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Sun Aug 30th 2020

Training Camp Hype #2

Buying The Hype On These Players

Last week teams finally practiced in pads and held scrimmages. Beat reporters and coaches talked about the performance of many players. Now dynasty managers have to decide whether to believe the hype or not. Here are ten players who were hyped up this week, and I believe the hype.

JK Dobbins

  • Last week, reporters said that Dobbins has been standing out in practice, and "every practice seems to bring another highlight-reel submission." He's been involved in the passing game already and has reportedly earned a role behind Mark Ingram and ahead of Gus Edwards in week one. 
  • These reports are anything but surprising to me. Dobbins is already the best running back on the team. Mark Ingram has far more experience and is one of the team's best leaders, so his role will not entirely go away like I believe will happen to Marlon Mack with Jonathan Taylor. I believe Dobbins will split time with Ingram about 50/50, overall this year, and both running backs will be startable running backs on dynasty rosters this year just because the Ravens' offensive is so productive. Baltimore already split Ingram's carried last year. Ingram averaged 34 snaps per game in the 15 games he played while Gus Edwards averaged 25 snaps per game and was second in the league in yards-per-carry last year. Dobbins is a far better running back than Edwards and will get more carries and do more with them. He's the Baltimore running back that can outrun defenses and break long touchdowns. Count on a split role with Ingram this year and Dobbins becoming the lead running back in Baltimore next year.

Tyler Eifert

  • Eifert is reported to have a "strong connection" with Gardner Minshew during training camp and has looked good and healthy in practice. Josh Oliver, Eifert's main competition at the tight end position, broke his foot and will miss the season. Eifert has secured the starting tight end position in Jacksonville.
  • When Eifert plays, he stands out, especially in the red-zone. The problem with Eifert is that he is often injured. Knowing this, Cincinnati only gave Eifert 32 snaps per game last year and gave C.J. Uzomah 41 snaps per game. Jacksonville cannot afford to limit Eifert's snaps after Josh Oliver was injured. James O'Shaughnessy is the only tight end with any experience on their depth chart now, and he is 28 years old and coming off of an injury himself. Jacksonville added a significant weapon in the draft when they picked Laviska Shenault. Their wide receiver corps of Shenault, Chark, Westbrook, and Conley should create room for Eifert to get open over the middle and down the seams. If he can stay healthy, he will get targeted often.

Allen Lazard

  • The Lazard hype started during the NFL draft when Green Bay didn't draft a single wide receiver in the loaded 2020 rookie class. The hype continued when Devin Funchess, the only free agent they signed, opted out for the season. Reports at Packers' camp believe that Lazard has already locked up the WR-2 position. Then he hauls in a 33-yard catch and a 77-yard touchdown catch in the Packers' scrimmage this week. 
  • By midseason last year, Lazard overtook Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Jake Kumerow to become the WR-2 in Green Bay. There is no reason to believe he won't start the season ahead of them again, and no one else was added to the team this off-season to challenge him. Though he has the role shored up, his upside is limited. All signs point to Green Bay changing their offense run more than they pass, and when they do pass, the targets will be sharply focused on Devante Adams.

Zack Moss

  • It was thought that Moss was drafted to take the Frank Gore role from last season, taking a role in short-yardage and red-zone situations. However, training camp reports show Moss to be very active in the passing game as well. The beat report, Joe Buscaglia, says Moss's role is being very "undersold." On the other hand, Devin Singletary is not playing as well in camp and has struggled with fumbles in practices.
  • This off-season, I had Moss as my 20th ranked rookie, which meant I never drafted him because others were drafting him earlier in the second round. This training camp news causes me to reconsider my ranking as I head into my final rookie draft over Labor Day weekend. The hype has been pretty consistent throughout training camp. Moss is going to have a more significant role than just the short-yardage role. Buffalo has shown that they are willing to play rookie immediately. Rookie, Devin Singletary, got 70% of the snaps in week one last year and was injured in week two before coming back to play week six. Buffalo does plan on using both backs, but unlike what I was thinking a month ago, Moss will be the lead-back by midseason.

Todd Gurley

  • Early reports from camp were not positive for Gurley. He was reportedly walking with a limp and limited in practices. Then this week offensive coordinator, Dirk Koetter, says that they plan to give Gurley 15-25 touches per game, that 15 would be a bare minimum. That quote was enough to spike Gurley's value up again.
  • I'm not going to change my opinion on Gurley solely based on a quote by an offensive coordinator, but it gives a little confirmation to what I already presumed his role would be. Atlanta signed Gurley to a one-year contract. They have every reason to give him the ball 15-25 times per game to either burn him out or see that he's worth signing beyond this year. Atlanta is always one of the highest-scoring offenses, so Gurley will have every opportunity to do what he did best last year to keep his dynasty value from dropping to far: scoring touchdowns. He can score 14 times, just like he did last year in LA.

Mike Davis

  • Davis has reportedly locked up the back-role behind Christian McCaffrey in Carolina. Coach Rhule complimented his running and pass-catching ability. The Panthers also released one of their running backs this week, Jordan Scarlett. 
  • Most dynasty managers, including myself, were holding on to Reggie Bonnafon as the handcuff for McCaffrey since he appeared to be the back-up last year and did have a few long runs at the end of games. However, the news seems pretty clear that Mike Davis is going to be McCaffrey's primary back-up. He holds no value unless McCaffrey gets injured, but in deep dynasty rosters, he's worth holding onto, especially for the McCaffrey owner. I picked him up off waivers in several leagues this week.

Benny Snell

  • Snell's value dropped significantly this off-season after Pittsburg drafted Anthony McFarland. However, it's been reported that Snell has locked up the back-up role behind James Conner already in training camp. He lost twelve pounds this off-season and reportedly taken a very professional approach to his second year.
  • Last year, in his rookie year, Snell was the third-string running back, behind Conner and Samuels. He did have two decent games with 91 and 98 yards rushing when Conner was injured, but it didn't look like enough to become the primary back-up to Conner this year. Pittsburg drafted Anthony McFarland in the fourth round just like Snell was the year before, so Snell appeared to have even more competition this year. If these reports from beat writers are accurate, Snell's value should rise quite a bit. Pittsburg has a history of second-string running backs making fantasy impacts DeAngelo Williams and James Conner did so behind Le'Veon Bell. Jaylen Samuel had some starter-worthy games when Conner has been injured, especially in PPR leagues. I made the rankings adjustment this week, moving Snell ahead of Samuels and McFarland in my running back rankings.

Auden Tate

  • Tate has been making the most of his practice time while A.J. Green (hamstring), Tee Higgins (hamstring), and John Ross (COVID) miss time in practice. One beat report said that Tate the "camp offensive MVP" so far, and coach Taylor said he has been "impressed" by Tate's play.
  • I believe this hype from a talent perspective, but I do not buy it from a real opportunity perspective. I've always loved the talent of Auden Tate. Before the 2018 NFL Combine and NFL Draft, I had Tate among my top 3 wide receivers in the class based on his college film, but when he performed poorly in the Combine and was not drafted until the 7th round by Cincinnati I had to drop him significantly in my rookie rankings. The news of him standing out in camp does not surprise me at all, but I do believe Green, Ross, and Higgins, who all have far greater draft capital, will play ahead of Tate this season unless they remain injured. I did pick Tate up in one league this week to see how long the injuries linger for Green and Higgins.

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

  • Arcega-Whiteside started his own hype at the start of training camp when he promised there would be a "night and day" difference in his play this year. Last week I wrote about how Jalen Reagor has been getting most of the training camp buzz. This week Arcega-Whiteside is getting the buzz after catching three touchdowns in the Eagles' scrimmage this week.
  • It's a very crowded wide receiver room in Philadelphia, but I believe Arcega-Whiteside can emerge as a starter and a red-zone specialist. The three touchdown catches were no surprise to me. Wide receivers make the biggest jump in play from year one to two, and I believe J.J. can make that jump this year. He plays a different position and different style than all the other wide receivers Philadelphia drafted. He only needs to hold of Alshon Jeffery to earn a starting position.

Kerryon Johnson

  • Johnson's dynasty value took a massive hit after Detroit drafted D'Andre Swift in the second round of the NFL draft. Coaches said they planned to use both backs equally, but when camp started, Johnson was wearing a knee brace and appeared to already be behind Swift. However, the tables have turned, as Swift is the injured running back and missed the last nine days of practice. Coaches reiterated this week that they need to bring Swift along more slowly.
  • I've been more reluctant to move Kerryon Johnson too far down my dynasty rankings after Swift was drafted. I currently have Johnson ranked 33rd and Swift 20th. I do believe Johnson can provide value to dynasty teams. He's too good to be quickly overtaken by Swift. If Swift struggles with injuries as Johnson does, either one could be extremely valuable while the other is injured. While Johnson should be seen as the back-up to Swift, he is among the most talented back-ups in the league. At this point, the odds are that Johnson will be the starter to begin the year. If he can stay healthy, he could hold off Swift early in the season so Detroit can bring him along more slowly as the coaches intend. Johnson could help dynasty teams get off to a hot start before Swift eats into his workload.

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