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Depth Chart Watch: Training Camp Job Battles

Andrew Fiorentino

Andrew Fiorentino

A degenerate fantasy player since the age of 13.

Cardinals RB - Nothing much new to report here. Stepfan Taylor remains ahead in the pecking order for No. 2 man to clear-cut starter Andre Ellington. Jonathan Dwyer has done himself no favors this preseason in his efforts to unseat Ellington - he's now run the ball 14 times for all of 24 yards.

Cardinals WR - Another strong game for rookie John Brown on Sunday. He's caught all 10 of his preseason targets for 165 yards and a touchdown. The guy can make plays, and he has great hands. Meanwhile, the Cards are getting nothing out of Ted Ginn so far. Brown just makes too much sense out of the slot to be ignored.

Falcons RB - Jaquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman have essentially played to a stalemate, but I think the Falcons feel comfortable with Quizz as the starter if Steven Jackson goes down. My suspicion is that if/when that happens, they go to Freeman more, and I think Antone Smith will get some chances too. Freeman may be the most exciting of the group because he's the new toy, but he's really going to need things to fall his way to get consistent touches.

Falcons WR - An interesting development in preseason game No. 3, as Devin Hester got a lot of run with the first-team offense and caught four of five targets for 56 yards and his second touchdown in as many weeks. Hester's return skills mean he has a roster spot locked up, and he seems to be sneakily creeping past Harry Douglas for the role of third fiddle to Julio Jones and Roddy White. The Falcons have some short-pass targets to distribute with Tony Gonzalez gone, and Hester could be a factor for this team out of the slot if he can run his routes well enough.

Ravens RB - Ray Rice watched - in uniform - from the sidelines in this week's preseason contest against the Redskins, which was likely just a precautionary move to preserve the 27-year-old back, who'll be suspended the first two games of the season. In his absence, Lorenzo Taliaferro was inefficient (25 yards on 11 carries) while Bernard Pierce was just bad (four rushes and a catch for a total of zero yards). Justin Forsett was the only one who turned in a respectable performance; he seems to still be above Taliaferro in the pecking order, but no threat to Pierce.

Ravens WR - Steve Smith woke up with six catches for 80 yards and a score this week, which has to have his fantasy owners feeling more optimistic. Meanwhile, Marlon Brown's zero catches have to have damaged his chances at the No. 3 role, where he remains ahead of Jacoby Jones, who also did nothing against the 'Skins.

Bills RB - Bryce Brown has made positive impressions in every preseason game; meanwhile, the age-old Fred Jackson has mostly looked, well, his age. The Bills seem to want to squeeze every drop of goodness out of Jackson, so I don't expect him to get displaced by Brown right away, but by the end of this season? I think so.

Bills WR - Sammy Watkins' rib injury let Mike Williams get some good run in Saturday's game against Tampa, and he caught three passes for 46 yards and a score from a surprisingly productive EJ Manuel. Williams appears locked into the No. 2 role, but with the Bills' ground-heavy approach, he probably won't yield a lot of production - nor will the likes of Robert Woods and Marquise Goodwin.

Panthers RB - While it's interesting to note that Jonathan Stewart caught a 20-yard pass this week against New England while DeAngelo Williams wasn't targeted, neither one got much work in the preseason blowout. The DWJSMADFVT continues!

Panthers WR - Jerricho Cotchery's seen minimal preseason action, but probably by design. Still, with the Panthers looking for answers at receiver after Kelvin Benjamin, Brenton Bersin is making an impression, catching most everything thrown his way.

Bears RB - Ka'Deem Carey and Shaun Draughn accounted for the most backup work behind Matt Forte this week, which is precisely four carries each. At least Carey turned in a mediocre 15 yards; Draughn had just four. Carey also caught all four of his targets for 27 yards. He's clearly a more complete player.

Bears WR - Santonio Holmes caught just one pass (his only target) for seven yards in his Bears debut Friday. Meanwhile, Josh Morgan made a statement by leading the team in receiving yards, albeit with only 48. The competition for No. 3 receiver behind Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery (if we're being honest, No. 4 receiver because Matt Forte catches a ton of balls) remains open.

Bengals RB - With BenJarvus Green-Ellis (hip) sitting out of the third preseason game, Jeremy Hill rumbled his way to 48 yards on a dozen carries, and Cedric Peerman made an impact with the second team. Even if Green-Ellis gets healthy, the Bengals seem to be excited about Hill's prospects, so the veteran could find himself in a third-string role. Hill, for his part, has been less than stellar as a receiver, though, so he's likely going to mostly be confined to a short-yardage role.

Bengals WR - Mohamed Sanu has generated a lot of optimism for his fantasy prospects with a series of strong preseason showings, the latest a 70-yard effort against Arizona. He has that No. 2 spot opposite A.J. Green all to himself, and that could translate to rich stat production with Green drawing a lot of double coverage. That third receiver, though, has yet to be determined - Brandon Tate hasn't done much to separate himself, but the players on the depth chart behind him are not pretty.

Bengals TE - With Tyler Eifert missing a second consecutive preseason game with a shoulder ailment, Jermaine Gresham caught one of his two targets for 33 yards. It'd be nice to see Eifert get some more first-team reps before the games start counting; if this injury lingers, he could disappoint early in the year.

Browns QB - The Browns have confirmed that Brian Hoyer will be the starter in Week 1, but already seem to be entertaining plays designed to use Manziel's running ability. Manziel might have great future in the league, but I don't think you will get a ton of value in 2014 out of either quarterback.

Browns RB - No Browns rusher did much against the Rams this week, with Terrance West's miserable seven carries for 17 yards leading the team in both categories. It's worth wondering whether the Browns will fall behind so often that they can't implement the run-heavy system they'd like to deploy. West's not much of a receiver, so he's not going to take third-down duties from Ben Tate, and it's seeming less and less likely that Tate is going to yield a huge portion of early-down carries to start the year as West continues turning in lackluster performances.

Browns WR - So, this team is going to throw a lot, but it may not generate a lot of fantasy numbers. Andrew Hawkins seems like a good bet for PPR success, but I wouldn't touch Miles Austin with a 10-foot pole, and everyone else is a major question as well. This is going to be a Jordan Cameron-centric passing game with a good bit of Hawkins mixed in.

Cowboys RB - With Joseph Randle suffering a rib injury Saturday against Miami, Lance Dunbar's the only reasonable backup left standing behind DeMarco Murray at the moment. Yikes. Note Murray's injury-prone nature and keep an eye on Randle.

Broncos RB - Montee Ball (appendectomy) made his fantasy owners feel better by making his preseason debut on Saturday, rushing four times for 13 yards and catching all four of his pass targets for 21 yards. I still think Ball isn't going to return his lofty draft price this year, but he's clearly No. 1. The depth mover to watch is rookie Juwan Thompson, who's now had two good preseason showings out of three. He's solidified the No. 4 spot and is worth looking at in dynasty formats.

Broncos WR - Suddenly, Welker's out with a concussion, which means Emmanuel Sanders will be trusted with a lot more targets as he slides up to No. 2 on the depth chart. Sanders certainly didn't hurt his own case by putting together a huge game Saturday against Houston, catching five passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. He could be in for a huge spike in production this season - playing with Peyton Manning can do that.

Lions WR - Ryan Broyles' strong preseason continued as he led the Lions in receiving yards again this week. He's caught eight of nine targets in three games for 113 yards. Broyles is quickly working his way back to the No. 3 spot, and hey, No. 2 man Golden Tate's never put up huge fantasy numbers, nor has he blown anyone away this preseason. The only question for Broyles is health - he has an awfully tough time staying on the field.

Lions TE - While Eric Ebron doesn't appear poised to steal full-time duties from Brandon Pettigrew just yet, he could work his way onto the field often in two-tight-end sets, with Pettigrew blocking while Ebron runs routes. I still don't think he's more than a late-round flier, though - there are too many other options in this passing game.

Packers RB - James Starks has been miserable the last two weeks - 11 carries for 18 yards with two catches on six targets for 32 yards. Meanwhile, DuJuan Harris has rushed 19 times for 88 yards over the same span, and he's gained 44 yards through the air on four targets. Eddie Lacy's backup situation may not be so cut and dried, especially if Harris's strong play and Starks' struggles persist into the season.

Packers TE - This depth chart is starting to sort itself out, with Andrew Quarless as starter-in-name while Richard Rodgers looks like the best choice for pass-catching duty. Brandon Bostick (leg) is still in the mix too, but his slightly fractured fibula has derailed the start of his season.

Texans RB - Jonathan Grimes continues to do just enough to hold onto the No. 2 job if he had any competition for it, but Alfred Blue hasn't provided much competition - he's totaled just 79 yards on 20 carries in preseason action. Meanwhile, Arian Foster (hamstring) hasn't seen preseason action yet.

Colts RB - Through three preseason games, Dan Herron looks like the best guy in the Colts' backfield. Trent Richardson is a horror show; Ahmad Bradshaw's neck problems make him an unreliable replacement. Meanwhile, Herron's averaged 5.8 yards per carry and caught 10 passes. He's not quite a star in the making, and the Colts' offensive line isn't doing anyone any favors, but Herron's a tough runner with a path to playing time who's going widely undrafted.

Colts WR - Reggie Wayne was silent in his preseason debut, but so was essentially the entirety of the Colts' passing game in this one. This depth chart seems pretty set up now that everyone's healthy, with Wayne, T.Y. Hilton and Hakeem Nicks settled in as the top three, in that order.

Jaguars QB - Blake Bortles is just outplaying Chad Henne week after week, but the Jags know they aren't going anywhere - they have no reason to give Bortles the job even if he deserves it. So he'll sit on the sidelines for probably half the season watching Henne helm the team to a 2-6 start before they decide, to hell with it, might as well see what the kid's got. You heard it here first.

Jaguars WR - Your No. 1 receiver in the NFL so far this preseason: undrafted rookie Allen Hurns, who's caught 13 balls for 230 yards. When you look up the Jags' depth chart, outside of Cecil Shorts, there's no one who projects to hold Hurns off for playing time if he keeps doing this. Marqise Lee has been unimpactful; Allen Robinson has missed the whole preseason with a hamstring problem; Ace Sanders and Justin Blackmon are suspended. Buy Hurns late and cheap.

Chiefs RB - Once again, Cyrus Gray was efficient while Knile Davis was quiet last week. Gray's now carried 25 times for 130 yards in preseason action, while Davis has turned his 23 carries into just 75 yards. Still, it's going to take some significant regular-season success to unseat Davis from his backup role behind Jamaal Charles, as the Chiefs seem to like his upside - as should fantasy owners.

Chiefs WR - There wasn't much to like from any Chiefs wideout in the third week of the preseason, with the two tight ends carrying the bulk of the load. Dwayne Bowe's the best they've got, and he's going to miss Week 1 due to a suspension. It's looking increasingly like Frankie Hammond will be the beneficiary, though fantasy owners may not get much mileage out of him except in deep leagues.

Chiefs TE - Travis Kelce. Every week, Travis Kelce. Even though Anthony Fasano hauled in all five of his pass targets for 41 yards, he was outdone by Kelce, who caught four balls for 49 yards. Let's face facts: There's a strong argument that Kelce is the best receiver on this team - and he has the second-most receiving yards in the NFL this preseason.

Dolphins RB - Knowshon Moreno's return to the field was a great success, as he ripped off 64 yards on 10 carries Saturday against Dallas. Lamar Miller, for his part, was all right, with 34 yards on seven rushes, but it's clear how the Dolphins envisioned this situation when they signed Moreno. Expect him to start.

Vikings QB - Teddy Bridgewater didn't get a lot of chances to throw Saturday against the Chiefs, but when he did, he completed 4-of-7 for 40 yards and two touchdowns. But Matt Cassel was decent himself, racking up 152 yards and a touchdown on nine completions (thanks, Cordarrelle Patterson). Bridgewater's the future, and that future might arrive this year, but it's not going to be right away. Cassel was named the starter Monday by coach Mike Zimmer.

Vikings TE - I didn't think we had any questions here, with Kyle Rudolph the alpha and everyone else well behind, but Allen Reisner caught three touchdowns in the last two games. Just something worth noting. Rudolph's not giving up his job, but the Vikes could potentially use a lot of two-tight-end sets.

Patriots RB - Own Shane Vereen in PPR; otherwise, you'll want to stay far from Stevan Ridley at sticker price. Rookie fourth-rounder James White has failed to crack 4.0 YPC for three straight games now and doesn't seem ticketed for a huge role right away.

Saints RB - While there have been rumblings about a three-headed approach, it seems to me like the Saints' backfield really has two main guys - Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram. Khiry Robinson is a definite third, as he's having a quiet preseason. Ingram will get the majority of the carries, while Thomas is a legitimate threat for 90 catches with Darren Sproles out of town.

Saints WR - Don't get alarmed about Brandin Cooks sitting out the third preseason game - it was just a stomach issue. However, prospective No. 2 receiver Kenny Stills is suffering from an aggravated quad injury, opening the door for Cooks - as well as Nick Toon and Robert Meachem - to gain more looks in the New Orleans offense. Cooks has the highest profit potential, but also the highest bust potential, as the news is certainly out on him now.

Giants RB - Rashad Jennings has held off the sometimes-impressive Andre Williams with a huge preseason, as he leads the league in meaningless rushing yards. No other veteran back has been given anywhere near the preseason workload (32 carries) that Jennings has, which seems cause for some concern, but hey, I'm not a doctor. But I do think Jennings will break down, and Williams will have several highly productive games.

Giants WR - Rumors of Jerrel Jernigan being a potential cut seem to have been exaggerated, but Jernigan has been quiet this preseason and could still end up off the team, though you have to figure he has some more upside than Mario Manningham. Meanwhile, four games, four touchdowns for undrafted rookie Corey Washington, who's considered a near-lock to make the roster now. Dynasty leaguers, take note. Preston Parker is a name to file away as well; he's looked solid this preseason and could make the Week 1 roster due to his special-teams skills.

Giants TE - Adrien Robinson followed his breakout game with a total dud, catching nothing for no yards, but at least he was in there with the first-team offense. As previously noted, the Giants' tight ends will be a fantasy wasteland this year.

Jets QB - Geno Smith's been declared the starter, so you can stop holding your breath.

Jets RB - Both Chrises delivered against the Giants on Friday, with Chris Ivory turning just seven touches (six carries and a reception) into 73 yards, while Chris Johnson rushed nine times for 42 yards and added two catches for another 35. From week to week, it seems like one or the other is dominating the touches, and it's probably going to go like that during the season as well. The unpredictability of the carry distribution significantly limits the value of both backs.

Jets TE - Jace Amaro delivered four catches on four targets for 37 yards and a touchdown against the Giants while Jeff Cumberland (Achilles) sat out. Worth noting that Amaro caught that TD from Geno Smith.

Raiders RB - Maurice Jones-Drew got only three carries Friday against Green Bay, but he took one for a 40-yard scamper to the end zone. Darren McFadden's three carries were not quite so productive. What once looked like a timeshare is now starting to look like Jones-Drew by himself at the top and McFadden relegated to backup duties.

Raiders WR - The rebirth of Denarius Moore continued Friday, as he hauled in a 40-yard catch, showing that big-play ability. He's shaping up to be no better than the No. 4 receiver, though, as Rod Streater, Andre Holmes and James Jones seem to be ahead of him. Meanwhile, Brice Butler is trying his mightiest to play his way onto this roster - he's caught 11 passes for 178 yards in the preseason. But how many useful receivers can Matt Schaub possibly produce?

Eagles WR - After his big second-week breakout, Jordan Matthews was silenced again Thursday, managing just 16 yards on two catches. It's a sign that we shouldn't expect too much too fast from the rookie, but with a dearth of high-quality options on the Eagles, it wouldn't be surprising to see Matthews work his way into a top receiving role. If Jeremy Maclin doesn't stay healthy, though, this whole thing could fall into disarray.

Steelers RB - The news of both Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount getting into trouble for pot may have dropped the stock of both players, but perhaps unjustly - they don't seem set to miss any time this year over it. What should be sending Bell down your cheat sheets is that he averaged 3.5 YPC last year and is apparently going to yield much of the goal-line work to Blount.

Chargers TE - Antonio Gates had 28 yards and scored an I'm-still-here touchdown in the preseason's third week, while Ladarius Green managed just a single catch for five whole yards. Green could see a lot of snaps if he lines up at receiver as well, in which case he'd see a ton of looks in the intermediate passing game.

Seahawks WR - Jermaine Kearse finally turned in a promising effort, reeling in four balls for 53 yards and a touchdown against the Bears on Friday. We'll need to see more than that to push him up the charts, but he's been locked into the No. 3 role since Golden Tate left.

49ers RB - Carlos Hyde had another big preseason showing this week, turning six carries into 38 yards. Frank Gore's being protected in camp, so it's hard to see what he has left, but there's no doubt that he's old, while Hyde's new, exciting and talented.

Rams QB - If you didn't have enough reasons not to own Rams receivers already, Sam Bradford's ACL injury provides yet another. Not that Shaun Hill hasn't generated fantasy-relevant yardage before - he's just not likely to on this team. It's worth noting that undrafted rookie Austin Davis has outplayed Hill in preseason.

Rams RB - St. Louis got a stronger performance out of Benny Cunningham this week, which should help him settle into the No. 2 slot. Tre Mason has not wowed - just 29 yards on 10 carries against Cleveland - and thus is stuck with third-string duty.

Rams WR - Just when he was falling out of favor, Chris Givens came up with a 75-yard touchdown catch against Cleveland and a 94 yards total. But this is a receiving corps that's going to have a lot of week-to-week inconsistency, especially with Shaun Hill at quarterback. Givens, Kenny Britt, Brian Quick, Tavon Austin - I'm avoiding all of them. Don't overdraft Austin as this team's No. 1 receiver just because he's a name brand.

Buccaneers RB - Doug Martin hasn't had the best preseason, but Mike James is nursing a shoulder injury and Bobby Rainey managed all of 14 yards on 13 carries against Buffalo on Saturday. No one promises to seriously cut into Martin's playing time, and the question of the backup if both James and Rainey were healthy remains unresolved.

Buccaneers WR - Mike Evans led the Bucs in receiving this week against Buffalo, catching all three of his targets for 44 yards and a score. Chris Owusu? Two catches, 17 yards. Evans has now officially moved into the No. 2 spot, surprising no one. If Josh McCown keeps looking strong, a productive rookie season could be in the works with Vincent Jackson drawing extra coverage on the other side.

Buccaneers TE - Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Brandon Myers saw plenty of first-team time against the Bills, but Seferian-Jenkins caught just one pass and Myers done. It's looking like these two will split the majority of tight-end duty, and it's hard to consider either reliable for fantasy purposes until that situation sorts itself out.

Titans RB - Bishop Sankey put together an eight-point play against Atlanta, punching in a three-yard touchdown plus the two-point conversion, but he averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. Shonn Greene, true to form, was even worse, averaging only 2.5 yards per carry, but with Sankey not really separating himself in preseason, Greene could take a fantasy-killing bite out of his touches over the season's first few games. It's worth noting that Sankey hasn't yet taken a single snap in formation with Jake Locker.

Titans WR - This week, it was Nate Washington's turn to star and stake his claim to the No. 2 receiver role, which Justin Hunter (also good again) has been threatening to take from him. Kendall Wright's had a quiet preseason, but I wouldn't fade him in drafts (especially in PPR leagues) because of that. He will be the go-to guy again, and might only be more productive if Hunter and/or Washington can make some big plays.