Fantasy Football Stock Watch: August 25
Howard Bender takes a look at which NFL players have value that is either rising and falling in fantasy football drafts during training camp.
As we inch closer to the start of the NFL season, fantasy football drafts are kicking into high gear. Training camp battles are in full swing, injuries are cropping up and COVID tests are abundant. As you embark on your own drafts, it is always vital to catch up on the latest news and see which players are rising and falling in value. It’s not just about ADP. Sometimes an off-the-radar boost in opportunity for a player isn’t immediately reflected in the ADP numbers which is why we’ve got the Fantasy Football Stock Watch.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB KC – When a team’s general manager says a player is "on pace to have a big year, to be our primary ballcarrier," it warrants a bit more attention. So when Chiefs GM Brett Veach had that to say about his rookie running back, it is certainly worth noting as CEH continues to shoot up into the first round of most drafts. While Andy Reid is notorious for rotating his backs, we have also seen him latch on to one primary guy when he has one and shoot his fantasy value straight through the roof. Now I’m not saying this is a guarantee slam-dunk in the first round, with three weeks to go before the season starts, I’m more inclined to push him ahead of the likes of Josh Jacobs , Davante Adams and DeAndre Hopkins .
Cam Akers, RB LAR -- Rams head coach Sean McVay said running back Darrell Henderson suffered a "mild" hamstring injury, and the team “hopes to have him back for Week 1.” Hopes? Hopes? Well that doesn’t sound reassuring for a soft tissue injury that is being considered mild. Maybe the team is just being cautious in its timetable or maybe the injury is a bit more sever than mild. Whichever the case, it bodes well Akers who is already seeing regular first-team reps and has the chance to create more separation between him and Henderson on the depth chart. I don’t expect Henderson to be rendered to benchwarming duty, but knowing Akers’ skill-set, he could grab himself even more of a lion’s share of carries early in the season.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling , WR GB – Based on what we saw last season, Aaron Rodgers seemed to favor Allen Lazard , at least that’s the way it looked in the second half. When the Packers failed to draft any addition receiving weapons for their veteran quarterback, we penciled in Lazard to stay in the No. 2 receiver role, but there are still options open. Enter MVS. Packers beat writer Jim Owczarski said the team wants MVS to be their No. 2 receiver behind Davante Adams because he brings "game braking speed" to the offense. That is definitely true. However, there’s a reason he hasn’t broken through and injuries only tell a partial story. Upon first entering the league, his routes weren’t clean and his hands were good, not great. He and Rodgers had trouble getting on the same page and as a result, the targets went elsewhere. If he shows marked improvement, then there is hope for him, but that’s not enough to move him up our boards. You can keep him on your radar, give him a late look in a 14-teamer, but don’t let the hype fool you into over-drafting him.
Damien Harris – Could it finally be his time? Sony Michel is banged up and while Patriots running back coach Ivan Fears hasn’t ruled him out for Week 1, there really isn’t a whole lot of optimism regarding his opening the year on the PUP list. The team signed Lamar Miller , but he is also on shaky ground in respect to his recovery from a blown-out ACL. That leaves Harris as the primary in camp and, while you always have to take beat writer chatter with a grain of salt, the reports have been very positive. He is being lauded for both his route-running and his pass-blocking and he should be in a spot to own the lion’s share of the work between him and Rex Burkhead . As with any Patriots running back situation, you have to expect a rotation and a lot of guessing, so don’t look at Harris as being all that reliable, but as you’re building your depth, he should be on your radar.
Lynn Bowden, RB LV – He was fixing to be a nice late-round grab, especially as a potential handcuff for those who took Josh Jacobs early. However, the reports out of camp haven’t been all that great, we’re hearing talk about the speed not being there and the team just signed Theo Riddick . Now I don’t think Riddick is going to kill Bowden’s value, but we’re starting to cool on that Swiss Army knife versatility a little bit as he isn’t standing out in camp enough to really turn Jon Gruden’s head. You can still look to him in dynasty leagues as a late-round grab, but he’s a tough sell right now in re-drafts smaller than 14 teams.
Mike Williams , WR LAC – Looks like the Williams truthers are getting 2020’d right now as their hopes of a rebound season (touchdown-wise) are slowly being squashed by a sprained shoulder three weeks out of the season opener. We are hearing week-to-week with regard to his recovery status and that’s going to crush the rest of his training camp and ability to work on his timing with new quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Justin Herbert. This actually might be a bit of a blessing in disguise as the Chargers don’t think he’s going to miss too much time and maybe this helps bring his price down in drafts. Of course, you don’t want to rely on him as a starter for your fantasy team right now, but as you’re building your depth in the middle rounds, don’t look past him too much.
J.K. Dobbins, RB BAL – What? Not Dobbins! What’s going on here? Before you freak out, we’re still very bullish on Dobbins, particularly in dynasty formats, but when Ravens OC Greg Roman reminds us that Gus Edwards and even Justice Hill are still very much part of the equation, you have to give pause in a re-draft league. Roman actually said it “might be a weekly decision” as to who is carrying the ball behind Mark Ingram , so while we still believe in him as the long-term solution behind an aging Ingram, you may not see as much production out of him as you would like.
Justin Jackson , RB LAC – There was always a sneaking suspicion that former UCLA running back Joshua Kelley could leapfrog Jackson on the depth chart and we actually started to see that this week in camp. Kelley was running with the third-team offense early on last week and now over the weekend we see him taking first-team reps. Austin Ekeler , obviously, owns the primary spot in this backfield, but the complementary work between the tackles is still very much up for grabs. Jackson and Kelley should be handcuffed together if you’re drafting right now, but you may see Kelley rise to the top a little more in the coming weeks.
Stock to Watch
Bryce Love, RB WAS – The hype machine is in full effect right now as the Love truthers come crawling out of the woodwork. Head coach Ron Rivera said Love could be an every-down back and the beat writers are just over the moon about him. Antonio Gibson’s versatility should still shine through, but with Adrian Peterson and Peyton Barber in camp as well, it is still very much an uphill climb for Love. Not to mention the struggles the team is still going to have on the offensive line. But has that stopped some people from taking him as early as the 10th round in a 14-teamer? Nope. We certainly aren’t going to dismiss him, though, but we’re not ready to endorse/recommend just yet. Keep a watchful eye, especially in a season where running backs seem to be tough to come by in the mid-to-late rounds.
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