Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Position Battles

Taylor has passed for 199 yards in four NFL seasons as a backup.

Kevin Hoffman/Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s a battle for a starting slot, does it really matter for fantasy football owners? Sometimes, since not everyone is a no-doubt starter like Aaron Rodgers. Also, all backfield competitions do not turn into committees.

Here’s a look at some of the competitions you’ll need to watch as training camp progresses. Questions? Post a comment at the bottom, or hit me on Twitter (@jhalpin37).

Quarterback

Buffalo Bills: Technically, there’s a four-way competition here between Matt Cassel, EJ Manuel, Matt Simms and Tyrod Taylor. The athletic Taylor would be the most fun and fantasy-friendly pick – remember that new Bills OC Greg Roman came from San Francisco, where he coached another mobile QB in Colin Kaepernick. Come on, Rex Ryan! Don’t make us watch Matt Cassel for one more minute!

Houston Texans: Who will win the Texas Death Match between Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett? Longtime Houston Chronicle beat writer John McClain (not the guy from Die Hard) thinks Hoyer will win the job, but it’s far from a lock. Neither QB should be on your fantasy radar.

Running back

Atlanta Falcons: We covered many of the backfield situations in our running back committee preview, but we’ll revisit them briefly here. Devonta Freeman and rookie Tevin Coleman will compete for the job, and while there’s been a lot of talk about how we shouldn’t discount Freeman, he seems like more of a change-of-pace back. The bet here is that Coleman will be the early-down guy.

Cleveland Browns: Remember Terrance West? Nobody seems to like him anymore, so you should forget him on draft day. Isaiah Crowell enters camp as the starter, with rookie Duke Johnson slated to handle pass-catching duties. However, the Browns got impatient with Crowell’s fumbling last season, and if the issue reappears early, Johnson could get more work.

Dallas Cowboys: Two JAGs – Joseph Randle and Darren McFadden -€“ will vie for lead back duties. Yes, this team has an excellent offensive line, but that doesn’t mean everyone can do what DeMarco Murray did last season. Randle is probably better than McFadden, but that won’t make him more than a flexy type. Lance Dunbar should be a solid third-down back, and an RB4 target in PPR leagues.

Fantasy analyst Jim Day (ScoutFantasy.com) made a good point during a SiriusXM Fantasy Radio interview on July 30, when he wondered if the Cowboys’ best fantasy back is even on their roster yet. Trade, anyone?

Detroit Lions: Joique Bell will start camp on the PUP list due to offseason surgery (knee, Achilles). Get to know Ameer Abdullah, folks. He’ll probably be the Lions’ most productive back this season.

New York Jets: Chris Ivory, Zac Stacy, Stevan Ridley, Bilal Powell … this one might be hard to keep up with all season. Ivory appears to be the favorite, but he’ll require a much higher draft pick than the previously successful Stacy.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TBO.com says that Doug Martin "should win" the job over Charles Sims, but the Bucs seemed to say a lot of nice things about Sims while he was hurt last season. Remember that whoever wins this battle will run behind a line that can’t block at all.

Wide receiver

Baltimore Ravens: Rookie Breshad Perriman will battle Kamar Aiken and Marlon Brown for the starting role opposite Steve Smith. Perriman has run a 4.22 40-yard dash, and fits the deep-threat role that the Ravens are looking for. However, if he starts dropping passes during camp, his opportunity could be more limited.

Kicker

New Orleans Saints: Neither Dustin Hopkins nor Zach Hocker has ever appeared in an NFL game. Shayne Graham finished 24th in points among fantasy kickers for the Saints last season, so it’s not like the two youngsters are fighting for a big opportunity.

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