Early Risers

As rosters and roles come into focus, these players are looking even better than they did when practice started
September 05, 2010

Every training camp a few unexpected names bubble to the top of fantasy consciousness. The three players below are by no means unknowns, but they have stepped up this summer to become larger figures on the landscape than they were a few weeks ago.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants

Among the highest-profile position battles of this summer has been the clash between two Giants running backs, the bruising Brandon Jacobs and the elusive Bradshaw, now fully recovered from off-season surgeries to both feet and his right ankle. Since Bradshaw entered the NFL in 2007 as a seventh-round pick from Marshall, only three running backs with more than 250 carries—Jamaal Charles of the Chiefs (5.7), Tennessee's Chris Johnson (5.3) and Carolina's DeAngelo Williams (5.3)—have gained more yards per attempt (5.2). And in '09 the 5'9", 198-pound Bradshaw was a more productive red-zone runner than the 6'4", 264-pound Jacobs, scoring seven times on 28 carries inside the 20, while Jacobs went five for 46. The two will share carries again this year, but the split will be more even and Bradshaw could eventually take the lead. Grab Bradshaw as early as the fourth round and Jacobs a few rounds later.

Arian Foster, RB, Texans

With Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson already in place as the league's top pass-and-catch combination, the only thing the Texans' offense lacked entering camp was a lead runner. Foster's 18-carry, 110-yard performance against the Cowboys on Saturday made it clear that he is that man. At the end of last season the undrafted second-year player from Tennessee rose from the practice squad to total 216 yards and three scores in wins against Miami and New England. This year he excelled from the first days of camp, drawing praise from the coaching staff and his Pro Bowl quarterback. "When he's in there, he shows a lot of maturity," said Schaub. "We've got confidence that he can be a physical runner." To get Foster, wait no later than the third or fourth round.

Greg Camarillo, WR, Vikings

Acquired last week in a trade with Miami, Camarillo is being asked to fill in for the Vikings' top receiver, Sidney Rice, who'll be sidelined for at least the first third of the season following hip surgery. Last season Camarillo was thrown to 71 times, and he caught 50 balls without dropping a single catchable pass—the best such performance in the league. (He has 113 catches without a drop in his career.) Favre throws one of the hardest fastballs in league history, so good hands are a must in Minnesota. Camarillo will have the old man's confidence before long. Take him as a fourth wideout with the potential of a top-two pass catcher.

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MAURICE JONES-DREW

Giving Props

Every week the Jaguars' running back will call out his top fantasy performers.

Bruce Gradkowski

The Raiders' backup QB tossed for 202 yards (14 of 22) and two TDs, including a 74-yarder to Louis Murphy.

Ndamukong Suh

The big rookie's face mask and head throw of Jake Delhomme was borderline dirty, but with it Suh (below) showed out as a hard-nosed throwback.

Frank Gore

The Pro Bowl back proved he's in top form. His first carry of the preseason went for 49 yards. He came out for the night soon after, so he'll be fresh for the real deal.

The officials

With his new spot on the field, the umpire couldn't get in position fast enough when Indianapolis was in its hurry-up offense. It was the best defense played against Peyton Manning to date.

PHOTONEWSDAY/MCT/LANDOV (BRADSHAW)BIG MOMENT Although small, Bradshaw (above) excelled near the goal line, and he can tear off long gains, too. PHOTOJEFFREY GELLER/ICON SMI (JONES-DREW) PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (SUH)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)