With NFL training camps beginning, fantasy football drafts are just around the corner. Unfortunately, injuries and other factors can and probably will impact things before the start of the regular season, but these are the biggest fantasy football storylines heading into camp. As usual, running back competitions are among the storylines to keep the closest eye on.
Panthers running back situation
It took a while for him to sign with a team after he was released by the Broncos, but there’s now talk that C.J. Anderson could be the Panthers’ lead running back over Christian McCaffrey this season. There is no doubt McCaffrey is going to have a huge role as a receiver for Carolina, but there was some thought that he could be around a 225-carry back this season; it still could happen if he out-plays Anderson in training camp, and the fantasy-football implications could be big if it does.
Titans running back situation
The Titans have a bit of a situation inverse of the Panthers. Derrick Henry is the big, bruising back that was thought to be poised for a huge workload after the team released DeMarco Murray, but Dion Lewis, who led the Patriots in rushing last season, was added to the mix. Lewis is an electrifying running back, and some even think this could be a near 50-50 split in Tennessee’s backfield. It’ll be interesting to see how the coaches are deploying their two talented running backs throughout camp.
Dolphins running back situation
The first two running back situations look like they could be two-man running-back-by-committees, but the Dolphins could potentially be a three-headed committee with Kenyan Drake, Frank Gore, and rookie Kalen Ballage. Drake was really impressive last season, but Miami didn’t just bring Gore on-board to sit the bench; and Ballage has the size and athleticism to force his way into the lineup as a rookie. This could be a straight-up competition for touches this summer.
Last year, if you drafted a running back early in fantasy drafts, there was a good chance you were happy with the selection for the season. Meanwhile, some wide receivers didn’t match expectations but could be ready to bounce back in 2018. Two of them (Amari Cooper, who was mostly a second- or third-round pick last year, and Jordy Nelson, who was mostly a first- or second-round pick last year) are on one team; Mike Evans is coming off his worst season since entering the league; and Broncos receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both had under 1,000 receiving yards for the first time since they’ve been together.
Jerick McKinnon’s performance
If you follow the money, the 49ers are expecting big things from free-agent acquisition Jerick McKinnon, who is being paid as a top-five running back. McKinnon has not yet handled a huge workload for an entire season, but he might need to get ready for that this training camp. We’ll have to watch how McKinnon is handling being the man in San Francisco while seeing if any teammates like Joe Williams or Matt Batt Breida have sizable roles.
Josh Gordon’s status
All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon announced on Twitter that he will not be in attendance for the start of Browns training camp as a part of his plan. Despite Gordon’s optimism, it’s not certain at this point if there were any issues he’s come across recently. And he doesn’t sound absolutely certain that he’ll be back for Week 1. This could mean Cleveland must count on third-year receiver Corey Coleman or rookie Antonio Callaway to step up for them if Gordon isn’t going to be with the team. Jarvis Landry could also remain a target monster in his first year with the Browns.
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