Fantasy Football 2023: Training Camp Roundup (7/26)
Training camps provide our first look into NFL players and teams as we prepare for the upcoming fantasy football season. Information will now begin to flood our social media timelines, leaving us to determine the subsequent fantasy impact. It’s a matter of knowing which information matters, and which should be ignored.
So each day in this space, we’ll take a trip through the top news and takeaways around the league’s training camps to offer up what fantasy managers need to know as we head through draft season and into the 2023 NFL regular season.
Today, let’s review the major news from Tuesday, July 25.
All Amon-Ra, All the Time
My high best ball exposure to Amon-Ra St. Brown feels better and better every day. He is tied with Michael Thomas and Justin Jefferson for the most receptions in NFL history after two seasons (196), and the drum beat in Lions camp is actually getting louder. Colton Pouncy of The Athletic reports St. Brown has added muscle, is running crisper routes, and is consistently open.
St. Brown ranked second among all wide receivers in percentage of targets per route run (30%), trailing only Tyreek Hill (32%). His 27% target share still has room to grow to reach the elite WR1s from last season, such as Davante Adams (32%), Tyreek Hill (30%), Cooper Kupp (30%) or Ja'Marr Chase (29%). Amon-Ra St. Brown remains my favorite late first round pick in best ball drafts.
Will Kyle Pitts Be Ready for Week 1?
The Kyle Pitts truthers are devout and aggressive on social media. Cite his three receiving touchdowns in 27 career games, and they will quickly retort with his elite measurables and 1,000-yard receiving rookie campaign.
But will he be healthy for Week 1?
Pitts missed the final seven games of last season with a torn MCL, and head coach Arthur Smith revealed Pitts is still not ready for a normal training camp workload. It’s also concerning that the Falcons added a tight end to the roster when they already have veteran Jonnu Smith.
While Atlanta expects Pitts to be ready for Week 1, count me among the skeptics in both Pitts readiness and fantasy upside in 2023.
Jets RB Depth Chart Clarity
As Breece Hall continues to work back from last year’s ACL tear, we have started to get clarity on the Jets depth chart. Michael Carter has received the largest variety of reps with Aaron Rodgers and the first-team offense. While his snaps have been equal to Zonovan Knight, Carter continues to excel (as expected) in the passing game work. Carter has produced 77 receptions in his first two NFL seasons, but struggled on the ground averaging only 3.5 yards per carry last season.
As per Zach Rosenblatt of The Athletic, rookie RB Israel Abanikanda is still “working through kinks” and has yet to show “urgency.” If Hall isn’t ready for Week 1, I would prioritize Carter over Knight in all fantasy formats.
Jonathan Taylor Latest Frustrated RB
Indianapolis running back Jonathan Taylor did report to camp Tuesday, but he will start on the active/PUP list. While Taylor had offseason ankle surgery, Colts owner Jim Irsay stated weeks ago that Taylor was “fully healed” This leads to speculation that Taylor’s trip to the PUP is contract related. Taylor is set to make $4.3 million in the final year of his rookie deal. Given a completely new coaching staff and coming off a 4-12-1 season, Taylor’s absence (and frustration) bears watching.
Jimmy Graham … Returns?
One of the more surprising announcements came from New Orleans, where the Saints announced the return of former five-time Pro-Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham.
Graham, who turns 37 years old in November, joins a crowded depth chart that includes Juwan Johnson (7 touchdowns in 2022) and Foster Moreau (signed three-year, $12 million deal). Graham last played in 2021 for the Bears, catching 14 passes in 15 games.
Justin Herbert Signs Massive Deal
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert signed a massive five-year, $262.5 million deal, making him the highest-paid player in the NFL this season.
Herbert’s deal will pay him $52.5 million this year, exceeding the base numbers for Lamar Jackson ($52 million) and Jalen Hurts ($51 million). The contract also contains a no-trade clause, and it lowered the Chargers 2024 cap number from $29.5 million to $19 million.
Trevon Diggs, Tytus Howard Sign Huge Deals
Diggs, a two-time Pro Bowl CB, agreed to a five-year extension worth $97 million. He was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2023 season, and received $42.3 million in guaranteed money.
Howard is the Texans former first-round pick in 2019, and has started 54 games for Houston in four years. He now avoids playing this year on his fifth-year option, and received $36.5 million guaranteed.