AFC East Training-Camp Battles
By Ken Zalis
Starting with the AFC East, we will preview the top training-camp battle for each team, as it relates to the fantasy world.
Fred Jackson Versus C.J. Spiller
Was there a better running back for the first 10 weeks of 2011 than Fred Jackson? Six 100-yard games, six touchdowns for a middle-round pick. If you had Jackson, I am sure you were off to a great start until the injury in Week 11. Enter C.J. Spiller, who seemed like a bust until he started putting 100-yard games together and catching touchdown passes. Now both are healthy, so this is one to watch.
Our Take: Jackson gets the starting nod, with a 65-35 split in the carries. The Bills will find a way to get Spiller involved, but maybe not at the running-back spot.
There are lots of battles here. Who will be the quarterback? Well, for fantasy, it does not matter, because none are draftable. Running back is between Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas. Rookie Lamar Miller and left-for-dead Steve Slaton are another story. Bush, coming off his best year as a starter, should be the No. 1 back, but Thomas showed flashes when healthy last year and will no doubt eat into some of Bush's carries. Add into the mix third-down back Slaton, whom the coaching staff is gushing about early, and Miller, who runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash, and we may have a full-blown mess on our hands.
Our Take: Bush, especially in a PPR league, is the one to own, but Thomas is worth a late-round flyer, with Miller one to keep an eye on.
New England Patriots
Stevan Ridley Versus Shane Vereen
With the law firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis now in Cincinnati, the second-year running backs are now front and center. Danny Woodhead is always there to throw a monkey wrench into things as well, but Ridley or Shane Vereen should be the starter. New England is a throw first team but use the run more then most realize. This battle will go down to the end with both guys probably earning some time during the season.
Our Take: Both guys are worth a mid-round pick. Try to get both if you can. Ridley is tearing it up early, but coach Bill Belichick is a temperamental one, so who knows what he is thinking. There are good third- or fourth-string running backs for your fantasy team.
New York Jets
It's pretty cut and dry here. Shonn Greene should be the running back, with Santonio Holmes and rookie Stephan Hill at wide receiver, and Dustin Keller the tight end ... boring. Oh, maybe you heard of this guy Tim Tebow, though. Apparently he is a quarterback, who will play special teams and run the goal-line sets. ... I don't know how or when, but eventually Tebow will beat out Mark Sanchez and be the starting quarterback.
Our Take: Tebow is worth a late-round flyer and Sanchez is undraftable.
Check back next week for the AFC North battles.
Posted Aug. 2, 2012