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Fantasy Football News Roundup: Marquise Brown, Ronald Jones, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Preston Williams

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Aug 7, 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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Not Many Fantasy Relevant Opt Outs

The fantasy football world was shaken up last week when Chiefs RB Damien Williams made his decision to opt out of the 2020 NFL season. In that moment it seemed as if many more star caliber players could’ve made the same decision, which would’ve had ripple effects on their teammates’ fantasy stock.

Thursday’s deadline came and went, however, and Williams remains the most fantasy relevant name to decide against playing this season. Over 60 players made the same decision he did but many were offensive lineman or third/fourth string receivers. Peak draft season will soon be upon us so fantasy players can start narrowing in on their favorite targets without the worry of additional opt outs.

Hollywood Adding Weight

Marquise Brown was electric at times during his rookie campaign. Playing in the league’s most dominant offense, “Hollywood” totaled 46 receptions for 584 yards and seven scores. These are modest numbers that don’t give credit to the immense upside fantasy footballers saw when actually watching the games. Since then Brown has had a tremendous offseason, which began by undergoing surgery to remove a screw in his foot. Yes, he played with this screw in his foot last year.

Now we get word that the 23-year-old breakout candidate has gained 23 pounds this offseason. Admittedly, it’s typically a cause for concern when skill position players add weight, but Brown was just 157 pounds in 2019. The diminutive wideout could benefit from the added poundage and the Ravens sent him a GPS tracker to make sure he wasn’t losing any of his elite-level speed.

It’s worth adding that while the Ravens will remain a run-first team, Brown played just 51% of his team’s offensive snaps last year. Furthermore, the offense as a whole is due for some regression, which will put them in more throwing situations. There should be opportunities for Hollywood to become a star this season. He’s the WR33 in our expert consensus rankings.

Breaking Down The Bucs

Last week’s News Roundup was sent for editing just before LeSean McCoy signed with the Bucs, which is why that news wasn’t included in the blog. Fortuitously, Tampa Bay’s running back corps is in the news yet again, as coach Bruce Arians called Ronald Jonesthe main guy” in the team’s backfield this week. Arians then added that everyone else – McCoy, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Dare Ogunbowale – is fighting for roles.

This praise for Jones will certainly keep him as the top ranked RB of the Buccaneers. If there’s one guy to own from this backfield, it’s him. The question now becomes is he worth his ADP? There are enough mouths to feed here that it seems unlikely Arians will have a true bell-cow back this season. McCoy was a healthy scratch in the Super Bowl last year and Vaughn remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The rookie is likely even farther behind where he would typically be in a normal offseason, which certainly limits his early-season potential. Add it all up and yes, it seems like “RoJo” is the back to target right now. He’s certainly the favorite for goal-line work. Shockingly, he just turned 23 earlier this month.

Name Positional Expert Consensus Ranking Overall Expert Consensus Ranking
Ronald Jones RB31 81
Ke’Shawn Vaughn RB43 115
Dare Ogunbowale RB80 289
LeSean McCoy* RB87 306

*Expect McCoy’s position to rise considerably as more updated rankings come out

COVID-19 Activations

One thing fantasy players are going to have to get used to this year is seeing players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. So far during “training camp” we’ve seen Kenny Golladay, Matthew Stafford, and Gardner Minshew placed on the list. All four of them have since been removed. There is no need to ding any of them in fantasy rankings unless we hear they were struggling mightily with symptoms. Moving forward, positive COVID-19 tests will need to be handled on a case by case basis. Missed practice time could be an additional headache that a positive test could cause.

Jordan Reed Reunites With Kyle Shannahan

Nobody would blame Jordan Reed if he decided to retire this past offseason. A third-round pick back in 2013, Reed has seven known concussion to date and missed the entire 2019 season. He’ll reunite with familiar friend Kyle Shannahan, however, as the 49ers signed the 30-year-old tight end to a one-year contract Monday afternoon. Shannahan was with Washington when the team originally drafted the oft-injured vet.

Reed’s arrival doesn’t have as much of a fantasy impact as one would think. It has now been five seasons since his career-year in 2015 that saw him go for 87 catches, 952 yards, and 11 touchdowns in Washington. The late-round tight end landscape is a crowded one and his presence won’t impact George Kittle one bit. If Reed flashes early on he could wind up being a streaming candidate later in the year.

Preston Williams Ready To Roll

Preston Williams arrived to the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent last year and turned his preseason success into a starting role come Week 1. Before tearing his ACL in November the 23-year-old was on pace for a 64/956/6 receiving line while outplaying the more heralded DeVante Parker.

It’s always risky gambling on an unproven wideout coming off a mid-season ACL tear, but the good news is Williams has been cleared for football activities. Dolphins coach Brian Flores says he is “running and rehabbing well.” Priced as the WR49 in our expert consensus rankings, Williams is an interesting pivot for fantasy players who believe Parker’s late-season breakout was mostly a mirage.

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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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