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Depth Chart Watch: Training Camp Job Battles

Andrew Fiorentino

Andrew Fiorentino

Managing hockey editor, talent wrangler, football columnist. Twitter: @akfiorentino

Cardinals RB - Stepfan Taylor was unimpressive again (eight carries, 17 yards) in the second preseseason game, and Jonathan Dwyer wasn't any better (though he at least punched one in for a touchdown to go with his 10 yards on five carries). Journeyman Robert Hughes led the team with 26 yards on nine carries but is on the fringe even to gain a roster spot. It's Andre Ellington or bust.

Cardinals WR - Brittan Golden has had lot of action this preseason with 11 catches on 11 targets (albeit for a fairly meager 79 yards) through two games. He's buried on the depth chart, but you usually don't give a guy that long of a look only to cut him. Meanwhile, both John Brown and Jaron Brown look good, and it's well worth watching both Browns in light of the aging Larry Fitzgerald, the already-banged-up Michael Floyd and the unimpressive Ted Ginn.

Falcons RB - Even though the Falcons got stomped, 32-7, in their second preseason contest, Devonta Freeman looked good again, totaling six carries for 31 yards. Antone Smith, who's getting camp hype, looked less good, notching only 27 yards on eight carries. And Jacquizz Rodgers remained Jacquizz Rodgers. Oh, and 31-year-old Steven Jackson's been limited by a hamstring issue in camp. Pounce on Freeman if the price is right on draft day.

Falcons TE - Levine Toilolo is the presumptive starter, but keep an eye on former practice-squad man Mickey Shuler, who's shown good hands in the preseason and stands a reasonable chance at beating out Bear Pascoe for the No. 2 spot. It also can't be said that Toilolo has an unbreakable grip on the top role.

Ravens RB - Despite some inspired running by Lorenzo Taliaferro the first two weeks of preseason action, Bernard Pierce has a strong hold on the No. 1 job while Ray Rice (who's also nursing a minor shoulder injury) is suspended, and Pierce should be a a big part of the timeshare split thereafter. Pierce turned seven carries into 55 yards Saturday, but it's worth noting that he's limited as a receiver - Taliaferro's a more complete back, which is something for deep-league and dynasty owners to keep in mind. Justin Forsett is in this mix too, maybe still ahead of Taliaferro for now.

Ravens WR - Jacoby Jones keeps getting chances to succeed in this offense, and he did more with those chances in the second preseason game, catching three balls for 49 yards. However, Marlon Brown - despite reports of increasing marginalization - did catch both his targets for 31 yards, good for second on the team.

Ravens TE - Dennis Pitta continued to lock down the top TE role for Baltimore in the second preseason game, catching a 16-yard pass while Owen Daniels sat out for "rest," which could mean he's not in football shape. Troublesome with the season so near; it looks like what was projected to be a timeshare might just be the Pitta show.

Bills RB - After looking slow in the first two preseason contests, Fred Jackson did indeed get the ol' legs goin' in the third one, running effectively while catching all seven balls thrown his way. C.J. Spiller and Bryce Brown were both quiet, but the Bills are clearly protecting the injury-prone Spiller, while Brown is solidly No. 3 until one of those top two gets hurt, which is pretty much a guarantee.

Bills WR -Sammy Watkins suffered a rib contusion in Buffalo's third preseason game, but is reportedly fine - whew. The depth chart behind him is spectacularly hideous, though presumptive Robert Woods at least caught three of six targets for 49 yards. Woods and Mike Williams are the leading candidates for the No. 2 role opposite Watkins in what doesn't promise to be a prolific passing offense.

Panthers RB - Jonathan Stewart looked great Sunday, scoring a pair of preseason touchdowns to go with 26 yards on four carries. DeAngelo Williams was quiet, but come the regular season, he'll certainly see a lot more action. As long as both are healthy, expect them to split carries roughly evenly, with Williams seeing the vast majority of the pass targets.

Panthers WR - Jerricho Cotchery's made just one catch for eight yards in two preseason games so far, but don't expect that to send the veteran tumbling down the depth chart. Jason Avant seems to have a hold on the No. 3 spot, but could be pushed by Tiquan Underwood as well as undrafted practice squadder Brenton Bersin.

Bears RB - Rookie Ka'Deem Carey, widely expected to win top backup duty behind Matt Forte prior to the season, has totaled just 59 yards on 23 carries in the preseason, impressing precisely no one, though he did take the plunge on a one-yard TD run Thursday. Carey appears to be stuck behind Shaun Draughn (who carried three times for 33 yards Thursday). Michael Ford, meanwhile, may not even make the team, as the Bears seem to be enamored with undrafted free-agent Senorise Perry.

Bears WR - Chicago just signed Santonio Holmes, who should work his way into some slot action but won't take anything away from Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. The guy he really hurts is Josh Morgan, who looked to have the No. 3 role on lockdown.

Bengals RB - The marginalizing of BenJarvus Green-Ellis continued against the Jets in Week 2 of the preseason, as the Law Firm carried just once for three yards. In the meantime, Jeremy Hill toted thrice for 16 yards and showed some utility in the passing game, collecting a 16-yard reception (and a second catch for a three-yard loss - hey, PPR, baby!). However, Hill ended up leaving the game with a shoulder injury, which bears monitoring.

Bengals WR - Newly minted No. 2 man Mohamed Sanu broke a 43-yard touchdown and a 13-yarder on two targets Saturday, and no one appears likely to take that job from him. The Bengals inexplicably targeted 2013 sixth-rounder Cobi Hamilton 13 - yeah, thirteen - times, and he caught two of those passes for 11 yards. That's the kind of performance that'll get you all the way to the practice squad.

Bengals TE - Tyler Eifert (shoulder) sat out the second preseason game, while Jermaine Gresham suited up, but tallied only two catches for 13 yards. Eifert's the one who's going to make plays down the seam for this team, assuming he gets healthy by the start of the season, as expected.

Browns QB - Monday's preseason game could make or break Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer - at least as far as starting in Week 1 - as coach Mike Pettine said the team will name its starting QB on Tuesday. Hoyer's started Monday, but didn't play well.

Browns RB - This team is going to run a lot, so own Terrance West, especially for when Ben Tate inevitably goes down with an injury. Even with a healthy Tate, though, the Browns could conceivably make both backs fantasy relevant each week, considering the barren nature of their passing game.

Browns WR - This is going to be a depth chart in turmoil all year, as Josh Gordon's presumed absence, Miles Austin's ineffectiveness and Andrew Hawkins' being-a-slot-receiver-ness means the Browns will be looking for answers on the outside. On Monday, Taylor Gabriel built on his fine performance in the preseason opener, catching his three targets for 35 yards.

Cowboys RB - Obviously, DeMarco Murray's all set to start, but his backup situation hasn't yet been resolved. Joseph Randle made his best case for the spot in the second preseason game, running seven times for 41 yards plus an eight-yard catch. Lance Dunbar, generally considered ahead of Randle in the pecking order, toted four times for just seven yards and reeled in an 11-yard catch. Dunbar is expected to see double-digit touches per game behind Murray, but further weak showings in the preseason could allow Randle to surpass him.

Broncos RB - C.J. Anderson got his chance to make an impression against the Niners on Sunday, but his nine carries turned into a subpar 29 yards, though he scored a one-yard touchdown with two seconds left before halftime. Ronnie Hillman didn't do anything to lose his backup job, though, while Juwan Thompson (who impressed with a 59-yard effort in the first preseason game) was quiet, totaling only 10 yards on six carries.

Lions WR - Ryan Broyles delivered another solid preseason outing last week, tying for the team high with 42 yards receiving, while Kevin Ogletree caught the only ball thrown his way, and Kris Durham picked up a touchdown despite notching just six yards on two catches. Broyles should have a good chance to end up winning the No. 3 role behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, provided he can stay healthy, but Durham, Ogletree and others will be in the mix as well.

Lions TE - There's been nothin' doin' for Joseph Fauria in preseason action, while Eric Ebron has flashed his potential and Brandon Pettigrew ... well, he seems like a better fit for another team (maybe the Giants?) via trade. There's marginal fantasy value here until this situation sorts itself out, preferably with Pettigrew hitting the road.

Texans RB - Jonathan Grimes solidified his hold on the No. 2 job with a fine performance in Houston's second preseason game, rushing nine times for 42 yards and adding three catches for another 25. Alfred Blue is solidly third and didn't do anything to make things too exciting by running six times for 22 yards, including a one-yard TD run.

Texans WR - Keshawn Martin showed something in the second preseason game, catching three passes for 39 yards and notching three rushes for 26 more three-foot increments. Martin and DeVier Posey are the top competition for the No. 3 spot on this depth chart behind Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Speaking of, keep an eye on Hopkins this year - he should show improvement after an up-and-down rookie campaign.

Colts RB - Trent Richardson has now managed a grand total of 34 yards on 14 preseason carries. Meanwhile, Ahmad Bradshaw (neck) still hasn't seen game action, and considering the way David Wilson's career came to an abrupt end this preseason, I'm not bullish on Bradshaw. Dan Herron, meanwhile, has been proving himself as a short-yardage back and receiver (nine receptions on nine targets for 57 yards through two games). He could become a sneaky touchdown vulture.

Colts WR - Hakeem Nicks looked good in last week's preseason game, catching his five targets for 53 yards. Meanwhile, Reggie Wayne (knee) hasn't yet made a preseason appearance, while T.Y. Hilton took a seat for the second game. All three should be fantasy relevant if healthy; of the guys behind them, only Da'Rick Rogers offers much fantasy upside.

Jaguars QB - Blake Bortles clearly doesn't want to sit on the sidelines and watch Chad Henne do his mediocre Chad Henne thing all year. Bortles has completed 18 of 28 passes for 277 yards through two preseason games, while Henne's 16-for-24 for 160 yards. Obviously, the No. 3 pick is Jacksonville's future, but considering where the team is at in the present - it's not built to win, to put it nicely - it seems like Bortles will be best served sitting and watching for a while, so unless he looks like a can't-miss instant star, look for Henne to be on the field in Week 1.

Jaguars RB - Toby Gerhart is expected to start this year, but after a hip injury kept him out of the first preseason game and he rushed six times for just 19 yards (18 of them on one carry) in the second one, it's time to pay some attention to Denard Robinson. Robinson's carried 13 times this preseason, totaling 70 yards and a touchdown. And though he hasn't been targeted, he's a better receiver than Gerhart. Robinson could already be ticketed for third-down duty, with upside. He'll never be a starting running back due to his slender frame, but he's a playmaker. Meanwhile, Jordan Todman - supposedly the No. 2 man - has looked typically mediocre, and Storm Johnson has been more like Drizzle Johnson, gaining all of 35 yards on 14 carries this preseason.

Jaguars WR - Rookie Marqise Lee helped himself cement the No. 2 receiver by catching all four of his targets in the second preseason game, but the undrafted Allen Hurns impressed again, catching four balls for 74 yards. Not as impressive: Mike Brown, who had just three catches on eight targets, though at least he turned them into 49 yards. Hurns could be set to leapfrog Brown and Kerry Taylor. Another rookie, Allen Robinson (hamstring), is considered the No. 3 man, but it'd be nice for him to establish himself in that job with some preseason action.

Chiefs RB - If Jamaal Charles goes down, everyone's assumes Knile Davis will take over. And he probably will. But Cyrus Gray has made his case this preseason, totaling 20 carries for 109 yards in the first two games. Handcuffers and deep leaguers should take note.

Chiefs WR - With Dwayne Bowe suspended for Week 1, Junior Hemingway was supposedly in line to start that game, but he left Sunday's preseason game with a hip flexor strain - prognosis to come. The uninspiring Donnie Avery appears to have the No. 2 spot, but could certainly be replaced in time. The dark horse for productivity is Frankie Hammond, an undrafted 24-year-old who spent last season on the Chiefs' practice squad. He reeled in three catches for 57 yards and has received some glowing camp reports. I wouldn't be surprised to see him rise as far as No. 4 receiver to start the year, with upside.

Chiefs TE - Another day, another big game for Travis Kelce, who I think I'm going to end up owning all over the place. He caught all four of his targets in the second preseason game for 63 yards and a score. Meanwhile, Anthony Fasano quietly existed. Kelce has totaled 136 yards receiving and two touchdowns in the first two exhibition contests. He's going to be PPR gold if he can stay healthy, especially considering the Chiefs' lack of quality wideouts.

Dolphins RB - Knowshon Moreno (knee) missed another preseason game last week, but Lamar Miller's three carries for three yards didn't inspire confidence, nor did undrafted rookie Damien Williams (11 carries for 20 yards and a TD). I still think Moreno will be the most productive of this group of not-very-productive backs. They didn't sign him to sit him behind the underwhelming Miller.

Vikings QB - I thought Matt Cassel had this job locked down, but the Vikings have yet to announce a starter and Teddy Bridgewater turned heads Saturday in the second preseason game, carving up the Cardinals to the tune of 16-for-20, 177 yards and two scores. Cassel was good too, though, and you have to figure that the Vikes still prefer to give Bridgewater some time to watch from the sidelines. However, Cassel's going to need to stay healthy and productive to hold the job, so this will be one to watch throughout the year.

Patriots RB - This backfield actually seems surprisingly straightforward. We know Shane Vereen will be a PPR asset; no questions there. Stevan Ridley appears to be the top guy to take the handoffs, as James White hasn't wowed anyone this preseason. The rookie White has to be considered a distant third - maybe even fourth behind Brandon Bolden - on this chart. Meanwhile, no-name runner Jonas Gray took off for 98 yards on a dozen carries.

Saints RB - Pierre Thomas didn't get a carry in last week's preseason game, but he did catch three balls for 27 yards. Worth noting, though, is that Mark Ingram caught a 23-yard touchdown pass. Still, Ingram figures to do more running, while Thomas does more receiving and Khiry Robinson does a little of both. But put me in the camp that says Robinson largely gets marginalized unless one of the other two gets hurt.

Saints WR - Brandin Cooks didn't impress as much in the second preseason game, hauling in just one out of four targets for 16 yards, but Drew Brees has had a lot of great things to say about him, and he might be the most gifted wide receiver on this team. I'd say Cooks ends up the No. 3 or No. 4 receiver by the time camp breaks, which is very fantasy relevant under Brees. Nick Toon and Robert Meachem have had quiet preseasons, while Marques Colston and Kenny Stills figure to be the top two guys. Don't hype yourself into paying a high price for Cooks, who will have to compete with more established receivers, the Saints' backfield trio and Jimmy Graham for looks in the passing game.

Giants RB - With David Wilson out of the picture, Andre Williams has a chance to establish himself as the surefire No. 2, but he took a step back in the third preseason game, gaining only 19 yards on eight carries. Still, he's carried 22 times for 102 yards this preseason. Michael Cox was better last week, but is buried on the depth chart, which is solidly topped by Rashad Jennings. For some reason, Jennings just doesn't excite me even as an unquestioned starter. Jennings has sandwiched a nice preseason game against Pittsburgh between a pair of clunkers.

Giants WR - Did Corey Washington score a third preseason touchdown in his third preseason game? Yes, he did. The guy may be buried on this depth chart, but it's going to be hard for the Giants to cut him to the practice squad at this rate. He could make fourth or fifth receiver, perhaps pushing Jerrel Jernigan or Mario Manningham off the roster. Meanwhile, the Victor Cruz-Rueben Randle-Odell Beckham trio appears set at the top of the chart.

Giants TE - Adrien Robinson was the breakout performer last week, catching a pair of balls for a team-high 59 yards, but the Giants seem set on using the tight end as a blocker, and therefore rolling out notable no-name Larry Donnell. Oh, and Kellen Davis caught a three-yard TD pass, so there's that.

Jets QB - There's really no controversy, as Michael Vick hasn't played so spectacularly that Rex Ryan's hand is forced, so Geno Smith will almost certainly remain the starter. Smith threw an interception in the second preseason game, but was still 10-for-13 for 98 yards, plus four carries for 20 yards and a touchdown.

Jets RB - With Chris Ivory (ribs) on the sidelines, Chris Johnson showed some of that old CJ2K burst, running 10 times for 63 yards in preseason Week 2 action against the Bengals. It's not his fault, but Ivory's been injured a lot in his career, and that's unsurprisingly making things start tilting in Johnson's direction. He's a tremendous value at the draft table, especially considering the Jets' solid offensive line and suspect passing game.

Jets TE - While rookie Jace Amaro caught both of his targets for a total of 24 yards in Saturday's preseason game, Jeff Cumberland (Achilles) sat out. Amaro should work his way into a majority of the passing downs this year, but Cumberland isn't just going away unless he gets hurt.

Raiders RB - Darren McFadden's now looked better than Maurice Jones-Drew in consecutive preseason games, though MJD is certainly a greater factor through the air. This continues to have all the makings of an approximately 50-50 timeshare - maybe 60-40 in Jones-Drew's favor - with Latavius Murray not yet getting a whole lot of chances to make an impression.

Raiders WR - Rod Streater seems to be secure as the clear No. 1 in this offense, making him a PPR asset, if not necessarily a very interesting guy to own in standard formats. Andre Holmes caught a couple passes for 42 yards, but has been pushed to the second team, apparently the victim of Denarius Moore moving back up. I still like Moore, but no one outside of Streater promises to produce much for fantasy purposes.

Eagles WR - Hi there, Jordan Matthews - nine targets, nine catches, 104 yards against the Pats. The Eagles are going to run a high-volume offense, and Riley Cooper (foot) just isn't the kind of No. 2 receiver you can rely on, meaning there should be plenty of work for Matthews. I also simply don't believe that Brad Smith (no catches) will hold onto the No. 3 spot. Jeremy Maclin has a hamstring injury, but should be good to go for the regular season.

Steelers RB - They spent the money on LeGarrette Blount, so now the Steelers seem committed to working him in with Le'Veon Bell in some kind of committee approach. Blount rushed three times for exactly no yards in Pittsburgh's second preseason game, but is expected to steal the goal-line work from Bell, which should have you pushing the exciting sophomore down your cheat sheets a little.

Chargers TE - While Antonio Gates is expected to start at tight end, Ladarius Green has come on strong in the preseason; as mentioned last week, Green should line up all around the formation, earning him some reasonable fantasy value on a Chargers team that's a bit thin at receiver.

Seahawks WR - Percy Harvin's foot "injury" was minor indeed, as he played last week, catching four passes for 31 yards. Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, Nos. 2 and 3 WR, didn't do much, nor did rookie Paul Richardson, who is also a lock to make the roster. The last two spots could come down special teams play with Ricardo Lockette and Bryan Walters getting the edge.

49ers RB - The Niners didn't use their top backs much in their preseason shellacking at the hands of the Broncos on Sunday, and as a result things are pretty static. It's really just Frank Gore at No. 1 and Carlos Hyde at No. 2 now, but Marcus Lattimore has finally generated a positive report in his rehab. I'm the biggest Lattimore fan around, so I hope he can get on the field and get a chance to contribute eventually; with Gore's age, it seems likely he will get that shot when he's ready.

Rams RB - While Zac Stacy gained just six yards on six carries Saturday (plus a 10-yard catch!), Tre Mason got a chance to impress and didn't, totaling 30 yards on 12 carries. Benny Cunningham gained just six fewer yards on seven fewer carries, helping his case to lock down the No. 2 role. Isaiah Pead, meanwhile, suffered a torn ACL and is done for the year.

Rams WR - This situation appears to have shuffled itself into a semblance of order, with Kenny Britt and Brian Quick starting on the outside, while Tavon Austin works out of the slot. Britt, though, is a season-ending injury waiting to happen, which could create a chance for Stedman Bailey once he returns from his four-game suspension.

Buccaneers QB - While Josh McCown bounced back with a solid second preseason game, Mike Glennon took a step back, going just 6-for-12 for 77 yards and losing a fumble. Projected starter McCown's going to find the going tough behind an iffy offensive line, but if he can stay upright long enough, he has some interesting receivers.

Buccaneers RB - With Charles Sims (ankle) now done for the year, Bobby Rainey and Mike James have a one-on-one competition for touches behind Doug Martin. James is now suffering from a shoulder injury, while Rainey hasn't been overly impressive in preseason action - which adds up to great news for Martin owners. But call Rainey the top handcuff.

Buccaneers WR - You'd figure that top pick Mike Evans would be the No. 2 here, and he probably will be - but the Bucs seem insistent that Chris Owusu is starting opposite Vincent Jackson. Owusu was silent in the second preseason game, while Evans led the team with two catches for 52 yards, though he also lost a fumble.

Buccaneers TE - The second preseason game brought more of the same from this crew, with Austin Seferian-Jenkins continuing to make inroads on the starting job while Brandon Myers and Timothy Wright were quiet. The Bucs aren't handing anything to their rookies, but Seferian-Jenkins, like Mike Evans, figures to gain a big role in this offense. That said, Wright was very useful at times last season and could end up as the top pass-catching tight end.

Titans RB - The second preseason game was a decidedly mixed bag for the Tennessee backs. Shonn Greene averaged 5.1 yards on nine carries, while Bishop Sankey averaged 5.2 yards on six carries, but both backs lost fumbles. Meanwhile, Dexter McCluster carried just once. Greene, who's coming off knee surgery, hyperextended his knee on Friday, but said he's OK. (Don't they always?) Fantasy owners, voting with their draft picks, clearly expect Sankey to get the majority of the touches, and there's no reason to think that won't be the case once Greene inevitably underwhelms or is hurt.

Titans WR - Holy Justin Hunter, Batman! Ostensibly the No. 3 receiver, Hunter exploded for a four-catch, 111-yard, two-TD game last week, and with his size, speed and second-round pedigree, he's a big-time breakout candidate if Jake Locker stays healthy and productive. Kendall Wright's locked into one starting spot, but Nate Washington can't possibly have that much job security on the other side.

Redskins WR - Jay Gruden has professed his love for the Redskins' depth receivers, Ryan Grant (not the ex-Packer) and Aldrick Robinson, but this will be the Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson show, with a sprinkling of Andre Roberts and Santana Moss. Yep, Santana Moss: still playing.