The only certainty about the 2020 NFL season is that it will be rife with uncertainty. With COVID-19 impacting all aspects of life in the United States and around the world, this coming fantasy football season will be unpredictable in ways that we can’t even yet imagine.
Before we go any further, let’s make one thing clear. This pandemic is affecting millions of lives around the world, both from deaths and health concerns as well as unemployment and financial strains. Our first concern should be people’s well-being with fantasy football a distant second. That said, there are some current NFL players to consider downgrading in fantasy football drafts this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Even healthy individuals can develop breathing difficulties and other life-threatening issues after contracting COVID, but the below list of players either have heightened risk of severe symptoms or even death due to underlying conditions or have a greater chance of opting out of the season due to their individual situations. You may not have to completely avoid drafting them, but I will be moving them down in my rankings due to these additional risks. ADPs are for PPR formats courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator.
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Fantasy Football Players with COVID Concerns
James Conner (30th Overall ADP, RB17)
Conner is perhaps the most well-known given his hometown hero status in Pittsburgh. Raised in Pennsylvania, he attended Pitt and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma back in 2015. While healthy now, some cancer patients are at increased risk from infection and other complications due to their immune systems being weakened by cancer and chemotherapy. Though he has top-10 fantasy running back potential, his lengthy injury history in 2019 and his additional COVID concerns make a top-30 ADP far too rich.
Mark Andrews (42nd Overall ADP, TE3)
Andrews was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of nine. Though he has lived with the disease since and has managed it well, people with diabetes have had higher rates of serious complications and death when contracting COVID. Andrews could rise to the elite tier of fantasy tight ends as Lamar Jackson‘s top target, particularly in the red zone, but his health risks this season make him a risk/reward bet in the fourth round of fantasy football drafts. There was previously concern that Andrews could opt out of playing this season altogether, but he has since stated that he plans to play in 2020.
Tevin Coleman (90th Overall ADP, RB38)
During his tenure with Atlanta, Coleman famously was unsure about playing in Denver due to the high altitude potentially affecting him as a result of having sickle cell trait. Though having sickle cell trait is different from having sickle cell disease, those who have sickle cell disease are at heightened risk of severe illness from COVID-19. While the news of Raheem Mostert seeking a trade may boost Coleman’s ADP, I recently discussed the reasons why Mostert will likely remain with the 49ers in 2020 here. Coleman’s risk of complications from COVID make him a player to avoid if his ADP rises as a result of the news about Mostert.
John Brown (147th Overall ADP, WR55)
Brown was diagnosed with sickle cell trait in 2016 when MRIs revealed no issues with his sore hamstrings. Like Coleman, he does not have the disease, but those with sickle cell trait could still be at risk of more severe symptoms if they contract COVID. Buffalo’s offseason acquisition of Stefon Diggs and their adherence to a run-first offense already place Brown’s target volume in jeopardy. With the further risk of more severe COVID symptoms due to sickle cell trait, he should only be targeted in deeper fantasy football leagues.
Antonio Brown (Undrafted)
Brown was away from football for most of 2019 due to off-field concerns and is currently a free agent. Even if a team signs him, he could face suspension from the league, and him having sickle cell trait like Tevin Coleman and John Brown mentioned above only add to his growing list of risks. Brown is a fine dart throw in the last round or so of fantasy football drafts this year, but spending significant draft capital on a former superstar with such a long list of concerns would not be advisable.
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