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Fantasy Impact: Training Camp Battles - Elliott vs. Pollard, Singletary vs. Cook

Training camp position battles can carry with them huge fantasy ramifications at the start of the season.

Quarterback training camp battle

Marcus Mariota vs. Desmond Ridder
On the surface, Mariota feels like a bridge quarterback for the Falcons until Ridder shows he is worthy of starting. Both players should offer similar value in the run game, helping the transition between the two options easier. The Falcons expect Mariota to be their opening day starter, but a lack of wins could lead to a quick trip to holding a clipboard. His training camp progress paints a positive picture, while Ridder needs more reps to tighten the gap in Atlanta’s quarterback race.

MORE: Fabiano's Training Camp Battles to Watch

Running back training camp battles

Devin Singletary vs. James Cook
The Bills will rotate multiple backs this year, with each option offering different fantasy values over the long season. Singletary comes off a career season (188/870/7 with 40 catches for 228 yards and one score), but he struggled to make significant plays in the passing game (5.7 yards per catch). His style of play looks limited in opportunity and explosiveness, plus he won’t be an edge in scoring. Buffalo wants to get James Cook in space to take advantage of his speed and playmaking ability. He isn’t built to handle pass protection early in his career, so many of his touches will come on scripted plays or early downs. Cook has some qualities in line with Chris Johnson's breakout season in 2009 with the Titans. The battle here is between steady and ceiling, while this combination may work well together in best ball formats.

Ezekiel Elliott vs. Tony Pollard
The coach-speak out of Dallas has been highly supportive of Elliott over the summer, while many fantasy drafters are positioning their teams for Pollard to see an increased role in 2022. Despite the Cowboys’ early reports, success on the field drives each player's direction and chances. This situation is one of the most intriguing to follow this year. Either Elliott is an excellent draft value based on his early ranking (19th) at running back or a glaring trap. Either way, Pollard should see enough touches to deliver RB2 status in PPR leagues this season.

Aaron Jones vs. A.J. Dillon
The word on the fantasy street has Jones seeing a bump in catches in 2022, thanks to the Packers offering questionable wide receiver options. Both running backs should be active with a chance to see a minimum of 250 touches. Jones should transition into a split role in the run game while losing the short-yardage goal-line carries to Dillion. The questions that need to be answered are whether Jones is still worthy of being a foundation RB1, and will Dillon produce enough stats to rank as a top 18 running back? The survivor will be rewarded with an impact opportunity with one injury to either option.

Wide receivers training camp battles

Allen Lazard vs. Amari Rodgers
With Christian Watson starting the year on the PUP list with his recovery from a knee injury that required minor surgery, the top-tier wideout options for Green Bay continue to look thin. Lazard remains the favorite to be the Packers’ top receiving option, but their lack of front-line options creates an overdraft situation. After four weeks in July, there hasn’t been anything written to pump up Rodgers other than he has made an effort to get into better shape. My position is the player lining up out of the slot (Rodgers) has the best chance to lead the team in catches. He is free in drafts, but I expect that to change quickly over the next couple of weeks.

Mecole Hardman vs. Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. Skyy Moore
The winner of this competition has a chance to deliver WR2 stats in the Chiefs’ offense. Moore is the new guy in town, giving him the highest ranking ADP of their wideouts. However, a July hamstring issue cost him snaps early in training camp. His route running isn’t ideal for a rookie, pushing him into a big play threat on the outside with some chance on slants or screens. Valdes-Scantling flashed in the OTAs with Kansas City. He has the speed and quickness to reach a higher ceiling, but his hands haven’t been an asset (49.8% catch rate) in his career. There is something to be said for a receiver with experience within an NFL offensive system. I rate Hardman as the top option to win their WR2 job, but he may not see enough chances to rank inside the top 36 wide receivers in 2022. There haven’t been any reports to move the needle on Hardman’s draft value in late July.

Jarvis Landry vs. Chris Olave
This battle is one more interesting in the NFL this summer. The Saints need to revive their passing attack, which starts with better quarterback play. Landry struggled last year with the Browns, but his long resume of success sets a high floor in catches. He has the talent to regain his form in 2022. Olave comes with a smooth foundation in route running with speed to burn. His versatile style ensures a productive rookie season. The health and success of Michael Thomas are critical factors for Landry’s and Olave’s targets in 2022.

Tight end training camp battle

Cameron Brate vs. Kyle Rudolph
The Bucs continue to add veteran pieces to their offense to make another run at the Super Bowl under the guidance of the everlasting Tom Brady. The addition of Rudolph clouds the tight end opportunity for Tampa. Last year he battled an ankle issue, leading to a step back in production (28/334/1). His scoring ability (25 touchdowns over 64 games) from 2016 to 2019 helps his playability. Brate averaged 31 catches for 282 yards and four touchdowns over the past four years. Unfortunately, his ceiling is no longer worthy of being fantasy relevant even if he wins the starting job in Week 1. Tampa should rotate their two top tight ends all season. 

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