As we cross into the month of August, fantasy football drafts start getting underway.
This is also the time where you'll find ample beat reporter reports about players performing well in camp. Reading these reports can help inform decisions for your upcoming fantasy draft or ultimately feed a narrative that may be true, but not in the way you were hoping for.
You know what we mean -- around this time, there are always reports about a player "having a role" in the offense. But what does news like that mean?
Here, we're going to take some of the more notable reports coming out of training camp and break them down for what they could mean in the context of fantasy football.
Report: After being arrested for criminal speeding Wednesday, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN reports that Cardinals wide receiver Marquise Brown is back at practice Thursday -- one day after the arrest
Traded from the Baltimore Ravens to the Cardinals on a draft-day deal, Marquise Brown is not off to a hot start with the team. Before the arrest, Brown was nursing a hamstring injury, which, if you're unaware, is considered a soft tissue injury which can be a lingering, nagging injury, especially for a player that relies primarily on his speed.
Speaking of speed, Brown, when arrested, was cited for driving 126 miles-per-hour in a 65-mile-per-hour zone, according to Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. This arrest is unlikely to warrant a suspension, but it's certainly not a good look. Fellow wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins will miss six games due to a PED suspension, which put Brown in the driver's seat to begin the year.
FantasyPros has Brown going as the WR23 in PPR, which makes sense when you consider him as the No. 2 option when Hopkins returns and the No. 1 option in his absence. Again, the arrest is unlikely to warrant a suspension, but the hamstring injury is worth monitoring. For fantasy purposes, keep drafting Brown in that WR2 range.
Report: According to Cecil Lammey of DenverFan.com, Broncos running back Javonte Williams has worked as the lead back for six of the last seven days of training camp.
As you may know, other than Williams, the Broncos brought back Melvin Gordon on a one-year deal worth $2.5 million.
Approaching 30, Gordon had eight rushing touchdowns last year while accruing 918 yards on 203 carries. Gordon can still provide some real-life NFL value, but it's looking like Williams is set to take over the backfield. Lammey also states that he expects a "70-30" split. Interestingly enough, Williams and Gordon each had 203 carries last year, having a quite literal 50-50 split in Williams' rookie season. Gordon technically averaged slightly better yards per carry, but Williams had more runs of 10-plus yards. With an added workload and Russell Wilson now under center, Williams' prospects are only improving, and drafters see that, too.
According to FantasyPros, Williams' ADP is at RB12 in PPR leagues. This illustrates that players expect him to be an RB1, and so do we. If not an RB1, Williams should finish top-15 quite easily.
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Report: According to Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com, the Titans have been giving first-team reps to rookie wide receiver Kyle Philips.
Drafted in the fifth round out of UCLA, Philips has been getting first-team reps out of the slot. At 5-foot-11 and 189 pounds, this is where Philips best profiles. He had a good final season with the Bruins, catching 59 balls on 94 targets for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns.
In the same draft, the Titans selected Treylon Burks in the first round to help fill the void left by A.J. Brown, who the team traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. In addition to Burks, the team also brought in veteran receiver Robert Woods who's coming off a torn ACL. Peter King of NBC Sports states that Woods is "totally back to normal."
Currently, Ourlads has Nick Westbrook-Ikhine ahead of Philips on the slot receiver depth chart. Westbrook-Ikhine showed some flashes last season, but it wasn't anything that would guarantee him job security.
The Titans' receiver depth is one of the worst in the league. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill will still throw the ball (12th in pass attempts during the regular season last year). Still, the team will again need to lean on running back Derrick Henry, who's dealing with his foot issues. According to FantasyPros, Philips is currently going as the WR132 in PPR scoring -- he's undrafted. Right now, we wouldn't worry too much about drafting Philips.
Report: King states Woods is "totally back to normal."
We mentioned this when discussing Philips, but let's look a bit deeper here.
Woods is coming off a torn ACL in November from when he was with the Los Angeles Rams. If you don't remember, Woods was a nightmare for fantasy football in 2021. He was the player who was too good to bench but had so many dud performances. Woods caught 45 balls on 66 targets for 556 yards and four touchdowns between Weeks 1 to 9. There were splash performances such as Week 5, where he had 12 catches for 150 yards. Still, the success was sporadic despite his WR17 status before the injury.
In coming to the Titans, Woods, if he starts Week 1, should be viewed as the No. 1 option while Burks gets his feet wet. But what exactly do we do with that? Remember, not only is Woods coming off an injury and a sporadic fantasy campaign, he's headed to a team that will be a run-first offense, and he's entering his age 30 season. Per FantasyPros, Woods is going as the WR40 in PPR leagues, behind guys like rookie Drake London, Rashod Bateman, Tyler Lockett, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. As the WR40, this ADP is fine. However, if Woods gets off to a good start, he would be an excellent trade candidate early in the season.
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Report: According to Zak Keefer of "The Athletic", Colts rookie wide receiver Alec Pierce "has been with the starters from Day 1."
Like Philips for the Titans, Pierce is also in an interesting spot as the Colts' receiving depth chart is also quite shallow. However, Pierce was drafted in the second round and could have the draft capital to warrant a more immediate role. Ourlads currently lists Pierce as a starting outside receiver.
In his report, Keefer also notes that Colts head coach Frank Reich requires his receivers to understand all the receiver positions, which, if he's "been with the starters from Day 1," would indicate that he has. Quarterback Matt Ryan is aging and has all-world running back Jonathan Taylor to fall back on. He threw the ball 561 times in 2021 (11th in the league), so the volume could potentially be there to share between Michael Pittman, Taylor, backup running back Nyheim Hines, and potentially Parris Campbell, who's reportedly shown a connection with Ryan.
In PPR scoring, Pierce, according to FantasyPros, is going as the WR69. Even if he's the starting slot receiver, it's hard to say where he fits in on the pecking order, but he's still worth a late-round flier.
Los Angeles Chargers
Report: According to Daniel Popper of The Athletic, Chargers tight end Donald Parham is "having a great camp, and it is clear he will be a prominent piece in the Chargers' downfield passing attack."
Alright, we have our first bit of "this guy will have a role" news that is faulty.
Heading into the 2021 season, Parham was looked at as a fantasy darling behind the now-departed fellow tight end Jared Cook. However, nothing materialized for Parham, who had just 20 catches and three touchdowns. This offseason, the Chargers signed Gerald Everett to come in and start.
While Herbert may be viewing him as a favorite in the red zone, this by no means indicates any kind of fantasy value. Also, even though he's injured, the team has 2021 draft pick Tre McKitty. Yes, McKitty will be less relevant than Parham, but there's still that depth there. There's not even any ADP data on Parham. Don't let this report of Parham potentially snagging 2-4 red zone touchdowns lodge him into your fantasy draft plans.
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