One thing that's important to track throughout the preseason is which players rise up the draft rankings. The way a draft plays out is often noticeably different from early in the exhibition slate to right before Week 1 of the regular season.
The reason for a player's vault varies widely. The most common being an injury to a teammate or unexpectedly high usage or strong play in the dress rehearsals. Whatever the reason, they are players worth monitoring because owners will have to use an earlier pick to get them at this stage.
Of course, the main question is whether they still provide good value at their new draft location. So let's check out three players who have seen their average draft position jump.
All ADP information is courtesy of ESPN through Friday.
Sam Bradford (St. Louis Rams)
Bradford was on pace for his best season since the Rams drafted him first overall in 2010 before suffering an ACL injury last October. The long road to recovery is complete, and his performance in his first preseason action caused him to jump around 40 draft spots.
He went 9-of-12 for 101 yards and a touchdown. It's important to never read too much into exhibition numbers, but he looked healthy and played well. That makes him an intriguing backup quarterback option when you consider his pace last season, as noted by John Buccigross of ESPN:
In fantasy terms, he was averaging a shade over 16 points per game before getting hurt. If he would have maintained that pace while playing the entire season, he would have finished with 260 points, which would have ranked him eighth at the position.
Despite those starting-worthy numbers, the injury history makes him best-served as a reserve option. And even after the jump in ADP, he's still the 22nd quarterback being drafted on average. The value is still there, but he could rise even further with a strong outing on Saturday.
Jonathan Stewart (Carolina Panthers)
Stewart was a virtual afterthought until recently. He had an undrafted ADP of 170 until he moved up nearly 30 spots over the past week. That's likely because the Carolina backfield is once again muddled and it seemed like DeAngelo Williams would be the main option.
The backup has garnered some attention since it looks more like a time-share situation once again. He's also talked about feeling good about his health after some nagging injuries in recent years, per Jonathan Jones of the Charlotte Observer.
"My run motion coming out the gate, making cuts, all that stuff, is as fluid as I've been in a while, which is good," Stewart said. "I don't have to second-guess anything."
While those are encouraging words, he's still an injury risk. After missing just two games over his first four seasons, he's only appeared in 15 over the last two campaigns combined. And that's despite a limited workload when he did play.
Ultimately, the Panthers backfield is one to avoid if at all possible. Williams and Stewart will split touches, and Mike Tolbert is a goal-line vulture. The committee approach limits the upside of all three, including Stewart despite his late-draft ADP after the rise.
Ahmad Bradshaw (Indianapolis Colts)
Bradshaw is a surprising name making a big move simply because he hasn't even played in the preseason. His rise is due to the continued struggles of Trent Richardson, who's averaging just 2.4 yards on 14 carries in the preseason.
Again, exhibition numbers are not a perfect indicator of regular-season success. Yet, the Indianapolis starter failed to impress after coming over in a trade last season. The fact he hasn't shown signs of improvement is leading fantasy owners to latch on to his backup.
It's an understandable move. Bradshaw, like the other two players on the list, is dealing with injury questions, though. He only played in three games last season due to a neck injury and has featured in all 16 games just once in his seven-year career.
Even though owners shouldn't expect big numbers from him, he does make sense as a handcuff for people who take a chance on Richardson. The Colts are going to give their starter every chance to succeed, but Bradshaw could very well make his presence felt.
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