All we really want to see in training camp — more than glowing reports of an apparent breakout or highlights or pictures of A.J. Dillon's legs, even — is health. This is all about preparing for the season, after all, and there's nothing worse than seeing someone's season get cut short by injuries.
Thankfully, this year has been pleasantly free of serious injuries, but we got a scare with Miles Sanders yesterday. We'll dive into the potential implications of that injury to lead off today's Fantasy Football Today newsletter before we get into the FFT team's biggest bust candidates for 2020. And, as always, all of the news, notes, and quotes from around the NFL Wednesday.
Here's what we've got on tap today:
- 🚑Miles Sanders injury
- ⛔FFT on busts
- 🚨Training camp standouts — Sleeper tight end edition!
- 📢Notes and quotes
And if you want some help with your upcoming draft, your keeper deadline, or anything else, shoot me an email at Chris.Towers@CBSInteractive.com with the subject line "Ask FFT" and we'll include your answers in a mailbag before this weekend's drafts. Subscribe to the newsletter here for more unique analysis and content.
Sanders is "week to week" with a "lower body" injury, a frustratingly and intentionally vague description from the Eagles at a time when access to players in training camp is more restricted than ever. That leaves Fantasy players with a news vacuum where worst-case scenarios can play havoc with your mind, but luckily numerous reporters noted that the injury is not expected to keep Sanders off the field for Week 1 against Washington.
There are 25 days until the Eagles season opener, so there doesn't seem to be much reason to panic as of now — Sanders is still a viable early-round pick, though maybe now he moves to the back half of the second round. However, this is a reminder that there's another back in Philly who needs to be on your radar: Boston Scott.
Scott is one of Ben Gretch's favorite sleeper running backs, and it's not hard to see why:
"In the four games where Scott got solid playing time late in 2019, he saw seven green zone touches (inside the 10-yard line). He also caught at least four balls in each of those games, adding three more in the Eagles' playoff loss for 26 across those five games."
This is a valuable backfield for Fantasy, and the fact is, the Eagles still haven't added anyone to it. Sanders should still be viewed as a borderline elite option, but Scott should be drafted in all leagues for his standalone value as well as his upside if Sanders does miss time.
On Thursday's episode of Fantasy Football Today, we're talking about busts, and trust me, this is nobody's favorite part of the job. We hope every pick we make is going to be a stud and we'll waltz to a championship in every single one of our drafts, but that's not going to be the case.
You're going to draft some busts. There's no way around that. The goal is to avoid those obvious landmines in your way, and that's what we're looking for here. It's not that we can guarantee you won't have to deal with disappointment — but we can hopefully help you realize when it's staring you in the face.
Here are two bust picks from Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings and Ben Gretch. You can click here to see the rest of our picks and listen to the podcast here:
- Lamar Jackson — "It's hard to repeat as the No. 1 Fantasy quarterback in consecutive years, and the last guy to do it was Drew Brees in 2011-12. Guys fall off due to injury, which was part of the problem for Mahomes in 2019 after dominating the year before. Or it could be poor play since the NFL tends to catch up to groundbreaking things."
- Derrick Henry
- Deshaun Watson — "I'm typing this in CAPS: I STILL LIKE WATSON AND WOULD DRAFT HIM, JUST NOT AS A TOP 5 FANTASY QUARTERBACK. Losing DeAndre Hopkins is just too much."
- Keenan Allen
- Jonathan Taylor/Cam Akers
- DeAndre Hopkins — "Hopkins is currently the fifth receiver off the board, and that's terrifying to me. Last year's 7.8 yards per target was the second-lowest mark of Hopkins' career, and that matters because he figures to see a serious reduction in targets."
- Drew Brees
- James Conner — "Tread lightly — Fantasy Football history is unfortunately littered with great backs who couldn't reverse the decline phase, and these backs cost a third- or fourth-round pick that forces you to pass up some truly fantastic receiver options."
So which Fantasy football busts should you completely avoid? And which running back going off the board early should you fade? Visit SportsLine now to get cheat sheets from the model that called Baker Mayfield's disappointing season, and find out.
Training camp notes and quotes
Chris Herndon is turning heads
By all accounts, Herndon has been as impressive in training camp to date as he was disappointing a year ago. That's a good sign, because Herndon mostly lost his second season and has a lot to prove after a four-game suspension and injury issues, and it appears he's proving quite a lot. Jets receiver Jamison Crowder referred to Herndon as the team's "X-Factor" and compared him to former Washington teammate Jordan Reed.
Jets reporter Connor Hughes said Wednesday that Herndon "continues to impress. If he stays healthy, he has the chance for an awful good year." It's hard to find room to disagree. This is a Jets offense that badly needs playmaking, and while Breshad Perriman should add some of that down the field — though he is drawing plenty of praise and reportedly working the whole route tree himself — but Herndon presents their best chance at a middle-of-the-field, intermediate-depth play-maker. He figures to get plenty of opportunities, and is well worth taking as a sleeper in the late rounds — though his ADP is bound to start rising with all of this noise coming from camp. Jamey Eisenberg has him as a top-12 tight end, and I'm inclined to agree.
Irv Smith ready for bigger role
This time a year ago, Vikings coach Gary Kubiak said the then 20-year-old Smith was "swimming" in the details of the offense, one that was expected to ask him to line up out wide and in the backfield, in addition to in the traditional tight end spots. That's the role they expect to be able to use him in this season, and Smith figures to take a step forward even while sharing time with Kyle Rudolph. Expect lots of two-TE packages for the Vikings.
With rookie Justin Jefferson still mostly serving as the No. 3 WR, Smith could figure into a role as the team's No. 3 or even No. 2 target, and is another great tight end sleeper. I might prefer Herndon myself, but there's nothing wrong with targeting either — or both.
Bryce Love worked with the first-team offense
OK, OK, it was just because Adrian Peterson got the day off. But still, Love's role as the team's No. 2 back behind Peterson seems secure at this point, and being the primary backup behind a 35-year-old isn't a bad place to be.
Of course, J.D. McKissic and Antonio Gibson will see work in the passing game, and offensive coordinator Scott Turner has put an emphasis on putting the backs in motion early in camp. The biggest problem here might be that the most intriguing Fantasy options — Love and Gibson — might start the season as the No. 2 option in either role. I still like both as late-round fliers.
- "He's everything you want in a receiver." —Sam Darnold on Breshad Perriman
Perriman has been making plays early in camp, and with rookie Denzel Mims sidelined by a hamstring injury, Perriman's role as one of the primary outside receivers seems set. If he's the second option in the passing game, Perriman's big-play ability could make him Fantasy viable.
- "He has great body language in his routes. I understand when he's gonna break and he knows where I expect to put the ball and I know where he wants the ball put on every route to every coverage. Things are going really well so far." — Joe Burrow on Tyler Boyd
One of the benefits of being there for the first practice sessions with a new quarterback is you get to be the guy who develops a rapport with that quarterback, and that's what Boyd is enjoying right now. As long as A.J. Green is healthy by the start of the season, you have to assume he's the No. 1 receiver, but Boyd has been productive as the second option, and the developing chemistry with Burrow could prove fruitful. He's a nice, inexpensive third WR option.
- "I would say Cole is on schedule -- if not maybe a tick ahead of schedule. Not to make it sound too grand, but I have zero concerns about Cole Kmet. I really do." — Bears tight ends coach Clancy Barone
Jimmy Graham figures to have a role in Chicago, and is drawing plenty of praise for his play so far, especially for a Tuesday practice that he seems to have dominated. However, Kmet is someone to watch as an in-season waiver-wire pickup if he earns a significant role.
News and Notes
DeAndre Hopkins (hamstring) was back at practice. There's still time to develop chemistry with Kyler Murray,so don't go moving him down your boards yet. ... The three-headed QB competition continues in New England, though none of the three had particularly impressive showings Tuesday, per reporters at camp. Of course, that might be as much a sign of how lacking in talent this offense is. Damiere Byrd is the only receiver consistently making plays, though rookie tight end Devin Asiasi has drawn some praise and could be a late-round sleeper in deep formats. ... Dalvin Cook ended contract talks with Vikings. It's not quite clear that this means anything for 2020, given that he's already reported to camp and has been working in practice on a somewhat limited basis. ... Le'Veon Bell, Frank Gore are seemingly well ahead of Lamichale Perine in the running back hierarchy, which isn't particularly. surprising. Perine is just a late-round lottery ticket in the event something happens to Bell. ... "Through two days, I'm still not sure I've seen a Ravens defensive back or linebacker stay with tight end Mark Andrews." That's The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec, and in case you forgot, this is a pretty good Ravens defense. And he's apparently been matching up with everyone from linebackers to corners.
The Fantasy Football Today Draft Guide is here, and I promise, you'll want to have it by your side on Draft Day. We've boiled down everything you need to draft in one place, with consensus expert rankings and auction values, tiers, a round-by-round walkthrough, and Draft Day strategies and rules from Jamey, Dave, Heath and Ben. It's the next best thing to having them next to you while you draft. Head here to sign up for it, because it's absolutely free — which seems like a good value to me.