Evan Silva

Training Camp Lowdown

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NFC Team-by-Team Notes

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Camp battles are beginning to take shape entering the preseason's second week. With the regular season less than a month away, here's the latest on every team in the NFC:

Editor's Note: Get Rotoworld's updated rankings, projections, and fantasy analysis in the 2011 Fantasy Football Draft Guide.

Atlanta Falcons

Preseason stats lack value, but the games are worth watching for snapshots of players' skill sets. Especially rookies. Julio Jones was used as a possession receiver at Alabama, but he displayed rare, eye-opening explosiveness after the catch on three touches in Atlanta's exhibition opener. No one should be sleeping on Jones anymore. He needs to be drafted as a WR3 with high-end WR2 upside in an offense that projects to throw more than ever. It's evident that Jones is already a Matt Ryan favorite, and he may come closer to equaling Roddy White's production than many folks think. ... Michael Turner will play a lesser role with the Falcons de-emphasizing the run, but he showed power on a two-yard goal-line plunge, pushing the pile against the Dolphins. Just keep in mind that Turner will be 29 1/2 years old when the season starts. His decline began last year.

Arizona Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald will make Kevin Kolb look much better than he is, and that notion was reinforced on a long bomb in last Thursday's exhibition opener. Running a fly pattern down the left sideline, Fitz secured Kolb's pass over his shoulder and against his facemask for a 43-yard gain. Unfortunately, Kolb's personally mediocre talent, suspect protection, and uncertainty at No. 2 receiver keep him as a mid-range to low-end QB2. ... Beanie Wells is working as the Cards' clear-cut starting running back, with LaRod Stephens-Howling in the Darren Sproles role on passing downs. Rookie Ryan Williams will make a move eventually, but Wells is the Arizona back to target in non-PPR leagues. ... With rumblings of a receiver-by-committee approach behind Fitzgerald, don't expect consistent production from Andre Roberts or Early Doucet early in the season. They're both WR5s in fantasy.

Carolina Panthers

The talent gap between Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen is enormous. If the Panthers name a quarterback with a won-loss record in mind, it won't be a decision. Coach Ron Rivera plans to pick a starter before the third preseason game. ... DeAngelo Williams' contract made him the highest paid running back in league history if you don't include deals from the old rookie format. Expect him to be Carolina's primary back, seeing at least 16 carries a game. Jonathan Stewart is really just a handcuff in fantasy leagues. ... With David Gettis done for the season due to a torn ACL, Legedu Naanee and Brandon LaFell are fighting for No. 2 receiver scraps behind Smith. The winner will contend with Greg Olsen and an extremely run-heavy offense, so it's a non-factor in fantasy drafts.

Chicago Bears

Another NFL season, another year of concern about Chicago's offensive line and wideouts. New left tackle J'Marcus Webb was totally overmatched in the preseason opener, getting washed out in the run game by Kyle Williams and blown to smithereens by left-for-dead Bills OLB Shawne Merriman in protection. Webb conceded afterwards that he lacked "intensity" in the game, and line coach Mike Tice was none too pleased. "I mean, [bleep], after sitting around for five months you should have plenty of intensity built up inside you," said Tice. "So I'm a little disappointed by that. ... He needs to buck up." ... The Bears' best two receivers are Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett, and neither starts. (That's Roy Williams and Devin Hester.) To move the chains, this offense will have to lean heavily on Matt Forte again. Somewhat worrisome for Forte is an apparently rejuvenated Marion Barber. Barber will push Chester Taylor off the roster and become Chicago's primary goal-line back.

Dallas Cowboys

Tony Romo has the best one-two receiver punch in football, plus the game's best all-around tight end. His supporting cast threatens to be even more dangerous with the addition of rookie slot man Dwayne Harris, who erupted for 127 yards and two TDs on five catches in Dallas' preseason opener. Harris also played the slot at East Carolina and is a natural "inside." Romo continues to last until the fifth round of drafts, even though the signs say he should go in the third. ... After a nightmarish 2010 season, the Cowboys are a gold mine for draft value. Felix Jones is their clear-cut starting tailback, but can be had in the fifth and sixth rounds. Jones has regained burst after playing last season too heavy and is set up for another healthy bump in touches. The Cowboys can't trust Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray, who both reported to camp injured and have yet to practice.


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Evan Silva is a senior football editor for Rotoworld.com. He can be found on Twitter .
Email :Evan Silva


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