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Fantasy Football News Roundup: Trey Lance, Jonathan Taylor, Joe Mixon (2021)

Fantasy Football News Roundup: Trey Lance, Jonathan Taylor, Joe Mixon (2021)

As FantasyPros’ News Desk manager, I might be considered a bit biased. But I’ve always believed that reading the news — sorry, I meant to say knowing how to interpret the news, is a competitive advantage for fantasy football players.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you read a quote from Kyle Shanahan saying that the team “doesn’t currently have plans to give Trey Lance first-team reps.” This is an actual quote from last week, and if it’s all you read/heard about the situation, you’d be inclined to believe it. But recently? Lance has reportedly been outplaying Jimmy Garoppolo at Niners camp — whether it be due to arm strength, mobility, aggressiveness, completion percentage, etc.

Beat reporters are raving about the No. 3 overall pick. Shanahan himself has begun saying things like they’ll use Lance “in an array of zone reads and designed runs” and that the rookie will play “situationally” this year. Suddenly, Lance receiving first team reps isn’t so hard to imagine. And if he continues outplaying Jimmy G then there’s a good chance he’ll be the Week 1 starter.

Understanding these reports can help us get out in front of the Lance situation early — whether it be in best ball drafts, in your season-long league, or in futures bets (Lance is +650 for offensive rookie of the year in most places, which will shrink if he’s announced as the Week 1 starter).

The point here isn’t to guarantee you that Lance will be the Week 1 starter. Instead, this mini “interpreting the news” lesson was written to help show the potential value in developing this skill. That’s why, beginning today and every Monday until the season begins, I’ll be recapping the news for fantasy football purposes. Let’s dive in.

And remember to feel free to reach out on Twitter (@toomuchtuma) with questions anytime.

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Colts Calamity

The biggest loser of training camp so far has to be Indianapolis, who has now lost both Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson to the same foot injury, which carries an unusually vague 5-12 week timetable. There is some optimism that each can come back on the earlier side of that timetable, but there are some major fantasy implications either way.

For starters, the Colts’ opening schedule isn’t too kind — Seahawks, Rams, Titans, Dolphins, Ravens in Weeks 1-5. Aside from Tennessee those are some tough defenses to go against. Expectations should be limited for Indy’s offense early on, especially since (predictably) Jacob Eason hasn’t looked particularly sharp in recent practices.

Colts pass-catchers need to be downgraded immediately. We’re hitting pause on the Michael Pittman breakout party and it’s tough to muster any enthusiasm for T.Y. Hilton right now. Parris Campbell could see more targets on shorter routes out of the slot, but this isn’t a passing game to invest in.

What about Jonathan Taylor? I was admittedly very into the sophomore RB before this pair of injuries. It’s impossible to deny that his situation has worsened, but the middle-to-late portion of Indy’s schedule is quite soft, and perhaps he’ll see a bump in volume if the team becomes more run-heavy. His ADP is already settling into the early portions of Round 2. I’ll buy that dip.

Ultimately, the best way to handle both Taylor and Pittman (the two fantasy stars on this team) is to try and trade for them a few weeks into the season, if things do in fact start slow for the Colts’ offense.

Joe Mixon’s Three-Down Role

The Bengals are continuing to hype up Mixon’s role in the 2021 offense. Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan recently said there isn’t any plan to manage his workload this season.

“The expectations are high for Joe, as I’ve said before, to be on the field quite a bit,” Callahan said. “Obviously, he can’t play every snap of every game, but he has the ability and the skill set to be a three-down player.

This is noteworthy because the offseason coach-speak has matched the front office’s actions. Cincinnati let Gio Bernard walk as a free agent, and since then they’ve been pretty darn transparent about their expectations for him.

Some fantasy managers might shy away from drafting Mixon if they’ve burned them before, but prior to 2020 he had played in 44 of a possible 48 contests, so this isn’t really an injury issue. Mixon has never “hit” in a fantasy football sense (at least in a major way), but he’s set up so well on paper that he makes for an ideal second-round selection this month.

Saints Drama

I understand the temptation to draft Michael Thomas a discounted ADP and hope he returns in time for the fantasy playoffs. I’m just not willing to do it. Most leagues, at least the ones I play in, don’t have an IR spot. Selecting him requires burning a valuable bench spot on Thomas. Waiting six weeks is one thing, but we also must factor in the non-zero chance that he’s out longer.

Worse, there’s real friction between him and the Saints. New Orleans suspended Thomas for a game last year after he got in a fight at practice. Additionally, Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com reports that Thomas “failed to return multiple calls” from coaches and training staff over the offseason. Coach Sean Payton has already voiced his pleasure. I could’ve bought into a fantasy friendly market share if Thomas was 100% healthy entering training camp, but this is shaping up as a situation to avoid. There’s no need to burn a roster spot and/or a mid-round pick on MT.

It’s worth noting that Duncan’s article also mentions Marquez Callaway being the breakout star of training camp thus far.

Other Noteworthy Tidbits

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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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