With the third week of the NFL preseason action coming to a close tonight, when Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings take on the Houston Texans, more and more is becoming clear in the world of the NFL.
Position battles are winding down, game plans are coming to light, and rosters are being whittled down—all of which is crucial for fantasy owners to pay attention to as it will have an effect on players' draft value.
Speaking of draft value, it’s time to jump in and see what wide receivers have risen up in the ESPN draft boards over the past seven days, leading to a rise in their ADP (Average Draft Position).
1. Hakeen Nicks (New York Giants)
After the New York Giants parted ways with both Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer this offseason, fantasy owners knew that the door was opened for one of the Giants' young wide receivers to become a fantasy player in 2009.
The only problem owners had was identifying which wide receiver would capitalize. While it was originally assumed the Burress' role would fall to Domenik Hixon and Toomer’s to Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks' strong play this preseason has again muddled the water.
Following an outing in which he caught six passes for 144 yards and two TDs against the New York Jets, it’s no surprise the rookie wide out has seen a rise of +7.6 ADP slots. Nicks may not yet own Burress' starting spot, but he’s definitely closed the gap between himself and Hixon and could by season's end prove to be the Giants' top fantasy wide out.
2. Derrick Mason (Baltimore Ravens)
After pulling a Brett Favre earlier this offseason by retiring and then unretiring, Derrick Mason may have somewhat alienated fantasy owners. After all, Mason’s waffling had to at least cause some concern regarding his desire to play the game. Why else would fantasy owners avoid gambling on Mason? I mean, it’s not like the guy hasn’t produced of late. In both 2007 and 2008, Mason compiled at least 1,000 receiving yards and five TDs.
However, with Mason still plugging along, it appears many owners’ concerns have been appeased as Mason experienced a rise of +5.1 ADP slots this past week. The vet may lack the upside of other low-end WR3 and high-end WR4 candidates, but he will be steady for your squad if you take him.
3. Eddie Royal (Denver Broncos)
While Eddie Royal deserves some credit for his rise of +4.4 ADP slots this past week, as he continues to impress with his preseason play (13 catches for 134 yards), it would be foolish not to recognize the real reason Royal has gained fantasy owners’ favor—Brandon Marshall’s troubles.
In the latest chapter to the Marshall saga, the wide receiver was suspended by the Denver Broncos for the remainder of the preseason. And, if the Jay Cutler saga taught us anything, it’s that the Broncos would rather part ways with a star player than play the role of the apologetic boss. In the end, though, it doesn’t matter whether Marshall dons the Broncos uniform or not this season, because either way, Royal should post strong fantasy numbers.
Not only does the new coaching staff want to get him heavily involved in the offense, but with Marshall’s absence during the preseason, Royal has already become the favorite target of new quarterback, Kyle Orton. Royal is WR2 type material.
4. Antonio Bryant (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
The rise of +4.1 ADP slots over the past week is new territory for Antonio Bryant as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' wide receiver has seen his draft value drop this whole offseason—partly due to a horrendous quarterback situation in Tampa Bay and partly due to a tear in his meniscus.
Bryant, though, returned to practice today and should be set to go for Week One of the regular season. That news has been enough to lead some owners to take a gamble on Bryant as a WR3, which isn’t a bad spot to grab him as he is coming off a year in which he went for 1,248 yards and seven TDs; however, with Byron Leftwich under center, taking him any sooner would be ill advised.
5. Braylon Edwards (Cleveland Browns)
Braylon Edwards is an intriguing option to fantasy owners as we head towards 2009. Sure, he was one of the biggest busts in 2008, but the wide out has shown he can be a fantasy beast with his 16 TDs in 2007. So, what can we expect for this year?
Well, Edwards recently hauled in three catches for 51 yards and a score in the Cleveland Browns' latest preseason affair versus the Tennessee Titans. A performance many owners have taken as a sign that Edwards is ready to bounce back, a point made evident by his rise of +3.8 ADP slots over the past week.
*THIS ARTICLE WRITTEN BY BRUNO BOY MIKE WHOOLEY. FOR MORE FANTASY FOOTBALL INSIGHT AND ADVICE, CLICK THE LINK BELOW.*