Adjust the Ranks: Changes to the NBC Staff Rankings Part 2
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With one week of preseason in the books, our rankings are changing at a breakneck pace. You can check out the rankings via the Draft Guide with the NBC Sports EDGE+ Premium package. In this series, I’ll look at the notable movers at every position, breaking down why players are rising or falling in our ranks. Here are our biggest risers and fallers of the past two weeks.
Trey Lance Up to QB13
Trey Lance showed flashes of what everyone wanted to see from him in his debut game even if he mixed in a handful of mistakes. By all accounts, the tape from training camp has been in favor of Lance over Jimmy Garoppolo as well. That doesn’t guarantee he starts Week 1 but it puts him in play to see action within the first few games of the season. If Garoppolo falters at any point, Kyle Shanahan will turn to the rookie that he and his franchise paid three first-round picks to acquire. Lance was a dominant runner and an efficient passer at North Dakota State and Shanahan’s rushing scheme has consistently produced hyper-efficient ground attacks. The ceiling of an athlete like Lance dropped into Shanahan’s offense could be limitless.
Sammy Watkins Up to WR73
Sammy Watkins’ rise is in direct relation to Rashod Bateman’s core muscle injury with an assist from Marquise Brown’s hamstring issue. Brown should be able to suit up in Week 1 while Bateman is set to miss the first month of the year. Watkins hasn’t hit 700 yards in a season since 2015 despite finding himself in a slew of exceptional offenses. Destined to be a secondary option for the remainder of his career, Watkins is moving up our rankings as a sign of his increased proximity to Lamar Jackson. [[ad:athena]]
Zach Ertz Up to TE23
As it stands now, Zach Ertz is still a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. While a trade remains on the table, it is looking increasingly likely that he’ll play in Philly this year. Because of that, Ertz grinding out 60 receptions and 600 yards to the ire of every Dallas Goedert drafter is firmly in play. Goedert was taken down a few spots within the tight end rankings which resulted in a massive hit to his placement within the overall rankings. Tight end is a position to go big with or punt entirely so moving him to the end of the TE1 group sent him tumbling down the top-200.
Myles Gaskin Down to RB30
In a shocking turn of events, Malcolm Brown appears to have usurped Myles Gaskin as the starter in Miami. Brian Flores has continually brought up a committee approach to his backfield and Brown is the type of unappealing runner that coaches love bookmarking carries for. Even a strong share of the receiving work plus some carries won’t be enough for Gaskin to pay off his current ADP. If fantasy managers react strongly to the news and let Gaskin slide multiple rounds, he could become a value. For now, he looks like a headache best left for someone else in your draft. Brown was given a large boost in our rankings in a corresponding move but he comes with virtually no ceiling.
Javian Hawkins Removed from All Rankings
Javian Hawkins was everyone’s favorite bet to be this year’s James Robinson but most years don’t actually have that type of player. Qadree Ollison appears to be the team’s RB2, leaving Hawkins to compete with Cordarrelle Patterson for receiving work that doesn’t exist as long as Mike Davis is healthy. Hawkins can be left off all rosters until further notice.
Boston Scott Up to RB57
The waiving of Kerryon Johnson knocks down one hurdle for Kenneth Gainwell but the biggest one, Boston Scott, seems to be growing. All reports from camp have indicated that Scott is locked into third-down duties and that his role will grow relative to 2020. Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia’s newly-hired head coach, came from Indianapolis and is expected to bring over some of Frank Reich‘s offensive philosophies. Last year, the Colts were perfectly content using Jonathan Taylor on early downs while giving Nyheim Hines a robust role as a receiver out of the backfield. Scott has a similar profile to Hines and has tallied nearly 50 receptions over the past two years. The threat of Gainwell should keep our expectations for Scott in check but he now stands comfortably at the back of the James White/Giovani Bernard tier of running backs.
The potential for Scott’s role to increase forced us to bring Miles Sanders down. Our rankings weren’t high on him before training camp and it will certainly be difficult to take him if you’re using our draft guide (which you should be) now. Without a large pass-catching role, Sanders profiles as the type of back who gets the bulk of his work on rushes between the 20s. If Jalen Hurts steals goal line touches from him, very few of Sanders’ looks will have the potential to generate a big fantasy payday.
Rondale Moore Up to WR55
Fantasy players will remember where they were when we learned Rondale Moore was going to break out as a rookie. The first sign came Arizona’s opening preseason contest. Kliff Kingsbury’s first play-call was a screen to the ever-elusive Moore. The Pride of Purdue would go on to see four targets and two carries. Even though these reps came with A.J. Green and DeAndre Hopkins sidelined, it’s clear that Moore will be involved in the Cardinals’ offense from the jump. That bodes well for Moore, whose ability to embarrass defenders with the ball in his hands makes him perfect for Kingsbury’s Horizontal Air Raid.
Bryan Edwards Up to WR69
The starting lineup in two-receiver sets for Las Vegas has been Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards throughout training camp. There is still a pair of preseason games to be played but the evidence of John Brown’s demise is mounting. Edwards was an analytics darling coming out of South Carolina, registering a 94th-percentile College Dominator and a 100th-percentile Breakout Age, according to Player Profiler. He failed to make a mark as a rookie but was bogged down by an ankle injury that cost him nearly half of his debut season. If Edwards is able to earn a consistent role, his college resume says he’ll make the most of it. Brown, on the other hand, is on pace to be out of our rankings before the end of the preseason.
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David Johnson Down to RB47
David Johnson was once the league’s most versatile running back. Now he’s a pass-catching specialist on a team that is the betting favorite to be picking at the top of the draft next year. Johnson saw just one carry in Houston’s preseason opener while Phillip Lindsay earned five totes and out-snapped him eight-to-two in the first quarter. The former fantasy MVP then spoke out about his disappointment with the reduced role. It looks like he’ll be playing the part of big Duke Johnson this year with Lindsay handling most of the work on early downs. Lindsay hasn’t overtaken Johnson in our rankings quite yet because we don’t anticipate Houston to be running the ball much this year. However, another weak preseason showing from Johnson could initiate the flip.
Rhamondre Stevenson Up to RB56
Rhamondre Stevenson rushed ten times for 127 yards and two touchdowns in New England’s preseason opener. He didn’t play with the starters but it was a good showing nonetheless. He’ll need to keep impressing the Patriots in live games and practice to secure a roster spot, possibly at the expense of Sony Michel. At 5’11/231, Stevenson is a bruising back with surprisingly smooth hands. He caught 28 passes in two years at Oklahoma. It’s possible that Stevenson becomes the next iteration of Rex Burkhead, who was perennially touted in fantasy circles for his ability to fill in for any of New England’s running backs. Stevenson makes sense as a player that fantasy managers can feel comfortable cutting without hesitation if the rest of the offseason doesn’t break his way.