Fantasy Football News Roundup: George Kittle, Josh Jacobs, Lamar Miller, Alvin Kamara
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.
Kittle, Kelce Sign New Contracts
Travis Kelce is widely considered the best tight end in fantasy football. However, there’s a case to be made that George Kittle is the best tight end in real football, due to how elite of a blocker he is. It’s funny, then, that both superstars received contract extensions on the same day. Kittle, an impending free agent, signed a five-year deal worth $75 million. Kelce, who is four years older than Kittle, signed a four-year extension through the 2025 campaign. It’s worth “more than $14 million per season,” according to reports.
There isn’t much to take away from a fantasy perspective for either deal, especially for redraft leagues. Each contract can be considered a positive for their dynasty values, as they’re both in favorable fantasy environments on their current teams.
While Kelce and Kittle are worth paying up for in the early rounds of drafts, you should either take a tight end early or wait on the position. There is no shortage of late-round breakout candidates, including Mike Gesicki, Ian Thomas, Hayden Hurst, among others. It’s the middle-round options that can be dangerous to bet on.
Josh Jacobs, Receiving Back?
The biggest knock on Josh Jacobs’ fantasy value is that he doesn’t do enough as a receiver. Listed as the 19th-overall player in our expert consensus rankings, a lack of pass-game usage could turn the 22-year-old into a bust this season. It’s no secret that Jacobs is one of the most talented backs in football, but the Raiders didn’t view him as a complete back last season, as they fed him a measly 27 targets in 13 games.
Jacobs is well aware of how sparsely he was used as a receiver in 2019. He told reporters this week that the goal for his sophomore campaign is to catch “at least” 60 passes. Las Vegas has talked up the idea of using him more in the passing game this offseason, but they also re-signed Jalen Richard to a two-year contract.
Due to Richard’s presence, Jacobs is unlikely to become a complete workhorse this year. How elite of a fantasy asset he winds up being is dependent on how close he gets to catching the aforementioned 60 passes.
Josh Jacobs should probably have more than five targets this season pic.twitter.com/jpJaYYsHCD
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 30, 2019
Lamar Miller Is Now A Patriot
New England running backs have, at times, been a headache for fantasy footballers. Coach Bill Belichick often utilizes multiple running backs and is no stranger to putting backs who fumble in the doghouse. Things are as murky as ever entering 2020, as the team has rostered Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, and Rex Burkhead throughout the offseason. Then Adam Schefter reported this week that the team signed Lamar Miller to a one-year contract.
The 29-year-old was last seen at Texans training camp last summer when he tore his ACL and MCL and missed the entire season. It’s completely up in the air how much usage he’ll see in New England. As a committee back coming off a serious knee injury, there isn’t much to get excited about with him.
This signing signals that Michel could miss Week 1. Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported that it’s too soon to know if Michel will be ready for the Patriots’ opener, but this signing only worsens his appeal in fantasy leagues. In PPR leagues especially, the 25-year-old is a player to avoid. He has just 19 career receptions through his first two NFL seasons. Harris, who barely saw the field as a rookie in 2019, is worth a late-round flyer, but he comes with a nonexistent fantasy floor.
UPDATE: Miller was placed on the Patriots’ PUP list after he officially signed with the team. It’s unclear how long he’ll be sidelined for, but it shouldn’t be too long, considering the Patriots were willing to sign him at all.
Return Of The Mack
Everyone loves Jonathan Taylor. He’s an explosive, talented player who landed in a great situation for fantasy football production. Ranked as the RB22 in our ECR, most analysts expect him to lead Indianapolis in carries this year. We shouldn’t necessarily assume that begins in Week 1, however, as coach Frank Reich said Wednesday that Marlon Mack would return as the team’s starter. Additionally, Reich mentioned he would “ride the hot hand” in the backfield.
Everybody wants the Colts to hand the starting gig to Taylor, but that doesn’t mean we can will it into existence. Working against Taylor is the fact that he’s a rookie entering the NFL with no real offseason. The Colts also have Nyheim Hines, who is a fantastic pass catcher that limits Taylor’s ceiling as a receiver. Working in Taylor’s favor is the fact that he’s more talented than Mack — oh, and that he was an early second-round pick this April.
Ultimately, it seems safe to project Taylor for a limited workload early on. He could be a “league winner” down the stretch if he makes the most of his early opportunities. Mack will be a thorn in his side this year and could wind up a value at his current ADP in his own right. If you’re fading rookies in drafts this summer, Mack is must-have at RB38 in our ECR.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 7, 2019
Alvin Kamara Injury Update
Alvin Kamara was good last year. The problem is he wasn’t Alvin Kamara, fantasy superstar. The 25-year-old played in 14 games but averaged a career-low in yards per catch and noticeably lacked his usual burst. Kamara told reporters this week that he “tore his knee” in Week 6 and “was dealing with it the whole season.” The numbers back up his claim. Kamara was atop the leaderboards in Pro Football Focus’ “elusive rating” before Week 6 but saw a decline afterward.
From Week 10 on, Kamara broke a tackle every 7.3 touches compared to breaking one every 3.1 touches prior to his injury. It sounds as if he’s fully healthy entering the 2020 season, which should make him a top-five draft pick in virtually every fantasy league.
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