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NFC South Training Camp Update: Week 1

julio jones NFC south training camp update

TFA is here to support you throughout the NFC South training camp and preseason, as we breakdown the NFC South news for you from a fantasy perspective. We understand you are busy, and we also understand that not all news affects your favorite hobby: fantasy football. We will be here throughout the preseason to highlight fantasy-relevant news and a provide unique fantasy perspective thereon!

ATLANTA FALCONS

  • Julio Jones claims he’s going to “have some fun” and try for 3,000 receiving yards. Fantasy players love lofty goals, but a 3,000-yard season would exceed the season-long receiving yardage record (Calvin Johnson) by 1,026 yards. 3,000 yards also means that Julio would likely account for more than 60% of Matt Ryan’s passing yards (last year he accounted for 34% of Matt Ryan’s passing yards). For reference, Julio Jones accumulated 1,677 receiving yards in 2018, so 3,000 would almost double his previous year’s output. Regardless of how unlikely 3,000 yards receiving is, the Falcons are simply happy that Julio showed up to camp after failing to show up to OTAs.
  • Calvin Ridley tweaked a hamstring on the second day of camp. Coach Dan Quinn downplayed the injury, claiming he would be back “on the next turn” (whatever that means). Fantasy players should monitor this situation carefully as hamstring issues can frustratingly linger, thereby causing the death of promising fantasy seasons. Hopefully, Ridley can return to full health quickly and continue growing in his second year. Monitor this situation and follow @profootballdoc for more insight.
  • The most disappointing news for those drafting Devonta Freeman in the 3rd round was the news that Qadree Ollison will reportedly “help in short-yardage situations”. While we’d love it if Freeman avoided potential injury during nasty pile-up hits on 3rd-and-1, “short-yardage” almost certainly includes those highly desired goal-line carries. Giving the ball to Qadree at the goal-line actually makes a ton of sense for the Falcons as a team; Qadree was the biggest running back (6’2″, 225 lbs) in the 2019 draft. However, this is terrible news for Freeman and likely reduces his TD total for 2019. I would downgrade him slightly, but this more likely destroys any non-injury value for Ito Smith. Qadree will be a target following my ambiguous backfield draft strategy once Devonta drops in drafts to the 4th round.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

  • Center Matt Paradis has fully recovered from his broken fibula and will not be limited in camp. Paradis broke his fibula in Week 9 of 2018, but has recovered nicely and will be a full-go at camp. The former Bronco had a stellar career in Denver including being named PFF’s best center in 2015. Paradis signed a $27 million contract in the off-season to sign with the Panthers, and his full involvement during camp should help him quickly acclimate to Norv Turner’s offense.
  • Greg Olsen claims that he has been “100% for months”. Always take a player’s perspective of their health with a grain of salt (unless it’s negative – then pay CLOSE attention). Olsen injured his foot in 2017 by rupturing his plantar fascia. Worse for risk-taking drafters in 2018, this injury had an unusually high chance of re-injury, and probability won. Those re-injury fears haven’t completely dissipated in 2019, even though Greg is almost two-years removed from the original injury. While Olsen’s health report is positive, it’s important to remember that he is now 34 years old. Olsen remains a target only for those streaming or completely punting the TE position.
  • Cam Newton avoided the PUP list with his shoulder issues that plagued him last season. However, Coach Ron Rivera said that Cam will be given a “pitch count” and “all his reps will be monitored”. Remember, Coach speak especially matters when the news is negative. This qualifies as negative news about a players health, and I would be very cautious in drafting Cam this year. Remember that Cam was substituted for a Hail Mary play last year because the shoulder injury severely limited his arm strength and prevented him from throwing a deep pass. Two shoulder surgeries in two years cannot help his arm strength. Until I see arm strength, I will be avoiding Cam Newton. There are too many other good options at the QB position.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

  • A holdout by star receiver Michael Thomas appears imminent. While this isn’t great news, the sides appear relatively close with the Saints offering $18-19 million, and Thomas asking for 20 (what’s a measly million?). Thomas is a veteran now, and the Saints have almost no turnover on the offensive side of the ball. Thomas missing camp should not impact his fantasy outlook at this time. I’d expect something to get done relatively quickly because Thomas holds a lot of leverage (Tre’Quan Smith is his backup). Monitor the situation, but do not avoid drafting Thomas until the holdout continues deep into the preseason.
  • Otherwise, there is really little else to report from New Orleans as an NFC South training camp update!

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

  • As if you needed any more reason to love Chris Godwin in fantasy this year, Coach Bruce Arians said that Godwin “will never come off the field”. Arians also claimed that Godwin occupies the “Larry Fitzgerald role” and will “see more single coverage this year.” Godwin’s ADP is skyrocketing already (5.02), but Godwin has the talent and now the role to really take off. Do what you can to acquire him without breaking the bank.
  • Overcoming offseason hip surgery, TE Cameron Brate fully participated in the first day of camp. Nevertheless, Brate is likely still behind the more talented O.J. Howard on the depth chart. Arians is not known to use 2-TE sets often, so this news won’t be particularly important to fantasy players.
  • Despite being the first RB since 2013 not to achieve 1000 scrimmage yards on 250 or more touches, starting running back remains Peyton Barber’s job to lose. “Job to lose” is a very appropriate way to describe the situation because Barber almost certainly will lose the job. Bruce Arians didn’t bring in Andre Ellington, after a year out of the NFL, for nothing. Arians likely was not happy with the talent at RB and reached out to a player he can trust. Let someone else draft Barber. Pay attention to the backfield in Tampa during the offseason because Ellington might have value as a last round dart throw.

Stay tuned throughout the preseason for more NFC South Training Camp updates!

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