Read ESPN’s fantasy football daily notes every weekday to stay caught up on the news you need to know and get a head start on the fantasy football content coming today and tomorrow to ESPN.com and the ESPN Fantasy App.
The news: Panthers coach Matt Rhule said at a press conference that he is unlikely to make a decision about the starting quarterback before the second preseason game on August 19.
What it means in fantasy: Baker Mayfield was traded to the Panthers back in May, and the Panthers gave up draft picks in the process. I would be shocked if he lost this quarterback battle to Sam Darnold. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Panthers’ quarterbacks posted a QBR of 30.3 last season. Darnold was the only non-rookie with a lower QBR than Mayfield, with a 35.1 QBR last season and dealt with a shoulder injury.
Going deeper: Mayfield is only one season removed from a solid 2020 campaign where he led the Browns to an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance for the first time since 2002. He threw for 3,563 yards and 26 touchdowns that season. He’s an upgrade over Darnold, which bodes well for DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey.
The news: Panthers head coach Matt Rhule discussed his plans for Christian McCaffrey in 2022 and suggests he’ll continue to have a similar role.
What it means in fantasy: This is music to the ears of fantasy managers considering McCaffrey’s recent per game production. Over the last two seasons, he only played 10 games, but averaged 115.9 yards and 21.8 fantasy points per game. The Panthers also worked on improving the offensive line in the offseason. An influx of top-tier free agents and a first-round pick provided the necessary talent.
Going deeper: Jonathan Taylor should be drafted No. 1 overall, but if you have the 1.02 don’t hesitate to select McCaffrey.
The news: According to ESPN’s Nick Wagoner, Elijah Mitchell continues to be the starter at running back /p>
What it means in fantasy: This is the news fantasy managers wanted to hear. Averaging 29.3 rushing attempts per game, the 49ers ranked sixth in the league. Mitchell averaged 18.8 touches per game last season. He had five games with 100+ rushing yards. This was the most by a rookie in 49ers history. You should feel very comfortable drafting Mitchell at his average draft position of RB23 in our live draft trends. /p>
The news: Following surgery on his shoulder, Jimmy Garoppolo is now cleared to practice without restrictions, but the 49ers do not appear to have a trade partner for him.
What it means in fantasy: He’s been working separately from the team in training camp and it’s possible he won’t be traded until late in the month or early in the season, should a team suddenly develop a need.
Going deeper: With Garoppolo’s salary and situation, one team he could get traded to, and be fantasy-relevant right away, would be the Falcons, where Marcus Mariota is currently slated to start Week 1. Garoppolo could be viewed as a low-end QB2 if given an opportunity to start. For now, he’s only draftable as a flyer in deeper leagues where 24+ quarterbacks are rostered.
The news: Kareem Hunt participated in practice today after his recent training camp hold-in, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter.
What it means in fantasy: On Saturday Hunt skipped team drills in training camp in an attempt to get a new contract. He’s in the final year of the deal, but the reality is that Hunt didn’t have much leverage. He has averaged 13 touches per game since joining the Browns in 2019 and has averaged 0.8 fantasy points per touch. Hunt will continue to play a key role in the Browns’ backfield in 2022.
The news: The Vikings’ new coaching staff has “embraced” Adam Thielen in the red zone, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reports.
What it means in fantasy: This is great news considering the new coaching regime and it sounds like Thielen will have a role. Fantasy managers should take note of this considering Thielen is the WR33 in our live draft trends. /p>
Going deeper: Since 2018, Kirk Cousins and Thielen have combined for 39 touchdowns, the third-most among quarterback-wide receiver duos.
The news: JK Dobbins will be re-evaluated on Monday, according to Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.
What it means in fantasy: Currently on the PUP list, Dobbins is recovering from a torn ACL. Despite his public assertions that he’s healthy and ready to go, the Ravens are unlikely to rush him back. In a Ravens offense that ranked third last season with 30.4 rushing attempts per game, Dobbins carries a lot of uncertainty heading into the season. /p>
Going deeper: At his average draft position, I would rather prioritize Breece Hall, Diontae Johnson, or DK Metcalf. It would be a good idea to wait to select Gus Edwards late — currently, he is the RB55 — if you are still determined to get exposure to the Ravens backfield.
The news: Nico Collins is the “clear” No. 2 receiver in the Texans’ camp, according to ESPN’s DJ Bien-Aime.
What it means in fantasy: Collins has been one of my favorite players to target in the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts, and he should be one of yours as well. Collins caught 33 passes for 446 yards and one touchdown during the 2021 season despite basic rookie struggles and inconsistency at quarterback, and you can see his potential on film. He has been highly praised by coaches and teammates, as well as publicly by quarterback Davis Mills. A breakout sophomore season is in store for Collins.
The news: Saints head coach Dennis Allen said that Michael Thomas participated for the first time in team drills and that he looked excellent.
What it means in fantasy: The notable aspect of this was that Thomas played in just seven games in 2020 due primarily to an ankle injury and missed the entire 2021 season following ankle surgery. During his first four seasons of his career, Thomas had at least 1,100 receiving yards in four consecutive seasons. It would be nice if fantasy managers had a crystal ball to see if Thomas can be the superstar he was before he hurt his ankle. You should be willing to take a chance on him at his current average draft position of WR28.
The news: Khalil Herbert is expected to see more usage this season under new Bears offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.
What it means in fantasy: Although David Montgomery is healthy, Herbert has been getting plenty of work with the first-team offense during training camp. In a strange move, Montgomery has seen some special teams action, something that starting running backs rarely do. But it is best not to overreact to this news. Montgomery averaged 18.6 touches per game in his career. He’s in line to see a similar workload, but it would be wise to prioritize drafting Herbert in the double-digit rounds. If Montgomery were to miss time, Herbert could be a league winner.
Today on ESPN.com and in the ESPN Fantasy App
Matt Bowen identifies players who have the skills but just need an opportunity to become fantasy stars.
• Fantasy Focus podcast: Double Trouble with the Chiefs and Raiders.
In case you missed it:
Eric Karabell’s annual Do Not Draft list highlights the big-name players you should let others take.