Alvin Kamara, Duke Johnson, Donte Moncrief in the August 8 NFL Fantasy Roundup

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2019

New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41) runs through drills during training camp at their NFL football training facility in Metairie, La., Monday, July 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

It's August, which means fantasy football drafts are right around the corner, and the best fantasy players know that the research done during this time period—as training camp is in full swing and the preseason is underway—can make or break a draft. 

This is the time where sleepers can be uncovered, or where a few reports can put you off a player being drafted way too high. This is where new handcuffs for star players emerge, or where lingering health concerns might foreshadow a down season for fantasy studs of old. 

So, with that in mind, let's go through the news fantasy players need to know from Aug. 8.


Alvin Kamara

Fantasy players may have been hoping Alvin Kamara would see an even bigger workload in 2019, with Mark Ingram now in Baltimore. But as ESPN's Mike Triplett wrote, head coach Sean Payton doesn't want to push Kamara much beyond the workload he saw for most of last season:

"When Ingram was suspended for the first four games last year, Kamara was on pace for 1,100 rushing yards, 1,344 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns—which would have made him just the third 1,000/1,000 back in NFL history.

"But here’s the snag if you're thinking of taking Kamara with the No. 1 overall pick in your fantasy league: Payton doesn't want Kamara playing 82 percent of the Saints' offensive snaps like he did during that four-game stretch.

"Payton actually prefers the 61 percent that Kamara settled into for the rest of the games he played in, including the playoffs.

"'It will be similar to what we've been seeing,' Payton said of Kamara's expected usage. 'We've been pleased with the balance we've had with him. We think it’s been a good count.'"

Payton added that "our pitch count and how we've played and utilized him has been really good."

Granted, Kamara is going to be the focal point of New Orleans' offense again, or at least a primary focal point. And a player with his impact in both the run- and pass-game deserves to be a top-five pick in all fantasy formats. 

But that "pitch count" Payton mentioned limits Kamara's ceiling just enough that he shouldn't be the first player off the board in fantasy drafts. Players like Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott (if he ends his holdout) and Le'Veon Bell, among others, could have larger overall workloads.

Don't be afraid of Kamara. Just be realistic about his usage.


Duke Johnson

The biggest roster news on the day, without question, was running back Duke Johnson being traded from the Cleveland Browns to the Houston Texans, a move that should bolster the fantasy stock of several players, including Johnson.

Matthew Berry @MatthewBerryTMR

Some quick thoughts on Duke Johnson to the Texans and what it means for Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, Dontrell Hilliard, Deshaun Watson, Lamar Miller, Keleher Coutee and of course Duke Johnson himself. https://t.co/U8RqcebMEn

In Cleveland, Johnson was firmly the No. 2 option behind Nick Chubb and would have been the No. 3 option once Kareem Hunt returned from suspension. In Houston, he'll still start at No. 2 on the depth chart behind Lamar Miller, but should have a bigger role in Houston.

Miller, frankly, isn't as dynamic as Chubb, and it's hard to imagine the Texans parted with a 2020 fourth-round pick—that can turn into a third-rounder, per ESPN's Adam Schefter—just to relegate him to a passing-down role.

Johnson has always appeared to have more talent than the role he was afforded in Cleveland. In Houston, he should be able to prove it. 

Field Yates @FieldYates

On Duke Johnson, Jr.: * Under contract through 2021 * Due base salaries of $1.8M, $3.6M, $4.65M * Since entering the NFL in 2015, he leads all RB with 2,170 receiving yards * Third in RB receptions since 2015 with 235 * Career rushing average of 4.3 on 299 attempts

Adam Rank @adamrank

Duke Johnson is immediately the No. 2 receiving option for the Texans. Love this move.


Johnson also ranks 2nd in forced missed tackles per reception (0.34), 7th in yards per route run (1.73) and 4th in percentage of receptions resulting in a first down or touchdown (44.0%). https://t.co/XxCHQnBRvT

He instantly becomes a flex consideration for fantasy players, especially in PPR formats, and should become an excellent safety valve for quarterback Deshaun Watson. Chubb, meanwhile, is now clearly the top dog in Cleveland until Hunt's return, while Miller is nothing more than a fringe top-30 selection and a player who could fall completely out of fantasy relevance if Houston gives Johnson a bigger role.

Another player to keep an eye on is Dontrell Hilliard, who will now take on Johnson's previous role in Cleveland:

Mike Clay @MikeClayNFL

Dontrell Hilliard had no carries as an undrafted rookie, but was targeted 8 times on 41 snaps during Freddie Kitchens' time as OC. He caught all 8 for 105 yards. New presumed backup to Chubb during Cleveland's first 8 games of 2019.

Pat Chiesa @PatChiesa

Dontrell Hilliard has been one of the bright spots at #Browns training camp. The #Tulane product is suddenly about to have an important role in Freddie Kitchens’ offense.

Sam Monson @PFF_Sam

Browns fans, this is why Duke Johnson became surplus to requirements: https://t.co/DRgpwJrpAc

His workload likely will have a short shelf life, with Hunt's eventual return to eat into his touches, but in deeper formats, he's a player who should absolutely be rostered.


Donte Moncrief

There's no doubt that JuJu Smith-Schuster is now Pittsburgh's top option in the passing game and is poised for a big season in his new role. The question has been who the Steelers' No. 2 option would be with Antonio Brown now in Oakland.

According to Dan Graziano of ESPN, the answer appears to be Donte Moncrief:

Dan Graziano @DanGrazianoESPN

Some thoughts from @steelers camp after my visit there Wednesday: 1. The young WRs are promising, but Donte Moncrief sounds like the front-runner for WR2 at this point. 2. Rookie LB Devin Bush is impressing the… https://t.co/onpgKNHxgr

Moncrief himself said he's already felt a strong connection with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, per Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"As you can tell from camp and OTAs, the connection is there. It's crazy how fast he connected with me, how fast he learned the way I ran my routes and the spots I would be in. As you can tell, we continue to get better and better. We just want to keep going from that and keep getting better. It’s going to be a fun year. It’s going to be exciting."

It's worth noting that Pittsburgh's passing attack in recent years has supported two relevant fantasy receivers. Here are the stats for the team's No. 2 receiver behind Antonio Brown in recent seasons:

  • Smith-Schuster, 2018: 111 receptions for 1,426 yards and seven scores.
  • Smith-Schuster, 2017: 58 receptions for 917 yards and seven scores.
  • Martavis Bryant, 2015: 50 receptions for 765 yards and six touchdowns (11 games).
  • Emmanuel Sanders, 2013: 67 receptions for 740 yards and six scores.

It's possible James Washington could eventually win the No. 2 job. But for now, Moncrief is a player who should be firmly on your fantasy radar as a potential late-round steal. Don't expect him to post Smith-Schuster numbers, but don't sleep on him, either.


Quick Hits

Monitor Jerick McKinnon's health status very seriously. The possibility that he could start the season on injured reserve makes him a risky addition until there is more clarity on his situation:

Nick Wagoner @nwagoner

#49ers RB Jerick McKinnon dealing with soreness in his knee after practicing past two days. He did not participate today. Coach Kyle Shanahan said McKinnon is getting a platelet rich plasma injection and will miss next two weeks before getting back in mix.

Matt Maiocco @MaioccoNBCS

#49ers RB Jerick McKinnon’s knee was not feeling good after working the past two days. He’ll be shut down for a while. He can’t go back on PUP. If he’s slow to recover, the only option would be to start season on IR and come back later in the season.

Ty Montgomery, meanwhile, is turning some heads for the New York Jets.

"He's a threat," quarterback Sam Darnold told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.

"His versatility and his flexibility and his knowledge... and he's extremely smart," head coach Adam Gase added. "So, we put a lot on his plate and he's able to play a lot of different roles for us."

Montgomery is a deep, deep sleeper, given that much of what he offers Le'Veon Bell simply does better. But if the Jets are truly taken with Montgomery, they'll find a way to get him involved in the offense. He's a player to keep an eye on in the preseason, at the very least.