Sorry to be late with this one, but The Stack had a lot of training camp previews to write for today. If your favorite team is on here, let me know what you think. More previews to come tomorrow. Here are the team previews in "the stack" for today, Thursday, July 26:
Buffalo Bills open up training camp
Some say the Buffalo Bills won the offseason when they landed Mario Williams. They also got Mark Anderson and helped their secondary by drafting CB Stephon Gillmore. Excitement and expectations are high. Is this the year the playoff drought ends?
Storyline #1: Will QB Ryan Fitzpatrick play better this year? He started the year off great, but right after he got a new contract, his play went down. To be fair, the offense did suffer some major injuries to Fred Jackson and at the wide receiver position, but Fitzpatrick was still really bad. He must play consistent all year this year for the Bills to make the playoffs.
Storyline #2: The new look defense. How improved will the Bills defense be? Vastly. Anytime you add a talent like a Mario Williams, he immediately makes your team better. Add to that the pass rushing skills of Mark Anderson and this defense is going to be scary. That???s good when you have to go against Tom Brady and the Patriots twice a year.
Can"t miss fantasy player: Fred Jackson. Say what you want about C.J. Spiller, but there is no question the Bills will use Jackson more this year just like they did last year. Running and catching, he is a lethal combination.
Stay away from: Ryan Fitzpatrick. He"s a decent number two quarterback on your fantasy team, but until he shows consistency and can get it to a subpar wide receiver corp, it's best to stay away from Fitzpatrick.
Cincinnati Bengals training camp gets underway
Believe it or not, there are some lofty expectations for the
Bengals this year. Will quarterback Andy Dalton endure a sophomore slump or
will he continue to ride his impressive play from his rookie season? Can the Bengals actually make it back to the
playoffs in back-to-back years? It all starts
with the opening of training camp.
Camp battle to watch:
Storyline #1: Continued maturation of Dalton and A.J. Green. Green has a chance to climb into the top ten wide receivers this year and Dalton can continue to climb as long as he stays away from mistakes. Their chemistry together is really good. But can they continue to lead the Bengals? To do that, they must take that next step and I think they can do it.
Can't miss fantasy player: A.J. Green. He was great last year and he'll be even better this year. Expect him to put up a bunch of points.
Stay away from: Benjarvis Green-Ellis. The lawfirm is a fine running back, but is he worth a number one or two running back spot on your fantasy team? I don't know. Can he stay healthy? Can he endure a 16-game schedule? All questions I'm not quite sure of.
Cleveland Browns open training camp
The Browns will definitely have a new look to them this year led by rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson. But the AFC North is a tough division. Still, Browns fans have to like the way that Mike Holmgren is taking this team. The future is bright, or at least brighter.
Camp battle to watch: Colt McCoy vs. Brandon Weeden. Most expect Weeden to eventually be named the starting quarterback otherwise the Browns wouldn't have taken the 22nd overall pick in the first round on him. But McCoy won't go down without a fight. He's still got something to prove and he'll make this a hard decision for the Browns.
Storyline #1: The quarterback battle. No bones about it. This is the most intriguing story in Browns camp.
Storyline #2: How will the young guys play? Richardson is a special talent at the running back position. He will make an impact right away? How about the wide receiver from Baylor the Browns got in the supplemental draft? And assuming he gets the job, what about Brandon Weeden? There will be growing pains, but how these rookies look and adapt in training camp will forecast the future, dull or bright, for the Browns.
Can't miss fantasy player: Trent Richardson. Tough to pick based on the talent of this team, but Richardson will start from day one and the offense will rely heavily on him.
Stay away from: Joshua Cribbs. Even if you have return yards in your league, Cribbs is too inconsistent to put in your starting lineup.
Detroit Lions training camp begins
The Lions with expectations of the playoffs? Again? Yes, and it might not just be a wild card, but the division that they're going after. The Lions have a lot of young talent and their nucleus is good. They'll keep getting better and have Lions fans dreaming of an NFC North title.
Camp battle to watch: Secondary. The release of Aaron Berry only makes the depth and experience that much thinner for the Lions. It is the major weakness on this team. Who steps up and can show consistent play to make it into the starting lineup?
Storyline #1: Lions off the field antics. They've released Berry, but with seven arrests this offseason, more of the talk will be how the Lions can keep their composure off the field so they can actually play on the field.
Storyline #2: How good can this offense be? Assuming Matthew Stafford can stay healthy along with running backs Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshore, the Lions offense could be scary good and rival the Packers for best offense in the division. Lions fans will get another glimpse of that in training camp.
Can't miss fantasy player: Calvin Johnson. Was thinking Stafford, but Megatron is too much of a sure thing. Madden Curse or no Madden Curse, Megatron will once again put up major numbers and be the best wide receiver in fantasy.
Stay away from: Jahvid Best. Concussions keep hitting this guy and that means he's not on the field. He's explosive and can do a lot for the Lions offense, but until he can stay healthy, he's too much of a risk to draft.
Jacksonville Jaguars begin training camp
The Jaguars have a new owner and a new coaching staff, but will it bring about more wins? There does seem to be a sense of optimism surrounding the Jaguars, assuming they don't move. How will they fare though in the AFC South where it appears the Houston Texans reign supreme?
Storyline #1: Maturation of Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert was considered a reach by some in the draft last year and he was ineffective in the passing game. The Jaguars had a very difficult time throwing the ball down the field which is why the team traded up in this year's draft for wide receiver Justin Blackmon. If these two can form some quick chemistry, the Jaguars offense will be vastly improved from a season ago.
Storyline #2: When will Maurice Jones-Drew report to camp? He's holding out for a new deal and it is amazing the Jaguars haven't given him one yet. He's the heart and sole of the team and did virtually everything on offense for them last year. Pay the man.
Can't miss fantasy player: Mauirce Jones-Drew. He does it all and gets a ton of yards on the ground. He led the league last year in rushing yards and with a better passing game, he???ll have just as good a year this year, regardless of when he shows up.
Stay away from: Blaine Gabbert. Until he show marketable improvement over last year, there's no reason to even think about drafting him unless you lose a QB to injury.
Kansas City Chiefs begin training camp
The Kansas City Chiefs were supposed to do some damage in the AFC West last year, but failed to do so though they did give the Green Bay Packers their only loss during the regular season. Head coach Romeo Crennel begins his second stint as a head coach in the NFL. The Chiefs were impressed enough with the job he did last year to get rid of the interim tag. What will happen this year?
Camp battle to watch:
Storyline #1: Recovery from injuries. Both RB Jamaal Charles and safety Eric Berry suffered ACL tears early in the year. That pretty much derailed the Chiefs season. These are two very good players. Seeing how they respond will indicate how much better the Chiefs get this year.
Storyline #2: What to expect from Matt Cassell. Fans are growing restless of Cassell I feel. They want to see him become a stronger quarterback, especially with the division having Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Carson Palmer in it now. A bad year for Cassell and he is done in KC. That's why this training camp is so important.
Can't miss fantasy player: Jamaal Charles. Despite coming off an ACL tear, Charles is the team???s best player on offense. He'll have a fine year, but take him in the second round.
Stay away from: Jonathan Baldwin. I just don't have a lot of faith in this guy until he matures both on and off the field. He has the talent, but don't take him except to be a number three receiver on your team.
Miami Dolphins start training camp
The Dolphins are trying their best to rejuvenate the fan base to fill many of the orange empty seats at Dolphins home games. They drafted quarterback Ryan Tannehill with the eighth overall pick in the draft. A sense of optimism. Perhaps, but the Dolphins still have plenty of work to do and their work cut out for them in the AFC East.
Camp battle to watch: Quarterback. It's a three-way battle between Tannehill, Matt Moore and David Garrard. Garrard appears to be the leader heading into camp, but anything can happen once camp starts.
Storyline #1: Who will be declared the starting quarterback? At this point, it appears to be Garrard. Highly doubtful that Tannehill would start day one so that puts the pressure on the shoulders of Garrard and Moore. They have still to perform well during drills though.
Storyline #2: Hardknocks. This team was the only team it seems that wanted to be on the hit sports drama on HBO. There will be cameras everywhere which may irritate the Dolphins a little bit, but they signed up for this. Now fans will get to see just want happens during training camp with their favorite team.
Can't miss fantasy player: Reggie Bush. I know he's not wonderful and can get injured, but the Dolphins don't exactly have a lot of weapons on the offensive side of the ball and Bush can both run and catch.
Stay away from: Any Dolphins quarterback. They're not going to last the entire season and they don't have the offensive weapons to make big plays.
Minnesota Vikings training camp begins
The Vikings had a bad year last year, tied for worst in franchise history at 3-13. But the offseason was a success if for no other reason that the Vikings finally got a new stadium. The team this year should be better, but that is of little consolation to Vikings fans who are very likely to see a fourth place team in the NFC North.
Camp battle to watch: Secondary. The team is thin in the secondary. I mean real thin. Who's going to pair with Antoine Winfield? Most likely it's Chris Cook. After that, it's anyone's guess. Plus the Vikings could be starting a pair of rookie safeties. Could be one long season for the Vikings secondary.
Storyline #1: Maturation of Christian Ponder. On Ponder's first throw in his first start against the Green Bay Packers, he connected with Michael Jenkins on a long pass. Things went downhill from there. If he can take a big step this offseason, the Vikings will have a pretty good shot at being respectable this year and maybe have a future division title.
Storyline #2: Adrian Peterson's knee. Peterson suffered a torn ACL and MCL on Christmas Eve and has made incredible strides to being ready for the season opener. The team believes he???s back. But until he steps onto the field and has some contact, questions will linger.
Can't miss fantasy player: Percy Harvin. Despite his antics at minicamp earlier, with all he does on the field for the Vikings, he'll put up a bunch of points.
Stay away from: Adrian Peterson. At least for the first two rounds. An ACL injury is difficult to come back from especially after only 7 months and Peterson's running style. I think he'll have a good year, but nothing that would suggest you draft him in the first round for sure.
Super Bowl champs open up camp to defend their crown
Another year, another year the Giants open up the season as Super Bowl champions. But the competition in the NFC East will be tough and perhaps derail their hopes of making it back to the playoffs.
Camp battle to watch: Tight End. Gone is Kevin Boss. Travis Beckum suffered that injury in the Super Bowl. Who will be able to protect Eli Manning when they have to and then be a reliable target down the middle of the field? Most likely Martellus Bennett, but someone will have be the second tight end.
Storyline: Super Bowl hangover? The answer of course is no. They barely made their way into the playoffs before getting on a run and winning the Super Bowl. And the Giants have said all of the right things about that being last year and focusing on this year and knowing that they have a lot to improve on.
Can't miss fantasy player: Victor Cruz. The salsa dancing wide receiver will continue to ascend with another great year. He won't let fame or his new book Out of the Blue slow him down.
Stay away from: Any Giants tight ends. Sorry Bennett, but you need to prove that you can stay healthy and that you will be a reliable look for Manning. Take Bennett only in late rounds if you need a backup tight end.
New York Jets open up camp
The Jets could have done a soap opera with all of the drama from last season, especially late. With it came no playoffs and a very embarrassed coach who had promised a Super Bowl like he had the previous two or three years. But that's different this year and Rex Ryan is saying no prediction and in fact has lost over a hundred pounds so good for him. Will that help the Jets win the AFC East? Probably not, but they'll find out as they embark on a 2012-13 journey with camp opening today.
Position battle to watch: Quarterback. There are a few other positions where battles are being drawn out, but this one has most people intrigued. Because the Jets traded for one Tim Tebow, the fans will want him right away should Mark Sanchez struggle in camp. There is a ton of pressure on Sanchez and if he looks bad, the fans will be on him, chanting for Tebow.
Storyline #1: Tim Tebow. How can anytime that has Tebow on it, not have the spotlight on him whether he wants it or not? Will he be on the kickoff team? How will he look in the redzone? Will he surpass Sanchez to become the starter? What other tricks do the Jets have up their sleeves for Tebow? There are just so many questions and everyone wants to see how looks on the field.
Storyline #2: Has the drama ended? Santonio Holmes was the major source of the drama last year. Does he have a good attitude or will he become a cancer that this team can ill-afford and become a camp casualty or just be cut later?
Can't miss fantasy player: Dustin Keller. Whenever Sanchez is in trouble, he looks his tight end???s way and Keller makes the play happen. I imagine it will be the same this year with Keller putting up good stats for you in fantasy football.
Stay away from: Shonn Greene. The Jets running back proved ineffective last year. If you need him as a second running back, that's fine, but he should probably be a third. I don't have much confidence for Greene until he proves the doubters wrong.
San Diego Chargers begin training camp
The San Diego Chargers once again disappointed last year, getting off to a slow start and never being able to recover. Their window of opportunity it seems is closing, especially Peyton Manning suiting up for the Broncos now. This year promises to be an important one as training camp opens today.
Camp battle to watch: Linebacker. The Chargers found a steal in rookie Melvin Ingram with the 18th overall pick in this past April's draft. Along with Takeo Spikes, they form a good one-two punch. But who will the other linebackers be alongside them? Will they be pushed by the younger guys looking to make a spot on the roster? It's going to be interesting.
Storyline #1: Health. Mainly because Antonio Gates is often injured, the Chargers offense sometimes falls back a bit. Add to that running back Ryan Matthews and his issues staying healthy, and it puts a lot of pressure on Philip Rivers. The Chargers must stay healthy to contend for the AFC West.
Can't miss fantasy player: Ryan Matthews. The Chargers are hoping the third year running back really comes out of his shell and he should. He is a top-notch running back and will have a dynamite year this year. He would be worth taking as your number one running back if you have not drafted one by the third round.
Stay away from: Antonio Gates. Gates can put up tremendous numbers, put his issue is staying healthy. He says he is finally 100%, but he is another foot injury away from being out for a long time. Draft him as a number one if you must but wait and build the rest of your team first.
San Francisco 49ers begin training camp with lofty expectations
That swag is back at 49ers camp. Not the team's swagger, but Randy Moss. He is on last chance and from what everyone has said has been really good. But the swagger is also back at 49ers headquarters after last year's surprise run to the NFC Championship. Fans are expecting another run there and so is the team.
Camp battle to watch: Wide receiver. With Moss and Mario Manningham brought in as free agents and drafting A.J. Jenkins in the first round of the draft, the 49ers provided a lot of depth and competition for the other wide receivers. Ted Ginn Jr. and Kyle Williams will have to step up or one of them, not to mention some of the other receivers on the roster will be cut.
Storyline #1: Can they make a repeat run? That's certainly the expectations of the team. No one outside of the 49ers locker room believed they would make that sort of run last year. Now a lot of people do. Can they meet the expectations without feeling the pressure? The offense has more weapons and the defense is as good as it was last year meaning that they should make another run.
Storyline #2: Can Alex Smith take the next step? He certainly can and he should given what the team did in the offseason to improve on the offensive side of the ball. If not, the calls will be out to get a new quarterback in. Colin Kaepernick anyone?
Can't miss fantasy player: Frank Gore. Was debating between him and Vernon Davis, but with the wide receivers the 49ers have now, defenses can't stack the box as much meaning Gore will have a much better year provided he stays healthy.
Stay away from: Randy Moss. At least, don't take him to be a number one or two. We have to see if Moss is truly back. We've heard the reports out of 49ers camp, but Moss can turn on you just like that. He could be a steal in fantasy or be a bust. Use mid-round to lower pick on him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers begin training camp
The Bucs were a major disappointment last year and with that has brought along new changes such as a coaching staff with Greg Schiano leaving Rutgers for the NFL. The Bucs also broke the bank landing wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Carl Nicks. Will that lead to a brighter year for the Bucs in the difficult NFC South?
Position battle to watch: Running back. LaGarrette Blunt wanted to be the number one back, but the Bucs went right on ahead and drafted Doug Martin out of Boise State. Martin will at one point become the Bucs starting running back because he can do everything, it's just a matter of when and Blunt will do his best to hold him off.
Storyline #1: How will Greg Schiano look coaching an NFL team? Going from college to the NFL is difficult, just ask Steve Spurrier and Butch Davis to name a couple. But Jim Harbaugh did a remarkable job last year with the 49ers, and the hope in Tampa is that Schiano can have that same success. He has his work cut out for him though and how he adapts to the NFL with his ideas and system will give Bucs fans an idea of how successful this team will be.
Storyline #2: Will Josh Freeman revert back to the quarterback he was in the first year or continue his poor play from last year? Freeman did not have a good year last year, but injuries around him did not help. He has a new weapon in Jackson which will help and he shouldn't have to try so hard to win games. But for the Bucs to get back to where they were a couple of years ago, Freeman will have to play like he did his rookie year.
Can't miss fantasy player: Mike Williams. Despite the bad record last year, the wide receiver was pretty good. And with Jackson there and drawing more attention, that will mean Williams will have more one-on-one coverage and put up some big numbers.
Stay away from: LaGarrette Blunt. It's only a matter of time before Blunt ends up in Schiano's doghouse or Martin overtakes him as the number one running back.