NFL Training Camp Battles: Breaking Down Odds On Lock vs Smith & More
Adam Thompson | 8 mins
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Aaron Rodgers hasn’t taken a snap in preseason play in four years. He’s won the last two NFL MVP awards.
We’re not likely to see many of today’s elite standouts play in the NFL’s preseason games. But that does not mean there aren’t battles worth following. That goes doubly for fantasy football players.
Here, Bookies.com oddsmaker Adam Thompson breaks down his hypothetical NFL odds for some of the key training camp battles. This page will be updated regularly over the next few weeks based on the latest news reports and preseason play.
RELATED: NFL Preseason Odds For Week 3 And Beyond
NFL Training Camp Battle Odds
Panthers Starting QB For Week 1
Baker Mayfield was named as the Week 1 starter by coach Matt Rhule. Given what Sam Darnold accomplished in 2021 with this team, it didn't come as a huge shock.
Darnold frankly did not get it done in his one season as Panthers starter, going 4-7 with just nine TDs and 13 INTs. The Panthers were so unimpressed with the man of which they traded three draft picks, they made another trade for a QB this offseason, bringing in Mayfield from the Browns (and drafting Matt Corral in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft, but he suffered a season-ending injury in preseason).
Baker wasn’t brought to Carolina to be a QB2, and his track record is better – albeit not a ton better (29-30 as a starter, just one winning season out of four).
Seahawks Starting QB For Week 1
These odds have flipped in the last two weeks. Geno Smith was considered to have a leg up in the race over Drew Lock, especially when Lock missed time due to Covid protocols. But Smith has been decidedly mediocre in the preseason. Lock, to his credit, is 11-of-15 for 102 yards, two TDs and no INTs in preseason.
Neither option is very inspiring. Smith hasn’t been a regular starter in the NFL since 2014, and he went 3-10 that season. Lock is 8-13 as a starter; his one full season at a helm he played only 13 games, went 4-9 and led the league in interceptions. These are Seattle’s two options after trading away future Hall of Famer Russell Wilson to the Broncos.
Smith was serviceable in four games (three starts) last year when Wilson was injured. He had the inside track, but Lock's preseason production and his potential ceiling - he's six years younger - may give him the Week 1 edge.
Steelers Starting QB For Week 1
Pittsburgh’s drafting of local college boy done good Kenny Pickett was the story of the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. It doesn’t mean he’s ready to immediately take over for the retired Ben Roethlisberger. To his credit, Pickett had a stellar senior season in Pittsburgh, passing for 4,319 yards, 42 TDs and just seven INTs.
Mitchell Trubisky, on the other hand, has had moderate success despite a lack of playmaking personnel around him. He went 29-21 as a starter for the moribund Bears with 64 TDs and 37 INTs. Now potentially hitting his prime for his sixth season, this will be his first chance as a starter to have skill guys around him who can make plays.
Pickett has been spectacular in preseason. Through two games, hes 19-of-22 passing for 171 yards, three TDs and no INTs. His QB rating is 138.6. Trubisky's 108.5 QB rating is quite a bit lower, but he hasn't done anything to damage his chances in preseason, so Trubisky remains our NFL betting favorite to win the job at this point.
Bills Starting RB For Week 1
Since drafting Devin Singletary in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Bills seemingly have been looking for a replacement. It hasn’t worked. Singletary has started 16 games each of the last two seasons and in 2022 had career-best totals in carries, yards, TDs and receptions.
Zack Moss had a shot to take over as lead back in 2020 but it didn’t pan out, and his share of the workload diminished last season. If you thought that was a vote of confidence in Singletary, think again. Buffalo then used a second-round pick on James Cook, who helped lead Georgia to a national title. Cook has been electric in camp so far.
Singletary, in limited action this preseason, has averaged 9.8 yards per carry. Barring a major setback, he'll enter Week 1 as the starter. Cook may have supplanted Moss as RB2, however.
Dolphins Starting RB For Week 1
Miami ranked 30th in rush yards in 2021 but a focus on improving the position and giving some relief to QB Tua Tagovailoa was a priority in the offseason. The Dolphins went out and secured three options, all of whom have worthy resumes – and durability questions.
Chase Edmonds was a starter for the Cardinals last season, splitting time with James Conner but averaging 5.1 yards per carry with 96 receptions the last two seasons. He missed five games for Arizona. Raheem Mostert started eight games in 2020 for the 49ers before injuries crushed the second half of that season and nearly all of 2021. Sony Michel gained 845 yards for the Super Bowl champion Rams in place of the injured backs in front of him. Michel missed eight games in 2020 and was a spot starter last year. Myles Gaskin is the incumbent and the top preseason rusher for this Dolphins team, for what it's worth.
Mostert was just cleared to participate in training camp. He might be the guy at the end of the year but less so right away. Gaskin knows the system and has been the go-to in games that don't matter. The feeling, however, is the job is Edmonds’ to lose – Miami paid him a lot of guaranteed money to leave Arizona.
Seahawks Starting RB For Week 1
Chris Carson retired at age 27 following a neck injury that wouldn’t heal to NFL standards. That leaves Rashaad Penny, a four-year backup in Seattle, and Kenneth Walker, a second-round pick out of Michigan State, battling for carries.
There are reports the position of RB1 belongs to Penny, who could get up to 20 carries per game. Penny led the NFL last year at 6.3 yards per carry, but he’s also missed nearly 30 games through four seasons. Walker gained 1,636 yards, at 6.2 yards per carry, with 18 TDs for the Spartans. But he is battling a hernia injury and is questionable for Week 1.
Both are likely to be featured prominently throughout the season, and there is momentum for Walker to eventually take the lead. But in Week 1, for now, the veteran is the favorite, and fantasy experts concur. Penny’s ADP at Underdog Fantasy is currently 91.3, with Walker not far behind at 107.8.
Packers No. 3 WR For Week 1
Former Chiefs contributor Sammy Watkins and last year’s No. 3, Allen Lazard, presumably have the top two spots secured. That leaves several viable options for the No. 3 spot in a pass offense that’s led by reigning NFL MVP two times over, Aaron Rodgers.
The veteran Randall Cobb has the inside track. He’s been there, done that with Rodgers, and QB12 prefers veterans early on. Christian Watson, drafted in the second round, is missing valuable camp time, further putting him into a hole for Week 1. Romeo Doubs, a fourth-rounder, had two 1,000-yard seasons and could take time away from others.
Doubs has turned heads in camp and in games, with six receptions for 69 yards and a team-high two TDs. Cobb’s age (31) and lack of production last year (28 receptions in 12 games, three starts) offers some pause, especially if Doubs flourishes in the preseason finale.
Based on average draft position (ADP) at Underdog Fantasy, Cobb (212.7) looks under-drafted given his production potential, compared to Watson (119.3). So, too, does Watkins (176.6).