Average Draft Position (ADP) is an essential guide for fantasy football drafts. As is the case with most guides in our lives, the immature perspective is to follow them as a strict set of rules. If you're new to fantasy football or you're having difficulty judging player value, sticking close to ADP is the safest way to avoid a lot of wild picks that can throw off the course of a draft and make your team harder to manage during the regular season.
When a competitor comments about you reaching for a player significantly higher than his ADP, he or she are often illustrating their insecurity with your choice. In some cases, they wanted your player later in the draft and they're angry that you didn't follow the crowd as they counted on when developing their draft plan. Or, they have large egos, and when they spot an opportunity to tell the world that they're smart in a manner that's sanctioned by an authoritative body, they'll take on the role of verbally "whacking the mole," who can make them look good.
Forget these people. ADP exists to help you use it as a tool, not a draft dictator.
One of the ways to maximize the value of ADP data is to monitor its significant changes. This week, we're examining 20 of ADP's largest PPR risers and fallers of the spring, using Footballguys ADP Sorter. Each player on this list climbed or fell 15 percent during the spring.
There is value to examining the biggest movers on a macro level because the insights offer intel about fantasy players heading into the season:
- Players on Arizona (3), Kansas City (3), Chicago (2) and the L.A. Rams (2) account for 10 of the 20 biggest ADP movers.
- 11 of the 20 biggest movers are rookies.
- The trio of veterans on this list with at least three years of experience each has a new head coach and scheme heading into 2019.
- Nine are expected to contribute at a significant level heading into June minicamps.
- 13 players are running backs, 6 are wide receivers, and 1 is a quarterback.
Now that we have some macro intel, let's examine them individually.
RB David Johnson, Arizona (+33%)
College football fans know that new head coach Kliff Kingsbury is an excellent offensive mind and they anticipate Johnson's receiving totals will climb after a 2018 season where the Cardinals offense underutilized him. Although legitimate concerns remain about the offensive line, the addition of Kyler Murray's game-breaking skill as a runner from the quarterback position will force opposing defenses to play 11-on-11 football in the running game when they usually have an 11-to-10 advantage during most weeks. Expect Johnson to face more passing defenses, earn a plus-one advantage in the run game thanks to Murray, and benefit from an offense that generates play volume without overcomplicating things for the player.
Verdict: Justifiable increase from the fantasy-playing public.
WR Mecole Hardman, Kansas City (+27%)
Tyreek Hill's child abuse criminal case has been closed, but he and his fiancé, Crystal Espinal, are still working through Kansas' Department for Children and Families. There was no arrest during the investigation, so the likelihood of a significant suspension is small. Even so, the nature of the investigation, Hill's statements that led to a re-opening of the case, and the reactionary nature of fantasy players who haven't read the timeline of events create an environment where a season-long suspension and/or Hill getting cut seems likely.
The last ADP movement examined was May 30—a week prior to the Johnson County DA closing the criminal case once again. So it makes sense that Hardman's value would rise during this time prior to June 7. It also helps when a heavily-trafficked site like Pro Football Talk writes a positive piece about Hardman during that time.
It's important to note that that the Chiefs consider Hardman depth with a lot to learn. The fact that he's picking up the playbook quickly—especially with Kansas City's dense playbook—is a good sign. He's improving and should contribute, but even Andy Reid's reaction illustrates that he doesn't know if Hardman will truly retain and execute what's necessary until the pads come on.
Hardman's rise places him inside the 10th round of fantasy drafts, which is an expensive proposition for a rookie playing in an offense that has a potentially revitalized Sammy Watkins (see below), a league-leading Travis Kelce at tight end, and a coach who is among the best at throwing to running backs. As fast as Hardman is, second-year receiver Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson have the potential to earn more looks from Patrick Mahomes II this year and leave Hardman as little more than a plus-version of De'Anthony Thomas.
If Tyreek Hill doesn't earn a suspension or only a short one, Hardman could be little more than a backup. Pringle has shown notable improvement and he's a deep threat with excellent skill as a ball-carrier. If Hardman struggles to retain information as the pads come on, it's another route where his value doesn't match his draft projection.
Verdict: This is a boom-bust position for those considering Hardman. There's a reasonable expectation for fantasy WR2 upside, but more paths leading to disappointment than a mid-round price tag.
RB Miles Sanders, Philadelphia (+26%)
Fantasy players overreact to athletic ability and data. Sanders is a more explosive athlete than Jordan Howard and Howard's reception data is among the weakest of NFL running backs. RSP contributor Dwain McFarland recent mentioned during our podcast about the Eagles' offense that Howard's catch rates are fine for a back used on check-downs. Although Philadelphia has often used its backs on routes that extend beyond the line of scrimmage where Howard has struggled, the Eagles won't use Howard like Sproles and the offense won't completely ignore Howard in the passing game, either.
One data point that many Sanders fans are underestimating about Sanders is his horrific ball security rate at Penn State. Sanders fumbled 10 times in 346 touches, which is off-the-charts bad for a running back prospect. Although 5 of those fumbles occurred during his first 97 touches, his rate of 5 in 249 touches is what you would characterize as an 'improvement' from putrid to awful.
When a runner's ball security is this troublesome, it's best to take a "prove-it" stance with the player. He's a promising runner, but until he proves that he can hold onto the ball, Jordan Howard is the superior value at the end of the seventh round—especially when Sanders' value has shot up two rounds to the beginning of the seventh.
This change occurred prior to Sanders' hamstring injury that will force him to miss all of OTAs and minicamp. Still, expect a high level of optimism for Sanders because of the dreaminess of his athletic ability in the Eagles' high-powered offense and the characterization of Howard as a pass-dropping plodder.
Keep in mind that McFarland's data indicates that Howard has a strong rate of big-play rushes throughout his career. Behind this offensive line, Howard can easily lead this backfield by a large margin.
Verdict: Talented but overvalued.
RB David Montgomery (+22%) and RB Mike Davis (-19%), Chicago
There are a lot of similarities between the two backs. Both run with good balance, they set up cutback lanes, and they are quicker than fast. Montgomery has a lower center of gravity and he's more athletically creative with the ball in his hands. The biggest question heading into the spring has been Montgomery's receiving chops. He caught the ball enough at Iowa State that his hands didn't appear to be a problem, but were his routes good enough?
So far, Montgomery has shined as a receiver in camp as both a pass-catcher and route runner. As a result, Montgomery's value is climbing and Davis' is falling.
The next big question will be pass protection. Davis is a skilled passing-down performer—especially as a pass protector—in ways that most rookie backs are not. Still, Matt Nagy managed to make Kareem Hunt a productive rookie despite notable deficiencies as a blocker. Howard earned fantasy RB2 production in 2018 despite a banner year for Tarik Cohen, but he is also one of the better pass protectors at his position.
If Montgomery succeeds as a blocker, he could earn Howard's role and reduce Davis to an occasional substitute. If not, look for a split in touches that renders Montgomery as flex-option.
Verdict: Montgomery is a high-floor, risk-reward option because of is running and receiving skill. He's worth his sixth-round value, but he'll need to show more to merit another ADP increase. Davis' ADP makes him an excellent value capable of fantasy RB2 production if Montgomery gets hurt and RB1 production if Cohen also falters. The fact that Davis earned RB3 production in a three-headed Seahawks backfield should tell you this much.
RB Darrell Henderson (+21%) and Malcolm Brown (-15%), L.A. Rams
Todd Gurley remains a top-12 fantasy ADP value, but fantasy players are realizing that Henderson's role and value have more in common with Alvin Kamara's rookie campaign than a competition with Brown for change-of-pace touches. The Saints are one of the most effective teams when it comes to using two backs and one of the reasons for its success is the Jet Sweep.
The Rams have success with the Jet Sweep and the team added Henderson to expand the possibilities for opposing defenses to consider before every snap. Henderson will earn playing time with Gurley in the lineup and he'll excel as a runner and receiver and do it in ways that are similar to Kamara in New Orleans when Kamara was paired with Mark Ingram II.
Brown's value falls because fans are realizing that Henderson will be playing a different role, which means Brown is solely a backup to Gurley. If Gurley gets hurt, Brown will man the Ingram role—and it's this single scenario where he has top-15 fantasy potential at his position.
Verdict: Henderson's climb still doesn't match his value if he's used in the Kamara role. Brown remains a worthwhile reserve at the end of drafts.
WR Andy Isabella, Arizona (+19%)
Gil Brandt compared Andy Isabella to Brandin Cooks this spring and suggests that the rookie will be the most productive first-year receiver in 2019. Like Cooks, Isabella has great speed and quickness. And like Cooks, he struggles against tight, physical coverage—even more so than Cooks.
Because Kingsbury will spread the field, Isabella will earn opportunities to find open space without facing physical coverage. He'll earn targets inside and outside the hashes from the slot. Also, expect Kingsbury to shift Isabella outside when there's a mismatch that won't have an opportunity to be physical with the rookie.
The downside is if injuries or struggles of the surrounding talent limit Isabella to a short-area option or he's forced to remain outside against physical cornerbacks where he will get re-routed and jammed frequently.
Verdict: Now a mid-round option in 20-round drafts, Isabella remains a worthwhile consideration in a wide-open offense. If that offense forces Isabella to an island, he and fantasy players could wind up forlorn and feeling separation anxiety from their beloved Wilson. Another bump in ADP must be tied to Isabella showing that he can beat patient and physical corners off the line of scrimmage.
RB Alexander Mattison, Minnesota (+19%)
A versatile running back with strength, receiving skill, and good judgment between the tackles, fantasy players are catching up to the likelihood that Mattison will be the No.2 back on the depth chart to Dalvin Cook. The third-year Cook has an injury history that supports this increase to Mattison's ADP, as does the notion that the Vikings want to run the ball more in 2019.
Verdict: Mattison remains a solid mid-round value with a realistic fantasy RB2 upside if Cook gets hurt.
RB Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay (+19%)
The Buccaneers gave Ronald Jones the spring pep-talk through the media that you often see from coaches that want to boost the confidence of a young player who struggled the year prior. If Jones plays to his ability, he can take the starting job from Barber.
It will be much harder than most think. Barber's stats aren't great but his skill to turn bad scenarios into productive runs makes him one of the more underrated players at his position in football. He's a quick and fleet-footed banger with excellent contact balance who turns trash into treasure, and Bruce Arians already mentioned Barber's potential of becoming the team's every-down back.
Barber earns a bump from the fantasy community because people are catching up to the fact that Barber's game is more than meets the casual eye. If Bruce Arians sticks to his offensive scheme, expect Barber to earn upwards of 35-45 catches—a significant increase from last year's total of 20 receptions.
Verdict: A four-year veteran who worked his way from UDFA status to the starting role, Barber is a "young" back at 25 with RB2 upside and a good value as a mid-round selection in 20-round draft formats. He's the only back on the rosters who has proven he can produce behind the Buccaneers' struggling offensive line.
RB Ryquell Armstead, Jacksonville (+19%)
There's a lot of love for Armstead among the fantasy analyst community and it's leading to a bump for Armstead during the spring. A slight hamstring strain could dampen those spirits if he doesn't return until training camp. Even so, analysts like Armstead's size, speed, and fit in Jaguars run game with a gap-heavy scheme.
Armstead struggled as a zone runner and pass receiver at Rutgers. Although the Jaguars have a gap-heavy scheme, it still employs a variety of run plays and it expects its backs to catch the football.
Armstead's issues as a receiver occurred on check-downs. He has problems tracking the ball and using the correct attack with his hands. He repeatedly looked awkward at the catch-point during Senior Bowl practices—dropping more passes than any back I remember seeing during any session I've watched during 10 years of attendance.
Alfred Blue lacks Armstead's athletic sizzle, but he's a smart runner with all-around skill at the position. Armstead must make dramatic improvements in the passing game to earn a role that would set him up for every-down work if Leonard Fournette gets hurt.
Verdict: Armstead's promise has more value in dynasty formats. If the Jaguars can limit his usage to a selection of play types, he'll have success. If the team needs more, you'll need to see evidence that he has shored up his massive flaws. Armstead is leaving draft boards well before T.J. Yeldon, Theo Riddick, Giovani Bernard, and Benny Snell and that's not an accurate valuation of his year-one potential.
WR David Moore, Seattle (+19%)
Doug Baldwin's retirement moves Tyler Lockett into the slot and opens the outside positions for competition. Jaron Brown and D.K. Metcalf will likely compete for playing time at split end, leaving the flanker role to Moore. However, he has worked with Lockett and Baldwin to play both outside positions. Last year, Moore showed off his chops as a vertical threat up the sidelines against tight coverage.
Moore is a strong, speedy player with YAC skills. D.K. Metcalf looks like a muscle tear in waiting and Jaron Brown has always earned more praise than production. Likely the third or fourth option in a run-heavy offense, Moore is a boom-bust producer on a weekly basis as we head into the 2019 season. However, injuries to his teammates or another year of improvement as a route runner could vault the third-year receiver into the fantasy limelight.
Verdict: The ADP bump into a late-round range of deeper drafts is more than appropriate for Moore.
RB SONY MICHEL, NEW ENGLAND (-17%)
Michel's chronic knee issues, his absence from practice without explanation, and the addition of Damien Harris are all contributing factors to a significant drop in his spring ADP. Since Michel's ADP decline, we've learned that Michel had arthroscopic surgery to clean up some of the issues that plagued him last year. This was a straightforward knee scope for Michel, who should be fully recovered for training camp.
When healthy, Michel delivered as the Patriots' lead back. He's a skilled receiver and he should see his opportunities grow despite the presence of James White. Expect Michel to push Rex Burkhead's usage to the nether regions of the depth chart and double, if not triple, his reception totals. It won't be a league-leading total by any stretch, but the increase, as well as a slight gain in production as a runner, should make Michel the most productive back on the team—edging White for that title.
Harris is a good back who can carve out a role (and one day usurp Michel's spot if Michel can't stay healthy), but look for him to earn Burkhead's touches on the ground and fewer receptions during his rookie year than some expect.
Verdict: Michel is RB21 after the ADP decline after a rookie year as RB25. He's leaving boards at a healthy valuation of his potential and pitfalls.
WR Sammy Watkins, Kansas City (+16%)
The Chiefs believe they've addressed biomechanical issues with Watkins playing style that will lead to healthier seasons. So far, Watkins and the coaching staff are seeing a notable difference from him on the practice field.
Watkins has always possessed Pro Bowl talent as a route runner at every range of the field. He's an all-around player who can win deep, after the catch, and as a rebounder in the red zone against tight coverage.
Watkins built an early rapport with Patrick Mahomes II last year and we know that Mahomes will find creative ways to target his favorite options. If Tyreek Hill doesn't play this year, Watkins could easily be one of the two most productive receivers paired with an MVP-caliber passer.
Verdict: Watkins' history suggests this is an overvalued bump, but the underlying issue has been injuries and the rationale for the bump offers a logical solution to the past problem. Buy.
QB Kyler Murray, Arizona (+16%)
Under Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona will spread the field and use Murray to take away +1 advantages that defenses typically earn in the run game with stationary quarterbacks. Kingsbury also has a track record for letting his players improvise more often than his peers. This also plays into Murray's upside.
Kingsbury's and Murray's reputations as players are leading to a bump in Murray's stock. Fantasy players want to embrace the upside. A wiser course is to embrace a hot streak rather than a full season of to production—especially in a league that has seen Air Raid concepts before and will find ways to exploit the Cardinals' issues with its offensive line.
Verdict: It's completely understandable that Murray could have a hot streak that leads to top-5 production at his position during a stretch of 6-8 weeks of the season. However, you better be taking quarterbacks in consecutive rounds that you can pair with Murray between rounds 11-13. Philip Rivers and Dak Prescott are available after Murray and it's highly recommended you take one of them after Murray if you're drafting at a turn where they'll be available. If not, Tom Brady, Mitchell Trubisky, and Jimmy Garoppolo are also safe choices later. If you really want to go with hot streaks, follow up with Lamar Jackson and you could wind up with an elite QB1 by committee.
WR Geronimo Allison, Green Bay (+16%)
Allison earned a bump this spring because he's the most experienced and productive option after Davante Adams on the depth chart. After the bump, we've learned that Marques Valdes-Scantling is working as the No.2 receiver in two-receiver sets and the Allison is only on the field in three-receiver sets as the slot option.
The good news is that the Packers, like most teams, will use three-receiver often and Allison's savvy should lead to solid volume. The bad news is that Valdes-Scantling is the more promising athlete and there are early indications that he's having a strong training camp. Allison also lacks the athletic profiles of Equanimeous St. Brown, Jake Kumerow, and J'Mon Moore.
Verdict: Allison looks more and more like a high-floor, low-ceiling option who is slightly overvalued as a mid-round selection in 20-round draft formats. Valdes-Scantling is significantly underrated in contrast and has the No.2 spot thus far in camp.
WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco (+16%)
The media posed the possibility of Samuel earning 80 catches as a rookie. The 49ers have him penciled as its starter and despite a minor hip injury, but there are deeper questions about Samuel's usage this year.
Wes Welker told Samuel that if he wants to play in the slot that he'll have to lose weight. While Samuel is working to achieve this goal, rookies aren't known to have a great understanding of their bodies and training compared to what they'll learn heading into their second seasons.
While optimistic that Samuel will remain healthy enough to make an impact, there is a little concern that minor injuries could limit him in the way they do with many rookie receivers — especially one asked to make a transition from a receiver with a running back's build to a lighter option (think Keenan Allen early in his career). If Samuel earns 66 catches, 773 yards, and 5 touchdowns this year, he'll meet this writer's expectations—currently fantasy WR47.
Verdict: The fantasy community has Samuel at WR56 and this is after his 16 percent bump—solid value.
RB Devin Singletary, Buffalo (+16%)
Receiving skills are usually the most we usually learn about running backs during the spring. Once the pads come one, we get a better sense of vision, ball security, balance, and quickness.
Still, Singletary is an odd player because he's slow, lacks quickness, and lacks great size. However, he has excellent vision and decision-making. He also makes the most of his pacing and footwork while running with good balance. He's an undersized and less athletic Frank Gore in this sense.
Gore, the player whose film that many coaches use as an example of how to run in the NFL, sees these similarities in their games. Long-term, this offense and Singletary's work alongside Gore, LeSean McCoy, and T.J. Yeldon could prove helpful. If it is, perhaps Singletary could be the next Priest Holmes, an athletically underwhelming runner with great conceptual and technical skills for the position.
Verdict: A late-round value earning a mid-round ADP, Singletary is significantly overrated this year.
RB Darwin Thompson, Kansas City (+16%)
The Chiefs have labeled Thompson a playmaker based on his receiving skill and open-field work this spring, and it's why he has earned a spring bump. He's a short runner with quickness and speed who can pull through wraps and push larger defenders backward. He's a player to watch because based solely on their college tape Thompson is a more dynamic player than Damien Williams. If Thompson plays to his potential early, he could push Williams for playing time.
Verdict: With an ADP several rounds lower than Singletary, this is the rookie runner you want to target in the mid-to-late rounds.
RB Kerryon Johnson, Detroit (+15%)
The addition of C.J. Anderson and Johnson's injury-shortened rookie year contributed to a lower ADP than his talent and film should merit. Now healthy, Johnson's receiving chops are leading to an increase in value.
It's a logical increase. The Lions have a promising offensive line that got better thanks to T.J. Hockenson's addition as a blocking tight end who can handle assignments more efficiently and this will help his teammates get upfield faster to open bigger creases.
Johnson has fantasy RB1 upside—especially if the projection for 60 catches that we're hearing comes true, but the offense may not have all of the pieces or the coaching prowess to get him there. Expect high-end RB2 production with an increase in his receiving stats in 2019.
Verdict: Appropriately valued upside pick with a solid floor as a starter.