This column is a best ball offseason recap of which types of players moved in average draft position once ADPs settled after the 2023 NFL Draft. I'm comparing June 1st to August 19th ADP, using percent change in stock.
The initial ADP never made sense to me. He had met that ADP in multiple seasons in a row and enters the best fantasy environment of his career. It was clear that the Browns didn't value Kareem Hunt much following a brutal 2022 season, meaning he has a chance to break 50 receptions this year. If Deshaun Watson can rebound, Chubb has fantasy RB1 overall potential. ... I had him ranked 12th overall on May 28th. Win (1-0).
This was aided by Kadarius Toney's knee injury. We'd have to argue how predictable that injury was, but maybe Moore would've been starting in 2-WR sets regardless halfway through training camp. One part of my hesitation here (aside from his lacking rookie season) was the potential for DeAndre Hopkins or another veteran making their way onto the roster. They're going back to stars and scrubs in Kansas City. ... I had him ranked 129th overall on May 28th. Loss (1-1).
There was uncertainty with his health and pecking order of targets, but Ridley has been as advertised in training camp. He then showcased himself in Preseason Week 1, winning on a 1st-read look against 2-man coverage. It's smart for his ADP to keep tinkering as we get more confident in his alpha role. ... I had him ranked 32nd overall on May 28th. Win (2-1).
The Dalvin Cook release was predictable for the contract bros. Mattison getting $7M as their clear starter was a relative surprise, but it was enough for me to move him 132nd to 82nd to 52nd overall throughout the offseason. 2022 5th-rounder Ty Chandler is the biggest threat to his snaps. That's a big win for early adapters with only Kareem Hunt brought in for a visit so far. ... I had him ranked 82nd overall on May 28th. Tie (2-1-1).
The Bengals had the opportunity to save $7.4M early this offseason by releasing Mixon, but once Samaje Perine signed in Denver and the Bengals didn't bring in a veteran replacement, the odds of Mixon leaving Cincy were dramatically diminished. Would you risk Joe Burrow's prime on a Day 3 rookie, Trayveon Williams, and Chris Evans? Hell no. As for his off-field cases, the menacing misdemeanor resulted in a non guilty verdict. His shots fired issue resulted in no criminal case and one pending civil case that's mostly aimed at Mixon's sister and boyfriend. Neither raised to suspension levels, particularly this season, in my opinion. Remember, Mixon's pre-NFL legal troubles aren't the NFL's business either. I look for criminal cases and indisputable video evidence when trying to predict suspensions. ... I had him ranked 51st overall on May 28th. Win (3-1-1).
Signing the franchise tag was a predictable outcome for Pollard (and many starting RBs moving forward), but dodging RB competition wasn't a guarantee. Neither was a full, on-time recovery from a January broken ankle. Thankfully, Pollard gets big wins in both categories by starting camp full speed and having Ezekiel Elliott sign in New England. I'll have him as a borderline Round 1 player in my next update. ... I had him ranked 23rd overall on May 28th. Tie (3-1-2).
A trade request never went anywhere in this down RB market, and the Chargers weren't going to give him away during a clear Super Bowl window. On top of that, Ekeler never added a complementary RB behind him. It's back to what it's been. Joshua Kelley and Isaiah Spiller battling for distant No. 2 duties. ... I had him ranked 5th overall on May 28th. Win (4-1-2).
This is a win for those who #regress. Last year's lack of touchdowns and deep-target receptions were an abomination. If those improve with an ascending 2nd-year QB, Johnson has WR2 volume incoming. Over the offseason, I (a major Diontae Johnson hater) have been in love with his ADP, calling him my favorite Round 5 pick earlier this month. Kenny Pickett is better than given credit for. ... I had him ranked 70th overall on May 28th. Win (5-1-2).
There's been speculation that Gainwell could have a bigger role than he's had so far, where he's been stuck as a 2-minute drill guy on roughly 20-40% snaps. That role doesn't really matter in half PPR when Jalen Hurts can just run things in himself. If D'Andre Swift or Rashaad Penny can't live up to the hype, Gainwell is a reliable option in Philly. I'm always okay with fading undersized, unproven RBs. ... I had him ranked 203rd overall on May 28th. Major L (5-2-2).
Things have gone well so far. Both Henry and Ryan Tannehill had tradable contracts under a new GM, but both aren't just returning. They're the entire team again. The OL is a mess, which won't help these aging franchise players. The DeAndre Hopkins addition, however, is a sign they will be trying all year in a mid AFC South. I keep moving him up as other low-end RB1s have issues. By the way, if there's a RB that can last longer than the traditional age cliff, it just might be the 6'4/250 superhuman. ... I had him ranked 25th overall on May 28th. Slight win (6-2-2).
Josh Jacobs was going to get the franchise tag in most outcomes. His holdout attempt can't go anywhere on this CBA, but it has allowed White to get training camp hype with the starting offense. White's early-down skills would benefit if Jacobs misses time coming off heavy usage in 2022. ... I had him ranked 201st overall on May 28th. Win (7-2-2).
The Chargers could've traded or released Keenan early this offseason. Instead, they pushed money into the future and are going all in under new OC Kellen Moore. The hype train is gaining momentum for all Bolts, especially in stack-heavy Best Ball Mania IV. I'm a sucker for believing in the Chargers, but this just might be the year now that the OL and WR depth is taken care of. ... I had him ranked 40th overall on May 28th. Win (8-2-2).
The Bears starters only played a few snaps because of long TDs (one of which went to Herbert on a screen) in Preseason Week 1, but Herbert was in on all of them. D'Onta Foreman played with the twos. Rookie Roschon Johnson shined with the threes and fours. Herbert has been an efficient early-down player in the NFL and should open the year as the No. 1 in Chicago. I'm just not sold on that holding, especially after last year's Bears rotated drives with their RBs. I also don't see Justin Fields throwing to his RBs much again. ... I had him ranked 148th overall on May 28th. Major L (8-3-2).
The hype train was going to continue taking off, even if there are some warning signs whenever Dan Campbell speaks (or if we look at the history of highly-drafted undersized RBs as rookies). Gibbs had a nice Preseason Week 1 and has looked the part in all training camp reports. Will it translate to enough high-value touches to matter in half PPR? I can't wait to watch (from afar). ... I had him ranked 47th overall on May 28th. Major L (8-4-2).
The Giants traded the 100th overall pick for him. They have a very clear plan for him, giving him real upside. Training camp reports have been more positive with him than just about any player across the NFL. In Preseason Week 2, Waller was featured including on 1st-read designs as the isolated player in 3x1 sets. That's bullish. He just needs to stay healthy in his age-31 season after struggling with it for years. I'm nervous on this far, though I've been nailing all of my late-round TE picks. ... I had him ranked 92nd overall on May 28th. Major L (8-5-2).
The Jaguars speak and act like they have issues with some of Travis Etienne's game. Jamycal Hasty continues to play on plenty of passing downs. Bigsby has at least seen some short-yardage work with the 1st-team offense in training camp. The hype is getting too rich for me now, but Bigsby profiles like the rest of the early-down insurance options. ... I had him ranked 145th overall on May 28th. Win (9-5-2).
Another undersized RB is getting lots of hype before the season kicks off. Cook has all the explosiveness this offense needs. We'll see if he has the size to hold up or the vision to be an effective goal-line option next to alien Josh Allen. There's RB2/3 production available even if he's not the goal-line option, but I'm not sold on a bunch more beyond that. It helps that Damien Harris has missed time in camp and was being threatened by the oldest RB in the NFL, Latavius Murray. ... I had him ranked 127th overall on May 28th. Major L (9-6-2).
Just watch how we evaluate late-round TEs in the video below, from 49:41 to 57:12 in particular. ... I had him ranked 171st overall on May 28th. Win (10-6-2).
It's not a surprise to see Aiyuk get steamed again. He's a good player with a ceiling. It's just harder for him to get there without some injury luck. Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Christian McCaffrey are the most challenging target competition in the NFL, and their QB is a Day 3 prospect coming off major elbow surgery. I'm uncomfortable with the fade, but I like the odds in most scenarios. ... I had him ranked 66th overall on May 28th. Loss (10-7-2).
It was an up-and-down offseason for Williams, who is coming off a very challenging multi-ligament knee tear. Landing balanced play-caller Sean Payton as the head coach is a major win for his projection, as the Broncos likely run to set up play action all year long. But at the same time, Samaje Perine was promised a big enough role to steal him from Cincy. Williams' rehab is ahead of pace. Hopefully he's not rushing things back like J.K. Dobbins. Either way, I was okay with him previously. I won't be chasing positive injury steam given the history of these serious surgeries in year one. ... I had him ranked 91st overall on May 28th. Tie (10-7-3).
I was on most of the biggest risers for different reasons, including understanding how contracts work and what beat reporters are saying about each situation. Injury changes are unpredictable, so I don't mind missing out on the Skyy Moore steam.
I'm a little nervous that these small RBs steaming up boards (Kenneth Gainwell, Jahmyr Gibbs, James Cook, etc.) can beat me on median outcomes. I'm less nervous that they'll be the guys we need this year.
I liked how I approached the late-round TEs this offseason. If I missed out on Darren Waller's age-31 rebound, I at least am hitting doubles and triples on the Jake Ferguson, Luke Musgrave, and Hunter Henry tier. Size and target competition matter at TE.
Of the top-20 movers, only two (2) have been rookies. In previous years, there'd be a bunch of them. The market has priced in the upside of the rookies in my opinion, and there's a chance we've over-drafted them this year. In fact, 5 of the top-20 fallers from June 1st have been rookies.
Of the top-20 movers, five (5) are at least 28 years old: Calvin Ridley, Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, Keenan Allen, and Darren Waller. Interesting times!