All training camps are back in full swing and the most popular month for fantasy drafts every year is underway. Daily fantasy football coverage is back and so too are nearly hourly news and injury points to digest. As always, we’ll hit them all in Thursday’s Dose.
The injury bug has followed the Chargers from San Diego to Los Angeles. Not only is first-round pick Mike Williams’ rookie season still in jeopardy as he continues to recover from a back injury, the Bolts’ second-round pick may be less fortunate. Forrest Lamp tore his ACL in Chargers’ camp on Wednesday. Lamp was slated to start the season at guard alongside either G Dan Feeny or G Matt Slauson as a part of Los Angeles’ revamped interior line. It’s a brutal blow. The Chargers have hit a streak of hard-luck injuries along their offensive line for multiple years running.
Last year, the Bolts supported a pedestrian offensive line that finished 23rd in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards and 24th in Adjusted Sack rate. The Chargers have spent three picks in the first three rounds on offensive linemen over the past two seasons -- Lamp, Feeney and C Max Tuerk -- and, unluckily, Lamp and Tuerk (he tore his ACL in his final year at USC) have both been unable to play in their rookie seasons.
We still need to hold our collective breath, but it appears Jordan Reed has dodged a major bullet. After visiting with Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina earlier this week, Reed sounds day to day and may be able to practice as soon as next week. Whew. Dr. Anderson notoriously does major foot surgeries for players and it’s usually never a good sign when ailing stars travel to North Carolina to see him, but Reed appears to be safe for now.
Per Josh Hornsby’s MFL10 average draft position application, Reed has shed nearly a round off of his average draft position over the past week. Reed is now going near 51st overall and was consistently a top-40 selection in mid-July, before this toe injury scare. It’s easy to be scared off of Reed since he’s missed multiple games due to various injuries in every season of his career to-date, but it’s hard to ignore that Reed has finished as the TE1 in PPR points per game in back-to-back seasons.
After getting hit hard in practice by S T.J. McDonald in practice earlier this week, Jay Ajayi did indeed sustain a concussion. He’ll be out at least a week. Since Week 1 of the regular season is still five weeks away, the Dolphins will work Ajayi back in slowly once he is cleared. There is a chance we won’t see Ajayi on the field again until the middle of the preseason. In the meantime, the Dolphins are going to get an extended look at Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake in practice and in the first game of the preseason versus the Falcons on August 10th. Storm Johnson, Senorise Perry and UDFA De’Veon Smith are in ‘Fins camp as well.
Even though fantasy owners’ never want to see their players miss practice time, especially with a concussion, Ajayi’s fantasy forecast is unchanged. Ajayi’s upside is palpable, but he’ll need to be slightly more involved in the ‘Fins pass attack in order to change his win/loss splits that were present in 2016. Once Ajayi gained the starting gig, he averaged the sixth-most fantasy points per game (PPR) among RBs in Dolphins’ wins last year, but he was just the RB29 in their losses. Ajayi averaged 3.4 targets per game in ‘Fins losses and just 1.8 targets/game in their wins. As noted by Evan Silva in his Dolphins Fantasy Team Preview, Miami outplayed their win expectation in 2016. They’re currently installed to win 7.5 games in 2017.
Will Fuller got off to a hot start in his rookie season with two back-to-back 100-yard performances in his first two NFL games, but he was eventually slowed down by Brock Osweiler and now his development will be slowed further in his second year. Fuller suffered a broken collarbone in the Texans’ Wednesday practice and is expected to miss two or three months. That would put Fuller’s return, at the most optimistic end, in Week 5. The Texans may hold Fuller past their Week 7 bye. Fuller is no longer a consideration in the 14th-plus rounds of fantasy drafts. With Fuller on the shelf, the Texans are going to get an extended look at Jaelen Strong, Braxton Miller and speedster Wendall Williams in the preseason.
Due to Fuller’s absence, DeAndre Hopkins will, at the very least, start the season as a potential target hog with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson likely under center. Fuller saw 18% of the Texans’ targets in his rookie season. This is a very small sample, but Hopkins saw 15 and 13 total targets in Fuller’s two lone missed games in 2016. Hopkins averaged 8.79 targets per day in his 14 games with Fuller in the lineup last season. The bad news is Hopkins doesn’t exactly have an easy start to his potential 2017 bounceback campaign. Hopkins will open the year versus Jalen Ramsey and Jacksonville’s sturdy secondary in Week 1, he’ll then travel to Cincinnati in Week 2 who allowed the fewest yards/game to opposing team’s No. 1 receivers in 2016 per FootballOutsiders and then he’ll have to play in New England in Week 3. The Patriots have stymied Hopkins to 3-52, 4-56 and 6-65 in his last three games (including playoffs) versus Belichick and Co.
Giants’ receiver Sterling Shepard suffered a low-ankle sprain in practice on Wednesday; his Week 1 status isn’t in jeopardy, it seems. … Steelers third-round RB James Conner has an AC joint sprain in his shoulder; he’s day to day. … Jamison Crowder (hamstring) is day to day. … Bears WR Markus Wheaton will miss the next two weeks of training camp following his July 30 appendectomy. … CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco says rookie Joe Williams has gotten off to a "slow start" at 49ers camp; Maiocco also mentioned that Hyde “appears set” as the Niners’ starting back. … Laquon Treadwell has continued to run exclusively with the first-team offense in three-receiver sets at training camp. … Finally, Paul Richardson has been running ahead of Jermaine Kearse in two-receiver sets at Seahawks camp.