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Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: ADP Rumblings (8/24)

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The NFL season is right around the corner. Every team will have one more preseason game to evaluate their players and a week to finalize and cut down their rosters. We are just two weeks away from the kickoff of the NFL season, which means fantasy drafts are going to be ramping up like crazy over the next two weeks.


Through two weeks of the preseason, we have gotten insight into how teams plan to utilize their players for the upcoming season. All this information needs to be taken with a grain of salt of course (no team is going to show their entire offense or defense in the preseason), but we can still gather some interesting usage from players leading up to the regular season. As games are played, ADP reacts accordingly. This week’s movers are going to be focused on running backs mid to late-round running backs that have been moving up and down the rankings over the past week in NFC drafts.  

Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Commanders
Brian Robinson, RB, Washington Commanders

Kicking things off with a two-for-one special — the Washington Commanders’ running back situation has been a topic of discussion throughout the entire preseason. Incumbent starter Antonio Gibson is coming off a season with 1,300 all-purpose yards and 10 total touchdowns while playing through a shin injury. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been enough to convince the coaching staff that he can be the lead running back. Washington brought J.D. McKissic back in free agency and drafted Brian Robinson in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Things have only gotten more complicated as training camp has developed.

Gibson fumbled (and was subsequently benched) in the team’s first preseason game, leading to more work for Robinson as a runner with the first team. Then, reports surfaced that Gibson was seeing increased time as a kick and punt returner, something that he’s never done in the NFL while leading the backfield. Finally, Robinson got the start with the first team in the team’s second preseason game, relegating Gibson to return duties and a secondary role on the offense.

In two preseason games, Robinson has 14 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown while adding two receptions for 15 yards. In the same stretch, Gibson has six carries for five yards and four receptions for 39 yards. Gibson still looks like the most explosive player in the backfield, but Robinson’s patience and vision have flashed during the preseason. None of this even takes into account that McKissic was likely signed to keep his role as the third down/pass-catching back.

Antonio Gibson 2022 Fantasy Football ADP Movers & Shakers

Ultimately, these developments have caused Gibson to drop 18 picks (down to RB27) in fantasy drafts the past week and Robinson to jump up 30 spots (up to RB43). Personally, both prices seem fair given what we have seen this preseason. Gibson has a shrinking role on offense, but even with his obvious flaws as a runner (constant bouncing outside and fumble issues), he is still a threat to take any play to the end zone. Meanwhile, Robinson has shown enough to earn touches in the offense and will likely have a role in the red zone at the very least. None 

I’ll buy the dip on Gibson knowing that he can serve as a home run threat behind a surprisingly good offensive line. Running backs get hurt all the time, and Gibson has shown that he can be a good player running the ball or as a receiver (4.8 targets, 3.8 receptions, 22.7 receiving yards per game without McKissic last year). Robinson is also intriguing as long as his ADP stays in the double-digit rounds. He’s an effective runner and will probably get the high-value touches in the red zone. He’s worth a shot at RB43.

Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans

When the preseason started, I was certain that Lovie Smith was going to go with a veteran running back (like Marlon Mack) in the backfield to start the season next to a still-developing Davis Mills instead of leaning on a Day 3 rookie with mediocre production in college. After two weeks of the preseason, it looks like I’m going to have to eat that take. Dameon Pierce has gotten rave reviews throughout preseason practices and flashed enough in the Texans’ first preseason game (five carries for 49 yards) to be held out of the second game so the team could get a better look at Mack. Pierce seems to be on track to be Houston’s starter at running back in Week 1 of the regular season, and his ADP has jumped 17 spots accordingly.

It is fair to be skeptical of how productive Pierce will be in the NFL. In four years at Florida, he never had more than 106 carries or 575 rushing yards. He never had a huge role as a pass catcher either, never topping 20 receptions or 220 receiving yards. He only had 12 combined touchdowns in his first three years as a Gator before finding the end zone 16 times in his last season. Florida heavily rotates running backs so the lack of touches can be explained, but it’s still hard to project him in the NFL. However, it’s impossible to ignore the noise coming from training camp and the signs pointing to his role as a starting running back for Houston during the 2022 season.

In the last week, Pierce has climbed up to RB31 in fantasy drafts, being taken among players like Chase Edmonds, Devin Singletary, Rashaad Penny and Damien Harris. All of those players have some question marks next season, be it health or role in their respective offenses. The draft spot makes sense given his role as a starting running back with an ambiguous overall role, but I’m finding it hard to draft him over players in better offenses (Edmonds and Singletary) or players who showed good fantasy production in 2021 (Penny and Harris) given the question marks we have about his ability to be effective in the NFL on what should be a bad Houston team.


Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Speaking of Rashaad Penny, his ADP has stayed surprisingly consistent after the Kenneth Walker surgery, moving up just four spots in the last week. For most of the summer, Penny’s ADP has been justifiable based on his lengthy injury history and the high likelihood that the running back would be trapped in a timeshare with second-round rookie Walker. However, Walker suffered an ambiguous core injury (thanks for that Pete Carroll) that has already required surgery. While we don’t have specifics on the nature of the injury, core injury/surgeries tend to linger and can impact players for weeks as they heal and regain strength.

Rashaad Penny 2022 Fantasy Football ADP Movers & Shakers

The injury concerns (and lack of pass-catching work) are still valid for Penny, but we have seen what he can do when healthy. Over the last six games of the 2021 season, Penny was the RB4 in points per game, averaging 19.6 fantasy points. From Weeks 13 to 18, Penny averaged 17.0 carries, 117.7 rushing yards and a touchdown per game while seeing just eight targets. It’s fair to point out that some of those games came against weak run defenses, but “better” players than Penny didn’t have games like that against the likes of Detroit, Chicago or Houston.

The Seahawks also invested in their offensive line this offseason, adding tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas on the first two days of the draft. Both players have impressed throughout training camp and seem likely to start for the Seahawks in Week 1. This, combined with the uncertain recovery timeline for Kenneth Walker, suggests that Penny should see his ADP rise much more than four spots in the last week. If he gets hot with Walker on the mend, Penny could easily exceed his modest RB32 draft spot to start the season. His immense upside is well worth the risk as a fantasy RB2 or flex in the eighth round of fantasy drafts.

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