Fantasy football 2013 draft prep central: Rankings, position primers and much more
One week from now, we'll be getting ready for our first full weekend of football since last December: A jam-packed slate of college football on Saturday, followed by 13 real, meaningful NFL games on Sunday. With one weekend remaining in the draft season, let's take a final look at the changing draft stock of some of fantasy's most interesting players.
All data is courtesy of Mock Draft Central and Fantasy Football Calculator. The two sites perform their ADP calculations in slightly different ways and have separate data sets, but in nearly all cases the overall trends mirror one another.
• RB DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers -- With Jonathan Stewart officially on the PUP list, Williams takes his role as the only show in town. As such, he has skyrocketed up draft boards in the last week. When we last checked in on the ADP barometer, Williams was coming off the board early in the seventh round of the average 12-team draft. He's now up in the middle of the sixth round and climbing. Now that Stewart is officially out of the picture, I love Williams as a mid-round pick, and think he could go down as a huge steal. There are far worse places for a running back to be than lined up alongside Cam Newton. Williams has had an up-and-down career, but he's never rushed for fewer than 4.1 yards per carry in a season. Despite turning 30 this spring, he has fewer than 1,400 career touches. To give that number some context, Steven Jackson, who is three months younger than Williams, has more than 2,400 carries in his career. Williams may be 30, but he's a fresh 30, and he's in a great system for a running back.
• WR Kenbrell Thompkins, New England Patriots -- No player's stock has moved more in the last week than Thompkins'. Thanks to a combination of a great preseason, Amendola's mystery injury, and being on the receiving end of passes from Tom Brady, Thompkins has sped through the cycle of unknown to sleeper to potentially overrated in about two weeks. If you were in the world's average draft a week ago, Thompkins came off the board at around pick No. 123. If you're in an average draft this weekend, days after he caught eight passes for 116 yards (in a game without Amendola), you'll have to use a pick in the early-to-mid-80s to get him. Like most fantasy players, I love Thompkins' talent and I want to be invested in New England's offense. But I think it's lunacy to spend that high of a pick on an undrafted rookie wide receiver, no matter his environment. His ADP over the last week has him rubbing elbows with Miles Austin and Mike Williams. Those are two known commodities, and good ones, at that. You should avoid Thompkins at this price.
• QB Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars -- Earlier this week, we were talking about the possibility of stealing Blackmon late because of his four-game suspension. It appears that possibility is fading with each passing day. He is now hearing his name called at the beginning of the 10th round in the average draft, a 4.5-percent jump of where he was last week. Blackmon has become one of my favorite late-round targets, as no receiver who will go outside the top-100 picks can match his potential. If he weren't suspended, he'd likely be coming off the board in the fifth or sixth round on average, especially after his strong finish to last season. You can still steal him late, but understand that you probably won't be the only person in the room with the idea.
• WR Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears -- Marshall has been among the top 20 overall and top-five receivers in average draft position all summer. That began to change earlier this week, when rumblings coming out of Chicago suggested he was unhappy with his reps this preseason, and he's still dealing with hip problems after undergoing his third surgery during the offseason. While the Bears are giving this the "nothing-to-see-here" treatment, he's on a four-day excused absence from the team to get the hip examined.
He has nearly fallen out of the top 20 in ADP, with his stock taking a 3.2-percent hit. Marshall has been famously mercurial in his career, and this could simply be another instance of his him simply being himself, but late drafters have to keep this in mind. Given that there's so little separation between him, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas, I find it hard to make Marshall any higher than the fifth receiver off the board. I think we'll ultimately chalk this up to frustration with a new offense, and that he and Jay Cutler will yet again form a prolific duo, but I could understand why some owners might even consider the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Julio Jones over Marshall, as well.
• WR Danny Amendola, New England Patriots -- Amendola is back at practice after missing time with an undisclosed injury. The rumor mill pegged it as a foot or ankle issue, but nothing was ever confirmed, and apparently he has looked like his regular self on the practice field. Still, it seems the time away was enough to remind drafters just how fragile Amendola has been in his career. In the last week, he has slipped from an ADP of 44.4 to 47.7. The change probably isn't enough to help you get Amendola any later in the abstract, but it's worth sounding out how your fellow owners feel about him before the draft.
It should also drive home the point that Amendola comes with both an extremely high risk and high reward. If he can play 12 or 13 games, he'll likely justify his draft-day price as the Tom Brady's top target, especially in PPR leagues. If he succumbs to injury early in the season, his owners will look back at what could have been if they stayed away from him and went with someone safer, like Dwayne Bowe or Reggie Wayne, both of whom have comparable ADPs. However, Amendola is also getting drafted in the same neighborhood as fellow risky receivers Hakeem Nicks and Marques Colston. Once you get beyond the first few rounds, every guy is going to have his warts. I prefer Colston to Amendola, but would take the Patroit over Nicks.
• RB Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins -- Miller's ADP took a steady descent the entire month of August, reaching its nadir earlier this week at 39 on the dot. He has since bounced back, with owners gaining confidence that his talent would win out and that he'd be named the starter after his impressive performance in Week 3 of the preseason. Joe Philbin has yet to make an official announcement, but fantasy owners have rewarded Miller, increasing his draft-day stock by a couple picks. Even if there isn't any word from Miami before your draft, you should feel comfortable with Miller's draft-day stock. We've all watched Daniel Thomas each of the last two seasons. Miller is a more explosive runner and a much better receiver on the backfield. On top of that, despite this being only Thomas' third year in the league, he'll turn 26 in October. Miller's in his second year, but he just turned 22 in April. Miller is still moving toward his physical peak while Thomas hasn't done much of anything in the league despite being in his prime. Talent almost always wins in the NFL. It will here. Draft Miller with confidence.