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Fantasy Football: The biggest questions for each AFC team in training camp

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NFL players reported to training camp a few weeks ago, but this week is the start of real practices, which means we’re finally going to start getting answers to our biggest questions from around the league. And not a second too season, as the start of Fantasy Football Draft Prep season is here. The Fantasy Football Today crew did a training camp survey Monday, focusing on the biggest position battles, which players might break out and everything else we’ll be watching out for during training camp. But that doesn’t even come close to answering all of the questions we’ve got heading into camp.

Every team has at least some questions coming out of this offseason of uncertainty. Some of these questions will be answered pretty early on; some may linger well into the season. But here are the biggest things to keep an eye on from every team in the AFC:

Ravens: What kind of role can J.K. Dobbins earn? 

The Ravens will use multiple backs yet again, and let’s not forget that Gus Edwards still had 140 touches last season. If Dobbins earns that role, he’ll be a low-end flex option right away. If he pushes Mark Ingram for some of the first-team work, the sky is the limit. And, of course, if he’s working behind Edwards — who, lest we forget, has averaged 5.3 yards per carry over two seasons — Dobbins will just be a late-round stash candidate. 

Bills: Can Zack Moss push for the starting job?

The Bills gave plenty of work to Frank Gore in 2019, much to the consternation of those who believed in Devin Singletary. Singletary still won the majority of the work in the end, but the fact that the Bills went out and drafted Moss seems to indicate there might be another fight on his hands. If there isn’t — if Moss is strictly a backup — you’ll be thrilled to get Singletary as a mid-to-low end No. 2 back, because he could very easily be a top-12 guy. If it’s a legitimate competition, however, it might be best to avoid the headache, given Josh Allen‘s goal-line vulturing. 

Bengals: How quickly can Joe Burrow get up to speed? 

This is one we won’t really get a sense for until the season starts, most likely, because there’s no competition to gauge him against. If Burrow was competing against, say, Andy Dalton, we’d be able to measure how good he is on a Dalton scale — if he couldn’t beat out Dalton, that would be a bad sign. However, since we won’t be able to see Burrow in preseason games, it’s going to be awfully tough to know exactly how ready he is to take the NFL by storm. 

Browns: How run-heavy will they be?

Was Kevin Stefanski committed to the run in 2019 with the Vikings because that’s his natural disposition, or because it was what Mike Zimmer wanted? The more the Browns run the ball, the better Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt look — both could be must-start Fantasy options while sharing the backfield. However, that would make it awfully hard for all of Odell Beckham Jr., Austin Hooper and Jarvis Landry to live up to expectations, too. Unless this offense just takes a massive step forward collectively, one half of the equation is likely to suffer. 

Broncos: How do the touches get distributed?

With Melvin Gordon, Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler joining an offense chock full of young players, this could be one of the most volatile groups in the league. Is Courtland Sutton still the No. 1 wide receiver, or does Jeudy have a chance to pass him up right away? Does Gordon get a similar workload to the one he had in years past with the Chargers, or can Phillip Lindsay still carve out enough work to remain relevant? And then, of course, there’s the biggest question of all: Is Drew Lock good enough to get the best out of everyone around him? On that, I’m skeptical. 

Texans: How do they replace DeAndre Hopkins?

It won’t just be one person stepping in to take on Hopkins’ role, but how things actually shake out will be important. Does Brandin Cooks take on the No. 1 role? Is it Will Fuller? Do the Texans opt to use David Johnson or Duke Johnson more often in the passing game to help make up for the loss? The latter question will especially be key, because David Johnson still looked like a play-maker in the passing game in 2019, and that could be the key to him being a must-start Fantasy option in 2020. 

Colts: How quickly can Jonathan Taylor push the vets?

This figures to be a three-headed monster, with Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor sharing early-down work and Nyheim Hines getting the lion’s share of the passing-down work. However, Taylor has the skills to take on both jobs eventually, so keep an eye out for reviews of his pass-blocking and catching prowess early on. If he proves a viable option there, the path to a significant workload becomes more clear — and Taylor has top five Fantasy RB potential if that happens. 

Jaguars: How much work do the non-Leonard Fournette backs get?

If you could guarantee a similar workload to what he got in 2019, Fournette would probably need to be a top-10 back, because he had a super valuable role last season — a flukey low touchdown total is all that kept him from the Fantasy elite. However, the Jaguars spent much of the offseason trying to trade Fournette after turning down his fifth-year option, and the addition of Chris Thompson figures to cut into his pass work, too. If the Jags decide they’re just over Fournette entirely, Ryquell Armstead getting first-team work in camp would be our first indication. 

Chiefs: Does Clyde Edwards-Helaire give up any work?

We know Edwards-Helaire is the No. 1 back in Kansas City, but to what extent he dominates the work may be what determines if he is truly worth that first-round pick. DeAndre Washington showed he can be a pretty useful option when he started in Josh Jacobs’ place last season, and Darrel Williams has plenty of experience in this offense. If Edwards-Helaire is getting the majority of the rush attempts and getting most of the passing down’s work, he can be a superstar.  

Raiders: Does Josh Jacobs get more passing work?

Jacobs is surprisingly controversial for a second-year back coming off a pretty great rookie season, and I don’t mind telling you I’m on the “Not sold” side of the debate. Jacobs is a great rushing talent, but that’s only so valuable in Fantasy these days — you have to be a Derrick Henry level accumulator to overcome a lack of a passing role. And, given that the Raiders’ backups are almost exclusively pass catchers, it’s fair to wonder if he’s going to see more work there. If not, the ceiling is capped.

Chargers: Can Tyrod Taylor hold off Justin Herbert

It’s funny: For Fantasy purposes, we’d probably like Taylor more than Herbert for his rushing ability, but that rushing ability is also why the best-case scenario for the rest of this offense’s weapons is probably that Herbert earns the job. Taylor will be a viable Fantasy option as long as he starts, but we’re likely to see a relatively low pass volume, and rushing quarterbacks tend to scramble rather than dump it off, which could negatively impact Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry and Mike Williams. If Herbert can take the job early on, that increases the upside across the board. 

Dolphins: Is Tua Tagovailoa ready to push for the job?

There are questions about how work will be split between Matt Breida and Jordan Howard, or how new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey uses Mike Gesicki, but ultimately, the biggest one is around the Dolphins QB of the future. If Tua starts to push Ryan Fitzpatrick for playing time with the first team in camp, that’s a pretty good tell that this will be his job sooner than later. Tagovailoa might have been the most talented QB in this draft even including Burrow, so he’ll be Fantasy relevant as soon as he plays. 

Patriots: How does Cam Newton look?

Part of the problem here is, we won’t really be able to tell for ourselves how good Newton looks — we’ll be relying on reports and quotes from the coaching staff. Which is to say, if you’re skeptical of Newton, you probably won’t get the evidence your need to change that in camp. However, if this becomes an actual competition between Newton and Jarrett Stidham, that’s probably a pretty bad sign for Newton’s chances of returning to Fantasy relevance, even if he ultimately wins the job. 

Jets: Does Frank Gore earn a significant role?

Gore was a headache for Devin Singletary backers in 2019, and he was an even bigger one for Kenyan Drake believers in 2018. That, notably, came when Gore played for now-Jets coach Adam Tase, so don’t expect Gore to be completely sidelined in 2020, either. Given that the only thing Le’Veon Bell had going for him in 2019 was volume, any work that goes to Gore is a big deal. 

Steelers: Is Ben Roethlisberger still Big Ben?

For everything that went wrong for the Steelers in 2019, the root cause for most of it was Roethlisberger’s elbow injury. We never really got to see what JuJu Smith-Schuster looked like as a No. 1 option with a real quarterback, and James Conner probably deserves to be graded on a curve, too. We know when Ben was at his best, he could support an elite running back and multiple elite Fantasy receivers. Can he still do that? If so, Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson could be two of the best values at wide receiver for 2020. 

Titans: Does Derrick Henry get involved in the passing game?

This isn’t really a team with a lot of questions — and how the offensive line looks without Jack Conklin will be one we may not know the answer to until the games start. One thing Fantasy players would love to see is more of Henry in the passing game. He’s made big plays in the screen game before, but has more than three targets in a game just once in his NFL career. If he could even average three, there’s No. 1 overall upside here, but even that might be asking too much. 

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