Training Camp Notes: Waiting for Eifert

Harsh reality set in for folks who drafted Bengals’ tight end Tyler Eifert as a top 10 TE over the last couple of months. Last year’s touchdown leader among tight ends (13) has been on the mend since suffering an ankle injury that caused him to miss most of the playoffs last season. Eifert had surgery in the offseason and only recently began jogging. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports that the Bengals and Eifert are targeting a Week 4 return, though the delay could last until Week 6 or perhaps longer. Eifert’s ADP has ranged between the seventh and tenth rounds in most 12-team formats – an ADP that will will immediately take a deep dive into the late teen rounds.

Cowboy fans received a scare on Thursday night when quarterback Tony Romo was hit hard by Seahawks’ pass rusher Cliff Avril on the third play of the game. Romo apparently hurt his back again and was removed from the contest, but it does not appear to be anything serious. Romo did not require an X-ray, though the Cowboys are still considering an MRI and further testing. It was a scary moment considering Romo suffered two collarbone injuries last season and has had back issues over the past few seasons. Should Romo get hurt again and miss considerable time, the Cowboys shouldn’t lose much of a step with preseason darling, Dak Prescott as their signal-caller.

Late-round WR flier Seth Roberts is “being pushed” hard in practice this week by Raiders’ coach Jack Del Rio. Roberts appeared to be a shoe-in as the team’s third receiver behind Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree following a strong showing in the second half of last season. Andre Holmes and undrafted rookie Johnny Holton have looked good in camp, but Del Rio’s comments are likely being used to light a fire under Roberts to step up over the final two preseason games. Holton and Holmes each have unique strengths as receivers and could potentially take early season snaps away from Roberts if he doesn’t step up his game in the next couple of weeks. I’d expect Roberts to win out and start the season third on the team’s receiver depth chart.

Seahawks’ fifth-year receiver Jermaine Kearse looked good in Thursday’s preseason battle with the Cowboys, catching three of four targets for 32 yards. Tyler Lockett owners have been concerned of late with the recent reminder that Kearse is the guy lining up with Doug Baldwin in two-receiver sets. Nevertheless, Lockett is more talented, will get his fair share of snaps and is justifiably being drafted several rounds higher in fantasy drafts this summer. Kearse’s upside is likely capped by only a fair amount of projected targets (80-ish) and the fact that Kearse isn’t a big red zone target of quarterback Russell Wilson’s (only nine RZ targets last season).

Mike Evans had a big outing for the Bucs on Friday night, catching all five of his targets from Jameis Winston for 115 yards. All of his yards came in the first half against a brutal Browns’ secondary that figures to parallel the awful effort we witnessed from the Saints last season (45 passing TDs allowed). Evans is a bona fide second rounder in MFL10’s and NFFC leagues, but has been snagged towards the end of first rounds on ocassion. Hopefully your leaguemates heavily weigh Evans’ low TD total (three) from last season and continue to discount him.

San Francisco 49ers’ fans are expecting third year wideout Bruce Ellington to break out this season. Unfortunately, their hopes may be delayed a bit as Ellington hurt his hamstring and was prematurely removed from the Niners’ preseason game on Friday night. DeAndrew White will likely get some action at slot receiver in their fourth preseason game as Ellington continues to heal.

Steelers’ tight end Jesse James impressed in Friday’s preseason game, catching four passes for 25 yards and a touchdown on five targets. He was targeted three times on Ben Roethlisberger’s opening drive. With newly acquired TE Ladarius Green still sidelined with no timeline for returning, James expects to run with the first unit for the time being. James is an interesting TE2 target if you’ve missed on guys like Vance McDonald and Clive Walford. Because of Big Ben’s reliance on his tight ends over the years (namely, Heath Miller), James makes for a better late-round flier than older, slower veterans like Jordan Cameron and Kyle Rudolph. Keep James on your Week 1 waiver wire radar.

Sammie Coates neutralized some of his recent ADP slipping with a 66-yard performance, catching both of his targets and hauling one into the end zone on Friday night. Those paying attention have noticed that Coates has been running with the second team since Eli Rodgers has been manning the slot with Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton on the outside. Keep in mind that cream always rises to the top. Coates is the team’s best receiver not named Brown and has sneaky speed as well as great separation skills.

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Finally, Josh Gordon looked great Friday night, catching both of his targets for 87 yards and a TD. Gordon beat Brent Grimes for both of his receptions, one of them a nifty double-move, picking up 44 yards on the opening drive. The other, a 43-yard grab where he leaped over the poor, diminutive cornerback. Gordon’s ADP reached as high as the fifth round earlier this month, but has stabilized around the sixth and seventh rounds over the past week. Expect that ADP to rise after Friday night’s effort. Were it not for his four-game suspension, we’d be talking about Gordon in the range of second rounders like TY Hilton, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins.