As veteran fantasy leaguers know, timing is critical. An early draft could result in taking the player that inevitably tears their ACL in pre-season or the bargain of the season that’s taken in the last round. Below are a few of the players that have been most on the move as we start drafting. For this exercise, we consulted the latest FantasyPros Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) to see how it’s risen and fallen the most over the last few days.
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Fantasy Football Risers & Fallers
DeAndre Hopkins (WR – TEN): Current ECR: WR24
All it took for DeAndre Hopkins’s re-draft value to start climbing was to find a team. Hopkins had been a free agent for almost two months and was connected to a half dozen teams, from Buffalo to Kansas City to New England and more. It was understandable that his fantasy ranking was too hard to project; after all, he’s no longer a top-three receiver like he had been and isn’t immune to the system around him. But he’s still a viable starter and actually could have ended up in the best spot possible. His new quarterback (for now), Ryan Tannehill, has a big arm. There’s also no doubt who the top threat is in Tennessee now, but the pass catchers behind Hopkins should draw some attention away. 2022 first-round receiver Treylon Burks was slated to be the leader in the receivers’ room but can take a backseat to Hopkins and not draw a top defender this season. There’s also promising second-year tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo who should provide a target over the middle for the Titans. For eventual Hopkins fantasy managers, they can safely count on him as a WR2 for now and possibly more when the season starts.
Zay Flowers (WR – BAL): Current ECR: WR50
It seemingly happens every year where a rookie misses time early in the run-up to the season and robs us of seeing them with their new team. Sometimes it results in a downturn in their fantasy ranking and value. Sometimes, it causes it to increase based on nothing more than their coaches and teammates talking them up. Zay Flowers falls into the latter category. Luckily, Flowers’ absence is only due to a stomach issue and not something more serious, and he’ll be back this week. But he’ll have a reputation (albeit recently anointed) to uphold after Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson called him ‘Joystick’ in front of the media. It’s also helping Flowers’ case that the Ravens appear to be following through with their plan to throw it a lot more this season. Besides the drafting of Flowers in the first round, they brought in former Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken who led an offense that finished in the top four of pass attempts in two of his four previous seasons as an offensive coordinator.
Dalton Kincaid (TE – BUF): Current ECR: TE19
An example of a rookie increasing their fantasy value because of his on-field performance is Dalton Kincaid. The first-round pick, whom the Bills traded up for in the 2023 NFL Draft, is already popular on Twitter with his workouts, albeit very early in his career. But remember that the tight end landscape is pretty barren, so a first-round pick entering the scene will show up higher on their position rankings than any other position (save for Bijan Robinson). With Kincaid lighting it up early in camp with no resistance from other teams and no other tight ends to block his ascension in the position rankings, we’ve hardly seen the last of Kincaid’s rise in the rankings as the season approaches.
Breece Hall (RB – NYJ): Current ECR: RB12
The lack of good news on Breece Hall’s recovery from a torn ACL last season was reason enough to be cautious of his re-draft ranking. Before the injury, he was looking like an overall RB1 in fantasy leagues before suffering a significant but common injury. He missed the rest of the season and any off-season workouts, but the pre-season is where there was hope he’d see the field. That hasn’t happened yet, and coach Robert Saleh said it’ll be at least a few more weeks before it does. Cue the first drop in his re-draft ADP and ranking. And as further proof that Hall may not be ready for the foreseeable future, the Jets brought in (but have yet to sign) the best back on the market, Dalvin Cook. Cook has made the Pro Bowl the last four seasons and still has enough in the tank to torpedo Hall’s fantasy value when he comes back. There’s no telling how they would deploy a Cook and Hall backfield duo, but it’s fair to say the latter won’t be a workhorse back early in the season, if at all. Hall is currently considered a top-30 player, but it could continue to drop right up until your fantasy draft.
Dalvin Cook (FA – RB): Current ECR: RB32
You might think that the write-up above would boost Cook’s fantasy value in the eyes of re-drafters, but it looks like everyone (potentially) in the Jets backfield is shaping up to be a hot mess. For Cook, his decline started a couple of weeks ago when the Vikings finally pulled the trigger and released him. This despite Cook making four straight Pro Bowls and rushing for at least 1,100 yards in each of those seasons. The timing was unfortunate, but it’s still peculiar that Cook has yet to latch on to a team. He could be holding out for more money or waiting for an inevitable injury to open up a bigger opportunity, but whatever the reason, he’s losing the confidence of re-drafters who keep pushing him further and further down their rankings and drafts. And with the running back market the way it is now, it’s too risky to take Cook at his current ECR without knowing the situation he’s walking into.