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Fantasy Football News Roundup: Damien Williams, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Dalvin Cook, James Conner

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Jul 31, 2020

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.

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Damien Williams Opts Out Of 2020 Season

Cylde. Edwards. Helaire. Be ready to hear that name a lot over the next month or so, as fantasy analysts will take strong stances on how highly the rookie should be drafted now that Damien Williams has opted out. Williams had to make a difficult decision whether or not to play a full-on contact sport in the middle of a pandemic, and the 28-year-old didn’t want to take any chances.

In a statement from Chiefs GM Brett Veach, “As an organization, we certainly understand and respect Damien’s choice, knowing it was made in the best interest of his family.” They added, “he means a lot to our football team as a player and a person, and we’re going to miss having him around this season.”

For fantasy purposes, this all but kills Williams’ dynasty value. Meanwhile, CEH’s stock skyrockets in redraft formats =- likely into the middle of the first round behind the “big five” running backs of Christian McCaffery, Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Ezekiel Elliott. Here’s the stat to know: when Kareem Hunt had the Chiefs’ backfield to himself for 27 games in 2017-18, he averaged a whopping 19.5 PPR points per game. Most of that production came without Patrick Mahomes under center. Say it with me… Clyde. Edwards. Helaire.

Cooking With Dalvin

Dalvin Cook scared the bejeebers out of us back in June when he threatened not to participate in any team-related activities until he received a new contract. Basically, he was prepared to hold out. The only issue with the ultimatum he presented is that holding out is basically impossible under the new collective bargaining agreement.

For now, fantasy owners can breathe a sigh of relief. The 24-year-old stud reported to the Vikings’ training camp on time to get his first COVID-19 test on Tuesday. It would be silly to think this saga is completely over, however. Cook wants a new contract, so there’s still some holdout risk here, but don’t be that worried. Fantasy players should ease off of drafting Alexander Mattison in the middle rounds, and Cook is once again a top-five pick.

Dalvin Cook GIF by frankcostanzo92 | Gfycat

Raheem Mostert’s Buy Low Window Has Closed

Here’s the thing about the Raheem Mostert “trade demand” from earlier this month: what he was asking for was always reasonable. It isn’t as if the 28-year-old UDFA wanted a massive extension. He simply wanted to make money comparable to fellow rusher Tevin Coleman.

Unsurprisingly, the 49ers operated in good faith and made a deal happen. Mostert’s agent took to Twitter to announce the restructured contract, which could allow the postseason star to earn over $5 million in 2020.

Mostert’s ADP was falling in the weeks following the reported trade request, but it’ll likely shoot right back up into the fourth round again. It could even start creeping into the third round, as drafter are determined to get their running backs this fantasy season. Mostert deal is good news for Coleman’s ADP, who remains one of the best zero RB possibilities to monitor this draft season.

James Conner Not Expected To Opt-Out

Patriots tackle Marcus Cannon opted out of the 2020 season on Monday night, which raised the question of whether or not fellow cancer survivor James Conner would do the same. For now, it doesn’t seem so. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero confirmed that the 25-year-old back plans to play this year.

It’s worth noting that Conner is playing for a contract this season, and since he has a chance to be the Steelers’ featured back, he’s got a strong incentive to play. There aren’t many three-down backs available in the third and fourth rounds of fantasy drafts right now, which makes Conner’s ECR of RB19 look like great value if he can stay healthy.

More Sony Michel Concern

The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported this week that it’s still uncertain if Sony Michel will be cleared in time for the start of practice. We know that Michel had been rehabbing at the team’s facilities for several weeks as of mid-July, but his status is apparently still up in the air.

I’ve already written several times this offseason about how Michel’s health problems were overblown last summer and that we shouldn’t make the same mistake twice. Until we get word that the 25-year-old might miss the start of the regular season, I’m going to keep viewing him as a “buy,” particularly with his ADP set to free fall. That being said, Damien Harris’ RB58 ranking in our ECR needs to skyrocket.

Rookies Testing Positive For COVID-19

Anyone playing fantasy baseball this year knows the drill. As more and more players report to training camp, we are going to get more and more positive tests for the coronavirus. So far, we have two notable rookies that were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list: Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Justin Jefferson.

It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean either player necessarily tested positive. It does mean they were at least in contact with someone who did. Similar to baseball, we might get more details as camp carries on. There also isn’t much of a fantasy takeaway with these two other than managers should be aware of it.

Fading rookies is going to be a popular redraft strategy this year since they didn’t get a normal offseason. Missing the start of training camp would be potentially disastrous for any rookie hoping to make an impact in year one.

UPDATE: Several veterans have started to be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including Kenny Golladay and T.J. Hockenson of the Lions. They’ll be sidelined until they are able to pass multiple tests and show no symptoms during re-checks. As of now, there is no reason to move them down in your fantasy rankings.

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Brendan Tuma is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Brendan, check out his archive and follow him @toomuchtuma.

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