The first weeks of training camp are equal parts exciting and frustrating. Knowing when to react, and more importantly when not to, is every bit as important as how you rank players before camp starts.
We'll get reports from coaches, beat writers and anyone else that happens to visit camp. We'll get video clips showing amazing plays and player quotes designed to build up teammates. The most difficult task this early in the preseason is knowing what's real and what we should disregard.
Information (and misinformation) is coming at us fast these days, so each week I'll break down the most interesting nuggets to come out of camp and whether or not you should believe it.
First we hear from Bruce Arians that there was no script for David Johnson to be the bell cow. Then we hear from offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin that the Cardinals' two running backs are even as runners. This all came after reports of a projected depth chart guessing Chris Johnson would be the starter.
Now I'm not one to overreact to coach speak in the first week of camp, but how many warnings do you need before you start to get worried about a running back that most are viewing as a sure-fire first round pick? David Johnson took a back seat his entire rookie season to the elder Johnson and didn't see double digits rushing attempts until Chris Johnson got hurt. It stands to reason that this will be more of a committee than we first thought and a first round pick is vastly overrating David Johnson's floor and ceiling.
Verdict: Don't believe it. Want some more examples of Arians' quotes about running backs? Last year he told us that Andre Ellington was still the focal point of the offense. Then he added both Chris and David Johnson. After drafting David Johnson, Arians said it wouldn't reduce Ellington's role in the offense. There is absolutely no benefit to the Cardinals being forthcoming with their plans for their running backs.
David Johnson's upside is to be the best running back in the NFL in 2016. His big-play ability is undeniable and his pass-catching prowess is exceptionally important in Arians offense. This isn't to say that Chris Johnson won't be involved, but there's no running back out there who is getting 100 percent of the touches. Draft David Johnson confidently towards the end of the first round in PPR leagues.
It's not uncommon at all to see one-handed catches from training camp. Teams are throwing thousands of passes over the next few weeks. Great catches will be made. It's also not that strange to hear over-the-top praise for a rookie wide receiver and then have that receiver fizzle out. That could still happen, but Michael Thomas is on quite a tear to start training camp.
Seemingly every day we've gotten reports of one-handed catches from Thomas and there was a semi-ridiculous report that he had been the best player in camp this week. We had already heard Drew Brees rave about Thomas in OTAs, so this is just further confirmation that he's going to be special.
Verdict: Believe it. First, the obvious: It's easy to disregard hyperbole and highlights from training camp because they are often overblown. What I can't get over is the variety of the compliments flowing Thomas' way. We've heard praise about his understanding of the offense, his route running, his physicality, his self discipline, and of course, his hands.
Thomas will have to fight for targets with Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Coby Fleener and Mark Ingram. In most offenses that would be too much for a rookie to overcome. With Thomas' unique skill set and Brees' propensity to throw for 5,000+ yards a season, this situation is different. Thomas is an excellent value as your fourth wide receiver, and he comes with a palatable cost very late in the draft.
Arian Foster is far more than depth in Miami.
When Arian Foster signed with the Dolphins, it was mostly met with groans and eye rolls in the Fantasy community. Foster was trying to return from what has been a debilitating injury in the NFL after looking like he'd lost a step in 2015. Adam Gase immediately gushed about the player they'd signed, which brought more eye rolls.
Things got more interesting when Foster annihilated the conditioning test and started practicing much sooner than any of us expected. Then it came to a crescendo when Gase confirmed Foster would be working with the ones throughout camp. Foster is an elite back when at 100 percent, and he's healthier than Jay Ajayi at the moment. There's no reason to doubt his involvement in the offense.
Verdict: Believe it. The way I see it, the Dolphins have a pair of running backs competing for carries. They both have legitimate injury concerns. One of them is in his second year in the league, has never accomplished anything at this level and is currently not healthy enough to practice. The other is currently healthy and has the third most yards from scrimmage in the NFL since 2010.
I'm not saying you should reach for Foster or treat him like his former self, but thanks to his ADP you don't have to. I am saying he's worth a pick as a borderline top 30 back and should be expected to lead the Dolphins running backs as long as he stays healthy.
I thought it was a bit curious when the Jets brought in Matt Forte to replace Chris Ivory, simply because of fit. Ivory's strengths meshed really well with Bilal Powell's pass-catching ability. In Forte, the team seemed to bring in a better version of Powell. Now it seems they view the two as a tandem that should split carries evenly.
Now there is less smoke here than the Cardinals' reports, but it's also a bit more understanding. Forte is on the wrong side of 30 and has been less efficient as a runner the past two seasons. Powell is a similar runner who has spent his career with the Jets and is three years younger. At the very least, you should temper your expectations.
Verdict: Don't believe it. To clarify, I'm sure that Forte and Powell are going to split carries, but evenly implies a 50/50 split and I'd guess it will be closer to a 2-to-1 split in Forte's favor. If the Jets thought Powell was as good as Forte, they wouldn't have brought him in. If they think Forte is better (and he is), they aren't going to split carries evenly.