Average Draft Position Report: Josh Gordon, Ben Tate, and Vernon Davis

fantasy football draft
fantasy football draft
Oakland CA USA Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon 13 catches a pass and runs for a touchdown against Oakland Raiders cornerback Ron Bartell 21 during the second quarter at Oco Coliseum Kyle Terada USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy football average draft positions are about to make their annual journey toward normalization, when sleepers become overvalued and all out best laid plans from March and April become high comedy.

Casual fantasy owners are making their way back to mock draft rooms and altering the ADPs of, well, everyone, including the guys you pegged as values a month ago. Count this among the pitfalls of fantasy degeneracy.

Here are three players who’ve seen significant ADP swings over the past two weeks, according to Fantasy Football Calculator, a tool with which you should become familiar this summer.

Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns
May 20 ADP: 8.07
June 3 ADP: 7.04

Gordon’s size-speed combination makes him a prototypical fantasy stud who, at 6’4” and 220 pounds, will be a red zone threat as long as he’s breathing and upright. Gordon, 22, was the definition of a raw talent in 2012, but as his route running improved and his route tree expanded, Brandon Weeden began to trust Gordon as a No. 1 option. Gordon, from Weeks 4-16, caught 43 passes for 712 yards in a hyper-conservative Browns offense that will be anything but in 2013 under new head coach Rob Chudzinski and offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who is installing an aggressive, vertical attack this summer.

“He has a lot of work to do, but he’s got a lot of ability,” Turner said of Gordon. “If you put those two things together and you just grind, as a player and a coach, I think he can be a really fine player.”

Training camp reports, as they did with Brandon Lloyd last season, could drain Gordon of his mid-draft value by August. Gordon’s perceived value, unfortunately, will be a lot closer to his actual fantasy value come draft day.

Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans
May 20 ADP: 9.07
June 3 ADP: 9.04

Perhaps it’d be more informative to take a gander at Tate’s ADP from way back in early May, when he was going for the low, low price of 10.08 — right around Bernard Pierce territory. This, I think, makes sense, since Tate and Pierce are top-12 plug-and-play fantasy runners if they ever get a starter’s workload. Tate, in the aftermath of Arian Foster‘s calf injury — which is expected to keep him out until training camp, maybe longer.

Tate’s propensity for nicks and bruises could scare away the risk averse among us come August, but it’s worth remembering that in his lone healthy season — 2011 — Tate almost eclipsed 1,000 yards of just 175 carries (5.4 YPC) in 15 games. There’s been nothing to indicate the Texans will move away from their wildly successful, run-heavy zone blocking scheme in 2013, so if Foster’s injury lingers, Tate’s ADP will spike. With a bigger workload, he might even be worth the higher price. Everything hinges on Foster’s health come late August. Even without injury, Tate might be a wise investment for anyone who foresees Foster suffering a physical breakdown after being ground down in Houston’s run attach since 2010.

“[Tate’s] been here every day, and it’s an opportunity for him in these next six practices to be the bell cow, so to speak, and that’ll be good for him in the long run,” Kubiak said in a May 30 interview with the Houston Chronicle.

Vernon Davis, TE, San Francisco 49ers
May 20 ADP: 7.04
June 3 ADP: 6.10

Welcome to the post-Michael Crabtree era, where Davis is expected to be the primary beneficiary of the massive void in the 49ers’ passing attack. I’d hesitate to project Davis as a top-6 fantasy tight end – with room to rise – because the Niners still have quite a bit of wide receiver talent. Davis’s blocking acumen should also play a factor, as the team utilizes his bulldozing talents as a cog in their vicious run blocking schemes.

Scouts and film watchers have agreed that Colin Kaepernick’s frequent targeting of Crabtree (he averaged 9.3 targets in the 10 games Kaepernick started last year) was more due to play design than the quarterback’s fixation on the 49ers’ most talented pass catcher. If true, I’m not sure how we can expect Davis to absorb the lion’s share of Crabtree’s targets in 2013. I’m going to preach caution on Davis throughout the summer, as there are plenty of late-round tight end options ideal for streaming purposes.

C.D. Carter can be found on Twitter @CDCarter13. His book, “How To Think Like a Fantasy Football Winner,” is available on Amazon for $3.99.

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C.D. Carter Fantasy Football Analyst
C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.