This is the last column on training camp news, as we’ll be shifting to preseason news and notes to cover the first set of NFL games. I’ll be breaking down some tape during preseason games, and likely doing a live breakdown in the football chatroom here on Rotoballer. Until then, here’s the latest installment of Stock Up/Down.
NFL Training Camp News, Notes and Analysis for 8/3
WR Kelvin Benjamin, CAR
This one is surprising me more than any other. Benjamin’s tape coming out of college showed a receiver that was big and absolutely nothing else. He was lacking in plenty of WR skills (including catching with his hands) and he generally just seemed to be a big guy on the field. As of right now though, Benjamin’s been having a great camp (though he was sidelined a bit with injury) and as of 8/3’s latest practice, has found himself being Cam Newton‘s security blanket. Newton’s throwing accuracy is severely underrated and it’s completely possible that Benjamin actually finds himself at the top of the Rookie WRs this season.
WR Brandon Cooks, NO
This one on the other hand, doesn’t surprise me. All camp Cooks has been constantly noted as an improving and stand out player. As of Sunday’s New Orleans Saints scrimmage, Cooks found himself beating defensive players in every way possible, whether it was over the top or with just yards after catch. It’s already well known that Cooks found himself in what was probably the best situation possible for a player of his skills, now he’s showing off his value constantly in practice.
TE Tyler Eifert, CIN
This one can’t be surprising to anyone who followed the draft last year. Most were expecting Eifert to come right in, blow Gresham off of the team, and put up Jimmy Graham numbers immediately. Maybe not exactly, but it seemed like it would be easy to take the starting job away from Gresham at least. That didn’t come to fruition last year, as Eifert struggled to make the jump from College to the NFL. This year however, the camp story has been how much Eifert’s improved. He’s been lined up everywhere on the Bengals offense and is very hard to cover: Vine videos of Eifert making vertical catches and using his route running to get free of corners have been posted nearly every day. I’m ready to buy in on Eifert this year.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, HOU
Another second year player who’s been turning heads in practice, Hopkins actually had a pretty good rookie season. He’s fallen into the late depths of ADP due to the faltering of last years Texans offense, but if last year was a direct prediction of next year then fantasy would be a very easy game.
QB Johnny Manziel, CLE
Manziel seems firmly placed as the backup Quarterback entering this season, as he’s done nothing to separate himself from Brian Hoyer. This doesn’t change his value much in dynasty leagues (Manziel was kind of seen as a bit of a project either way) but in redraft leagues it leaves him undraftable. He might be a worthwhile waiver pickup if Hoyer goes down again but even then his value might be capped considering Cleveland’s receiving options sans Josh Gordon.
RB Tre Mason, STL
I will tell you that I certainly thought Mason would be stealing carries this year from Zac Stacy. As it’s turned out, Mason is running with the third team right now and the trend is saying that he might be redshirting his rookie year barring injury. Benny Cunningham is listed ahead of Mason on the depth chart, and it’s completely possible that Stacy features as the main back all year long, but this is partly just speculation right now.
WR Keenan Allen, SD
An article came out yesterday about Allen adding the deep route to his game, something he was definitely missing in 2013. On 10 targets of 20+ yards, Allen only caught two. With his current set of skills, if Allen could become a real deep threat he’d be a WR1 with no issue. In the last three years Phillip Rivers has over a 95 QB Rating when throwing 20+ yards, so you know he’s good at it.