NFL Training Camp Notes: Who’s playing and who’s sitting this week

Injuries, injuries, and more injuries seem to dominate Wednesday’s NFL news. Fortunately, much of it is related to players nearing a return. However, the biggest story involves a player choosing not to play.

  • Melvin Gordon’s holdout is expected to last into the regular season, according to Ian Rapoport, who unfortunately didn’t say just how far into the year that might last. At the start of camp, there were reports the running back may hold out till midseason, which scares me too much to draft him even at no. 30 overall where his ADP has been in NFFC leagues over the last two weeks. However, the less risk-averse willing to take him in the third round could find themselves with quite a steal if the situation resolves itself in a timely manner.

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How I Did Okay In The Steak League Auction

Usually, I title this “How I Botched the Steak League Auction,” and then go on to do well, but last year I really did botch it and missed out on buying double steaks by only one point. (Thankfully Josh Ross was in the league.) This year, I did some things well and some things poorly. For some background, it’s a 14-team, 1-QB, 2-RB, 3-WR, 1-TE, 1-FLEX, non-PPR league with three IDPs. Here are the results:

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The rethinking of the Patriots’ offense

Rethinking the Patriots offense- is Bill Belichick tipping his hand?

As the Patriots dynasty continues to move forward, we’ve seen the offense go through varying stages. Between the minds of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, they’ve always figured out how to score enough points to win regardless of who’s on the field. But this year, they could be headed to the stone age after dabbling with it in the playoffs last year.

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First NFFC $200K Online Championship Results

Monday was my first NFFC Draft of my professional career, with another one (auction) on the way next week. Considering the $200,000 prize pool, I was genuinely excited to test my mettle with the highest of stakes on the line. That enthusiasm waned dramatically throughout the course of the 1:15 minute draft, which I detail in excruciating fashion. If you’re unfamiliar with the format, the draft is part of an overall contest, where we’re competing in 12-man leagues. It’s a PPR league, with third-round-reversal in the draft format. Passing touchdowns are worth six points, and we start three wide receivers and a flex spot. The rosters are 20-deep. I drew the seventh draft slot, meaning that my picks were 1.7, 2.6, 3.6, 4.7, etc … Here are the results.

1.7 – Ezekiel Elliott

I thought maybe I’d get bailed out from making this decision when Nick Chubb went No. 5 overall, but alas, David Johnson was sniped right before me. I guess I should be grateful Elliott fell this far because I really didn’t want to select between the trio of Davante Adams, Julio Jones or Michael Thomas with a bevy of WRs generally being my natural target point later in drafts. The concern around Elliott’s training camp holdout is begrudgingly valid at this point, but I refuse to entertain the scenario where he’ll miss extended time this season. Jerry Jones’ latest comments are troubling, which only seemed to be reinforced with Tuesday’s multi-year signing of Jaylon Smith, but the value is too great to ignore if you’re of the opinion that the 24-year-old will join the Cowboys some point soon.

2.6 – Travis Kelce

It’s frustrating that my league with the most at stake was the first time I was forced to draft a TE with my first two picks, but once Odell Beckham Jr, Dalvin Cook and Mike Evans went off the board with consecutive selections, best player available begrudgingly became Kelce. Of course Kerryon Johnson going two picks later had me regretting the decision, especially with O.J. Howard and Hunter Henry naturally slotting into their sixth-round ADP, but the idea of “getting my guy” felt absurdly short-sighted considering Kelce’s value in the NFL’s best offense.

3.6 – Josh Jacobs

I was hoping Patrick Mahomes might slide to the third round so I could capitalize on a Chiefs stack, but with the first two users auto drafted, the idea quickly became a farce. Considering Elliott’s tenuous training camp nature and a Damien Williams selection two picks before mine, I felt compelled to get one of the lone running backs left in Jacobs’ tier, figuring correctly the autodrafted duo would take care of Marlon Mack and Aaron Jones. I’m not in love with the player, but it’s hard to argue the 2019 first-round pick’s role in the offense. The upside might be more limited compared to Jones or even Chris Godwin who I briefly considered in that range, but Jacobs’ floor was too enticing to pass up.

4.7 – Mike Williams

Stefon Diggs, Brandin Cooks, Kenny Golladay, Chris Godwin — literally any of these receivers I would have preferred over Williams and my ensuing fifth-round selection D.J. Moore, but I was caught at the tail end of a run with considerably less desirable options (waves at Julian Edelman and Cooper Kupp) forcing my hand. Here’s one of the first of many instances where I began to regret my Kelce selection, as Antonio Brown and George Kittle would have felt significantly more like “my team” with a likely homage to friend, and absurdly staunch David Montgomery supporter, Jim Coventry, completing my plan to acquire two top-15 RBs through the first 48 picks. Instead I got Mike “Please Score Touchdowns” Williams. Yeah.

5.6 – D.J. Moore

I genuinely hate this round in drafts which is why I have so many shares of the aforementioned TEs Henry and Howard. While the running backs available (Sony Michel, Phillip Lindsay) have plenty of promise, the question marks are also plentiful. Might as well take a gamble on a guy that at least ADP-wise seemed like a bargain at a position of need for me. I genuinely believe Cam Newton, who I paired with Moore later, and the rest of Panthers offense will be a dud this season, but on the oft-chance I’m wrong (it happens more than I care to admit), I should have a significant advantage in the chase for the $200,000 with this stack.

6.7 – Darrell Henderson

Frustrated by my cohorts consistent sniping, I decided to go all-in on the possible $200K win with a home-run swing. I outlined this point on Tuesday’s NFL Podcast with co-host Jake Letarski, but I consider the Rams’ backfield similar to that of the Saints with Henderson operating as the Alvin Kamara to Todd-Gurley’s Mark Ingram/Latavius Murray. It’d only be a bonus if he, not Malcolm Brown, did end up taking over the workload should Gurley go down.

7.6 – Will Fuller

My lack of confidence in Moore/Williams prompted me to get one of the WRs I do like, Fuller. He probably won’t stay healthy all season, but I have enough depth at the position to make do should he go down, and I’ll inevitably get the handful of games he goes off in. Had I known Marquez Valdez-Scantling would go in Round 8, I might have considered him instead, but even the most bullish of Packers fans would likely concede Fuller has the safer floor and ceiling.

8.7 – Ronald Jones

Had to keep up my near 100 percent ownage rate of Jones in drafted leagues. He’s the better back in a system that will be moving the ball plenty. The carcass of Peyton Barber and his reportedly positive preseason performance will do nothing to dissuade my optimism.

9.6 – Dede Westbrook

This is a fine pick, don’t get me wrong. But seeing Josh Gordon go in the beginning of the ninth round had me raging. Despite what I promise was an extensive amount of prep prior to the draft, I failed to move him up my board on the actual site software, letting someone I believe will be a top-25 WR completely slip through my fingers. Gordon, not Fuller, would have been my choice in R7 – one that I hope won’t come back to bite me.

10.7 – Cam Newton

See Moore, D.J. I’m not convinced Newton will ever be healthy again, but QB12 seemed like my optimal “I might as well” point. At the very least I was the one who could finally kickstart a run at a position.

11.6 – Devin Funchess

Would have loved to see Tyrell Williams fall, or even ease my Zeke trepidation slightly with a handcuff Tony Pollard pick, but this was fine. Andrew Luck’s latest injury circus has me worried about Marlon Mack and T.Y. Hilton, but an 11th round selection who could be one of the main red zone threats….sign me up.

12.7 – Mecole Hardman

This is about where I tilted off the planet. Anyone who has listened to me talk about fantasy football for five minutes knows I’m in on Lamar Jackson this season, and I believe he could be a top-5 fantasy QB entering 2020. Knowing four of the ensuing 12 picks would be auto’d and both teams already were selected two quarterbacks, I felt like the odds were in my favor for Jackson to come back around. I simply outsmarted myself on this one, as I would have rather had Jackson than Funchess, despite the odd nature of taking a QB in back to back picks. Hardman is a fine consolation prize, and I think he could wind up playing over Sammy Watkins by the end of the year, but my disappointment was still immeasurable.

13.6 – Mike Davis

Give me Alexander Mattison or Devin Singletary instead, but as had been the case for the entire draft, just never got the right guys to fall. Davis, Jalen Richard and Adrian Peterson seemed like the only RBs to own by this point, so I took the plunge.

14.7 – Jack Doyle

Would have loved this pick so much more if Luck was actually healthy, but I’m probably only playing him one week thanks to Kelce anyway.

15.6 – Jalen Richard

The influences of my colleagues Mario Puig and John McKechnie got me on Richard, who should have enough of a floor on his receiving acumen alone to be worth a roster spot at this point in the draft.

16.7 – Harrison Butker

Hey, at least the canned post-draft fantasy analysis said my strongest roster spot was kicker!

17.6 – Derek Carr

To cap off my drafting misery, both Jimmy Garoppolo and Tom Brady were the two QBs I wanted to snag but neither made it back around. Should I have taken one of them instead of my Round 16 kicker? Yes, but I was too busy trying to find which version of “Hello Darkness My Old Friend” I wanted to listen to more (it’s this one).

18.7 – D.J. Chark

Pretty sure I guaranteed myself the No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville, but I’m not entirely sure if that’s worth anything this year.

19.6 – Buffalo

Just trying to find any sort of advantage at this point. Bills play the Jets Week 1, so might as well try to scrooge a few points out of the position now.

20.7 – Green Bay

A homer pick through and through, Week 3 might be when I end up using the Packers D, if they make it on my roster that long.

Anatomy of a Zero-RB Auction

Tuesday afternoon, a number of RotoWire staff and friends held the auction for the latest season in the Steak League — a name that stems from the fact that the GMs who finish at the bottom of the standings end up buying steak dinners for those at the top. As you might expect, it’s got some big-time internal bragging rights associated with it, and it’s a league I last won in 2013, when an unproven young pup named Le’Veon Bell hurt his ankle a few days before we auctioned and I was able to land him dirt cheap.

It’s a 14-team league with standard scoring (non-PPR, although this might be the last year we stick to the Old Ways) that starts one QB, two RB, three WR, one TE, one Flex (RB/WR/TE), one K, and three IDP (one each DL/LB/DB) with five bench spots. We’ve got a $200 auction budget, and it tends to go quickly. The competition is fierce — other GMs in the league include Chris Liss, Jeff Erickson, Mike Doria, Scott Jensted, and plenty of other names you’d recognize from around the site.

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