At this time of year, the biggest NFL news is usually also the worst news for Fantasy football players, so I'm happy to report there isn't much news to talk about today at all. The biggest news today is, naturally, the worst news today, however: Mike Williams' shoulder injury could stretch well into the regular season. For a player who played through knee pain en route to his first 1,000-yard season in 2019, that's really tough news, and it pushes him to just late-round consideration, especially if you don't have a deep bench.
Thankfully, the rest of the news from around the NFL Tuesday was mostly positive, which means we can focus more on the kind of analysis you need to get ready for Draft Day. We'll cover the news further down, but I'm going to start today's newsletter with some league-winning potential picks, key rankings debates and some Salary Cap Draft strategy.
As always, feel free to shoot me an email at Chris.Towers@CBSInteractive.com with the subject line "AskFFT" and your question might be featured here throughout this week.
Here are some stories from the FFT team you may have missed yesterday:
- Dave Richard's career-year breakouts
- Why Mike Evans, D.J. Moore, and Stefon Diggs are even better than you think
- PPR mock draft
- Ranking the rookies for Week 1 and beyond
And here's what we've got on tap today:
- 🔊Rankings disputes
- 👑League winners for every round
- 💰Salary cap draft strategies
- 📰Training camp injuries, news, and notes
It's easy to see who helped people win their leagues in retrospect — if you ended up with Christian McCaffrey, Lamar Jackson, Aaron Jones and Chris Godwin, chances are you did pretty well. Of course, those guys are all even more expensive in 2020, so now it's time to look for league-winning potential elsewhere.
Heath Cummings did just that Tuesday, going through every round in CBS Sports Average Draft Position data to find the best value in each round. Here are a few of his picks:
- Round 4 — D.J. Moore, WR, Panthers: Moore had 87 catches in essentially 14 games, and he got a massive quarterback upgrade — one who could be a perfect fit for him. There's 110-catch upside here.
- Round 6 — Kareem Hunt, RB, Browns: Hunt is a pretty good value in the sixth round as is, because he was a top 20 PPR back in eight games last season even while sharing the field with Nick Chubb. What makes him a potential league-winner is that he's got legitimate top-three pick upside if something happened to Chubb.
- Round 9 — Hayden Hurst, WR, Falcons: Austin Hooper leaves behind a valuable role in Atlanta, a role Hurst now steps into. The athleticism is there, but he just didn't get enough opportunity to show it in Baltimore. Hurst could be a top-three TE.
- Round 12 — Preston Williams, WR, Dolphins: Williams was putting up similar numbers to DK Metcalf and Terry McLaurin before his season-ending knee injury, and there have been no signs of lingering issues. He should be a top-100 pick.
Check out the other 15 players Heath highlights here. One disappointing omission from Heath's list: Gardner Minshew, who wants to give you free beer if you draft him in the first round. This promotion has a target audience of one, and it is Heath Cummings.
First up, everyone needs to check out our brand new podcast, Spotify, Apple or anywhere else you find podcasts to subscribe to Fantasy Football Today In 5 and listen to the just-released trailer here:. Every morning starting Aug. 31, we'll have a bite-sized podcast ready to catch you up on the latest news. It's perfect for waiting for your coffee to brew or while you walk the dog, make sure you head to
As for the flagship, on Wednesday's episode of Fantasy Football Today we dive into some rankings disputes. We're comparing WR to RB with similar draft costs to one another to see what decisions you should make on Draft Day. You can hear the whole episode here and my thoughts on three of the more interesting pairs they discussed are below.
- You're drafting Edwards-Helaire in the first round for his upside, but if that means passing on Thomas' upside, is it really worth it? Edwards-Helaire is obviously not as safe as Thomas, but I'm also not sure he has higher upside, either. Thomas had 57 more PPR points than the No. 2 running back in 2019, and his 2018 would have made him the No. 6 back that season too. Edwards-Helaire backers will cite Kareem Hunt's rookie season as evidence of his upside, but Thomas bested Hunt's rookie season in each of the past two years.
Aaron Jones (20.0) vs. DeAndre Hopkins (20.4)
- Here we've got two guys the Fantasy community is sure are headed in the wrong direction. Jones is the safer bet, given he's occupying the same role in the same offense as last year, but Hopkins has more upside in my eyes. We don't know exactly how much the Cardinals will use him, but he'll be the No. 1 option in a high-volume passing game that should be much more effective than last season. The concerns about Hopkins are overblown, in my eyes — the path to 150 targets isn't as narrow as many think.
- I want to take Sutton over Johnson, but I can't shake the feeling Johnson is going to have a really good year. It's a risk, obviously, but if all he does is equal Carlos Hyde's rushing production from a year ago — 1,070 rushing yards, six touchdowns — and adds just 40 catches for 350 yards and two touchdowns, that would've been good for RB10 last season. It seems like a lot given Johnson's last few seasons, but he has still been very effective in the passing game, and he can't be worse than Carlos Hyde, right? Right? Right?
Which players are poised for breakouts, which sleepers do you need to jump on, and which busts should you avoid at all costs in your Fantasy football league? Visit SportsLine now to get early rankings, plus see which WR is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.
We did a salary cap draft Tuesday — read Dave Richard's breakdown of the draft and his strategy here — and it's by far the best way to set up your league because of the wide variety of strategies you can use to build your team. I want to highlight two from this draft, to show just how varied you can get.
Let's look at my roster, which is heavy on star power, vs. Ben Gretch's, which spread his money around much more evenly.
- Davante Adams, WR, GB — $25
- Miles Sanders, RB, PHI — $20
- George Kittle, TE, SF — $18
- Kenyan Drake, RB, ARI — $17
- T.Y. Hilton, WR, IND — $7
- CeeDee Lamb, WR, DAL — $3
- Malcolm Brown, RB, LAR — $2
- Laviska Shenault Jr., WR, JAC — $1
- Emmanuel Sanders, WR, NO — $1
- Chase Edmonds, RB, ARI — $1
- Anthony Miller, WR, CHI — $1
- Adrian Peterson, RB, WAS — $1
- Ito Smith, RB, ATL — $1
- Philip Rivers, QB, IND — $1
- Panthers, DST, CAR — $1
- Aaron Jones, RB, GB — $17
- A.J. Brown, WR, TEN — $11
- Mark Andrews, TE, BAL — $11
- Jonathan Taylor, RB, IND — $9
- Todd Gurley, RB, ATL — $9
- D'Andre Swift, RB, DET — $7
- Kareem Hunt, RB, CLE — $7
- Will Fuller, WR, HOU — $6
- Marquise Brown, WR, BAL — $6
- Kyler Murray, QB, ARI — $4
- Bryce Love, RB, WAS — $3
- Christian Kirk, WR, ARI — $2
- Matt Ryan, QB, ATL — $2
- Colts, DST, IND — $1
- T.J. Hockenson, TE, DET — $1
To start with, let's take a look at the distribution of salaries: $80 of my $100 budget was split between Davante Adams, Miles Sanders, Kenyan Drake and George Kittle, four top-24 players in CBS Sports ADP — and I'd argue more like four top-15 players. Gretch, on the other hand, spread $81 between his top eight players, with the biggest investments coming in Aaron Jones, A.J. Brown, Mark Andrews, Todd Gurley/Jonathan Taylor. I'll take the top end of my roster over his, for sure, but I paid for that approach with the rest of my team.
Because Gretch has a lot better depth. His flex spots are stronger, and the benches aren't even close. He's got high-upside guys like Marquise Brown, Bryce Love, T.J. Hockenson, Christian Kirk and D'Andre Swift on his bench, while Chase Edmonds, Anthony Miller and Laviska Shenault Jr. really represent the only real upside on my bench. A point for Gretch there, for sure.
If I'm being honest, I might trade rosters with Gretch if I could, which makes sense since he's much better at this than me. While my team looks a lot better for Week 1 (if Drake and Miles Sanders play, as expected), it's a team that can't really afford much to go wrong. I look at it like the Falcons of the past few years — when everything goes right, they've had an elite offense and made the Super Bowl, but they've finished 8-8 once and 7-9 twice over the last five years, too. That's always the risk with building a top-heavy team.
On the other hand, while Gretch's team may not look quite as formidable according to the Week 1 projections. He has contingencies stacked on top of contingencies, but I can see an easy path to basically his entire bench becoming starting-caliber players, which gives him a lot more bites at the elite apple. He's well positioned to make it through the ups and downs of the season, whereas one down could send me into a tailspin.
Ultimately, Draft Day is all about trying to put yourself in place to have a better than 8.3% chance of winning your league — or 1/10 or 1/14, depending on your league size. I think we can both reasonably say we did that, but I think Ben's team has a wider path there.
📰Training camp injuries, news and notes
Mike Williams could miss up to six weeks with his shoulder injury, per The Athletic. A two-to-four week timetable has been bandied about, but err on the side of caution. If you're in a 12-team league with only five bench spots, I'd still try to snag him with my last pick, but it wouldn't be shocking if he went undrafted. … Benny Snell looks quicker after losing weight, and "his hands have been surprisingly good, too," but may not have much of a role if James Conner is healthy, per Mark Kaboly. Still, Snell needs to be high on the list of top backups to draft. … Dirk Koetter expects a "minimum" of 15 touches every week for Todd Gurley, and as many as 25. If you could guarantee health and at least 15 touches every week, Gurley would probably be locked into the high-end RB2 range. The health looks like the bigger risk right now. … A.J. Green was back on the practice field doing some conditioning drills Tuesday, and he's expected to return to practice from his hamstring injury Wednesday. He has to make up for a lot of lost time, so we'll want to watch reports from Bengals camp closely. … Brandon Aiyuk is week to week with a "mild" hamstring strain. … Antonio Gibson split most of the first-team reps with Adrian Peterson Tuesday. That's definitely something to keep an eye on, because if he enters the season with the passing down's role, his chances of a big rookie season look a lot better. Of course, the hierarchy has changed in Washington's backfield quite a few times already, so let's watch for now. … The Seahawks expect to have Chris Carson (personal) back at training camp soon. … Logan Thomas was the most heavily targeted player on the first-team offense Tuesday in Washington as he continues his impressive training camp. … Chris Hogan was working with the Jets' first-team offense exclusively Tuesday, which probably tells you more about where this offense is with Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims out than anything else. … Stefon Diggs was targeted on nine of Josh Allen's 19 attempts in team drills Tuesday, catching every one of them. Presumably that 100% catch rate wasn't due to Allen's accuracy. … According to The Athletic, Zack Moss "is going to be a factor in the passing game." All indications are Moss is going to play a significant role in this offense from Week 1. … Justin Jefferson is working behind Chad Beebe in the slot. … Keke Coutee has a stress fracture in his foot, but he is not expected to need surgery. The once-promising receiver has slid to fourth at best on the depth chart.
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.