With that in mind, here are 10 players who have shot up draft boards over the past month. In most cases, their ascents have sharpened in the past week or two, making it all the more important for drafters to be aware of the players’ current value.
For this exercise, I’m using average draft position (ADP) information from Fantasy Football Calculator, with defaults to half-PPR scoring and 12-team league sizes. I’m also skipping past Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, because you probably don’t need me to tell you that he has rocketed into the middle of the first round since the end of July. Most of the players I will be highlighting are also RBs, which makes sense given the volatility of the position.
James Conner, RB, Steelers
ADP: from 3.10 to 2.12
There are three things probably happening with Conner, starting with drafters realizing that if they want to start with a pair of RBs but are picking toward the top of the first round, they’d better start pushing more RBs into the end of the second. In Conner’s case, it helps that Pittsburgh Coach Mike Tomlin hasn’t appeared to waver from his declaration in May that the fourth-year back will get “featured runner” treatment.
More recently, QB Ben Roethlisberger has shown that his surgically repaired elbow is in good working order, which has helped not only his ADP (12.07 to 11.08) but also those of Steelers WRs JuJu Smith-Schuster (6.04 to 4.07) and Diontae Johnson (10.6 to 9.01).
Kareem Hunt, RB, Browns
ADP: 7.03 to 5.08
As folks have done real and mock drafts, they have discovered that Hunt is an awfully tempting choice in the middle rounds, particularly for those who didn’t go with an RB-heavy start. The fourth-year back combines proven, high-level talent with the promise of a steady role alongside Nick Chubb, and if the latter gets injured, Hunt could be a league-winner.
Ronald Jones II, RB, Buccaneers
ADP: 7.10 to 5.09
When Tampa Bay drafted Ke’Shawn Vaughn in the third round this year, it led many to predict he soon would take over as the team’s top back. Instead, Vaughn was sidelined on the covid-19/reserve list and then had some fumbling issues in camp, allowing Jones to lock up a valuable role in what should be one of the league’s better offenses.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Buccaneers
ADP: 10.01 to 7.05
Perhaps drafters were waiting to see if Gronk, who came out of retirement this year, might go back into it once the pads came on and the hitting commenced. He is on track, though, to resume his on-field bromance with Tom Brady (whose own ADP has climbed from 10.04 to 9.05), and not even a widely noted report suggesting that Gronkowski may wind up third in snaps among TEs on his own team has slowed his rise.
Meanwhile, back in New England, Cam Newton has tightened his grip on the starting QB job, and his ADP has also risen, from 13.07 to 11.06.
Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington
ADP: 13.11 to 8.03
The release of Derrius Guice in early August suddenly thrust Gibson, a third-round pick immediately compared by his new team to Christian McCaffrey, into the fantasy spotlight. Not surprisingly, Washington’s still-crowded running backs room has also seen spikes for Adrian Peterson (14.01 to 10.06) and Bryce Love (14.01 to 11.11, just in the past week).
Zack Moss, RB, Bills
ADP: 13.08 to 8.08
Reports out of camp have been consistently glowing for Moss, to the point where it’s not clear whether he will remain in a secondary role to Devin Singletary, who has been losing his grip on the ball and possibly on his starting job as well. Little wonder that Singletary’s ADP has slid from 3.09 to 4.07, but even that may not accurately reflect how close the competition has been between the two, both third-round picks over the past two years.
Damien Harris, RB, Patriots
ADP: 15.01 to 9.07
Let’s go ahead and highlight another recent third-round pick at RB with Harris, who was glued to the bench last season but who looked good in camp while incumbent starter Sony Michel took a few weeks to get cleared after foot surgery in May. Michel is back now, restoring the RB waters in New England to their usual murkiness, apart from James White’s clear role on passing downs.
Chase Edmonds, RB, Cardinals
ADP: 12.01 to 9.09
Two words you never want to see associated with an RB going around the 1/2 turn: walking boot. Such is the case, however, with Kenyan Drake. While he insists it’s no big deal, that news was more than enough to send skyward the draft stock of Edmonds, Arizona’s No. 2 back and someone who had already been described by Coach Kliff Kingsbury as “a starting running back in this league.”
Jalen Reagor, WR, Eagles
ADP: 13.10 to 10.06
Well, it was fun while it lasted. Philadelphia’s top pick in April, Reagor was generating buzz about possibly being the team’s top WR right off the bat, but he reportedly suffered a shoulder injury Sunday that could sideline him for the start of the season. If that causes his ADP to zoom back down, though, Reagor could make for a nice final-round flier in fantasy leagues with deep-ish benches.
Preston Williams, WR, Dolphins
ADP: 13.08 to 11.09
An undrafted free agent last year out of Colorado State, Williams was leading Miami in receiving when he suffered a Week 9 ACL tear. He might just be all the way back from it already, to judge from his ability to dominate Dolphins defenders in camp. Even after some coronavirus-related opt-outs thinned the Dolphins’ receiving corps, the team could boast some returning talent in WR DeVante Parker and TE Mike Gesicki. But it’s hardly out of the question that Williams goes right back to being its top pass-catcher.