We're just two days out from the 2020 NFL Season's kickoff and are just starting to find some clarity in team depth charts and what roles we can expect for veterans and rookies alike. Let's start off by sorting out the facts.
Some Things We Know
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has been named as the Dolphins quarterback to start the season.
Despite the hype surrounding Tua Tagovailoa, it becomes official that the Dolphins are going to take it slow with 2020's fifth-overall pick. This should mean good things for the Dolphins receiving corps. In 2019, Fitzpatrick had an average depth of target of 9.6 yards, ranking seventh-highest among NFL quarterbacks on the season. DeVante Parker finished as the WR7 in half-PPR formats, and stability at the quarterback position (for now) makes his current ADP as the WR26 appear ludicrous. Fitzpatrick is also an underrated option in superflex formats as the team's leading rusher and the QB5 in points per game Weeks 10-17 in 2019.
Ravens Rookie RB J.K. Dobbins is listed as the team's RB4.
It never a surprise to see a rookie ranked as the team's second or third depth chart option this early on, but Dobbins being listed as the Ravens RB4 was a surprise. Mark Ingram has always projected to be the lead back in 2020, coming off his first season with the Ravens. Ingram finished the year with 1,265 scrimmage yards and 15 touchdowns, but as he heads into his 10th season at the age of 30, the Ravens needed a contingency plan. Dobbins totaled 2,250 scrimmage yards and 23 touchdowns in his final year with Ohio State, ranking third in the NCAA in yards after contact and number of runs with 10+ yards. He will carry similar upside in the run-heavy scheme in Baltimore, whenever he does get the chance. If you can target Dobbins in a trade with consideration to the "depth chart news," he will return exponential value in the seasons to come.
RB James Robinson is listed as the starting running back for the Jaguars.
Since the release of Leonard Fournette, it's been relatively unclear as to who may assume the bulk of the carries in Jacksonville. Most speculation initially leaned toward sophomore RB Ryquell Armstead, but as he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday, the Jaguars needed another answer. Veteran Chris Thompson is penciled in for a third-down work, but his limited capacity as a rusher leaves plenty of room for Robinson to stake his claim on should leave some room for Robinson to establish himself as a priority waiver wire pickup soon. He emerges as an UDFA out of the FCS having rushed for 1,899 yards and 18 touchdowns in his senior year.
WR Dede Westbrook listed with the Jaguars' third-team offense.
This shouldn't be entirely surprising, but given that Westbrook is coming off of his second-consecutive season with 101 targets, it's worth noting that it probably won't happen again. The Jaguars drafted Colorado wideout Laviska Shenault in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and it's safe to say he's bound to see some work in his rookie year. The loss of defensive assets and lack of established run-game will likely necessitate a lean on the pass this season under Gardner Minshew. D.J. Chark remains a great value in the fifth-round of fantasy drafts, but Shenault may be in a position to assume more involvement than we're projecting early on. He's currently undrafted in redraft leagues, but he is someone to monitor closely as the season progresses as a potential waiver wire asset.
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Depth Charts with Question Marks
Though I discussed each of these backfields in more detail last week, it's worth pointing out that neither backfield has had significant developments since then.
- The Rams Backfield: Though the Rams drafted Cam Akers in the second-round of the 2020 NFL Draft, there are plenty of question marks regarding the possible RB carousel about to ensue. Sophomore RB Darrell Henderson is nursing a mild hamstring injury but appears to be on track to play Week 1 versus the Cowboys. Malcolm Brown continues to be in the mix as a potential favorite for goal line work. Cameron DaSilva with the Rams Wire notes that though Sean McVay won't name a starting back, he has said that the team will "ask a lot" of Cam Akers in Week 1. It's a messy situation to say the least, though it would appear Akers is the favorite to lead the team in touches for Week 1.
- The 49ers Backfield: San Francisco didn't do much to clear the space in a crowded running backs room. Though the team released rookie JaMycal Hasty, Raheem Mostert projects as the team's starter, but given Shanahan's tendency towards the hot-hand approach, it may be safest to leave any of these backs out of your lineup until we have some answers.
Ian Rapoport notes that the Cardinals and WR DeAndre Hopkins are close to finalizing an extension bound to bulk up his salary in the 2020 NFL season and beyond. Hopkins is due for $12.5 million in 2020, but in the recent wave of extensions, his contract ranks him as the ninth-highest paid receiver on average in the NFL. He's due for an upgrade in the salary, and it's probably wise to do it while the 2019 first-overall pick remains on his rookie contract. ... Texans WR Brandin Cooks has been limited through August with a quad injury. Though he should be good-to-go for the season-opener on Thursday, there have been reports that the team may be looking to ease him into the offensive game plan. Will Fuller has true WR1 upside in what should be a barn-burner versus the Kansas City Chiefs. ... Colts' TE Trey Burton has been placed on injured reserve with a calf strain. Given the changes in place in the settings of COVID-19, Burton can return after a minimum of three games. We've been waiting for the Trey Burton breakout since he signed with the Chicago Bears in 2018; it's safe to say it won't happen. Jack Doyle presents some upside in 2020 given the lack of pass catchers and Philip Rivers' adoration for the tight end position. ... Patriots RB Damien Harris was placed on injured reserve Monday. With that, RB JJ Taylor was promoted to the active roster. Though assumed lead-back Sony Michel has spent the offseason recovering from foot surgery, our best bet is that he'll see the bulk of the carries for the Patriots in Week 1. In 2019, the Dolphins tied for the 10th-highest yards per carry allowed and sixth-most rushing yards on the season. There's a possibility that Michel could hold sneaky value in this matchup as a sheer volume play, as unappealing as that may sound.