While a few teams are still sorting things out early in the preseason, the Eagles and Patriots are looking to build upon last year's offensive success in 2014. Philadelphia and New England held two joint practice sessions this week in advance of Friday night's game, which airs live on NFL Network. Both teams are loaded with fantasy potential, but it could be tough for the Eagles to improve on last year's remarkable campaign.
Quarterback Nick Folesset the bar extremely high for himself after averaging 20 fantasy points per game in 2013, third only to Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. Following a season in which he only threw two interceptions in 13 games, Foles threw two picks on nine attempts in the Eagles' preseason opener against the Bears last week. He will need to work on his decision making under pressure, so we'll be keeping an eye on him against the Pats on Friday. There's a good chance he returns to Earth this season.
At least Foles has a talented receiving corps to spread the ball around to. Many fantasy owners are curious about Jeremy Maclin, who is coming back after an ACL tear in training camp last year. Maybe the news that Maclin "continues to toast" Darrelle Revis in practice will settle stomachs a bit. Although, Maclin did leave the session early after tweaking his hamstring, he still hopes to play Friday -- a situation worth monitoring as Riley Cooper deals with a foot injury.
While we're on the subject of high expectations, according to Eagles coach Chip Kelly, LeSean McCoywants to run for 2,000 yards this season. It's certainly not out of the question after he posted over 1,600 rushing yards last year and he's looked "better than ever" in camp. The addition of Darren Sproles shouldn't derail Shady's goal significantly, as Sproles is projected to be used mainly as a passing back and has never exceeded 93 rushing attempts in a season. Exactly how the Eagles plan to use Sproles on a weekly basis is still a mystery at this point. Nevertheless, the veteran's shifty tendencies in space coupled with McCoy's "God-given talents" is a lethal combination and should prove troublesome for opposing defenses all season.
» It's unofficially official. Jonathan Grimes is listed as the No. 2 running back on the Texans depth chart after the team cut Andre Brown on Monday. Grimes is now the favorite to earn the coveted role of Arian Foster's backup, which is important as the wear-and-tear on Foster has swelled to the point of major concern. If Foster misses any regular season time as he recovers from back surgery, look for Grimes to step up and immediately become a valuable fantasy asset (see Ben Tate, 2013).
» A bit of good news came out of Houston on Wednesday as fantasy stud running back Arian Foster and veteran wideout Andre Johnsonreturned to practice. Both players have missed most of training camp so far as they each dealt with hamstring injuries over the past few weeks. Foster will look to bounce back after season-ending back surgery but he remains a huge risk-reward option since he'll likely cost a first- or second-round pick. Johnson's age is a concern as he is now 33-years-old. Both Foster and Johnson have a shot to play in the Texans preseason game on Friday against the Falcons, but their status should be monitored closely as fantasy drafts approach.
» Although he's not expected to play in Friday's preseason game against the Titans, Drew Breesparticipated in individual passing drills with quarterbacks and receivers on Wednesday. This marks Brees' first activity in almost two weeks after suffering an oblique strain on August 1. He should be a go for the regular season opener as the Saints ease him back into action. He is missing out on valuable reps with wideout Brandin Cooks, but the rookie seems to be doing just fine for himself. Once Brees is 100 percent, there's no telling what the duo is capable of.
» New Giants' offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has proclaimed that fans will need to take a "leap of faith" while Big Blue works out the kinks in his newly implemented scheme. We knew the Giants might need some time to learn the ropes as the team looks to bounce back from their dismal 2013 campaign, but the result so far is worrisome. From a fantasy aspect, all of this is especially alarming for receiver Victor Cruz's value. Eli Manning has only attempted nine passes to the team's 69 rushing attempts so far in two preseason games, which on the bright side is great for Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams. But Manning didn't seem very optimistic about the way things are going either, saying "Well I hope everything is set and ready for opening night." We do too Eli, we do too.