We’re tracking how Covid-19 is affecting players heading into the 2020 NFL season, and its fantasy impact.
Several players also being added to the recently created “Reserve/Covid-19 List,” a new reserve list category for players who either test positive for Covid-19 or who have been quarantined after being in close contact with an infected person. This doesn’t mean the player has tested positive, but it does mean the player has at least been around someone who has and he’s at least a risk to carry it to someone else.
Editor’s Note: This list is purely intended to serve as useful information for fantasy owners preparing for the 2020 season. 5th Down Fantasy believes that the health and safety of NFL players is far more important than anyone’s fantasy team. We condemn any online harassment of NFL players who have chosen the health and safety of family and/or themselves over playing in the 2020 season.
Players Opting Out of the 2020 Season
Geronimo Allison (WR, Lions) — Allison was expected to compete for the WR4 job in Detroit. His absence will give a larger opportunity to rookie WR Quintez Cephus out of Wisconsin. Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola will continue to fill the top-3 WR positions for Matthew Stafford’s Lions.
Sam Beal (CB, Giants) — Beal spent most of the 2019 season on injured reserve with a hamstring injury. He’ll be back in 2021 to compete for a roster spot.
Travis Benjamin (WR, 49ers) — San Francisco has a number of younger wide receivers which would have placed Travis Benjamin on the roster bubble (Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, Jalen Hurd, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis). Given he wasn’t a lock to make the game-day roster Benjamin wasn’t expected to be fantasy relevant in 2020. Benjamin will be 31 years old when the 2021 season commences next year.
Brandon Bolden (RB, Patriots) — Bolden was mainly used on special teams and provided the Patriots depth at RB.
Marcus Cannon (OT, Patriots) — He overcame Non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma before his pro career. Cannon has been a regular starter for the Patriots, including an All-Pro 2016 season. The NFL deadline to opt out is August 3rd.
Devin Funchess (WR, Packers) — Funchess signed a one-year deal with the Packers this offseason, and was expected to compete for the WR2 role opposite Davante Adams. He is decided to opt out of the 2020 season. Allen Lazard and Marques Valdes-Scantling move up the depth chart and will compete for a starting role. Funchess missed most of 2019 due to a broken collarbone and will try to latch onto another team in 2021.
E.J. Gaines (CB, Bills) — Gaines started his career in 2014 with the Rams, and has played for both the Bills and the Browns in his six NFL seasons. He’s a become a solid 3rd or 4th corner on a very good Buffalo defense.
Marcus Gilbert (OL, Cardinals) — Gilbert was placed on the active/NFI list with an “illness” over the weekend. It’s unclear if the beefy offensive lineman tested positive for COVID-19 but either way he won’t be helping the Cardinals this season.
Eddie Goldman (NT, Bears) — Goldman has been a star since being drafted in 2015, when he recorded 4.5 sacks. He’s recorded 12.5 sacks over his five years and has been a wall for running backs to get through. Playing on both passing and rushing downs, Goldman’s presence will be very tough to replicate and this transaction is a gut punch for the Bears defense.
Marquise Goodwin (WR, Eagles) — He was acquired via trade by the Eagles in the off-season. Goodwin opting out increases the fantasy value of Jalen Reagor. The 29-year-old hauled in 12 catches for 186 yards and one touchdown across nine games for the 49ers in 2019.
Dont’a Hightower (LB, Patriots) — He had a baby in mid-July. Hightower is a three-time Super Bowl champ and former Pro Bowler.
Allen Hurns (WR, Dolphins) — In his statement, Hurns said how tough a decision it was for him to make, but he ultimately decided to play it safe with a baby boy on the way. That leaves DaVante Parker, Preston Williams, Albert Wilson, and Jakeem Grant as the top-4 WRs on the Dolphins roster.
Ja’Wuan James (RT, Broncos) — Big loss for the Broncos as they lose their starting RT for the season. James signed a four-year, $51M contract with Denver last offseason. They’ll now need to find a replacement for James to help protect their biggest potential investment in QB Drew Lock.
Matt LaCosse (TE, Patriots) — LaCosse by default was being listed as the TE1 in New England after just catching 13 balls for 131 yards and one TD last season. With him now out of the picture, third-round draft choices Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene figure to be more involved in the offense. Asiasi is more of the pass-catching tight end of the two, and could have some sneaky value this season.
Marquise Lee (WR, Patriots) — Lee became a first time father in February. “We just feel like it wasn’t smart for us to go out and play this year,” said Lee. The 28-year-old’s one-year contract will roll into 2021. Lee hauled in three catches for 18 yards on four targets across six games for the Jaguars in 2019.
Christian Miller (LB, Panthers) — Miller is the second Carolina player to opt out this year. The 2019 fourth-round pick appeared in seven games for the Panthers last year.
C.J. Mosley (LB, Jets) — The former Raven played just two games for the Jets last season prior to suffering a groin injury last season. It’ll be another year in New York before the Jets get a good look at their top LB that signed a five-year, $85M contract last offseason.
Dan Vitale (FB, Patriots) — Vitale played in 15 games for the Packers last season and signed with the Patriots this offseason, who may have seen him as a replacement for James Devein, who retired from the NFL in the Spring. Now, New England will have to look elsewhere for a lead blocker for the likes of Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, and Rex Burkhead.
Damien Williams (RB, Chiefs) — Williams, coming off a monster performance in the playoffs was projected to be the Chiefs starting RB and form a one-two punch with first-round selection Clyde Edwards Helaire. Williams is set to rejoin the Chiefs for the 2021 campaign. Edwards Helaire has a clear path to serve as the Chiefs top running back and is projected to be a top-10 pick in redraft leagues.
Albert Wilson (WR, Dolphins) — Wilson joins Allen Hurns as Dolphins receivers to opt out of the 2020 season. Isaiah Ford and Jakeem Grant could see increased opportunities this year as a result.
*Confirmed positive Covid-19 test
Mason Crosby (K, Packers) — The Packers may look to bring in an extra leg during training camp just in case Crosby remains on the reserve/COVID-19 list for an extended period of time.
Ereck Flowers (OL, Dolphins) — Flowers was brought in this offseason to boost Miami’s run blocking abilities. He still has a chance to be cleared for Week 1. The Dolphins open the 2020 season with a visit to the New England Patriots.
T.J. Hockenson (TE, Lions) — With Hockenson being ranked the #16 tight end by our expert consensus, he would be a very risky draft pick until more news comes to light.
*Lane Johnson (OL, Eagles) — Johnson said that he feels “strong and ready to go” and that he can’t wait to join his teammates on the field soon. As a veteran, it shouldn’t take long for Johnson to acclimate himself prior to the season, but he and the Eagles are hopeful the All-Pro Tackle is ready to go for the regular season.
Jace Sternberger (TE, Packers) — Sternberger will need as many reps as possible in just his second season in Green Bay if he plans to take the place of veteran TE Jimmy Graham, who departed for Chicago in free agency. The Packers other tight ends are veteran Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, and rookie Josiah Deguara. Lewis would figure you see the bulk of passing-down work with Sternberger on the sidelines.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn (RB, Buccaneers) — In an already shortened-offseason, it’s already going to be tough out of the gates for rookies. Being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list could set Vaughn back even further. Ronald Jones II seems like a good bet to see a majority of the workload in the Bucs backfield, especially early in the season.
James Washington (WR, Steelers) — If Washington misses too much time, it’ll help Diontae Johnson see a larger volume of snaps. Chase Claypool could also see the field earlier than expected.
Activated Off Reserve/Covid-19 List