Fantasy Football 2020: Stock Up, Stock Down After NFL's Latest Developments

Brad Gagnon@Brad_Gagnon NFL National ColumnistAugust 18, 2020

Fantasy Football 2020: Stock Up, Stock Down After NFL's Latest Developments

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    When you conduct your fantasy football draft this summer, you'll have to do so with no preseason tape or statistics and very limited reports out of training camps that are less involved than usual as a result of restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    As a result, every morsel of news regarding on- or off-field developments is critical. 

    Based on recent developments surrounding players who might be on your fantasy radar, here's a fresh stock report from the world of fantasy football. 

Stock Up: New York Jets TE Chris Herndon

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    In the final 11 games of his 2018 rookie season, New York Jets tight end Chris Herndon compiled 455 yards and four touchdowns. That made him a strong breakout candidate before his sophomore campaign was derailed by injuries and a suspension. 

    But the 24-year-old 2018 fourth-round pick is healthy now and the subject of plenty of buzz at Jets camp. 

    Three months after Connor Hughes of The Athletic noted that the organization "can't wait to unleash" Herndon, Charles McDonald of the New York Daily News reported that Jets head coach Adam Gase has high expectations for the Miami product. 

    "Chris gives us a lot of flexibility," Gase said, per McDonald. "It's rare to have a guy with the ability to be as effective as a pass-catcher and a guy that's explosive when he gets the ball in his hands, and still be an on-the-line tight end that can block in the run game and also pass-protect."

    It wouldn't be surprising if Herndon were to move up into the second tier at that position, alongside the likes of Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper, Jared Cook and Evan Engram. For now, though, you can probably get him several rounds later than those guys.

Stock Down: Las Vegas Raiders WR Tyrell Williams

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    D. Ross Cameron/Associated Press

    The moment the Las Vegas Raiders used a first-round draft pick on speedy wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, veteran wideout Tyrell Williams' fantasy value took a hit. Of course, it also didn't help Williams' cause that the team used a Day 2 pick on Bryan Edwards and signed vet Nelson Agholor to team up with Williams and Hunter Renfrow. 

    Now, Kyle Martin of the team's official website notes that the 28-year-old Williams "might not be the featured receiver on offense" in 2020. 

    With running back Josh Jacobs also expecting to be a big part of the Las Vegas passing game this season, there might not be enough opportunities for any particular Raiders receiver to emerge as an elite fantasy option. 

    There was some buzz surrounding Williams ahead of his debut season in Oakland, but the former 1,000-yard receiver was plagued by plantar fasciitis and failed to hit the 700-yard mark. Now, even though he's apparently healthy, it might be time to remove the handsomely paid, accomplished receiver from your draft board. 

Stock Up: Denver Broncos WR KJ Hamler

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    It could be difficult for rookies to make noise early with no preseason and limited offseason work this year, but that fear of the unknown could also generate tremendous value for first-year fantasy options. 

    One potential example of a possible impact rookie hiding below radar is the case of Denver Broncos second-round wide receiver KJ Hamler, who naturally hasn't gotten as much attention as incumbent No. 1 Courtland Sutton or rookie first-rounder Jerry Jeudy. 

    Aric DiLalla of the team's official website believes Hamler "can make a big-time impact for Denver early in the season." 

    The explosive Penn State product has already flashed a little bit in camp, and beyond Sutton the Denver receiver depth chart should be wide open. At this point he's still not worth a pick outside of the last round or two, but Hamler's stock is worth monitoring between now and the start of the regular season. 

Stock Down: Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

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    Brandon Wade/Associated Press

    Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup is a 24-year-old Day 2 draft pick entering his third season after a 1,107-yard, six-touchdown sophomore campaign. That trajectory would ordinarily be extremely promising, but Gallup might be in the wrong spot at the wrong time. 

    Not only will the Cowboys likely lean heavily on Amari Cooper after making the veteran Pro Bowler the second-highest-paid wideout in professional football this offseason, but there's also hype surrounding rookie first-round receiver CeeDee Lamb. 

    According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is "excited" about Lamb, who has already flashed his versatility in camp. 

    "He's definitely shown the ability to play all three spots at the receiver position," McCarthy said, per Gehlken. "... He looks very natural on the football field."

    Like with Hamler, you might understandably remain skittish about paying a draft premium for Lamb right now. But his ceiling combined with the presence of Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott should cause you to think twice before assigning a starting fantasy spot to Gallup. 

Stock Up: Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Justin Watson

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    If you happened to roll the dice on Tampa Bay Buccaneers No. 3 receiver Breshad Perriman down the stretch last season, the oft-overlooked former first-round pick might have won you your fantasy league by putting up 215 yards and three touchdowns in Weeks 15 and 16. 

    Now, all fantasy eyes should be on whoever relieves the departed Perriman in 2020, and it appears third-year fifth-round pick Justin Watson has a leg up on the competition. 

    According to The Athletic's Greg Auman, Bucs head coach Bruce Arians recently praised Watson at camp, noting that he's shed some pounds and looks faster. 

    With rookie fifth-round pick Tyler Johnson missing time with a soft-tissue injury, it looks as though Watson might have an edge to earn the No. 3 job over Johnson and Scotty Miller. His ceiling is likely higher than both because of his superior measurables, so he might be the top Tampa option as a flier or a handcuff for Mike Evans or Chris Godwin. 

Stock Down: New England Patriots RB Sony Michel

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    Steven Senne/Associated Press

    When the New England Patriots signed veteran running back Lamar Miller last week, it should have been a pretty clear sign that the team isn't confident in back Sony Michel's chances of returning to health and full form by the start of the 2020 regular season. 

    That's a shame because there could have been some value for Michel after the 2018 first-round pick struggled as a sophomore before undergoing foot surgery.

    But now, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reports that "it's still no sure thing" Michel will be ready to open the season against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13. 

    Until those prospects change, the 25-year-old should only be considered a middle-round flier if you have a pair of elite backs already in place. Anything more than that is too risky, especially with Miller, James White, Damien Harris and Rex Burkhead all on the running back depth chart in New England. 

Stock Up: Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    With Agholor gone, Alshon Jeffery still recovering from a foot injury and rookie Jalen Reagor potentially limited by the circumstances surrounding training camp and the preseason, an opening could exist for veteran wide receiver DeSean Jackson to become a fantasy force again in 2020. 

    Early reports out of Eagles camp indicate he could be ready to make the most of said chance. 

    "The buzz has been that Jackson is as fast as ever following core muscle surgery last season,"'s Tim McManus wrote last week, "and he sure looked like himself here, even at 33 years old."

    The three-time Pro Bowler played in just three games last year, but he scored two touchdowns in those outings and he's led the league in yards per catch in two of his last four seasons. The Eagles have the offensive ingredients for him to bounce back in 2020, and he looks to be on the right track. 

    Don't be afraid to draft him in the middle rounds. 

Stock Down: Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Fantasy peeps hoping the Buccaneers might finally give them a reliable backfield option when the team used a third-round draft pick on Ke'Shawn Vaughn might have to shift their expectations. 

    It's still possible Tampa Bay will field a strong fantasy back this season, but it's becoming increasingly unlikely that'll be Vaughn, who spent a good chunk of training camp on the reserve/COVID-19 list. 

    While Vaughn was sidelined, the team signed veteran LeSean McCoy to pair with Ronald Jones II, who was recently labeled the "main guy" in the running game by Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians. 

    Jones has disappointed thus far in his career, but the 2018 second-round pick compiled 225 yards from scrimmage in his final two games as a sophomore. 

    With the intriguing Dare Ogunbowale also in the mix, Vaughn should probably be considered merely a later-round handcuff/flier for now. 

Stock Up: New York Jets RB Le'Veon Bell

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    With New York Jets newcomer Frank Gore likely to take some of Le'Veon Bell's work in 2020, those considering drafting Bell had better hope it'll be quality over quantity from a player who was a tremendous disappointment in 2019. 

    The two-time first-team All-Pro averaged an AFC-worst 3.2 yards per carry in his debut season with the Jets, but the offense was a mess elsewhere and he was coming off a season-long holdout. 

    Could he be in for a bounce-back year regardless of his workload? 

    According to Eric Allen of the team's official website, Jets head coach Adam Gase told the media early in camp that Bell is "extremely motivated" and in "phenomenal shape." 

    "He's been working extremely hard," Gase said, per Allen, "and he looks really good."

    That came several weeks after Connor Hughes of The Athletic reported that Bell was training hard during the offseason. And while none of that means he'll be able to rediscover his former magic in 2020, you can't count out a dude who was utterly dominant as recently as 2017. 

    Bell should still be considered an RB2. 

Stock Down: Any Receiver or Back on the San Francisco 49ers Roster

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The dreaded "C" word might once again help the San Francisco 49ers remain fresh while making every offensive weapon on the roster not named George Kittle a fantasy gamble in 2020. 

    There'll almost certainly be another committee in the backfield, where positive returns regarding Jerick McKinnon likely mean a deep running back rotation involving McKinnon, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman. 

    Meanwhile, at receiver, top target Deebo Samuel's status remains murky as he fights back from a foot injury, Jalen Hurd suffered a torn ACL Monday, Trent Taylor is also easing back from a major injury, nobody knows what to expect from rookie Brandon Aiyuk following a weird offseason, and Tavon Austin and J.J. Nelson have suddenly been added to the fray. 

    If you're drafting today, don't count on any of the backs or receivers on the San Francisco roster to start for your fantasy team this season.