Since January, we've spent pretty much every day preparing for the start of the Fantasy football season here at CBS Fantasy, so we can sometimes forget that not everyone gets to do this for a living. For many of you, Fantasy prep starts when you've got some spare time in the late summer, something I got a reminder of when I spent this weekend with members of one of my home leagues, who peppered me with questions I thought were pretty basic.
Stuff like, "So, is the season actually happening? How are they going to handle all of this?" Pretty basic stuff, but if you aren't plugged in — and you've got a lot of reasons these days to be a little behind on NFL news — they're reasonable questions.
And they are questions that need answering. It's a lot to keep up with, especially in this offseason. So as you get ready for your drafts, here are 10 basic questions you might need answered before you draft, from the schedule to injuries, and everything in between.
Is the season actually happening?
What is the NFL's plan for handling the COVID situation?
Lots of testing and contact tracing, with fail safes built into the testing system after a series of false positives nearly shut down training camps across the league last week. That includes a point-of-care test as well as a nasal swab, and if both come back negative, a player can be cleared on the same day. Add in five regional testing sites, and it seems like the NFL may be less at risk of the kind of scares that have brought multiple MLB team's seasons to a halt for days for weeks at a time.
Obviously, the situation may worsen once the season starts, but the chances of the season being disrupted the way NBA and NHL were seem slim. However, that doesn't mean there aren't concerns.
But what if there is a breakout on a team?
There's only so much teams can do, and even if you're very careful, things can happen. The nightmare scenario is a game day outbreak affecting multiple players, could easily lead to postponements or even rescheduling. It'll be tricky to handle, but it might be inevitable given the circumstances. You have to believe the league will do everything they can to make sure every team plays 16 games, and there have been discussions about scheduling more games Thursday, Friday and Saturday throughout the season to allow for more flexibility in scheduling. That hasn't happened yet, but it is a possibility we'll have to keep in mind — one that could seriously impact Fantasy schedules.
OK, I'm in. But how should my Fantasy league handle COVID?
First, you need to decide how you want to approach things from a macro level. If you have a prize for the winner, you have to consider the possibility that the league may get disrupted in a way that makes it impossible to crown a champion — like I said, there's a slim chance that happens, but going into the draft and season with a contingency plan will help increase your league mate's confidence in investing their time. Also have a plan if games are postponed mid-week — your league provider should allow for retroactive points being added for a postponed game, though you may want to create some rules that allow teams affected by such circumstances to temporarily expand their rosters.
You should probably add a few IR spots, too — players on the NFL COVID reserve list will be eligible for the IR in CBS Fantasy leagues — or at least some extra bench spots to account for possible positive tests. Plus, whether you use FAAB or waivers, allowing day-of roster moves will help players in your league avoid last-minute surprises. Also consider using Team QB instead of individual players. Dave Richard has a lot more about how you should approach the season from pretty much every angle, so go check that out, and Ben Gretch has some thoughts on how to build your roster with all of this in mind.
Now that I'm bought in, what offseason moves do I need to know about? But before you answer, let me put on my Tom Brady Patriots jersey and take a big sip of coffee ...
So ... Tom Brady is in Tampa Bay. And Cam Newton is in New England. And Teddy Bridgewater is in Carolina. He was replaced in New Orleans by Jameis Winston — but Drew Brees is still around. And Philip Rivers is in Indianapolis, and was replaced by Tyrod Taylor. Add in Joe Burrow in Cincinnati and possibly Nick Foles in Chicago, and that's quite a few quarterbacks who switched teams during an offseason with limited practice reps and no preseason games. That's less than ideal, to be sure, and adds another wrinkle to worry about.
Here are the other significant players who found new homes:
- Running backs: Todd Gurley, Atlanta; David Johnson, Houston; Melvin Gordon, Denver; Jordan Howard, Miami; Matt Breida, Miami; Leonard Fournette and Devonta Freeman are currently free agents, and Damien Williams opted out of the season.
- Wide receivers: DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona; Stefon Diggs, Buffalo; Robby Anderson, Carolina; Breshad Perriman, N.Y. Jets
- Tight ends: Austin Hooper, Cleveland; Hayden Hurst, Atlanta; Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay; Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh; Greg Olsen, Seattle; Tyler Eifert, Jacksonville; Jason Witten, Oakland
What about the key rookies? I know Joe Burrow, but who else do I need to know about?
Here are the ones you should be targeting inside of the top 100 on Draft Day. For a ranking of the rookie class, head here:
- QB: Burrow, Cincinnati
- RB: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City; Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis; D'Andre Swift, Detroit; Cam Akers, L.A. Rams; Zack Moss, Buffalo; J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore; Joshua Kelley, L.A. Chargers
- WR: CeeDee Lamb, Dallas; Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas; Jerry Jeudy, Denver; Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco; Jalen Reagor, Philadelphia
Which players will be impacted most by no preseason?
Well, most of the names from the previous two questions, to start with. It's already tough enough to make an impact as a rookie, let alone without minicamps, OTAs or preseason games. Things should be a bit easier for vets switching teams, but there's some risk those teams with new quarterbacks especially struggle early on. Given how many big names that is true for this season, it could create quite a bit of uncertainty.
Which injuries should I know about?
Luckily, there haven't been many serious injuries to worry about yet — that's one of the positive side effects of limited live tackle practices and no preseason games.
Of course, the flip side of that might be that there will be even more injuries when the games actually start — in fact, I think it's more likely than not. But there's not really any way to prepare for that.
Here are the injuries you need to know about as you head into your drafts:
- Carson Wentz, Eagles — Expected to be ready for Week 1 at Washington
- Miles Sanders, Eagles — Hamstring: Questionable for Week 1 at Washington
- Kenyan Drake, Cardinals — Foot: Expected to be ready for Week 1 at San Francisco
- David Montgomery, Bears — Groin: Questionable for Week 1 at Detroit
- Joe Mixon, Bengals — Migraines: Expected to be ready for Week 1 vs. L.A. Chargers
- Melvin Gordon, Broncos — Ribs: Expected to be ready for Week 1 vs. Tennessee
- D'Andre Swift, Lions — Leg: Expected to be ready for Week 1 vs. Chicago
- Darrell Henderson, Rams — Hamstring: Hopes to be ready for Week 1
- Cooper Kupp, Rams — Ankle: Expected to be ready for Week 1 vs. Dallas
- Rashaad Penny, Seahawks: PUP list, likely out to start season
- DeVante Parker, Dolphins — Undisclosed: Questionable for Week 1 at New England
- Jalen Reagor, Eagles — Shoulder: Doubtful for Week 1 at Washington
- Mike Williams, Chargers — Shoulder: Questionable for Week 1 at Cincinnati
- Diontae Johnson, Steelers — Undisclosed: Questionable for Week 1
- Tyrell Williams, Raiders — Shoulder: Questionable for Week 1 at Carolina
- Alshon Jeffery, Eagles — Foot: PUP list, doubtful for Week 1
- Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers — Hamstring: Questionable for Week 1
- Deebo Samuel, 49ers — Foot: Doubtful for Week 1
- Chris Herndon, Jets — Chest: Questionable for Week 1 at Buffalo
- Jack Doyle, Colts — Neck: Questionable for Week 1 at Jacksonville
Should I be scared?
No, of course not! It's Fantasy football! It's fun, and we could all use more fun in our lives these days. Get out there, spend some time with your friends — digitally, if you can; safety first! — and have some fun.