What a strange journey 2020 has been, but it looks like we might get a bit of normalcy in the way of an NFL season. Who knows what will happen, but we are set to go with opening weekend just days away! There are always few players who slip through the cracks on draft day, but in addition to that there was plenty of news in and around the league over the last few days. Quarterback battles were decided, and not one but two starting running backs were released from their teams. Let’s get into this week’s wonders, opening weekend style!
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami Dolphins (at New England Patriots)
This may come out as a surprise to some, but over the second half of last season, Fitzpatrick was one of the Top-10 overall fantasy producers. Once that sets in, the numbers do not lie, he was one of the top overall fantasy players, not just at the quarterback position. As is usually the case, he found himself fighting for the starting spot and perhaps thanks to the frailty of Tua Tagovailoa, the Dolphins will open the 2020 campaign with “Fitzmagic” at the helm. As last season closed, it was Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins that sent the Patriots into Wild Card weekend, a day that saw Miami throw for 310 yards in the air. While many will point out that Patriots coach Bill Belichick will be ready this time around, the lack of preseason games is likely to work against that notion. Beyond the opener against New England, fantasy owners would be wise to ride Fitzpatrick right now, as the ride could end at any time. Those looking for a backup or QB3 should look in Fitzpatrick’s direction.
Jeff Driskel, Denver Broncos (vs. Tennessee Titans)
Those of you in deep and especially dynasty leagues, you know how difficult it can be to keep depth at the quarterback position. The Broncos ride into the start of the season with Drew Lock at the helm. The 2019 second-round draft pick has the position by default, so if he falters then the Broncos will move down their depth chart into their backup. Driskel is capable … well, he notched a handful of starts for Detroit when Matthew Stafford was injured last season so he has been on the field in the past. Those with a deep roster in need at the position can saddle up with Driskel as a wait and see candidate.
Chris Thompson and James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. Indianapolis Colts)
The Jaguars have had their difficulty in running the ball the last few years (ask any Leonard Fournette owner), so getting involved with their backs is a risky proposition. But with Fournette gone, someone will need to carry the rock in Jacksonville. The reports on the rookie Robinson are good, and he has the inside track to being the first- and second-down runner. The wild card in the situation here is Thompson, a pass catching back formerly with Washington. Both players are worth owning; I would lean towards Thompson having more productivity out of the two. Rookies have a way of breaking down and also having difficulty learning the ropes in quarterback protection.
Peyton Barber, Antonio Gibson, Bryce Love, J.D. McKissic, Washington Football Team (vs. Philadelphia Eagles)
Sometimes it is just best to leave an entire team’s situation alone, but given the sudden release of Adrian Peterson, I’m compelled to talk about the situation in Washington. The early hype when football got rolling a while back was about the youngsters Gibson and Love and that they would be the futures of the club. Right now this is looking like a big committee. An RBBBBC, which is worse than a RBBC, or even a RBBBC. Way too many cooks in this kitchen. The one player in this mix who has an advantage coming out of the gate is McKissic, a proven pass catcher and likely the best chance at quarterback protection. Love is not quite back to being 100 percent healthy so his action early on this season is in question. Gibson is young, so the pass protection is likely going to be an issue. Barber is also in the mix looking for carries. Those in deep leagues can roster these guys to see what develops, but right now I see McKissic having some points per reception (PPR) league value with the rest needing to be sorted out.
Devonta Freeman, Free Agent
Currently lurking in the shadows without a team right now, Freeman is a capable NFL player and is likely the “next in line” to be signed when a team needs a runner.