Training camp opened last week, but if you've noticed a conspicuous lack of Fantasy-football relevant news, you're not alone. One of the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the delay of full-pad practices, which won't be happening across the league until next week. Which means there hasn't been any real way for players to jockey for position or build up hype.
It also means there are going to be plenty of teams around the NFL playing catchup, and that's not the place you want to be. We saw the cancellation of rookie minicamps. OTAs, and those optional-but-it'd-be-a-real-shame-if-you-missed-it workouts, and now we're looking at a preseason without games. This stuff is going to add up, especially for those teams that had plenty of offseason turnover.
The one place that this confluence of events could really prove costly for Fantasy? Tampa Bay, where countless players are going to pin their hopes on Tom Brady, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Ronald Jones. Today's edition of the Fantasy Football Today newsletter dove into some of the questions the Buccaneers face heading into the heart of training camp, so make sure you subscribe to get the latest delivered right to you every morning.
But first, let's find some wide receiver sleepers.
WR Preview, Part Two
You won't have any problem finding productive wide receivers on waivers if you need them, but that means "productive" isn't the goal. There are so many good ones out there these days that you really need to hit on some difference makers, even from your No. 3 or flex options. Here are some the FFT team's favorite wide receiver sleepers in 2020:
I'm fully on board with Kirk, and I like Shepard quite a bit, but I want to zoom in on Sims, because I'll admit, I didn't quite get it at first.
Sims' rookie season wasn't much to write home about as an undrafted free agent, but there were some interesting flashes: 16 catches for 180 yards and four touchdowns in the final three games, plus a very productive season as a kick returner. The 5'9" receiver ran a 4.55 40 at his Pro Day, but clearly played faster than that, ranking second in the NFL with 819 kick return yards at a healthy 25.6 yards per return.
Sims has a chance to earn a starting job for Washington, possibly even as an outside option who stretches the defense vertically. On a team that desperately needs playmakers besides Terry McLaurin, , though I'll admit, I'm pretty skeptical — he needed an awful lot of targets to get those numbers late in the season, so he'll need to be much more efficient in Year Two.
Dave's tiered rankings will help you figure out when to pull the trigger on the position in your drafts, and he's also added his overall strategy for the position. Here's the bottom line when drafting WR, according to Dave:
- Elite-level wide receivers may be in short supply, but there's a bunch of No. 2/No. 1 upside wide receivers, so don't feel pressured to take a stud wideout early on.
- If you want to play it safe, draft as many receivers from the first four tiers as you need to cover your starting lineup requirements.
- You shouldn't have to rush to draft wide receivers unless your league is deep, your rosters are deep, or your scoring is PPR.
- If you can't picture a receiver scoring eight times or averaging 7.5 targets per game, don't draft him … unless you're in Round 9-plus and just taking some fliers.
There's no shortage of intriguing options all over the draft board at wide receiver, and to prove it, Jamey's got 21 (21!) wide receivers with a CBS Fantasy ADP past 140 as of early August. There's a lot of names here, but I want to focus on one: Allen Lazard.
Lazard is almost certain to be the Packers No. 2 receiver, and it's not just because Devin Funchess opted out or because the team didn't make any significant additions this offseason. Lazard has a lot of fans on the team, including, notably, Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers hasn't been the same elite QB he used to be, and this offense figures to remain more run-heavy than most, but Rodgers is still a dangerous force in the red zone, and the 6-foot-5 Lazard could be a problem for opposing defenses down there.
Check out theto see who you'll want to target with your last few picks this year.
Count out Touchdown Tom?
I'll admit, I'm surprised there hasn't been more concern about the Buccaneers offense, in either Fantasy circles or the wider NFL world. We've got an awful lot invested in the likes of Godwin, Evans, Jones, and Rob Gronkowski, which means there's an awful lot riding on that 43-year-old arm.
Current CBS Fantasy ADP
- Tom Brady: 63rd overall, QB8
- Ronald Jones: 78th overall, RB30 (but rising fast)
- Chris Godwin: 24th overall, WR6
- Mike Evans: 28th overall, WR7
- Rob Gronkowski: 8th overall, TE8
Brady is about as far removed from Jameis Winston as you could possibly get, and while Winston's turnover prone ways might make you think that's not a bad thing, the truth is, his willingness to push the ball down the field created a lot of Fantasy value here. Even with a normal offseason, there was a chance Brady wouldn't quite mesh seamlessly with the Bucs weapons and Bruce Arians' philosophy. After all, Brady ranked just 28th in the league in intended air yards last season; Winston was second.
The problem is, he didn't get a normal offseason. Sure, Brady put in work this offseason with his new teammates, but that can't replace practice or especially game reps. And Brady acknowledged as much, telling reporters after reporting to camp, "Mentally, that's been the thing. It obviously has its challenges, and you couple that with the coronavirus situation and it became even more difficult."
Brady had the luxury of working with the same head coach for 19 years, so this is hardly an ideal offseason for him to have to learn a new offense. Even in the best of circumstances, there was some risk that Brady wouldn't fit perfectly with Arians' offense. Add in limited reps to get up to speed, and this could be a frustrating group to start the season. And, if Brady can't reverse what sure looked like his decline last season, there's some serious 2015 Broncos potential here.
Denver went from having WR2, WR4, RB11, and TE5 to WR9, WR18, RB25/31, and TE21 from 2014 to 2015. And that was without a new QB switching teams for the first time in 19 years. This could go really wrong.— mark folkloretta (@CTowersCBS) August 11, 2020
The Bucs would take that outcome, but Fantasy players probably wouldn't be thrilled about it.
Quote of the Day
"At times there were situations where, in my head, I'm like, 'I should not be out here.' But it is just that kind of urge in me to be like, 'I need to be here and help my team. What if I'm not in and it's something I could have done?' So just dealing with that, it was frustrating." — Alvin Kamara, on his Week 6 knee injury
There's been a lot of talk about Kamara's "down" season, but it seems like we've got a pretty good explanation for it now. Kamara just wasn't healthy for most of the season. He averaged 18.3 PPR points in six games before the injury, compared to 15.2 in his next six. Kamara is fully healthy and it's not out of the question he puts together his best season in a contract year. Ben Gretch even thinks there's 100-catch potential here.
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.
On the Fantasy Football Today podcast Wednesday, we're looking into the crystal ball by diving into some futures odds and player props for the 2020. Can Vegas help you find an edge for Fantasy? Plus, Lamar Miller and T.Y. Hilton and a listener mail bag.
A parting thought
I've never been a big fan of Joe Mixon's for Fantasy, but CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora had some pretty impressive things to say about him this week. La Canfora says Mixon may be in line for as many touches as any back in the NFL, and said he could be the "Christian McCaffrey of the AFC." For me, it all comes down to the passing game role. If Mixon doesn't see a significant increase on the 50 targets he has averaged over the past two seasons, he'll remain what he has been: A high-floor, but relatively low-ceiling fringe RB1. However, if he can become a true three-down back for the Bengals, there's obviously top-five upside. Me, I'll continue fading him at a first-round cost, but I'm definitely in the minority on that one.
So what Fantasy football sleepers should you snatch in your draft? And which WR1 candidate can you wait on until late? Visit SportsLine now to get cheat sheets from the model that was all over Derrick Henry's huge season, and find out.