There comes a point in every marathon where nothing provides more hope than turning the final corner and seeing the finish line in sight. At that point, all of the pain and fatigue fades away. Your focus heightens and your body puts all of its energy into the singular purpose of getting across the tape.
(The next day, all of that pain and fatigue returns with a vengeance but that's another story for another time.)
We've now reached that point of fantasy draft season. We've been firing off speculative heaters ever since the final scrap of confetti rained down on the Kansas City Chiefs in February. We've used every morsel of information we could find to keep the projections and predictions coming. But the tank is almost empty. Real football is needed to keep this machine fueled.
Lamentably, we still have another week until our hunger is satiated. In the meantime, we scrounge for any last morsels available to help us power to the finish line. The Stock Watch provides.
Zack Moss: Stock Up
All offseason, I advised against drafting Leonard Fournette. My logic was that it was hard to like a running back who didn't seem to be liked by his own team. The situation doesn't seem quite as dire for Devin Singletary -- he's in no danger of being released -- but there are similar undertones. Most notably, Singletary having to share the spotlight with another back.
This season, the role of Fantasy Obstacle will be played by Zack Moss. The Bills spent a third-round pick on the bruiser from Utah and the early returns in training camp have been positive. If the distribution of labor is anything like last season, Moss could see a nearly 50/50 split in touches while getting a higher volume of goal-line work. Not to mention the belief that Moss could get some work in the passing game.
For good measure, sprinkle in this bit about Singletary having ball security issues at practice. That's not likely to immediately derail the incumbent's chances but Singletary not having a firm hold on the football might lead to not having a firm hold on a workhorse role.
Curtis Samuel: Stock Down
Last season was a frustrating year for Curtis Samuel. He was miscast as a deep threat and forced to adjust to poor quarterback play after Cam Newton went down early in the season with a foot injury.
The hope this season was that the addition of Teddy Bridgewater would increase the number of quality targets for Samuel. At the same time, Robby Anderson would hopefully take over the role of field-stretcher, allowing Samuel to work more high-percentage short and intermediate routes.
Unfortunately, Samuel hasn't made the most of his opportunities in training camp. With Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore expected to take the majority of the targets, that already wasn't going to leave much for Samuel. If he's not making an impression, that share could shrink even more. A player who had end-of-draft deep sleeper potential might now be completely off your board.
Tee Higgins: Stock Down
The 2020 class of rookie wide receivers landed with quite a bit of fanfare. But not all rookie wide receiver outlooks are created equal. The Bengals are still trying to mix and match their pass-catchers in the second year of Zac Taylor's offense with a lot of options to try.
Tyler Boyd spread his wings as the default WR1 last season. A.J. Green is (slowly) working his back to the field to hopefully regain some of his early-career success. John Ross and Auden Tate are battling to earn a decent share of targets from No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow. Meanwhile, Higgins has been sidelined with a hamstring injury that threatens to push him down in Cincy's receiver rotation.
There should be a plenty of passing volume in an offense that could be playing from behind plenty in 2020. But that volume isn't bottomless. If Higgins isn't getting on the field regularly, it's hard to justify spending even a late pick on him in redraft leagues. Just don't forget about him completely. Considering the injury histories of his pass-catching colleagues, a spot could open up for him at any time.
Antonio Gibson: Stock Up
The drumbeats have steadily been growing louder for Gibson throughout the offseason. They kicked up significantly after Derrius Guice's release. They've continued to grow as training camp reports have rolled in.
The drumbeats hit a deafening pitch when the Washington Football Team released veteran running back Adrian Peterson on Friday morning. Any potential obstacles to Gibson getting a big workload were removed and loud hosannas were sung throughout fantasy Twitter. If there is competition, it comes in the form of Bryce Love, who missed all of last season while rehabbing an injury. That means Washington is functionally starting two rookies with an in-season competition to see which one can win the gig.
You might not be ready to believe Ron Rivera's Christian McCaffrey comparison for Gibson, but it's become apparent that Washington has a plan for its young running back. That's encouraging in an offense that doesn't have a ton of roles already set.
Tyrod Taylor: Stock Up
One of the bigger mysteries of fantasy draft season has been why Tyrod Taylor hasn't been getting much love in quarterback discussions. The simple answer has been that many managers are concerned that first round pick Justin Herbert is waiting in the wings to take over the starting job at any moment.
It's not a surprise that Taylor is slated to begin the season as the Chargers' QB1. What should give fantasy drafters a measure of confidence is the idea that Taylor could keep the job for the majority of the season.
Nothing in the NFL is guaranteed but when Tyrod has been a consistent starter, he's provided solid QB2 fantasy dividends. Now he lands at the head of an offense with a dynamic running back and a number of talented pass-catching weapons. Combine that with Taylor's mobility and you have a nice option for two-QB leagues or a solid mid-season streamer.
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