This article is part of our Training Camp Notes series.
Welcome to the last Thursday without NFL football until after Christmas. Hooray! With just a week remaining until the Cowboys take on the Super Bowl champion Bucs, there is still plenty of news regarding injuries and job battles pouring in from around the league.
• Saquon Barkley took contact at Giants practice for the first time this preseason and looks like a strong bet to be on the field in Week 1. This is obviously excellent news for those who used or plan to use their first-round draft pick on him this year, as his rehab from knee surgery and subsequent slow start to the preseason had cast doubt over whether the 24-year-old would be ready to begin the season.
• CeeDee Lamb is back off the COVID list after missing 10 days of practice while in the protocol. Assuming he is back to being his usual self, he looks like a full go for Week 1 for the Cowboys.
• A couple WR3s with the hype and potential to be WR1s also look like they'll be healthy to begin the regular season after both have been hindered by hamstring injuries recently. San Francisco's Brandon Aiyuk ran wind sprints at full speed Thursday. Meanwhile, Kenny Golladay has been back at Giants practice for a day and a half. He cautioned, however, that the time that he and other skill players have missed has cost them and quarterback Daniel Jones time to build chemistry and therefore could mean a slow start to the season for the offense. I love both receivers at their ADPs in the 60s with Aiyuk going five spots ahead of Golladay at the moment. Given the latter's expressed pessimism, I think the ADP has it right, and I would rather have Aiyuk if given the choice.
• Noah Fant is still not practicing, though he's slated to sometime next week. The 2019 first-rounder is still expected to suit up in Week 1, but his status bears monitoring leading up to the Broncos' opener against the Giants.
• After a three-month absence due to a groin injury, Curtis Samuel should finally return to practice Monday for the Football Team. Coach Ron Rivera said he was very optimistic that Samuel would be ready for Week 1, despite all the missed time. Coming off a 2020 in which he totaled more than 1,000 yards with five touchdowns, Samuel is a great late-round flyer with an ADP of 110. He should also find himself in an improved situation, having moved from Carolina to Washington.
• Bryan Edwards is poised for a starting role after the Raiders released John Brown on Tuesday. One of my favorite late-round (if not last-round) targets, Edwards has the prototypical size of a wide receiver (6-foot-3, 212), and plenty of opportunity to go with his talent now that Brown is out of the picture. At an ADP of 181, the 2020 third-rounder is practically free in drafts.
• Preseason hype machine Trey Lance may need more than a week to recover from the "chip" in his finger. The No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft by the 49ers was already set to begin the season backing up Jimmy Garoppolo under center, so the real news might be for the other 49er scoring weapons who don't have to worry the rookie might be used in goal-line packages early on, therefore limiting their own chances to get in the end zone.
• Carson Wentz remains on pace to make it back from his foot surgery in time for Week 1 as he returned from the COVID list to full-team drills Thursday. This is excellent news for the Colts offense as Wentz is certainly a better option at quarterback than 2020 fourth-rounder Jacob Eason. As for Wentz's fantasy prospects, I think he is in for a big rebound this season given his improved offensive line and overall team context. He has flashed MVP potential before and is worth a flyer on any fantasy team as a second QB.
• Zach Pascal joined Wentz in a return from the COVID list. With T.Y. Hilton going on injured reserve and set to miss at least the first three weeks, Pascal suddenly has a guaranteed starting job and a lot more fantasy intrigue and is going undrafted in most places. I still prefer Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell at their respective ADPs of 117 and 196, respectively. That's a lot of talent and opportunity that can be had in the late rounds of many leagues.
• Giovani Bernard has a "mild" high-ankle sprain, but Bucs coach Bruce Arians said he expects the 29-year-old to play Week 1. Call me skeptical. High-ankle sprains typically take multiple weeks to recover from, with the athlete's explosiveness and burst, et al., lagging even behind the original return. This may mean Leonard Fournette sees more passing-down work to begin the year.