We take a look at five players with their fantasy stock on the rise as training camps begin to ramp up. We also cover guys trending down.
Andy Dalton: It’s easy to forget, but Dalton is one season removed from being an MVP candidate, when he recorded a 106.3 Passer Rating while getting 8.4 YPA with a 25:7 TD:INTO ratio over 13 games. His production dipped last year, thanks to injuries to his supporting cast, poor offensive line play and a 3.2% touchdown rate that’s almost certain to regress in 2017. Dalton is still in his prime at 29 years old, quietly produces on the ground (he has eight rushing touchdowns over the past two seasons) and just two years ago finished with the No. 3 most fantasy points per dropback (0.57). Moreover, the Bengals added weapons in Joe Mixon and John Ross with their first two picks in the draft, Tyler Boyd should improve in year two and just imagine if the team gets a healthy season out of A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert. This offense is loaded and will be playing a third-place schedule this year. Quarterback remains a position to wait on, and given Dalton’s modest ADP, he’s the best QB to target right now.
Danny Woodhead: He’s 32 years old and coming off a torn ACL, as he’s missed at least 13 games in two of the past three seasons, so Woodhead isn’t exactly a sure thing. But he’s reportedly impressed since joining Baltimore, and his value saw a big boost with news of Kenneth Dixon’s season-ending knee injury. Woodhead is clearly the team’s best receiving back, and his competition for carries is journeyman Terrance West, who owns a career 3.9 YPC mark. During the two seasons in which he stayed healthy over the past four, Woodhead averaged 78 catches for 680 receiving yards and totaled 12 TD catches. There are also plans for him to be a big part for the Ravens in the red zone. In 2015, he got 6.1 yards-per-touch, which ranked No. 11 among all running backs. Woodhead’s needle is pointing up.
Devin Funchess: It’s admittedly difficult to get excited about Funchess after back-to-back disappointing campaigns entering the league, and he only recorded a measly 23 receptions with the worst catch rate (39.7%) in football as a sophomore last season. Carolina also added rookies Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel through the draft. But Ted Ginn (who saw nearly 200 more snaps than Funchess last year) is gone, and Funchess is slated to be Carolina’s No. 2 wideout (Kelvin Benjamin didn’t look good last year coming off his torn ACL and has had weight issues). Funchess should improve during his third year in the league, will have a recent MVP throwing to him and was in the 87th percentile in Speed Score in college (Player Profiler comps him to Brandon Marshall right now), so he’s someone practically free at drafts who has some legitimate upside.
Jacquizz Rodgers: He’s slated to start the first three games of the season with Doug Martin suspended, yet Rodgers remains a complete afterthought at draft tables with a RB48 ADP (and 120 overall). During his five games as a starter last season, he totaled 117 touches, which would prorate for 375 over a full season. That would’ve led the NFL in touches. I’m not going to argue Rodgers is going to keep the job after Martin returns (the latter impressed during the summer and by all means should take over the starting role when he returns), but it’s also not out of the question. Rodgers led all backs with a 7.0 YPC mark when facing light fronts last season. The Bucs’ offense also has the makings of something special, with Jameis Winston still improving, Mike Evans still just 23 years old (he’s scored 12 touchdowns in two of his three seasons in the league), and they added DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard during the offseason. Rodgers should be a top-10 fantasy back through the first month or so of 2017 (TB’s schedule against the run early on looks highly favorable).
Hunter Henry: The Chargers have plenty of options to throw to, but rookie Mike Williams is dealing with what might be a serious back injury, while Keenan Allen has played nine games over the past two seasons. Antonio Gates is 37 years old, Danny Woodhead is gone, and Melvin Gordon has durability issues as well. Enter Henry, who scored eight touchdowns last year as a rookie while playing a position in which most struggle during their first year in the league. Henry’s fantasy points per target (2.48) ranked No. 3 in the NFL, and he should only improve during his sophomore season. He’s the best tight end to target in your draft.