ADP Watch: Risers and sliders as biggest draft weekend approaches

We're on the home stretch of fantasy draft season, making it even more crucial to stay on top of the latest average draft position trends. We have a look at 10 of the most interesting ones in this week’s ADP Watch. 
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Fantasy draft season is officially underway, making it even more crucial to stay on top of the latest average draft position trends. We have a look at 10 of the most interesting ones in this week’s ADP Watch:

Latavius Murray, RB, Raiders

Murray’s ADP range, which rests comfortably between the late-third and early-fourth rounds, isn’t all that interesting, but the fact that it has steadily climbed since the beginning of August, with the rapidity of that climb increasing over the last week, is indeed noteworthy. Murray’s ADP of 33.1 places him in the same draft-day neighborhood as Thomas Rawls and C.J. Anderson.

Few fantasy owners were excited about Murray at the beginning of the summer, which makes plenty of sense. He volumed his way to a top-10 season last year, running for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns, but averaging just 4.01 yards per carry. He caught 41 passes, but for a paltry 232 yards. Among running backs with at least 30 receptions, only Justin Forsett had fewer yards per catch and yards per target than Murray.

When fantasy owners are actually making their draft-day decisions, however, Murray is becoming a whole lot more palatable. He’s showing us that opportunity is king for running backs, and few at the position will enjoy the same level of volume as he’ll get in Oakland this season. Murray will be a true three-down back who dominates touches in the red zone and at the goal line. Rookie DeAndre Washington is no more than a change-of-pace back, while Marcel Reece will reprise his role as a receiver out of the backfield. Murray should easily top 300 touches, and if the Raiders are as competitive as many think they can be, he could cruise past 300 carries and north of 350 total touches. With that volume, he could post another top-10 season.

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Panthers; Devin Funchess, WR, Panthers

Benjamin and Funchess have moved in opposite directions since the start of training camp. For most of the summer, Benjamin sat comfortably in the middle of the third round. He’s now coming off the board at the end of the third in a typical draft, and with Randall Cobb, Carlos Hyde, Jarvis Landry, Matt Forte and Jordan Reed immediately behind him, he may not be done slipping. As for Funchess, just one week ago drafters could get him early in the 12th round. His strong camp has moved him a full round higher, and his momentum could carry him into the middle of the 10th round, on average.

It’s awfully hard to own two receivers on the same team, and there’s no argument as to which Panther is the better bet at his ADP. As good as Cam Newton and the passing game were last year, this is a run-first offense that wants to keep the ball on the ground in the red zone, especially inside the 10-yard line. Is that really the sort of offense in which you want your late-third round receiver to play? For my money, Benjamin is an absolute stay-away at his ADP, and has been all summer, while Funchess is an intriguing late-round buy.

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DeMarco Murray, RB, Titans; Derrick Henry, RB, Titans

Last week, we noted the unexpected stock dips for two Jacksonville running backs, Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the AFC South, two Tennessee backs are experiencing the opposite trend. But that doesn’t mean you should run to draft them.

Murray and Henry both ran well in the Titans’ first preseason game. The veteran picked up 93 yards and a touchdown on six carries, while the rookie racked up 74 yards and a score of his own on 10 totes. They each got five carries last week, with Murray running for 20 yards and Henry notching 31. Murray’s stock has risen modestly, jumping to the beginning of the fourth from the middle of the same round. Henry’s, however, has exploded. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner is now coming off the board late in the seventh round of a typical draft. The day before the team’s first preseason game, he was still available into the ninth round, on average.

It’s easy to see why drafters have cozied up to Murray and Henry. Tennessee’s run game as a whole has impressed, and we have plenty of evidence that shows a rushing threat at quarterback, such as Marcus Mariota, helps open holes for running backs. But not long ago, Henry was an attractive mid-round target. As his stock has increased, he’s becoming cost prohibitive. Think of it this way: How comfortable will you be with Henry in your starting lineup any week that Murray is healthy? The associated opportunity cost with the starter is high, as well, and as the overall price tag increases, this becomes an easier backfield to stay away from on draft day.

Golden Tate, WR, Lions

As of one week ago, Marvin Jones’s rising fortunes had yet to affect Tate’s status. But now, the other shoe has finally dropped.

Over the last two weeks, Tate has fallen from the middle of the fourth round to the beginning of the fifth, losing about half a point of ADP on average every day. While the Jones boomlet is justified—the first-year Lion will be on my radar in all of my leagues, even at his pricier ADP—the pendulum has swung too far against Tate. Wise fantasy owners can take advantage of this overcorrection.

Over the last two seasons, Tate has 189 catches for 2,144 yards and 10 touchdowns. He can’t match Jones’s deep-ball skills, but he’s an incisive route runner who is the heavy favorite to lead Detroit in targets. Even with Jones and Anquan Boldin on the roster, Tate has a real chance to break his career high of 142 targets, which he set in his first season with Detroit. You’ll remember that as the year Calvin Johnson missed three games, and was hobbled in two more, because of an ankle injury. Left as the unquestioned No. 1 receiver, Tate racked up 1,331 yards. Add to the mix Detroit’s less-than-inspiring backfield, and Matthew Stafford is likely looking at another 600-attempt season. Even if you’re a Jones fan, don’t let Tate slide too far.

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Coby Fleener, TE, Saints

Playing with Drew Brees has its perks, like a generous number of targets in a fast-paced, pass-happy offense. With that generally comes the attention of the fantasy community, which Fleener has gained as the summer has progressed. As a result, his ADP has reached new heights with one week left in August.

Fleener now sports a 67.2 ADP, which places him in the middle of the sixth round of a typical draft. He’s the fifth tight end off the board on average, sandwiched about halfway between Travis Kelce (65.1) and Delanie Walker (73.7). Fleener became a fantasy darling the moment he left behind Indianapolis to sign with the Saints this off-season, but there have been some concerning reports on him this summer. Most recently, Sean Payton called Fleener’s adjustment to the New Orleans offense an “ongoing progression,” which isn’t a death sentence, but also is not something you’d expect to hear about a fifth-year player less than three weeks before the start of the season, even if it is his first with a new team. Fleener’s charms are easy to spot, but someone is going to fight you for him in every league. Be ready to pass on the likes of John Brown, Tyler Lockett and Rashad Jennings to get him.

DeVante Parker, WR, Dolphins

Parker is a legitimate breakout candidate with all the tools to be a WR1 as soon as this year. Indeed, in our wide receiver primer, I tabbed him the receiver most likely to rise from the middle rounds into the top 10 at the position. If you believe in him, the good news is he’s coming at a cheaper price than at any point this summer.

Parker’s ADP has dipped all the way to 84.8, slotting him at the beginning of the eighth round of a typical draft. In early drafts at the start of the summer, he was going a full round, at worst, earlier. Even one week ago, when draft season was rumbling to a start, he rarely fell out of the seventh round. Parker didn’t play in Miami’s first preseason game, and caught two passes for 16 yards in its second, but there hasn’t been anything negative surrounding his camp. It seems that drafters have perceived a lack of news as a bad thing, and that’s creating an opportunity for those who understand that the preseason is more noise than signal.

Let’s remember the facts. Parker is a wildly talented, 6’ 3” 212-pound physical specimen out wide. In his final six games last season, the only six in which he was given a real shot to show what he can do, he caught 22 passes for 445 yards and three touchdowns. He was the 14th overall pick in the draft last year after a stellar career at Louisville, and has the look not only of a fantasy WR1, but of a true, real-life No. 1 receiver. Adam Gase is one of the most respected offensive coaches in the league, and if he gets the same growth out of Ryan Tannehill this year as he did from Jay Cutler last year, the entire Miami offense will benefit. Parker is trending back toward a draft price that makes him a steal.

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Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons

Devonta Freeman looked great in preseason action last week, carrying the ball four times for 42 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown run. Coleman, on the other hand, hasn’t had nearly the same success, picking up a total of 25 yards on seven carries. As such, Coleman’s ADP has slipped into the middle of the ninth round, settling at 102.3 for the time being. At that price, Coleman is one of the best mid-round targets your draft capital or auction dollar can buy this season.

Forget, for a second, the preseason results, and instead focus on when Coleman is getting his touches. In last week’s game against the Browns, Freeman and Coleman split Atlanta’s carries right down the middle for three possessions before both packed it in for the night. Coleman came out first on the team’s second possession and it was he, not Freeman, who had at least one touch every time Atlanta had the ball.

Coleman is not going to supplant Freeman as the starter. He’s highly unlikely to lead the backfield in carries, receptions, targets or snaps, too. He is, however, going to have a significant role in the offense, and would almost certainly be the workhorse should Freeman suffer an injury. At an ADP of 102.3, he’s well worth your attention.

Terrelle Pryor, WR, Browns

The list of college quarterbacks who have successfully made the transition to another position is slim. So few are actually willing to try it, and even fewer can pull it off. Pryor is on the doorstep of adding his name to those thin ranks, and if he does so, he could turn into one of this season’s biggest draft-day steals.

Pryor has impressed in the preseason, making a huge play in both of Cleveland’s games. In the team’s opener, he hauled in a 49-yard bomb down the left sideline from Robert Griffin. He ran that same route in the Browns’ second game, burning elite corner Desmond Trufant for a 50-yard touchdown. We haven’t seen too many more routes in the tree from Pryor, but the deep ball is there for him. It’s no surprise that he went from off the radar to an ADP of 148 in a matter of weeks.

We’ve discussed the following a few times this summer, but Cleveland suddenly has a sneakily fun offense. Griffin has started to get comfortable in Hue Jackson’s scheme. Corey Coleman is a burner on the outside, and Josh Gordon will make his return in Week 5. Duke Johnson is already among the best receiving backs in the league, and Isaiah Crowell keeps the run threat alive. This is an offense where fantasy investment could pay off without costing you a thing. Pryor is the poster child for the potential for significant return on a minimal investment in Cleveland.