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Fantasy news & notes: Latavius Murray's upside rising

The rise of the 'underwhelmers.' Possible movie title for the next Adam Sandler box office bomb or a theme in the first week of the NFL preseason?

After a history of bleh performances through their young careers, Christine Michael and Terrance West somehow have started building buzz with camp and game performances. (More on them later.) And we're starting to see a similar camp story line emerge regarding Devin Funchess in Carolina.

Camp observers, including veteran linebacker Thomas Davis, said Funchess had an "amazing camp."

A big but wildly inconsistent receiver out of Michigan, this was the scouting report on Funchess:

"Pass-catching is labored ... "
"Tagged with 20 drops over last three seasons ... "
" ... lack of vertical talent and below-average hands ... "

Unsurprisingly we saw all the ugly parts of his game on full display last year. Funchess only hauled in 31 of 64 targets as a rookie and topped 50 receiving yards twice last year. This despite being given all the opportunity in the world to fill in for an injured Kelvin Benjamin. Wide receiver prognosticator Matt Harmon offers a much more detailed breakdown on his 2015 struggles.

In terms of fantasy, I've seen entirely too much bad game tape to fully buy in to the camp hype, tabbing him as an interesting waiver wire guy at best. Funchess is going largely undrafted but we are seeing his value tick up in more recent drafts into the Round 12. If someone wants to invest a dart throw come draft day, more power to them, it won't be me.

More news and notes

NEWS: Staying in Carolina, Kelvin Benjamin is coming along slowly in terms in conditioning. According to the Charlotte Observer, "[Head coach, Ron] Rivera said the goal is to increase Benjamin's repetitions to 30 by the home exhibition against New England on Aug. 26. That would represent about half of Benjamin's average snap count from his rookie season."

- Fantasy spin: The Observer went on to note that Benjamin was getting winded after running just a couple of long routes in practice. Basically Benjamin is nowhere near game shape which is mildly concerning given how close we are to season start. If healthy (and in shape) KB is a lock for 1,100 yards and eight-plus scores.

- Bottom line: Benjamin is a good Round 7 option with upside but don't overpay.

NEWS: Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell hints at a possible three-back committee in Seattle, per a report from Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times.

- Fantasy spin: Hooray ... another backfield committee. Sigh ... In a backfield we thought we had figured out, it appears Thomas Rawls won't be "the guy," at least to start the season anyways. We knew C.J. Prosise was going to have a pass-catching role but complicating matters further is that somehow, someway, Christine Michael is (again) teasing us in training camp. Even in limited action, Michael looked really, really explosive with both his north-south speed, which we never questioned, but also with his lateral movement. I've started calling our guy Matt Franciscovich the fantasy Fox Mulder for telling us early on that the Truth is indeed out there.

- Bottom line: Rawls is still a Round 5 or 6 selection for me but his stats floor is beginning to sink, and quickly.

NEWS: Tennessee suddenly parted ways with Dorial Green-Beckham, trading him to Philadelphia for a backup offensive lineman in Dennis Kelly.

- Fantasy spin: For the Titans, Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe suddenly graduate from deep sleeper status to now intriguing prospects that could massively out perform their draft position. Based off of expected target share and camp buzz, I wouldn't be surprised if they saw 100-plus targets each; that many opportunities could push one or both into flex consideration in 12-team leagues. In Philly ... well it's still a mess. DGB is a physical freak but he's now learning a brand new playbook with less than a month to go before the season start. It's not "Madden NFL" there is a learning curve. Our Alex Gelhar delivered a longer, more in-depth breakdown of the trade that is well worth your time.

- Bottom line: Matthews and Sharpe are almost universally undrafted right now. The physical Matthews has the higher touchdown upside while Sharpe is a tactician, perfect for PPR formats.

NEWS: Jamaal Charles was activated off the PUP list and saw his practice reps ramp up slowly Tuesday and Wednesday.

- Fantasy spin: Charles is largely going somewhere in the second round because despite his two ACL tears in five years, someone will buy the talent. But beyond the injury concerns, or maybe as a result of it, the Chiefs' running back depth also poses some threats to Charles returning to statistical glory. Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware filled in nicely in Charles' absence and Ware in particular looked especially strong averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Even with a healthy Charles, I would be shocked if Ware did not get work.

- Bottom line: At his current ADP I'm avoiding Charles because of the injury/depth concerns but he has the talent to make me regret it.

NEWS: Terrance West continues to impress and could legitimately be pushing for a starting job.

- Fantasy spin: Camp reports can be misleading and so too can preseason games but West legit looked good against the Panthers. I'm still not sold that West will do anything this year but if anything, his emergence in training camp forces down the values of Justin Forsett and Kenneth Dixon. Remember, Buck Allen is still somewhere in the mix as well.

- Bottom line: Forsett is going anywhere between Round 9 and 12 right now but with both West and potentially Dixon pushing him, I'm probably avoiding this backfield entirely.

NEWS: Lions offense expected to play much quicker this season with a healthy dose of no-huddle according to reporter Kyle Meinke.

- Fantasy spin: This potentially means more good things for Matthew Stafford who is being criminally under-drafted right now. In the back half of the season with Jim Bob Cooter replacing Joe Lombardi as offensive coordinator, Stafford flourished with 17 total touchdowns and just two interceptions. What's more, over those final seven games, the Georgia product had four games of 20 or more fantasy points highlighted by a 34-point, five-touchdown effort in Week 12. Rocking a price tag between Rounds 13 and 15, Stafford's services can be had practically for free.

- Bottom line: Given his 4,500-yard, 35-touchdown upside, Stafford is an excellent bounce-back candidate who could crack into the position's top 10.

NEWS: The Raiders want to get Latavius Murray more carries in 2016, that according to beat reporter Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle.

- Fantasy spin: So technically speaking, getting Murray more carries is going to be pretty tough. His 266 carries last year was the third most in the league and overall he had the fourth-most total touches with 307. That being said, it doesn't mean Murray doesn't have tremendous upside from a fantasy perspective. Murray amassed nearly 1,300 yards but had just six touchdowns. If he gets another 250-plus carries, given the offense, that number will almost assuredly go up. The team added DeAndre Washington through the draft and there is no question the team will utilize the Texas Tech product in the passing game but giving Murray an occasional blow could mean much more efficient touches for Latavius who averaged a pedestrian 4.0 yards per carry.

- Bottom line: Murray is coming off the board between Rounds 4 and 6 and is a pretty stable running back option for those of you who go wideout heavy at the top of your draft.

Shameless cross promotion:

You've heard the term "Zero-RB strategy" being bandied about quite a bit lately and like lots of things in fantasy, it pretty much means whatever you want it to mean but our Matt Harmon gives a good breakdown on how to pull off Zero-RB effectively.

Want some sleepers? Of course you do. Here are some late-round quarterbacks and tight ends you should consider via my guy Marcas Grant.

If you've never done an auction draft you need to, it is the best three hours of your life you'll ever have. Ok, probably not, but real talk, it is insanely fun. Fire up your own mock and check out what went down when our fantasy crew held their own auction mock complete with a team-by-team breakdown and strategy analysis.

Want more fantasy news and notes? Follow James Koh on Twitter: @JamesDKoh

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