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16 Risers & Fallers (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Bradley Stalder | Featured Writer
Jul 18, 2022
Jerick McKinnon

Now that many of the biggest best-ball tournaments are underway, understanding the fluctuation of player ADPs can play an important role in how to value drafting shares of a player throughout the remainder of the tournament.

Drafting a “hot” or rising player in ADP may be fun, but it is naturally a negative value play when most of the field might have drafted that player at a significantly lower ADP. Below are the biggest risers and fallers from May to July (change in parentheses), along with action items accompanying each player.

Quarterback Risers

Baker Mayfield (QB – CAR) (+26.7 spots)

Mayfield rose from undrafted in most formats in May to scratching the drafted surface in 1-QB tournaments after the trade to Carolina. It was inevitable after the burnt bridges by the Cleveland Browns’ organization that Baker Mayfield would be moved. Mayfield proves to be the best quarterback Carolina has seen in years. D.J. Moore (+1.7), Terrace Marshall (+4.1), Robbie Anderson (+8.3), and even Christian McCaffrey (+0.6) have all seen increases in ADP since the Mayfield trade.

Action Item: Consider Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins (+0) as part of your last-round Mayfield stack. Higgins ranked seventh in 2020 (with Mayfield & the Browns) in fantasy points per target (2.33) on a 14% target share.

Trey Lance (QB – SF) (+19.8 spots)

With Jimmy Garoppolo (-11.4) no longer part of the 49ers’ quarterback game plan, Trey Lance’s stock has been on the rise. Surprisingly, the top pass catchers haven’t experienced much upward or downward movement despite Lance’s independent ascension. Deebo Samuel (-3.5) hasn’t been traded, Brandon Aiyuk (-0.1) reportedly struggled more than expected at OTAs, and George Kittle (+1.1) barely made headlines this offseason.

Action Item: Even at QB10, Trey Lance could be the steal of your fantasy drafts — draft Lance with confidence.

Quarterback Fallers

Deshaun Watson (QB – CLE) (-90.5 spots)

With time running out between the offseason and the start of training camp, there is urgency for the NFL to resolve the Deshaun Watson situation. Unsurprisingly, with the prospects of Jacoby Brissett spending time at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns this season, the stock plummeted for all involved except Kareem Hunt (+5.9); Nick Chubb (-2.7), David Njoku (-8.9), David Bell (-8.9), Anthony Schwartz (-8.3), Amari Cooper (-19.2), and most of all, Donovan Peoples-Jones (-30.8), saw some of the largest drops across the board.

Action Item: Buy the dip on David Njoku. When Jacoby Brissett was the quarterback for the Colts, Jack Doyle played an important part of the offense, sometimes handling 20-30% target shares week-to-week. Njoku just signed a four-year, $56 million deal this offseason.

Ryan Tannehill (QB – TEN) (-26.2 spots)

Tannehill’s backup quarterback, Malik Willis (-32), also fell precipitously. Trading Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Brown (-1.3) to Philadelphia in exchange for rookie first-round pick Treylon Burks (-23.2) hurts the immediate outlook for Tannehill and the rest of the Titans’ offense. Burks’ uninspiring OTAs furthered the fall. Robert Woods‘ (+2.8) recovery from a midseason ACL tear looks to be on track, and Woods has a chance to start Week 1. It’s worth mentioning Derrick Henry (-2.6) has also dropped from a first-half-of-the-first-round pick to a back-end first-round selection in the last two months.

Action Item: Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (+12.8) has a chance to once again be an every-week starter at wide receiver, and he still is being drafted in the 18th-20th round.

Running Back Risers

Darrel Williams (RB – ARI) (+58 spots)

With the departure of Chase Edmonds (+2.6), the Arizona Cardinals followed the same blueprint as the last offseason: wait on the running back market to sign an undervalued veteran. Williams finished as the RB19 in total points and RB26 in fantasy points per game with Kansas City last season, with seven weeks finishing as a top-24 running back. While there are other backs such as Keaontay Ingram (+0) and Eno Benjamin (-3), Williams has proven upside, especially when the lead running back leaves with injury. James Conner (-1.3) has missed at least two games in all five seasons in the NFL.

Action Item: While Williams may be the biggest riser, there has been optimism from OTAs regarding Eno Benjamin earning the handcuff role. Consider Benjamin as part of the last-round running back drafting rotation.

Jerick McKinnon (RB – KC) (+48.4 spots)

The 30-year-old veteran running back re-signed with Kansas City after flashing useful fantasy production during Week 18 and the fantasy playoffs. Over his last four games (including the playoffs), McKinnon averaged 16.4 PPR PPG, while playing 70% of snaps or more each of the playoff games. The Chiefs did add Ronald Jones (-5.6) to incumbent Clyde Edwards-Helaire (+6.7) in the backfield, but whether McKinnon has any juice left remains to be seen.

Action Item: 16.4 PPG would’ve been RB10 last season. McKinnon has displayed short spurts of fantasy usefulness (McKinnon averaged 16 PPG in 2020 during a six-game stretch for the 49ers as well) — but it’ll be hard to count on him week-to-week due to age, durability, and production history.

Running Back Fallers

Raheem Mostert (RB – MIA) (-40 spots)

Mostert’s change-of-pace role behind Chase Edmonds (+2.6) looked like a value in fantasy drafts until Miami signed former first-round running back Sony Michel (+11.2). The 30-year-old Mostert is still reportedly recovering from chipped knee cartilage from 2021’s Week 1 but is expected to be ready for the start of the season. Regardless, it will be a murky backfield behind Edmonds with Michel, Mostert, and Myles Gaskin (-8.7).

Action Item: The market prefers Michel to Mostert, and fantasy drafters should, too. Gaskin can be ignored in all formats.

Michael Carter (RB – NYJ) (-26.3 spots)

The former fourth-round pick in 2021 got bumped down the depth chart after the Jets traded up to draft Breece Hall (-5.5), the first running back off the NFL rookie draft board in 2022. Hall is a better version of Carter in all aspects of the game, capable of a three-down role. Expecting Carter to move to a third-down role is also risky business with Ty Johnson (+0) still rostered. Both Carter and Johnson handled about 10% target shares — with Johnson operating mostly on third downs. Carter most likely is relegated to a change-of-pace role behind Hall.

Action Item: Buy the dip on Breece Hall. Hall projects as the immediate lead back on an improved New York Jets offense.

Wide Receiver Risers

Jalen Tolbert (WR – DAL) (+30.3 spots)

If there’s a third-round wide receiver primed to start Week 1, Tolbert has arguably the best chance to do so. The Cowboys traded away Amari Cooper (-19.2) to the Cleveland Browns. Michael Gallup (-8.8) is recovering from a late-season ACL tear. James Washington (-21.5) played fewer than 50% of snaps in 10-of-15 games for Pittsburgh in 2021. Tolbert commanded over a 32% share of targets each of the last two seasons at South Alabama, finishing with over 1,000 receiving yards both seasons.

Action Item: Without other competition, the runway is clear for Tolbert to start the season strong as the WR2 for a fast-paced Dallas offense hungry for play-making pass catchers. Draft Tolbert with confidence in Round 13.

Russell Gage (WR – TB) (+30 spots)

The stars have aligned for Russell Gage to succeed in 2022. Coming off a season where Gage quietly finished as the WR13 in yards per route run, WR12 in route win rate, and WR12 in win rate vs. man, Gage now goes to Tampa Bay, who loses Antonio Brown (-8.3) to release, Rob Gronkowski (-105.1) to retirement, and Chris Godwin (-24.3) to ACL recovery. There’s the opportunity, talent, and pass volume for Gage to put up career-high numbers in 2022. And, no, don’t get cute with Tyler Johnson (+0).

Action Item: It’s not too late to draft Russell Gage.

Wide Receiver Fallers

William Fuller (WR – FA) (-33.1 spots)

Fuller hasn’t signed with a team yet. Reportedly, Fuller refused to sign with the Green Bay Packers (or any other midwest team) due to the cold and snow. Fantasy managers haven’t seen Fuller play 70+% snaps in a game since Week 12 of 2020 when on the Houston Texans.

Action Item: Fuller is a candidate to see his stock rise significantly if/when he signs. Until then, he’s a speculative add in Round 16 of fantasy drafts.

George Pickens (WR – PIT) (-25.2 spots)

A report about how Pickens won’t get regular snaps until 2023 surfaced, which dropped his ADP. However, that’s not been the modus operandi of the Steelers’ coaching staff with rookie wide receivers in the recent past:

2017 – JuJu Smith-Schuster (+3.6) — 58 receptions, 79 targets, 917 receiving yards, 7 TDs

2019 – Diontae Johnson (-4.5) — 59 receptions, 92 targets, 680 receiving yards, 5 TDs

2020 – Chase Claypool (+3.6) — 62 receptions, 109 targets, 873 receiving yards, 9 TDs

Action Item: The former Georgia Bulldog has upside potential in the 15th round of fantasy drafts.

Tight End Risers

Cameron Brate (TE – TB) (+35.5 spots)

Gronk retired. In the five games Rob Gronkowski missed in 2021, Brate averaged 3.8 targets, 1.6 receptions, and 3.24 fantasy points per game. Long gone are the days of Brate finishing as a top-12 TE. In fact, Brate has finished as a top-12 TE only four times over the last 47 games.

Action Item: Let your league-mates be heavy on Cameron Brate. While Cade Otton (+15.4) has moved up in draft rooms, Day 3 rookie TEs rarely make an impact, much less in Year 1.

Irv Smith Jr. (TE – MIN) (+24.1 spots)

Tyler Conklin (+15.7) departed to the New York Jets. Smith has reportedly fully recovered from his meniscus injury last offseason. When drafters last saw Irv Smith Jr. in 2020, he finished as a top-12 TE in five of his final nine games, including the TE1 overall weekly finish in Week 16 vs. New Orleans.

Action Item: Smith is easy to stack with Kirk Cousins (-1) and the rest of the Vikings’ offense.

Tight End Fallers

Rob Gronkowski (TE – FA) (-105.1 spots)

Gronk retired. Again. Then he said weeks later that he won’t return to football even if Tom Brady calls. That sounds like it’s for good.

Action Item: Avoid the rest of the Buccaneers’ tight ends, if possible.

Dan Arnold (TE – JAC) (-22.5 spots)

Arnold finished 2021 with a 13.6% target share for the Jaguars after a midseason trade from Carolina. There are many new receiving options in Jacksonville in 2022, including Zay Jones (+7.2), Christian Kirk (+10.1), Evan Engram (+0.4), and a healthy Travis Etienne (+18.1). Arnold now has tougher competition for targets. If he can beat out Engram, however, Arnold might have a valuable role within the Jags’ offense led by Trevor Lawrence (+1.4).

Action Item: This is a positional battle for which training camp should provide clarity. Don’t count Arnold out even with the addition of Engram to the roster.

If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

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