The Week in NFL News - 7/2

A look at the past week in NFL news and why it matters in fantasy leagues.

NFL

According to Pro Football Talk, the NFL will not play Weeks 1 and 4 of the preseason. Adam Schefter reports that league sources are telling him teams won’t take 90 players to training camp with predictions ranging from 75-80.

Why It Matters: With a shorter preseason, rookies and players on new teams might have trouble getting large roles to begin the season and could otherwise have a much lesser impact than in a typical year. On the other, Week 1 and Week 4 are rarely used to inform roster decisions and roles, so this might be inconsequential. This story isn’t over yet as Mike Garofolo of NFL Network reports that the NFLPA hasn’t signed off any preseason games yet and might not want to play any to maximize player safety. Denver kicker Brandon McManus tweeted out “Be ready for 1 or 0 preseason games. Won’t be 2”. This would be much more important for forecasting rookie and new player impact. In the meantime, it is best to downgrade rookies in redraft and best ball until we know more. Fewer players in training camp means little to no shot for the long shots, but teams are thinking that fewer players is safer for all involved.

AFC

Buffalo

Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic believes Devin Singletary will be more involved in the passing game this year.

Why It Matters: Buscaglia is usually tuned into the Bills so we should heed his prediction. He said the Bills offense incorporates Singletary’s skill set over third-round pick Zack Moss and that Singletary’s 3.4 targets per game number from 2019 “should increase”. Buscaglia added that the carry split could seem close, but added targets and receptions will favor Singletary. Singletary might be underrated in PPR leagues right now, especially with rookies likely ramping up slower than in a typical year.

Denver

Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post writes LB Alexander Johnson could remain on the field in nickel and dime packages if he “proves capable of covering tight ends” and that “regardless, he will be an early-down mainstay”.

Why It Matters: Johnson was a breakout player last year and while he is being overlooked in some IDP leagues, he has a very high ceiling with the possibility of being the Broncos #1 linebacker who almost never leaves the field.

Jacksonville

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reports that EDGE Yannick Ngakoue still desires a trade, doesn’t have immediate plans to sign his franchise tag and that nothing has changed in his situation, which could “bleed well into training camp”

Why It Matters: Ngakoue isn’t going to find the money he wants on the market now with coronavirus possibly lowering or at least freezing the cap level. The question is whether Ngakoue has made up his mind that he doesn’t want to play for the Jaguars again even at 17+ million for one year. He has to decide whether that short term payday is worth risking his long term money which is unlikely to come until 2021. Teams could also be waiting to see if they can get Jadeveon Clowney cheaper after he found a soft market for his services.

Kansas City

DL Chris Jones tweeted that he “won’t play” if the team doesn’t sign him to a new deal.

Why It Matters: Jones ominously invoked the name of Le'Veon Bell, saying that the Jets running back “told him about this”. Jones has a ring now, but if he wants money in the Aaron Donald/DeForest Buckner range, he’s unlikely to get it as teams may see revenue growth flatten or reverse with coronavirus affecting the ability to play to full stadiums in the fall. Jones was one of the two or three most valuable players on the Chiefs defense and any holdout games would make higher-scoring games more likely while he is out.

New England

The Patriots signed Cam Newton a one-year deal with $550,000 guaranteed worth up to 7.5 million.

Why It Matters: The Patriots reportedly did not promise the starting job to Newton and they can release him at the end of camp with little cost, but you have to believe that he will be the shoo-in starter if healthy. Jarrett Stidham’s value in 2QB/Superflex leagues just evaporated and Newton’s short-term dip in dynasty value is over. He should be a low QB1 with his goal-line running ability. Newton has played with some underwhelming wide receiver groups in the past, so the Patriots' lack of weapons shouldn’t be too daunting. The Bills just became a less convincing favorite in the AFC East.

The Patriots were fined 1.1 million dollars and will lose their 2021 third-round pick for filming the Bengals sideline.

Why It Matters: The league didn’t release any details on the nature of the Patriots' actions or why they were punished, but it’s hard to believe that they would have been docked a second-day draft pick and over a million dollars over a misunderstanding or honest mistake. If the league did find that they were caught using video for a competitive advantage for the second time, the penalty seems light, but it should be enough deterrent to ensure that they will familiarize themselves with league policy in the area well enough to avoid any future run-ins with the league offices. This announcement was almost simultaneous with the announcement of the signing of Cam Newton.

NY Jets

Connor Hughes, of The Athletic, believes Breshad Perriman and Le'Veon Bell could be mid-season trade candidates if the Jets get off to a poor start for the second straight season.

Why It Matters: Perriman is only signed to a one-year deal, but he believes a contender might give a third or fourth-round pick if he’s playing well. Hughes also mentioned that the team is “still talking” to Demaryius Thomas because of a lack of established depth at the position. Bell, who Hughes says is “training like a madman” and that the team couldn’t get more than a fifth-round pick for him in a trade, which Hughes implies will motivate Bell this year.

NFC

Carolina

Head coach Matt Rhule hinted that there will be more downfield shots in the offense this year with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback and three deep threats at wide receiver.

Why It Matters: Bridgewater didn’t test the defense downfield too often in New Orleans last year, but Rhule sounds open to asking him to do more vertical passing. Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel would be the biggest beneficiaries of more shot plays. Bridgewater is a possible QB1 in fantasy leagues with a great set of weapons on a team likely to be playing from behind a lot this year.

Chicago

Wide receivers coach Mike Furrey thinks the “biggest growth we’re going to see from anybody” will be from 2019 fourth-round pick Riley Ridley.

Why It Matters: Ridley might not have the typical second-year leap with no offseason, but Furrey went out of his way to praise him, so he should be on our dynasty radar. Furrey also mentioned the speed of new addition Ted Ginn Jr and a more professional approach from Anthony Miller this year. Fifth-round pick Darrell Mooney (Tulane) also got a mention for his speed and ability to go up and attack the ball on deep plays. We’ll see if the Bears have good enough quarterback play to take advantage of their talent at wide receiver this year.

New York Giants

Evan Engram is running again after December foot surgery

Why It Matters: This is good news as Engram’s durability is a real worry entering his fourth year. Kaden Smith performed admirably in his absence and should be on our waiver wire watch lists if Engram can’t stay healthy this year. If Engram can, he’ll be joined by an excellent trio of receivers in the new Jason Garrett offense, so his ceiling might be a little lower than years past.

San Francisco

The Athletic’s Matt Barrows believes Trent Taylor can be third on the 49ers in receptions behind George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel, if Samuel doesn’t miss extended time because of his foot injury.

Why It Matters: The 49ers like the 2017 fifth-round pick a lot, but injuries have kept him from making major contributors so far in his career. Barrows doesn’t warn that most of Taylor’s receptions would come in the 5-10 yard range and that his receiving yardage won’t be “gaudy”. He also mentions Kendrick Bourne, who Barrows notes may have caught more passes from Jimmy Garoppolo than any other receiver this spring, and first-round pick Brandon Aiyuk, who Barrows thinks could lead 49ers receivers in snaps if Samuel misses extended time, and dark horses for the #3 most catches spot, Jerick McKinnon and Travis Benjamin. It’s possible George Kittle will be the only reliable fantasy pass-catcher for the 49ers this year.

The Athletic’s Matt Barrows is skeptical that Deebo Samuel (foot) will be back for Week 1

Why It Matters: ADP has already dropped significantly for Samuel, so this is baked into his price. If he is at full speed and contributions by Week 3, he will be a value pick at a depressed price. Barrows points out that the team got nothing from Trent Taylor last year because his recovery from a similar foot injury went awry. He speculates that the team may hold Samuel out longer than the typical 10-12 week recovery timeframe in light of that experience. 10-12 weeks out would put him back on the field by mid-September, so it might be reasonable to expect Samuel to miss a few games to begin the season if Barrows is correct. Barrows also said from what he has heard the injury is a “classic Jones fracture” and that he doesn’t know if it is any different from the injury Taylor suffered.

Seattle

Antonio Brown worked out with Russell Wilson this year.

Why It Matters: This news comes on the heels of a recent report that the Seahawks could add Brown or Josh Gordon. While it would take the top off of DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Greg Olsen’s projections this year, adding a receiver like Brown might make Russell Wilson the #4 quarterback to go off of the board in fantasy drafts this year. It continues to appear that Brown will play in the NFL again, so the buy-low window is closing.

Tampa Bay

EDGE Shaq Barrett said he’ll sign his franchise tag contract if a long-term deal can’t be reached by July 15.

Why It Matters: Barrett struck a conciliatory tone about how coronavirus might be affecting teams’ ability to lay out big long term contracts right now, but still is holding onto hope that he could get a long term deal done before July 15. This is in contrast to Yannick Ngakoue and Chris Jones, who are still holding the line for a long-term deal in line with their expectations instead playing this year for the franchise tag number.

Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports he was told the Bucs have “no interest” in Antonio Brown

Why It Matters: This rumor won’t die and Michael Lombardi breathed new life into this week, but Dianna Russini of ESPN also shot it down and Bruce Arians had said signing Brown was “not going to happen” earlier in the offseason. The connection between Tom Brady and Brown is the reason we hear so much speculation about this pairing, but at some point, we have to listen to the numerous voices that are giving it zero chance of happening.

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