Michael Pittman and Rhamondre Stevenson headed in the right direction
Michael Pittman - Colts, WR
Pittman is primed for a breakout third season. Coming off a solid year in which he hauled in 88 receptions 1,082 yards and six touchdowns, he is looking to take the next step. After finishing 2021 as WR17, fantasy managers hope the addition of Matt Ryan can take him to the next level. With his ADP rising and inching closer to WR1 territory, people are taking notice. Many expected the Colts to perhaps bring in Julio Jones to add more firepower, but the team seems all in on its current group. Alec Pierce and Parris Campbell (who’s had a great camp so far) are battling it out for the team’s WR2 spot. As we go through August, expect Pittman’s ADP to gradually climb. A quarterback upgrade, top-tier offensive line and clear path to targets leaves Pittman with WR1 upside. His current overall ADP of 36 makes him a good bet to be picked in the second or third round in your fantasy drafts.
Allen Robinson - Rams, WR
The veteran wideout has garnered nothing but praise since the start of training camp. It’s already been reported that the Rams’ coaches are “in love” with Robinson. The ninth-year player’s fantasy ADP has moved in a positive direction because of these reports. After July, he’s moved up five spots (69th to 65th overall) in ADP. This makes him a fifth or sixth-round receiver in your drafts for a WR2 on one of the NFL’s elite offenses. With Odell Beckham out of the picture for now, Robinson is the clear number two option in the Rams’ passing game behind Cooper Kupp. With Van Jefferson set to miss several weeks due to a knee injury, Robinson will get even more time to gel with Matthew Stafford. If you’re going to go RB-heavy at the beginning of your drafts, snagging Robinson would be a nice start to your “Zero WR” strategy. Preferably, you want him no higher as a WR2 in your lineups at this point. It’s better to be “in” than “out” on Mr. Robinson
Rhamondre Stevenson - Patriots, RB
With Damien Harris not being much of a pass catcher (18 receptions in 2021), many have wondered who would fill that role with the uncertainty of James White. We may now have that answer in Stevenson as he’s reported to have been having a good camp so far. His focus this offseason has been his route running while shaping himself to be a third-down back. Although he only caught 14 passes for 123 yards last season, he did so in only 12 games (with two starts). What works in his favor is, at 225 pounds, he’s an effective early-down runner as well. As a rookie, Stevenson rushed for 606 yards and five touchdowns while not having a significant role until midseason. Coming into 2022, he is the best Patriots fantasy back at current ADP. If Stevenson is able to split early-down work with Harris while being the team’s main pass-catching back, you will get back great value on that 10th-round pick.
Antonio Gibson - Commanders, RB
It has become increasingly hard to be “in” on Gibson. Last offseason, his coaches told us they’d use him like Christian McCaffrey. They used him more like Ed McCaffrey, a rotational player. We saw a small glimmer of hope when running back target-hog J.D McKissic seemingly chose to sign with the Bills, but then he came back to Washington. Add in third-round draft pick Brian Robinson and it only gets messier from a fantasy perspective. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner has recently said “there’ll be times where we’ll play to the hot hand.” That’s tough to hear if you were hoping Gibson could break out in year three. It almost sounds crazy that we are talking about last season’s RB10 in this way! Gibson did finish out the season strong, totaling 1,331 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns with 42 receptions. The bigger note, though, is on a per-game basis he was RB17. Add in the fact that McKissic will at least equal him in targets/catches (43 receptions in 2021) and Robinson potentially splitting early-down carries, Gibson will almost certainly see a dip in production. More of a true running back, Robinson continues to draw praise in Commanders’ training camp.
Alvin Kamara - Saints, RB
Now this one is tricky. In the month of July, we saw Kamara’s overall ADP drop six spots (22nd to 28th). This was while he was “bracing” for a six-game suspension. As it stands today, he now has a new court date for 9/29/2022. This almost ensures that he will start the season leading the Saints backfield. In fact, he may be good for this whole season, but that remains to be seen. In the next few weeks, it’ll be interesting to see if his ADP creeps back up as we are in full-on fantasy draft season. If no suspension occurs, Kamara should still be drafted as an RB1 without blinking. He saw a major dip in receiving production in his first year without Drew Brees. Despite an injured offensive line and musical chairs between backup quarterbacks, Kamara still put up RB6 numbers on a per-game basis. If he is available, do not get cute and fade him.
Kenneth Walker - Seahawks, RB
The Seahawks backfield has already been tough to figure out this offseason. The team drafted Walker in the second round to help bolster the unit, and once Chris Carson retired things seemed to become more clear. However, DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer are expected to battle it out for the third-down/pass-catching role out of the backfield. With Rashaad Penny expected to lead the backfield on first and second down runs, the whole situation may be one you want to avoid in your drafts. In a worst-case scenario, we are potentially looking like a four-man committee! We know Pete Carroll will want to stick to his caveman-like ways of offense with a heavy run-first approach, especially given their quarterback situation. This still wouldn’t give me great confidence, especially when no one seems to be separating themselves in camp. Your best bet would be to take a shot on Penny, whose ADP jumped up almost a full round this month. While it’s risky to trust a Seahawks back right now, Penny’s eighth-round ADP isn’t all that bad for the potential it brings. The (good football) problem is Walker has potential as well.