With NFL rookie mini camps still in progress, it’s time to start looking at a few training camp battles that could go deep into the month of August. Fantasy Football owners will want to take note of these, especially for those of us who don’t have to Draft until right before the start of the regular season. I realize there are far more battles than just these 5, but these are the ones that stick out the most in terms of fantasy value.
Arizona Cardinals: Starting Quarterback (Kevin Kolb/John Skelton)
Kolb should get one more season to prove he isn’t a dud. But even if he makes it through training camp and starts Week One, I don’t see him lasting the entire season, whether it be due to injury or ineptness. Skelton isn’t a world beater, but he still gave the Cardinals a winning record at 5-2 in 7 starts last year while Kolb dealt with concussion-related symptoms. And because of that, Ken Whisenhunt said Skelton has certainly earned a chance to compete for the starting job. With a duo consisting of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, whichever player wins the job could have some value as a QB2 in larger leagues.
Cincinnati Bengals: No. 2 Starting Receiver (Mohamed Sanu/Marvin Jones)
With A.J. Green cemented as the team’s No. 1 option, the No. 2 job is vacated after the team opted not to re-sign Jerome Simpson (Vikings). Both Sanu and Jones offer plenty. Jones has solid route-running ability and vertical skills, while Sanu is physical and has solid hands. This could wind up being a committee. But if either of these guys pulls away from the other, they could have value with Green getting most of the attention from defenses.
New England Patriots: Starting Running Back (Stevan Ridley/Shane Vereen/Joseph Addai)
With Benjarvus Green-Ellis the new starter over in Cincinnati, Ridley is the early favorite to start Week One. Vereen could also get a shot after missing time last year due to hamstring problems. Not to mention Vereen was drafted higher in last year’s draft. Most of Addai’s contract isn’t guaranteed. So if he doesn’t bounce back in August and show he still has something left in the tank, the job could wind up being shared between Ridley and Vereen, with Danny Woodhead coming in on certain situations and Addai out of a job. For now, my money is on Ridley, but any one of these guys could have value if all 3 make the 53-man roster.
Miami Dolphins: Starting Quarterback (Ryan Tannehill/David Garrard)
This situation is for those owners who play in 16-team leagues or larger. The debate is ongoing on whether or not Tannehill should start now, or sit behind Garrard early in the season and play if/when Garrard starts slipping. Either way, there are going to be huge growing pains at the position. Expect Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas to be used heavily until the passing game finds it’s bearings.
Carolina Panthers: No. 2 Starting Receiver (David Gettis/Brandon LaFell)
With many in the front office believing 2012 will be LaFell’s breakout year, I still won’t discount Gettis, who put up 37 catches for 508 yards and 3 scores in 2010. The good news is that Gettis’ ACL injury happened in early August of last year, which puts him in great position to be 100 percent by training camp if he doesn’t suffer any setbacks. Right now the big question is whether Cam Newton can capitalize on his early success to make either of these guys valuable in fantasy leagues. I will say LaFell wins the job, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Gettis pushes him hard for it.