As the NFL regular season rapidly approaches and depth charts become clearer, players rise and fall in Underdog Fantasy best ball drafts. The following analysis looks at risers and fallers at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end from August 1 through August 19.
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Underdog Fantasy Best Ball Risers and Fallers Since August 1
Justin Fields was the only quarterback drafted inside the top 100 to climb in Underdog Fantasy average draft position (ADP) to rise. He moved up one spot among his peers at quarterback and snuck into the back end of the fourth round after previously going at the top of the fifth round.
Jordan Love and Sam Howell moved upward the most by the number of picks, rising approximately eight selections. Howell's ascension might kick up another notch since he was recently named Washington's starting quarterback.
There isn't a timeline for when Kyler Murray will return for the Cardinals. Murray will miss at least four games if he opens the year on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Thus, gamers have soured on spending a top-150 pick on Arizona's injured quarterback.
Matthew Stafford's fall is seemingly a product of Cooper Kupp's hamstring injury. And Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud haven't lit the world on fire in the preseason. As a result, their dips are likely related to those performances.
Tony Pollard and Derrick Henry both moved up slightly in the second round. The Cowboys haven't added another running back, and fellow riser Ezekiel Elliott signed with the Patriots. Henry has benefited from another running back's dissatisfaction with his contract. Furthermore, Tennessee's splashy signing of DeAndre Hopkins indicates they're not interested in rebuilding, which is ideal for a game-script-dependent back like King Henry.
Javonte Williams had positive health reports that culminated in appearing in Denver's second preseason game, and his ADP has maintained a steady climb dating to before August 1. The NFL levied only a three-game suspension to Alvin Kamara, and drafters are now snatching him in the 80s.
James Cook, Khalil Herbert, Jaylen Warren and Deuce Vaughn are all climbing because of stellar camp reports and preseason performances. Kenneth Gainwell is reportedly getting two-minute work for the Eagles, and he's drafted nearly two rounds earlier than he was on August 1.
De'Von Achane, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson no longer have Dalvin Cook potentially signing with the Dolphins hanging over their heads. So, drafters are reacting accordingly. Josh Jacobs hasn't signed his franchise tag, and Zamir White would be the primary beneficiary if Jacobs's holdout extends into the regular season. And Kareem Hunt is making the rounds, visiting teams and could sign somewhere soon.
Jonathan Taylor isn't happy with his situation in Indianapolis. However, he doesn't have much leverage. Regardless, his new ADP is probably more reasonable than his ADP on August 1 since Indy's offense might struggle, and rushing rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson can vulture touchdowns on the ground and is unlikely to check down to Taylor often.
Rhamondre Stevenson's and Breece Hall's slide is an obvious reaction to the signings of Zeke and Cook by the Patriots and Jets, respectively. Many of the other falling running backs coincide with rising ones. Namely, Samaje Perine, Damien Harris, Kendre Miller, Devin Singletary and D'Onta Foreman had teammates on the risers table.
Jerome Ford's fall is the product of an injury that threatens his standing as Cleveland's primary backup. And Chase Brown is battling Chris Evans to be Joe Mixon's handcuff, saying nothing Trayveon Williams eventually returning to muddy the situation even more.
Rookies and second-year wideouts are featured prominently on the risers table. Kansas City's, Denver's and Big Blue's wideouts are also well-represented on the table. Skyy Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have been on the field with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce in the preseason, and Justyn Ross earned two targets on his two routes with Mahomes and Kelce in Kansas City's second preseason game.
Chiefs WR snap count after 2 drives
Out of 9 plays
- Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) August 13, 2023
Kansas City snaps with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce pic.twitter.com/wS4lyWQDaF
- Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) August 20, 2023
Tank Dell has risen the most of any player since August 1. He had a dazzling performance in Houston's first preseason game, and drafters took notice. It's unwise to overreact to a preseason box score. Still, Dell's usage was encouraging. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the 5-foot-8 wideout played 21 passing snaps but aligned in the slot for only four of them. So, Houston isn't pigeonholing their diminutive rookie wideout as a slot-only type. He'll probably start the year behind Nico Collins, Robert Woods and John Metchie on the depth chart but could overtake any of them if he plays well and proves he can handle playing on the perimeter in the NFL.
Injuries were likely the driving force for the falls of Kupp, Garrett Wilson, Treylon Burks, Kadarius Toney, Rashod Bateman and Rashid Shaheed. Out of that group, only Burks (LCL sprain) and Toney (knee surgery for a torn meniscus) seem to be in danger of missing Week 1.
Jameson Williams was also injured. He suffered a hamstring injury that cut short his preseason. However, his fall might also be a product of an underwhelming preseason contest. Williams is set to miss the start of the season with a six-game suspension, and the injury and lack of preseason reps are more drawbacks for his 2023 outlook.
Rondale Moore has played 14 passing snaps in the preseason, aligning in the slot for 12 of them. If he's a slot-only wideout, he won't be on the field in two-wideout sets for the Cardinals. And with a forthcoming rising tight end appearing poised for a return, Arizona might use more two-tight-end alignments earlier in the year than initially anticipated.
Darren Waller is the probable top pass-catching weapon in New York's offense, and he's leaped two tight ends since August 1. Rookies Dalton Kincaid, Sam LaPorta and Luke Musgrave have generated camp buzz and should immediately have prominent roles in their offense.
Juwan Johnson, Jake Ferguson and Hunter Henry are also headline grabbers for their respective teams. Johnson had a breakout campaign last year and could be a fixture on the field if the converted wideout is a more capable blocker this season. And Ferguson is angling to soak up many of Dalton Schultz's vacated targets.
Finally, Zach Ertz was the tight end I teased when discussing Moore above. Ertz tore his ACL and MCL in Week 10 last year but is recovering quickly. The Cardinals have activated him from the PUP list.
Greg Dulcich's stock is plummeting, with Adam Trautman making a run at the starting tight end gig for the Broncos. Chigoziem Okonkwo's falling ADP is likely the market continuing to react to the addition of Nuk to Tennessee's run-heavy offense. Mike Gesicki's and Trey McBride's falls coincide with the rises for Henry and Ertz.
And maybe, gamers are finally recognizing Taysom Hill's lack of theoretical upside now that he's genuinely a tight end. In previous years, there was a chance Hill could be thrust into quarterbacking duties. But the Saints signed Derek Carr, re-signed Jameis Winston and drafted Jake Haener in the fourth round of this year's NFL Draft. Frankly, Hill shouldn't be drafted in Underdog Fantasy best ball leagues.