With NFL training camp in full swing, a dangerous time has approached for Fantasy Football managers. There is now a non-stop barrage of breaking news, camp reports, beat writer speculation, and coach speak. Occasionally we even get a video highlight. Let me be clear: this is most definitely entertaining, but it's also full of pitfalls for Fantasy managers.
On one hand, you could overreact to something that's not really news. On the other, you could ignore something that really matters. Knowing the difference isn't easy, especially this time of year. Which is why I start Believe It or Not the first week of camp and not the first week of the regular season. Each week I'll break down how I'm handling some of the most interesting news items from the week before.
The Carson Wentz injury means Jonathan Taylor is the only draftable Colt in Fantasy Football.
To be fair, we don't even know how long Wentz is going to be out. His 5-12 week timeline is very unhelpful. Wentz could be back very close to Week 1 or he could miss almost half of the season. Jacob Eason is currently the team's backup plan, which doesn't inspire much confidence at all.
Considering that Taylor was the only Colt being drafted in the first eight rounds before this news, you'd be well-served to avoid all Colts in a normal Fantasy draft unless we get some really encouraging news about Wentz in the coming weeks.
Verdict: Don't believe it.
Count me was one of those who thought T.Y. Hilton was a phenomenal value in Round 11 before this news. And at that point you don't care much about floor anyway, it's all about upside. If Wentz can get back to full strength in the first month of the season it's very possible that either Hilton or second-year wideout Michael Pittman, can deliver as a top-24 receiver. And there just aren't that many receivers in the double-digit rounds you can say that about.
Taylor is the only Colt I'm drafting in the first 10 rounds, and I did drop him to Round 2 in full PPR. In that format I'm still happy to take Hilton or Pittman in Round 11 or later. It just won't feel like I'm stealing anymore.
Sammy Watkins has been Baltimore's best wide receiver in training camp.
The Ravens came into this training camp with a plan to expand their passing game, but it's been a rough start. Lamar Jackson has been out due to COVID-19 protocols, while both Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman have missed time due to soft tissue injuries. While they need to get those youngsters involved, a veteran may be lessening the importance. Watkins has reportedly been a star at camp and he's one of the few guys available and healthy.
Verdict: Believe it.
I believe this, I just hope it doesn't actually matter. First things first, it's not surprising that a fresh and healthy Sammy Watkins would be looking good at training camp. He's still just 28 years old and he's earned more than 500 targets in this league, averaging a well above average 8.5 yards per target. When Watkins is right, he's still an above average wide receiver and the Ravens haven't had very many of those lately.
But Watkins has also not played 16 games since his rookie year and he's only played more than 10 games once in this past three years and twice in the past five. It will be bad news for Jackson if they need Watkins to be their No. 1 receiver. I'm still drafting Brown the highest, followed by Bateman, and I'm only drafting Watkins in the deepest of leagues. I'm just not drafting any Ravens receivers before Round 9 in redraft.
The one thing this news should probably remind us of is that Mark Andrews is still the No. 1 target on this offense, and he's still a pretty clear TE4 in all formats.
Melvin Gordon is the clear RB1 for the Broncos so far.
This one was fun, because we had multiple reports out of camp reporting that Javonte Williams would be the starter for the Broncos by Week 1. Now, to be clear, those reports don't have to be in conflict. Gordon could be the No. 1 now and still get unseated before Week 1. But Williams is being drafted as a top-24 running back right now and Gordon is being treated like an afterthought. Their workload early in camp is a reminder that isn't the case quite yet.
Verdict: Believe it.
One thing that was overlooked last year was just how good Gordon was. He was tied for 12th in broken tackles and his 4.6 yards per carry was the second-best mark of his career (and a third of a yard better than teammate Phillip Lindsay). Gordon showed no signs of being washed up in 2020.
I've thought all along the most likely outcome is a committee approach in Denver with Gordon beginning the year as the short yardage and receiving back. I wouldn't discount the possibility of Williams taking a larger role as the season goes on, but I don't really believe he has workhorse upside unless Gordon suffers an injury.
Start looking for both of them in Round 7. Unfortunately, Williams will already be gone.
Giovani Bernard will have a big role in the Tampa bay offense.
You knew I wouldn't let a #TeamGio quote slide under the radar, right? Bernard has been very involved in the passing game early in camp while Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones have continued to struggle with drops. Bernard isn't likely to be useful in anything other than a full PPR league and he may just be a flex in that format, but his involvement makes it very difficult to envision a true boom season from Fournette or Jones.
Verdict: Believe it.
If nothing else, we have plenty of evidence that Bernard is a much better pass-catching back than any other running back on the roster. As I wrote in my Running Back Preview, Bernard has averaged 6.3 yards per target over his career. That's a full yard better than any other Bucs running back in 2020. And it's nearly double what Jones posted last year.
If you look at my running back projections, you'll actually see that I have Bernard projected for the most PPR Fantasy points in this backfield. I wouldn't actually draft it that way because Jones and Fournette have much more upside, but I don't currently have any Tampa running backs in my PPR top-100 picks and I like Bernard at his ADP a lot more than his teammates.