Fantasy Football News Roundup: Dalvin Cook, Todd Gurley, Hayden Hurst, Darrell Henderson
Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Trade Analyzer – which allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.
The best part about the growth of the fantasy sports industry is that player analysis has never been more accessible. In fact, we’re at the point where one of the most overlooked aspects of playing fantasy football is simply reading the news. Often, there is a lot to learn from what a coach or executive say, as well as the information that beat reporters share. Using this news to our advantage is one of the few ways fantasy players can create an edge for themselves. Here’s a summary of this week’s headlines.
Cooking Without Dalvin
Wow. So this is the biggest piece of fantasy football news we have had since the NFL Draft. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported this week that Dalvin Cook wouldn’t participate in any team-related activities unless he receives a new contract. “He’s out. Without a reasonable extension, he will not be showing up for camp and beyond” Schefter tweeted.
Once upon a time, these holdout threats were seen as hollow. It would happen year after year, but eventually, a deal would get done. Nowadays, we can’t be so sure. In consecutive seasons, Le’Veon Bell and Melvin Gordon have shown the industry that it’s dangerous to take these warnings lightly. Meanwhile, forward-thinking fantasy minds were able to profit immensely from the likes of James Conner and Austin Ekeler.
In the latest CBA between owners and players, Cook needs to do two things in order to accrue a season and become an unrestricted free agent. First, he needs to report to and participate in training camp (this is new). Second, he needs to be on the active roster for at least six games. Bell’s holdout was different since he was playing on the franchise tag. Cook’s situation is more like Gordon’s. Eventually, he’ll need to report this year to accrue an official season.
*Note that if Cook doesn’t participate in training camp and eventually reports by Week 10, he would only become a restricted free agent after the season, which would severely limit his market and earnings potential. Therefore, it’s likely that he will report to camp, though that doesn’t mean he won’t hold out.*
So what should fantasy players do right now? Not panicking would be a good start. It’s mid-June, people. If you want to drop Cook a few spots down in your rankings, that’s certainly acceptable. He’s riskier now than he was at this time last week. Otherwise, for re-draft leagues, just keep following the news. We’ll have a better idea of how serious Cook’s threat is come training camp.
Lastly, it’s probably a good idea to at least start familiarizing yourself with Minnesota’s backup running backs, Alexander Mattison and Mike Boone. There are “truthers” in the fantasy industry for each of them. Mattison has the draft capital and pedigree while Boone is an athletic freak. I’m sure we’ll be diving in deep on each in the near future.
Reminder to fantasy footballers that Dalvin Cook's primary backup, 2019 third-round pick Alexander Mattison, runs HARD pic.twitter.com/y6j4U9q24l
— Brendan Tuma (@toomuchtuma) June 9, 2020
Todd Gurley Passes His Physical (Finally)
Former fantasy megastar Todd Gurley signed with the Atlanta Falcons on March 20th. More than two months later, he has officially passed his physical. The 25-year-old inked a one-year, $5.5 million contract (plus $3.5 million in potential incentives) after being released by the LA Rams. He joins Atlanta as the team’s clear-cut lead back with only Ito Smith and Brian Hill as his “competition.”
Yet because of his health, Gurley is once again a polarizing fantasy asset this year. Listed as the RB15 (and 31st overall) in our expert consensus rankings (ECR), it’s no secret that the former first-round pick landed in a juicy situation. Aside from the lack of viable competition, Gurley joins a franchise that is set to play up-tempo on offense while being terrible, horrible, no good, very bad on defense. This is always an equation for fantasy success.
One reason to buy back into Gurley this year would be if you expect the Falcons to use him as a receiver again. The height of his fantasy glory was 2017-18. As the chart below shows, this was also when he was most involved as a pass-catcher in his offense.
In 2019, no team threw the ball at a higher rate than the Falcons. This is a trend that should continue with Dirk Koetter on board as offensive coordinator. Additionally, Atlanta faces one of the toughest schedules in the NFL in 2020, which should continuously put them in comeback mode and into shootouts. The circumstances have aligned for Gurley to post borderline RB1 numbers in fantasy this season. After passing his physical, the only question is if you trust his health.
Hayden Hurst: Zoom Breakout Star
Hayden Hurst has been a popular breakout candidate this spring. That fire is only going to grow after Matt Ryan’s latest comments, referring to the former Raven as one of “the fastest and most athletic tight ends I’ve ever played with.”
That’s some high praise, as Ryan has played with both Tony Gonzalez and Austin Hooper, the latter of which just left as a free agent this offseason. Hooper leaves behind 75 receptions in the role it appears as if Hurst is taking on. As our own Kyle Yates points out in his own piece about Hurst, Hooper was the TE1 through 10 weeks of the 2019 season.
Once Hooper signed with the Browns, Atlanta surrendered a 2020 second-round draft pick to acquire Hurst from Baltimore. That is some pretty significant draft capital. Add in the fact that there are targets to be had in this offense (Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley can’t catch everything), and the newly acquired 26-year-old could be due for an eruption this year. Currently, Hurst appears conservatively ranked as the TE13 in our ECR.
Darrell Henderson: Post Hype Breakout?
Rams second-year running back Darrell Henderson told reporters during a conference call this week that the rehab for his surgically repaired ankle is “going well” and that he expects to be a full participant for training camp. That’s great news! Although, should we be a little concerned that he’s still rehabbing?
It’s a story to monitor once (if?) training camp gets underway this year. I’ve talked about the Rams’ backfield a couple of times in this weekly column, and I keep coming to the same conclusion. When an RBBC is up in the air like this, shouldn’t we simply take the cheaper option?
According to our ECR, rookie Cam Akers sits at RB30 while Henderson checks in at RB46. There’s a case to be made that both backs are a good value at these costs, particularly for any fantasy player brave enough to go with a “zero RB” approach to their draft. Still, if forced to pick between the two at their current prices, I’d take Henderson.