Burning Fantasy Football Questions That Will Be Answered in Training Camps
With training camps upon us, there are a lot of new and changing situations to track which will inform the decisions you make in your fantasy drafts.
However, who you take later as well as when you take them could see some real changes based on how players do in training camp.
Some camp battles won't impact who you might take directly, but who wins a job could change the players around that player as well.
So which questions do we have to know the answer to come the end of training camp?
Let's take a look.
Who Will Step Up for the Patriots Offense?
Much has changed from last season. Wes Welker is gone, as is Aaron Hernandez, and Rob Gronkowski has had multiple surgeries and could be on the Physically Unable to Perform list to start the season.
Who will step up for Tom Brady?
We know Danny Amendola is a prime suspect, and assuming he stays healthy, should be very productive.
Is there anyone else?
Julian Edelman has shown promise before and started ahead of Wes Welker early last season. He's also been banged up and despite starting ahead of Welker, didn't outproduce him.
Rookies Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce could also be early contributors as well, though both are raw.
Finally, can Jake Ballard step up? He showed promise during the New York Giants' Super Bowl run in 2010, but has been sidelined recovering from a torn ACL. He's an athletic tight end, though not in the same class as Gronkowski or the departed Hernandez.
With a good camp, we may see how early he's worth drafting in your fantasy drafts.
Who is the Running Back in Green Bay
The Packers have a lot of fantasy studs in the pass game but have long been an afterthought for running backs.
Is that changing?
The Packers took Eddie Lacy in the late second round, then followed him up with the selection of Johnathan Franklin when they traded back into the fourth round.
On top of that, DuJuan Harris was very productive for the Packers in limited action late last season.
Who will take the lead, and even if one guy does stand out, will he be worth a pick? Or will this backfield once again be one big running back by committee?
We should see someone step forward in camp, while the preseason games will give us a sense of how often the Packers might run the ball.
How Will Christian Ponder Throwing to Greg Jennings Look?
In theory, Christian Ponder should be able to take advantage of a vertical game now that Greg Jennings has arrived.
In reality? Well, we're not so sure, are we?
Ponder didn't throw passes over 20 yards very often last year, and when he did, the results were quite literally hit or miss. Of 51 passes I tracked over 20 yards (not including clearly thrown away balls), Ponder completed 11.
However, many of those completions were very nice throws, especially in the last few games of the season when he appeared to be much more comfortable.
Jennings and Ponder have July and August to get comfortable with each other and show fantasy owners that they will be a productive pair.
We should get a clear look at how close to on the same page they are in training camp.
Will the Bears' New Offense Increase Jay Cutler's Fantasy Value?
We know that part of the reason Marc Trestman was hired as the new head coach of the Chicago Bears was to find a way to improve the offense, especially Jay Cutler.
Cutler is currently ranked outside of the top10 fantasy quarterbacks at Footballguys.com (subscription required), understandably, since he ended up outside the top 10 (often even worse) in most leagues.
The Bears added Brandon Marshall last offseason and then grabbed Martellus Bennett as well as tackle Jermon Bushrod to improve the offense even more this offseason.
So will Cutler be able to take his play to the next level? When fantasy owners draft Cutler, will they be getting a quarterback who can be a starter or one who they will have to settle for using as a backup?
Training camp should give us an indication of which it is later this month.
Who Will Be the No. 2 Wide Receiver for the Detroit Lions?
Last season Matt Stafford threw for 4,967 yards with basically just Calvin Johnson.
Titus Young and Ryan Broyles were the wide receivers closest to Johnson's total and neither even broke 400 yards. The only other player closer was Brandon Pettigrew with 565 yards.
And nobody was scoring many touchdowns.
That has to change, and soon.
So who will pick up the slack?
In the first few games of 2012, Nate Burleson saw a ton of targets. He's an aging receiver and coming off a broken leg as well. Can he really be depended upon to suddenly pick up a significant amount of catches, yards and touchdowns?
Or will it be Ryan Broyles?
After a second ACL injury in two years, Broyles seems to be rehabbing ahead of schedule, so we may see him in camp.
Can he come back from this injury and be as effective as he was before his first ACL tear?
Someone needs to. We should get a good look at who that might be in camp.
Can BenJarvus Green-Ellis Hold off Giovani Bernard?
Last season saw BenJarvus Green-Ellis crack 1,000 yards for the second time in his career.
Meanwhile, the Bengals drafted rookie Giovani Bernard in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Is this a case of merely being cautious and getting a decent backup or is Green-Ellis about to be replaced?
The answer is critical for fantasy owners looking at drafting someone out of the Cincinnati backfield.
There's a good chance Green-Ellis will start the season as the primary back, but we might see some glimpses of how soon Bernard could be given a significant amount of carries.
Not only could he overtake Green-Ellis completely this season, he might ruin the other back's value by stealing enough carries to hamper Green-Ellis weekly production.
How Close Is Robert Griffin III to Returning?
Things are looking good for Robert Griffin III and it appears as though he is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation.
How ahead? Will he be ready for the start of the season?
We will get a real indication of what the answer to those questions will be during training camp. How involved Griffin is, as well as what he can do even when not fully practicing, will tell us whether he is someone who you can draft as a starting quarterback from Week 1 or if you'll be waiting for a month before being able to use him.
Is Michael Vick the Starting Quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles?
So the question is, will he be the starter come Week 1?
He will see some serious competition from Nick Foles as well as perhaps Matt Barkley.
Either way, there is no guarantee Vick will end up with the job.
Foles is the most likely guy to steal the job, but right now it's all up in the air.
We'll see who comes out on top in training camp so you know who is in charge of this potentially prolific offense.
Can EJ Manuel Play His Way to a Week 1 Start?
NFL teams usually don't take a quarterback in the top 10 and then sit him for a year.
EJ Manuel is a raw prospect and one I personally would rather see sit for a year than get thrown into the fire behind an often shaky offensive line.
However, his main competition is Kevin Kolb, the former Arizona Cardinal who has struggled since leaving the Philadelphia Eagles for Arizona.
Is Manuel the right choice? Is Kolb?
We'll find out very soon.
Will Brandon Weeden Hold off Jason Campbell as the Cleveland Browns Starter?
Brandon Weeden is the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback.
The new coaching staff has no built-in loyalty to Weeden and might be eying Campbell as their starter for this year.
While the Browns quarterback is normally considered no more than a bye week filler, if that, there is enough talent at receiver (Greg Little, Josh Gordon, Davone Bess) for fantasy owners to keep a watchful eye on the situation.
Campbell was not good when he subbed for Jay Cutler in 2012, but has played well in the past. Weeden has issues, but he showed some flashes of ability last season along with a few too many mistakes.
Which guy comes out on top and how they looked in camp could go a long way in telling you when you should grab one of the receivers.