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Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Rankings risers and fallers two weeks away from the start of NFL season

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Given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding this NFL season, we’ve got less information than ever as we prepare for Fantasy Football season. Remember, this was supposed to be the pivotal weekend for Fantasy draft prep. Week 3 of the preseason is when we get the closest thing we’ll get to a full dress rehearsal for the season, which helps answer many of our biggest questions around the league.

Instead … some teams scrimmaged, some practiced, all behind closed doors with limitations on what reporters can actually tell us about. It is … not ideal for trying to figure out how best to tweak your Fantasy rankings with two weeks left until the season starts.

Still, it’s not like we’re flying totally blind. The Fantasy Football Today team has been updating their rankings all offseason, and heading into the final two weeks — really, it’s 10 days until the first game — I asked Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings, and Ben Gretch to highlight their biggest risers and fallers for each position. Here’s who’s trending in the right direction first:

📈QB Risers

  • Jamey: Cam Newton. It’s hard to overlook the upside if he’s healthy and can play the majority of the season. That potential could make him a top-five quarterback this year.
  • Dave: Gardner Minshew. Heath has been the biggest (and only?) Minshew supporter, but his appeal is starting to broaden. As D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault continue to get rave reviews in Jaguars camp, one has to wonder if Minshew’s part of the reason for why they look so good.
  • Heath: Minshew. When I heard Pete Prisco on CBS Sports HQ talking about how pleased Jay Gruden is with Minshew’s grasp of the offense, I moved him up yet another spot. I expect he’s a top-12 QB if he plays 16 games.
  • Ben: Dwayne Haskins. Though this really only pertains to SuperFlex or 2QB formats, I’m getting increasingly optimistic Haskins could have a solid second season in what should be a faster-paced offense. He appears to be the clear Week 1 starter after a solid camp. 

📈RB Risers

  • Jamey: Kerryon Johnson. D’Andre Swift is hurt, which should solidify Johnson as the lead running back in Detroit to open the season.
  • Dave: Leonard Fournette. Two things are happening here: Other running backs are getting hurt (David Montgomery, Swift) or on the brink of losing their grip on massive touches (Melvin Gordon, Le’Veon Bell). I’m getting the feeling Fournette will be counted on in Jacksonville, plus it seems like he’s carrying himself the right way. Maybe he’s worth trusting after all.
  • Heath: Zack Moss. The buzz around Moss (along with Devin Singletary‘s struggles) has him moving up my board. I love him as a No. 4 back in Round 8 or Round 9.
  • Heath: Joshua Kelley. The Chargers‘ fourth-round pick has the size advantage in the No. 2 running back competition over Justin Jackson. We’ve said all offseason one of these players would be a value alongside Austin Ekeler with Gordon gone, and Kelley’s great camp has removed concerns about how quickly he could acclimate. 

📈WR Risers

  • Jamey: Preston Williams. Could he turn out to be better than DeVante Parker this year? It wouldn’t be that much of a surprise.
  • Dave: Tyler Boyd. I’ve gotten the sense over the last week that Boyd might end up as the most underrated Fantasy receiver through the first 75 picks. Joe Burrow makes a huge difference, as is a Bengals offense that’s found an alternative to A.J. Green on the outside in Auden Tate — if Green’s not himself again. That means Boyd will get open plenty.
  • Heath: Williams. He seems to make a highlight-reel catch once a day. He and Devante Parker are back-to-back in my rankings now. 
  • Ben: Michael Gallup/CeeDee Lamb. Everything out of Dallas suggests the Cowboys will have the best wide receiver trio in the league, and while that’s pushed Amari Cooper down my board all offseason as I’ve preferred to play this offense through the cheaper options, Gallup and Lamb continue to climb as I make it a priority to have plenty of both.

📈TE Risers

  • Jamey: Chris Herndon. One of the few Jets players to covet this year. He has the chance to be this year’s Mark Andrews or Darren Waller.
  • Dave: Herndon. I don’t want to draft any Jets this year, but Herndon might be worth an exception (along with Breshad Perriman, just as an early-season flier). Nearly half of Herndon’s 2018 targets came as a slot receiver and nearly 15% of his targets traveled at least 20 yards. That big-play element isn’t in the repertoire of many tight ends.  
  • Heath: O.J. Howard. I think we should take seriously the idea that Howard can co-exist and be Fantasy relevant alongside Rob Gronkowski. You can’t draft Howard as a starter, but he’s an upside No. 2 who goes undrafted in most drafts.
  • Ben: Herndon. Herndon’s been an intriguing later-round tight end option all offseason, and though the third-year player missed nearly all of last season, camp reports were glowing last summer before being similarly positive this year. His ADP is rising, but so too is his place in my TE rankings. 

📉QB Fallers

  • Jamey: Carson Wentz. He’s hurt, his offensive line is banged up and now he’s down another receiver in Jalen Reagor (shoulder) — whose injury we broke down on the first episode of Fantasy Football Today in 5, our new five-minute Fantasy Football podcast. Head on over to SpotifyApple, or wherever else you consume podcasts and subscribe to listen to Fantasy Football Today in 5 every Monday through Friday. 

  • Dave: Josh Allen. Frankly, I’m just starting to become more convinced that his rushing totals won’t be as electric. If that’s the case, I’d rather pick up a quarterback with 4,500-yard, 30-score potential like Tom Brady, Matt Ryan or Drew Brees.
  • Heath: Wentz. He fell in my overall rankings due to questions about his offensive line after the Andre Dillard injury.
  • Ben: Philip Rivers. There have been limited adjustments in my QB rankings, but with players like Haskins moving up behind other late-round upside options like Gardner Minshew and Joe Burrow, my interest in the immobile Rivers as even a third quarterback, bye-week fill-in in SuperFlex or 2QB formats continues to diminish. 

📉RB Fallers

  • Jamey: Le’Veon Bell. The mess is just starting, and we haven’t even made it to Week 1. Frank Gore — and Adam Gase again — is already a problem for Bell’s Fantasy outlook.
  • Dave: Devin Singletary. I’m not at the point where I’m dropping him below Moss, but if the difference in ADP is two rounds, I’d rather have the one I can pick up later. This is the time of year where every report is how everyone looks so good in training camp, and Singletary’s been getting disappointing reviews. I’m sure the Bills will need him, but he might be their third-best option for rushing touchdowns.
  • Heath: DeAndre Swift. Swift needs to fall to Round 7 at the earliest. We don’t know exactly what’s wrong with him but he’s missed more than a week’s worth of practice.
  • Ben:  DeAndre Washington. I’m still interested in any back in Kansas City, but Washington appears to be behind Darrel Williams for a Week 1 role. That’s not altogether surprising given Williams has the most familiarity with the offense of any back on the roster, but it makes Washington less of a priority in the early double-digit rounds and slides him back to flyer range.  

📉WR Fallers

  • Jamey: Mike Williams. His shoulder injury could keep him out for Week 1, which makes him someone to only draft with a late-round flier.
  • Dave: DeVante Parker. It’s not that I’m opposed to drafting Parker, but the positive reports about both Preston Williams and Mike Gesicki make me wonder if there are as many targets there for him as he had in the second half of last season (9.5 per game). My guess is there’s not.
  • Heath: Williams. Due to his injury situation I’m not sure he should be drafted in a standard draft.
  • Ben: Allen Robinson. I’ll still take Robinson, who has overcome poor quarterback play before, but the constant stream of negative reports about Chicago’s competition between Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles has bumped Robinson down a few slots in my rankings out of concern for his potential ceiling compared to the other exciting receiver options in the early middle rounds.  

📉TE Fallers

  • Jamey: Rob Gronkowski: I’m not expecting him to relive his glory days on the field even if he is reunited with Tom Brady.
  • Dave: Gronkowski. The fear I had when he originally signed has come to fruition: He’s there to be a complementary part of the offense. O.J. Howard isn’t a draft-worthy tight end in a typical league but if he’s playing more than Gronkowski, what’s left for the future Hall of Famer to pick up besides touchdowns? 
  • Heath: Gronkowski. I didn’t really move any tight ends down this week, but I’m growing more skeptical at how many snaps Gronk is actually going to play.
  • Ben: Gronkowski. Gronk was my faller last week, and I’ve moved him down two more spots to TE15 behind Herndon and Noah Fant, as reports out of Tampa Bay suggest Howard is having a great camp and Gronkowski, undoubtedly the best tight end of all time, might not play as much as I’d hoped. 

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