Average draft position can move sharply as the summer progresses, and understanding it is crucial to constructing an effective draft strategy. For the rest of the fantasy draft season, we’ll take a look at changes in ADP with some of fantasy’s most intriguing players to help you get the most value out of each and every one of your draft picks. This week, we examine four players who have experienced sharp increases or decreases in their stock during the month of August. All ADP numbers are courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator as of September 1.
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots
Player before:Cordarrelle Patterson (34.5)
Player after: Vincent Jackson (35.5)
One month ago, Vereen was going at the end of the fourth round of a 12-team draft. Ten days ago, he had dipped into the early-fifth round. Now you’ll have to use a late-third rounder to get him. Vereen’s meteoric rise, while unfortunate for some drafters, makes all the sense in the world. Even with Stevan Ridley surviving cut day in New England, Vereen is the best fantasy option in the Patriots’ backfield.
A wrist injury limited Vereen to eight games last year, but he still racked up 635 total yards and four touchdowns. He gets a ton of attention as a receiver, and that’s justified after he caught 47 passes on 69 targets last season. However, he also ran for 208 yards on 44 carries, good for 4.7 yards per carry. Vereen may have only played half the season, but he was tied for fourth among running backs with 11 targets in the red zone. That represented 13 percent of New England’s total red-zone targets. Every other running back who had at least 10 targets in the red zone played in at least 13 games.
He inhabits a significant role in the New England offense, likely trailing only Rob Gronkowski in terms of importance for guys not named Tom Brady. Ridley may be the primary runner in New England, but that doesn’t have any real effect on Vereen’s role or workload. He has true RB1 potential, and has a strong chance to end as a top-20 guy at the position.
FANTASY POSITION PRIMERS: QB | RB | WR | TE | K | DST
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos
Player before: Ryan Mathews (42.7)
Player after: Victor Cruz (43.3)
Wes Welker suffered his third concussion in 10 months on August 23. On that day, Sanders’ ADP sat at the sixth pick in the sixth round. Two days later, he had moved up to the late-fifth round. By the time the calendar turned to September, he was up into the fourth round. This is clearly a speculative bet on Welker’s potential availability, and one that fantasy owners with drafts in the next two days need to approach with caution.
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Sanders currently has a better ADP than Cruz, Andre Johnson, Pierre Garcon, Michael Floyd, Michael Crabtree and DeSean Jackson. If Welker indeed misses a lot of time, Sanders could be worthy of such a lofty spot in the draft. The Denver offense is as high volume as it gets, and anyone starting opposite Demaryius Thomas on the receiving end of passes from Peyton Manning could be a fantasy stud.
There is no guarantee, though, that Welker indeed misses enough time for that to happen for Sanders. Welker returned to the practice field on Monday, but he still has not been cleared for contact. While his status remains in doubt for the season opener against the Colts on Sunday night, the fact that he was able to work out on Monday was a step in the right direction. If Welker misses, say, four games, Sanders likely would not justify a late-fourth-round price tag. Even if Welker misses more time than that, drafters may be being a bit too ambitious grabbing him that early.
While Manning was of course at the center of Denver’s historically great offensive season last year, don’t discount the unique role played by Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. They are both big, physical receivers who can make plays down the field and are dangerous in the red zone. Decker may never have received the praise Thomas did, but he checks in at 6-foot-3 and 214 pounds. The Minnesota product led the league in red-zone targets in 2012 and was third last season. He had seven touchdowns in the red zone last year and 11 two seasons ago. Sanders, meanwhile, is 5-foot-11, 180 pounds. He’s unlikely to be the red-zone weapon Decker was for Manning over the last two years.
Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, Detroit Lions
Bush ADP: 32.7
Player before Bush: Keenan Allen (31.3)
Player after Bush: Cordarrelle Patterson (34.5)
Bell ADP: 51.4
Player before Bell: Ray Rice (50.3)
Player after Bell: Michael Crabtree (52.4)
Bush has one of the most boring ADP charts in the entire league. Fantasy owners have considered him a late-third rounder for the whole summer. One month ago, he was coming off the board as the ninth pick in the third round in a typical 12-team league. On September 1, he was the ninth pick in the third round in a typical 12-team league. Interestingly, though, his chief foil in Detroit has experienced a rise over that same timeframe.
Bell burst on the scene last year in Week 3, when he piled up 132 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown playing in place of an injured Bush. Bush finished as the No. 10 overall running back in standard-scoring leagues, while Bell ranked 17th. Both are also being selected as starting running backs in 12-teamers this season. Last year’s breakdown between the two should be instructive for late drafters, and makes the Bell rise without a parallel Bush decrease a little curious.
In the 14 games both Bush and Bell played, they both finished in the top 24 among running backs just three times. That’s likely to be a reality again this year. Bush and Bell have similar skill sets, and that makes it hard for both to register as starters in the same week. It’s not the same balancing of duties like we discussed earlier with Vereen and Ridley. While Bush and Bell are both worth drafting at their ADPs, owners will have to decide which one they prefer at their respective prices.