Today I wanted to take a look at some of the recent trends for key players moving up and down draft boards, to help you with some final strategy tips before your draft.
Maurice Jones-Drew / Rashad Jennings
We’ve seen some interesting news come out of Jacksonville Jaguars camp over the past few weeks in regard to Maurice Jones-Drew’s holdout.
First it was rumored by CBS Sports that Jones-Drew was ready to come back to the team, until Owner Shad Kahn publicly commented that MJD had better get on board because the "train [was] leaving the station."
Then it was reported that Jones-Drew wanted a trade, but Jacksonville management balked and told us no deal was going to happen.
Shortly after that Jones-Drew tried to kiss and make up through the media but never returned to the team.
Add it all up, and it’s not good news for Jones-Drew and fantasy owners who took him in the first or second round this summer.
I don’t care if Jennings plays the Vikings and Texans the first two weeks of the season; he has the skill set and opportunity to be a low-end RB2 in that time. We should look to him as a flex-play option and a running back worth holding even when Jones-Drew comes back.
Most of the time, star players who holdout deep into camp or even into the season struggle upon their returns.
Jones-Drew will have to get back into football shape, learn a new offense with a new coaching staff and wrestle away playing time from a more-than-capable starter in Jennings.
This is likely to be a committee situation even when Jones-Drew comes back, and MJD nothing more than an RB2 throughout the season. Expect it to be running back by committee when he returns.
Don’t look to Jones-Drew as anything more than a fifth-round pick this weekend, and Jennings is worth as early as a seventh-round pick.
Jamaal Charles, Peyton Hillis: 50-50 Split
Charles is coming back from a ACL injury last season, and Hillis was a stud the last time he played for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll. It only makes sense to split time between these two talented tailbacks, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Hillis is leading the team in carries through the first month of the season.
Hillis has looked terrific in the preseason and has a strong hold on goal-line work. Both backs will be used in the passing game, and the Chiefs have the easiest run schedule in the league. This should be a productive season for both players.
Charles is a worth second-round pick, but I’ve passed on him in all my leagues to take Hillis somewhere between the fifth and seventh rounds.
Giants Cut D.J. Ware: David Wilson Set to Be Bradshaw’s Backup
At one point it was thought Ware would be the backup to Bradshaw, as Wilson played in the latter half of each of the teams early preseason games and was reportedly struggling with the playbook.
All that changed fast, as Wilson was running with the first team before the third preseason game and wowed us all with his big runs against the Bears.
The Giants promptly cut Ware from the team after the fourth preseason game, so they must feel confident in Wilson’s abilities at this point.
Wilson will be the backup to Bradshaw, and the veteran is in line for a nice start to the season with some favorable matchups through the first five weeks.
Still, Wilson is a threat to steal touches from the veteran as the season moves along.
Look to Bradshaw as a decent fourth-to-fifth-round pick, and Wilson may go as high as the eighth round this weekend.
Mike Wallace Back in Practice
After all the talk, Wallace came back to the team this past week, but it’s likely going to take some time before we see the player we’ve known in the past. Wallace will be on the field against the Broncos, but he has to get back into football shape and has a new playbook to learn.
I would avoid him until the seventh round in PPR leagues, but he’s still worth a sixth round pick in standard and performance leagues.
Move Eric Decker Ahead Of Demaryius Thomas
Since March Peyton Manning has praised Eric Decker’s work. After the Broncos' third preseason game, against the 49ers, it’s clear Decker has the lead to be Manning’s go-to receiver in the red zone.
Thomas will have a big season as well, but Decker will probably be the team's No.1 receiver through the first half of the year.
Look to Decker as a solid fifth-round pick, and Thomas is worthy of a sixth-round pick.
Robert Griffin III Favors Pierre Garçon Over Fred Davis
Last year Fred Davis led the Redskins in receptions, but expect a different story in 2012. Griffin III clearly favors Garçon, and the Redskins' big free-agent signing will have a nice first year in Washington.
Davis will be in the mix, but look to him as a low-end TE1 at best on draft day. Garçon, on the other hand, is a worthy WR3 that can be picked up in the seventh or eighth round.
Jason Witten Recovering from Spleen Injury
Things don’t look good for Witten to play in the Dallas Cowboys' first regular-season game, against the New York Giants, so count on his missing that one. Even if he could attempt to play, it only makes sense to rest him as the Cowboys play an early Wednesday game, which means that they will have about 11 days until their next game, in Seattle.
He may miss that game as well, as a spleen injury is nothing to mess around with. Be prepared to have a respectable backup like Jermaine Gresham, Kyle Rudolph, Greg Olsen or Tony Gonzalez for the early weeks.
I like Witten as a 10th-round pick, if you can get him at that price.