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The Coronavirus has forced sports to adopt unique measures to produce a playing season. Because a positive test could sideline a player for at least three weeks and there’s no way of projecting how many positive cases there will be during the NFL season, Footballguys wants to give you resources that will help you weather the potential loss of players.
As the author of the most comprehensive scouting analysis of skill players since 2006, I’m one of those resources—especially for players at the bottom of depth charts, signed to practice squads and training at home with dreams of that phone call from an NFL team.
Each week, I’ll walk you through the shortlist of players who will get their shot to contribute as replacements to starters who tested positive for the Coronavirus or unexpected late-week events.
I won't be updating this piece over the weekend, but you'll get the goods on players worth consideration, and based on last year, this column offered a lot of quality short-term and long-term options — many of them as preemptive picks:
- James Robinson
- Robert Tonyan Jr
- Travis Fulgham
- Tim Patrick
- Scott Miller
- Ty Johnson
- Brett Rypien
- Tyler Johnson
- Marquez Callaway
- A.J. Dillon
- Tyler Conklin
This is a partial list, but you get the point.
We’ll examine three types of replacements:
- Players who get immediate playing time.
- Preemptive additions from your league’s waiver wire.
- Options worth monitoring in case the established backup eventually misses time.
Many of these players are late-round picks and street-free agents. I'm not giving you obvious waivers candidates that will command a large percentage of your FAAB dollars. These are options you'll often find in your First-Come, First Serve section during the latter part of the week prior to kickoff.
If you think street-free agents won’t be factors, TySon Williams from Week 1 is on line one waiting for you to pick up, and he has a long list of players before him who would like to make an appointment to set you straight. James Robinson would like to tell you about his 2020 campaign. And, Raheem Mostert has time on his hands if you need a deeper consultation.
In the coming weeks, I'll provide brief thoughts and recommendations for the previous week's candidates as we move forward. Since I recommended Williams to this site's readers as a long-shot emerging force back in the first week of June and have been touting Williams as a future contributor talent since April 2020, we'll make him and Bryan Edwards the unofficial Week 1 candidates.
The recommendations below are categorized by my current view of the player.
- Josh Gordon: Reports out of Kansas City say Gordon and Patrick Mahomes II have instant on-field chemistry. I've stated enough about Gordon, you know if you are the type of person to add him to a roster.
- Tim Patrick: Patrick will remain one of the Broncos' three most productive receiving options until Jerry Jeudy returns.
- Zach Pascal: Although he has red-zone value, the Colts aren't a top passing unit. Although consistently earning targets and yardage, it's not enough for weekly fantasy value.
- Quintez Cephus: One of the top 3-4 options on the Lions who need to throw the ball to stay in games. :
- Juwan Johnson: A red-zone threat who offers boom-bust value but has the trust of Jameis Winston on a team lacking great options in the passing game.
- Jacques Patrick: John Lynch described Patrick as a back in the style of John Riggins. Patrick is learning the scheme and could see more playing in the next 1-2 weeks.
- Royce Freeman: Chuba Hubbard will be the lead back while Christian McCaffrey is out, but Freeman is the complement and could earn more touches if Hubbard struggles.
- Rashod Bateman: The rookie should earn playing time within the next week or two.
- TySon Williams: The Ravens elevated Le'Veon Bell from the practice squad last weekend and made Williams inactive. Bell didn't earn many touches but John Harbaugh gave a positive review. Many will drop Williams but if you're not desperate, wait another week or two. In deeper leagues, I'd consider adding him.
- Albert Okwuegbunam: Dealing with a groin injury, Okwuegbunam earns steady targets but not enough to add to your roster beyond a one-week hope of him converting in the red zone.
- Van Jefferson: Jefferson continues to earn targets but Sean McVay shut the door on the idea of Jefferson overtaking Robert Woods this year, feeding Woods to the tune of 12 catches on Thursday night.
- Demetric Felton: Although he has earned touches as a slot receiver, he hasn't earned enough to generate a consistent fantasy impact because he's not completely replacing Jarvis Landry's role.
- Royce Freeman: Rodney Smith earned the passing-down role ahead of Freeman last week. With Chuba Hubbard producing and Christian McCaffrey potentially available, Freeman is expendable but still worth monitoring in case there are unexpected setbacks or injuries to the depth chart.
- Bryan Edwards: Edwards is clearly behind Hunter Renfrow in the Raiders' pecking order for targets. Until Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller, or Renfrow falter, Edwards is only a boom-bust option due to his usage.
- J.J. Taylor: After fumbling last week, Taylor did little. Branden Bolden and Rhamondre Stevenson will likely earn their shot to contribute behind Damien Harris.
- Collin Johnson: After earning seven targets in Week 3, he only earned five snaps in Week 4.
- Jordan Wilkins: Although he only earned a snap last week — his first all year — Marlon Mack underwhelmed in Week 4 and Wilkins could wind up overtaking the veteran.
- Chris Thompson: The 49ers waived Thompson from the practice squad this week.
- Denzel Mims: He may earn an opportunity later in the year, but Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Keelan Cole, Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios, and even Jeff Smith are ahead of Mims when it comes to playing time.
- Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: Westbrook doubled his target totals between Week 3 (4) and Week 4 (8) but decreased his productivity from 4 catches for 53 yards and a score in Week 3 to 3 catches for 29 yards in Week 4. With A.J. Brown returning, Westbrook could earn better coverage looks if Julio Jones remains out, but he was really only worth 1-2 weeks of consideration. He's also limited this week with a hamstring.