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NFL Training Camp Notes

Matthew Stafford impressive in Lions' camp.  If you've been reading our player updates, you know that the Lions coaches are in love with Stafford.  His value at this point is speculative, since we don't know if he will get the starting job come Week 1 or if Daunte Culpepper will be under center.  That said, I'm starting to think Matthew Stafford can be useful in fantasy, even this season.  Yes, rookie quarterbacks usually struggle, and yes, it's the Lions.  But Matt Ryan showed last year that rookie QBs can succeed in the right circumstances.  Are the circumstances right in Detroit?  Well, we all know Calvin Johnson is a beast, and Kevin Smith is on the rise.  Also, don't underestimate just how bad the Lions defense is - and how that could force Stafford to keep throwing again and again.  To illustrate, last year, the Lions were last in total defense, giving up an awful 5.1 YPC and an impossible-to-believe 8.8 YPA.  To put that latter number in perspective, among active QBs, only Peyton Manning (in his 49 TD season) and Kurt Warner (in his "Greatest Show on Turf" seasons with the Rams) have ever put up that type of YPA for a full season.  Hence, the 2008 Lions made every QB they faced look better than every active NFL QB except Manning and Warner in their career years.  If they are similarly inept this year, and I have little reason to think they won't be (particularly since they took Stafford, and not a defender, with their top pick in the draft), then there could be plenty of Lions games where Stafford is hooking up with Calvin Johnson in garbage time. 

Robert Meachem looks good in Saints' camp.  I am glad to say that I will be writing "Working the Wire" again this year, so my loyal reader from last year (I'm talking to you, mom), be on the lookout for that.  Anyway, when that column kicks off again in September, you will see that I love guys like Robert Meachem.  My rationale is simple - Meachem costs you next to nothing, as expectations are low, but the upside is tremendous.  Will he become fantasy worthy this year?  With all of the Saints weapons, probably not (hence the low price tag).  But if things break right (e.g. a Marcus Colston injury, which wouldn't be a first), Meachem, a former first-rounder entering his third season, could explode in a terrific Saints offense.  It certainly helps that the reports on Meachem out of Saints camp are positive. 

Joseph Addai is progressing from knee surgery.  Addai has been limited to one workout per day, but he seems to be on track in his recovery from offseason knee surgery.  The drafting of Donald Brown is scary, but don't forget that Addai was a consensus first-round fantasy selection entering last season.   

Jonathan Stewart is limited in camp.  Stewart will be limited to one practice per day due to achilles soreness.  I find this very troubling, particularly since this issue has lingered since minicamp and OTAs.  Until Stewart shows he's healthy, I'd knock him down a notch on your cheatsheet. 

Amani Toomer signs with Chiefs.  Yawn.  Toomer is the antithesis of Meachem.  As an aging (34) veteran going to a new team, Toomer has little upside.  He's relevant only in deeper leagues, and that's if he wins the second receiver job over Mark Bradley.  I'm not holding my breath on that, either - Bradley was pretty good last year when given a chance to start.  Check out his game log from Weeks 8-12 - he had three games with double-digit fantasy points and at least five fantasy points in the two other games. 

Greg Olsen is named the Bears starting TE.  This was not a surprise, as Desmond Clark is an inferior player.  If drafting today, I'd take Olsen as the second TE, behind only Antonio Gates.  It's reasonable to think Olsen will be Jay Cutler's best and most reliable option, something that Tony Gonzalez cannot say.  As for Kellen Winslow, there's no way I'd take him before Olsen given the Bucs QB situation.