Many think the preseason doesn't matter, but fantasy football draft boards say otherwise. Even with players seeing minimal playing time in the first game, a few plays can move the Average Draft Position (ADP) up. Poor performances and negative reports can move a player down. Here's a look at some players with rising and falling stock.
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Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals (ADP: 110)
The buzz is building. There's a lot of excitement about Murray and he's being drafted before several proven quarterbacks. Murray has a high floor due to his running ability and he can throw tight spirals into very small windows. Murray looked sharp in his preseason debut. (Though less-than-stellar in his second.) He was the sixth quarterback drafted in the 14-team Sports Illustrated mock draft Wednesday.
David Montgomery, Chicago Bears (ADP: 43)
Montgomery went in the sixth round of several drafts a few weeks ago. After looking good in the first preseason game, Montgomery has gone as early as round three. The rookie broke a lot of tackles in college at Iowa State and many believe he's going to get the majority of touches in the Bears’ backfield. Tarik Cohen has a role in the passing game and Mike Davis is in the mix, too. That said, Montgomery can catch the football and had three receptions in the first preseason game, and also found the end zone. Jordan Howard had 250 carries last season so there are plenty of opportunities for Montgomery to produce in the running game now that Howard has been shipped off to Philadelphia.
Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 57)
Carson is rising and has gone in the fourth round of recent drafts. The talk out of Seattle is Carson will be more involved in the passing game. The Seahawks were one of the most run-heavy teams last season and Carson was seventh in carries last season in 14 games. Offensive coordinator Brian Scottenheimer said he would like Carson to see around 50 targets. Last season, he saw just 24 targets. Fantasy football owners participating in PPR leagues are targeting Carson earlier than ever since news out of Seattle broke.
The days of getting Ballage as a late-round value running back are ending. Ballage opened camp running with the first-team and he has steadily risen. Now that Kenyan Drake is in a walking boot, there will be a significant jump in the coming days. Ballage went as the RB37 in the Sports Illustrated 14-man mock draft, while Drake went as the 40th RB off the board. It wasn’t too long ago when many experts were touting Kenyan Drake as the next breakout star with Adam Gase out of town. Oh, how quickly things can change in the world of fantasy football...
Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 109)
Breida was a bargain just a few weeks ago, which is one of the benefits of drafting early. However, Breida’s price is rising with Jerick McKinnon likely to begin the season on the injured reserve. Coach Kyle Shanahan likes to use multiple running backs, and while Tevin Coleman will be the team’s starter, Breida is going to get touches. The offensive scheme helps running backs and almost every running back who had touches last season performed well, including Jeffrey Wilson. Throughout his NFL career, Breida has averaged five yards per carry.
Duke Johnson, Houston Texans (ADP: 131)
Johnson wasn't being drafted high at all when he was still a member of the Cleveland Browns. He requested a trade in the offseason and wasn't happy in Cleveland, especially considering the arrival of Kareem Hunt. Hunt is expected to back up Nick Chubb once he returns after serving an eight-game suspension to begin the 2019 season. Johnson, who wasn't used much by the Browns last season, saw his value plummet this offseason, as he fell from second to third on Cleveland’s RB depth chart.
Things instantaneously changed when the Texans waived D’Onta Foreman, opening the door for a trade, which resulted in Johnson joining Lamar Miller in Houston’s backfield. The trade to the Texans has boosted Johnson's stock in a significant way. There's a path to touches and Johnson is beginning to go in the eighth and ninth rounds. Two years ago, he caught 74 passes for 693 yards and averaged 13.5 fantasy points per game. We could be looking at a similar situation in 2019.
Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers (ADP: 73)
There have been nothing but positive reports surfacing about Samuel out of Panthers training camp. Every day, a reporter is saying Samuel has been making big plays and is a tough cover. The buzz increases each day and he keeps rising up draft boards. Some are saying he could even surpass D.J. Moore as the team’s top wide receiver. Samuel is just 22 years old and could be a prime example of the third-year breakout wide receiver theory.
Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots (ADP: 193)
Meyers wasn't being drafted before training camp opened. He had six catches for 69 yards with two touchdowns on eight targets in the preseason opener. The undrafted free agent has been making plays in practice too, and it has not gone unnoticed by drafters. The Patriots are thin at wide receiver and Meyers is worth monitoring.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 97)
That didn't take long. Luck was going as the second or third quarterback in most drafts until the last few days. There's a chance Luck will not be ready for the season opener. In the latest Sports Illustrated mock draft, Luck was the 10th quarterback selected. The Colts aren't sure what the injury is. It went from a calf issue to a high ankle injury. Luck’s injury has been an issue for months and the Colts will be cautious with their franchise quarterback.
Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP: 26)
There are clear concerns with Gordon, who continues to hold out in the hopes of getting a new contract or a trade. Gordon was going in the first round of drafts back in June and July. Now, he's falling to the third round. The latest report says there has been no progress towards a new deal.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (ADP: 44)
Henry was going in the third round of drafts, but a calf injury has pushed him down to the fourth round and even the fifth round in a few drafts. He has been working on the side in practice with a football in hands, making cuts. Henry had an extremely strong finish to last season. In two contests against the Jaguars in Week 14 and the Giants in Week 15, Henry rushed for a combined 408 yards and six touchdowns. After inconsistent usage and production for most of the season, Henry finished the year with 1,059 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns. In PPR formats, he takes a hit since he had a mere 15 catches for 99 yards.
Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins (ADP: 71)
If you back Drake, this hasn't been a good training camp. Drake is falling fast. He injured his foot in practice Tuesday and was seen in a walking boot. There was already talk of Drake splitting carries with Kalen Ballage. Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said Drake would be out “a while” but they were hopeful he could be ready Week 1. If Drake misses the season opener and Ballage performs well, we could see a changing of the guard at the RB position in Miami.
Lamar Miller, Houston Texans (ADP: 80)
What a roller coaster ride for Miller. At one point, many were worried D'Onta Foreman would cut into Miller’s workload. Then the Texans released Foreman and some started pushing Miller up draft boards. However, the Texans weren’t done making moves in their backfield and traded for Duke Johnson. Miller has been overworked in recent years and the trade hurts Miller’s value, as he’s entirely dependent on volume. In 14 games last season, Miller had 210 carries for 973 yards with five touchdowns. He caught 25 passes for 163 yards with one receiving touchdown. Don't be surprised if Johnson forces an even split or overtakes Miller.
Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers (ADP: 64)
The reviews from training camp haven't been positive for Pettis. Head coach Kyle Shanahan said he wants Pettis to “earn the starting role.” Deebo Samuels and Jalen Hurd looked good in the first preseason game and Pettis didn't catch his lone target.
Keke Coutee, Houston Texans (ADP: 88)
There was excitement for Coutee since he was good when on the field last season. The problem for Coutee is staying on the field. Last season, he played in just six games due to hamstring injuries. Coutee injured his ankle in the first preseason game, although the hope is that he will be ready for Week 1 against the Saints. Coutee had 28 catches for 287 yards with one touchdown last season. He has fallen outside of the top 100 in the most recent drafts.
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