As the final weekend of August approaches and it’s safe to say we’ve learned pretty much all we’re going to from the preseason games -- and it wasn’t much, really -- it’s time to take one final look at ESPN’s live draft results (also known as average draft position or ADP) and see what’s going on. To be honest, while I know some of my colleagues rely heavily on ADP to extract proper value, I’ve been in so many drafts already -- please, for the love of Miley Cyrus just start the games that count already -- I’m far more willing at this point to select a player I really want a few rounds earlier than expected. Go with your gut, not that of hundreds of thousands of others who continue to underrate some of the players you perhaps like.
That doesn’t mean I’ve adjusted my overall drafting strategy for this season, but let’s face it, the guys and gals sharing my drafts -- past ones and upcoming -- are well aware what I’m thinking, at this point knowing know my sleepers, busts, favorite foods and precise time I walk my daughter to the bus stop. So, I’m told everyone likes lists, so not to piggyback any of my colleagues -- the names are different! -- here are a bunch of them. Plus, one might say I’ve planted my fantasy flag on some of these players! Best of luck to all this final drafting weekend and all season, and we’ll be with you all the way at ESPN Fantasy!
Five running backs I like a round (or more) better than ADP
5. Daryl Richardson, St. Louis Rams: Movin’ on up draft lists, but not nearly enough. Job is his, and the offense is legit. Is sixth round too early? What does “too early” mean if you think he’s a safe flex option, which I do?
Five wide receivers I like a round (or more) better than ADP
3. Kenbrell Thompkins, New England Patriots: Let’s face it -- he might end up overrated in drafts and no bargain soon, but his ADP is 123, and I’ll take the shot in the ninth or 10th round. Crazy upside.
5. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals: Yes, the change in quarterback makes that much of a difference. I’ve got Larry Fitzgerald above ADP, too. Look what Reggie Wayne did in 2012 with a QB upgrade! Floyd is really talented, and Carson Palmer will be throwing.
Three quarterbacks I seem to be getting in my drafts, each after ADP
1. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts: Sure, he might throw less. He might also run for fewer touchdowns. But he might also become the next Peyton Manning, and there’s a price for upside, durability and talent. And why must he throw less or run less effectively? In 10-team standard formats, he slips so far that one must be patient and pounce.
2. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: If I don’t get Luck, Romo seems to always be ignored. Forget about his January struggles. He’s been a top-10 fantasy QB in five of six seasons, and the year he wasn’t, he missed 10 games.
3. Sam Bradford, Rams: If I take a backup QB -- and in 10-teamers there’s no need -- he keeps slipping. Few seem to believe.
Three tight ends I seem to be getting in my drafts, each after ADP
1. Jared Cook, Rams: OK, so I like the Rams. But look at the weapons!
3. Antonio Gates, Chargers: I don’t feel particularly good about this one, but he didn’t miss being a top-10 TE by much in 2012, and he’s capable of a repeat. It’s about value with him. In Round 13 there are no bad picks.
Five players with rising ADP I totally agree with (not already named above)
1. Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos: He probably starts for them the first week or two, at least. If he performs as he did to finish 2012, he’ll keep playing. Montee Ball is the long-term future, though.
2. Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh Steelers: I don’t think he’s going to be great, but he is starting because Le'Veon Bell is hurt and Jonathan Dwyer isn’t any good. So there’s opportunity. In the 10th round, every starting running back should be gone. And who says Redman loses the job?
3. Ben Tate, Houston Texans: He might be a starting running back as well. I mean, at this point, a week from the season, I just cannot trust Arian Foster with a first-round pick. He’s likely to either miss games or play in them and share with Tate. The Texans block so well that if we knew Foster was out months, Tate would be in … my second round overall.
4. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers: I begrudgingly concur with him moving up. He’s the guy, at least until it gets close to a goal line. Starting running back in Round 8 is a nice price, even if he’s kind of shot.
5. Jacoby Jones, Baltimore Ravens: Not many WRs are rising in ADP. This guy is starting, and for those who think the loss of Anquan Boldin means Torrey Smith turns into Jerry Rice, good luck. It means Jones simply replaces Boldin.
Five players with rising ADP I do not agree with (not already named above)
1. Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles: I concede there is upside for the games he plays in, but please don’t read into preseason numbers. And in the third preseason game he looked awful. He made poor decisions, which will result in turnovers. He won’t slide when he runs, which will get him hurt. He won’t win, which will start the true rebuilding earlier.
2. Julius Thomas, Broncos: Let’s see, Peyton has three wide receivers to throw to, several running backs with the ability to catch dump-off passes and now this guy -- with a decent preseason but still at best sharing the position with Jacob Tamme -- is becoming beloved. Only Moreno is rising faster in ADP. Similarly, it makes little sense for Brent Celek and Heath Miller to be rising in ADP.
4. Santana Moss, Washington Redskins: There are younger options I’d surely take before him that are being ignored, like Kenny Stills (Saints), Robert Woods (Bills), Mohamed Sanu (Bengals) and Keenan Allen (Chargers).
5. Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks: This guy does look like a future fantasy monster, but it seems to me Marshawn Lynch is safe and durable and productive, and by Week 3 the Michael owners will see how little he’s being used and need to fill in for pending bye weeks. Just remember Michael’s name if Lynch ever limps out of a game.
Enjoy your long weekend and get ready for an exciting season!