Training Camp 2-A-Days Chargers and Patriots
NFL teams primarily use two-a-days to get in shape for the upcoming season. We complete our 16 Two-A-Day previews with a review of the Chargers and Patriots. I hope you have enjoyed the series. Please feel free to leave me some feedback in the Facebook Community, and follow me on Twitter @redzonesully
The Los Angeles Chargers enter the 2018 NFL draft after a 9-7 season in which they missed the playoffs. Although Los Angeles won six of their last seven games, they started the season 0-4 and could never fully recover.
1.17 – Derwin James, S, Florida State
2.16 – Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC
3.20 – Justin Jones, DE, North Carolina State
4.19 – Kyzir White, S, West Virginia
5.18 – Scott Quessenbery, C, UCLA
6.17 – Dylan Cantrell, WR, Texas Tech
7.33 – Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern
Phillip Rivers – Philip Rivers continues to prove he’s a reliable Fantasy quarterback. In 2017, Rivers had his fifth season in a row as a top-12 Fantasy quarterback when he finished No. 7 in standard leagues. It was his fifth year with at least 4,200 passing yards and 28 touchdowns. Rivers has not missed a start since 2005 and has now started 192 straight games. He turns 37 in December, so you should start to consider your backup plan on your roster if you haven’t already. Rivers has plenty of weapons in his offense to finish in the top 12 again this season, and until he doesn’t I will keep betting he does.
Geno Smith – When your starting QB is a future Hall of Fame QB, that has started 192 games, your job as the backup is rather straightforward. It also ensures you have no fantasy value.
Melvin Gordon – Gordon has established himself as a standout Fantasy running back the past two years. Gordon finished last season as RB5, two spots higher than his RB7 finish in 2016. He had his first 1,000-yard campaign in 2017, and he scored 12 total touchdowns for the second year in a row. In addition to his rushing totals, Gordon has added 99 total catches the past two years. He’s has topped 290 touches two straight seasons and should see a high volume again in 2018. I do expect Auston Ekeler to cut into his workload more than last season, but it likely won’t be enough to concern the Gordon owner.
Austin Ekeler – Austin Ekeler enters this season as the #2 running back for the Chargers behind Melvin Gordon. Ekeler didn’t have many touches in his rookie season, but he looked good when he got the chance. He also proved to be a capable receiver out of the backfield with at least two catches in eight games. I believe that will lead to more work in 2018 for Ekeler. Keep Ekeler on your Dynasty bench, if Gordon misses any time, he likely becomes a RB2 based on volume.
Keenan Allen – After two seasons injury-plagued seasons in which he combined for 9 games, Allen played all 16 games in 2017. The result was the WR3 overall finish. Keenan Allen had a career year in 2017, setting career highs in targets, catches, and yards. I would anticipate that Allen continues to excel in the Charger offense as long as he as Philip Rivers as his QB. Allen is an obvious own in all formats. I have Allen ranked 12th overall in my PPR rankings.
Tyrell Williams – Perhaps the only ones that were not happy with Keenan Allen playing all 16 games last season were Tyrell Williams owners. Williams had a letdown season in 2017 after his breakout campaign in 2016. The reality is, that his 2017 stats are more likely what he produces going forward. Williams saw a decrease in targets (52), catches (26), yards (331), and TDs (3), in 2017. I would expect Williams to deliver as a WR4 this year, especially if Mike Williams continues to struggle.
Mike Williams – Mike Williams did not have the rookie season that he was looking for in 2017. The Chargers selected Williams with the 7th overall selection in the 2017 NFL draft. Williams arrived in camp injured and that back injury that cost him the first five games of the season. When he did get into the lineup, he was less than impressive. He failed to gain more than 40 yards in any game or score a TD. Williams owners hope that he is healthy this season and that a full training in camp will help him take the next step. Williams will benefit from the loss of Hunter Henry and deliver a more positive return to his Dynasty owners this season. I am not as high as most and have him ranked 75th in my PPR rankings.
Travis Benjamin – Benjamin has minimal Fantasy value. He’s a field stretcher for the Chargers, but he plays in a crowded receiving corps with Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, Antonio Gates and Melvin Gordon. Based on his big-play ability there will be some good games and some bad games. The problem for Dynasty owners is to determine what they will get week in and week out. Benjamin has a role on your bench in deeper leagues.
Antonio Gates – Well look who’s back. In what comes as little surprise, Antonio Gates is back with the Chargers to open the 2018 season. He will open the season as the starting TE in LA. Gates looked to have finished his career at the end of 2017, but when Hunter Henry went down in OTA’s, the rumor mill started up. Gates was a natural fit for the Chargers, and the Chargers were the only team Gates was considering playing for in 2018. At this stage of his career, I would expect Gates to be primarily a RedZone target type of TE.
Virgil Green – With the arrival of Antonio Gates, Virgil Green has lost the little fantasy value that he may have had. Green should not be rostered in any Dynasty format.
Hunter Henry – Targeted to be the #1 TE for the Chargers, Hunter Henry tore his ACL and is going to miss the 2018 season. There have been rumblings that because Henry was placed on the PUP list and not IR that it left the door open to his return later this season. Pump the brakes on that. If Henry is to return, it is likely not in time for your fantasy season. Hold HH in your IR spot and start looking forward to 2019.
The New England Patriots will look to overcome a Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles by getting to the big game for the third straight year. This Patriot team is an interesting one, to say the least. It would appear that the owner, coach, and star QB are not on the same page, and this version of the Patriots looks to be one of the worst in recent memory.
1.23 – Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia
1.31 – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia
2.24 – Duke Dawson, CB, Florida
5.06 – Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB, Purdue
6.04 – Christian Sam, LB, Arizona State
6.36 – Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami
7.01 – Danny Etling, QB, LSU
7.25 – Keion Crossen, DB, Western Carolina
7.26 – Ryan Izzo, TE, Florida State
Tom Brady – Likely the greatest to ever play the position, Tom Brady appears to be in his final season. Brady turned 41 in August and if you read the tea leaves, this season is his final one. Brady enters 2018 without; Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis, Brandon Cooks, and Julian Edelman (first 4 games). His WR are not going to scare anyone anytime soon. With that being said Brady likely remains a top fantasy QB. If you own Brady, hope he has a good start and then trade him to a contender. If you own Brady and are contending hold on and hope he is still the GOAT for one more season.
Brian Hoyer – Unless Brady is injured, you will not see Brian Hoyer this season. Jimmy Garoppolo couldn’t get snaps in NE even when he deserved them last season. Hoyer has no standalone fantasy value in any format.
Rex Burkhead – Rex will likely open the season as the featured running back for the Patriots after rookie Sony Michel underwent a knee procedure. Burkhead (dealing with a knee injury of his own) will share touches with James White and Jeremy Hill. With Dion Lewis gone, New England has 200 backfield touches to fill. Burkhead, if he can hold up, will see his fair share of them. It is possible due to his knee injury that Burkhead himself misses time to start the season. The Patriots backfield as it seems every year is one to watch.
Sony Michel – Michel a first-round selection of the Patriots underwent a knee procedure in early August. Michel is back at practice and looks like a week 2 return will be the earliest we will see him on the field. Michel is likely going to get his fair share of the touches in this offense and I believe that he will eventually win this job outright. Michel is my 3rd ranked rookie.
James White – I believe that James White is the largest benefactor of the departure of Dion Lewis and a lackluster WR crew. I would expect White to be very involved in the Patriots attack this season. White should be owned in all formats.
Jeremy Hill – Hill arrives in New England after being let go by Cincinnati. Hill beat our Mike Gillislee for the job this training camp. With the potential for New England to start the season without both Burkhead and Michel, Hill has some value. Hill should be on all rosters to start the season and his production should be monitored as the season progresses. I would suggest his value is likely going to be a season-high in week 2 or 3 this season.
Chris Hogan – With all the departures and the suspension to Edelman, Hogan finds himself as the Patriots’ #1 target in 2018. Hogan’s challenge this year as it was last year will be to stay healthy. Hogan will turn 30 in October. He missed 7 games in 2017 and hasn’t played a full 16 since 2015. If he can play all 16 this year, I believe Hogan has WR2 upside based on volume and who is QB is.
Phillip Dorsett – Dorsett has an opportunity to be a significant contributor for the Patriots this year. He begins the season as the #2 WR to start the season by process of elimination. Dorsett struggled in his first year with the Patriots with no touchdowns and no games with double digits in Fantasy points. There’s potential here, which is why he’s worth a spot on your Dynasty roster.
Cordarrelle Patterson – Patterson will try to revive his Fantasy value with the Patriots after he was traded to New England from Oakland in March. Patterson has never lived up to the lofty expectations given to him following his rookie campaign in 2013 when he had seven touchdowns. He will begin the season as the #3 in this offense as well as the clubs primary kick returner. Unless Josh McDaniels somehow unlocks Patterson and turns him into a superstar, count on him contributing mostly on special teams, and holding minimal fantasy value.
Rob Gronkowski – In addition to QB Tom Brady, I also feel that 2018 will be the final season for Gronk. Gronk should once again be considered a top 3 option for your dynasty team at TE. He had another outstanding season in 2017 finishing as TE2 in 14 games. Gronkowski could even see a boost in production with the depleted WR core that NE has this season. Brandon Cooks and Dion Lewis combined for 10 TDs last season and both are no longer on the roster. Look for Gronk along with James White to be the primary RedZone targets in 2018. If you are the Gronk owner, fire him up with confidence each week and hope that he holds up. If he does he will deliver a #1 TE season.