Five things to consider as training camps heat up:
1. A Ryan Mathews/Mike Tolbert timeshare is likely.
Norv Turner was quoted by Chargers.com as saying "I don't know if (Mathews) will be one of the leading rushers because I think the emergence of [Mike] Tolbert gives us a chance to have a one-two punch," which seems to be code for something like "Ryan Mathews will not be a workhorse back for the Chargers in 2011."
After his injury-plagued rookie year and struggles already this season with wrist, toe and leg troubles in training camp, it looked increasingly likely that Mathews would again disappoint as a fantasy back in 2011. But Turner elevating Tolbert to timeshare status is the most conclusive indicator yet.
Mathews still has a shot to reach 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, but he needs to be more durable and needs to be more productive when he is on the field.
I thought that Mathews looked like at least an RB2 with RB1 upside in most 12-team standard scoring leagues heading into training camp, but I'm growingly increasingly worried that he might be turn out to be more of an RB3.
2. Mikel Leshoure suffered a torn Achilles' tendon Monday.
In what was probably the most disappointing news of training camp to this point, Leshoure went down Monday with a season-ending Achilles' tendon tear. It's a very difficult start to what previously looked like a promising career for Leshoure, so hopefully he can make a full recovery and make up for lost time in 2012.
But as far as 2011 goes, Jahvid Best suddenly looks much more valuable. Even if his health only allows him to play 13 or 14 games, he should get a big enough workload to be a solid RB2 in most scenarios, and maybe even more than that in PPR leagues.
The Lions added Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell on Tuesday, but neither should be a threat to Best's main workload. If Harrison make the team, however, he would be a very intriguing late-round handcuff given Best's durability concerns.
3. Chris Johnson's holdout is still going.
Players had to report to training camp by Aug. 9 to earn a year of service toward free agency, but the anti-holdout mechanism of the new CBA did nothing to change Johnson's situation.
It takes four years of service to reach unrestricted free agency in the new CBA. Johnson already has three years of service, and with two more years under contract, he had no incentive to report to Titans training camp. Even if he skips all of this season, he can return to the Titans in 2012 and reach free agency just as fast as he would if he played all this year.
So where does that leave us? The Titans appear unwilling to budge, but it's hard to find the wisdom in their approach when Johnson stated in unambiguous terms a year ago that he would act in this exact manner if the Titans didn't give him a new deal. They've had a year to prepare for this, yet no offers have been made.
Since they've taken that approach all this time, it's tough to guess whether the Titans are likely to change their stance as the regular season approaches. It seems that Johnson is the one in control here - the Titans might badly undermine the morale of players and fans alike if they don't give Johnson the extension that he deserved a year ago.
4. Knowshon Moreno is looking faster than in previous years, according to the Denver Post.
Moreno has not been especially impressive to this point in his career, particularly considering that he was the 12th overall pick in the 2009 draft. That means he was taken ahead of players like Josh Freeman, Clay Matthews, Hakeem Nicks, Jeremy Maclin, Percy Harvin and numerous other rising stars.
That definitely has to sting for Denver, but the good news is it looks like Moreno is doing everything in his power to capitalize on the big opportunity awaiting him this year. Even Lamar Smith totaled 904 yards from scrimmage and seven rushing touchdowns in 11 games during John Fox's first year in Carolina, so Moreno should be able to make a good push for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
The arrival of Willis McGahee is a bit concerning, but Moreno should hold some sort of default lead back role thanks to his clear superiority as a receiver. And really, there should be enough room in Denver for both backs to be fantasy factors. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart totaled 437 carries in 2009, while that duo combined with Mike Goodson for 368 carries last year. Even if McGahee steals something like 150 carries, Moreno still would have a great shot at breaking 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his career.
5. DeSean Jackson's holdout is over, but Jeremy Maclin (illness) is still out.
Jackson undoubtedly will plug into a role at least as big as the one he held the last two years, but this Maclin situation is getting quite worrisome.
Maclin has yet to join Eagles training camp due to some mysterious illness that has sapped his weight. Multiple reports indicate that it's visibly obvious that Maclin is well below his previous playing weight, but no one can seem to come up with a plausible explanation.
The most common hypothesis is that Maclin is still dealing with complications of his bout with mononucleosis-type symptoms from spring, but even that one is difficult to follow.
This is something fantasy owners have not had to deal with, so it's tough to know just what to make of Maclin's situation. The team says there's nothing to worry about, and Maclin himself doesn't seem worried, but even if he's ready to go by Week 1, the loss of training camp work makes it possible that Maclin, at least initially, might regress a bit in 2011.
Still, in an offseason where the Eagles seemingly signed just about every good free agent, it's difficult to overstate how reassuring it is for Maclin's prospects that the Eagles didn't add a big-time receiver. The team is loading up for a Super Bowl run in 2011, and the fact that it felt no need to replace its best chain mover hopefully indicates that Maclin should be back to normal soon enough.