Fantasy Football 2019: Stock Up, Stock Down After NFL's Latest Developments
Once the preseason arrives, the "stock market" in the NFL transitions from NFL draft stock to fantasy football stock.
Like the Antonio Brown helmet fiasco, good luck figuring out which is more dramatic.
Right now, fantasy football owners must wade through an avalanche of daily news stemming from 32 teams and translate that to successful drafts. A bevy of fantasy-related intricacies make things more complicated, starting with league format (standard vs. daily), scoring format (standard vs. points-per-reception (PPR)) and then factoring in lineup constructions, average draft position (ADP) and all the rest.
With fantasy draft season upon us, helping owners combat the endless wave of information by using the most prominent headlines to read the stock market is the goal.
Stock Up: Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys
The longer Ezekiel Elliott stays away, the better those investing in Tony Pollard look.
In the latest development for the Dallas Cowboys, Elliott is missing in action, at least in part, because he thought a joke from Jerry Jones was "disrespectful," according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Silly or not, the situation has Pollard's stock booming. He's a fourth-round pick out of Memphis who has gotten first-team reps in Elliott's place and has been singled out by Jones with praise (which perhaps hasn't helped the Elliott situation much, either). He then followed up with five carries for 42 yards and a score against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2 of the preseason.
Fantasy owners have seen time and again that rookie backs can put up huge numbers right away in the right situation. It doesn't get much better than Dallas behind one of the league's best offensive lines with opposing defenses needing to account for Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper and a host of others. Pollard's 12.08 ADP is one of the best bargains around as of this writing.
Stock Down: DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks
At one point, DK Metcalf seemed almost irresistible. The Seattle Seahawks' second-round pick quieted doubters who only thought his physical makeup was responsible for his hype with good routes and big plays in training camp.
While the outlook doesn't sound too negative, surgery is surgery. Wideouts have a tougher transition to the pros than running backs since they have to form a connection with a quarterback and adapt to press coverage and faster defenders. Metcalf missing weeks of reps with Russell Wilson—not to mention three pro games—could be a setback he has a hard time compensating for over the course of a full season.
With Metcalf suddenly a question mark for Week 1, his ADP of 10.04 seems too much to ask when names like DeSean Jackson (10.04) and Josh Gordon (9.08) are right in the same area.
Stock Up: Antonio Brown, WR, Oakland Raiders
This time, it feels real.
The overarching background info is extensive, but it boils down to Brown wanting to use his preferred helmet. For fantasy owners, the finale of sorts is the point—if Brown were going to retire over this issue, he probably wouldn't have shown up Monday (even though he's filed another grievance, according to Florio), nor would he have worn a certified helmet Tuesday.
With that out of the way, now would be a good time to remind owners Brown finished second in scoring last year at his position even while missing a game. The 150-plus targets he's gotten six seasons and counting don't figure to decrease just because he went to Oakland.
While some hesitancy with Brown makes sense on the part of owners, his 2.11 ADP is a steal if they buy into the idea none of this matters once he gets on the field.
Stock Down: N'Keal Harry, WR, New England Patriots
For a moment, it was fun to imagine a reality in which N'Keal Harry arrived in New England and soaked up all the attention from Tom Brady trying to adjust to life without Rob Gronkowski.
But only for a moment.
Historically speaking, early-round wideouts have problems transitioning with the Patriots given the nature of the playbook and the demands of playing with Brady. Harry was working with the second team as recently as early August and was outperformed by undrafted Jakobi Meyers, according to NFL Network's Michael Giardi.
The momentum behind Harry's 11.02 ADP gets shakier, too. He missed practice on August 15 with an undisclosed injury, and not only was Josh Gordon just reinstated, but Julian Edelman and Demaryius Thomas are back practicing. Harry is a long-term buy in dynasty leagues, but his stock in standards has plummeted.
Stock Up: Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Austin Ekeler is on a rocketship to the top with Melvin Gordon still estranged from the Los Angeles Chargers over a contract dispute.
Fantasy owners who have heard rumblings about a 50-50 split between Ekeler and Justin Jackson shouldn't worry too much. While ESPN's Eric Williams has suggested equal touches, Ekeler is more experienced than Jackson and the more well-rounded back. Over two seasons, Ekeler has seen 88 targets compared to Jackson's 19 last year.
More proof rests in the playing time. A year ago with Gordon out, Ekeler played 89 snaps to Jackson's 59 over two games, according to Jeff Ratcliffe of Pro Football Focus. That resulted in 35 touches for Ekeler; 18 for Jackson.
With Ekeler the better receiver of the two and 175 carries and 66 targets from Gordon last year up for grabs, a 6.11 ADP asking price is a no-brainer.
Stock Down: Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins
Adrian Peterson rumbled his way to a borderline top-15 scoring mark at his position last year on short notice after the Washington Redskins made a desperation signing in the wake of Derrius Guice's season-ending knee injury.
Peterson is back in Washington on a new deal, but some of the benefits afforded to him last year are not. Trent Williams, for example, is still holding out, severely dashing a strong offensive line. Guice is still having problems getting back on the field, which means the 34-year-old Peterson might have to do it all on his own again.
Perhaps worst of all, the supposed three-man quarterback competition still doesn't feature Colt McCoy, as Jay Gruden said he doesn't know when the veteran will be available. That leaves Case Keenum, a castoff after one year in Denver, battling rookie Dwayne Haskins.
There is some validity to the idea that usage equates to production, and Peterson should see plenty of action. But a regression up front and uncertainty in the passing game mean more attention on the running back, so the 9.03 ADP is a tough ask.
Stock Up: Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
Mark Andrews might be a dark-horse contender to emerge at tight end thanks not only to his developmental track but the changes the Baltimore Ravens have undergone.
As far as the development goes, a note by The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec on Andrews' performance in training camp says it all: "Tight end Mark Andrews probably caught more balls than any other offensive player. He regularly got the best of Ravens defenders, not only on short and intermediate routes, but also down the field. He also had no problem reminding his teammates about it, bringing a much-needed swagger to a new-look offense."
That new offense in which Andrews is entrenched is also key. Lamar Jackson needs versatile, oversized pass-catchers like him, which is what the team's official website echoed in saying he can be "a featured receiving target as a big body over the middle or even split out wide."
Andrews, a third-round pick last year, put up 552 yards and three scores, really coming on in the second half of the season with Jackson under center. All this, plus the latest talk from camp, makes his 13.08 ADP seem like a steal.
Stock Down: Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts
Here we go again, right?
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is a bona fide fantasy star—when he's healthy. He was last season, hence his finish as a top-five positional scorer above the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson.
Were Luck healthy, averaging north of 20 points per game and eclipsing the 300-point mark again would be a given, especially with pieces like Parris Campbell and Devin Funchess joining the fray.
The veteran's extensive injury history makes this a hard sell, and the lack of in-game reps before Week 1 does, too. Luck still has an ADP of 7.05, which is above Brees, Cam Newton and Wilson, for starters. Unless something dramatic happens, his stock is down.