Friday, August 29, 2014

Fantasy Football Preseason Risers and Fallers

In addition to talent, opportunity is a huge part of fantasy football.  Through 3 weeks of the preseason, we have a much better idea about which players will see increased opportunities.  These players, depending on the size of your league could be shrewd free agent pick-ups or trade potential targets.  Emmanuel Sanders gets an honorable mention here, because his stock would rise if Wes Welker were to miss a significant portion of time.  As it stands, people are overreacting to Welker’s latest concussion and drafting Sanders as if he’s the clear #2 in the Broncos offense.  For the time being, I’ll pass on Sanders until the 6th round, so I know I’m not getting him in many leagues.

Stock up:
  1. Shane Vereen, RB New England Patriots: Stevan Ridley is losing grip on more than just the football recently.  His fumblitis has caused ESPN Boston to question whether he’ll even make the 53 man squad.  This paves the way for more touches for Vereen.  If he can stay healthy, he should catch a ton of passes, possibly leading all RBs in receptions.  A tight leash on Ridley should mean more carries for Vereen and even a few goal line touches.  
Preseason ADP: 6th round
Where he should go now: 4th round

  1. Doug Martin: RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The fantasy fallout of the recent trade of Logan Mankins for Tim Wright comes indirectly.  Sure, Wright is squarely on the TE2 radar, but he was there already after a pretty monstrous rookie year.  But the Bucs acquisition of a Pro Bowl LG and the recent injury to direct backup Charles Sims make Martin rare 3-down RB with monster upside.  He’s now in the top 10 RBs, so you’re confidently drafting him as your RB1.  The case can be made he’s best the position has to offer behind the big 5.
Pre-season ADP: late 2nd
Where he should go now: late 1st

  1. Justin Hunter, WR Tennessee Titans: Few players have generated more buzz than Just Hunter.  With 164 yards and 2 TDs in pre-season action, Tennessee coaches and players alike know he needs to be on the field in more than just 3 wide sets. He’s reportedly been a big part of the red zone package, with writers calling the fade to Hunter in the end zone unstoppable.   Kendall Wright will move the chains more between the 20s, but has never been a TD threat.  With Bishop Sankey struggling to adjust to pass protection in the pros and no other options in the passing game, Hunter should be able to eclipse 8-10 TDs with ease.  
Pre-season ADP: 11th Round
Where he should go now: 7th Round

  1. Jonathan Grimes, RB Houston Texans: Grimes started the pre-season buried on the depth chart.  Things changed quickly when Houston released both Andre Brown and Dennis Johnson following the first preseason game.  With Arian Foster a known injury risk, Grimes will likely make at least a few spots starts for the club, and that makes for a valuable addition.
Preseason ADP: undrafted
Where he should go now: 12th round

  1. Heath Miller, TE Pittsburgh Steelers: Miller has been a reliable back end TE1 for years now, but following his knee injury in 2012 Miller couldn’t quite muster the same numbers.  Always one of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite targets, Miler’s preseason has shown us that he is both healthy and ready to contribute in the red zone.  Rather than taking a flier on an unestablished 2nd year tight end who may rise to 1st on their team’s depth chart (read Ladarius Green, Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce), use your pick on Miller, and you won’t have to scour the waiver wire all season.
Preseason ADP: undrafted
Where he should go now: 11th round

Stock Down

  1. Bishop Sankey, RB Tennessee Titans: No rookie RB had as good an opportunity to take the job and run with it as did Bishop Sankey.  While he’s been moderately productive this pre-season (112 yards and TD), it’s been exclusively with the 2s and 3s.  At some point this season, Sankey should pass plodder Shonn Greene, but don’t expect much production in the first month.  By that point, Frank Gore or Steven could be hurt and fellow rookie ball carrier Carlos Hyde or Devonta Freeman would be more valuable commodities given their superior talents displayed thus far.  
Pre-season ADP: 5th round
Where he should go now: 7th or later

  1. Le’Veon Bell, RB Pittsburgh Steelers: Let’s be clear.  Bell will likely NOT be suspended this season due to his recent arrest for a DUI and possession of marijuana.  His stock is falling more due to a potential timeshare with partner in crime LeGarrette Blount.   In typical fashion, Bell projects as the early down back, with Blount handling goal-line duties.  To justify his ADP, Bell needs to stay in for 3rd down and handle the red zone work, only likely if Blount gets hurt.  They’ll likely end up pretty even on carries and points, so I like Blount as the better value.
Pre-season ADP: 2nd round
Where he should go now: 4th round  

  1. Trent Richardson, RB Indianapolis Colts: Since his arrival in Indy, and even in the weeks leading up to the trade, Trent Richardson has done nothing to justify his worth as an NFL starting running back.  He looks tentative to hit the hole and can’t break tackles running east to west.  Averaging a paltry 2.55 YPC through 3 pre-season games, Richardson looks lost.  And if he’s not careful, he’ll lose his starting gig to Ahmad Bradshaw.  The Colts would be wise look to a more aggressive, pass oriented offense this season, and have hinted than doing so may help open up the running game.  Either way, Richardson won’t be getting the volume or productivity needed to be fantasy relevant on the season, so I’m avoiding him at all costs.
Pre-season ADP: 5th Round
Where he should go now: 9th round or later

  1. Josh Gordon
In case you haven’t heard, Josh Gordon’s appeal was finally heard and denied yesterday, so he won’t play this year.  A player with an insane amount of talent bordering on 1st round value, Gordon had been rising to the 10th/11th round in hopes he would be able to play at least some portion of the season.  The long wait is over, so if you’re still drafting, leave him in the FA pool.  Use that pick on one of the previously mentioned risers.

If you liked the column and want to read more or ask for fantasy advice, follow me on twitter @srjhogan

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