We are less than a week away from the start of the 2020 NFL season and its arrival could not come soon enough. The long-awaited season opener featuring the Houston Texans and the defending Super Bowl champs, the Kansas City Chiefs, will kick off on Thursday, September 10th. Even though the start of the season is so close we can taste it, the NFL is far from dormant as we approach the start date.
If you haven’t heard by now, former Jaguars’ RB Leonard Fournette has moved next door from Jacksonville to Tampa Bay. He may be more conditioned to the weather than New Englanders Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, but that doesn’t mean he won’t feel the heat trying to gain a starting position with the Buccaneers.
Head coach Bruce Arians confirmed Thursday that RB Ronald Jones II is indeed their guy to start the season despite signing Fournette. Remember, however, that these exact words were said in early December of 2019 before playing against none other than the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jones failed to block the right defender, which led to QB Jameis Winston being sacked for a turnover. Arians promptly pulled Jones and gave Peyton Barber a majority of the work for the rest of the game.
This is meant as no offense, but Fournette is a better running back than Barber and Brady is a more coveted quarterback than Winston. As soon as Jones misses a block and Brady gets sacked, we will see Fournette heavily utilized in the offense, if it doesn’t happen sooner.
Amid injury and illness concerns with COVID-19, it makes sense that teams are adding depth to their position groups. However, adding a player who has yet to be reinstated into the NFL is a bit of a head-scratcher. The Seattle Seahawks, who expressed interest in suspended WR Antonio Brown, signed WR Josh Gordon on a one year deal for up to $1 million. Gordon applied for reinstatement in mid-June and the signing points toward a positive outcome for the wide receiver.
Gordon has been suspended six times, five of which were due to violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy. Despite bouncing through three teams between 2018 and 2019, the Seahawks and Gordon built a rapport during his five games last year. In that time, Gordon saw 11 targets, seven receptions, and 139 yards. He saw a minimum of 32.8% of the offensive snaps, including 55.2% in Week 13 against the Los Angeles Rams.
It’s unclear how much playing time and volume the receiver will see and whether head coach Pete Carroll intends to use Gordon as more than a safety net behind WRs Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Adding another weapon for QB Russell Wilson certainly doesn’t hurt, but it’s difficult to believe that Gordon will take too much away from Lockett and Metcalf’s fantasy production.
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The New England Patriots have officially named QB Cam Newton their starter for Week 1. Head coach Bill Belichick broke the news during the Patriots team meeting Thursday morning. Not surprisingly, Newton edged out Jared Stidham, who has been dealing with a hip injury during camp, and veteran Brian Hoyer. The 2020 season will see the birth of a new era in New England with Newton as Brady’s successor as well as a captain of the Patriots. If you haven’t had Newton on your radar in both redraft and dynasty formats, now is the time to do so. It’s not too late in redraft to either grab Newton off of the waiver wire if he’s available or target him in your upcoming drafts this weekend.
The Washington Football Team has named QB Dwayne Haskins their Week 1 starter over returning veteran Alex Smith and Carolina import Kyle Allen. This declaration isn’t that surprising considering head coach Ron Rivera believes in Haskins as their quarterback and is ready to ride with him in 2020.
Washington's lead back, Adrian Peterson, was spotted working out on the sidelines with the training staff during camp on Thursday. Limiting the 35-year-old RB just over a week before their season opener is most likely a precautionary measure. He is expected to be the starting running back for Washington in Week 1 against the Eagles but be prepared for rookie Antonio Gibson and pass-catcher J.D. McKissic to be involved in the offense as well.
Like Peterson, WR Amari Cooper for the Dallas Cowboys was also spotted on the sidelines doing stretches and drills with members of the coaching staff. There are few details surrounding Cooper’s limited participation and it will be something to keep your eye on moving forward. If Cooper misses time, look for WR Michael Gallup and rookie WR CeeDee Lamb to have an increased role in the offense in addition to TE Blake Jarwin.
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Colts' tight end Trey Burton is expected to miss the first couple of weeks of the season with a calf injury, confirmed by head coach Frank Reich. If you have Burton rostered or were prepared to target him in drafts this weekend, aim your sights towards fellow TE Jack Doyle. New QB Philip Rivers is no stranger to targeting the tight end position and Doyle will need to step up as the dominant pass-catching tight end in Burton’s absence.
Los Angeles Rams RB Darrel Henderson and WR Cooper Kupp have both been absent from practice. Kupp is advancing well for a Week 1 start, while the Rams are easing Henderson back into a workload. The Rams backfield is already crowded after RB Todd Gurley’s departure. Malcolm Brown and rookie Cam Akers are the biggest names to compete for the volume while Henderson nurses a hamstring injury.
RB Le’Veon Bell continues to voice his desire to be a part of the Jets’ offense, no matter what the capacity, including receiving and blocking. The more he can be out on the field in a slow pace-of-play offense under HC Adam Gase, the better for Bell’s fantasy production.
New Orleans Saints’ RB Alvin Kamara returned to practice Wednesday after some messy communication regarding contract negotiations. Kamara missed a few practices while both he and the Saints work to toward a resolution. The running back is entering the final year of his rookie contract and both parties are hoping to get a long-term deal resolved soon.