After a frenzied first week of free agency that also included numerous blockbuster trades, best ball draft boards have been shaken up. Shawn Siegele looks at the biggest risers and fallers using the RotoViz Best Ball Tools.
Mike Beers’ fantastic suite of best ball tools allows you to track overall ADP, player movement, and personal exposures. It also includes the Roster Construction Explorer which I’ve been using to provide the lessons in the Best Ball Workshop. Today, we’ll use the Risers/Fallers tab to locate the biggest winners and losers from a frantic week of free agency.
Running Back – Risers and Fallers
Latavius Murray and Carlos Hyde join two of the five best offenses in the NFL and immediately jump 70 spots.
Hyde was a tragic signing by the Chiefs – you can’t even see replacement level from the bottom of the well his performance plummeted into – who should nonetheless be redeemed by Kansas City’s fantastic offense.1
By contrast, Murray enjoyed a solid 2018 season and should move into the role Mark Ingram is vacating. Ingram’s value is perhaps hard to square. He struggled last season in the same offense that allowed Alvin Kamara to find superstardom. He now moves into Baltimore’s run-early, run-often, run-only attack. Lamar Jackson should help buoy the pedestrian mauler, but Ingram’s value was already surprisingly high given a departure from New Orleans was imminent.2
Given the differences in their respective 2018 offenses, it’s not difficult to argue that the Saints may have found an upgrade while the Ravens added another plodder to their stable.
Gus Edwards and Kenneth Dixon were both more effective runners than Ingram last season, and while that may be credited to luck or their dynamic rookie QB, grinding veteran RBs do little more than clog the depth chart. Dixon owners hoped his late-season surge would cause Ravens management to focus on other positions, but they ignored a barren WR depth chart instead.
But I’ve always been a seller on Ingram. For a more optimistic take, Monty Phan argues that Ingram is a buy in all formats and points to some stellar splits when he receives the type of workload he may enjoy in Baltimore.
Duke Johnson and T.J. Yeldon both fall as opportunities dry up without movement on their behalf. Johnson owners are looking for a trade out of Cleveland, ideally to a location where he could immediately regain the high-RB2 status from his first three seasons. As a back with good size and pass-catching ability, Yeldon had reason to be optimistic that he, and not Mike Davis, might be among the first players selected for the type of committee role that contemporary offenses cherish, but he remains on the shelf, slipping now toward the bargain bin.
Trayveon Williams’ value is stabilizing after he struggled through key tests at the combine, failing to break 4.5 in the forty and recording catastrophic agility times at 206 pounds. As a result, he scored a 50 in the RB Prospect Lab and doesn’t sport the comps you want when using a pick on rookie RB.
You can catch up on the rest of the class in RB Prospect Lab 2019: 3 Sleepers and 4 Busts Emerge.
Wide Receivers – Risers and Fallers
No player landed in a better location than Devin Funchess, who will now slide in behind T.Y. Hilton and compete with Eric Ebron for looks from Andrew Luck. I love this landing spot for a player I’ve always found underrated, and it was difficult to fend off the flurry of trade proposals in the aftermath. But I would offer a word of caution. History is not exactly on the side of Funchess. In two absolute must-read editions of the Wrong Read, Blair Andrews details both what we can expect from receivers changing teams and what exceptions might exist to that rule.
Wide receivers typically lose value when they change organizations.
This is perhaps not surprising when you consider the value of continuity between quarterback and receiver. A WR’s understanding of how to run his routes within a scheme doesn’t blossom overnight, nor does the rapport that comes with a QB’s complete trust in the nuance of routes within that offense. The original organization has also seen that receiver play and practice for years, and it says something when they let the receiver move on.3
It’s also true that receivers do occasionally break out when they change organizations. In fact, the majority of fifth-year WR breakouts fit that category. But they also tend to be players who haven’t already received the type of opportunities you get as an early pick. Since 2001, 14 WRs have hit 200 fantasy points for their first time in Year 5. Only one of them was drafted in the first 50 picks and eight came from outside the top 100.
Blair’s look at the time frame for WR breakouts illustrates the trend even more clearly.
The fifth-year bump for late-round picks does not exist for those who’ve already experienced substantial opportunity. I still like Funchess in 2019, but I’m going to wait for the initial optimism to die down before buying any shares.
The 105th pick in the 2015 NFL draft, Jamison Crowder is a much better fit as a fifth-year breakout candidate, and although he’s rising, the new price isn’t untenable in an ascending offense. Moreover, with Le’Veon Bell in tow and Robby Anderson to stretch the coverage deep, there are just enough playmakers to take the attention away from Crowder without taking all the volume with it.
DeSean Jackson enters a crowded receiving room behind TE star Zach Ertz. It’s important to remember that just because Jackson has a clear role, it doesn’t mean the role is supported by fantasy-relevant volume. Jackson’s profile plays better in best ball, but remember when drafting him: Most players don’t care about your fantasy team. DJax doesn’t care about his reality team either.
It will be interesting to see if Sterling Shepard can sustain any of the Odell Beckham Departure Bounce with Golden Tate joining the Giants. Shepard is the superior player at this point and the better downfield threat, but the two diminutive receivers could easily cannibalize what few looks remain after Saquon Barkley and, hopefully, Evan Engram get their share.
With Zay Jones finally finding his footing at the end of 2018 and Robert Foster nothing short of a revelation during his fleeting late-season run, it’s disappointing to see Buffalo sign two niche receivers. John Brown provides the deep threat Josh Allen needs, but Brown and Cole Beasley are the types of guys you add as the final piece when everything else is in place. Regardless, Foster’s bubble is popping even though he remains an interesting flier.
Antonio Callaway plummets after the Beckham trade, and Jordy Nelson falls upon his release from Oakland. Nelson’s 2018 was another example of the way you don’t want to chase “name” receivers on the move, but getting out of Oakland should be a positive if he remains in the NFL at all.
D.K. Metcalf’s combine gave him one of our best Freak Scores ever, right there with Stephen Hill. His ADP is a little silly in light of his collegiate production and the difficult road to production for rookie receivers. He should slide between now and the draft but find a second bump if he’s the first receiver selected.
I chose Fanball ADP because of the slightly higher number of drafts in progress, but you can also check out FFPC Risers and Fallers with the FFPC Dashboard in the Best Ball tools. We have a lot more FFPC content coming out this spring and summer as we ramp into draft season.
- I immediately accepted a few trades from leaguemates who know my Kansas City connections. (back)
- Entering his age-30 season and with only two borderline 1,000-yard rushing seasons on his resume, you might have expected Ingram to settle for a mop-up job, but that’s not what happened. At least on the surface. (back)
- Funchess’ former teammate, Kelvin Benjamin, tried to blame Cam Newton’s passing for the Panthers’ decision to rebuild around D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, but both of those players continue to rise while Benjamin lingers on the fringes of the league. (back)