Early training camp storylines and reports cannot be taken without a grain of salt, but they are often indicative of important barometers such as where injured players are in their rehab, who is leading position battles, and how the coaches currently envision their teams. Here are some of the biggest early training camp storylines from the first few days:
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Early Training Camp Standouts
A New WR1 In Green Bay
Mike Braude has been telling you for weeks to draft Allen Lazard, and his hype train has gained steam:
Allen Lazard = WR1.
Aaron Rodgers launched a deep ball down the middle and Lazard adjusted, came back to it and beat out a physical Adrian Amos at the catch point. Impressive play.
— Matt Reynoldson (@Matt_Reynoldson) July 27, 2022
The Packers are heading into their first season in the post-Davante era, and when the 2021 MVP produces, there will be at least one beneficiary. It is unlikely to be rookie Christian Watson, so make sure to stock up on Lazard in your Apex drafts before his cost rises!
A Breakthrough Green Bay
On a wide-open wide receiver depth chart, it’s important to pay attention to circulating news – especially when Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback.
Yesterday, Romeo Doubs caught multiple touchdowns at Packers camp. A four-year starter, Doubs had impressive age-adjusted production at Nevada. Poor athletic testing led to a late fourth-round selection.
Camp has been a different story, where beat writers are raving about the rookie.
.@RomeoDoubs is off to a strong start at #PackersCamp.
Through big plays & mistakes, the rookie receiver is making sure to stay even-keeled 📰#GoPackGo https://t.co/CcYnQvnUQa
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) July 29, 2022
Big Plans For A Rookie
The Giants seem intent on using rookie Wan’Dale Robinson. Avoiding the rookie doghouse, Robinson was immediately inserted with the starters. Being moved around the formation, the Giants are looking to create mismatches with their exciting rookie. Robinson was also seen taking handoffs out of the backfield.
A Dark Horse In Buffalo?
Typically, a puff piece on a player in training camp shouldn’t be actionable – but when it is a potentially explosive player on an elite offense with alleged targets up for grabs, the fantasy community should at least pay attention.
Gadget player Isaiah McKenzie has apparently been making waves every day in training camp while Crowder is falling behind.
– 27 years old
– 2 years, $4.4M ($1.25M guaranteed)
– 4 years experience in Buffalo with Josh Allen and Sean McDermott
– Impressing at camp
– 29 years old
– 1 year, $2M ($1.870M guaranteed)
– No experience in Buffalo offense
– Missing camp reps
— Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler) July 29, 2022
We still like Gabriel Davis and Stefon Diggs to dominate targets in this offense, while Crowder and Isaiah McKenzie are likely to cannibalize each other from the slot. But Buffalo has the 5th most available wide receiver targets in the league heading into 2022, and McKenzie is a name to keep in mind at the end of drafts if Crowder surprisingly gets cut.
Training Camp Transactions
Buccaneers Sign Julio Jones
Although a complete flop is well within his range of outcomes, the mere presence of Julio Jones further complicates the suddenly-crowded Buccaneers receiving corps.
He certainly would not be the first elite wide receiver to be productive into his early 30s, but he couldn’t stay consistently healthy with the Titans. He clearly can still make plays when healthy:
Play of the day from #GoBucs Camp…Julio Jones. @AlabamaFTBL @NextRoundLive
— Jim Dunaway (@jimdunaway) July 28, 2022
He’s getting involved early and often in training camp. For as long as he’s healthy, he’ll be a major plus for Tom Brady’s fantasy outlook while taking guaranteed targets away from Russell Gage, Mike Evans, and Chris Godwin. If ADP fails to adjust, all of the Buccaneers’ wide receivers may be overvalued. There can still be optimism on potentially the league’s most pass-heavy offense, but cost remains the primary factor.
Hello, Trey Lance
It’s finally official: the Jimmy Garappolo era is over in San Franciso. The 49ers finally gave Garoppolo permission to seek a trade, opening the door for one of our 2021 man-crushes Trey Lance. While it was always unlikely that Garoppolo started this season for the 49ers, nothing can be taken for granted with Kyle Shanahan at the helm.
Shanahan is finally handing the keys to the offense over to Trey Lance, who seemingly carries the hopes and dreams of the fantasy football community on his shoulders. And for good reason: Lance has Cam Newton/Lamar Jackson-like rushing abilities to go with a rocket arm.
While Lance is an excellent proposition at QB for drafters, his rushing tendencies create concerns for his pass-catchers. Despite being immensely talented players, it seems unlikely that all Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk can pay off at their current prices.
Chris Godwin Returns To Practice
Certainly one of the most pertinent storylines for fantasy was the surprise return of a Buccaneers superstar receiver.
Chris Godwin is cleared for camp 😁 pic.twitter.com/jdj2glcQv1
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) July 27, 2022
After an offseason that featured uncertainty with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Godwin, the Buccaneers are now going to be near strength offensively – especially after signing Julio Jones.
The previously attractive Russell Gage has to be severely downgraded, while Godwin’s ADP will likely shoot up draft boards. Being able to practice or play and being effective are two very different things – just ask poor Cam Akers – so Godwin will remain a risky pick. If he’s close to 100% by the beginning of the season though, owners will be receiving a tremendous value.
Michael Thomas Returns To Practice
After previously looking barely able to run routes recently, Michael Thomas looks much, much better in his ankle rehab.
Michael Thomas is back 👀
— PFF (@PFF) July 27, 2022
With Jameis Winston apparently on schedule for Week 1, the Saints are rumored to be running a wide receiver-heavy, “wide-open” offense – something that theoretically benefits Chris Olave, and Jarvis Landry as well as Thomas.
However, if Thomas is even close to 100%, that changes the range of outcomes for Olave and Landry – and not for the better. A healthy Thomas is still the 1A on this passing offense, while Landry and Olave will contend with Alvin Kamara for the leftover targets.
How much Godwin and Thomas participate in camp (and how they look when they do) will be worth monitoring going forward.
- Allen Lazard and Isaiah McKenzie are impressing early on in camp, with Lazard being the focal point of an Aaron Rodgers passing offense and McKenzie a dark horse to be the Bills’ main slot receiver
- Keep an eye on the rookies: Romeo Doubs and Wan’Dale Robinson are already making noise
- Julio Jones signing with the Buccaneers complicates the Buccaneers receiving corps while boosting Tom Brady’s fantasy stock
- Jimmy Garoppolo leaving the 49ers makes Trey Lance an exciting fantasy quarterback but leaves the passing game stars with question marks
- Chris Godwin and Michael Thomas return to practice earlier than anticipated, which means that the other receivers in their offenses should be slightly downgraded