With NFL training camps and the preseason underway, many interesting nuggets are surfacing 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 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.
» Chad Henne: "Yeah, I definitely feel very comfortable with him. I think he's doing a really good job this spring and this summer by getting open and just his big target (allows me to) put the ball in a vicinity that the defender can't get. He keeps doing good things; we're just going to keep feeding him and make him a playmaker."
Our analysis: Many seem to have forgotten about Lewis (myself included) as much of his 2013 season was inhibited by nagging injuries. However, over the final five games of the season Lewis averaged 9.64 fantasy points per game. The Jaguars offense was gelling last week against the Bears when Lewis caught three passes for 46 yards, and could be a sneaky one for fantasy points in 2014. Lewis caught 10 touchdowns passes in 2010, but suffered from the Blaine Gabbert-effect and general Jaguars-ness the subsequent three years. If you wait on tight ends, Lewis is an option worth considering at the end of fantasy drafts as a TE2 with upside.
» Cam Newton: "I haven't pressed the throttle all the way down to the floor until today, trying to see how much I can do. It was kind of like a shock at first. It's one thing where you've got to tell your mind that you're not hurt. I've been treating it as much as possible and trying to get as much as I can to make it feel better so when it's out there you know it's supposed to hurt and sometimes it does hurt, but it's just like a temporary pain. It's going to be up to me and the training staff to get me back and we'll see what happens from there."
Our analysis: It was encouraging seeing Cam on the field again this weekend, making some plays and getting used to his new batch of receivers in live game action. Newton looked pretty good, but one has to remain wary as he works his way back from offseason ankle surgery. Newton's fantasy points have gone down in each of his three years in the league, and while he's still a No. 1 quarterback in fantasy, this might not be the year he lights up the scoreboard for your team week after week. He's a much better option if you can find him in the later rounds, but reaching for him early could cost you.
» Pat Shurmur (offensive coordinator): "Yeah, I think Ertz has improved his total game this year. He's blocking well. He's certainly making plays in the passing game, and then he's also being a little more multiple in our eyes. We can play him in different spots. He's just got a better understanding of what we want to do, and within that he's working on all the little skills necessary to play the position."
Our analysis: Our Around the League colleagues have already expressed their love for Ertz this offseason, and believe he can still be a centerpiece in Chip Kelly's offense despite not piling up eye-popping preseason numbers. While the presence of Brent Celek is a mild concern for fantasy owners, Ertz's potential and athleticism should help him separate from Celek in the passing game and from a fantasy football perspective. Ertz is a name to look for late in fantasy drafts if you decide to wait on drafting tight ends.
» Tom Coughlin: "We are realists, and looking at what looked to be a very poor performance in the first half with the (first team) that didn't really get a lot better once the (second team) came in. It wasn't impressive at all. We didn't get a whole lot done. There's no production. There's nothing to look at from a production standpoint."
» Eli Manning: "I don't worry too much. Obviously you want to go out there and you want to play well. You feel like you should be able to find completions and do things well. But you can't get worried at this point in time."
Our analysis: The Giants offense has been about as effective this preseason as the black knight from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," and the players and coaches haven't shied away from vocalizing this. Now, this is still the preseason and the team has a few weeks to tighten things up, but concerns are warranted. Rashad Jennings is the safest player to draft currently, and unless Eli, Victor Cruz and the rest of the gang show me something this weekend when they play the New York Jets in the all important third preseason game, I'll be sliding the whole lot of them down my draft board.