Let’s look at the most volatile players in ADP for each of the first nine rounds, according to NFFC ADP for the third week of August.
Why are we doing this? If you’re a bullseye drafter, you need to know that if you want these players, you better be prepared to take them well above their ADP, which is relatively meaningless. Conversely, if you’re an area drafter like I recommend, and are agnostic about who is on your team but just want to beat ADP, these are the guys who you may be able to snag well below the average price.
There is not an inherent contradiction here. The volatile players either go well above or well below ADP. So regardless of your approach to picking players (tier/area or numeric ranking/bullseye), ADP has to be ignored. Either someone will reach or no one will and they will slide. So if you have your heart set on any of these guys (why?), you can’t take the chance on waiting. But if you are agnostic about them, they may slide well below ADP and provide a value.
We’ll go round by round and I’ll tell you where I have them ranked.
Bijan Robinson is not making it out of Round 1. So you can’t wait him out. But if you get to pick your draft slot and are interested in Robinson, or if you’re in a real aggressive WR league (three WR and a flex, full PPR, savvy owners), you can take a back half slot and often get Robinson in the second round. His range is overall pick No. 3 to No. 20. He’s the market’s RB3, but is RB4 in my rankings. I wrote:
“He had 63.5% of Texas carries in NCAA last year. He’s ranked here because of the dearth of putative bell cows in today’s NFL. All the RB carries of the Falcons when they were the third-best rushing team in the NFL are still on the roster as of 8/18. Likely the head of a large committee.”
Another running back who I faded last year and who is basically in his age 30 season (just misses the cutoff), Derrick Henry goes as high as 13 and as low as 31. If you want him, you probably need an early-to-mid second-round slot. But if you go WR/WR in the top half of the draft, he could make it to you in Round 3. Henry is the RB7 in ADP. While he’s my RB7 at the moment, too, it’s a soft No. 7 because Jonathan Taylor and Josh Jacobs will definitely jump him once they are in camp and cleared for practice. Remember, I’m never taking the RB7 when I can get a Top 10 wide receiver instead because Top 10 WRs will beat the RB7 by 30 points (at least) in PPR.
Running backs dominate this list. There is so much volatility with WRs being moved up the queue more so than at any point I can remember. So this is all very league specific. I’m not sure anyone really likes drafting Najee Harris. But can he be a Top 5 RB? I think so. He’ll get early downs, goal-line and probably third down (though that’s the shakiest). Jaylen Warren was a better receiver mostly because Harris is historically inefficient at that. He’s the market’s RB9 and my RB10. I did include this caveat in my rankings:
“I think there’s a 30-to-40% chance the Steelers use Jaylen Warren as basically a committee back. Unlikely but concerning.”
I don’t get why Joe Mixon is so polarizing. He’s actually been super steady. He’s not going to be the top RB but he could be Top 5 and is generally Top 10 (or close enough). Yet he goes as high as overall 20 and as low as 82. If you’re zeroRB (ignoring the position the first five rounds), there’s probably a 30% chance he can be your RB1. He’s my RB11 and the market’s RB14.
I wrote: “…no serious competition for touches. It looks like he’ll avoid suspension for some off-field issues. I repeat: You’re not going to have to draft him this high. He might be the last player in this tier of backs that starts with Henry.”
Finally a non-RB. Chris Godwin goes as high as overall No. 41 and as low as No. 79. He’s the market’s WR28 and my WR26. I get the QB situation in Tampa Bay is a minus relative to last year. But Godwin will now be fully recovered from his 2021 ACL injury. I wrote:
“That was the quietest 100-catch season ever. We know Baker Mayfield has been a WR killer. Godwin managers need average QB play from Mayfield. That’s possible but not probable.”
Back to the RB queue with J.K. Dobbins. He had an ACL injury with MCL damage, a double whammy that can completely alter a career trajectory. And it was actually even worse than that. For a normal ACL tear, a return to pre-injury performance two years removed from surgery is not unreasonable. This seems to be the mindset of the Dobbins drafters. But this was a much worse injury than typical, so what do we do? I have no idea. I’m probably out on Dobbins. He’s my RB27 vs. the market’s RB20. I wrote:
“He’ll settle in two levels below what he was, which means if he was a generational talent, he’ll still be a Pro Bowl-level player. But I believe he was MAYBE a Pro-Bowl level player, which means he’s just average now. He’s a decent zeroRB. I don’t take him until the seventh round and he’s going in the sixth, on average.”
Speaking of ACL recoveries, the seventh-round back is Dalvin Cook. This ADP is after he signed with the Jets. He goes as high as 45th overall and as low as 110th. I get it. Is he the head of the Jets’ group of RBs or second behind Breece Hall, himself within the one-year recovery window and expected by former NFL injury doctor David Chao to be about 65% productive. I’m much higher on Cook than the market. He’s my RB18 vs. RB30 on NFFC. I will wait it out for sure. Maybe by RB25 I’ll start thinking about Cook. He’s likely to be the main RB for the first six games. I can’t really project the season on the back half. So early-season expected value is far more actionable for me.
I wrote: “I see 240 touches for Cook, 200 for Hall. Maybe this flips.”
We close our “Most Volatile by Round” list with two wide receivers. For Round 8, it’s Quentin Johnston. The range is overall pick 79 to 130. I’m at WR43, right at NFFC ADP. This is mostly a bet against Mike Williams, but it’s hard for me to move him out of the rookie WR bucket. Why not just take the last one in your draft out of Johnston, Jordan Addison, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers? I wrote:
“(Johnston) has a cleaner path to 130 targets. I’m not saying it’s going to happen but just that I can see it more clearly. This is also probably a 5,000-yard passing offense so the pie itself is very big.”
I’m almost certainly not rostering Kadarius Toney anywhere. You beat me with him, I tip my cap. His range is overall 78 to 138. He’s the NFFC WR48. He’s my WR59. I see him as “completely unreliable” physically. I like Alec Pierce better than Toney.
(John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)