Training Camp Position Battles: WR

NFL Training Camp begins at the end of the month and there are quite a few position battles going on with all 32 teams. Today I will highlight the wide receiver group and the fantasy impact these battles could produce for your fantasy roster.

Dallas Cowboys

Depth chart before camp: Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Terrance Williams/Cole Beasley

Projected depth chart after camp: Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley

WR to own: Michael Gallup

Training Camp Position Battles
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Allen Hurns (17) catches a pass as wide receivers Deonte Thompson (15) and Michael Gallup (13) look on during an organized team activity at its NFL football training facility in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

The Cowboys receiving core had a face-lift this offseason–gone are Dez Bryant, Brice Butler and Ryan Switzer. In comes Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup and Deonte Thompson. Hurns is the de facto number one at this moment, mainly due to the inexperience (Gallup) and lack-of-talent (Williams) behind him.

This ultimately, is Gallup’s job when he is ready. My third-ranked receiver in the 2018 NFL Draft, Gallup does not lack talent. He showcased ‘sublime ability running the route tree’ per PFF and finished the past two seasons top 10 in yards per route run among this year’s draft class. Gallup looked like an unofficial “winner” from minicamp after developing a strong rapport with Dak Prescott and could be a darkhorse candidate to take over the top receiving duties.

I’m not even going to touch on ‘I don’t know how to use my hands’ Terrance Williams, because he has zero fantasy value and should be a camp cut (he won’t because of that stupid contract).

Deonte Thompson is nice, but with Cole Beasley locked in as the main slot receiver, I don’t know how much of a role he will have.

Hurns is a solid option in fantasy outside of Gallup and he adds versatility to the wide receiver core–he has playmaking ability both in the slot and on the outside.

Gallup is the receiver to own in dynasty formats, but both are worthy of late round selections in redraft–I’m privy to Gallup, but I understand Hurns being drafted ahead of him ADP-wise at the moment. The better draft value however, is with the rookie.

Arizona Cardinals

Depth chart before camp: Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Brice Butler

Projected depth chart after camp: Larry Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk, Brice Butler

WR to own: Larry Fitzgerald

Training Camp Position Battles
(Cardinals OTA’s. AP Photo)

Just like the Cowboys, the Arizona Cardinals have to replace a bulk of their receivers from 2017. The Brown’s, John and Jaron are gone and the Cards have 243 targets vacated from last year’s squad.

Larry Fitzgerald has routinely dominated a sizeable target share of this passing attack. He’s averaged 152 targets over the last three years, and despite his age (34), can reasonably be penciled in for a similar output in 2018. But there are solid options opposite Fitz…

Second-round rookie Christian Kirk excels in the slot and that will be his role from day one, although he is capable playing on the outside. The coaching staff is already enamored with the rookie.

Brice Butler wanted to go to a team this offseason where he would be able to start (something he was never able to secure in Dallas). It looked good for Butler until the arrival of Kirk–and now he’s going to battle it out in camp. He offers the least amount of fantasy value in this trio barring injury.

Fitzgerald and Kirk should both be drafted, but based on age–Kirk is the better option in dynasty formats. Larry is a solid WR2 in most formats in 2018, so don’t be scared away by his age.

New England Patriots

Depth chart before camp: Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman*, Jordan Matthews

Projected depth chart after camp: Chris Hogan, Julian Edelman*, Jordan Matthews, Malcolm Mitchell

WR to own: Julian Edelman*

Training Camp Position Battles
(Foxboro, MA) New England Patriots Julian Edelman (11) and the wide receiver crew didn’t have quarterback Tom Brady to work with at OTAs at Gillette Stadium. Staff Photo by Matt West

Whoever is catching balls from Tom Brady has fantasy value and that’s what these Patriot receivers have. Chris Hogan and Julian Edelman are the clear-cut No.1 and No.2 receivers in New England, but Edelman’s four-game suspension to star the year throws a wrinkle in the Pats plans, at least for the first four weeks.

Jordan Matthews is coming off the heels of a disappointing injury-riddled campaign with Buffalo–but look at the quarterback upgrade he received by the switch. He was a decent fantasy option when he was with the Eagles, so at least for the first four weeks, he should be a solid option.

Malcolm Mitchell is still a member of the Pats, even if you forgot about him. He missed all of last year (knee) and has continued to be held out of offseason workouts. He may join training camp in limited fashion to start, but if he’s healthy, he’s the best deep threat on the roster.

The Patriots have a plethora of receivers on their depth chart. Kenny BrittPhillip DorsettCordarrelle PattersonBraxton BerriosRiley McCarron and Matthew Slater all fighting for roster spots–but without clear roles, it’s hard to count on them in fantasy football.

That being said, watch Braxton Berrios as a late-round target in deeper dynasty leagues–he could be in the starting lineup after 2018.

After Edelman’s four-game suspension I believe he will be the receiver to own, specifically in PPR formats. He’s Brady’s safety blanket and will be utilized as such.

For more Fantasy Football information, check out MFST’s 2018 Fantasy Football Draft Guide which is only $1 and all proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

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