NFC Training Camp Battle Worth Monitoring (Fantasy Football)

Ladies and gentlemen, we have football! Okay, it’s only training camp and in a few weeks, preseason, but still, we will take what we can get at this point. On a side note, I wrote in an article last year my opinion on how to save the Pro Bowl. My idea was to move the Pro Bowl to the Hall of Fame game, the first preseason game of the year. How great would that be if we were gearing up to watch the best current players in the NFL while watching the greats from the past getting inducted to the HOF? It’ll never happen, but one can dream.

Back to the task at hand. The following NFC training camp battles are the ones I’m most interested in from a fantasy perspective, so let’s jump right in…

Washington Redskins — No. 3 WR

Jamison Crowder vs Josh Doctson

Doctson is the new guy on the block after being drafted in the first round of the 2016 NFL draft, and Crowder is in his second year after a promising rookie season. There hasn’t been a lot of concrete evidence about who has the upper hand for the No. 3 WR duties in this Redskins offense, but my guess would be Crowder.

It is my belief that Doctson was drafted to replace DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garcon for 2017, and while he may see the field some in his rookie season, he will be playing behind Crowder. Everything I’ve heard so far is how impressed the coaches are with Crowder’s camp. Combined that with his familiarity with the ‘Skins offense and Kirk Cousins and it should be his job to lose.

For Doctson to move into that No.3 role this season he would have to have a pretty incredible preseason and have Crowder slip up. It will still be an interesting battle and Crowder’s lackluster late season numbers from 2015 could leave the door open for the rookie to take his job.

Philadelphia Eagles — No. 2 WR

Rueben Randle vs Nelson Agholor

Agholor had a lot of hype surrounding him in his rookie season last year as the No. 2 WR in a “Chip Kelly” offense, but unfortunately for him — and Chip Kelly — he fell well short of expectations. Many just assumed he would get the chance to redeem himself in 2016 as the Eagles didn’t have much else at WR to compete with him, but the Eagles went out and signed former Giant WR Rueben Randle.

Randle is now the early favorite to win the starting job next to Jordan Matthews, but the Eagles have not given up on Agholor yet and would like nothing more than to see him win the starting job. With a good showing in preseason, and if Randle shows the same inconsistencies he showed in New York, Agholor could win back the No. 2 WR spot.

Now whether they are fantasy relevant remains to be seen, but it’s worth monitoring as we head into camps.

New York Giants — Starting RB

Rashad Jennings vs Paul Perkins

This battle probably won’t be decided in the preseason, as I expect Jennings to open the season as the starter, but look for Perkins to push Jennings for the lead role as the season progresses. Perkins is the more talented back, but like most rookie RBs, he will have to learn how to pass protect before seeing the field. Jennings has had a hard time staying healthy in his career, and if he were to miss time, Perkins could become the Giants starter sooner than later.

I’ll be watching Perkins closely in the preseason to see just how he has adapted to the NFL’s speed, but I’m setting the over/under at Week 6.5 for Perkins to win the starting job.

Green Bay Packers — No. 3 WR

Davante Adams, Jeff Janis, Jared Abbrederis

This may only be a two-headed race, but I included Abbrederis because I’ve heard reports that Janis could be on the roster bubble. If Janis were to get cut and Adams was to play the way he did in 2015, which wasn’t very good, Abbrederis could get a shot at the job. I fully expect Adams to go into the season as the No. 3 WR, but if either of the two guy behind him shows anything in preseason, the Packers aren’t afraid to go with the hot hand — ask Eddie Lacy.

The No. 3 WR position in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense is a valuable one in fantasy football, and the type of numbers that have come from previous No.3’s in this offense will have me watching this battle closely.

Detriot Lions — Starting RB

Ameer Abdullah vs Theo Riddick

I’m on record saying I like Riddick over Abdullah in PPR leagues, and I’ll stand by that until I see something to change my mind. The fact is, Abdullah will get the first crack at the starting job, but even if he wins the job, Riddick will still be a big part of the offense. Abdullah was over drafted last year based on one play in the preseason. His stock rose probably two rounds after that jump cut and long run against the Jets in Week 1 of the preseason.

Abdullah proceeded to have a sub-par season and was thoroughly outplayed by Riddick. I’m starting to hear the preseason hype train around Abdullah starting up again, and I’ll be curious to see how he does in this preseason to help his draft stock.

Chicago Bears — Starting RB

Jeremy Langford, Jordan Howard, Ka’Deem Carey

This is probably more of a two-headed race, but I threw Carey in there for good measure. Langford has the inside track on the position, but with such a small sample size to judge him I wouldn’t be surprised to see Howard end the season as the starter. I’ll be curious to see what Howard looks like in the preseason against NFL competition, but even if he doesn’t win the job outright, expect him to be a sizable part of the offense. Worst case scenario, Howard is the handcuff for Langford owners with some change of pace fantasy value. Best case scenario, you draft Howard in the very late rounds and he becomes the starter by mid-season.

New Orleans Saints — No. 2 WR/No. 3 WR

Michael Thomas, Brandon Coleman, Willie Snead

Snead figures to have the inside track on the No. 2 job barring Thomas dramatically out playing him in the preseason, but Thomas could become the better red zone option over the smaller Snead. Coleman was all the hype last year going into the season than all but disappeared once it began and is no lock to even make the roster. Two of these guys could become fantasy relevant in what figures to be a high-powered Saints offense, so this will be an intriguing battle to watch for fantasy purposes.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Starting Tight End

Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs Cameron Brate

On paper, this one shouldn’t even be a battle, but ASF can’t get out of his own way. He is by far the most talented of the two but numerous incidents, including getting kicked out of practice, may leave him on the outside looking in — leaving Brate as the No. 1 tight end for the Buccaneers. If Brate were to win the starting job, he would likely be a very touchdown dependent TE2/Streamer, so this is more about ASF losing the job than it is about Brate winning it. Unless something dramatic happens between now and Week 1, I wouldn’t touch either guy.

San Francisco 49ers — Starting QB

Blaine Gabbert vs Colin Kaepernick

Gabbert seems to have the inside track on this job, but Kaepernick has the talent to win it, making it an interesting battle, to say the least. I’m not sure if either QB will be viable in a standard 10–12 team league, but they could be good streamers in the right matchup. There is still an outside chance that Kaep is traded before the season starts, but the closer we get to Week 1, the more and more unlikely that is to happen. If I had to put money on one QB or the other, I’d put my money on Gabbert opening the season as the starter, but Kaep will get more starts than Gabbert by the end of the season (practicing my politcal anwsers with that statment).

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Originally published at GoingFor2.com.