With NFL Training Camps underway, lots of interesting nuggets are coming out regarding a number of fantasy football players. From first-round picks to deep sleepers, "Word around camp" will track the best quotes from players and coaches throughout each day. We'll do our best to sift through the smoke and see what insight can be lifted as you prepare for your fantasy draft.
» EJ Manuel: "Mike (Williams) is going to be a huge asset for us out wide. In the red zone, teams will know we're going to him and even though they'll know I'm throwing to him he'll still be able to come down with some balls."
» EJ Manuel: "My confidence is huge in (Sammy Watkins). When he got here and showed what he could to all of us, the confidence is only going to go higher…When the ball is going to Sammy, he looks at it like it's his ball and nine times out of 10, he's going to come down with it."
Our analysis: Praise from a quarterback is a great thing to take into account. When that quarterback is only in his second-year and has started a mere 10 NFL games, the praise needs to be taken with a measure of a grain of salt. Early indications are that Watkins is indeed the real deal and Williams has flashed immense talent before, but let's see it on the field before we start moving either of these wideouts up draft boards. Both remain fourth or fifth options.
» Sean Payton: "He is explosive. There will be a handful of things we have to do to get him touches whether it is through the passing game, through handoffs, bubble screens, he has some versatility. He's picking things up."
» Brandin Cooks: "I was able to spend some time in San Diego with Drew Brees on our little break so that caught me up right there. I was out there about a week, week-and-a-half actually working every day, getting those reps in, those mental reps and training with (Drew) also."
Our analysis: Cooks is one of the most intruiging fantasy rookies this season, and while the fact remains that rookie wideouts don't typically produce in fantasy, if Cooks is getting touches every game as a running back, he has some potential as a deep sleeper. That would all depend on how often he touches the ball. Keep an eye on Cook's role in preseason games and stay tuned for more news coming out of training camp. Either way, Cooks will really only be worth a late-round flier banking on his explosive potential in the Saints high-octane offense.
» Mike Pettine: "Johnny (Manziel's) done some good things -- he's flashed that escapability that he's shown before. (He) moved the ball, made a nice throw for a touchdown, made a mistake early on (and) turned a bad play into a worse one, that's something that he's got to learn to avoid. I think that (he and Brian Hoyer) are both off to a solid start."
Our analysis: This is one of the more intruiging training camp battles to watch. Naturally, a five-year veteran like Hoyer will have a lead on Manziel when it comes to practice, knowing the playbook and having the mental reps, but don't rule out Manziel just yet. For all of the Hoyer-hype, in his three-and-a-half starts (counting Week 16 of 2012 when he was subbed in for Ryan Lindley at the half) over the past two years, Hoyer completed just under 59 percent of his passes, threw six touchdowns to five interceptions and averaged a meager 6.3 yards per attempt (which would have tied him for 37th in the NFL last season with Mike Glennon). This competition is far from decided, and even if Hoyer wins it outright (a very likely proposition) Manziel could become a hot waiver-wire target if Hoyer or the Browns struggle early.
» Ryan Mathews: "I just started running like I need to run (last season). I need more downhill stuff. I stopped trying to be a finesse running back. That's not what I am. I can make people miss, but I'm not that shifty, shifty guy. I'm more a downhill, more old-school type of thing. So that was my main thing, just getting back to my fundamentals and just running downhill."
Our analysis: The proof was in the pudding that Mathews responded better to being the hammer in head coach Mike McCoy's offense. Over the last four games of the season, Mathews averaged an absurd 29 touches per game, scoring just under 18 fantasy points per game during that stretch. Mathews is most definitely still in a time share, however, and despite him working on his receiving skills to stay in on third downs, that role will remain Danny Woodhead's. Mathews' current ADP in NFL.com mock drafts is 37.39, putting him at the end of the fourth round. If you're able to draft him there (or later), don't hesitate. He'll remain the early-down thumper, even with Donald Brown as a member of the Bolts.
» Steve Kiem (Arizona Cardinals general manager): "I can tell you so far we haven't been able to cover him."
Our analysis: Brown was a third-round draft pick for the Cardinals out of Pittsburgh State, and has been all the rage for the team since setting foot in the facility. He has drawn comparisons to T.Y. Hilton, who was a decent fantasy wideout as a rookie, nabbing 50 catches for 861 yards and seven touchdowns. Brown will have the benefit of working against nickel cornerbacks, as the Bird gang already boasts a talented 1-2 punch in Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd. It's tough betting on any rookie pass-catcher, especially a middle-round pick. Keep an eye on Brown in the preseason, as even though the pads have come on at the Cardinals training camp, that hasn't slowed down Brown. He could make for the deepest of late-round fliers come draft day if he lights up the scoreboard in August.