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WALLY’S WORLD: Training Camp Edition

That resounding roar sweeping through the land is the combined voices of fantasy football owners trumpeting the opening of NFL training camps.

As we say goodbye to July, we say hello to football action once again. The Hall of Fame game is this weekend and fantasy draft preparation is kicking into high gear.

With that in mind, Old Uncle Waldo is once again firing up the Wagon Queen Family Truckster and taking a quick-hitting look around the early training camp fantasy landscape.

There’s a lot to like about the Arian Foster signing in Miami. There’s also a lot to be concerned about as Foster has had so many lower body injury issues.

If you roll the dice on Foster then handcuffing Jay Ajayi is a must. [Editor’s Comment: Has the time come to deal Ajayi in keeper/dynasty leagues? It’s clear that HC Adam Gase doesn’t trust Ajayi as his workhorse back. And seeing Jay riding the stationary bike makes me queesy.]

Speaking of nice signings as a Detroit Lions slappy, I love the Anquan Boldin acquisition. He will bring veteran leadership to the WR corps that Calvin Johnson never did. Oh, and Boldin has some of the strongest/surest hands at the position which will have Matthew Stafford looking his way often. [Editor’s Comment: What happened to all the T.J. Jones love this offseason?]

Don’t be fooled by the recent signings of Hakeem Nicks (New Orleans Saints) and Andre Johnson (Tennessee Titans). Those are two fantasy ships that passed in the night…and then sank. Nothing to see here.

A lot of folks wanted to blame LeGarrette Blount for the trouble Le’Veon Bell ran into a couple of years ago. Now we know that Bell just can’t get out of his own way and is a huge knucklehead.

It’s going to be so easy for the Pittsburgh Steelers to toss out a low-ball offer to Bell as he heads into free agency. Way to blow it kid.

That being said, I would still draft Bell in the early 2nd round for fantasy purposes.

From the ‘this has no fantasy relevance’ news desk. Blaine Gabbert and Colin Kaepernick will split first team reps for the 49ers. How long will it be until Chip Kelly changes his mind and calls Nick Foles? [Editor’s Comment: If he does, he will regret it.]

It’s going to be a long season by the Bay folks.

A late round WR-flyer pick to keep an eye on is Jaelen Strong of the Texans. Reports are that he’s in shape and looking faster this year. Someone is going to benefit from all the attention that DeAndre Hopkins will draw.

I’m thinking it’s Strong who had three touchdowns as a rookie while catching only 14 passes in spot duty.

On the flip side of this, my man-crush on TE Jared Cook is waning by the day. Cook is missing time while recovering from foot surgery. I was excited to see how Cook would perform with a great QB like Aaron Rodgers but he is losing valuable repetitions while sidelined.

If Rodgers doesn’t trust you, then Rodgers doesn’t throw to you. Cook may not be back until the second or third preseason game and that could be too late to unseat Richard Rodgers as the #1 TE.

Please hurry and get back on the field J.J. Watt. The IDP world is a much better place with you in it.

It’s getting to be now or never time for Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney and the Watt injury gives the kid a chance to step up big time.

So, RB Ryan Mathews has started training camp with an ankle injury. In other news…water is wet. Rookie Wendell Smallwood is now a much more interesting name to consider on fantasy draft day. [Editor’s Comment: Smallwood’s ADP is also rising in rookie drafts. He’ll most likely cost you an early/mid 2nd round pick.]

How the heck is LeSean McCoy only 28 years old? Feels like we’ve been watching ‘Shady’ for a long time. Looking for another big year out of him after an injury-riddled campaign last season.

Figuring out the handcuff for McCoy is a bit tough right now but it appears that rookie Jonathan Williams could get the first crack despite his DWI with Karlos Williams out of shape and suspended for the first four games. [Editor’s Comment: Karlos Williams should be on your shortlist as an early season waiver wire pickup.]

It’s a cloudy situation worth monitoring as Mike Gillislee is in the mix and the Bills recently signed Reggie Bush.

Avoiding the Dallas Cowboys D/ST all day long. That unit has more suspension problems than my 1998 Escort. Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Rolando McClain are all suspended. Lawrence should return after four games but Gregory and McClain will be out much longer.

For my IDP loving brethren. Don’t fall asleep on Jason Pierre-Paul who will no longer be wearing a club on his injured hand. JPP is only 27 years old and poised for a bounce-back season lining up as the bookend DE to the newly signed Olivier Vernon.

If Victor Cruz can regain some of the skills he flashed in his prime and rookie Sterling Shepard is as good as we think he is, then I love me some Eli Manning. Especially considering he’s currently coming off the board as the 12th QB selected according to MyFantasyLeague.com (MFL) Average Draft Position (ADP) results. [Editor’s Comment: Don’t reach for Cruz.]

The New York Jets backfield worries me from a fantasy perspective. Early on it seemed like Matt Forte would be the man but now it’s looking like Bilal Powell and Khiry Robinson are going to have bigger roles than anticipated. That’s a lot of fingers in the pie so I’m going to let other owners take the risk. No thanks. [Editor’s Comment: If money talks…Powell got $6 million guaranteed on his new offseason deal. Forte got $8 million guaranteed on his deal. That should tell you how the Jets view Powell.]

Do not be afraid to take what may feel like a reach for Chicago WR Kevin White on fantasy draft day. In a classic case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ folks are sleeping on the kid after he missed his entire rookie campaign. [Editor’s Comment: Can he stay healthy?]

White was the 7th overall pick for a reason and will benefit from the attention Alshon Jeffery will garner and put up very good fantasy numbers. You are welcome.

Yes. At 33 years of age Frank Gore is dangerously close to what I like to call the “Michael Turner cliff” (where the production drops off the map suddenly and completely) and no I can’t stop drafting him. [Editor’s Comment: Don’t sleep on Josh Ferguson as a late-round pick.]

With a healthy Andrew Luck back under center, I still see Gore as a productive fantasy RB on a high-powered offense. He’s coming off the board as late as the 31st RB selected behind unproven players such as Ameer Abdullah and Melvin Gordon in redraft leagues. Well, in redraft leagues that Old Uncle Waldo isn’t a part of at least because no way I trust either of them over Gore.

That’s it for now folks. Make sure to check out the Premium Packages Fantasy Sharks has to offer as I hear there are a couple of really nice IDP pieces in the Pre-Season report (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

About Wally Spurlin

Wally Spurlin is a Fantasy Football Staff Writer at Fantasy Sharks and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writer Association (FSWA). Spurlin’s work has appeared in print publications, including the FSWA award winning 2014 USA Today Fantasy Football magazine as well as the 2015 edition. Wally is also a weekly co-host on the Fantasy Football Feeding Frenzy pod cast on Fantasy Sharks Radio at Blog Talk Radio.Follow him on Twitter @WaltonSpurlin