he will miss the first 3 games of the season due to a suspension. If RB Fred Jackson (see below) is healthy, he should get the carries. Otherwise, RB Xavier Omon could get some extra work, along with RB Dominic Rhodes.

RB Fred Jackson (BUF): Jackson has been dealing with a wrist injury and recently left practice due to a thumb injury. It is not yet clear how serious either one is, but since Lynch will miss some time, it is worth following his progress.

WR Calvin Johnson (DET): Johnson returned to practice recently after missing some time with a thumb injury. I think he should be fine for the regular season. If not, he could still probably put up 1000 yards with one hand.

WR Terrell Owens (BUF): Owens will miss another preseason game with a sore toe. Which is not good. Foot/toe injuries have a way of lingering and causing problems all year. Hopefully this one is not serious.

WR Antonio Bryant (TB): Bryant added to the long list of question marks hovering over him heading into 2009 when he injured his meniscus. He could be ready by week 1, but the timetable for his return is not clear. I was already avoiding him, so this does not help his cause.

WR Donnie Avery (STL): Avery suffered a foot injury early in camp, but the reports are that he is on the road to recovery. He could have a very good year, but there are a lot of question marks in STL, including the OL and the QB.

WR Chaz Schilens (OAK): Schilens was rocketing up draft boards (which was easy, since he started near the bottom) and was on everyone’s sleeper lists, and then he broke a bone in his foot and had to have surgery. He will miss the first couple games of the season, but should be back eventually and ready to make an impact.

WR Nate Washington (TEN): Washington injured his hamstring and will miss the remaining 2 preseason games. Which is unfortunate, because it seemed like TEN was working on getting him more involved in the offense.

WR Mike Sims-Walker (JAX): Walker is another sleeper candidate who cannot seem to get on the field and prove he is worthy of a late-round pick. I still like his potential, but he needs to show me something before I waste a pick on him rather than someone else — like his teammate WR Troy Williamson, who is playing well in place of Sims-Walker in the lineup.

WR Michael Crabtree (SF): Crabtree is not injured (that I know of), he is simply being a complete idiot and not signing a contract. Obviously, if he is not under contract, he will not play. So you draft him at your own risk.

That is all I have for now. I am sure I missed someone, or someone else will get injured. So check back for injury updates as we get closer to the regular season.

Players to Watch Tonight

August 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Eight teams play their first preseason games tonight. Here is a list of some players to keep an eye on.

NE v. PHI

QB Tom Brady (NE): How comfortable does he look in the pocket?

RB Fred Taylor (NE): Does he have anything left?

WR Greg Lewis (NE): Can he beat out WR Joey Galloway for the number 3 WR spot?

RB LeSean McCoy (PHI): Can he live up to the hype?

WR DeSean Jackson (PHI): Is he ready to take the next step?

WR Jeremy Maclin (PHI): Will he have any impact as a rookie?

BAL v. WAS

QB Joe Flacco (BAL): Has he progressed at all?

RB Ray Rice (BAL): Is he ready to be the main ballcarrier?

WR Demetrius Williams (BAL): Can he stay healthy and make some plays?

QB Jason Campbell (WAS): Can he relax and take charge of the offense?

WR Devin Thomas (WAS): Is he ready to make an impact?

ARI v. PIT

RB Tim Hightower (ARI): Can he hold onto the number 1 spot

RB Rashard Mendenhall (PIT): Can he show us something other than his ability to get hurt?

WR Limas Sweed (PIT): Can he live up to the hype he had while at Texas?

DAL v. OAK

QB Jamarcus Russell (OAK): Does he still look like a bust?

RB Darren McFadden (OAK): How do the Raiders use him?

WR Chaz Shilens (OAK): Could he be a sleeper?

WR Johnnie Lee Higgins (OAK): He caught a TD pass in each of the last 3 games in 08. Fluke?

QB Tony Romo (DAL): Is he more relaxed without WR Terrell Owens around?

RB Marion Barber (DAL): Will he go back to his old role as TD-machine and game-closer?

RB Felix Jones (DAL): How do the Cowboys use him?

WR Miles Austin (DAL): Is the sleeper-hype justified?

RB Handcuffs

August 10, 2009 Leave a comment

You have all heard the term “handcuff” before when referring to fantasy football players and their backups. Generally, I am not a huge fan of automatically drafting a “handcuff” for your starter, but there are situations when it can be valuable.

I would only recommend drafting a handcuff if you are drafting a RB with a high (e.g. first 3 or 4 rounds) who is (1) injury-prone and (2) plays in a high-powered offense. For example, I would recommend grabbing Westbrook’s backup, because he is injury prone and the Eagles’ offense is very good. Conversely, I would not recommend grabbing RB Steven Jackson‘s handcuff, because he will not perform at anywhere near the same level. My point is this: Do not waste a pick by automatically selecting a handcuff for each of your RBs. There are more valuable players out there in many situations.

For your 2009 fantasy football draft, I would recommend the following handcuffs if you draft any of these players:

RB Adrian Peterson (MIN): Peterson accounts for a large percentage of the Viking offense. And it is reasonable to assume that if AP goes down, RB Chester Taylor will assume a similar role. Grabbing Taylor as a handcuff for AP can be tough, though, since Taylor gets enough touches on his own to make him worth drafting late. But it is always worthwhile to protect your investment in a guy like AP, who gets a lot of touches and thus is more exposed to potential injuries.

RB Brian Westbrook (PHI): Westbrook is old and about to breakdown. Or so everyone (including me) says. He could very well prove us all wrong this year, and avoid any injuries. But he is a risk. Handcuff = RB LeSean McCoy.

RB Maurice Jones-Drew (JAX): I do not consider MJD to be injury-prone, but any time a guy increases his workload in a significant way, you have to also consider him an increased risk to get injured. And the Jags like to make their RBs the focal point of their offense, so his backup should still do fairly well.  The only problem is, right now we are not entirely sure who that is going to be. Keep an eye on this situation throughout camp. Potential Handcuff(s) = FB Greg Jones, RB Chauncey Washington, and RB Rashad Jennings.

RB Brandon Jacobs (NYG): Jacobs is a bruiser. And although he usually doles out more punishment than he receives, you can almost guarantee he will miss time in 09 with a nagging injury. However, much like the Jags, it is not clear yet who would be the primary ball carrier if Jacobs goes down. Keep an eye on the battle for his backup during camp. Potential Handcuff(s) = RB Ahmad Bradshaw, RB Danny Ware, and RB Andre Brown.

RB Marion Barber (DAL): Although Barber did miss some time last year due to injury, I do not consider him injury prone. However, due to his running style, it is always a possibility. Handcuff = RB Tashard Choice (Note: I do not consider RB Felix Jones to be a handcuff for Barber, because I think Jones will be used differently in the offense.)

RB LaDainian Tomlinson (SD): As we all know, LT is getting older. And last year showed us that he is, in fact, human. Although I do expect him to have a better year in 09, there is no reason to be foolish. Handcuff = RB Darren Sproles (Note: Due to the touches he will get regardless, Sproles will likely go pretty early. If you do not want to waste an early pick on a handcuff, then consider grabbing RB Gartrell Johnson later.)

RB Clinton Portis (WAS): The Skins want to reduce his workload already, but despite how tough Portis is, he has missed some time due to injury. Handcuff = RB Ladell Betts.

RB Darren McFadden (OAK): The Raiders love to run the ball. And they want to make McFadden a focal point on offense. But McFadden has a slight build, is an upright runner, and missed quite a few games in 08 due to injuries. Handcuff = RB Michael Bush (Note: RB Justin Fargas is in the mix, too, so watch how the Raiders use these guys in camp.)

RB Thomas Jones (NYG): Jones had a surprisingly good year in 08. But he is past the 30-year old mark and he is unhappy with his contract. Plus he has a shaky QB situation. And he has a rookie RB breathing down his neck. Handcuff = RB Shonn Green. (Note: RB Leon Washington, much like Sproles and Felix Jones, already has a role in the offense, but I do not expect him to become the full-time RB if Jones goes down.)

RB Marshawn Lynch (BUF): Lynch is already scheduled to miss the first 3 games of the year due to an NFL-imposed suspension. Which makes drafting him fairly risky to begin with. But he should do well later in the year to make him attractive in the middle rounds of the draft. If nothing else, you will want a replacement for the first 3 games. Handcuff = RB Fred Jackson.

RB Larry Johnson (KC): No one really knows what to expect out of the Chiefs this year. New Coach. New GM. New QB. And a happy LJ? It’s hard to say how it will all work out, but we do know that LJ has had his fair share of injury issues in the past. Handcuff = RB Jamaal Charles.

RB Jamal Lewis (CLE): I am still surprised Lewis has an NFL career, at this point. It seems like he has been around forever, and I expected him to fade away awhile ago. And this may be the year it finally happens. Handcuff = RB James Davis.

RB Joseph Addai (IND): We all know about the struggles Addai had last year. And then the Colts went out and drafted a talented rookie RB. So if you roll the dice with Addai, you better be willing to spend a mid-round pick on insurance. Handcuff = RB Donald Brown.

RB Willie Parker (PIT): Parker has been slowly declining for the past couple of seasons, and missed significant time last year due to injuries. He is getting older and there is youth behind him. Handcuff = RB Rashard Mendenhall.


NFC Training Camp Position Battles

July 23, 2009 Leave a comment

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 NFC that could have an impact on the fantasy landscape:

RB Tim Hightower v. RB Beanie Wells (ARI): Hightower was largely ineffective last year, gaining under 3 yards per carry. But he did notch 10 TDs. So he was not entirely useless. As I have said before, I am not a huge Beanie Wells fan. But the Cardinals have a very high-powered offense. If he can become the goal line back — which is questionable, given Hightower’s performance last year — he would be attractive. He also needs to show that he can catch the ball out of the backfield. But watch to see how the Cardinals use these two during the preseason.

RB Derrick Ward v. RB Earnest Graham (TB): People have been assuming that Ward is just going to take over the starting job now that he is in Tampa. But I think Graham will still be heavily involved. I suspect Ward will likely end up being the starter on Day 1, but do not expect him to carry the full load.

RB Brian Westbrook v. RB LeSean McCoy (PHI): This is really a position battle. Mostly, it will be interesting to watch McCoy during the preseason to see how well he performs. Westbrook had ankle surgery in June, and although the Eagles say he is fine, he will likely miss most if not all of training camp. Which means McCoy will get a lot of reps. If he looks good, his workload could increase. And, when Westbrook inevitably misses time due to injuries, his value could skyrocket.

RB DeAngelo Williams v. RB Jonathan Stewart (CAR): Again, I am not sure that this is really a position battle, but the fantasy value of both RBs will be heavily determined by how much each is used. I have a feeling that it will be very unpredictable and will change from week-to-week. Which, unfortunately, reduces the value for both. Based on age/experience/production, I suspect Williams will be the starter. But, if Stewart can stay healthy, I think he is the better RB (despite how well Williams played down the stretch last year).

RB Julius Jones v. ? (SEA): Okay, so maybe I am reaching here. But there just are not that many intriguing position battles in the NFC this year. But it will be interesting to see what happens in Seattle. They were absolutely awful last year. But QB Matt Hasselbeck should be healthy, new-arrival WR TJ Houshmandzadeh, and potentially-healthy WR Deion Branch should provide a boost to the offense. And OC Greg Knapp’s run-blocking scheme actually fits Jones quite well. But he will give way to TD-vulture TJ Duckett around the goal line. Assuming he can hold off second-year (undersized) RB Justin Forsett, Jones should be a solid RB3 option that could even be a RB2 if Seattle can put things together on offense.

WR Miles Austin v. WR Sam Hurd (DAL): Now that WR Terrell Owens has taken his home-wrecking show to Buffalo, there is a spot open as the Cowboys’ No. 2 WR that could produce a useful fantasy WR. WR Roy Williams will be the No. 1, unless something completely unexpected happens, but the No. 2 spot seems wide open. However, you have to remember that TE Jason Witten and QB Tony Romo are cosmically connected, so the No. 2 WR will end up being the 3rd option.

WR Anquan Boldin v. The Cardinals (ARI): Boldin still wants a new contract or to be traded. And the Cardinals do not seem interested in giving him either. However, I am confident that Boldin will show up for camp and play hard, regardless of his contract situation, just like he did (for most of) last season. However, you should pay attention to how this plays out, because his fantasy value is obviously heavily tied to whether he stays or goes.

Check out the AFC Training Camp position battles.