My buddies and I kicked off our league’s 10th season with an auction draft last night. We huddled around our computers from New York, Cincinnati, D.C., Pittsburgh and Charlotte, and thanks to technology, we were able to video chat with one another throughout the Christmas morning-like day.
The draft, as usual, didn’t disappoint. One guy ended up accidentally max bidding for Steven Jackson, forcing me to halt the draft and restart the bidding process on the Falcons runner. Let’s blame the beer. Another ended up spending more money on James Jones than I did for Danny Amendola. Let’s blame lack of research.
Though there were some strange picks throughout the auction, one thing that was evident was that none of us had caught Kenbrell Fever. Thompkins – the Patriots rookie wideout – went for just five dollars towards the end of the draft; a value that aligns with most upside, risky wide receivers.
But as for other fantasy leagues? Well, it appears that Kenbrell Fever is more widespread than most of us realize.
Rising to the Top
Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, New England Patriots
I could probably devote the entire ‘Rising to the Top’ section on the Patriots rookie receiver, but that would be a time waster. No player has risen more than Kenbrell Thompkins this offseason in terms of ADP. None. A week and a half ago, Thompkins was a late, 13th-round flier. But now, according to FantasyFootballCalculator.com, Kenbrell is an eighth-round draft choice.
Yes, a receiver who went undrafted is now being selected in fantasy drafts ahead of Golden Tate, Chris Givens, Mike Williams and Lance Moore. In a year where wide receiver upside is immense, Kenbrell Thompkins is the guy getting the most love.
Given the sure bets at his cost, the eighth-round average draft position for Thompkins is ludicrous. He certainly has opportunity with Tom Brady slinging him the ball, but the risk far outweighs the reward at that ADP. Stay away at least until the double-digit rounds. At least.
David Wilson, RB, New York Giants
David Wilson has been one of the more impressive runners in the preseason this year. So good, in fact, that NFL.com is reporting that the Giants will more than likely opt to start Wilson over the bigger Andre Brown to start the season.
It’s not a huge surprise, as we’ve had Wilson ranked as our 22nd-best running back throughout the offseason. However, his play during the preseason should make potential fantasy owners feel a little more confident when drafting him in the third round, a cost that has increased over half of a round since last week. Before, Wilson was a risk considering ambiguity. Now, Wilson’s play is making things a little less nerve-wracking from a fantasy standpoint.
Andre Brown still has value, too, everyone. I think it’s very possible that both end up outproducing their ADP.
Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans
Arian Foster’s injury has forced his drafters to spend a mid-round pick on his handcuff, Ben Tate. While I’m not one to advocate getting a handcuff, this is a situation where most feel it’s needed, as Foster’s health is a big concern.
Tate’s ADP has gone up over a round since last Monday, proving that Foster owners are willing to reach a bit to secure the running back production. However, keep in mind that getting Tate at such a cost comes at a price. He’s now being drafted over players like Andre Brown, Mark Ingram and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, all of whom have better long-term season value.
Remember not to overpay for Tate as a Foster owner. A better strategy may be to grab the best player available at that time, and trade for Tate post-draft. Foster has come out and said that he feels “rejuvenated”, pointing to a probable healthy start to the season. Handcuffing that soon could end up being a huge loss for your team.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers
The always-disappointing Jermichael Finley is being promoted as a true breakout candidate by many, and his cost is rising as a result. To get him now, you’ve got to spend an early seventh-round choice. At the end of July, he was a 10th-round selection.
We’ve got him slated as our 15th-best tight end, behind seven guys with worse ADPs. So no, if you're wondering, we don't think Finley’s current value is worthwhile. If you’ve been burned by him in the past, getting burned again at this price isn’t going to make for a fun fantasy season. Given the tight end upside late in your drafts, you should feel alright about passing on Finley.
Dropping Like They’re Hot
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
Darren McFadden missed the Raiders third preseason game with a shoulder injury.
Here we go again.
It was minor, but it’s going to turn fantasy owners off. That, and the fact that the Raiders offense has looked anything but impressive (not surprisingly) throughout the preseason is going to force DMC’s ADP to fall. And now, it’s reached its offseason low: The beginning of Round 4.
Eddie Lacy and Lamar Miller are now both being selected in front of DMC. Many will point to this as obvious, but our analytics say otherwise. Though the Raiders offense should – and probably will – be putrid, let’s not forget that McFadden will be a high-volume runner. Even a low yards per carry average will yield fantasy success. A power blocking scheme doesn’t hurt either.
He’s our 19th-ranked back with a fairly high ceiling. Of course DMC is one of the riskier picks each year, but if you can get him as your RB3, there may be no better time to snag him than in 2013.
Chris Ivory, RB, New York Jets
Ivory missed time in camp, and the Jets have been slowly acclimating him into the [bad] offense. Bilal Powell is looking like the guy to get third-down duties, making Ivory even less useful in fantasy. Not surprising, but more people are noticing.
Now the ex-Saints back has seen his ADP drop to the sixth round in standard 12-team drafts. That’s a near two round drop since the end of last month. Like Arian Foster, health is playing a significant role in the dip. Ivory has never been one to stay strong in the health department, which is why he’s a risk no matter where you draft him.
Even so, at numberFire, we have Ivory ranked as the number 21 running back. Considering his RB30 status, there’s some nice potential value there if you’re fine with taking on his health risk. After all, he's no longer being selected as an RB2.
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
This is obvious, but since Bell’s foot injury, his cost has fallen significantly. What’s to note, however, is the fact that Bell is still being selected in the seventh and eighth round, and judging by trends, this may be where Bell gets picked up until the start of the season.
As I noted last week, there’s no real runner to go after as a sleeper while Bell’s sidelined. Really, there's no back in Pittsburgh to target unless value drops significantly. The offensive line has had issues throughout the preseason, and Bell’s injury will lead to uncertain play when he returns.
If his ADP holds, there’s a chance he’ll be selected ahead of significant middle-round talent. It's not worth it right now, folks.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
The Gio Bernard hype train is going strong, and as a result, BenJarvus Green-Ellis’ average draft position is falling faster than Rex Ryan’s head coaching career. The Law Firm is sitting with an eighth-round ADP, which could be the best value of any potential 150-to 200-plus attempt running back.
Green-Ellis isn’t a flashy runner, but is still going to play a role for Cincinnati this year. Though Bernard should be regarded as the high-upside back of the two, don’t be surprised to see BenJarvus in an early-down role, pounding the rock through the middle of the Bengals offensive line.
According to our projections, Green-Ellis is a nice draft day value as your RB4.