Draft Guide Rankings Update

·5 min read

With training camp in full swing, the time has come for more regular rankings updates. We account for every injury, depth chart drama, and intriguing coach quote in our award-winning draft guide powered by Rotoworld. With the full rankings available in the guide, here is a sampling of some of this week's changes.

Moved Cam Akers down

I spent the summer connecting Akers dots. The Rams love him so much they gave him 67 playoff carries six months after he popped his Achilles' tendon. They let Sony Michel walk in free agency before adding only fifth-round rookie Kyren Williams. Sean McVay has talked in the past of Akers being a “special player,” one who could handle all three downs. I also took a glass-half-full approach to Akers' playoff struggles. Yes, he was a subpar back as the Rams lifted the Lombardi, but he was also able to regain trust in his surgically-repaired leg <i>before</i> the offseason, a luxury few injured backs get.

But best ball drafters never gave up on their Darrell Henderson love, and McVay gave them plenty of reason for hope with his comments earlier this week. “I look at it as we've got two starting (running) backs,” McVay claimed. “Those guys are great complements (to) one another, but I see them as both starting-caliber players. We need to get them involved. They need to be on the field. I think it's healthy for them to be able to supplement one another.” Let's be clear: This is coachspeak. But it also highlights the unsaid. McVay has never hesitated to praise Akers before, while he has felt free to nitpick Henderson. So why no Akers vote of confidence now? Is his leg still not all the way back? Is McVay comfortable continuing with his post-Todd Gurley committee approach?

There are any number of explanations, including it was July 31 and McVay was simply bored and giving bland quotes. It is still something we can't ignore, and a signal for me to get more in line with industry consensus after previously ranking Akers as a top-10 back because of his three-down, touchdown-scoring upside in this elite offense.

Added Isiah Pacheco

Pacheco was already on Dynasty league watchlists after the Chiefs snuck him onto the roster with the No. 251 overall pick, but he has developed an ADP after impressing in pad-less work and the early days of training camp. Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer has reported Pacheco is “lighting up” practice, while coach Andy Reid himself has allowed that “he's got a little juice, got some good speed.” That “good speed” is 4.37, and it has already earned him the Chiefs' first crack at kick returns, not to mention some reps with the first-team offense. If Pacheco's early hype translates to the preseason field, he could be looking at real touches in a backfield where neither Clyde Edwards-Helaire nor Ronald Jones is known for seizing the day, and third-down option Jerick McKinnon is a modest Plan B. To be clear, there is still no guarantee Pacheco even makes the 53-man roster. But this is the kind of noise you ignore at your own peril.

Shuffled Broncos receivers post-Tim Patrick injury — and post-James Palmer interview on A Good Football Show

Tim Patrick's torn ACL is a major blow to the Broncos' real-life receiver corps. The effect is more muted in fantasy football, where drafters were treating Patrick as a WR5. According to NFL Network's James Palmer, that may have been about to change. Appearing on A Good Football Show, Palmer — who is based in Denver and a constant presence at Broncos practices — said it was Patrick, not Jeudy who was operating as Russell Wilson's No. 2 receiver before he tore up his knee. Not only that, Palmer reported that Sutton has been operating as the clear No. 1 after his frustrating post-injury 2021. Sutton's sideline domination and deep game certainly gel with what Wilson did well in Seattle. Although Jeudy entered the NFL with a reputation as a wideout who could do work both in the slot and down the field, it has been the former where he's buttered his big-league bread between injuries. After stubbornly keeping Sutton ahead of Jeudy in the ranks, I could no longer do so following Palmer's talk. As for the new No. 3, KJ Hamler, he is not the kind of player — read, 5-foot-9 — known for making noise with Wilson. Hamler should pop for some big plays, but he will be close to impossible to trust in conventional re-draft leagues.

Moved Justin Fields up

Rankings can be an inexact science, to put it mildly. Genuine epiphanies can arrive out of nowhere. I had one earlier this week when I realized I couldn't justify my barely-there QB2 ranking for Fields. Although Fields was a passing disaster as a rookie, we know the real fantasy story was the previous coaching staff's absolute refusal to take advantage of dual-thread Fields' legs, leaving his rushing production solely up to scrambling chance. Assuming rational coaching can be a dangerous NFL game, but there is simply no way offensive coordinator Luke Getsy's staff will commit the same malpractice with Fields' rushing. That is especially true since the cavalry did not arrive in the passing game. I had an inexcusably large gap between Fields and fellow sophomore dual-threat Trey Lance. It has not been closed all the way — we can't ignore Lance's coach and supporting cast — but it has been dramatically lessened.

Moved Deshaun Watson down

Although the NFL continues to make a hash of its most delicate legal situation in years, there are growing indications the league's appeal of independent arbitrator Sue Robinson's six-game suspension will result in a much longer ban. The only good news for Watson is that commissioner Roger Goodell has said he will not use his unilateral power, instead entrusting judgment to ex-New Jersey attorney general Peter Harvey. A situation that has been chaotic in the best of times has grown so confusing it will probably soon be best to pull it off the board altogether, leaving Watson out of the ranks entirely.