As we approach the start to the regular season and rosters begin to finalize, we get a better idea of where players belong based not only on talent, but on opportunity.
When DeAngelo Williams re-signed with Carolina, Jonathan Stewart’s value immediately took a turn for the worse to the point he’s barely being considered an RB3.
Same goes for rookie Daniel Thomas… when Reggie Bush was brought in, Thomas immediately lost value, especially if there were any chance he was going to catch a pass.
You get the point.
For every NFL player whose value goes up, you can bet there is an equal number of players who lost value the same way.
Some guys lose fantasy value based on other things, including pre-season games (though proceed with caution on this one), a poor camp, decreased health, and just a general feeling from coaches that “this guy is in danger of being released if he doesn’t pick up the pace “.
With that being said, here are some players whose value is currently going down (or will soon begin to go down):
Eli Manning, QB, NY Giants — Wasn’t it Eli who just recently compared himself to Tom Brady? Yeah, that’s what I thought. After his dismal two-INT game vs. the Jets Monday night, I’m starting to wonder if Manning doesn’t have an injury that he’s not telling us about. Either way, Manning’s ADP is slipping to the point where you can probably get him after the 10th round (though don’t be surprised if he goes earlier in some leagues).
Tarvaris Jackson, QB, Seahawks — It was just a few weeks ago that some so-called fantasy experts coined Jackson a “QB Super-Sleeper” for the 2011 season. I don’t think he’s singing the same tune now as Jackson has looked flat out awful in pre-season games and in camp, leaving many of us to wonder if he’s going to keep his job… and if so, for how long?
Alex Smith, QB, 49ers — The only thing saving Smith is the fact he really doesn’t have much behind him pushing him. He knows Colin Kaepernick is a rookie and also hasn’t performed well this pre-season, so the pressure is off and he really doesn’t have to push himself. Hopefully Jim Harbaugh puts down the crack pipe soon and sobers up to realize Smith is (and has always been) a lousy NFL quarterback and simply can’t remain the starter past this year. He’s not even being drafted in a lot of leagues these days.
Arian Foster, RB, Texans — Please don’t panic. I’m not suggesting you don’t draft this guy. I’m not suggesting you avoid him at pick 1.05 if he’s still sitting there. All I’m saying is that we now really need to be cautious because of this lingering hamstring injury that won’t seem to go away. Granted, Foster said he’ll be ready for Week 1, but with veteran Derrick Ward and second-year beast Ben Tate waiting in the wings, Gary Kubiak won’t take chances with his franchise back if he doesn’t have to.
Ryan Mathews, RB, Chargers — A recent report in the San Diego Union-Tribune said Mathews is expected to get between 200 and 220 carries while Mike Tolbert is going to take a surprising 170-180. If that’s the case, that tells me Tolbert is likely getting everything inside the 20s, which will probably equate to another season of double-digit TDs. Mathews has gone from a potential top 15 draft pick to a guy who is now going in the 3rd round or later. We’ve downgraded him significantly because of the upgrade to Mike Tolbert. We have these two ranked virtually even.
Ryan Grant, RB, Packers — When you upgrade James Starks, that means someone has to be downgraded, even if it’s a slight one. Some will tell you this job is Ryan Grant’s to lose, but there’s a reason he was asked to take a pay cut before the season started. The Packers believe they can be just as good with Starks, Alex Green and Dimitri Nance as they would be with Grant on the roster, but at less cost. Still, I don’t believe Grant is getting cut or anything like that… I just firmly believe we’ll see a lot more of James Starks than certain people want to believe.
Chris Johnson, RB, Titans — This one is pretty self-explanatory. Johnson still hasn’t signed, though it’s expected he will by this weekend. Even if he does, he’s been out all pre-season and is probably a little bit rusty. It’s going to take him a few weeks of the regular season to catch up. I actually think you can get some value from him if he slips to the 2nd round and you get him, but as the weekend approaches and it becomes more likely that he’ll sign, I think we’re going to see him pop right back up to the middle of the first round, if not higher.
Steve Smith, WR, Panthers — This is more of a knock on QB Cam Newton than it is on Smith. So far this pre-season Newton has thrown 26 passes to WRs. He’s completed 4 of them. On the other hand, he’s completing better than 70% of his passes to RBs and TEs, so you can see my concern for Smith and the rest of the Panthers receiving corps. With David Gettis out for the season, it’s only going to put that much pressure on Smith to get open… and stay healthy.
Sidney Rice, WR, Seahawks — Not much to say here. We’ve already downgraded Tarvaris Jackson so it’s safe to assume a wide receiver is going to be downgraded as well. There’s really not a lot to like about this offense, so please don’t draft Rice based on what he did in Minnesota, draft him based on what he should do in Seattle.
Torrey Smith, WR, Ravens — With Lee Evans now entrenched with the starters, it’s going to put a damper on guys like Smith to get a lot of playing time. He was highly touted coming out of college, yet the only thing he really brought with him (so far) is speed. Aside from that, Smith is raw and a bit undisciplined.
Jermaine Gresham, TE, Bengals — Rookie QB Andy Dalton isn’t used to using a TE during his days at TCU, so finding ways to get the ball to Gresham (at least early in the season) might be tough. Dalton likes throwing the ball downfield rather than checking down, so it’s definitely going to be a while before we see Gresham becoming the fantasy factor at TE that we want him to be (and know he can eventually be).