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Fantasy Stock Watch: Receiver Deals and a Back to Fade in Miami

“Rising” and “falling” does not necessarily mean “good” or “bad” in fantasy. If a player’s average draft position is rising, his value is assumed to have dropped. Conversely, if a player is falling in terms of draft price, then he can be considered a value if his production is projected to out-perform his draft-price.

Here are this week’s risers and fallers. All ADPs are based on PPR scoring leagues per

Fantasy Stock Watch: Kenyan Drake

Current ADP: 4.03

Projected ADP: 4.08-5.01

Drake’s draft price was in the second round just a couple weeks ago. It’s only May and his stock has dropped two rounds. At a second-round price Drake’s risk was reminiscent of Jeremy Hill in 2015. Like Hill in 2014, Drake finished the season strong last year. He was absolutely electric after being given the opportunity through injury. Hill finished the season as the RB10 and looked to be poised for fantasy football stardom in 2014. However, his draft capital of a second (or even first) round pick in redraft leagues was too much for Hill to live up to, and he’s now considered one of the worst busts in recent memory.

Fast forward to 2017 where Drake finished the season with 108 touches in his last five games after Jay Ajayi was traded and Damien Williams went down with an injury. Drake is now a hot commodity, but fantasy football players are becoming weary now that the Dolphins have added Frank Gore and drafted Kalen Ballage. Gore is sure to get early-down work, but it is yet to be determined how his touches will be monitored as he just turned 35 last week.

Gore only needs 75 yards to pass Curtis Martin for fourth on the all-time rushing list. He should be able to get that early in the season, and he is 1,243 yards from passing Barry Sanders for third all-time. That mark will be out of reach for Gore, but he can certainly achieve half of that feat this season. Ballage is a back who works best in space like Drake. He will be used in pass-catching situations and should get a few touches a game.

The expectations for Drake cannot be high in the crowded backfield. He is the most talented of the three backs, but the Dolphins wasted no time in bringing in other reliable options. The volume won’t be there for Drake to be an RB1, and his best chance for fantasy relevance on a per-game basis will be the big play which is very hard to predict. If he slips to the fifth round, which is realistic, he is worth a flier pick as his talent can make him an RB2 with a limited workload. If the aging Gore does get hurt, then Drake is in store for RB1 type of volume, but banking on that would not be wise as the former Miami Hurricane has had at least 250 carries a season since 2011.

Fantasy Stock Watch: Mike Evans

Current ADP: 2.10

Projected ADP: 3.01-3.03

Evans has presented a familiar pattern over the course of his four-year career — at least 1,000 yards every season but has alternated years in which he has achieved double-digit touchdowns. His touchdown totals since his rookie season are 12, three, 12, and five. This proves how unpredictable touchdowns can be. However, when a player has achieved 12 touchdowns multiple times in his career (with three quarterbacks) he is likely to do it again. After his down season in 2015 (Jameis Winston’s rookie season), Evans was able to be scooped up in the third-round and went on to be the WR2 in 2016.

After a strange season for the Buccaneers, Winston, and Evans, people are once again down on the stud receiver. Evans’ targets went from 173 in 2016 to 136 last season. He was still 11th in red zone targets with 19, but was only able to catch five of those passes and only three resulted in touchdowns. The 6-foot-5 Evans is due for some serious positive regression as that percentage of 26.3 is sure to improve. In 2016 he was nine of 19 in the red zone for seven touchdowns.

This season should see Evans return to form and fantasy football players will be able to get a top five receiver in the back end of the second round or early in the third. Imagine going ZeroRB and being able to snag Antonio Brown, Keenan Allen, and Mike Evans. That is possible this season since everyone is going running back crazy. Evans is the perfect wide receiver to target early as his floor exceeds his draft capital.

Fantasy Stock Watch: Eli Manning

Current ADP: 14.03

Projected ADP: 12.05-13.03

Manning is currently going as the 23rd quarterback off the board in redraft leagues. The 13-year veteran finished as the QB23 in 2017 with a wide receiver unit that was decimated by injury. Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Dwayne Harris all went down with season-ending injuries and Sterling Shepard missed four games. The fact that Manning was even playable in two-quarterback leagues last season is a miracle and should make the eyes light up of anyone planning to draft a quarterback late in redraft leagues.

Manning will have a healthy OBJ, who will boost his production substantially by himself. Beckham takes a 10-yard slant and turns it into a 60-yard touchdown in his sleep, which adds value to the 37-year-old QB. Sterling Shepard is healthy and provides a sure-handed target for Manning underneath. Evan Engram is a stud at the tight end position and the Giants drafted a beast at running back in Saquon Barkley.

Perhaps just as important as OBJ to Manning’s fantasy production in 2018, Barkley will keep defenses honest. The Giants have not had a 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012 and Barkley looks to be capable of exceeding that feat many times over the course of his career. Barkley is also an excellent pass-catcher and will provide burst plays out of the backfield.

With the weapons Manning has, he could be in store for a nice season. It is Super Bowl or bust for the Giants in Manning’s last couple of seasons in the NFL. They are built to win with a Pro Bowl-filled roster on both sides of the ball. With this in mind, Manning will surely improve upon his QB23 finish in 2017.

Unfortunately, the Giants play the Jaguars in Week 1. The game will be at home for Eli, but there are smarter plays for the week. Holding off until after the Jaguars game and scooping up Manning off waivers after a potential off-week could be a viable strategy.  As QB scoring is often so jumbled up at the end of the year, Manning has QB1 upside in 2018 with the playmakers around him and can be drafted late enough to not be considered a risk.

Fantasy Stock Watch: Josh Doctson

Current ADP: 11.08

Projected ADP: 12.02-13.05

As the ADPs of rookies and free agents solidify, Doctson’s draft position is going to slip. Jamison Crowder is viewed as the number one receiver in terms of fantasy on the Redskins. While that notion is not necessarily wrong (Crowder is still due for a breakout season), the Redskins view Doctson as their number one wideout. Josh Doctson, at 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, is the prototypical body-type of a true number one option at the wide receiver position and, perhaps more importantly, the Redskins drafted him with the 22nd overall choice in 2016 with the expectation that he could be just that.

Doctson tore his achilles in his rookie season, so last season served as his first full season. He was targeted 78 times for 35 receptions, 502 yards, and six touchdowns. While those stats are pedestrian, Doctson was on the field for 74.3 percent of the Redskins’ snaps in 2017 — virtually all two-receiver sets and was the lone wideout often in single-receiver packages. Doctson is a big body and a legitimate deep-threat who wins jump-ball situations, and the Redskins target him in the red zone. Doctson caught five of 16 red zone targets for four touchdowns in 2017 with Kirk Cousins as the quarterback.

Crowder and newly acquired Paul Richardson are going to get a lot of work in the passing game. Washington’s new quarterback, Alex Smith, like Cousins, is known to distribute the ball to all of his weapons. However, Doctson will be peppered with targets in his second season fully healthy. The front office and coaching staff want to see if they were right in drafting Doctson in the first round and will give themselves the chance to be. He should receive more than 100 targets easily next year and has double-digit touchdown upside. As his draft stock falls in fantasy, Doctson’s value goes up and he can be taken with little risk involved. Think of Doctson as a WR3 with WR2 upside who is currently being drafted as the WR51 (and falling).

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