Fantasy Football News Roundup: Cam Newton, Marquise Brown, Evan Engram, Le’Veon Bell
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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.
Super Cam Returns
Over the next several months you’re going to hear the phrase “if healthy” when fantasy analysts talk about the newest New England Patriot. For example, “if healthy” Newton should be viewed as a QB1 playing behind the best offensive line he has had in the NFL. “If healthy” the former MVP possesses more fantasy upside than the likes of Drew Brees, Ryan Tannehill, Baker Mayfield, etc. “If healthy” Newton is someone you want on your roster come Week 1.
The problem is we don’t know how healthy he is at the moment. We won’t know until we see him in action at training camp (hopefully). This means we can’t go all-in on him yet, despite how tantalizing his ceiling could be in a Josh McDaniels offense. I recommend viewing Cam as an upside QB2 until we learn more. Just be prepared to move him up your rankings should things look good come August. The Patriots’ early-season schedule certainly has some appealing matchups for anyone looking to stream the quarterback position.
|Patriots Opening Schedule||Opponent|
|Week 1||vs. Dolphins|
|Week 2||@ Seahawks|
|Week 3||vs. Raiders|
|Week 4||@ Chiefs|
A Hollywood Sequel
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown teased us throughout his rookie campaign last year. The 25th overall pick in the draft, Brown burst onto the scene with 147 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 1 shellacking of the Dolphins. He followed that up with eight catches for 86 yards on 13 targets in Week 2. He looked like an elite waiver wire pickup who would carry fantasy owners to the promised land.
However, he never became the consistent asset that fantasy players were hoping for. This was partly due to Baltimore’s offensive dominance and the fact they didn’t need Brown. A bigger reason was that he was rarely at 100 percent. Hollywood underwent offseason surgery to remove a screw from his foot, which has offensive coordinator Greg Roman pretty excited:
“All of us to a man we’re saying, wow, once Hollywood has a real offseason, that’s going to be something. I really think he’s had a great offseason physically.”
A fully healthy Brown looks like a nice bargain at WR33 in our expert consensus rankings. The Ravens will be a run-heavy offense for as long as Lamar Jackson is their quarterback, but Brown could benefit if the unit regresses from an efficiency standpoint. Baltimore attempted a league-low 468 passes in 2019 as the team nursed second-half leads by pounding the rock.
Evan Engram Getting Healthy
It isn’t hyperbole to call Evan Engram an elite talent when healthy. The 2017 first-round pick bucked the trend of rookie tight ends failing to contribute in fantasy that season, posting a 64-772-6 line across 15 games. Unfortunately, injuries caused Engram to miss 13-of-32 contests the past next two years. His 2019 Lisfranc injury was particularly brutal as the 25-year-old was off to the best start of his young career.
The good news is Engram was shown running in a video shared on Instagram this week, which is the first time we have seen him participate in any activity since undergoing surgery in December. Lisfranc injuries are no easy feat to overcome and the Giants’ receiving corps is somewhat crowded entering the year.
For now, it could be wise to take a wait-and-see approach with Engram as training camp approaches. We’ll learn a lot more about his health as the summer plays out. There are simply too many appealing tight ends to be had in the later rounds of drafts to risk it with a middle-round option. Engram is currently the TE6 in our ECR.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) June 29, 2020
Bell’s Revenge Tour
Le’Veon Bell was a “workhorse” running back in his first season with the Jets, totaling over 300 touches yet somehow failing to become a fantasy difference-maker. Sam Darnold’s injury is partly to blame, as is the questionable decision making of coach Adam Gase. The bigger issue is that Bell just might not be that good anymore. The 28-year-old failed to have a single rush go for 20 yards last year.
Frank Gore has been brought in as Gase continues to talk up the idea of limiting Bell’s touches this Fall. This caused the former Steeler to begin “training like a mad man” this offseason. It’s encouraging to hear following the disastrous 2019 season. Additionally, a healthy Darnold and a revamped offensive line could make all the difference. There’s a story you can tell yourself that ends in a rebound for Bell.
Yet it is just as easy to tell ourselves a story about Gore eating into his touches, the offense continuing to struggle, and Bell completely losing the burst that once made him a high-end back. Even as the RB20 in our ECR, and with some newfound motivation, he feels like an easy fade in drafts.
11 different NFL players carried the ball inside the opponent's 5 yard line at least 12 times last season.
Adam Gase's RBs have combined for 11 carries inside the 5 over the past 3 seasons COMBINED https://t.co/ngNlEGnuF4
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) July 2, 2020
Jordan Howard Expected to Receive Goal Line Work
At first glance, the Dolphins’ backfield doesn’t seem all that interesting for fantasy purposes this year. Miami finished last in the NFL in rushing yards last season and isn’t expected to be overly competitive in 2020. This notion is reflected in our ECR as Jordan Howard checks in at RB34 with Matt Breida right behind him at RB36.
If anything, the low price tags should make fantasy players more interested heading into drafts this summer. At worst it seems like a two-man committee, which we can live with in fantasy. So how should we expect this backfield to shake out? Well, it’s at least a little unclear as new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey has been out of the league since 2016. This ambiguity can lead to upside, however, particularly with the reasonable ADPs each guy is being taken at.
Joe Schad of the Palm Beach Post hints at the Dolphins using a “thunder and lightning” approach with Howard as the power and Breida as the speed. Schad expects Howard to be the top choice for goal-line work, which is certainly notable for fantasy. Breida, meanwhile, appears to be the more appealing choice in PPR formats. At their current costs, both are worth considering in the middle rounds.