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Footballguys #99 - 7/29 - Running Back Tiers, How To Watch Preseason Games, News and Notes and MORE

Volume 20, #99 -- Sunday Night, July 29th, 2018

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Howdy Folks,

SITE NEWS

A. FREE Feature - How to Watch Preseason Football
Our Jeff Pasquino with how to watch all of the Preseason Football that you need to see.

B. Running Back Tiers
Every year, our Tiers feature is one of the most popular series we product. This one is sure to be the same. Our Sigmund Bloom takes a look at the 2018 running back landscape through the lens of tiers.

C. 7 Critical Fantasy Football Questions: AFC West
Our Chad Parsons examines the critical fantasy football questions for each NFL team heading into the 2018 season.

D. Fantasy Football 2018: Early Draft Arbitrage
Our Allesandro Miglio with an early look at draft arbitrage to help optimize draft results.


1. NYJ - RB Elijah McGuire to miss 3-6 weeks

Source: ESPN - Adam Schefter

Updating previous reports, New York Jets RB Elijah McGuire (foot) will undergo surgery on his broken foot this week and is expected to miss three to six weeks, according to a source.

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McGuire might not end up on injured reserve after all. If this timetable is correct, George Atkinson was signed to be a camp body, not potentially fill part of McGuire's role for the 2018 season.

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2. PHI - QB Carson Wentz cleared for contact

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer - Jeff McLane

Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz (knee) participated in contact drills for the first time during training camp Saturday, July 28.

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Wentz is on target to start Week 1. Although he might run less, especially early in the year, he is probably a value at ADP because that reflected the possibility that he wouldn't start the season on time.

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3. CAR - QB Cam Newton feeling good

Source: Panthers.com

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton said his body 'feels great' after taking the proper steps this offseason to make sure he is fully healthy.

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The Panthers have added more weapons to the offense over the last two years. That's great news for Newton as most everything in the offense will funnel back to (or go through) him. Newton is a QB1 for Fantasy GMs and going off the board at QB7 (7.06) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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4. PIT - WR JuJu Smith-Schuster leaves practice

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Ray Fittipaldo

Pittsburgh Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (undisclosed) was not able to finish practice Sunday, July 29, because of an undisclosed injury but was catching passes after practice.

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Smith-Schuster had an injury issue this offseason too so this is something to watch. It doesn't sound serious at all, but this isn't the kind of news you want to hear about a player that you are spending a premium pick on in a fantasy draft.

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5. NYJ - Issues surrounding Sam Darnold's negotiation

Source: ESPNNewYork.com - Rich Cimini

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold - the No. 3 overall pick this spring - remains unsigned after the team opened training camp Friday, July 27. While offset language remains an issue, the major sticking point, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini, is default language pertaining to guaranteed money. Under the Jets' proposal, Darnold's entire guarantee - expected to be roughly $30 million over the life of his proposed contract - will void if he's fined by the league for discipline or conduct on or off the field.

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The team has had a checkered history with Darnold's agent Jimmy Sexton, so this could drag on for a while. The Jets are asking for something Baker Mayfield didn't agree to and unusual for a Top 3 pick, so Darnold might have the better bargaining position here.

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6. MIA - Mike Gesicki 'exactly as advertised'

Source: The Miami Herald - Barry Jackson

Miami Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki received his most extensive first-team work and caught two touchdown passes in practice Sunday, July 29. According to tight ends coach Shane Day, he has been competent as a blocker as well through four days of camp and two days of practicing in upper pads.

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Adam Gase made a fantasy star out Julius Thomas in Denver, so the tight end position is one to watch in Miami, although the bar is always very high for rookie tight ends to make a fantasy impact. Gesicki is more of a mid-season waiver wire pickup than a player you draft and stash for the long haul. He does open with Tennessee, the Jets, and Oakland, so Gesicki could get off to a hot start.

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7. DEN - RB job wide open in Denver

Source: USA TODAY Sports - Lindsay H. Jones

Denver Broncos RBs Royce Freeman, Devontae Booker, De'Angelo Henderson and Phillip Lindsay all received first-team reps Sunday, July 29, prompting Lindsay H. Jones of USA TODAY Sports to say the 'running back job is totally open.'

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Lindsay is drawing a lot of praise as a receiver, but he has to keep the momentum going when the intensity turns up later this summer. This isn't going to be one of the most productive backfields in the league and will include 2-3 backs every week, but all of the Broncos backs are modestly priced when looking at their range of outcomes. They have a place in draft plans.

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8. CHI - Roquan Smith deal being held up over helmet rule

Source: NFL.com - Kevin Patra

Updating a previous report, Chicago Bears LB Roquan Smith has not signed his rookie contract because the two sides are negotiating language regarding whether he should have guaranteed money voided in the deal if the league suspends him for a potential helmet-to-helmet hit, according to head coach Matt Nagy.

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This is not a good look for the Bears, who should have their players backs as long as their transgressions aren't severe on the field. The new rule will have a period of unpredictability and it would be unfair to Smith to surrender guaranteed money because the league is still figuring out where the right balance is with the new rule.

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9. PHI - RB Jay Ajayi wants to show his stuff

Source: NFL.com - Kevin Patra

Philadelphia Eagles RB Jay Ajayi said he feels like people have forgotten about the type of running back he can be. 'I'm ready to showcase again to the world who I am as a running back,' Ajayi said. 'Especially given the role that I should be in this year and what they're saying.'

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If the Eagles give Ajayi the kind of workload the Dolphins did two years ago, he could be one of the best values at running back, but they have Corey Clement and Darren Sproles, so that's probably not going to happen. Still, if he collects most of the rushing scores and gets to close out wins, Ajayi might still make anyone who drafted him very happy.

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10. WAS - TE Jordan Reed running routes

Source: ESPN.com - John Keim

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (toes) ran routes in 7-on-7 drills Saturday, July 28.

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Each day that Reed's practice reports are unremarkable is a good one for his fantasy stock. Alex Smith made the most out of Travis Kelce and he should be able to do the same with Reed as long as he stays healthy.

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11. BUF - Malachi Dupre works with starters

Source: WKBW.com - Joe Buscaglia

Buffalo Bills WR Malachi Dupre has been one of four receivers to work mainly with the first-team offense during training camp.

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A seventh-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft (Packers), Dupre lacks deep speed but he does a good job of tracking passes over his shoulder. Dupre also has the ability to work sideline routes and the athleticism to get two feet down regularly on tight throws. We'll monitor him in super deep dynasty leagues.

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12. BUF - QB AJ McCarron too conservative

Source: WKBW.com - Joe Buscaglia

Buffalo Bills QB AJ McCarron has been unwilling to take chances and has been holding the ball too long during training camp, according to Joe Buscaglia of WKBW.com, and Buscaglia believes McCarron could cost himself the starting job if he doesn't improve.

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McCarron isn't the quarterback of the future for the Bills (that's rookie Josh Allen), and he may not be the quarterback of the now if he doesn't show better in training camp. Outside of LeSean McCoy, Fantasy GMs aren't likely to get much production from other pieces of the Bills offense.

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13. BUF - Josh Allen the best QB in Buffalo?

Source: WKBW.com - Joe Buscaglia

Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen has been the best quarterback thus far during training camp, according to Joe Buscaglia of WKBW.com.

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Allen's arm certainly has been impressive. That's not the only thing he needs to win the job, and Allen had accuracy issues in college (56.0 percent passer) at Wyoming that need to be improved. Allen is the quarterback of the future, and going up against guys like A.J. McCarron and Nathan Peterman...they may just get to Allen as soon as possible.

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14. BAL - WR John Brown keeps impressing

Source: The Athletic - Jeff Zrebiec

Baltimore Ravens WR John Brown continued to 'stand out' among the receivers during practice Saturday, July 28, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic.

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When Brown is healthy, there's no doubt he can make plays. The Ravens have revamped their WR corps this offseason, going to free agency for the likes of Brown, Michael Crabtee and Willie Snead. The only Ravens WR Fantasy GMs are drafting is Crabtree, currently going off the board at WR28 (6.05) in 12-team PPR leagues. If Brown impresses in training camp and the preseason, keep him on your waiver wire speed dial in deeper leagues.

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15. PIT - Two defensive starters injured

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Joe Rutter

Pittsburgh Steelers LB T.J. Watt (hamstring) and FS Sean Davis (groin) left practice early Sunday, July 29, because of injuries. Head coach Mike Tomlin said he does not know the severity of the either injury.

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Watt is expected by some to take a step forward from his stellar rookie year, but an extended absence from camp would hurt his cause. Davis is trying to start a positive trend after an up and down 2017.

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16. NE - RB Mike Gillislee may return Monday

Source: The Athletic - Jeff Howe

New England Patriots RB Mike Gillislee (undisclosed) did not participate in practice Sunday, July 29, but could return to practice as early as Monday, July 30, according to a source.

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Gillislee, Jeremy Hill, and undrafted free agent Ralph Webb are battling one potential roster spot as the #4 back, that is if the Patriots choose to keep four in addition to special teams ace Brandon Bolden.

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17. NE - WR Jordan Matthews unable to finish practice

Source: The Athletic - Jeff Howe

New England Patriots WR Jordan Matthews (hamstring) left practice early Sunday, July 29, because of a hamstring injury.

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It doesn't appear to be serious but in the free for all for Patriots wide receiver roster spots, a player can't afford to give up any ground. Matthews isn't a lock for the roster, so he'll need to get back on the field soon.

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18. MIA - TE A.J. Derby sits out

Source: The Miami Herald - Armando Salguero

Miami Dolphins TE A.J. Derby (foot) did not participate in practice Sunday, July 29, because of a foot injury.

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Derby is one of the main obstacles between second-round pick Mike Gesicki and playing time and targets. If this is a lingering injury, it could give the rookie a chance to build momentum with the first team.

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19. BUF - DE Trent Murphy in line to start

Source: BuffaloBills.com - John Murphy

Buffalo Bills DE Trent Murphy has been working at left defensive end with the first-team defense since training camp began and is the leading candidate for the job.

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Murphy doesn't have much IDP potential in sack-heavy or big play leagues, but he might have a chance to rack up tackles if the Bills are as bad as the worst case scenario with their limited offense and quarterback play.

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20. TEN - Tennessee not looking at WR Dez Bryant

Source: NFL Network - Omar Ruiz

Free-agent WR Dez Bryant (Cowboys) is not an option for the Tennessee Titans at this time even though WR Rishard Matthews (undisclosed) is dealing with an injury, according to a source. The Titans could show interest in Bryant down the road.

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This can be spun as good news on Matthews' injury, but Bryant's locker room reputation isn't spotless and that could raise the desperation bar for signing him. It's also possible that they don't want to make any moves until they can see if Matthews is ready to return and has an uneventful return during camp or the preseason.

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21. OAK - No progress in DE Khalil Mack talks

Source: NFL Network - Ian Rapoport

Oakland Raiders DE Khalil Mack has not made any progress in contract extension talks with the Raiders and there is no communication between the sides at this point.

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This one could expect into the season. It's hard to know what the Raiders logic is here unless they have clarity that they don't want to may Mack after this year. His price is only going to go up unless he craters in 2018.

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22. PIT - TE Vance McDonald injured Sunday

Source: The Athletic - Mark Kaboly

Pittsburgh Steelers TE Vance McDonald (foot) was carted off the field toward the end of practice with a foot injury Sunday, July 29.

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Let's not move on from Jesse James quite yet. The team reportedly envisioned a bigger role for McDonald this year after he caught ten passes in the playoff loss to Jacksonville. This could also open up more opportunity for Eli Rogers or James Washington if it's serious, especially with Juju Smith-Schuster also dealing with an undisclosed injury.

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23. SF - Dante Pettis standing out

Source: 49ers.com - Joe Fann

San Francisco 49ers WR Dante Pettis is 'starting to stack good practices together' and 'smooth in and out of his breaks,' according to Joe Fann of 49ers.com.

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Trent Taylor being on the PUP is opening up a chance for Pettis to make an impression and he's taking advantage of it. At this rate, he'll be a hot late round sleeper by mid-August.

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24. DET - WR Marvin Jones back on field Sunday

Source: Detroit Free Press - Dave Birkett

Detroit Lions WR Marvin Jones (knee) was back at practice Sunday, July 29, after leaving a workout the day before with a left knee injury.

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We can take him off of the training camp injury watch list. Despite that, Kenny Golladay's bandwagon is still gaining steam.

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25. DET - RB LeGarrette Blount exits early

Source: Detroit Free Press - Dave Birkett

Detroit Lions RB LeGarrette Blount (undisclosed) walked off the field under his own power but did not participate in the final 30 minutes or so of the team's two-hour practice for undisclosed reasons Sunday, July 29.

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It doesn't sound serious, but we'll be monitoring this situation. If Blount were to miss time, Kerryon Johnson would be next in line for goal line carries.

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26. OAK - RB Jalen Richard diagnosed with calf strain

Source: The Athletic - Vic Tafur

Updating an earlier report, Oakland Raiders RB Jalen Richard (calf) exited practice with a calf strain Sunday, July 29.

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The team may sign another back and this certainly gives DeAndre Washington a leg up over Richard to make the team as the third back. Richard has been explosive in limited work and if the Raiders release him, he could find greener pastures elsewhere once healthy.

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27. DAL - Cedrick Wilson suffers shoulder injury

Source: NFL.com - Ian Rapoport

Dallas Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson (shoulder) reportedly suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder during practice Sunday, July 29. Wilson is undergoing tests to determine the next course of action, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.

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Wilson should land on injured reserve. Don't forget about him in dynasty leagues if no one emerges in Dallas this year.

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28. SF - Matt Breida off to great start

Source: Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Grant Cohn

San Francisco 49ers RB Matt Breida has been the most consistent running back early in training camp and was the 'best running back' during the team's first padded practice Sunday, July 29, according to Grant Cohn of The Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

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Breida is going to have a similar role to Jerick McKinnon, but just as the second back a la Kyle Shanahan's system with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. With the upgrade in offense this year, Breida could be relevant without a McKinnon injury, assuming Joe Williams doesn't crash the party. He's worth a pick in every format.

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29. DEN - WR Demaryius Thomas moving around

Source: USA TODAY Sports - Lindsay H. Jones

Denver Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas is 'working everywhere, including as the Z receiver for the first time,' according to Lindsay H. Jones of USA TODAY.

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Thomas has been a little banged up this spring, but he appears to be healthy and no Broncos player is poised to benefit more from the upgrade to Case Keenum at quarterback than Thomas. He's a high floor, safe pick at ADP.

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30. TEN - OLB Brian Orakpo could miss a week

Source: TitansOnline.com - Jim Wyatt

Tennessee Titans LB Brian Orakpo (shoulder) will likely return to practice 'in a week or so,' according to head coach Mike Vrabel.

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Second-round pick Harold Landry is taking snaps in Orakpo's place and he might end up being just as effective, if not more effective. The Titans have some of the best edge rushing depth in the league, so they can be patient with Orakpo's injury.

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31. MIN - DE Everson Griffen practices Saturday

Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press - Chris Tomasson

Minnesota Vikings DE Everson Griffen (knee) was able to practice Saturday, July 28, after sitting out most of spring drills with a left knee injury.

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All clear for one of the most underrated ends in the league. The Vikings defensive line added Sheldon Richardson in the offseason and could be even scarier this year.

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32. WAS - WR Josh Doctson a weapon in the red zone

Source: ESPN.com - John Keim

Washington Redskins WR Josh Doctson will be 'most dangerous' in the red zone, according to head coach Jay Gruden, but Gruden said Doctson will have a hard time putting up big numbers overall because the offense spreads the ball around.

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Doctson is set for a breakout season and working to become a favorite target of QB Alex Smith. Fantasy GMs are drafting him at WR56 (12.08) in 12-team PPR leagues.

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That'll do it for today, Folks.

Thanks for reading and thanks for being part of Footballguys. We'll see you tomorrow with the Update.

Peace,

J