This article is part of our ADP Analysis series.
Football news has largely centered around rumors and speculation the last two months, with the occasional injury update or low-level signing mixed in. It's the part of the offseason when running backs Twitter-search their own names and then start minor arguments with fantasy football podcasters.
Sunday brought the first earthquake in a while when Cam Newton signed a one-year contact with Bill Belichick's mighty Patriots. The timing of the move may have been surprising, but I don't think we should be too shocked when a franchise that repeatedly cheats in the name of competitive advantage also manages to take the easy lay-ups. (And Newton for backup QB money isn't just a lay-up; it's Anthony Davis unguarded in front of a nine-foot hoop.)
Now we'll look at the initial ADP shifts, comparing a sample of 32 drafts from Monday and Tuesday (June 29-30) to a much larger sample of 344 drafts that took place June 14-27. The data is coming from BB10s' 20-round best-ball contests with PPR scoring (6/4 for TDs, 10/20 for yardage).
QB33, ADP 234.6 ➡ QB20, ADP 154.8
I put Newton at No. 14 in my latest QB rankings, but those are intended for standard redraft leagues where it won't kill you if he misses games or gets stuck in a backup role. This ADP data is from best-ball leagues with no in-season transactions, so many drafters prefer the job security of a Ben Roethlisberger (QB17), Joe Burrow (QB18) or Ryan Tannehill (QB19) in the same range.
I'm fully on board with Burrow, but I'll take Newton's rushing upside over the Roethlisberger/Tannehill job security without hesitation. Remember that Newton is competing against one guy who is totally unproven (Jarrett Stidham) and another who is proven to stink (Brian Hoyer). I'm guessing Newton settles in around QB 12-18 as the season draws nearer, but maybe he'll linger around No. 20 if we keep seeing reports like this:
QB30, ADP 230.3 ➡ QB38, ADP 240.7
The ADP number isn't really relevant for someone being drafted this late. The larger point is that Stidham was drafted in 41 percent of leagues June 14-27 but was drafted in just two of 32 leagues June 29-30. I wonder if the two people who drafted him simply haven't been paying attention to football news? Or maybe they're extremely confident in the Russini scoop?
QB20, ADP 157.0 ➡ QB23, ADP 168.6.
Two things happened. First, Garoppolo's No. 1 receiver suffered a broken foot. Second, Newton leapfrogged Jimmy G after joining New England. Even with Deebo Samuel having some shot to return for Week 1, the minor downtick for Garoppolo is an appropriate reaction from drafters. I have him at QB28 for redraft, but I'd move him 3-4 spots higher for best-ball formats where floor and job security are more important.
RB40, ADP 95.9 ➡ RB37, ADP 88.9
We often hear the argument that running back X is a good buy because his team has lousy quarterbacks and thus will need to run the ball often ... I HATE this argument. Bad QBs usually lead to bad teams, which often means more passing even if the coaching staff philosophically leans toward the running game. Plus, RB fantasy value largely comes from receptions and goal-line work, unless you're an absolute monster like Derrick Henry.
Michel is no Henry, and he's also not much of a pass catcher. He needs those short touchdowns for RB2 value, which means he's unlikely to thrive if the Patriots struggle. While Cam Newton might solve part of that problem, he also figures to steal a portion of the goal-line carries. A modest ADP boost for Michel is reasonable enough, but if you didn't like him at the old price, you probably won't like him at the new one. Given his poor play last season, his history of knee injuries and his current recovery from foot surgery, Michel carries serious risk in terms of both availability and job security. I've been out, and I'll stay out.
RB35, ADP 84.8 ➡ RB33, ADP 78.5
White has 24 career receiving touchdowns and only eight scores on the ground, so he shouldn't be as bothered by Newton poaching those goal-line carries. If you believe Newton will help the Patriots offense, you'll probably like White at the new price — which isn't too much different from the old price. I have JW at No. 29 in my full-PPR RB rankings.
RB61, ADP 188.5 ➡ RB60, ADP 178.7
My mistrust of Michel makes Harris a natural end-game pick for drafts that go beyond 15 rounds. The Newton signing hasn't done much to change ADP, so I'll continue drafting Harris as a fifth or sixth RB, hoping he replaces Michel as the lead runner at some point this year. I do wonder if Harris in a starting job might encroach on White a bit more than Michel did the last two years, considering the Bama product .
WR36, ADP 81.8 ➡ WR34, ADP 78.5
I'm surprised to see Edelman barely moving up, with his two-spot rise in the WR ranks partially a product of the Deebo injury. I guess drafters have been worried about the age and injury history more so than the QB situation, or else they don't view Cam as a noteworthy upgrade over Stidham. For what it's worth, I've been playing best ball over on Drafters.com, where Edelman just went in the 60s in one of my drafts.
I doubt the late-70s ADP holds up, but I'm happy to take it while I can get it. Edelman drew 153 targets last year, finishing as WR7 in PPR even after a pair of injuries sapped his effectiveness over the final three weeks. His age (34) and medical history are major factors, but I'd also argue they're already priced in at the current ADP.
WR61, ADP 156.7 ➡ WR60, ADP 148.3
I always thought best-ball drafters tend to overreact to big news, but the Newton signing apparently isn't moving the needle — at least not yet — for New England pass catchers. I understand Cam is a flawed passer who provides a lot of his value on the ground; I just don't think he's as flawed as Stidham. Why not take a shot on Harry being 2020's answer to 2019 DJ Chark when the price is this low?
P.S. Mohamed Sanu was picked in 11 of 32 drafts (34 percent) Monday-Tuesday, up from 26 percent June 14-27. Small sample, I know.