Sample sizes matter. With anything you do, actually. Just because you were able to buy gas for fewer than three dollars a gallon doesn't mean gas is that cheap everywhere. Oh, and that 4.0 GPA you had after your first semester of college? Don’t assume that keeps up; just wait until you finish up and take more than five classes.
You can’t make sound, rational conclusions without meaningful trials. If a player carries the football three times for six yards in an NFL preseason game, are we to conclude that his yards per carry average will be that poor for the remainder of the season? Of course not. Give the running back a chance.
Unfortunately, many fantasy football managers will generalize while using frighteningly small sample sizes. To them, three attempts is significant enough, and can change the way they view a particular player’s fantasy football outlook.
Though we should certainly take everything into consideration in mid-August, we should also recognize that brash decision-making can cause for unnecessary ADP fluctuations. When that happens, we – the objective ones – can spot value. That’s what these weekly articles are all about.
On the Rise
E.J. Manuel, QB, Buffalo Bills
Manuel made his Bills debut against the Colts, completing 16 of his 21 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. He looked good on film, and it seems natural for us to start seeing a bump in his nearly undrafted ADP.
He’s currently the 26th quarterback off draft boards, which is fine value if you’re looking for upside. However, given the depth at the quarterback position this year, it wouldn’t be wise to go into even a two-quarterback league with Manuel as anything but your third signal-caller.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
As I pointed out last week, Gio Bernard’s biggest addition to the Bengals offense is his ability to catch the football. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is still going to get a significant number of carries in that offense, so Gio’s value lies within the fact that he can catch passes out of the backfield, something BJGE hasn’t done much of throughout his career.
Bernard did, however, lead the Bengals in rushing attempts (10) during their first preseason game, and even scored a touchdown. He caught three passes – something we should get used to seeing – as well. His high use is going to make fantasy owners salivate, and according to Fantasy Football Calculator, Bernard’s ADP has already entered Round 5 in 12-team leagues. He may be starting to get too costly though, especially in non-PPR formats. Green-Ellis will still be relevant during the regular season.
Stevan Ridley, RB, New England Patriots
The Patriots looked like they were in mid-season form toting the rock against the Eagles, rushing for well over 200 yards. Fantasy stud Stevan Ridley knocked out a nice 62-yard run, and finished with a 92-yard performance. He certainly looked the part of a second-round fantasy draft selection.
We love Ridley this season more than most, as he’s ranked as our 10th-best running back. The Patriots will certainly continue to rely on his legs this year, making him a solid Round 2 choice. His ADP may be rising, but it’s doubtful that we see it enter the late-first round, which is where we actually value him. Even though he may jump a few spots in drafts, Ridley will provide draft day value this season.
Zach Sudfeld, TE, New England Patriots
Ridley’s undrafted rookie teammate, Zach Sudfeld, is about to see a significant jump in ADP after his offseason performances. ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio is calling him “Baby Gronk”, which may be an unfair stretch, but an interesting one nonetheless. With Gronkowski sidelined, Sudfeld has an opportunity to be one of Tom Brady’s favorite middle-of-the-field targets, making him a nice sleeper in fake football.
Sudfeld, who could be “Studfeld” after the first few weeks of the 2013 season, is currently not being selected in most fantasy drafts. He’s one that should enter the late-rounds ADP-wise over the upcoming weeks, especially if Gronkowski continues to miss time. He’s worth a late-round flier in deep leagues.
Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee Titans
With a little under seven minutes left in the first quarter of their preseason game against the Redskins, CJWhateverK busted out a 58-yard score. Overreactions ensued.
Johnson has an improved offensive line this season, and should have some weight lifted off his shoulders with Shonn Greene now in the mix. We have him as a mid-second-round value, which shouldn’t change after his long touchdown run. Don’t go making stupid decisions at the beginning of Round 2. There are still better assets available at that point in your fantasy draft.
Dropping Like They’re Hot
Steven Jackson, RB, Atlanta Falcons
Evidently Steven Jackson is now terrible at football. And after just one preseason game, Jacquizz Rodgers is a fantasy sleeper…again.
Well, maybe not, but I'm sure some of the fantasy unintelligent are thinking and predicting it.
Jackson’s Falcons debut wasn’t pretty, running the ball five times for just eight yards. But again, let’s remember our sample size. Five carries against a tough Bengals defensive line doesn’t tell us nearly enough about what could be a nice fantasy season from Jackson. Though we’ve already said that we’re not insanely high on him in Atlanta, he should still be selected as a fantasy team’s RB2. Don’t worry about one performance, especially one against an underrated defensive front.
A.J. Jenkins, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Last year’s first-round selection in San Francisco has every opportunity in the world this season. Michael Crabtree is missing significant time, paving a path for A.J. Jenkins to do big things as San Fran’s potential top target.
Ehh, maybe not. Not only have his camp reports been borderline miserable, but Jenkins also fumbled his only catch during the 9ers first preseason game. That’s like buying a cake for your mom’s surprise birthday party and dropping it all over the floor as you entered. On a national stage.
Jenkins holds little to no fantasy value at this point, and shouldn’t be considered in any standard league. Don’t get cute with your late-round pick, especially with so many options at wide receiver elsewhere. Things aren’t looking up for the second-year wideout.
Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants
We saw it last year with David Wilson: Tom Coughlin doesn’t like fumbles. That’s not good news for Andre Brown, who let go of the football against the Steelers on Saturday night.
Fantasy owners may overstate what this means, because again, we’ve barely seen Brown run the football this year. The fumble shouldn’t change much, as that backfield will more than likely be a full-blown committee with both Brown and Wilson. Brown’s ADP may drop slightly as a result of the fumble, but until we see it as a real issue, we should continue to trust him as a potential value pick in the 7th or 8th round of drafts.
Isaiah Pead, RB, St. Louis Rams
Let’s continue the fumble theme as we move to St. Louis’ running back, Isaiah Pead. The Rams backfield appears to be moving in Daryl Richardson’s favor, and after a Pead fumble over the weekend, that assumption is just getting stronger. Given his Week 1 suspension, Pead should continue to be a late-round flier in your fantasy drafts. And don't expect him to instantly get top running back carries when he comes back. We like Richardson more, ranking him as our 37th-best running back.