News & Analysis

Fantasy football insights from 'Hard Knocks' episode 1

May 28, 2019; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders receiver Antonio Brown (84) during organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The much-anticipated 2019 season premiere of Hard Knocks dropped Tuesday night. Of course, there was plenty of Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock screen time, but we also got some intriguing fantasy football intel from the first episode. Let’s take a look at three insights from this behind-the-scenes look at Oakland Raiders training camp.

Antonio Brown’s feet

Hard Knocks didn’t bury the lead, as the first thing we saw after a brief Gruden pep talk was Antonio Brown working out with his personal trainer. Brown’s feet had him sidelined in the beginning of camp, and it was recently reported on ProFootballTalk that the source of the problem could be frostbite from cryotherapy.

As bizarre as this whole situation is, Brown was at least shown running full speed in pads later in the show. Brown didn’t appear to be slowed by the injury, but we only briefly saw him running. Either way, it’s a good sign that he’s out there in pads. While it’s easy to panic over any injury in camp, but for now Brown is still in play as a second-round consideration in fantasy drafts.

More deep balls from Derek Carr?

We also got some insight from Derek Carr, who unsurprisingly talked Brown up early in the episode. Carr shared an exchange the two had at a past Pro Bowl where he tossed a deep ball that Brown ran and got. A few minutes later, the Carr was on the practice field in a montage scene where he was tossing deep balls at the encouragement of Gruden.

Deep balls were hard to come by from Carr last season, as the Raiders’ signal-caller attempted a pass of at least 20 yards in the air on just 9.2% of his throws. That was among the lowest rates in the league. Increasing this rate would certainly help with Carr’s upside and could bump him up into the QB2 conversation.

Johnathan Abram is ready to hit

The first-rounder has emerged as an early star of the show with scenes of him moving into his hotel room with $500 of snacks for the team and going horseback riding with fellow first-rounder Clelin Ferrell. But Abram’s most intriguing football scene came midway through the episode when he got physical in a non-hitting practice. Gruden pulled him aside and gave him a somewhat tongue-in-cheek talking to. While Gruden may not have liked the hitting from Abram, his size, speed, and physicality should make him an early impact player in IDP leagues.

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