Late-Risers: Where Should Owners Target Them?
As we head into the final weekend of fantasy football drafts, I'd like to discuss several players that have seen their values rise over the past week. Fantasy owners need to reassess these players if they hope to get them on draft day, or else they'll be left holding the bag.
For much of August, owners could draft Rashad Jennings in the 10th round or later. But recently, with the Maurice Jones-Drew holdout lasting longer than we had expected, Jennings has seen his ADP rise three full rounds. While it's tempting to draft Jones-Drew in the 4th round, you'll have to use a 7th rounder to lock up the Jacksonville running game. For keeper owners, this is a bit more palatable because Jennings is set to become a free agent next summer, so he holds extra value.
Cedric Benson was pretty much off the fantasy radar until he signed with the Packers. James Starks is dealing with turf toe and apparently hasn't made much progress, and Benson looked very good against his old team in the preseason. His main competition for touches is Alex Green, who had a nice game against the Chiefs this week. Expect Benson to start and get most of the carries, but Green will get some work especially on 3rd down where Benson tends to struggle. Benson is probably worth a 6th or 7th round pick for those owners in need of a running back.
Matt Ryan was going in the 5th or 6th round earlier in the summer, but after plenty of reports of a new aerial attack in Atlanta and plenty of Julio Jones hype, Ryan has seen his ADP rise into the 4th round. Elsewhere, rookie Andrew Luck has been very sharp in the preseason and looking like a solid QB2. At a different position, Titus Young has also been the subject of buzz after a terrific camp.
Justin Blackmon has performed better than expected with an improved Blaine Gabbert throwing the ball. In back-to-back preseason games, he tallied eight catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. If Gabbert can continue to progress, Blackmon will be a solid start (mainly in PPR leagues, since the Jaguars aren't likely to score a lot of touchdowns).
Kevin Smith has benefited from Jahvid Best's situation and will start the season as the Lions' RB1. Mikel Leshoure hasn't looked great in the preseason, so Smith should be RB2–caliber as long as he can stay healthy. Owners will have to use a 7th round pick to get him, or perhaps even a 6th. His stock might be a tad depressed due to the ankle injury. There are safer options in that ADP range.
Another wide receiver, Danny Amendola, seems to be the best option (especially in PPR leagues) in the Rams' receiving corps. He is going in the 10th round. Meanwhile, Malcom Floyd has benefited somewhat from Vincent Brown's injury and Robert Meachem's struggles in the preseason. Expect to use an 8th round pick to get Floyd on draft day.
Finally, Stevan Ridley seems to have stayed ahead of Shane Vereen after Vereen left a preseason game with a foot injury. It's apparently not too severe, but Ridley has been going in the 7th round nonetheless. If he can hold onto the football, he will fit nicely in the role vacated by BenJarvus Green-Ellis, but with better explosiveness. However, the Patriots are trumped only by the Redskins in terms of RBBC uncertainty, so proceed with caution.