Marketwatch 2015: Stock Up/Down

Updated: May 27th 2015

Now that the NFL Draft and NFL Free Agency are over, team depth charts are starting to form as OTAs get underway. With all this in mind, which moves have had the most impact from a fantasy perspective for your Reality Sports Online fantasy leagues? Let’s dive in, and I’ll try to avoid topics I’ve already significantly covered this offseason and focus more on the moves that impact the stock of some fantasy players we haven’t delved into much yet.

Stock Up

1) Melvin Gordon, Running Back, San Diego Chargers

While I agree with the St. Louis Rams that Todd Gurley was the best running back in the 2015 NFL Draft, I think Gordon inserted himself to the best situation right away. The Chargers invested heavily on the offensive line in the offseason, re-signing King Dunlap and grabbing the versatile Orlando Franklin away from their division rival Denver Broncos. Gordon reminds some of having similar traits to Jamaal Charles and should be featured in the screen game as well in spite of having only 22 catches at Wisconsin as quarterback Philip Rivers loves to dump the ball off.

Coaches have already raved about Gordon’s pass blocking, which bodes well for him being on the field in most situations. Based on lackluster performance from Donald Brown, Branden Oliver, and Danny Woodhead being a specialist in the passing game who is coming off a serious injury, I love what Gordon brings to the table immediately for the Chargers. Down the line, you are looking at a top ten fantasy running back as well.

2) Ryan Tannehill, Quarterback, Miami Dolphins

With a new contract in tow and coming off a season in which he passed for over 4,000 yards, 27 touchdowns and only threw 12 interceptions, one has to be excited about Tannehill’s passing prospects in 2015. Then factor in the deep-ball ability of wide receiver Kenny Stills, who was acquired in a trade with New Orleans, the drafting in the first round of wide receiver DeVante Parker, and the signing of veteran Greg Jennings to join second year slot receiver wunderkind Jarvis Landry and the Dolphins receiving corps is formidable. This doesn’t even account for the addition by subtraction of team chemistry vacuum cleaner Mike Wallace and adding tight end Jordan Cameron, who just two years ago showed he was one of the more promising targets at the position.

Expect continued development and a strong running game under offensive coordinator Bill Lazor’s high-powered system, and Tannehill to beat opponents with both his arm and his legs in 2015.

3) Russell Wilson, Quarterback, Seattle Seahawks

By now you know that my love for Wilson goes beyond rationality. The addition of Jimmy Graham gives Wilson the weapon over the middle of the field and more importantly in the red-zone that will bolster Wilson’s passing yards and especially passing touchdowns in 2015. The Seahawks typically have late round success in the draft as well, and used several picks to bolster the offensive line. However, the most impactful pick to the team may be the drafting of WR/KR Tyler Lockett in the third round, as the Seahawks surrendered four draft picks to move up and take the 5’11, 170 lb. receiver out of Kansas State. Given that the Seahawks tend to do well in the middle rounds of the draft, the trade with Washington to move up and pick Lockett suggests the team is very high on him.

Before you start having flashbacks to Percy Harvin’s forced Seattle stint, don’t view Lockett as the gadget play guy. On this team he is just another weapon along with the dependable Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson, when he returns mid-season from an injured ACL that occurred in the playoffs. Add in Super Bowl surprise Chris Matthews and his 6’5 frame, and Wilson has more weapons than he’s ever had to pick apart defenses. In a contract year, he’ll be grateful for that.

4) DeAndre Hopkins, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans

Nobody did more with less from the quarterback position than Hopkins in 2014. Hopkins only turns 23 next month and finished 2014 with 76 receptions for 1,210 yards and 6 touchdowns. Now, Andre Johnson is in Indy and the team didn’t use first round capital to grab another wide receiver, waiting until the third round to grab Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong, who provides a nice complement to Hopkins. Coach Bill O’Brien has gone on record calling Hopkins one of the best in the game right now. With Cecil Shorts being a possession type receiving option for the Texans and Strong being a rookie who the team is limiting to play outside receiver only, the sky is the limit for Hopkins. Be prepared to pony up for him if he’s available in your auction.

5) Jonathan Stewart, Running Back, Carolina Panthers

Down the stretch last year, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better running back than J-Stew. The team went 5-1 in his last six games and he averaged 99 rushing yards a game in that stretch. With no real competition and the team getting more receiving weapons as well in the draft (Devin Funchess), Stewart figures to be a sleeper for the first time in a long time. He’s still only 28 years old and under contract through 2018.

Stock Down

1) Devonta Freeman, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons

It wasn’t like Freeman set the world on fire with his rookie campaign. However, when the team cut Steven Jackson and let Jacquizz Rodgers leave via free agency, things looked decent for the former Seminole to be the bell-cow for the Falcons this year. When the team didn’t draft local product Gurley at #8 overall, opting instead for defensive help and then didn’t draft a running back in round two either, things seemed like the job may have been Freeman’s heading into training camp. That changed quickly in Round 3 when the Falcons selected Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, who draftniks view as a home run hitter who has superior skills (and better pass blocking ability than Freeman).

Freeman is thought of to be a better fit for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme, however indications this week are that these two will get equally share of training camp reps. This did work with some success in Cleveland last year before center Alex Mack’s injury. From a RSO perspective, the drafting of Coleman simply casts some of Freeman’s trade value in doubt and for that reason, his stock is down.

2) Teddy Bridgewater, Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings

By most accounts, Bridgewater had a successful rookie season. especially from a completion percentage perspective. However, Minnesota’s offense is in slight turmoil. Running back Adrian Peterson wants out, Wallace is a chemistry killer who either gets targeted or complains, and the team passed up on Bridgewater’s college teammate Parker in the draft.  Count me as someone who isn’t overly excited by the Vikings receiving corps or Cordarrelle Patterson living up to his potential anytime soon.

3) Dennis Pitta, Tight End, Baltimore Ravens

While Pitta is optimistic he’ll play in 2015, I’m more bearish. The Ravens picked University of Minnesota tight end Maxx Williams in the second round as the first tight end of the draft board and used another of their nine picks to select another tight end in the draft. Pitta turns 30 this year and has suffered two hip dislocations. His 2015 salary is guaranteed by the Ravens, but expecting anything from Pitta in 2015 is wishful and in the “bonus” category. Probably worth dropping him, even if you are rooting for him to get back into the Ravens lineup.

4) Tre Mason, Running Back, St. Louis Rams

No Reality Sports Online owner left the 2015 NFL Draft more queasy than those owning Mason. Those owners came into their 2015 offseason thinking they have a rookie on the cheap for 2 or 3 more years (after all with the optimism around Zac Stacy in the 2014 offseason, Mason was probably a second rounder in your rookie draft), only to have a rookie season with 765 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns erased by the drafting of Gurley.

While the transition to Gurley, who is recovering from knee surgery, may be slow in 2015, you don’t draft a running back 8th overall to sit him on the bench when he becomes healthy. Mason may be entrenched as the starter for now but unless the Rams trade him, RSO owners will be left holding the bag on something that one of his father’s De La Soul albums (Buhloone Mindstate) fought hard to combat, because Mason’s Rams career has blown up and might go pop.

5) Tom Brady, Quarterback, New England Patriots

This may fall in the master of the obvious category, especially if Brady’s four game suspension sticks (I’m guessing it will get cut in half). Those owners who have Brady locked up though will have to search for a backup option and he may start the season a little bit rusty. Additionally, the loss of future draft picks could hurt from a weapons perspective. The Patriots also did very little to upgrade at the receiver position in the 2015 draft. Which means your investment in 2015 has lost a little bit of air.

I’m curious what you think about these players and others you feel strongly about. Feel free to follow or reach out to me on Twitter @mattgoody2. See you soon!

More Analysis by Matt Goodwin