The Daily Madness

  • The details are limited as to why but the Jaguars have moved on from Leonard Fournette with apparently no plan to fill the gap. Fournette is coming off 1,152 rushing yards and 522 receiving yards in his third year. The knock on Fournette has been scoring TD's. He totaled just three last season. It's not fair to lay the blame at the nimble feet of Leonard Fournette with one of the worst offensive lines last season. I've watched several Jags 2019 games and time and again, Fournette got stuffed three yards behind the line of scrimmage on the goal line. The Jaguars goal line strategy appears to be diagrammed on the QB's hand during the huddle and breaks down milliseconds after the snap. Ryquell Armstead is now listed on top of the depth chart and produced about one game's worth of fantasy stats in 16 games in the league. Armstead had 35 carries for 108 yards for a whopping 3.1 yards per carry. Jacksonville has no idea what they're doing and I'd avoid all Jaguars running backs this season.  
  • Coach and GM Bill O'Brien made a bold move in the off-season and was verbally chastised by the sports media for it. Hours before the trade of DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, the Texans signed Randall Cobb. About a month later the Texans secured Brandin Cooks in a deal with the Los Angeles Rams. A lot of things have to go right for this wide receiving crew and the key talking point is health. If Will Fuller can play a full season, if Brandin Cooks can avoid concussions, if Randall Cobb still has some juice and if Kenny Stills or Keke Coutee can step up when one or more of the top three get hurt, Deshaun Watson just may be able to salvage a top 12 fantasy season.  
  • The overwhelming consensus is that Melvin Gordon is the new king of the Broncos backfield but I'm still not a buyer. In two seasons Phillip Lindsay has rushed for over 2,000 yards and 16 TD's. Lindsay has averaged 4.9 yards per carry over that period. The 3rd year back also added 10 pounds this off-season to help with his season long durability. Gordon on the other had one 1,000 yard season in his five year career and topped 4.0 yards per carry just once. Lindsay is an elusive shifty back and Gordon looks like he's pulling a U-Haul trailer. The Broncos will take a while to realize and accept the mistake and I'll be saying I told you so by mid-season. Gordon is averaging a late second round draft pick and it's way to early.  
  • Word is J.K. Dobbins is targeting the starting role on a run heavy Ravens offense. Landing on a team with the best offensive line in football is about as lucky as a rookie can get. However, veteran Mark Ingram II isn't going away quietly after rushing for over 1,000 yards and 10 TD's last season. The lack of preseason games and a late start to padded practices will also put Dobbins behind normal rookie progression schedules. Ingram II is the lead running back (though not necessarily the lead rusher with Lamar Jackson) and Dobbins like most rookie will take half a season to break through. If you select Ingram II then take Dobbins in the later rounds and secure the Ravens backfield for whatever scenario plays out.  
  • Peyton Barber entered free-agency this offseason after losing the starting job to Ronald Jones II midway through the 2019 season. This was the first sign the Tampa Bay backfield was under construction. The 2020 draft introduced Ke'Shawn Vaughn as step two of the rebuild. Finally the Bucs signed veteran LeSean McCoy to a one year deal to shore up the needed veteran leadership that comes from a guy with 11 seasons under his belt. The recent activity is causing a stir about the role of Ronald Jones II this year and it doesn't change a thing. Jones II earned the starting role with hard-nosed running and excellent lateral movement. He will thrive with the stability that Tom Brady will bring. To answer the question is the Tampa backfield getting muddled? No! Jones will get the bulk of carries with spells from the rookie who will be eased into the backup role.
  • The NFL decision to cancel all preseason games was music to my ears in one respect, no prime time players will get injured in meaningless games. The flip side is that borderline roster players and all rookies will have no live NFL speed games to get them ready for day one. Two preseason games moving forward seems like a reasonable middle ground and I hope next season the NFL considers continuing a limited preseason game approach.

    This season however we are faced with making decisions on which rookies will be ready week one, mid-season or if you're lucky enough during the playoff push. The quarterback position will be heavily impacted by lack of live game action and if you were considering any of the rookies for your roster then I'd think again (keeper leagues excluded of course).

    The wide receiver position will take a blow. It's rare that a rookie wideout has any meaningful impact in year one. Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown were the only roster ready wide receivers last year. The talent pool was deep in last year's draft but it's unlikely that more than one or two emerge to fantasy starter status. Drafting any rookie wide receiver before double digit rounds is foolish.

    The running back position is a different animal all together. Give me the ball and go right or go left. More and more over the last few years even rookie running backs have been protected in preseason games. Yes, blocking is always a problem and if challenges linger past three or four games then your rookie running back won't be on the field on passing downs anyway. Draft positions for the running back position should not be impacted solely due to no preseason games.
  • Tagovailoa or Fitzpatrick? Tagovailoa or Fitzpatrick? That's probably the question you've been asking yourself all summer. Coach Brian Flores has stated there will be an open competition for the quarterback position and the house money is one Fitzpatrick. Tagovailoa has been cleared for duties and should be able to compete for the starting gig. It's a huge mountain to climb for the rookie with limited off-season work, limited practice time during a makeshift camp and no preseason games. Fitzpatrick could get jostled off the couch at noon on Sunday, lace up his cleats and throw for 300 yards. If Tagovailoa is the future in Miami then being cautious is in their best long term interest.  
  • As with most fans of the NFL we've been waiting for training camp to begin so we can understand the real impact of the COVID-19 virus on the 2020 NFL season. Early indicators point to significant concerns among players and with good reason. This post will attempt to document key fantasy players who've opted out of this season and the impact on fellow teammates in the fantasy world.

    Damien Williams - RB - Kansas City Chiefs
    Another pandemic domino falls and this time it's running back Damien Williams. LeSean McCoy is still balancing on the free agent wire and who knows, maybe there will be a reunion. The obvious beneficiary is rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire and he will be the primary rushing back. He's already been vaulted by some into a lock as a 1st round fantasy draft pick. After looking at last years rushing numbers for the Chiefs, I'd be cautious. Williams and McCoy combined didn't rush for 1,000 yards last season. Their receiving totals made for about two good Christian McCaffrey receiving games. The passing game still rules the roost in KC which makes Edwards-Helaire a #2 running back.

      Marquise Goodwin - WR - Philadelphia Eagles
    Things keep getting worse for the Eagles wide receiving crew. Goodwin has been a career backup but did show #2 wide receiver ability in 2017 where he put up 962 yards and 2 TDs. Alshon Jeffrey is on the PUP and who knows when he will be ready. DeSean Jackson still has the speed but is 50/50 on being able to stay healthy. Rookie Jalen Reagor is looking more attractive as the season approaches simply due to his health status.

      Brandon Bolden - RB - New England Patriots
    Bolden had 15 carries for 3 TD's last season. That's not exactly goal line touchdown stealing carries but was effective when given the opportunity. The fantasy outlook for New England running backs was grim already and losing Bolden is just once more piece. Sony Michel is still rehabbing a foot injury and in Bill Belichick fashion we have no time table for a return. That leaves Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris to handle the majority of rushing duties and James White as the primary receiving back. The backfield is still a four headed monster with erratic play calling and random personal usage.

      Devin Funchess - WR - Green Bay Packers
    The Green Bay Packers wide receiving crew was sorely lacking impact players beyond DaVante Adams. Devin Funchess opting out will have little to no impact on what's expected to be a mediocre Aaron Rodgers season. Funchess was a home run swing to fill the number two receiver position but was likely to generate singles and an occasional double in this offense. The Packers have a laundry list of potential #2 wide receivers on paper but production will likely still be in the #4 fantasy range and not worth roster spots.

     
  • The big news in New England (if you want to call it that) was the signing of Cam Newton. The quarterback room is filled with unknowns and misfits already with Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. Cam Newton is looking to breath a little life into the tail end of his career but it will take gale force winds for his final chapter to be anything other than a light summer breeze. Let's forget last season after going down week two and little to no stats to critique. The 2016 - 2018 seasons were already showing major signs of decline. During that period Newton barely cracked the top 20 in passing yards coupled with 19, 22 and 24 passing touchdowns over the three year span. Let's also add in an average of 14 interceptions per season. Newton is, well at least was, considered a dual threat but since the 10 rushing TD season of 2015, he averaged just 5 between 2016-2018 (none in 2019). It's going to be a tough row to hoe in New England and I still don't see how any positional player is worth a fantasy roster except James White, and even that is a stretch.  
  • Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson Jr have been waiting in the wings for a chance at the starting role for the Los Angeles Ram. Even with Todd Gurley coming into the 2019 season with questionable health, neither were able to make a noticeable dent in the carries category. The Rams offense requires a fluid running back with pass catching ability. Brown and Henderson Jr combined for six receptions last year. The Rams have had several years to evaluate Brown and just one to evaluate Henderson Jr. Cam Akers was drafted in the 2nd round to fill the starting role. He is a workhorse style back with pass catching ability. Akers is the guy to place your bet on in the Rams running back casino.  
  • If there is a rookie running back to have an immediate impact on fantasy football its D'Andre Swift. Incumbent starter Kerryon Johnson has had two seasons to stabilize the position and has failed to do so. Injuries have taken their toll but performances have also been underwhelming with just over 1,000 yard rushing in two seasons. Swift and Johnson will pair up for a running back by committee early but Swift will capitalize the passing downs immediately. Swift has a one cut change of direction that paralyzes defenders and the Georgia offense was a perfect training ground for the NFL. No one can predict injuries but in this case past results can predict future performances. Swift is a steal at the #3 running back or flex-position starter.  
  • The NFL trend of running back by committee has reached peak levels the last couple years and the 2020 season is no exception. The traditional workhorse running backs are few and far between which forces fantasy owners to be much more strategic in their running back selections. As miserable as the Dolphins offense was last season, there is a glimmer of hope with improved personal up front and a couple running backs who've had flashes of success. Breida is the pick in Miami this season. He's averaged over 5 yards per carry over the last two seasons and has breakaway speed. Neither Howard or Breida will receive more than 15 carries a game so each one counts a little more than say a Derrick Henry carry. Howard is a grinder and rarely breaks one where as Breida has the potential on every carry.
  • It's not a matter of if but when Clyde Edwards-Helaire takes over for Damien Williams in the Kansas City backfield. Edwards-Helaire was wildly successful in both running and passing game at LSU during his final year. Of course college success doesn't always translate to the professional level but 1,867 total yards and 17 total TD's is hard to ignore. Kansas City hasn't used the pass catching running back as much as other teams but Edwards-Helaire will add that element to the offense quickly. There is a veteran standing between Edwards-Helaire and a solid #2 fantasy running back. If you snag a couple running backs and wide receivers early then feel free to pull the trigger on the rookie.
  • The consensus number one wide receiver pick of the 2020 fantasy draft is Michael Thomas. Based on last years numbers how can you argue the premise? However, this scenario plays out year after year after year. The players who ranked top of the heap in the previous season rarely repeat the following year. Thomas had 149 receptions from 185 targets for 1,725 yards and 9 TD's. In his first three years he averaged 107 receptions from 139 targets for 1,262 yards and 7.6 TD's. So 42 more receptions, 46 more targets and 463 more yards than his career averages.

    Kenny Golladay was also having a career year in the first eight games with Matthew Stafford under center before Stafford got hurt. In the first half of the season, Golladay had 35 receptions from 62 targets for 640 yards and 7 TD's (averaged over 16 games that's 70 receptions from 124 targets for 1,280 yards and 14 TD's). What's also worth noting is the first eight games on which this average extension is based, there were three games with only 21, 17 and 42 receiving yards. Golladay is coming into this fourth year (last year was Michael Thomas's 4th year) and the sky is the limit. I'm not saying Golladay will have a better fantasy year than Thomas but if a bet is to be made as to which receiver might, it's Kenny Golladay.
  • The Falcons swapped Austin Hooper for Hayden Hurst and the Moneyball game at tight end begins. Hooper signed a 4-year $42 million contract and $23 million guaranteed with the Cleveland Browns (cap hit of $4 million in 2020). The dead cap amounts for 2021 and 2022 almost guarantee the Browns pay Hooper for at least three years of the four year contract (another $23 million and change).

    Hurst is entering the 3rd year of his rookie contract and is set to make $1.48 million and a cap hit of the same in 2020. His 4th year rounds out at $1.98 million. For the next two years, Hooper is making approximately 3.8 times what Hurst will make. Obviously he won't have 3.8 times the stats, in fact Hooper will struggle to reach 75% of Hurst's production. Hurst's average draft position is about five round later than Hooper as of today. If there is a bargain tight end to be had this season it's Hayden Hurst.
  • The Arizona Cardinals wide receiving crew went from rags to riches with one stroke of the pen last off-season. The DeAndre Hopkins trade to the Cardinals instantly upgraded the number one wide receiver position. Let's not forget that the second greatest wide receiver of all time (after Jerry Rice) is Larry Fitzgerald and he's still physically going strong. It remains to be seen if a 3rd receiver from this group can emerge into fantasy viability but Christian Kirk had a nice breakout in year two. Year three is often the point in which a wide receiver's long term success is determined. The Cardinals will run a lot of three wide receiver sets and are expected to throw the ball 60% or more of the time. Larry Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins will draw a lot of attention. At season's end, Kirk may have a 1,000 yards and 6 TD's as well.
  • It appears everyone in the Steelers organization is "comfortable" and "pleased" with the on-going rehab process for Ben Roethlisberger's right elbow. That means as much to me as it does to you I suppose but it sounds like it's trending in the right direction. Big Ben would be a marginal fantasy starter anyway so the focus is more on JuJu Smith-Schuster. As of today Smith-Schuster is a late 5th, early 6th round fantasy pick according to the latest average draft positions. If Roethlisberger is healthy then Smith-Schuster is a steal in the 3rd, let alone later rounds. He is a wide receiver that may slip fantasy managers minds on draft day so be ready.
  • The Panthers gave a 3-year $63 million contract to a game manager when what they need is a miracle worker. Don’t get me wrong, I’m as happy as anyone that Bridgewater is back on the field, especially with the history of injuries. His courage and determination to rehab back to playing condition is unmatched. In the five starts last season (weeks 3-7), Bridgewater was ranked 18th, 26th, 4th, 17th and 13th in fantasy points among quarterbacks. Carolina message boards have fans putting Bridgewater in the category of Dak Prescott and Drew Brees! The Carolina kool-aid is flowing like a river.
  • While working out in Nashville with other 49ers teammates, Deebo Samuel suffered a broken left foot. He is scheduled for surgery Thursday and with a 12-16 week recovery time table, it appears he won't ready for week one. To say the 49ers wide receiving core is slim pickens is an understatement. Let's hope rehab goes well for Samuel and the San Francisco #1 wide receiver is catching TD passes at some point this season.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles fight song may be a bit optimistic coming into 2020 based on a very questionable wide receiving core. Alshon Jeffery suffered a Lisfranc injury on Dec 9th 2019, which requires a recovery time of 9 months for the best case scenario. Do you really think he'll be ready for the start of the 2020 season? DeSean Jackson played one meaningful game last season. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward Jr. and Mack Hollins had plenty of opportunities to step up and all three literally and figuratively dropped the ball. So I guess it's up to rookie Jalen Reager and Zach Ertz who might be the first tight end in history to receive quadruple coverage.
  • Is it possible a starting running back in the NFL on a running team doesn't have a TD this year? The goal line back for the Buffalo Bills last season was Josh Allen. 2nd round pick Zack Moss is a perfect fit for goal line duties with a stout 5’9” 223-pound frame who rarely goes down after first contact. When all you need is 1-3 yards pure power is often the right formula. Singletary will be a yardage back this season and there's a good chance he totals 1,500 rushing and receiving, unfortunately the TD's over/under is around 3.5

  • Daniel Jones had a tremendous rookie season as the New York Giants quarterback. Yes, of course his stats were middle of the pack level but that's still saying a lot for a first year starter. One glaring weakness was the 12 interceptions and even more irritating in the fantasy world, the 11 lost fumbles. Jones is making it a priority to cure his fumblitis and we're pretty confident he will be successful.

  • Dalvin Cook is making a big bet by threatening to holdout if a new contract agreement isn't reached before the season starts. Cook is coming into his fourth year following a monster year in 2019. I don't think there is any doubt that Cook is one of the best running backs in the league, but he's only had one good year so far. If Cook and the Vikings can't reach an agreement and he misses early games or worst case scenario the entire season, then Alexander Mattison is a great pickup. Think James Conner in 2018 after Le'Veon Bell skipped the season and the first four games for Austin Ekeler in 2019.

  • The running back by committee battle in Los Angeles has a new twist. Malcolm Brown, Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson Jr expect to compete for the starting role this preseason. Henderson Jr sits on top of the depth chart in mid-June but did little in his rookie campaign to warrant the top spot. He is also still recovering from ankle surgery earlier in the year. Brown has had five years to secure the spot and hasn't done so. Cam Akers is the best bet to win this battle and will likely dominate carries by mid-season.

  • Sony Michel is recovering from foot surgery he had in May and the timeline on when he'll be ready is in question. Just one more reason to pass on a running back who hasn't come close to meeting expectations for a 1st round draft pick. There are so many question marks on the New England Patriots offense. The most obvious being the underwhelming battle for a starting quarterback. The last thing you need on your fantasy roster is an injured running back in a field that also includes James White, Rex Burkhead, Damiem Harris and Brandon Bolden. The current average draft position for Michel is a 7th rounder and that's five rounds too early.
  • Drew Lock and rookie Jerry Jeudy are wasting no time building chemistry in the most bizarre off-season is the history of the NFL. With training facilities still closed over concerns from the Coronavirus, the quarterback/wide receiver duo apparently are running routes at a local park. Grass is grass I say and what better way to run routes than at the playground where everyone's career probably started.
  • It's a good thing to help a friend move. We've all done it and asked someone else to help us. Shortly after the draft Henry Ruggs III suffered a thigh injury helping a friend move. The last time I moved I paid two guys $100 each to unload the U-Haul and I'm not a 1st round NFL wide receiver with a big payday coming my way. Eliminate the unnecessary risks in your life young man! He should be fine by the way.