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Wide Receiver Risers for Fantasy Football - ADP Analysis for Michael Thomas, Christian Watson, Calvin Ridley

Michael Thomas - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, Draft Sleepers

Ah, our old friend, ADP. Average Draft Position indicates the mean position where a player is drafted over more than one fantasy football draft. You can consider it as the price you have to pay to draft and get a player on your team. A high ADP (that is actually a low-numbered ADP) means that a player is getting off draft boards early, and thus you'll need to draft him in the first rounds if you truly want him.

Low or high ADP values, though, are not gospel. Each of us fantasy GMs has our strategies and values players differently depending on what we think is the most important for them to have in terms of abilities. No matter what, ADPs are good to know how the "average value" of the "average GM" you'll be drafting against is for each asset (in this case, the players). By now, with free agency and the draft well finalized and just a few players left to be signed, it makes sense to go look at how ADPs are varying during the last month as we get closer to peak draft season.

In this series, I’ll highlight players at each skill position every few days that are seeing significant fluctuation from where they were the last time we check to where they are getting drafted now using data from FFPC drafts.

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Fantasy Football Wide Receivers - ADP Risers

Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints

The second weekend of May brought news on the Michael Thomas front with head coach Dennis Allen telling reporters that the veteran wideout is expected to make it back to the field on the training ground even though he's not still at 100% in terms of fitness. If you've followed the NFL for more than three years, then you know the Michael Thomas. If you just started paying attention in 2020 though, you might have an entirely different perception of the once-unstoppable wide receiver.

Thomas was an absolute league-winning player from 2016 through 2019 but injuries cut his 2020 year short and he just hasn't been the same since then, missing 2021 entirely. Do we really trust him for the upcoming 2023 season? Not me, although it also must be said that Thomas' ADP is below 100th OVR for the first time since he got drafted around the 125th OVR position all the way back in the summer of 2016 when he had yet to play a pro snap.

The veteran has played just 10 games since the start of 2020. The ADP isn't going to get much higher than his current position even though it's surged for more than a full round in the past two weeks. The upside is incredible, of course, but it comes with a huge health-question mark attached to it that might turn a potential bargain into an absolute sunk cost.

 

Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers

The Packers have done absolutely nothing this offseason. Well, actually, they have done a lot of things, but none of them aimed at improving their squad and therefore winning more games in 2023 than they did in 2022, as impossible as that sounds.

That, of course, comes with the positive of playing in favor of those already on the Packers roster last year. Christian Watson, for example, won't have to fight any of Allan Lazard, Randall Cobb, Robert Tonyan, or Marcedes Lewis for targets as all of them have departed. Consider it addition (for Watson's upside) by subtraction.

Watson's debut season in GB was nothing to call home about, mind you, but with a new QB also manning the Packers pocket, odds are there is a new connection being built over the summer that leads the sophomore to better places. Watson averaged a nice 11.7 FPPG last season in PPR leagues putting up 611 yards on 41-of-66 receptions including scoring 7 TDs.

Considering Watson did pretty much the same for his fantasy GMs as Lazard (WR1 of GB) in a season in which the rookie saw a fraction of the veteran's targets and caught almost 20 fewer passes with better results, everything points toward a WR2-level season for Watson in 2023 fantasy leagues even with Green Bay's ancillary additions at the WR and TE positions.

Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars

Ridley's ADP is getting a little bit more expensive with each passing day, and I fully expect that to be the case through the whole summer and into the fantasy season. Ridley is probably flying under the radar of many fantasy GMs that are just casually playing this thing and who have forgotten how good this man was in Atlanta before getting suspended, traded, and ultimately missing the 2022 season entirely.

Ridley's historic ADP (with the exception of his rookie season) has never been cheaper than the 56th OVR pick and it's currently at a more than reasonable 45th-ish OVR. Considering Ridley finished his three first years in the NFL (he played at least 13 games in each of those campaigns) as the WR22, WR27, and most recently the WR5 in 2020 with 281.5 PPR points, that's more than a great price to pay for him.

Entering his fifth pro season and the first one in which he will be catching passes from phenom Trevor Lawrence, Ridley can only go higher next year. To be honest, I don't think having another 2020-like year is out of the realm of possibilities in 2023.

Back in 2020, Ridley caught 90-of-143 targets for 1,374 yards while scoring 9 TDs. Last season, the Jaguars had two players topping 98 targets (Zay Jones and Christian Kirk with 121 and 133 respectively), so Ridley will most probably take Jones' volume of targets in a prime WR1 role along with Kirk. Lawrence has proved capable of lifting receivers (Kirk was WR12 last year, Jones WR26) so Ridley could enjoy another explosion in his comeback year easily.



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