Adam Levitan

Draft Analysis

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Training Camp Losers

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Not everyone has time to follow every preseason game, stay abreast of the developments from training camp and read into coach’s quotes. That’s what we’re here for.

Over the last month, values have been shifting across the fantasy landscape. Here are 16 guys that are losing steam:

1. Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos
Peyton is 36, didn’t play football last year and has had three recent neck surgeries. Still, it’s a bit of a blow to the system when we realize this Greek God of quarterbacking isn’t throwing the ball well. Through two preseason games, Manning is 20-of-30 for 221 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns. He’s also had trouble throwing with any power to his right, a result of nerve complications from those neck surgeries. With so many other quarterbacks rising, Manning is falling to the bottom of QB1 range. Arm strength is the concern. 

2. Isaac Redman, RB, Steelers
When Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL in Week 17 last year, thoughts of Redman as a 2012 feature back immediately came to mind. Not so fast. Redman has looked plodding at camp, is currently sidelined by a groin/hip injury and the Steelers’ offensive tackle situation is a mess. An even bigger concern is that Mendenhall is progressing quicker than expected and could be ready to play as soon as Week 5.

3. Miles Austin, WR, Cowboys
In a vacuum, a preseason hamstring strain isn’t a big deal. But Austin has now sustained three serious hamstring pulls in the last year and it cost him six full games in 2011. His issue is bordering on chronic. On top of that, Dez Bryant was having a monster camp before the knee tendonitis popped up.

4. Roy Helu, RB, Redskins
For much of the offseason, the Redskins’ coaches said they were concerned about Helu’s ability to stand up to a full workload. Helu proceeded to prove them right, succumbing to Achilles’ tendonitis on both of his heels. Evan Royster opened camp as the clear starter and is going to go wire-to-wire with the gig. The Shanahans continue to talk up Royster, Alfred Morris and a rehabbing Tim Hightower. Helu has slipped to the back burner.

5. Toby Gerhart, RB, Vikings
Although Adrian Peterson (ACL surgery) won’t play in any preseason games, he’s fully expected to be active for Week 1. It’s a major blow to Gerhart, a player that strictly had value because he touches the ball 21.0 times per game when Peterson sits. Now it looks like Peterson is on track to be getting full workloads by October.

6. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jaguars
Jones-Drew hasn’t been around the Jags in so long that he hasn’t even met new coach Mike Mularkey. He’s missed the entire training camp under a new regime and even if he reports just before Week 1, they’ll make him earn it. Jones-Drew won’t be in true football shape and talented backup Rashad Jennings has been the star of camp. I wrote about the effect long holdouts have on players here.

7. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers
Rivers entered camp with lingering questions regarding his arm strength and velocity. He’s done nothing to dispel those suggestions. Through two preseason games, Rivers is averaging just 9.1 yards per completion and has three interceptions -- one of which on a badly under thrown ball. He also lost exciting prospect Vincent Brown (ankle) for at least eight weeks.

8. Brian Quick, WR, Rams
When you’re a rookie out of Appalachian State, the biggest question is if you can adjust to NFL-level corners. Quick has been slow to come around. He started off camp unimpressively, failing to beat press coverage and rounding his way out of breaks. Steve Smith and Danny Amendola have been the starters, while Brandon Gibson and Austin Pettis are getting first-team reps as well.

9. James Starks, RB, Packers
Even if Starks’ turf toe ailment proves to be surmountable, the Packers aren’t waiting for him. His early-camp struggles were well documented and veteran pounder Cedric Benson has been signed. Alex Green was also outplaying Starks before the toe issue.

10. Randy Moss, WR, 49ers
Moss has had a quiet camp and there’s buzz that he’ll only be counted on for 20-25 snaps per game this season. That makes him a situational deep threat on a team that’s as conservative as it gets. Moss’ deep-ball skills just aren’t a good fit with tentative check-down artist Alex Smith. Mario Manningham is coming on strong of late as well.

11. Michael Turner, RB, Falcons
Reports out of Atlanta have Turner looking a “step slow.” Shocker. He’s 30 and averaged 3.24 yards per carry over the final six games of last season. Turner no longer fits in Atlanta as they shift to an up-tempo, aggressive offensive scheme. Don’t be surprised if he starts complaining about a not getting enough carries once the season gets going.

12. Denarius Moore, WR, Raiders
Much like Miles Austin, Moore’s hamstring woes are now bordering on chronic. He first injured his right hamstring in mid-June and is still missing practices two months later. Wide receivers and hamstring woes just don’t mix thanks to all the fast-twitch bursting they do.

13. Jahvid Best, RB, Lions
Best last suffered a concussion in October of 2011. It’s been 10 months and he still isn’t anywhere near ready. He’ll reportedly start the season on PUP and I’d be surprised if he played in a game this season. Best’s career is sadly in jeopardy.
14. Jabar Gaffney, WR, Patriots
So much for Gaffney stepping in and seizing the No. 3 wideout job. He hasn’t impressed during camp and is rotating reps with the likes of Deion Branch and Donte’ Stallworth. At this point, we can’t expect anything more than a timeshare in a best-case scenario.

15. Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals
The Cards weren’t messing around when they said that Floyd would open camp behind Andre Roberts. The No. 13 overall pick in the draft did just that and still hasn’t climbed the chart. The only time Floyd has been getting first-team reps is when the Cards go four-wide.

16. Austin Collie, WR, Colts
Collie went from fast-rising sleeper to hands-off status quickly. Much like Jahvid Best, Collie’s concussion history means he’s always one big hit away from a season-threatening injury. Even if he comes back from this latest blow, there will still be a ton of risk for owners.

Adam Levitan is in his seventh season covering football and basketball for Rotoworld. He won the Fantasy Sports Writers Association award for Best Series in 2011 and 2009, and ESPN's overall fantasy football title in 2000. Find him on Twitter.
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