Two key running backs are going in different directions

Fantasy managers! Now is the time to prepare for your fantasy football drafts. And to help get you up-to-speed, I’ll break down the risers and fallers relative to Average Draft Position (ADP) every week until kickoff.

ADP is merely a tool to determine when (on average) a player is being selected in drafts. That doesn’t preclude you from “getting your guy,” but it may offer some perspective on where to select certain players. Are they in a positional battle? Are there injury concerns? What about contractual disputes?

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Fantasy football is about staying in the know, and I’ll help decipher what’s driving ADPs up and down until the season officially begins on September 7.


Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins

Preseason ADP: 89.0

ADP last 7 days: 82.7

Tagovailoa comes into the 2023 season with considerable injury concerns, yet his ADP is on the rise. Tagovailoa and the Dolphins staff spent the offseason evaluating his injury history to find ways to mitigate future ailments.

The results?

TBD, but the early indications are positive. Tua’s reportedly stronger, more confident and has taken authority over the QB position this offseason. I’m sure highlight throws like this also boost his draft stock a bit:

Tua led the NFL in QB rating (105.5) and posted the highest yards per attempt (8.9) while supporting two top-10 receivers in Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle last year. He was a top-five QB in fantasy points per game (FPPG) through Week 3 last season (before leaving Week 4 with a concussion), so he’s capable of a top-10 finish — if he can stay healthy.

I scooped Tua in the ninth round of a recent Yahoo 12-team PPR mock draft, so he won’t cost much should you prioritize building up roster depth at other positions. Tua’s ADP in the mid-80s feels right because he’s playing in an explosive offense, but it also accounts for his injury risk.

Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns

Preseason ADP: 84.4

ADP last 7 days: 89.3

Watson had an abysmal first season with the Browns, but he’s surely a bounce-back candidate now that he’s had an entire offseason to get acclimated to his new team and playbook. Considering the optics around his off-the-field transgressions and recent comments, I’m not surprised to see his ADP falling. However, the market is still somewhat in on Watson, as he’s currently QB11 — right behind the aforementioned Tagovailoa.

He’s reportedly been “shining” since minicamp and clearly still has the arm strength to push the ball down the field:

Watson finished second in FPPG amongst QBs from 2017-2020, and with his rushing potential, he could be considered a value at his current ADP.

Running Backs

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

Preseason ADP: 9.0

ADP last 7 days: 12.0

Given the magnitude of his contractual standoff with Colts owner Jim Irsay, I expected JT’s ADP to dip further than 11th overall. Taylor is currently on the Physically Unable to Perform List (PUP) as he’s still returning from offseason ankle surgery. But to make matters worse, Taylor took exception to the Colts publicizing a back injury, which Taylor says never occurred. The relationship between Taylor and the Colts organization appears fragile, but after backup RB Zach Moss broke his arm in practice yesterday, perhaps that’ll give Taylor some leverage in getting a contract extension done.

Fantasy managers must closely monitor JT’s contractual situation and health throughout training camp because he’s looking like a riskier pick in the back end of the first round.

Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

Preseason ADP: 62.5

ADP Last 7 days: 56.8

With Dalvin Cook firmly out of the picture, Mattison’s stock is up as the RB22 in Yahoo drafts. He’s only had six starts to his name but is expected to backfill Cook as the bell-cow RB in Minnesota.

We know the Vikes have a prolific passing game with arguably the best WR in the game. Still, with such a limited sample size, fantasy managers are banking on Mattison’s volume to justify the cost of admission.

Wide Receivers

Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos

Preseason ADP: 72.6

ADP Last 7 days: 66.0

The Broncos’ WR room is being decimated by injuries. Tim Patrick tore his Achilles yesterday, and KJ Hamler is taking a break from football after receiving another injury scare. Jeudy carries the highest ADP of all Broncos skill positions, and with offensive guru Sean Payton leading the charge, Jeudy is in a place to really take off this season.

Russell Wilson showed some signs of life once former Broncos HC Nathaniel Hackett was fired, so if Jeudy can stay healthy, he should draw well over 100 targets and become the WR1 for Denver.

Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars

Preseason ADP: 48.6

ADP Last 7 days: 43.7

Ridley is back with a vengeance after being suspended a whole year for betting on NFL games during the 2021 NFL season. His ADP is up after displaying extremely smooth route-running and converting on explosive plays throughout training camp thus far:

I grabbed him at 3.10 in Yahoo’s 12-team PPR mock draft and felt great about it. He’s poised to be the featured wideout in an ascending offense, so a third-round grade is warranted, given his ability and opportunity.

DeAndre Hopkins, Tennessee Titans

Preseason ADP: 52.5

ADP Last 7 days: 57.1

The uninspiring Ryan Tannehill will lead the way for the Titans again this season, so I’m not surprised the market is devaluing DHop. Second-year WR Treylon Burks has drawn more acclaim in training camp, and it’ll take some time for Hopkins to get up to speed after signing with the Titans July 16.

A fourth-round pick looks rich right now, considering Hopkins is moving to a run-heavy offense and likely won’t see the 29.4% target share he did last season in Arizona.

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