ADP Watch: Big-Name Quarterbacks Struggling Early
With two weeks of preseason NFL action in the books, it's time to look at our weekly stock report based on what we are seeing unfold on the field. While it is important not to overreact to meaningless games (with injuries being a notable exception), evaluating what we are seeing and allowing that to help us craft an overall narrative about a team or player is an important way to formulate comprehensive opinions as we head into draft season.
We've already taken a look at the standouts from Week 2 of the preseason, and in this edition we will take a look at the players who have failed to impress in their time on the field.
So without further to do, here are the players whose stock is declining through two weeks of preseason play:
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
I was an early advocate for drafting Cam Newton this season, in large part due to his unbelievable easy schedule, but the loss of Kelvin Benjamin has really caused his stock to plummet. After peaking in the sixth round of average draft position (ADP), he has now dropped to the late ninth round.
In his first preseason game without Benjamin, Newton really struggled, completing just 40 percent of his passes (4 for 10) for 42 yards and an interception. The first-team offense struggled to move the ball, validating the concerns many have with this offense without (arguably) its best receiving weapon. Without a consistent target outside of tight end Greg Olsen, it's hard to see how Newton maintains his status as a top 10 fantasy quarterback unless his rushing prowess returns in a big way.
Giants Passing Game
It has been a horrific start for Eli Manning and Madden cover boy Odell Beckham, who has gone without a reception this preseason despite his six targets. Manning is now completing just 36.4 percent of his passes for only 68 yards through two games.
While preseason stats don't mean we should sound the alarm, you'd like to see this offense look somewhat decent before investing a top pick in Beckham or raving about selecting Manning as your late round quarterback steal.
It is worth noting that Manning also struggled last preseason, so maybe he just needs the pressure of a meaningful game before he turns on the switch. Or perhaps offensive line issues and natural regression are also at play. Either way, this is a situation worth monitoring in the coming weeks.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson has done nothing this preseason to indicate that his abilities should be in question, but his offensive line is certainly a strong reason for concern through two games.
After being sacked twice and harassed constantly in Week 1, Wilson was running for his life again against the Chiefs, forcing him to check the ball down consistently and average only 5.2 yards per completion.
After losing center Max Unger in the trade for Jimmy Graham and allowing guard James Carpenter to walk, the team is still uncertain at three of the five spots along their offensive line. Concerns clearly led them to meet with free agent guard Evan Mathis, although Mathis signed with Denver, causing a ripple effect for the Seattle.
Wilson had an unbelievable rushing season last year but could struggle to replicate his fantastic 2014 season if he is constantly running for his life.
Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
Speaking of running for his life, Robert Griffin III is terrible at it, taking hit after hit in Week 2 of the preseason. He was diagnosed with a concussion and shoulder stinger following the game and is still seemingly unaware of how to protect himself as an NFL quarterback.
Worse, he is being outplayed (again) by backup quarterback Kirk Cousins, and his starting job could be in jeopardy if he doesn't improve as a passer and more importantly, stay healthy.
Either way, RGIII has done nothing to indicate he should be drafted in standard leagues, even with his immense upside as a passer and runner.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco just has no one who can consistently get open, and he looked awful in the Ravens' Week 2 thrashing by the Eagles. He completed just three of seven passes for 23 yards and two interceptions, and the offense failed to generate any points while he was in the game. Steve Smith may be an effective possession receiver, but on his own he is no longer capable of dominating defensive backs with his speed and aggressiveness.
Until then, this is a passing offense that continues to look stagnant following the departure of coordinator Gary Kubiak.
LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots
LeGarrette Blount has done almost everything wrong this offseason, from getting arrested and subsequently suspended for Week 1 to showing up to camp out of shape and failing to impress on the field.
And perhaps this wouldn't be much of a concern if his coach weren't Bill Belichick, the guy who benched Jonas Gray following a 4-touchdown, 200-yard performance because his alarm didn't go off.
Blount saw his first action of the preseason against one of the worst defenses in football last season and produced only 15 yards on 13 carries. He is clearly being outplayed by the talented Gray, who has 96 yards and a touchdown on his 14 carries this preseason.
This has the makings of a committee approach at best and is a situation to avoid early in drafts without more clarity.
Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers
It has been a rough start for the much hyped rookie Melvin Gordon, who looked indecisive and average on his way to a six-carry, 11-yard performance in his first preseason game. An ankle injury sidelined him for the Chargers' second preseason contest, but the injury is not expected to keep him out for long.
Still, the below-average performance combined with training camp reports that he is struggling in pass protection has been enough to cause his ADP to drop about seven spots in the last two weeks.
Gordon needs to show more in the coming weeks to justify that fourth-round investment, especially with Danny Woodhead waiting to steal touches at any moment.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Through two preseason games, Mike Evans has five targets, zero receptions and a strained hamstring. Even with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston demonstrating the ability to be a quality NFL quarterback, the connection with Evans just hasn't been there to this point, which is a tad concerning for those drafting him to be their top wide receiver.
Even more concerning is that Winston's connection with veteran Vincent Jackson seems more promising, with the two connecting on two passes for 56 yards through two games and being just off on several other targets.
While his ADP has stayed relatively steady, it's worth wondering if perhaps he is overvalued coming off his inconsistent (but promising) rookie year.
Nick Foles, St. Louis Rams
The offensive line is a work in progress at best, and Foles has yet to lead this offense to a touchdown in two preseason games. Against the mighty Titans he threw for just 18 yards on seven attempts including a really bad interception.
I foresee at lot of eight- and even nine-man boxes for Gurley and Mason this season, making it tough sledding behind an overmatched offensive line.