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Matt Ryan was your quarterback value de jour in mock drafts last April, with an average draft position (ADP) in the late-seventh round. Doug Martin was a workhorse running back readily available in the fourth round, Aaron Hernandez was an extreme value, sporting a late-sixth round ADP, and Eric Decker was on draft boards well into the ninth round.
Things changed, as you may know.
All four of those guys saw their ADPs spike in the 150 days between April 1 and September 1. Probably the reasons for their rising value are obvious now. Of course Ryan, the quarterback of Dirk Koetter’s revamped Falcons’ offense, would jump into the early rounds come late August, right? And yes, Decker, the big Denver Broncos receiver with Peyton Manning throwing him the pigskin instead of Tim Tebow, would see his ADP jump as the 2012 season approached. Who among us didn’t know that?
It’s fairly obvious that mock drafts are more informative and reflective of players’ true value as we get closer to summer’s end. Even mock drafts conducted in the spring, like Sports Jerks Networks’ Mockdraftpocalypse, tell us much more about values than mocks conducted in February, before free agency has brought rosters into better – though not perfect – focus.
Even a cursory glance at 2013 ADPs shows that there are a couple handfuls of fantasy assets whose value will tick upward in the coming fourth months. Identifying these guys is important, I think, because it helps us come to terms with the sad fact that these players won’t be such ridiculous draft values come August, when it (finally) counts. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Robert Griffin III (current ADP: 5.05) – RG3 is a preeminent candidate to see his ADP rise as we get closer to opening day. I’ve seen Griffin plummet into the eighth round in two mocks I’ve participated in this offseason, as clear a sign as any that owners are terrified of the ACL tear he suffered in the playoffs last January. Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has said his stud signal caller could “set a record” for recovery time from the devastating knee injury, a phrase that might make it seem like everyone recovers from heinous injuries like Adrian Peterson. Teammates Rex Grossman and Fred Davis have also issued glowing public reports on Griffin’s recovery.
If (or when) Griffin says he’ll suit up for Week 1, expect your league mates to remember that he was the No. 1 fantasy quarterback through eight weeks of the 2012 season. He could come off of draft boards as early as the late second round.
Michael Vick (current ADP: 11.08) – Vick won’t be this year’s Ryan – no one will, thanks in part to incredible quarterback depth – but I don’t expect to draft him anywhere near his late 11th round ADP come August. Hype surrounding Vick’s role in Chip Kelly’s reportedly magical offense will likely pick up steam in mid-summer, and with it, Vick’s fantasy value. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think Vick could sport an ADP in the eighth round by late August.
Some ADP spikes aren’t justified, bur rather a product of groupthink among the roiling back-and-forth of fantasy obsessives on the Twitter Machine. Brandon Lloyd, that failed fantasy sweetheart from a year ago, saw his ADP go from the mid-sixth round to the mid-fourth round in summer 2012. This may be the case with Vick.
Lamar Miller (current ADP: 3.10) – Miami Dolphins decision makers have expressed a clear lack of confidence in Daniel Thomas’s abilities, enough to question whether Thomas will have even a timeshare role in the team’s 2013 backfield. Reggie Bush is gone, and the Dolphins brass is talking up Miller as a legitimate every-down back. Miller, in the two games that saw him tote the ball 10 times in 2012, racked up 138 yards, good for a 6.9 YPC average in those games. A nearly nonexistent sample size, I know, but the only one we have to work with. Evaluating Miller’s fantasy value, like so many things in fantasy football, will be based on a whole lot of incomplete information. The Sun Sentinel reported in February that it was “universally understood” that the franchise would give Miller every chance to start in 2013.
“Lamar really showed some great signs of really some explosive-play opportunity,” Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said in a Feb. 4 interview. “He kind of shoots out of the cannon when he hits the hole. He’s got very good hands. I thought he did a very good job in his pass protection, which keeps him on the field all three downs.”
Quotes like that should bump Miller into the late second round, sooner or later.
Steven Jackson (current ADP: 3.11) – Snagging Jackson at this late ADP makes one feel so good about one’s self. Jackson’s current ADP leaves him as a nice running back option for owners who can’t keep their paws off an elite receiver or tight end in the second round. Don’t get used to it.
People will soon understand what it means for Jackson to play in an offense that has – gasp! – other options. He won’t face constant eight and nine-man fronts. He’ll likely get a ton more red zone touches in the machine we call Atlanta’s offense. Michael Turner had 51 red zone carries in 2012, a huge number for a fading back (Jackson had 27 red zone carries in St. Louis last year). If Jackson gets anywhere near the same number of red zone opportunities, he could find the end zone a dozen times in 2013. Expect Jackson to come off the board in the middle of the second round come August. Crazy thing though: He could still be a value there.
I’ll tackle wide receivers and tight ends next week. Feel free to tweet or email me to nominate players whose ADP you think will spike in the next few months. My digital self is available at @CDCarter13 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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