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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
"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.
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:
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.