Fantasy Football 2013: Preseason Risers And Fallers

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Those who play fantasy sports can draw many comparisons. The game reminds them of many things in this world, but what does fantasy football most remind me of? That’s easy. The stock market. Things happen over the course of the season that impact certain player’s stock in fantasy leagues. Depending on the situation, owners will do whatever it takes to acquire those with rising stock, and in return, will look to deal those with falling stock. So, with the preseason finally over, I figured I’d take a look at some of the guys who are seeing their fantasy stocks rise and fall, as owners prepare for the final drafts before the season starts.

Risers

David Wilson, New York Giants: An obvious one, but Wilson may have seen his stock rise more than anyone in all of fantasy. He’s always been an intriguing option because of his new role in the offense, as well as his crazy explosiveness. However, with Andre Brown (leg) sidelined for about 4-6 weeks, Wilson will no longer scare owners away because of his lack of usage in the red zone. There was no question that Brown (eight TDs from inside two-yard line) would be the short-yardage back, but now Wilson has the opportunity to pick up some more touchdowns on top of an expected solid yardage total. There is no one on the depth chart to threaten Wilson’s playing time, so the sophomore back is easily a top-15 fantasy back heading into Week 1. Wilson is surely a second round draft pick now.

Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals: I wrote about this a few days ago, but felt it was worth reiterating. Mainly because I love this kid. Bernard has caused the coaching staff to absolutely fall in love with him during camp, and also had a heck of a preseason, scoring three touchdowns, all of which inside the five-yard line. For what it’s worth, BenJarvus Green-Ellis failed to score. Many people who have been contemplating drafting Bernard were worried that he wouldn’t see any goal line touches, but most don’t understand that despite scoring six touchdowns last season, Green-Ellis was awful in the red zone. In 43 attempts from inside an opponent’s 20, The Law Firm averaged a poor 2.2 yards per carry. Bernard is way more explosive, is a much better pass-catching back, and quite frankly, is just an all-around better running back than BJGE. Talent will win out in the end and the rookie will become the starter by no later than Week 5. Book it.

Kenbrell Thompkins, New England Patriots: Another obvious one, as Thompkins has seen a crazy uptick in fantasy popularity over the past few weeks or so. Thompkins has put together a very impressive preseason, and it appears that quarterback Tom Brady has developed some chemistry with his rookie receiver, which is a terrific sign. Thompkins was targeted an impressive 11 times during the all-important third preseason contest, and has played more snaps than any New England receiving threat. Of course, there is some risk with investing a draft pick on a rookie receiver, especially one of the New England variety. Back when he was going in the 14th round, it was all gravy. No risk, just a late round flier. But now? Jeez. According to Fantasy Calculator, Thompkins’ ADP has jumped through the roof since mid-August.

That’s just nutty, folks.

Chris Givens, St. Louis Rams: Givens is a guy that has been on my radar since last season, but it appears fantasy owners everywhere are beginning to be sold on the Rams speedster. After showing some flashes in 2012, posting a 50-yard catch in five straight games, Givens is picking up right where he left off this preseason. At one point, he went two straight games with one of those 50-yard bombs, and while rookie sensation Tavon Austin is getting all of the buzz, Givens appears to be quarterback Sam Bradford’s favorite target. The Rams also appear to be transitioning to a pass-first style of offense, which will benefit a guy like Givens. On August 3rd, his ADP was at the start of the 13th round. Now? Towards the end of the eighth is where you will be seeing Givens come off the board. Many fear that he is a clone of a guy like DeSean Jackson, a one-trick pony. But Givens has been working on becoming more of a versatile and complete receiver this offseason, and I think big things are ahead for the 23-year old.

Fallers

Chris Ivory, New York Jets: About a little over a month ago, many fantasy analysts had Ivory as a major breakout candidate for the 2013 season. He was finally looking to be the featured back in, yes, a poor offense, but in one that has a solid offensive line and runs the ball a lot. However, after dealing with a nagging hamstring injury, Ivory failed to take the field as much as he probably would have liked to this preseason, and because of it, the Jets listed Bilal Powell as the number one back on the team depth chart. Sure, Ivory is probably the more talented runner, and the carries will likely favor him when it’s all said and done. Also, while suspended for the first four contests, Mike Goodson could also complicate things when he returns. Ivory’s ADP has slipped a whole two rounds since the start of August, and I see no reason why it should climb upwards at all.

Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills: It pains me to say this, but my beloved Stevie has fallen down my own ranks, and I can only imagine he’s slipped down others as well. It’s not even so much a knock on his talent. I mean, the guy has posted three straight 1,000-yard seasons, despite having poor quarterback play during those years. However, with so many other intriguing receivers with higher upside in the league, Johnson becomes a bit of an afterthought. Of course, if Jeff Tuel is under center for the first few games, that obviously hurts his value, but it appears that rookie EJ Manuel should only miss Week 1, if anything. There just seems to be a lot of unknown in that Buffalo offense, and while I still like Johnson this year, many others do not. They’d prefer the upside of guys such as Thompkins, Josh Gordon and Givens over the less appealing, but consistent Johnson. A seventh rounder in the beginning of August, Stevie has now slipped to the end of the eighth.

Montee Ball, Denver Broncos: Remember when everyone thought the rookie would come in and be the every-down back in a juggernaut of an offense like the Packers? Fantasy owners were reaching on him in the late third, early fourth round, salivating over the thought of a fantasy running back in a Peyton Manning-led offense. Now, Ball is struggling in pass protection, and despite his ball security issues, Ronnie Hillman is atop the Broncos depth chart at the running back position. Sure, many people feel that Ball is the most talented back in Denver, and talent will eventually win out. However, this backfield will without a doubt be a committee approach. Do you want to know how I know this? Well, perhaps because offensive coordinator Adam Gase stated that “this is going to be a by committee-type backfield.” Good enough for you?

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Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.