As you do your research leading into each week of the fantasy football season, players’ values are constantly changing. “Rise & Decline” is a series that examines the players who have done the most to benefit themselves or hurt themselves leading into this particular week.
Here’s a look at five names that have climbed into a favorable position as we enter Week 1, along with five names who appear to have watched their value decrease in recent weeks.
ON THE RISE
Eddie Lacy — RB, Green Bay Packers
I’m not buying the rumors out of Green Bay that Lacy and James Starks may share carries. Lacy did his job, shed the weight and looks better than ever entering the regular season. This may just be a tactic to get in Lacy’s head and keep pushing him. Lacy pounded the rock 20 times for 114 yards (5.7 YPC) and a TD this preseason vs. Starks’ 18 carries for just 61 yards (3.4 YPC). I’m expecting to see the “good” Eddie Lacy this season.
Christine Michael — RB, Seattle Seahawks
I saw this one coming all preseason, but it’s finally official — Michael is ahead of Thomas Rawls on the depth chart (and well deserved). Michael has received rave reviews about his athleticism and shiftiness for a few years now, but he’s never been given a real chance. If the preseason is any indication (26 carries/157 yards/6.0 YPC) this guy has all the ability in the world to be Seattle’s No. 1 RB all season. Rawls will be in the mix, but look for Michael to make it tough for him to get his job back.
Spencer Ware — RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Ware is obviously a hot Week 1 play with Jamaal Charles unlikely to suit up, but this could be more of a season-long trend. Ware was solid in preseason action, turning 32 touches into 135 yards, but more importantly, he found his way into the end zone three times. Even with a healthy Charles it looks like Ware is going to have a role worth paying attention to. And if anything were to happen to Charles (who has concerning injury history) we all know what that means for Ware …
Corey Coleman — WR, Cleveland Browns
All reports out of Cleveland sound the same — this kid’s a freak. I think he should have an exceptional rookie season, but for the first quarter of the season Coleman will be running routes without Josh Gordon opposite him. That opens up a significantly larger role for him to kick off the season. If the RGIII experiment works for the Browns, Coleman could be a legit top-20 WR, but there’s no doubt his targets will be up early in 2016.
Terrance West — RB, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens’ backfield is in a weird place right now. Justin Forsett was cut and re-signed after a brutal preseason. Rookie Kenneth Dixon has looked good, but is now going to miss some time. Buck Allen figures to be in the mix but primarily on passing downs … which brings us to West. With all the question marks given health and even the size of Forsett, West could emerge as the lead back. He took the most preseason carries (25), gained 101 yards (second to Dixon’s 107) and scored a pair of touchdowns. Nothing is official, but things feel like they’re trending in West’s favor.
ON THE DECLINE
Thomas Rawls — RB, Seattle Seahawks
On the opposite end of the Seahawks spectrum is Rawls. Right now, the Seahawks are saying that Michael is just carrying the load until Rawls’ health improves (Rawls also missed Thursday’s practice due to illness). I’m not buying it. Frankly, Michael’s a better RB and everyone’s going to find out early in the season. Rawls has certainly had some heroic performances last season, but don’t let that cloud your judgement. Rawls has been going FAR too high in season-long drafts without showing much consistency in my opinion.
Jamaal Charles — RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Not to sound like a broken record, but much of what I wrote about Rawls is also true of Charles. The difference is Charles has never been a flash in the pan, he’s been one of the faces of fantasy football for over five years now. It feels like that’s coming to an end. Charles will be back sometime in the first few weeks of the season, but KC is adamant that he will be eased back in. That gives Ware plenty of time to earn his carries. If you told me once Charles returns he’d play in every game for the rest of the season I’m still not interested. I don’t think he’s going to be the same and will find himself in a backfield committee for the first time.
Jay Ajayi — RB, Miami Dolphins
Ajayi was the expected starter in Miami until the Arian Foster signing, but the Dolphins went into training camp with an open competition. Foster didn’t exactly do anything to win the job in preseason (seven carries for five yards), but Ajayi only managed 2.7 YPC while getting a pretty long look. Miami basically decided Ajayi was poor enough in pass protection/as a receiver that Foster’s resume was enough to earn him the job.
Jimmy Garoppolo — QB, New England Patriots
Jimmy G only has four weeks to run the show for the Pats, but things haven’t looked great so far. Garoppolo was just very mediocre during preseason play — 36/54 for 408 yards and a touchdown in three starts. That’s not bad, but in an offense like New England’s, you’d hope for more. Garoppolo’s had a tough time getting the ball out quickly, which has led to some sacks and throws under pressure, something the offense isn’t used to under Tom Brady. With Gronk’s Week 1 status now in question, Jimmy G may have a rude awakening when he faces Arizona’s D.
Tyler Lockett — WR, Seattle Seahawks
Lockett was one of the favorite sleepers entering this season with tons of breakout potential. Many assumed he’d climb his way to No. 2 on the depth chart behind Doug Baldwin without any problems, yet he still sits behind Jermaine Kearse as well. Lockett will still handle all the kick return duties for the Seahawks, but maintaining his role as the third receiver is a pretty big disappointment. Things could change as the season goes on, but as it stands, Lockett hasn’t impressed to the degree Seattle hoped.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.