Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
We are still a month away from NFL training camps and more than two and a half months from the first game of the season (Baltimore at Denver), but already there is big movement in fantasy mock drafts.
Using a mid-April mock draft (before the college entry draft) and one from mid- June, it's interesting to see how the public's impression of various players has changed and why.
Some players obviously dropped when their team selected a player at the same position or signed a free agent. A few are based on health. And more than a few have risen and fallen based upon the first impressions during mini camps and OTAs.
Below we will look at some of these movers and evaluate whether we agree or disagree with the movement up and down:
Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland (April ADP - 5, June ADP - 10) - This one is all about health, or lack of it. He's the Browns' workhorse running back, who was always nicked up last season, yet still posted 1,317 yards from scrimmage. He is dealing with a right shin injury that has kept him out of the team's OTAs. He'll need clearance from Dr. James Andrews before he can get on the field and that has to worry every fantasy owner.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England (31-48) - One of the two best tight ends in the game (the other is Jimmy Graham), he'll have back surgery on Tuesday with a recovery time of 12 weeks. That timeframe takes him right to Week 1, so there has to be questions whether he'll be ready for opening day. Add in the arm problems from a year ago and it's a wonder he hasn't fallen farther down the board.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, RB, Cincinnati (50-73) - The "Law Firm" hasn't done anything wrong or been injured, it's the rookie they brought in that has caused his drop in fantasy value. The impressive back out on North Carolina, Giovani Bernard, should steal more touches from Green-Ellis than Bernard Scott ever did. He's also a better receiver and should be up for a 50-50 split of the workload by the end of the season.
Vick Ballard, RB, Indianapolis (49-75) - Ballard ran decent enough last year once they started using him at midseason, but the Colts signed a high quality veteran in Ahmad Bradshaw, who, when healthy, is a better runner than Ballard. Bradshaw is being taken at No. 63, 12 spots ahead of Ballard, so it appears fantasy owners believe he'll earn the majority of the workload, and we agree.
Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco (107-78) - The rise in Boldin's value is all about the health of No. 1 receiver Michael Crabtree, who went down with a season-ending injury. The 49ers simply don't have another proven reliable wideout, so Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis should see most of the targets from Colin Kaepernick.
Daryl Richardson, RB, St. Louis (65-81) - Richardson was holding a solid lead over Isaiah Pead back in April, but the Rams went out and spent a fifth-round pick on Zac Stacy, and now it's become a three-way battle. It's likely all three will see some time on the field and it becomes a crapshoot as to who will win the majority of the carries. The answer likely won't be decided until after the exhibition season.
Mark Ingram, RB, New Orleans (109-91) - Ingram's jump in value is hard to justify. He still has Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas in front of him. In fact, he's been running with the second team this year instead of the first team as he did last season. Perhaps fantasy owners think the Saints are going to become a run-first team? It's not going to happen as long as Drew Brees is still the quarterback.
Justin Blackmon, WR, Jacksonville (92-120) - It was probably wishful thinking that the Jaguars would get themselves a better quarterback through the draft or free agency. Unfortunately, Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne are still the signal callers.
Willis McGahee, RB, Free Agent (88-147) - He's a player without a team after the Denver Broncos let him go. While he could catch on somewhere, he likely won't have a favorable situation like he did with Peyton Manning and the receivers drawing all the defensive attention.