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Fontaines 5 NFL Barometer: Risers & Fallers

We back , thanks to everyone who has followed along this preseason. We'll end how we began, catching up on the news, both recent and collective, throughout the preseason. Good luck to all with drafts this las few days, and enjoy the countdown to another awesome season.


Chris Godwin, Buccaneers

Godwin is at the peak of his perceived value to fantasy managers. He's avoided the PUP list and looks to have a realistic chance to play in Week 1. That's a significant departure from eight and a half months ago when Godwin tore his ACL, and a delayed start to the 2022 season seemed inevitable. Interestingly, Godwin's ADP hasn't risen significantly since early summer in NFFC drafts, which creates some potential value.

Prior to the injury in 2021, Godwin was having his second-best season from a per-game perspective. Since, Rob Gronkowski has retired and Tom Brady will rely upon building rapport quickly with Russell Gage and Julio Jones. If things go right from a health perspective, Godwin is positioned to emerge as one of the better values at wide receiver with a significant share of the targets behind Mike Evans.

Dameon Pierce, Texans Pierce is the low-hanging fruit of this group after Marlon Mack was released earlier in the week. Even Adam Schefter aided in building the helium, sending out a graphic on Twitter declaring Pierce as the top running back in Houston. As a result, Pierce's ADP on NFFC has jumped all the way to 59th overall (since Sunday). That places him in between Elijah Mitchell and David Montgomery at the position and around the likes of Elijah Moore and George Kittle overall. There should be some word of caution associated with that draft cost. First is that Houston isn't likely to be a particularly strong offense, which generally limits upside of even a lead back to produce fantasy points. Next is that Rex Burkhead made the team. Burkhead may not seem like a big impediment, but he earned a career-high 122 rushing attempts in 2021 and consistently picks up 30 targets per season in a part-time role. Michael Gallup, Cowboys The conversation surrounding Gallup largely aligns with that of Godwin. He suffered his knee injury about five weeks after Godwin but also avoided the PUP list. Unlike Tampa Bay, Dallas has lost several players that command a significant target share, including both Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson. When Gallup returns, he'll almost definitely be the team's second receiver behind CeeDee Lamb. His per-game production dipped last season, but his 2019 breakout season is an example of this upside. He's also a 10th-round pick, which leaves more margin for error in the case that he doesn't return at full strength. Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots Since the start of training camp, James White retired and Ty Montgomery has gone down with an injury. That leaves Stevenson, Damien Harris and rookie Pierre Strong as the only backs projected to be healthy heading into the regular season. Even if Harris maintains a significant share of the carries, Stevenson appears likely to occupy the pass-catching role so long as Montgomery remains out. Again, a word of caution. Stevenson saw only 18 targets in his rookie season, three fewer than Harris. While Stevenson managed that on 140 fewer snaps, he was far from a target hog. His college profile doesn't suggest there's much more on the way, as he had only a 5.7 percent target share while at Oklahoma. On the other hand, there aren't many alternatives to occupy the pass-catching role for the time that Montgomery is sidelined, so perhaps Stevenson will have the chance to prove he's capable of expanding his skill set. Tyler Lockett, Seahawks The biggest preseason news out of Seattle was at quarterback. First was that the team didn't acquire either Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield, and then named Geno Smith the stater over Drew Lock. The latter piece of that news seems to be perceived as a win for DK Metcalf, who has averaged nearly 19 PPR points across five games without Russell Wilson as his quarterback. On the surface, that stands out as a distinct advantage over Lockett, who has averaged only 11.6 fantasy points per game in the absence of Russell. However, Metcalf's production has been fueled by touchdowns, which he's scored at a clip of 1.2 per game in the relevant sample. The other parts of their respective profiles are far more similar. Examples include targets (8.4 per game for Lockett, 6.4 for Metcalf) and receptions (5.4 for Lockett, 5.0 for Metcalf). This all comes in a small sample and isn't to say that Lockett should be ranked higher, or is even a better value than Metcalf. Still, it might indicate that the Seahawk's passing game — at least for fantasy purposes — isn't as doomed as projected. Fallers J.K. Dobbins, Ravens There's no official word on the status of Dobbins as we barrel toward Week 1, but the indications haven't been positive. Coach Jim Harbaugh made cryptic remarks about Dobbins' status throughout training camp and the preseason, most recently saying "his quickness is kind of back." That's not a strong endorsement as we sit eight days away from the Ravens' season opener. Baltimore's recent signing of Kenyan Drake is another indication that the team doesn't have full faith in Dobbins. It also makes it far more likely that even once Dobbins is back on the field, he isn't likely to shoulder a full workload. Dobbins has slipped to a mid-fifth-round pick. Isaiah Spiller, Chargers Spiller has been on a slide since the combine, when he didn't test nearly as athletically as expected. That proceeded a dip in the draft into the fourth round of the draft. Nevertheless, Spiller was projected to compete for the backup job to Austin Ekeler. He also struggled with that opportunity, as Joshua Kelley was reportedly ahead of Spiller for the second spot on the depth chart by mid-August. Like Baltimore adding Drake, Los Angeles' addition of Sony Michel is an indication that the team wasn't sold on what they were seeing behind Ekeler in the backfield. To summarize, Spiller isn't athletic, has mediocre draft capital, lost the battle to backup one of the more dynamic backs in the league and saw his team add an additional player ahead of him on the depth chart just prior to the season. Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons There isn't much news out there about how the Falcons intend to use Patterson this season. However, we know that he wore down as the team's lead back in 2021, tallying single-digit carries in three of the team's last four games. In that same four-game span, he never surpassed 59 total yards. As a result, the team has at least suggested it won't use Patterson as its lead back this season. That raises the question of where Patterson fits into the offense. The Falcons are deficient at wide receiver — particularly so long as Drake London remains sidelined. But, it seems to have been quickly forgotten that Patterson infamously flamed out as a wide receiver for many seasons after being a first-round selection by the Vikings in the 2013 draft. Now, entering his age-31 season, isn't the time to project a breakout. Christian Watson, Packers Watson was the Packers' answer to losing Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling this offseason, but he hasn't been able to stay on the field. He missed all three of the team's preseason games, though he has practiced with the team since mid-August. It remains to be seen whether that's enough for him to play in Week 1 against the Vikings, but he isn't likely to occupy a full-time role regardless. That makes Watson an acceptable late-round best ball investment, but it's hard to justify the likely waste of a roster spot in redraft formats while waiting for Watson to capture a significant role in the offense. Breece Hall, Jets Hall gained 29 yards on 14 rushes this preseason. Exhibition results should hardly be used to dismiss a rookie — particularly one with athleticism, strong college production and strong draft capital — but Hall's own comments about his adjustment to the pro game are concerning. On Aug. 24, Hall was quoted as saying, "I'm progressing everyday … But learning this offense has been kind of different to what I did in college. There are a lot more nuances and a lot of little things that I am still learning." That doesn't mean Hall can't meet expectations during his career, or even his rookie season, but it may take some time. That's particularly true because the Jets have Michael Carter in the backfield, who proved he is a capable NFL back in 2021. Hall is being drafted in the mid-fourth round, meaning fantasy managers are expecting him to produce immediately.

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