The preseason has barely started, and there’s already been an influx of updates that are inflating or sinking players’ fantasy value. Here I’m going to examine players whose draft stock appears to be going up or down, as well as guys who you should take a wait-and-see approach before making a final judgement.
Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Gurley was a tremendous bust last season, and the Rams are still devoid of offensive talent outside. However, there is reason for optimism. Last week, the Rams revealed projected passing-down back Lance Dunbar is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Almost immediately following the Dunbar news, a report surfaced indicating the Rams were giving Gurley more receiving work during training camp. Last season, Gurley’s pass protection issues caused him to be shuttled off the field in favor of Benny Cunningham (now with Chicago) on passing downs, which essentially signaled to opposing defenses that a pass play was coming. If Gurley can in fact tack passing down work on to his usual firsrt- and second-down duties, expect his 43 receptions and 327 receiving yards from 2016 spiking upwards to 55-60 with around 500 receiving yards in 2017, in addition to a couple of scores.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Latavius Murray has yet to see the practice field for Minnesota*, leaving Cook all by himself for first-team work with the offense. By all accounts, Cook has hit the ground running in training camp, and already appears in the drivers’ seat for starting duties when the season opener arrives. Cook, if you recall, put up some absurd video game-like numbers at Florida State during his three-year tenure there, with 5,399 total scrimmage yards and averaging 7.05 yards per offensive touch. Additionally, Minnesota made a significant effort to revamp its offensive line this past offseason, with left guard Alex Boone being the only returning starter from 2016. Cook is in a great situation to start contributing immediately, and might be a bit overlooked while fellow rookie running backs Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey are receiving more fantasy buzz.
Note: Murray was activated from the PUP on August 7, and will begin participating in training camp imminently.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49’ers
Traded? Cut? Benched? Those were all predicted outcomes for Hyde entering training camp. Fast-forward to just one week into training camp, and it appears Hyde is putting his stamp on the starting running back job in San Francisco and playing with a chip on his shoulder. This very good news for a guy who by all accounts appeared to be on the outs with the new coaching regime. Given Hyde averaged 76 rushing yards per game and scored nine total touchdowns on a 2016 San Francisco team that should be a little more competitive this season, he is starting to look like a value pick at his Fantasy Football Calculator (FFC) RB20 average draft position (ADP).
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans
The rise in Hopkins’ fantasy stock is not necessarily about anything he has specifically done during training camp, but more about what happened to fellow receiver Will Fuller. While Fuller, Houston’s first-round draft pick in 2016, was expected to continue serving as the No. 2 receiver, he broke his collarbone and is out at least two or three months. The likeliest candidate to replace Fuller is perennial disappointment Jaelen Strong, while converted quarterback Braxton Miller continues to man the slot. This development opens the door for DeAndre Hopkins to resume being the pass-game funnel he was in 2015 when the Houston quarterbacks peppered him with 192 targets. While yes, the question of who will get Hopkins the ball still remains, his FFC WR13 ADP could be a steal for someone averaging 12 targets per game for at least the first half of the season.