As we get closer to the heart of Fantasy Football draft season, you're going to need all the help you can get to keep track of everything going on during an unprecedented preseason. Training camps are being conducted largely outside of the public eye, and there won't be any preseason action, so monitoring the news is going to be as important as ever — along with knowing what that news means.
We're re-launching our Fantasy Football Today Newsletter this week, and we're going to make sure everything you need to know is covered every single day. That will include unique analysis of the latest news, as well as the latest content from Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings, Ben Gretch and the whole Fantasy Football Today team, subscriber mail bags, and more, delivered right to you every morning.
The goal here is simple: If you do nothing else but read this newsletter every morning, you're going to be ahead of the competition. Subscribe here, and check out this sneak peak of what the newsletter will look like before we launch this week, starting with the fall out from Derrius Guice's release.
📰 The Big News
The news of Guice's release came down at the close of business Friday, and it takes what was already a somewhat murky backfield situation and makes it even tougher to figure out. Which means there is value to be found. There's always value to be found when there are as many questions as there are here.
Heath Cummings wrote that Adrian Peterson is the most likely back to start in Week 1, and I concur with that view. But that's unlikely to be the case all season long, and it wouldn't be particularly interesting for Fantasy purposes even if it was. Here's my view of every relevant name in this backfield:
- Peterson: Most likely to start in Week 1 vs. Philadelphia, but he'll be a No. 3 back even in that case. A late-round bench spot is all the 35-year-old future Hall of Fame worth.
- Antonio Gibson: This is the name everyone in the Fantasy community will be talking about. A converted receiver with a fascinating blend of speed and size, he needs to learn the nuances of the running back position. I'd say the chances of Gibson being a must-start Fantasy player are considerably lower than the chances he's just a bit player as a rookie — expect him to line up all over the field and break the occasional big play, but the chances of a guy who is still learning the position being a week-in, week-out difference maker look pretty slim to me. I'm worried his ADP is going to jump to the point where it won't make much sense to target him.
- Bryce Love: Love might have been the most talented back here anyway. He's has been cleared for football activity after missing his rookie season, and is the highest-upside option if back to the form we saw in college. I'm trying to draft him with one of my last few picks everywhere — don't be a surprise if he's a top-70 pick in September. You heard it here first. Unfortunately, the lack of real game reps with the preseason being canceled means there may not be confidence in Love's abilities until a few weeks into the season. But he's the one guy here who could really run away with a three-down role.
- Peyton Barber: Ronald Jones fans are having bad flashbacks. Barber excites absolutely nobody, but he's a reliable three-down option who you won't notice for his mistakes. You also won't notice him for anything else. Sometimes, that's enough for an NFL coach as we saw in Tampa last season, much to the Fantasy world's chagrin.
- J.D. McKissic: Might be what a lot of us are hoping Gibson can be. Even in a best-case scenario, he's just a PPR specialist you hope can score enough to be a fill-in starter in-season.
For more, check out our emergency podcast from Friday night to hear the rest of the Fantasy Football Today team's reaction to the news.
And, speaking of running backs ...
2020 Running Back Preview
We're previewing the wide receiver position this week at CBS Fantasy, but you'll want to make sure you go back and see everything we touched on for the running back position last week. Because we covered a lot of ground. Here's what you might have missed, including the first episode of our running back preview on Fantasy Football Today Monday:
- The state of the running back position in 2020, where the whole answers some of the biggest questions about the position heading into 2020.
- RB Preview from Heath Cummings, where he calls Kenyan Drake a breakout candidate for the third-straight year.
- RB ADP Review from Jamey Eisenberg as he looks for the best early values in drafts. Right now, people are sleeping on James Conner, the No. 23 running back off the board.
- RB Tiers and strategies from Dave Richard, who is still pounding the table for taking as many running backs as you can as early as you can. Here's why.
- Upside and downside for Draft Day dilemmas from Ben Gretch, where he compares the potential for league-winning and league-losing outcomes for Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott, and more.
We also heard from everyone on their sleepers (My pick: Tarik Cohen, who has a bounce-back season coming), breakouts (My pick: Kareem Hunt, who has legit top-three potential), and busts (My pick: Devin Singletary, a fine player caught in a terrible situation), provided some Zero-RB strategy if you want to take some risks, broke down the rookie class, and looked for the next Alvin Kamara. That doesn't even scratch the surface of everything we did to break down the position, so head on over to our Draft Prep Guide to catch up on it all.
And speaking of draft guides ...
The Fantasy Football Today Draft Guide is here, and I promise, you'll want to have it by your side. 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.
News and Notes
Maybe it's because there was no Hall of Fame game — and no preseason action in general — to mark the unofficial start of Fantasy Football draft season, but if you haven't been following camp news, you're not alone. Here's what you need to know about:
- Alex Smith is going to have a chance to compete to start for Washington if he's cleared to play. First, what a story that would be after it looked like Smith's career might end with his leg injury. Second, this probably raises the floor of the Washington offense considerably, though there's a bit of the "mystery box vs. a boat" thing going on here, where Dwayne Haskins represents at least some chance at more potential. Especially since, even at his best, Smith wasn't exactly a speedboat.
- Henry Ruggs will start in the slot for the Raiders, and he may not be the only rookie out there with the first team in Las Vegas. Bryan Edwards could start outside opposite Tyrell Williams. Edwards was a better college receiver than his numbers might appear at first glance, as I noted in my writeup of the Raiders' draft back in April. Add him to your deep sleepers.
- Jarvis Landry (hip) is no longer on the PUP list. It sure seems like he's going to be ready for Week 1, which sure makes his current seventh-round ADP look pretty good.
- The Dolphins haven't defined roles yet for their backfield. This was one of the backfields I looked into for potential breakouts from committees, and I'm sure rooting for Matt Breida to get the bulk of the work.
- Jerick McKinnon is getting first-team reps on passing downs, which could make him Fantasy viable — while creating a headache for Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman's timeshare. The play here might be to pay for whichever back is the cheapest in San Francisco.
- The Dolphins are "cautiously optimistic" Preston Williams will be ready for Week 1. If not, DeVante Parker is very reasonably priced as a seventh-round pick these days.
Our latest mock draft
We did a 12-team SuperFlex mock draft Friday, which meant quarterbacks were at a premium. I snagged my first in the third round with Russell Wilson after going RB-RB to start the draft, and then grabbed Josh Allen in Round 5. I wanted to see what my team would look like if I waited on wide receiver..
My favorite pick: Allen Lazard in the 10th round. The only wide receiver the Packers signed of any note this offseason opted out before training camp, so Lazard is seemingly locked in as the No. 2 receiver here. He is absolutely one of the best values at the position right now, and someone I'm glad to take well before pick 100 — though he's usually there much longer than that.
Here's how my squad turned out:
- Alvin Kamara RB NO
- Josh Jacobs RB LV
- Russell Wilson QB SEA
- Robert Woods WR LAR
- Josh Allen QB BUF
- T.Y. Hilton WR IND
- Evan Engram TE NYG
- Henry Ruggs III WR LV
- D'Andre Swift RB DET
- Allen Lazard WR GB
- Anthony Miller WR CHI
- Lataviua Murray RB NO
- Mitchell Trubisky QB CHI
- Justin Jefferson WR MIN
- Devonta Freeman RB ATL
Quote of the day
"I think you couple that with the coronavirus situation and it became even more difficult. I think conversations we probably would've had in April, we're having now. I think that part has been challenging too, but the only thing you can do is adjust to the situation, adapt the best way you can [and] put as much time and energy now as we can into it. I think the reality is, the clock is ticking on everybody." —Tom Brady, on learning a new playbook for the first time in 19 years.
A parting thought
In that draft earlier, you'll notice I took Latavius Murray with Alvin Kamara on my roster already. How should you approach drafting backup running backs? Should you go the risk-aversion route and target your own starter's backups, or do you draft other people's backups? The latter is the higher upside play — when injury strikes, you're getting an all-new valuable piece, rather than just replacing one — but peace of mind is worth something to a lot of people.
I leave you with this question: What's your approach to handcuffing? Do you do it, and if so, are you focusing on backing up your own guys? Let me hear about it at Chris.Towers@CBSInteractive.com and I might include your answer in a future email.
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.