This article is part of our Training Camp Notes series.
As we near the end of the first week of training camp, we find ourselves less than six weeks away from opening night. As always, we'll go over the pertinent fantasy football news of the day.
• With last year's somewhat disappointing production, many fantasy managers were hopeful that Ezekiel Elliott would go back to seeing the elite usage he saw earlier in his career. However, coach Mike McCarthy wants his coaching staff to be cognizant of the long road, meaning that they want to keep their stud runner healthy for a potential playoff run. As a result, Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle could keep Elliott from seeing massive workloads each week. That said, although he may not see the type of workload that Christian McCaffrey sees, Elliott should see enough work to warrant his current ADP as a top-5 RB.
• After missing time with a hamstring issue, Jonnu Smith is back on the practice field for the Patriots. Smith was one of the first players signed by any team in free agency, so it seemed clear that New England coveted him and likely has a significant role planned for him, and along with teammate Hunter Henry, both TEs are being selected outside the top-10 TEs. With dynamic athleticism, Smith could have some serious fantasy value at a reasonable cost in fantasy drafts.
• Jaylen Waddle's surgically repaired ankle is still somewhat of an issue nine months after the initial injury, and he reportedly still walks with a slight limp at times. This is far from encouraging news as the rookie looks to move into a prominent role in the Miami offense, but it's still early in camp, so it'll be important to see how he looks in preseason games before fully investing in him during fantasy drafts. For those drafting early, this news should simply be a data point to consider in an overall picture of a player who could be a superstar at some point.
• Carson Wentz suffered a foot injury that is expected to keep him out the rest of preseason. If surgery is needed, he likely would miss the start of the season. Wentz, though, reportedly hopes to play through it and avoid surgery. A player who already had some risk this year, now has this injury added to the mix.
• Broncos coach Vic Fangio said he hasn't seen any separation in camp between Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock. Although there's a lot of training camp ahead of us, this news makes it difficult to make a fair valuation of which QB to target late in fantasy drafts. Regardless of who starts, the Denver defense has players returning from injury while adding some potentially excellent players in both free agency and the draft. If Fangio gets this defense playing at an elite level, don't rule out the Broncos going with a run-heavy approach, potentially limiting the ceiling of either QB.
• After missing most of the week with an undisclosed injury, Rhamondre Stevenson was removed from the active/non-football injury list and practiced Friday. A fourth-round draft pick, he's garnered some buzz as both a runner and receiver. Damien Harris is expected to be the lead back, but Stevenson, who is 6-0, 231, could potentially see work in a closer role, much like LeGarrette Blount saw with the Patriots a number of years ago. With Stevenson going in the latter rounds of drafts, fantasy managers can make a case for him being solid bench depth with a chance of becoming more.
• Throughout much of his career, DeVante Parker and "soft-tissue injury" have been used in the same sentence far too often. Unfortunately, that's exactly what was reported Friday, as he's recovering from an injury that will need some rest so as not to become chronic. Although this injury may not be serious, we've been down this road far too often, and this time, the Dolphins have players like Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle in the mix, who could potentially overtake Parker. In any case, keep this news in mind before you draft.
• Although he's being drafted well outside the top-25 TEs, Jordan Akins of the Texans is having an impressive start to camp, and he's on track to be the team's top pass-catching TE. He showed signs of breaking out last year, but he was frequently splitting work with Darren Fells. Fells is no longer with the team, and the other TEs on the team are young, which could give Akins the inside track on seeing volume. With the Texans likely to trail often this year, he could see enough targets to be a surprising TE2 with some upside, making him a potential bargain late in deep-league drafts.
• Despite Miles Sanders being considered the lead back for the Eagles, they have a number of players on their depth chart with NFL experience, and whichever RB emerges as the No. 2 option could have flex value in most fantasy leagues. Even though it's just the first days of camp, Boston Scott appears to have the early lead on that role. Although that could change at any time, due to the presence of Kerryon Johnson, Jordan Howard and Kenneth Gainwell, this will be a training-camp battle to keep an eye on.