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3 NFL Training Camp Position Battles to Watch (2023 Fantasy Football)

3 NFL Training Camp Position Battles to Watch (2023 Fantasy Football)

NFL training camps are open, and fantasy football draft season is upon us. FantasyPros analysts Derek Brown, Andrew Erickson, Pat Fitzmaurice and Mike Maher kick off a series of preseason roundtables by discussing the most interesting training camp battles, players coming back from major injuries, players who changed teams and more. And below we’ll dive into training camp battles to watch.

Fantasy Football Draft Kit

2023 NFL Training Camp Position Battles to Watch

Which training-camp battle do you find most compelling? Pick a team and a position group. What are the stakes for fantasy, and what are you hoping to see?

Kansas City Wide Receivers

Mike Maher: The Kansas City receivers are a must-watch group for me this preseason because there could be a league winner in there somewhere. Will someone replicate Tyreek Hill‘s 159 targets, 111 receptions, 1,239 yards and nine touchdowns from 2021? I’ll go out on a limb and say that’s unlikely. But JuJu Smith-Schuster saw 101 targets last year in the first post-Hill season for Mahomes and the Chiefs, and he’s in New England now. Kadarius Toney is in Kansas City for a full season, but he’s already banged up and isn’t even a lock to start the season. Travis Kelce is the favorite to lead the team in targets, but he’ll turn 34 this season after setting career highs in targets (152), receptions (110) and touchdowns (12) last year. The point? There should be targets to go around in one of the best offenses in football, and Skyy Moore (ADP 143, WR57) and Rashee Rice (171 ADP, WR66) are the receivers to watch.

Pat Fitzmaurice: I have to piggyback on Maher’s selection of the Kansas City receivers. Until recently, my favorite target from this group had been Kadarius Toney, but his cleanup knee surgery last week has convinced me that Toney is another Percy Harvin — a supremely talented player whose body can’t withstand the NFL. It’s possible one of the other KC receivers could become a valuable fantasy asset. But beware: The Chiefs’ offense can be a Venus flytrap for fantasy managers. We’re drawn in by the prolific offense, but then it often turns out that QB Patrick Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce are the team’s only valuable fantasy investments. I’d like to see one of the Chiefs’ young receivers — Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice or even Justyn Ross — get a steady stream of positive buzz throughout camp and become someone I’m excited to draft a month from now.

Philadelphia Eagles Backfield

Andrew Erickson: Very much looking forward to seeing how the Eagles’ backfield shakes out because it’s hard to imagine Philly’s starting RB not delivering fantasy goodness and playing in one of the best offensive situations in the NFL. It further complicates things that the Eagles have collected a dynamic cast of RBs in D’Andre Swift, Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Gainwell. It’s a great spot to be in for any of the three real-life-talented RBs. I’m just hoping one can emerge above the rest, as opposed to a dreaded committee. My money’s on a healthy Penny winning the job.

Chicago Bears Backfield

Derek Brown: The Chicago Bears’ backfield is a must-see this preseason. This group of skilled players shows the Chicago front office’s laser-sharp analytical focus. The Bears’ love for yards after contact per attempt is illustrated loudly by their RB collection. Last year, Khalil Herbert ranked second in yards after contact per attempt, and D’Onta Foreman was 11th (per FantasyPoints Data; minimum 100 attempts). Roschon Johnson might have seen limited volume in college wedged behind Bijan Robinson, but Johnson also checks this box emphatically, ranking 11th, 21st and 14th in yards after contact per attempt over his last three collegiate seasons (per PFF). This is a long-winded way to state that this backfield is loaded with talent, and whoever emerges (if anyone) as the clear lead back will absorb a ton of rushing volume. That’s why we should target this ambiguous backfield in hopes of mining a future RB2 in fantasy. Chicago was second in rushing attempts last season and seventh in rushing touchdowns. The additions of Foreman, Johnson and rookie offensive tackle Darnell Wright scream that this team will become more gap-heavy in their run game design. With Foreman working on a one-year deal and Herbert out of town after 2024, I’d love for Johnson to establish himself early this season as the present and future workhorse.

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