The Week in NFL News - 7/9

A look at the biggest stories of the past week and why they matter for fantasy football

NFL

The NFL released their coronavirus return to play flow chart

Why It Matters: An asymptomatic player with a positive test can return in 10 days or 5 days and two negative tests at least 24 hours apart. A positive test with symptoms will require sitting at least 10 days and 72 hours after the last showing of symptoms. Some coronavirus patients have reported a recurrence of symptoms, so that would presumably reset the clock. Under these guidelines, asymptomatic infections may only cause a player to miss 0-2 games. We’re waiting to hear more about what the testing protocol will be, but with the league checking for fevers on gameday, every player will essentially be a game-time decision this year.

The NFL is restricting what the media can report on at training camp this year

Why It Matters: No in-person interviews will happen until further notice, which makes sense during the pandemic. This isn’t related to coronavirus, but the league decided to slip the changes into the new media policy. Reporters can’t share references to game strategy or plays or which players are practicing with individual units such as goal-line offense, nickel defense. We will have to do more reading into beat writer reports where they reveal what they can without running afoul of the new guidelines and trust our instincts on which players will earn more playing time, which is key to changing values in fantasy leagues.

The NFLPA voted unanimously to skip the entire 2020 preseason

Why It Matters: Players at the fringe of the roster will have a much lesser chance of making the team without preseason games to sort out end of the bench battles if this comes to pass, but veterans will likely welcome a season with no preseason. Coaches might be more reluctant to trust rookies early in the season without seeing them in live first-team reps against an opponent, which will be impossible with joint practices. The NFLPA and NFL have a lot of issues to work out and it appears the NFLPA isn’t going to bend easily on disagreements.

The Ravens announced their expected capacity for 2020 games - if fans are allowed - will be under 14,000.

Why It Matters: Home-field advantage could be non-existent this year, which is big for sports betting and DFS. Offenses could function much better without opposition crowd noise, and home teams will likely underperform expectations with little to no fans in the stands.

The NFL and NFLPA are discussing a plan for player opt outs

Why It Matters: Players with pre-existing conditions, like Mark Andrews Type 1 Diabetes, or cancer survivors like James Conner, are prime candidates to sit out the season for safety. Stefon Diggs and the McCourty Twins have also expressed concern about the restart. Players could choose to sit out the season because of pregnant wives/newborn children, or out of concern for their families or other vulnerable members of their community they might be exposed to. This should be resolved before camp but it’s possible if not inevitable that some players taken in early drafts will not play this season and throw a monkey wrench into some fantasy teams plans, especially in dynasty leagues.

The NFL has forbidden post-game jersey swaps between players

Why It Matters: Many players took to social media to rightfully mock the measure. Limiting post-game contact between players when they are colliding into each other for sixty minutes between the sidelines seems like closing the barn door after the horses got out. That the league is creating policies this late in the game while coronavirus is spreading in many states with franchises isn’t comforting when examining the prospects of training camp and in turn the season starting on time.

AFC

Cleveland

The Browns restructured Olivier Vernon’s contract

Why It Matters: It means the Browns are out on Jadeveon Clowney. Vernon only played in 10 games and posted 3.5 sacks after being acquired for Kevin Zeitler last offseason. Myles Garrett strikes fear into the tackle on the other side of the offensive line and Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi are formidable pass rush options inside, so Vernon should be set up to rebound. He’s still getting 11 million guaranteed, down from 15.25 non-guaranteed before the restructure, so the Browns are still expecting a lot from Vernon.

Josina Anderson reports that David Njoku remains a “big part” of the Browns plans this year

Why It Matters: Njoku asked for a trade recently, but most of the league is probably not willing to send more than a late pick over for an underachiever who is due six million dollars in 2021 after the Browns picked up his fifth-year option. Njoku does carry only a 1.763 million dollar salary this year, so cap room shouldn’t be an issue if a team comes calling. The Browns are expected to be among the leaders in two tight end sets and it’s not difficult to believe that they were planning on him playing a large role this year even after they signed Austin Hooper in free agency. Fourth-round pick Harrison Bryant is capable, but the trust level for rookies will be lower this year.

Kansas City

The Chiefs signed Patrick Mahomes II to a 10-year, $503 million dollar contract

Why It Matters: When coronavirus is over, the league revenues and cap are likely to grow, so by the end of this deal, Mahomes price might look like a bargain. If any player earned this kind of commitment with his first two full seasons as starter, Mahomes is it. While it probably made Dallas and other teams that have to sign their quarterback to a long-term deal uncomfortable, Chiefs fans have to be pleased to see the commitment to winning and willingness to lock up Mahomes up for a decade with two years left on his rookie contract. It will probably help the team in future negotiations with free agents and players that they want to extend.

Running backs coach Deland McCullough believes Damien Williams will make a “big jump” this year

Why It Matters: Williams problems last year were injury, not performance-related. While the team did spend a first-round pick on Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the limited time to establish chemistry in the passing game and trust from the coaches could keep Williams in a larger role than the huge gap in early draft ADP indicates. Williams also shines in the goal line offense and passing game, which are the two most valuable areas of play for a running back.

New England

The Patriots restructured Rex Burkhead’s contract

Why It Matters: Burkhead is unlikely to be a cap cut with his price dropping from 2.5 million to 1.05 million, which further muddies the water in a backfield that will also include James White, Sony Michel and a possibly ascendant Damien Harris. Burkhead is a decent late-round best ball dart in deep drafts with this news.

New York Jets

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that Adam Gase wanted to trade Marcus Maye before the beginning of the 2019 season.

Why It Matters: Third-round Ashtyn Davis is looking more likely to starting next year on this news, and Maye could be a trade target yet if a team has a need at safety. Maye started all 38 games he has played in, missing 10 games in 2018 with a shoulder injury, but playing in all 16 in 2017 and 2019. Davis is an ultra athletic late bloomer who should gain value in IDP dynasty leagues on this news, while Maye’s modest free safety production could be on the sometimes cruel safety free agent market next year.

NFC

Philadelphia

DeSean Jackson posted anti-Semitic messages on his Instagram account

Why It Matters: Jackson apologized and the team denounced his statements, saying that they are “continuing to evaluate the circumstances and will take appropriate action”. This leaves open the possibility of Jackson being released. Adam Schefter reported that the decision may come down to whether the post is a default under his contract, which guarantees him $4.8 million dollars this year. If Jackson is released, first-round pick Jalen Reagor might become a day one starter, as he has been learning Jackson’s “Z” wide receiver position. Offseason trade acquisition Marquise Goodwin would also be an option to replace Jackson.

San Francisco

Raheem Mostert has requested a trade

Why It Matters: Mostert reportedly wants a modest raise of a couple million dollars to put him at the level of Tevin Coleman, who he outplayed decisively in 2019. The desire to get paid closer to actual contributions is reasonable, but with league revenues dropping this year and the cap possibly staying flat at best, teams might not be open to these kinds of tactics. If Mostert doesn’t get a raise, he could opt out of the season. His ADP looked attractive as the possible lead back in a good running game, but now we have to consider Coleman earlier than we had, and take a longer look at Jerick McKinnon and Jeff Wilson on the deep dynasty league waiver wire. There probably won’t be many teams in the market for a running back right now, but the Eagles have come as a possibility in a development that would hurt the value of Miles Sanders if it comes to fruition.

Seattle

Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times wrote that the odds on Jadeveon Clowney returning to Seattle are “likely increasing” with each possible other option that falls through.

Why It Matters: The Seahawks would be getting Clowney back by default in Condotta’s view, not because they have made a strong move for him. Bruce Irvin has recently asked whether the league was going to give players the ability to opt out of playing this year. If Irvin sits, then already underwhelming edge rush will get even thinner. The Browns are out on Clowney after restructuring Olivier Vernon’s deal, but the Raiders reportedly made him an offer, and the Titans are still a possibility. It’s becoming clear that Clowney isn’t going to get the money he was seeking, so he may also just prefer returning to a team and culture that he knows is a good fit for him.

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