Michael Fabiano | Tags: Ahmad Bradshaw, Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Brandon Jacobs, C.J. Spiller, Chan Gailey, Devin Hester, Fred Jackson, Jamaal Charles, Johnny Knox, Michael Fabiano, Steve Slaton, Thomas Jones, Todd Haley
With training camps in full swing, we’re starting to see some interesting depth-chart changes that will have draft-day implications. Here’s a look at five important stories you need to keep tabs on in the weeks to come.
Thomas Jones is ahead of Jamaal Charles on the Chiefs depth chart. This Kansas City Star report might be a shock to some fantasy owners, as Charles has been heralded as one of the top players at his position. I wouldn’t be too concerned about his current status, though. Coach Todd Haley knows how explosive and productive Charles can be on the field — remember, Haley was calling the plays last season when Charles was putting up huge numbers — so this is likely more of a motivational tactic. Jones does become a bit more valuable in drafts, but I still see Charles as a far better fantasy option than his veteran teammate.
Ahmad Bradshaw is seeing a lot of work with the first-team Giants offense. Big Blue plans to run the ball more often this season, but who will lead that rushing attack? Well, the answer is Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. Bradshaw, who is finally at 100 percent, is clearly the more explosive of the two backs. However, we’re likely looking at close to a 50-50 split in this committee situation. Regardless of who sees the early-down work, owners should target Bradshaw and/or Jacobs as potential flex starters. If you like touchdowns, then give Jacobs the nod. But if you’re in a PPR league or prefer players with upside, then Bradshaw is your man. Again, just don’t expect a true featured back to emerge here.
C.J. Spiller signs, immediately sees work as a starter in the Bills offense. NFL insider Jason LaCanfora was first to report this news, and it should come as no surprise to fantasy owners. The rookie out of Clemson is clearly the most explosive and talented player that coach Chan Gailey has in his arsenal, so he’s going to see more than his share of time on the field. Whether Spiller or Fred Jackson opens the regular season as the starter remains to be seen, but I’d take the former in both standard and PPR leagues. In fact, I’ve moved Spiller up to No. 24 on my latest running backs rankings. Jackson falls down to No. 29.
Johnny Knox is seeing more targets than any other wide receiver in Bears camp. A potential sleeper is bound to emerge from Chicago’s core of wideouts this season. The question is, which one will make the move? Knox is staking his claim, being listed as a starter opposite Devin Hester and the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Knox has been the most targeted wideout in the offense. A burner with the speed to stretch defenses, he is quickly moving up my fantasy rankings and is now worth a middle-round look on draft day.
Arian Foster remains the favorite to open the season as the Texans’ No. 1 running back. I was on the Ben Tate bandwagon when the team drafted him out of Auburn, and I still like the rookie’s upside in the offense down the line. But it’s become impossible to ignore the reports on Foster, which have all been extremely positive. He continues to impress coach Gary Kubiak and shows no signs of relinquishing the spot atop the depth chart. A committee situation could develop with Tate and Steve Slaton in the mix, but right now it’s Foster who has the upper hand. I’d take a chance on him in the low middle rounds as a potential flex starter in most fantasy leagues.