While some of these situations are not technically battles in any true sense, for fantasy football purposes, there is indeed a competition for playing time and utilization.
Even if the situation itself isn’t necessarily one of fantasy importance, it may have a ripple effect to other players worthy of drafting.
Most fantasy relevance
Chicago Bears RBs Mike Davis vs. David Montgomery
Projected outcome: Before drafting Montgomery in Round 3, Davis was signed to a reasonably large contract in relation to his NFL accomplishments. Barring one of these guys dominating in training camp, the likely scenario is we’re headed for a three-pronged attack in Chicago. There is considerable optimism tied to Montgomery in fantasy drafts at this point, and it may prove to be based on inflated expectations.
Philadelphia Eagles RBs Miles Sanders vs. Jordan Howard
Projected outcome: Similarly to the Bears situation, Howard, incidentally a former Bear, was acquired via trade. Sanders was drafted in Round 2, and Howard is coming off of a disappointing season in a similar offense. There’s much to like about the rookie, and Howard will put up a good fight. Doug Pederson loves to rotate backs and make them do everything, so the belief here is this situation won’t have a true winner. Howard and Sanders are both risky RB3 targets. For conservative players, it may be best to avoid the backfield entirely.
Washington Redskins RBs Derrius Guice vs. Adrian Peterson
Projected outcome: Guice has yet to play a regular-season game in the NFL, and now he’s dealing with a strained hamstring as he works back from a torn ACL. Peterson turned back time in 2018 and will have a role regardless Guice’s health. With a rookie quarterback likely taking the helm, this is more a battle to be 1a or 1b than anything. Neither back is worthy of being more than a low-tier RB3.
New York Giants WRs Golden Tate vs. Sterling Shepard
Projected outcome: While not a true positional battle, both receivers will be fighting for Eli Manning’s eye in the training camp. Shepard has the upper hand in this sense, but he hasn’t been a true No. 1 in his career. Tate, even though he is getting long in the tooth, will compete to become the go-to target in this offense. Both should shake out as WR3 candidates in drafts, but Tate could be the smarter buy for PPR leaguers.
New England Patriots WRs N’Keal Harry vs. Demaryius Thomas
Projected outcome: Thomas’ health is the primary factor in his availability and, ultimately, spot on the final roster. He’s recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and may not be ready even for Week 1. It’s tough to see him proficiently picking up this system without on-field experience leading up to the regular season. In that event, Harry should lock down the No. 2 spot in the WR pecking order behind Julian Edelman. Given the way Tom Brady spreads the ball, plus the uncertainty of Josh Gordon’s availability, we could see Harry post respectable season-long stats despite a bumpy ride.
Green Bay Packers WRs Marquez Valdes-Scantling vs. Geronimo Allison
Projected outcome: Not really a battle for a specific spot but the eye of Aaron Rodgers … Allison is expected to lock down the slot, and the loss of Randall Cobb could open plenty of looks in the underneath area of the field. Valdes-Scantling is a burner and should stretch the field opposite Davante Adams. Tight end Jimmy Graham is on the upswing in this offense, too, so how many looks will be available? It seems safe to believe Allison will have a more consistent role than MVS for PPR purposes, while the latter could wind up scoring more points in standard formats.
Indianapolis Colts WRs Devin Funchess vs. Parris Campbell
Projected outcome: Campbell, a rookie, and Funchess really couldn’t be much different in terms of what they offer. The former Ohio Stater is a blazing, downfield threat, whereas Funchess is a big-bodied possession guy. The young buck has upside as the latter hopes to salvage a fading career. In all likelihood, Funchess’ experience in the NFL will give him the upper hand at being the No. 2, but Campbell will still see the field in select packages. Both could offer sporadic fantasy returns.
Seattle Seahawks WRs D.K. Metcalf vs. David Moore
Projected outcome: It wouldn’t hurt to even toss rookie Gary Jennings’ name in to the mix, too, and a deeper dive includes John Ursua as a threat in the slot. The No. 2 job behind Tyler Lockett figures to be down to Moore and Metcalf. Moore flashed several times last year and was quite efficient. Metcalf is an athletic freak of nature but has suspect hands and is a work-in-progress, especially for a rookie. At the end of the day, we’re talking about a ball-control offense that will run the rock as much as game flow will allow.
Pittsburgh Steelers WRs James Washington vs. Donte Moncrief
Projected outcome: Washington worked hard in the offseason to bulk up to make himself functionally stronger to beat press coverage and play over the middle. Moncrief hopes to resurrect a once-promising fantasy career. He’s still in the prime of it, so there’s plenty of hope for a bounce-back in this WR-friendly situation. Rookie Diontae Johnson could be tossed into this battle to a lesser degree. Barring an injury, Moncrief is on the inside track for being the sidekick to JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Jacksonville Jaguars WRs Dede Westbrook vs. Marqise Lee
Projected outcome: Much like with the Giants, Jacksonville’s top duo is battling for Nick Foles’ affection. Lee is coming back from a knee reconstruction. Toss D.J. Chark into this mix, but he’s more of a downfield, one-trick pony than having chops at multiple levels. Early word has Keelan Cole drawing praise. We’re still looking at a run-happy system and a team built to play strong defense while protecting the ball on offense. Westbrook has the most to offer in universal fantasy football settings.
Detroit Lions TEs T.J. Hockenson vs. Jesse James
Projected outcome: You don’t spend a top-10 pick on a tight end and not play him. James was given starter money prior to the addition of the elite Iowa rookie, and this offense will play a bunch of 12 personnel (1 RB, 2 WRs, 2 TEs). James is the better blocker, and he may actually be on the field more, but it doesn’t much matter if he’s being utilized as a line extension. Hockenson is the tight end to own here but only as a reserve.
Baltimore Ravens TEs Mark Andrews vs. Hayden Hurst
Projected outcome: Both Andrews and Hurst will see the field, often at the same time. The offensive system could favor the position, and the receiving corps is nothing special. Don’t be surprised to see both players have top-15 seasons from a position that is terribly shaky for fantasy usage.
New York Giants QBs Eli Manning vs. Daniel Jones
Projected outcome: This isn’t a really battle, but someone inevitably will ask about it. Jones will not start the season as anything but an understudy, and even when he eventually plays, there isn’t fantasy value to be found from the rookie. Manning has a hint of utility in the right matchup for streaming purposes. The bigger factor is how Jones as a starter would negatively impact those around him.
New Orleans Saints WRs Tre’Quan Smith vs. Ted Ginn
Projected outcome: A third-round pick in 2018, Smith flashed a few times as a rookie. Ginn just keeps hanging around and making a dent here and there for this offense. There is far more upside in a step forward from Smith, which suggests the coaching staff will give him every opportunity to take the No. 2 gig in camp. Unfortunately, there’s less value in this role than in previous years under Sean Payton. The Saints have become more balanced in recent seasons, and there are only so many balls to go around. The winner of this spot gets the benefit of the doubt for several noteworthy efforts — figuring out when to play him will be tough. This one one is a toss-up in camp.
Washington Redskins wide receiving corps
Projected outcome: Giving Josh Doctson the unofficial “WR1” label due to having the most experience in this offense, and locking Trey Quinn into the slot, there will be more of a battle between veteran Paul Richardson and rookies Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon. This offense barely can sustain one receiver, let alone three, so this is a situation in which the “winner” is still a “loser” for fantasy purposes. McLaurin gets the early nod and at least has chemistry with Dwayne Haskins.
Baltimore Ravens wide receiving corps
Projected outcome: First-round receiver Marquise Brown will start training camp on the non-football injury list as he recovers from Lisfranc surgery. Provided he returns to health for Week 1, he’ll be well behind the curve. The Ravens’ passing game is hindered by Lamar Jackson’s limitations, as well. Rookie Miles Boykin will fight 2018 fifth-rounder Jordan Lasley for a spot in the top three receivers, and Willie Snead figures to man one of the starting jobs after being Jackson’s preferred target a season ago. In his fourth year, Chris Moore has a shot at making a name for himself, too. All told, this is a mess for fantasy gamers.
Buffalo Bills RBs T.J. Yeldon vs. Devin Singletary
Projected outcome: Only of note to fantasy owners looking at purely speculative situations, the backup battle will feature veteran Yeldon vs. rookie Singletary behind the oldest combination of backs imaginable in Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy. There’s no guarantee Gore makes the final roster, although he’s likely to survive the cuts, so an outside chance for the No. 3 guy to play a factor is present. Singletary is a clone of McCoy and may be a year away from seeing the field. Yeldon is a capable third-down type, but the same can be said for Shady and Gore. It could come down to a financial numbers game.
Miami Dolphins QBs Josh Rosen vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Projected outcome: It seems as if the veteran Fitzpatrick (37 in November) should have the leg up in this scenario, since he has made a career out of entering new offenses and pitching a few good games regardless of the locale. At some point, though, Miami must find out what they have in Rosen. Unfortunately for both players, the supporting talent is horrid. Neither one of these quarterbacks has better than deep-league or DFS streaming worth, but FitzMagic should lift the entire offense. The feeling here is Fitz starts more games, but we may be talking a 9-7 split.
Washington Redskins QB Dwayne Haskins vs. Case Keenum vs. Colt McCoy
Projected outcome: McCoy is recovering from yet another surgery on a broken leg due to a rushed recovery last year, and Keenum is uninspiring and barely average. Haskins was a quick study at Ohio State and is the future for the Redskins. With a coaching staff on the hot seat, going all in on Haskins could buy the regime another year. Haskins has the biggest arm and most upside of this lot, but that doesn’t make him a fantasy-relevant option in 2019.
Tennessee Titans WRs Tajae Sharpe vs. Taywan Taylor vs. A.J. Brown
Projected outcome: In a “who cares?” situation, the No. 2 receiver in Tennessee is probably not even worth addressing. Brown has the most talent, and as a second-round rookie, he may get the team’s backing in a “his job to lose” scenario. Taylor has spectacular hands and is a downfield guy, while Sharpe has struggled to live up to his talent level outside of the preseason. Marcus Mariota hampers everyone involved, and the offense will be called by a first-time NFL coordinator. There’s really nothing to see here for 2019; watch Brown’s development for the future, in case Tennessee lands a real quarterback ahead of 2020.