NFL Nation Fantasy Forecast: How will Jets, Seahawks backfields shake out?

It's football season. Oh, wait, it's fantasy football season! What can we expect, and how will things play out?

ESPN Fantasy analyst Eric Moody will ask our NFL Nation reporters the most pressing questions each week during the NFL season to help provide all the information you need to get an edge as you make your fantasy decisions. Here's what they had to say about some of the biggest storylines heading into the season.

Will Kyler Murray play this season?

It's likely at some point this season that Murray will take the field for the Cardinals. When? That's the tricky part. He's out for, at least, the first four games because he's starting the season on the PUP list, but it's likely going to be more as he practices during his three-week window after getting activated. Is there the possibility he doesn't play? Sure. But it's much more likely that he plays at least half the season, so that, if anything, the Cardinals can evaluate how Murray works with the current coaching staff before deciding on his future in ArIzona. -- Josh Weinfuss

How do you expect the wide receiver target shares to shake out between Odell Beckham Jr., rookie Zay Flowers and Rashod Bateman?

The Ravens honestly don't even know at this point. Throughout training camp, Lamar Jackson has had a strong chemistry with Beckham and Flowers. Beckham has continually made tough catches, and Flowers has repeatedly gotten open. The catches and receiving yards should be fairly similar for Beckham and Flowers by the end of the season. The wild card is Bateman. He looked like a No. 1 wide receiver before he injured his foot last season, and he has struggled to consistently practice since. It's difficult to project Bateman as a major factor when he has missed a total of 16 games in his two NFL seasons. -- Jamison Hensley

How will the injuries to the offensive line affect Justin Fields? And how do you expect the Chicago Bears' backfield rotation to play out?

Head coach Matt Eberflus provided a positive injury update on cut-down day that aside from left guard Teven Jenkins, who remains week-to-week with a leg injury, "everybody [else] looks to be healthy right now." That means Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick and Nate Davis are in line to play Week 1. Whether Whitehair, who has a hand injury, moves back to center or stays at left guard is up in the air, but the pass protection in front of Fields at least appears to be trending in the right direction with additional depth on the interior after the Bears sent a sixth-round pick to Miami in exchange for Dan Feeney. As far as the backfield rotation, Khalil Herbert will be the Bears' lead back, while D'Onta Foreman and Roschon Johnson will be squarely in the mix for carries. "We're running back by committee," Bears running backs coach David Walker said. "Saquon Barkley doesn't wear a Chicago Bear helmet, Josh Jacobs doesn't wear a Chicago Bear helmet. We've got a lot of good players, and those guys all complement one another, and they all will have roles within the room as we move forward." -- Courtney Cronin

Given Sean Payton's history of backfield tandems, how do you expect Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine will be utilized for the Denver Broncos?

How Payton spreads out the workload early in the season might not be what it is as the season wears on, so there is a stay-tuned element to this. Williams is still just 10 months removed from his season-ending knee injury suffered in Week 4 last season. He played in one preseason game and got three carries. Williams is the RB1, but there is every indication the Broncos are still going to be winding him up to full strength as the season goes on. Williams and Perine will divvy up carries, with -- if he continues to progress -- Williams eventually getting more. Williams is a good blocker in pass protection, but Perine is one of the best backs in the league in pass protection, so some third-down snaps or longer down-and-distance action might go his way because of that. And if practices are any indication, Williams will be slightly more involved in the passing game. There is always a possibility Williams and Perine appear together at some point in the two-back sets, but that hasn't been something Payton has shown in an open practice format yet. -- Jeff Legwold

Do you expect Quentin Johnston to fill the WR3 role for the Los Angeles Chargers, or is Joshua Palmer still a factor?

It was easy to assume that with the Chargers picking Johnston with a first-round selection that he would automatically replace third receiver Joshua Palmer. But, not so fast. Palmer, who led the receivers group with 72 catches last season, continued to elevate his game throughout training camp to prove he is still very much a contender for the third receiver role. Regardless who starts, expect Johnston and Palmer to both play significant roles. -- Lindsey Thiry

What level of confidence should fantasy managers have in a comeback season from Michael Thomas? Will his snap count be managed?

Fantasy managers should be less worried about Thomas' health and more concerned about his volume of targets. Multiple Saints players and coaches have said the Saints intend to spread the ball around this year. That means Thomas will be competing for catches with Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed and Alvin Kamara (when he returns), among others. The days of 140 targets are probably over. Thomas can certainly still be very effective, but he won't be the primary Saints pass catcher like he was in 2018 and 2019, so proceed accordingly when making draft decisions. -- Katherine Terrell

Tight end Darren Waller appears to be the top pass-catcher, but who will be the top option from a crowded New York Giants WR room?

There really is no definitive answer. Clearly, that is not good from a fantasy standpoint. Parris Campbell seems like a good option because he will do damage on crossing routes working out of the slot. Remember, Richie James was top 10 in the NFL last season with 44 receptions out of the slot. But Campbell could cede some targets to Wan'Dale Robinson, who is coming back from a knee injury. That could possibly make Darius Slayton the Giants' most productive wide receiver (again) with somewhere between 700 and 800 yards. Yawn. -- Jordan Raanan

How will backfield snaps play out for Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall as the season progresses?

For Week 1, Cook figures to see more touches than Hall, who is only 10 months removed from ACL surgery. Cook had no training camp after signing late, but he's a proven vet who knows how to get his body ready for a season. Will he get 20 carries at the outset? Probably not. Look for a timeshare in the backfield, with a lean toward Cook. The situation will evolve as Hall gets more comfortable during the season. The Jets still see him as their RB1; they believe he will be a big factor over the second half of the season. -- Rich Cimini

Who is the favorite to grab the largest share of the early-season workload in the Philadelphia Eagles' backfield?

The Eagles have been keeping this picture cloudy, rotating D'Andre Swift, Rashaad Penny, Kenneth Gainwell, Boston Scott and Trey Sermon with the first team during training camp. It's shaping up to be a running back by committee. There's a case to be made for Swift getting the largest share of reps, given his versatility. Philadelphia has been lining him up all over the field this summer, using him largely in the pass game with some runs sprinkled in, and he has been effective in both roles. He's a home run threat and is arguably the biggest matchup headache for opposing defenses, so there's reason to think the coaches will want him on the field more than any other back. -- Tim McManus

Is Kenneth Walker III the clear RB1 for the Seattle Seahawks, or is it more of a timeshare with Zach Charbonnet?

The best guess at this point is that it's something in between. Walker is still the starter and the favorite to get the majority of the work, but the Seahawks didn't draft Charbonnet 52nd overall to give him only five or so touches per game. Based on how good Charbonnet has looked and how coaches have raved about his professionalism, something in the neighborhood of 10 touches per game doesn't seem unrealistic. The problem with trying to project Seattle's backfield workloads with any certainty is that DeeJay Dallas has been a fixture as a third-down/change-of-pace option the past few seasons, and the Seahawks also spent a seventh-round pick on Kenny McIntosh, whom they had rated much higher. -- Brady Henderson

How will the Washington Commanders distribute touches between Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson?

Robinson will be the primary back and has looked good this summer, so the Commanders will want to use him as much as possible. He had a three-game stretch from Weeks 12 to 14 last season in which he gained a combined 343 yards. He can help them in the pass game a lot more than he did in 2022, when he caught nine passes. Gibson will open in a third-down role, as they want to get him the ball in space as much as possible. He has size and excellent speed, and the Commanders want more big plays. It's also why he could return kickoffs again this season. Washington will use sets when both are on the field together, but the plan would be for Robinson to get the bulk of the carries. And one more nugget: The Commanders also like hard-running sixth-round rookie Chris Rodriguez Jr. -- John Keim