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Preseason Depth Chart Risers and Fallers


Every year, we see different players move up and down in the depth charts before the season starts. Even during the season, we see players rise and fall on the depth chart. This never fails during the pre-season due to trades, injuries, rookies, and other factors. This year has been no different.

While depth charts appear to be finalized, there’s a good chance we see more changes before the start of the regular season. Whether it be a third-string running back swapping places with a fourth-stringer, or a starter lose their spot to a rookie, these changes are inevitable. There’s always an outside chance that we see someone like LeSean McCoy or Carlos Hyde either get cut or traded, which could totally change the landscape of some depth charts.

Don’t be surprised if some of the following names on this list move around in the next few weeks or after Week 1. For the time being, here are some players we’ve seen rise or fall on their team’s depth chart this pre-season.

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Risers

David Montgomery (RB, CHI)

The first name on this list shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, but David Montgomery looks like the real deal and has quickly climbed to the top of the Bears depth chart. The Bears general manager, Ryan Pace has been known for going out and getting his guy in the NFL Draft. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Bears came into it without too many draft picks, and they used what they did have to trade up to take Montgomery 73rd overall.

For the last couple of seasons, it's been clear that the Bears aren't crazy about what they had in Jordan Howard, and we saw that even more so after they traded him to the Eagles. Tarik Cohen is an offensive weapon, but his role is more of the pass-catching back or change of pace guy. Montgomery finds himself in a very appealing spot with a team that has a great defense and is in need of a featured running back.

In a relatively weak draft class, there were a few names at the running back position worth targetting including Josh Jacobs, Miles Sanders, and Montgomery. He isn't someone with as much upside as a guy like Jacobs, but Montgomery is a very well-rounded back who isn't overly impressive in any category, but the Bears made it clear that they want him and he's been excellent so far in the pre-season. This was somewhat expected after where the Bears drafted him, but it's clear that Montgomery is going to take the lead role and run with it. Montgomery has a nice opportunity in front of him and has the chance to end up being the best running back in this class for fantasy purposes.

 

Ronald Jones II (RB, TB)

Before I get into the next guy on this list, let it be known that I am far from a believer. Ronald Jones is currently listed as the starter on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster and has made a few nice plays in pre-season and training camp. After putting up a whopping 1.9 YPC in his rookie campaign, Jones was one of the most disappointing rookies from the 2018 class. As a Buccaneers fan, I'll admit that when they chose him in the 2018 NFL Draft, I turned the TV off and walked away. There were plenty of red flags surrounding Jones as a prospect, and he is someone I wasn't interested in at all in rookie drafts.

All that being said, Jones has shown flashes in pre-season and has the potential to have a major role in this offense. Peyton Barber is an average running back, and Jones couldn't even beat him out last year. That being said, this Tampa Bay offense is going to be an exciting one to watch and will have plenty of fantasy football options. We've seen what Bruce Arians can do with a weapon like David Johnson out of the backfield in Arizona, and there is inevitable PPR upside for whoever the lead back ends up being. As of now, Jones is listed as the starter, and while I don't expect that to remain the case into the season, there's no denying the upside that a running back in that offense could have. Especially for fantasy purposes.

 

Trey Quinn (WR, WAS)

Prior to the 2019 NFL Draft, Trey Quinn is someone that I was a big fan of as a late-round potential sleeper candidate. The hype for Quinn died down a bit after the Redskins drafted Terry McLaurin early than I expected, and even more so after they drafted Kelvin Harmon late, who is someone I am a big fan of. Surprisingly enough, Quinn is now listed as the WR1 on that offense, but he is someone I see more as a slot receiver type of guy. Paul Richardson and Josh Doctson are listed as the WR2 and WR3, with the rookies following them.

Quinn didn't do much in his rookie campaign and finished the season with just two games where he put up any sort of production. He totaled nine grabs on 10 targets for 75 yards and one touchdown. I don't expect Quinn to remain as the WR1 on the depth chart, but he's clearly getting some love from the Redskins coaching staff, and could offer some sneaky PPR upside in 2019, as someone you can get extremely late in your fantasy drafts, or even as someone off the waiver wire.

 

Fallers

Kenyan Drake (RB, MIA)

One of the more popular names of the pre-season has been the second-year running back in Miami, Kalen Ballage. Kenyan Drake has been a popular name for a breakout candidate with Adam Gase out of Miami, but an injury has been causing some problems. He's been out with a foot injury and heads into the regular season questionable to start, making his foreseeable future in question.

While Drake is technically still listed as the lead running back for the Dolphins, it's definitely worth monitoring and could turn into a running back by committee if he misses time. Rookie running back Myles Gaskin is also a name to monitor as we head into the 2019 season. While Drake could end up being healthy and come into the season as the main running back in that backfield, it's definitely worth noting that he's seen a decent drop in ADP and value recently, and rightfully so.

 

Jordan Howard (RB, PHI)

One popular one of this past off-season is the former Chicago Bears running back, Jordan Howard. After landing in Philadelphia, there was a brief period of time where Howard saw a spike in value and ADP, as he was viewed as the potential lead running back. The 2019 NFL Draft put a stop to that as rookie Miles Sanders landing in Philadelphia and is a very exciting player to watch, and also has a lot of upside for fantasy purposes.

The biggest knock on Howard in the past has been his lack of pass-catching upside. The main form of production that I expect to come out of Howard is from his goal-line work. The Eagles have Sanders as well as Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams, and even veteran Darren Sproles. While this backfield has been a committee over the past few years, the main reason for that I'm chalking up is due to the lack of talent. Sanders is an explosive back who profiles as a potential three-down back and can catch out of the backfield well. Howard quickly has fallen from being listed as the starter, to being listed as the backup to Sanders, as expected.

 

Dante Pettis (WR, SF)

Heading into the 2019 season, one of the more polarizing and potential breakout candidates has been Dante Pettis. If there is anyone that's lost some steam thanks to pre-season games and news, it's him. Multiple reports have come out from Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers offense about Pettis struggling and even some talk about him not having a starting role. While I don't believe that this is the case, there is definitely some concern around him and he's lost some of his hype for sure.

Rookie wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd have looked great in the pre-season, but if anything I think this is just motivation for Pettis to take a step forward in 2019. Samuel is one of my favorite rookies in this class, and he's looked extremely explosive and could end up being just as good as Pettis this year, potentially even taking over the WR1 role for that offense. If Pettis' value continues to drop as we get closer to the NFL season, he may end up being a nice value in drafts. Regardless of your thoughts on Pettis and this San Francisco group of pass-catchers, there's definitely some reason for concern with him and the situation is worth monitoring.

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