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Training Camp Notes: August 31

Not only has Mac Jones been named the Patriots' starting quarterback, but with the release of Cam Newton, Jones won't be looking over his shoulder to see if he's replaced anytime he makes a mistake on the field. With New England expected to run an offense that frequently features two tight ends, Jones should see fewer defenders in the secondary while having pre-defined reads schemed up by the coaching staff with regularity. That said, they may be a team that relies heavily on the rushing attack, so don't be surprised if Jones has a low number of pass attempts this season.

As mentioned above, Cam Newton has been released, and he is able to see if another opportunity to start emerges. However, it may be difficult for him to find a starting job this close to the season opener, but it may not be a surprise if he waits to sign with a team until an injury opens up a starting job.

Staying with the quarterback position, Trey Lance has a small chip in a finger on his throwing hand and is expected to miss approximately a week. Although the 49ers have yet to formally name a starting QB, this makes the odds a little lower than Lance will be the Week 1 starter, but if the injury is as minor as the report makes it to be, Lance still has a chance to battle with Jimmy Garoppolo for the starting job in the very near future.

Moving to wide receiver news, both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones were running routes in practice during Monday's practice. Assuming neither has a setback, this looks promising in terms of them being fully available for the season opener. While both receivers have sat out the majority of camp, Brown's ADP hardly moved, but Jones' ADP took a significant tumble, making him a potential draft-day value if he can put in a healthy season.

Over in New York, there are a pair of updates that aren't unexpected, based on recent reports over both Saquon Barkley (knee) and Evan Engram (calf), as both players remain uncertain to be ready to play in Week 1. Be sure to look at practice and injury reports next week before setting those Week 1 lineups. Also, risk-averse fantasy GMs may consider lowering each player to the bottom of a tier with similarly-ranked players.

After missing time with an undisclosed injury, DeVante Parker practiced on Tuesday without a non-contact jersey, which potentially puts him on tack for Week 1. In addition, the Dolphins will be without Will Fuller (suspension), so Parker could see an elevated target share in the season opener.

For those counting on the Saints having their typical home-field advantage in Week 1 against the Packers, Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that the game will likely be moved outside of New Orleans, as the area recovers from Hurricane Ida.

Sticking with the Saints, it's no surprise that Michael Thomas (ankle) will likely be placed on the PUP list, costing him at least the first six weeks (five games) of the season. However, there has yet to be any definitive timeline as to if and when he'll return to action, making him a high risk, high reward option in fantasy drafts.

In other Saints news, Tony Jones could be the team's No. 2 running back after out-producing Latavius Murray in the preseason. In addition, the team released Devonta Freeman on Tuesday, further clearing up the depth chart. Whichever running back emerges as the backup to Alvin Kamara could be a valuable fantasy asset with at least flex-level production.

With Irv Smith having knee surgery and an unclear timeline to return, the Vikings acquired Chris Herndon from the Jets. After posting 502 yards and four TDs as a rookie in 2018, Herndon missed most of the 2019 season before finishing the 2020 season with just 31 catches for 287 yards in 16 games, making him a risky fantasy option if he replaces Smith.

For those in leagues with kickers, Quinn Nordin is projected to win the Patriots' kicking job over Nick Folk. With a much-revamped team this year, don't be surprised if the New England kicker ends up being a top-10 option with additional upside.

Another kicker battle that could be important for fantasy was when the Chargers named Tristan Vizcaino their kicker over veteran Michael Badgley, who was released. With the Chargers potentially boasting an explosive offense, Vizcaino could easily be a starting fantasy option in most leagues.

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