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August 06, 2020

Fantasy football: Which NFL players are opting out of the 2020 season? How will it impact your draft?

As you no doubt are aware, NFL players have been permitted to opt out of the 2020 season for various reasons, among them pre-existing health conditions or family issues that make playing with no bubble during the coronavirus pandemic a huge risk.

For fantasy football players, this adds yet another wrinkle to a season that is sure to be intense, complicated and frustrating (if it even happens).

Keeping track of positive tests every week will become second nature, just like tracking injuries is. But before the season starts, it's worth taking a look at the fantasy players (at skill positions) from whom opt outs have an impact on draft stocks of other players, roster spots and more. 

Here are the most relevant fantasy football opt outs so far:

Travis Benjamin, WR, 49ers

Benjamin wasn't much of a contributor to the NFC Champs, and his absence from the team will give more reps to youngsters Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and others.

Damien Williams, RB, Chiefs

This is perhaps the biggest opt out so far as far as fantasy goes. Williams led Kansas City in rushing last season and had seven total touchdowns. His absence will more or less clear the gates for rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire — a shifty first round pick many fantasy drafts are seeing go in the first or second round. DeAndre Washington will likely be the No. 2.

Allen Hurns, Albert Wilson, WR, Dolphins

Neither of these pass-catchers were much more than depth behind DeVante Parker and Preston Williams.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, Eagles

Goodwin was competing for a spot on the roster and had he made the team, he'd have been the fourth or fifth wide receiver and would not have been draftable in fantasy leagues.

Geronimo Allison, WR, Lions

Allison had two touchdown catches from Aaron Rodgers last season and could have found a role as the fourth WR in Detroit if he hadn't opted out.

Devin Funchess, WR, Packers

Funchess was injured for most of 2019, but had he been on the roster this coming season there's a good chance he would have made an impact catching passes from Rodgers. Funchess has 21 career TDs and had just under 1,400 receiving yards in 2018 and 2019 combined. The competition behind Devante Adams is wide open.

And here are the biggest fantasy football names currently out with positive tests:

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Lions

The second year tight end was one of eight Lions put on the Reserve/COVID list and is also recovering from an ankle injury. Depending on his health status and how much he is able to work in training camp, he may have a slow start to the 2020 season.

Jace Sternberger, TE, Packers

In a very similar situation to Hockenson above, Sternberger was drafted in 2019 but was on the IR all year with an ankle injury. He is being touted as a possible breakout candidate this season, but depending on how much he can practice this August that might once again be put on hold.

Mason Crosby, K, Packers

Crosby is obviously Green Bay's kicker, and if he has complications for whatever reason they'll need a new one. 

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB, Buccaneers

Vaughn was a third round pick by Tampa Bay and behind Ronald Jones he could get a lot of touches in Tom Brady's offense. A rookie missing time in the beginning of August is a very bad thing, and it could stunt his development and usage a bit. The Bucs signed LeSean McCoy last week, which could be a sign that they do not expect Vaughn to contribute right away. The RB is definitely a draftable player and his stock took a hit when he was added to the COVID list.

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