Five middle round players that will win your dynasty league

Mike Williams can be a steal for your dynasty team

By: Keith James

The word sleeper is thrown around often in fantasy football. The truth is there aren’t many sleepers to be had these days. With the proliferation of websites, magazines, and data most fantasy football players can read about any player at any time. Instead of thinking of “sleepers”, think of guys that are drafted in a similar round that are better than the guys drafted before him. In this article, I will identify five middle-round players that will win your dynasty league.

Dynasty is great because once you draft a player he is yours as long until you decide he’s not. You can manage your players for 3 years or 3 months. You can keep players, trade them, drop them. Once you draft a guy, in that league, he is yours to manage however you would like. The thing about dynasty is patience. Should you wait on a guy to flourish in a year or two or should you trade him? 

It’s easy to fall in love with your first 3-4 picks. This will be your core and should love your core. They will be the reason for your greatness or for your failure. The core is what matters in sports. The same applies to fantasy football. Your core will likely produce 80% of all your fantasy production barring injury. I always say the core is how you score, the rest cleans up the mess. If you are able to draft guys in the middle rounds that enter that core, you will be able to better manage a top 60 fantasy asset. 

For the benefit of this article, I am considering the middle rounds, rounds 8-13 and I am basing my ADP off of sleepers’ latest ADP (August 1st). The start of round eight is player number 85 in 12 team leagues. So the top 85 dynasty assets are off the board, the queue is getting slim. There are guys you love but who should you draft while you are sifting through the tiers. 

The following are 5 guys that are going in round 8 or later that will help you win your dynasty leagues. These are players that may not hit WR2 in 2021 but the future is bright, a little luck and they could pay off this year. Mostly, you are waiting on these guys to develop in 2022, 23′, 24′, and beyond. They are green bananas that you have to give a little time and in a year or two they will be ripe for eating. Grab them in your startup drafts, HODL them, show them care, and wait for them to develop. You will be winning many fantasy games if you choose wisely. 

Laviska Shenault (ADP 86-Dynasty)

2020 may go down as the best fantasy football draft year of all time. With top players at all positions, 2020 may rival 2017. The same draft that had Mahomes, Watson, Dalvin Cook, Kamara, CMC, and George Kittle may be rivaled by the draft that produced Jonathon Taylor, Antonio Gibson, Cam Akers, D’Andre Swift, JK Dobbins, Justin Jefferson, Jerry Jeudy, Joe Burrow, Tua, and Justin Herbert. 

There are many more 2020 names but one name that has slid this offseason is Laviska Shenault. Laviska Shenault was drafted by the Jaguars in the 2nd round at pick number 42. Shenault was seen as an athletic freak coming out of Colorado but he had injuries that derailed a good portion of his career. He is not a blazer but he is seen as an AJ Brown type of physical receiver that can do damage with the ball in his hands. 

Shenault battled poor QB play and while missing two games he was WR46, putting up 157 PPR points at a little over 11 points per game (PPG). Known as a big play waiting to happen, Laviska has strong hands that snatch the ball and look to do damage with his large 6’1 220-pound frame. 

His current ADP is going at 97 (round 8 in 12 man leagues) and he is going as WR35. 

I’m looking for Laviska to be the focus of Trevor Lawrence’s targets this year both on intermediate routes and short routes where Shenault can work in space. With the crowded Jaguars receiver room consisting of DJ Chark, Shenault, and Marvin Jones it is hard to imagine Shenault owning the Jaguars target share in 2021 but in 2022 and beyond this will be Shenault’s team on the receiving end. 

DJ Chark is a free agent and Marvin Jones is 31 years old. Shenault is on a team-friendly deal for 4 more years and there is already talk out of Jaguars camp of “building the offense around” Laviska Shenault. I built a model that highlighted the top 12 receivers from the last 7 years. I looked at height, weight, draft capital, year in the league, and many other variables. Shenault fits the model of a WR1 to a tee. He has the build, the athleticism, the wow factor to chew up yards on easy catches and he should be between 20-25% target share once Chark moves on after this season. 

Grab Shenault in the 9th round of your start-up drafts and look for him to be a sound WR3 this year and build toward one of the most dynamic receivers in the league over the next 3-5 years. I also believe Shenault is worth a 2022 first-round pick if you are looking at assets to buy heading into this season. Make offers now, because his price may be much higher after an electric 2021 season.

Rashod Bateman (ADP 83-Dynasty)

Bateman was a case of COVID-19 derailing his momentum. If he was able to play in a full 12-13 game season last year he would have been a top 15 pick. Covid-19 hit and the Big Ten was only able to play in 6 games and Bateman caught the virus and was not able to finish the season with the Gophers. 

Make no mistake, however, Bateman can ball. He is another prototypical receiver that fits the making of a WR1. Taken with pick 27 by the Baltimore Ravens, Bateman has been a victim of where he landed. The Ravens are a run-heavy team. They lead the league in rushing attempts last year and were last in passing attempts. With Lamar Jackson’s skill set, they have created an offense around Jackson’s strengths. 

Jackson however has never had a receiver with the talent of Bateman and these two are about to tear up the AFC North for the next five years. Bateman is another prototypical WR1 in the making. As a rookie, his volume will likely keep him in the WR4 or WR3 category. Moving forward, he will be a problem for opposing defenses. At 6’0, 190 he is smaller than average WR1’s but he explains how he battled COVID last year and his weight is a little light. 

I believe he plays more around 200 pounds this year and in future years. Bateman runs a 4.43 forty (pro day) and has great hands. Watching his tape he reminds me of Reggie Wayne, I’m not saying he is the Great Wayne Manor but that’s what he looks like. Bateman runs clean, crisp routes, and tracks the ball great. He has great hands and he is open often. 

Bateman is currently being drafted at ADP 130 (WR43) behind Will Fuller, Henry Ruggs, and his teammate Hollywood Brown. I like Bateman much more than his current tier of WR’s in dynasty. Bateman figures to take a year or two before becoming an annual top 24 WR.

I love Bateman in round 10 earlier than he is being drafted and stashing him for upcoming stardom over the next 2-3 years. Bateman was my WR2 coming into the 2021 draft and I believe he would have been drafted in the top 15 if COVID didn’t ruin his season. Draft Bateman with glee and attach him to an established MVP QB who needs a big body, clean route runner, to improve his passing efficiency. Bateman is that guy for Lamar Jackson and he will be that guy for your fantasy team. 

Terrace Marshall (ADP116-Dynasty)

Terrace is a player that had some late injury concerns and was caught up in the wash of other great receivers playing at LSU at the same time as him. Terrace was a five-star recruit who took some time to establish himself after Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson were no longer around. Playing in an LSU passing attack that was a far drop from Joe Burrow’s historic 2019 season, Terrace established himself as his own big play waiting to happen. 

Marshall stands at 6’2, 200 pounds, and runs a 4.4 forty. The other thing I love about Marshall other than his size/speed combo is he did damage primarily from the slot in 2020. That is where I believe he thrives for the Panthers in 2021 and beyond. Marshall will be the 4th option on his new Panther team. With CMC coming back healthy he will eat up a lot of the targets both Robbie Anderson and DJ Moore (DJM) had last year. CMC is still the focus of that offense and will be leaned on in Sam Darnold’s first year. 

Anderson and DJM present a problem for Marshall in year one, but his understanding of the slot will help his cause seeing the field. Marshall has star potential written all over him and with Robbie Anderson likely leaving via free agency after the 2021 season, Marshall should be set to take control in 2022 and beyond.

I am of the belief having great players on the other side of you helps your cause, and does not hinder it. DJ Moore is set to become a household name and if the Panther’s offensive brain trust can unlock Sam Darnold’s talent then Darnold, CMC, DMJ, and Marshall will begin to push for annual top ten offensive productions. There is a lot of talent on that offense. 

Marshall is currently being drafted at ADP 116 (round 9) and at that price you are looking at another potential top 24 receiver that can help your squad this year in spot starts or at the flex position and if there is an injury to either Moore or Anderson, watch out, Marshall may become the next Chase Claypool. Marshall’s size and athletic ability make him a matchup nightmare especially with such skilled receivers as Moore and Anderson on the outside, lining up Marshall against smaller nickel backs in the red zone is money in the bank and will cash checks for your fantasy squad. 

Mike Williams (ADP134-Dynasty)

Mike Williams has become a hair puller. He’s a guy with immense talent, a size/speed combo with high draft capital that has not been able to consistently put it all together. Williams had a 1,000-yard season and a season with 10 touchdowns and he is fully capable of being a dude that has both this year. Working with Justin Herbert, Mike Williams will undoubtedly be the 3rd option behind Austin Ekelar and Keenan Allen but with a superstar QB that 3rd option will be deadly. 

Another reason I love Mike Williams this year is he is entering a contract year. With the Chargers knowing they will have to drop a bag for Justin Herbert in a couple of years, it is more than likely that Williams walks and can take over as an alpha receiver for a new team. At only 26 years old, Williams is entering his 5th year and he is in a prime position to help dynasty teams this year and the next 3 years. 

Williams stands 6’4, 220, and is prone to the deep ball. He can go up and get it. Williams is not a YAC guy, he is a jump ball, the contested-catch nightmare that is a perfect complement to Keenan Allens and his superior route running. Williams needs to see more targets to be a consistent performer but with the Chargers investing in the offensive line for the first time in what feels like forever, Justin Herbert should be a top 8 fantasy quarterback for the foreseeable future. Williams had 85 targets last year and 90 the year before, with the extra game I can foresee a 100 target season with 68 grabs, over 1,000 yards, and 9 touchdowns. I am predicting a breakout for the Clemson alum in his walk year so that another team can pay him next year and you can cash in 2021 and the next few years. 

Williams ADP has been moving up, the word is out. Camp reports say that Williams looks great and he is establishing himself with Herbert to be a true number two in LA, this should correlate to a top 24 finish, or better in 2021. Moving forward, when Williams balls out this year, teams will get a sense of how best to use Williams. He is at his best in jump ball, contested-catch areas of the field. Even with below-average speed (4.58 forty), Williams is still able to get deep. Williams has a 16.7 yard per catch average in his career, so he is looking to beat you to the outside and win a contested ball. 

Williams will man the X position in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s offense. This was the same position Michael Thomas played under Lombardi in NO. Williams will see an uptick in targets, use his skills on the deep ball, and be a jump ball receiver looking for a layup down by the goal line. The is the year Williams breaks out and he will ride that wave for your dynasty team now and into the future. 

Darnell Mooney (ADP 124-Dynasty)

With all the reports of Darnell Mooney lighting up Bears camp, his ADP has remained stagnant all summer. It’s shocking that a receiver who is the Bears leader for rookies in receptions with 61 last year has not budged in ADP all off-season. Here’s the deal, I’m a big Bears fan and I thought the after-season hype was more than I expected out of Darnell Mooney but with a much-improved QB situation in Chicago, Mooney will be able to get deep with his 4.38 speed. 

Mooney is also an intelligent player that uses smooth transitions in his routes to get open. There is a Twitter GIF showing Mooney’s skills when he duped Jalen Ramsay and got by him deep only to have Nick Foles overthrow the ball. Foles was under heavy pressure by his own goal line, but I digress. Mooney has the skills to become a star in the league. Reports are that Mooney was attached to Allen Robinson’s hip in the offseason and with a full year to grow in the offense, having a true NFL training camp, and refining his skills Mooney is set to go to the moon. See what I did there?

Mooney’s ADP is currently 122 (WR41) so you are getting a younger version of Tyreek Hill about to be linked to the most talented, productive, experienced quarterback prospect the Bears have ever had in Justin Fields. Fields is a dynamic deep-ball thrower, which will play perfectly for Darnell Mooney’s speed. What Mooney needed was a QB that could unlock his ability to get deep and make a game-changing play. Fields will be that guy. I believe Mooney has star potential and could become a top 20 WR and he can be had for a 10th round pick. Get him now and grow with him, watching your dynasty squad become elite.

Middle of the Road

No matter the drafting format, finding guys that hit in the middle to late rounds will always be a winning formula. In Dynasty, these guys are your future. They are your playmakers or traceable assets that can set you up to succeed for a half-decade. 

Laviska Shenault, Rashod Bateman, Terrace Marshall, Mike Williams, and Darnell Mooney are all guys that have an open window of success in the present and the future. They are all a little different but the best thing about this group is they will not cost you high draft capital. These are middle-round gems and if you can walk away with 2-3 of these guys you will have a top-flight receiving core that your league will have to contend with. These are playmakers that will be consistent names in rounds 1-6 for the next four years. 

In fantasy football, I am always looking for volume and value. What the five guys on this list present is high value with anticipated volume to increase their profile. What I like about all five of these guys in their ability to make plays and get in the zone. Touchdowns are the great decider between a top 30 WR and a top 15 wide receiver. Managing players that can be target hogs on their team and find the endzone will bring fantasy happiness. 

Find your way to the middle, look for these names and start to put together your wide receiver core while building the rest of your squad in earlier rounds. You better hurry though, talent wins in the NFL and each one of these players is getting buzz at their camps. These may be middle-round picks in 2021 but these are not middle-round players. They will go much higher next year and beyond. Go and get them on your dynasty teams and win bragging rights for years to come.  

Dynasty: 3 WRs to trade for

Saints WR Tre’Quan Smith will shine in 2021

By: Jake Rajala

The dynasty fantasy football season is heating up as the early August Hall of Fame game nears. Dynasty gurus are starting to be bolder with their push for a more competitive starting lineup. 

It’s important to be up to date with the players that may be under the radar, yet possess the ability to propel your team to championship royalty. It’s factual that the running back position is prioritized and it carries the most weight on one’s team. Although, it’s important to master the understanding of the talent at other positions like QB, or WR. 

In this debacle, the wideout spot will be dissected. We’re going to go through WR profiles that are slowly rising through the cracks and yield the ability to rise up in big moments of the fantasy season. Let’s begin. 

  • Tee Higgins

Everybody in the football world is talking about the high draft pick Ja’Marr Chase replacing the franchise legend AJ Green. Of course, the LSU connection will come to life with Chase and Burrow. Nonetheless, the hype surrounding the LSU rookie is shadowing the ability that the Bengals second-year player Tee Higgins carries. 

Even though Joe Burrow missed six games, Higgins still vastly outperformed the likes of Michael Pittman Jr, Henry Ruggs, and Jalen Reagor (67-908-6).

  • Pittman: 40-503-3
  • Reagor: 31-396-1
  • Ruggs: 26-452-2

Expect a healthy Burrow, who was “second in passing attempts” prior to his injury, to unleash an improved Higgins in many shootout contests next season. The 22-year-old flat out has lots of skill and a freakish ceiling.

  • John Brown

The new Raiders deep threat is still going strong at this stage in his career. Brown just recorded a career 1,000+ yard receiving season in 2019. Everybody loves to talk about the “first round” WR Henry Ruggs taking the next step without Gregg Williams giving a boost, but I fully expect another veteran wideout wearing #15 (Nelson Agholor being the former) in LV to outperform Ruggs. 

Carr threw the most 20+ yard passes since 2017 last season and I expect the well-established wideout that Carr already loves to be the reliable number one wideout throughout the 2021 season. Brown may be 31 years old, but speed demon Ted Ginn Jr. just retired at the age of 36 and Desean Jackson appears to be strong (when healthy) at age 34. 

  • Tre’Quan Smith

Tre’Quan Smith was seriously underrated even before Michael Thomas’s injury. The Saints All Pro punt returner Deonte Harris seemed to be nearly in the same conversation as the former UCF wideout. 

I loved Smith to follow in the footsteps of UDFA Lance Moore, who recorded a 1,000-yard season in New Orleans, to step up in the absence of former Saints number two WR Emmanual Sanders. Now that MT is on the sideline for at least the beginning of the 2021 season, there is no reason to not fully expect Smith to be a go-to target and big body red zone threat. 

The comparison of Lance Moore can step aside, while Smith can now be seen as the next “Marques Colston”.  Expect the Saints wideout that often had 10+ pt showcases in PPR to be a very reliable weapon going into his fourth season.

How the dynasty tight end landscape is about to change

Dynasty TEs are evolving

Marcel Boudreau (@Marcel_BFF)

There has been growing importance among the fantasy football community about having one of the top 3 fantasy tight ends, and how it gives you an extreme positional advantage. Many dynasty leagues are now tight end (TE) premiums (where tight end receive more points for production), which if you are in one of these leagues, prepare for the shift. In redraft, we’re seeing Travis Kelce picked in the first round when not too long ago, picking a tight end in the first three rounds would have been frowned upon. But now, we really need to be aware of how the tight end landscape is about to get set on fire, and how it could affect dynasty rosters. 

There are more relevant fantasy tight ends whose contracts expire after the 2021-2022 season than has ever been in an off-season. Who are they, their TE finish last season in PPR scoring, and how it affects the landscape:

Mark Andrews (TE #6): Finishing as a top 6 TE in back-to-back season, Mark Andrews is entering his fourth and final season with Baltimore. It appears we will see a better passing attack from the Ravens in 2021, which could bode really well for this touchdown machine. If the Raven’s fail to extend him, and Andrews tests the free-agent market, he could find a team willing to out-pay the Ravens, which leaves a big hole in Raven’s offense for someone to fill, but also would likely dethrone the tight end in Andrew’s new destination.

Dallas Goedert (TE #20 in 11 games; paced to be TE #9): in a year with the horrific quarterback play, they’re did shine a glimmer of hope to what Goedert could become as the lead TE in the Philadelphia offense. Goedert quickly became Jalen Hurts’ favorite target, but that could be irrelevant if Zach Ertz remains in Philly. If the Eagles fail to trade Ertz, it may leave a sour taste in Goedert’s mouth, as it would show the team really does have full confidence in him. Not only would Ertz ruin Goedert’s dynasty managers’ expectations for the upcoming season, but it would lead to Goedert and Ertz being out of Philly after 2021, especially if Goedert wants to go to an even paying team, who will use him more. 

Mike Gesicki (TE #7): The Dolphins just spent a third-round draft pick on promising TE-talent Hunter Long and extended TE Adam Shaheen in the middle of last season, which both appear like preparation moves to be without Gesicki in 2022. Gesicki would be another extremely talented TE on the market, who has shown nothing but constant improvement and has set himself up nicely to earn a big cheque. 

Evan Engram (TE #15): What was a disappointing result on 109 targets (4th among TEs in 2020), the Giants did show they want to continue to use the TE or was it only a product of no other quality receiving options. They paid a lot of money for Golladay, have endless faith in RB star Saquon Barkley, and just picked wide receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round. But that’s not all, they also signed veteran TE Kyle Rudolph to significant money ($6,000,000/year,) and with the investment in receivers, it’s increasingly seeming that Evan Engram will be faded from this offense. It would be very surprising to see Engram be of any consistent relevance this season, but he is worth holding onto regardless of his 2021 production. Engram is a former first round pick, a freak athlete, and has Daniel Jones to blame for his recent lack in production. It would be shocking to not see another team willing to take a chance on him and give him a fresh start.

Gerald Everett (TE 24): If you’re invested in the fantasy community, you’re aware of the recent surge for Gerald Everett as a sleeper/breakout TE in 2021. Russell Wilson has been well known for producing relevant TEs, but in recent years, the Seahawks have failed to find one that can stay healthy for 16 games. Gerald Everett put up 7 catches for 135 yards against the Seahawks a few years ago, and Pete Carrol was quick to mention how amazed he was by Everett’s play that game. Everett was snagged by the Seahawks on a one-year deal (likely Everett playing the money side of things with the low cap space) and now has the offense and the quarterback to put up massive numbers, in a scheme that has been friendly to the tight end in the past. It would be fun to see Everett be either extended by the Seahawks or re-challenge the free-agent market if he does end up producing top-10 tight end numbers.

Robert Tonyan Jr. (TE #4) and Logan Thomas (TE #3) are both coming off breakout seasons. Neither of these names was on draft radars a season ago and became league-winning waiver wire adds. Both TEs are coming off seasons where they were a top-3 receiving option for their teams. Green Bay and Washington both added receiving options and have other receivers coming back from injury. These TEs have lost some steam over the off-season, and it would not be all that surprising to see them leave their current teams in 2022. 

David Njoku (TE #47) and O.J Howard (TE #58 paced to be TE #14: 4 game splayed): Both drafted in the first round showing lots of promise with their athletic profiles, and both producing top-15 TE value in their second years in the league have also both fizzled out recently and have experienced significant injuries. In 2021, these two guys will face solid competition for snaps and targets at TE in their respective offenses. It be interesting to see how many teams are willing to give them a second chance based on their athleticism and flashes of promise.

Anthony Firkser, Maxx Williams, Rob Gronkowski, C.J Uzomah, all appear to be in “filler” roles at TE. This is not taking anything away from Gronk’s 2019 performance, as he outproduced most expectations, but these four TEs are all part of explosive or efficient offenses and it would not be surprising to see their respective teams replace them with younger, promising talents to add even more weapons to their offenses, especially with some of the talented free agents hitting the market. 

Mo Alie-Cox, Eric Ebron, Jared Cook, Jordan Akins are other TE names to think about, as in all their cases, their respective teams have spent draft capital on rookie TEs, all with the potential to succeed and take over the TE role for these teams. Ian Thomas, Zach Ertz, Jimmy Graham, Chris Herndon, Dalton Shultz, are also on the list of 2022 free agent TE and deserved a mention.

To summarize this cluster of information on how to apply it to the dynasty managing world, latch on to a high-end prospect ready to hit the open market and bank that their talent will earn them a hot landing spot. Another angle to take is to acquire one of the already established TEs, whose roles, volume, and production are not in question for the next couple of years (Kelce, Kittle, Waller, Hockenson…?). After acquiring one of these studs, you can sit back, relax, and watch your league go crazy about the TEs in free agency next off-season. 

How To Navigate Injuries In Dynasty

Cam Akers injury is very unfortunate

By Jesse Moeller (Twitter: @JMoeller05)

Yesterday was a vivid reminder that the NFL is a brutal sport, and injuries all too often have a significant impact on which teams in both the NFL and fantasy come out on top. The dynasty community saw one of its prized pupils in Cam Akers. The dynasty RB7 sustain a devastating Achilles tendon tear. It shifted the ground in dynasty, as teams dependant on Akers anticipated production immediately went looking for a replacement. In contrast, teams with Henderson received a massive boost for the championship aspirations this year.

It’s necessary to understand that not all injuries are the same. This is a major blow to Akers dynasty stock. Running backs who suffer an Achilles injury do not return to the form they showed prior. There is a fantastic thread from Edwin Porras on how difficult it is for running backs to return from this injury in particular. Based on the information provided, we know it is not your typical lower-body injury. The only running backs to have come back to any fantasy relevance after suffering an Achilles injury were Jonathon Stewart and Mikel Lashoure. Stewart is a true outlier in this scenario, as he put together six seasons with 180+ touches and over 700+ yards.

So What Is My Next Move?

Now, to the more focal point of the article. How do you manage injuries in dynasty? In the offseason, forcing yourself to fill a team need before the draft or training camp can leave you in a much worse position. So let’s go over some of the strategies I use for determining if a player is a sell or buy candidate coming off of an injury.

Age:  Age is key to any player coming off of an injury. Suppose an older player in a dynasty suffers a significant injury. In that case, it likely tanks any value that player has, and they will never return to that pre-injury value. A player that falls under the category is Odell Beckham. Unless Beckham can produce WR1 seasons, he will never crack the top 24 dynasty-wide receiver ranks again, given his age and injury history. He is far more likely to continue his slide as he turns 29 this year. Beckham is a player I have little interest in dynasty due to this history. Beckham has only played 16 games once in his last four seasons and has only one season of WR2 play in that timespan. The lack of production partnered with him coming off a significant injury is why I’m out on Beckham.

Talent: This can be tricky as talent is subjective, but the more talented a player is, I am far more likely to invest in the player recovering from a significant injury. If this player is a true difference-maker at the position, you will likely receive a discount on that player due to said injury. For the elite players such as CMC, Saquon, and others coming off of season-ending injuries, the teams who paid the discounted rate to acquire them last year are set up for success this time. Having the patience to wait through a lost season for elite dynasty players is a potential boon for your roster.

Roster Construction: The third option can be just as important. If a team in win-now mode just lost one of its starting players and did not have a viable backup at the position, this is when teams get desperate trying to compete for a championship each year. They will likely accept a worse player at the position to try and content. If you have foresight and depth, you can upgrade your overall long-term outlook. There are numerous players this could describe, such as Dak Prescott, Joe Burrow, Nick Chubb, Michael Thomas, and George Kittle. Adding any one of those players to your roster boosts the overall product, especially when it comes at a discounted price via trade.

Injury Severity: This is about knowing what type of injury the player has sustained, how severe the damage is, and how long the absence will be. If a quarterback suffers a shoulder or elbow injury such as Big Ben did in 2019, what are the chances of the quarterback returning to full health post-injury? Can any running back recover from a torn Achilles? Did the receiver completely blow out his knee? These are essential questions to ask and help you understand if an injured player is one you should be targeting or fading. Remember, each injury is different, and some players recover faster than others. Using the timeline guides for each injury can help you understand when a player should be close to returning.

There is no proper solution for targeting injured players. With the advancements in modern medicine, athletes can come back quicker than we remember. Ten years ago, Adrian Peterson shocked the world by coming back from an ACL in December 2011 to play the following season. Not only did he do that, but he also put up over 2000 total yards. Peterson proved that the timeline on ACL recoveries was not as long as had previously been thought. This transitions us back to Cam Akers and the torn Achilles he suffered yesterday. It is a much more difficult situation. You have almost no information on players at the running back position who have successfully returned to have a successful career outside of Stewart. I came across this thread earlier and thought it was vital information to share as it is eerily similar to Akers situation. I highly recommend you read the Twitter thread and conclude what to do on Akers.

Cam The Ram

Those of you moving Akers, here is how I would go about it. If I can get a WR2 in return like Higgins, Aiyuk, Claypool, Lockett, or Woods and something added on top, I would be ok moving Akers in a trade. I’m not going to sell Akers for only a 1st round pick, as that does little to help me at the moment. Akers value is currently as low as it will be for the next few months. You should be in no rush to trade him away until you find a deal you are comfortable moving him in. You could also package him and someone like CeeDee Lamb for a genuinely elite running back if you choose to go that route in dynasty.

For people looking to buy low on Akers, I would start with rookie players and see if you can get someone to bite on a Michael Carter or Rondale Moore. These rookie players will never offer the upside of an Akers in dynasty, so I am comfortable moving them with the chance Akers comes back healthy. If unsuccessful, try a more established veteran like Damien Harris or Ronald Jones plus, which may be the route. This will be the much easier route, with the narrative surrounding Achilles injuries, the majority of the community will be out on him for the foreseeable future.

Fantasy Football: 4 rookies to avoid in dynasty

QB Trevor Lawrence should be avoided

By Jesse Moeller (Twitter: @JMoeller05)

In the offseason, we have reached that point where everyone is sharing video clips and statements about the favorite rookie making a name for themself in camp. I’m going to focus on the part just as important, often forgotten around this time. That would be the rookies whose cost has gotten out of hand or the rookies who you should entirely avoid in dynasty.

Trevor Lawrence ( QB7 1QB: 83 SF: 10 )


I know, I know. He is the second coming of the GOAT himself. Hear me out about why he won’t live up to the price in dynasty. I am not knocking the player, as I think it is practically improbable that Lawerence will be a bust. However, I do not see him moving into the elite tier of fantasy quarterbacks any time soon. The names currently ahead of him in ADP are heavy hitters that will continue to produce at a high level for the foreseeable future. It’s not a situation with Kyle Pitts at tight end where there is a clear path to him being an elite tight end at the position. The current top six at quarterback are all 27 years old or younger and viewed as the best players at the position. Here are currently the names ahead of him in dynasty.

QB1 – Patrick Mahomes
QB2 – Josh Allen
QB3 – Kyler Murray
QB4 – Lamar Jackson
QB5 – Justin Herbert
QB6 – Dak Prescott

With names such as Wilson, Burrow, Fields, Lance behind him, he could fall behind all of them going into next year. Justin Herbert just put the most incredible rookie season of all time, and he only made it to spot five on the list. Here are Herbert’s rookie season ranks

TD: 31 (1st)
Yards: 4,336 (2nd)
Completions: 396 (1st)
Completion %: 66.6 (2nd)
Passer Rating: 98.3 (4th)
TD %: 5.2 (4th)
Int%: 1.7 (4th)

With Watson dealing with numerous problems outside of football, otherwise, it would be a top seven ahead of Lawrence. So my question for you to reflect on is what type of season does Lawrence need to have for you to put him within that group?

It would have to be a remarkable season for me to consider moving Lawrence up into that group. But, on the other hand, you also have three rookie quarterbacks you could finish with as many or more fantasy points as Lawrence this season in Fields, Lance, and Wilson. So I would prefer to use his name value to get one of those big six dynasty quarterbacks as his value may not be higher than it currently is. Here are some deals I saw that showcase how highly he is perceived.

(SF) Lawrence for Josh Allen
(SF) Lawrence for Lance and 1.11
(SF) Lawrence for Tannehill and Antonio Gibson
(SF) Lawrence for Prescott
(SF) Lawrence and St. Brown for Jackson and Gabe Davis

These deals are smash accepted for me. You are locking in a much safer floor with higher immediate production. Although I like Lawrence as a prospect and a fantasy asset, I see the dynasty community wearing rose-colored glasses regarding him, and I would take advantage of the discrepancy.

Here is a trade I made moving the pick that would be Trevor Lawrence earlier this year. Even though the community disagrees (see below), I still stand by this deal. I wanted to secure a more impactful fantasy asset along with an extra 2023 first.

Jaylen Waddle (WR29 ADP: 1QB: 62 SF: 93 )

Fantastic thread laid out by @DFBeanCounter. Drew makes a compelling case as to why Waddle is not the rookie to target in redraft or dynasty.
 
Analytics does one thing exceptionally well for fantasy football managers. It tells you who not to draft, as players who hit in college are more likely to hit in the NFL. Which, when you think about it, is a logical conclusion. Good players also produce at an earlier age in college and continue that production throughout their careers. Going up against older prospects is not as challenging for the best players. Another logical conclusion taken from this, as producing at a younger age is a precursor for NFL success. Waddle does not pass either of these thresholds, as he is only one month younger than Devonta Smith, someone viewed as an ancient rookie as he is creeping on 23 years old. Waddle will be 23 years old during his rookie season. Did you know A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf and Brandon Aiyuk are 23 years old? You can see how it is a disadvantage for a prospect to come into the NFL at that advanced age when counterparts have multiple seasons to perfect their games at the highest level. Lastly, Waddle measured at 5’9″, so he is well below the height you want from a top-end fantasy wide receiver. Tyreek Hill is the only wide receiver to post a top 12 finish at that height or below.

To review some analytical metrics where Waddle falls short are his age, height, breakout age, and college dominator. Now, it is not a death knell for a wide receiver, but it is much harder for that player to be a difference in fantasy when they fall short of those measurements. However, he does pass the test in two categories because he is an early declare (an older one at that) who secured that precious first-round draft capital. Draft capital is the single most significant indicator for future success. The team is more willing to give a first-round pick multiple seasons than a fourth-round pick—another logical conclusion derived from how teams value players and picks.

Waddle is genuinely a blur on the football field. Still, speed is less significant at the wide receiver position when compared to others. Amongst rookies, I prefer Chase, Bateman, Smith, and both Moore prospects before Waddle in rookie and startup drafts. He is an overvalued player in dynasty.

Mac Jones – ( QB22 ADP 1QB: 193 SF: 60 )

Mac Jones is strictly a Superflex quarterback. If you are in a 1QB league, I would not concern yourself with him, as he will never be the type of player to be a difference-maker at the position. Mac, while highly accurate, relies on his weapons more significantly than other rookie quarterbacks, as Jones cannot create on his own. He is placing higher importance on his skill position players, as Mac is a throwback quarterback. He does not possess the Konami Code that everyone is chasing at the quarterback position in fantasy. Once Mac was drafted by the Patriots, I lost interest in him from a fantasy perspective.

The Patriots have one of the worst receiving cores in the NFL. With them spending money on Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne in the offseason to improve what will be on the field for the 2021 season and beyond. Go ahead and ask yourself, what is Mac Jones upside in dynasty? He still has to beat out Cam Newton in New England before he will ever start a game in the NFL. Newton is someone that the staff has routinely raved about as a team leader during his time in New England. There is a possibility that Mac Jones sits the entire 2021 season and learns behind Newton.

Let us say he earns the job this year and becomes the starter. We are looking at a quarterback in the Derrick Carr or Jared Goff mold for fantasy who doesn’t present the upside to ever jump into the QB1 territory for fantasy. I would instead take a chance on Daniel Jones or Jameis Winston, someone with the ability to provide separation for your team over the rest of the league. With an ADP of QB22 in Superflex, you can move him for both guys listed with something on top as they are ranked lower than Jones in the dynasty. I prefer to shoot upside with my QB2 in Superflex, so you can see why I do not put value into Jones. Your better off rostering someone else over him in dynasty.

RB Kenneth Gainwell – ( RB51 ADP: 1QB: 161 SF: 177 )

Gainwell was the offseason darling the moment he weighed in at 201 pounds. Multiple accounts Twitter accounts were taking victory laps, as the expectation was Gainwell would be a day two pick in the NFL draft. Then, a funny thing happened, the NFL viewed Gainwell drastically different than fantasy Twitter. Gainwell fell to the fifth round of the NFL draft. An undersized fifth-round running back has a lot to overcome to be a viable real-life and fantasy running back.

In the tweet above, @Dynogametheory listed what makes up a top 12 dynasty running back. While Gainwell hits a few of the marks, he falls woefully short on draft capital, speed score, size, and burst score. All you have to do is look around the league and see the only running back on this list that Gainwell comes close to size wide is Austin Ekeler. The difference is Ekeler is a far superior athlete. A small running back that lacks agility and burst sounds a lot like Devin Singletary to me. What is problematic for me about Gainwell is the lack of draft capital. Gainwell has to make a significant impact in year one in the passing game. The issue with pass pro, you have to protect the quarterback, something Gainwell cannot consistently do. If he is unable in year one, the Eagles will be looking for his replacement as a backup to Miles Sanders.

While his cost is not cheap, It seems incredibly unlikely to me that Gainwell ends up carving out a role as a productive fantasy asset in dynasty. Invest in other players around his price tag.

Dynasty RB buys to make now

Playing the value game in Fantasy

By: Andrew Metcalfe 

One of the things that makes Dynasty fun is the aspect of monitoring player values from year to year. If you trade away (“sell”) a player right before their value plummets, your team will likely reap the benefits for several years to come. It’s just as important to keep an eye out for players whose value is lower than their expected fantasy output and trade for (“buy”) them at a discounted cost. Here are three undervalued running backs that could help your Dynasty team this upcoming season and beyond:

Ronald Jones

Ronald Jones is a prime example of a young, raw player that needed time to develop after entering the NFL. He was only 20 years old when he was drafted in the second round by the Buccaneers in 2018- one of the youngest rookies ever. He struggled to find his way as a rookie and was inconsistent throughout his second season. Going into 2020, there were a few excited about a potential third-year breakout for Jones, but two weeks before the start of the regular season, Tampa picked up Leonard Fournette who had just been released by Jacksonville. This caused an uproar throughout the Fantasy community and countless “Jones vs. Fournette” debates ensued.

Jones began the season as the backfield leader, averaging over 15 touches per game over the first six weeks compared to 10 touches per game for Fournette. Going into Week 7, Jones was the RB13. Then the mid-season troubles started for Jones, as he was benched multiple times between weeks 7-9 for fumbles and/or missed assignments and Fournette ended up seeing more work during that stretch. Against the Panthers in week 10, Jones had his best game of the season by gashing Carolina for 192 rushing yards, and from that point on, he would lead the backfield in touches for the rest of his games played through the regular season (he missed weeks 15-16 with a finger injury).

We all know the story of “Playoff Lenny” where Fournette led the Tampa backfield throughout their playoff run, on the way to a Super Bowl victory. The quad injury to Jones during pregame warm-ups of their Wildcard game cannot be overlooked though. Jones missed their first playoff game and was limited for the remainder of the postseason because of it. Fournette was playing well, so there was no reason for the Bucs to force Jones onto the field, but I have no doubt that Jones would have been the leader if it weren’t for the quad strain. Fournette has the momentum going into 2021, but this is still Ronald Jones’ backfield. Go out and acquire him at backup RB cost before he shows it during the season.   

Nyheim Hines 

Nyheim Hines began the 2020 season as the third Colts’ running back. No one would have guessed that he would finish as the RB15 for fantasy. Despite the Jonathan Taylor breakout, Hines still managed to have his career-best season with 862 total yards and seven touchdowns. Due to Marlon Mack’s season-ending achilles injury, he served as the primary backup to Taylor and even out-produced Taylor on the ground in certain games where the rookie struggled.

Even though Indianapolis re-signed Marlon Mack, this seems like more of a “good faith” move than them actually wanting him back. He sat on the free-agent market for several weeks, but coming off of an achilles tear (an injury known to end young RB careers) there must not have been any interested teams so the Colts brought him back on a team-friendly deal. I expect Hines to remain as the second back behind Taylor.

While Jonathan Taylor gained all of the attention in the second half of 2020 during his hot streak, Hines also finished the season strong. Through the final six regular-season games, Hines averaged 10.8 touches and 5.1 targets in each game. He remained consistently involved, but the touchdowns were all going to Taylor. That’s why the perception is that Taylor completely took over the backfield.

Some view Phillip Rivers as the reason for Hines’ relevance, as he’s known to check down to RBs more often than other QBs, but Hines’ 76 targets last season were actually less than what he saw in 2018, as a rookie with Andrew Luck (81 targets). He has a well-established role in this offense and that will not change in 2021. Hines is a great low-end flex option to have available on any dynasty team and his cost to acquire is minimal.

Anthony McFarland

This is a DEEP sleeper, but Anthony McFarland is in a great position to earn a role behind the Steelers’ 2021 first-round pick, Najee Harris. Pittsburgh took McFarland in the fourth round of the 2020 draft after his redshirt sophomore season at Maryland. His 6.7 yards per carry during his college career is the third-best mark in Maryland history. He suffered a high ankle sprain early in 2019 and played through it, but it had a negative impact on his production and draft capital.

McFarland’s rookie season was forgettable, seeing only 33 carries on the year for just 113 rushing yards. His first game was in Week 3 where he carried the ball six times and gained 42 yards (7 ypc), but that would end up being the most action he would see in a single game. 

As I mentioned earlier, Najee Harris will be the lead back for the Steelers. At this point, it’s a battle for the number two spot between Anthony McFarland, Benny Snell, Jaylen Samuels, and Kalen Ballage. Samuels and Ballage are career backups that shouldn’t be viewed as anything more than depth options, leaving Snell as the main competition for McFarland. While Snell appears to be the current favorite based on history, I wouldn’t be surprised if McFarland leap-frogged him. Snell stepped up as the starter when Connor was injured last season but he didn’t do much with the opportunity, averaging just 3.32 yards per carry. McFarland will be reunited with his college Head Coach, Matt Canada, who is now the OC in Pittsburgh. That’s a huge advantage for him to be familiar with the system and even though there’s a slim chance he ever becomes a lead back, Canada knows how to use him best and might have a role planned for him.  

McFarland is currently an afterthought for most dynasty managers. He’s an easy “throw-in” to add onto a trade deal or worth a late-round rookie pick on his own.

Three rookie RB/WRs with the most upside in dynasty

By Zach Attack @FFChalupaBatman

We are amid rookie fever as dynasty players have their rookie drafts. There are several strategies to construct a winning dynasty team, and drafting rookies with high upside is one strategy. Every rookie with upside will not hit their potential, but when they do on your roster you have a young asset in their prime. Below are three rookie running backs or wide receivers with enormous upside that you should acquire in drafts.

RB Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

Javonte Williams was drafted 35th overall by the Denver Broncos in the 2021 NFL Draft, as the third RB off the board. There may not be immediate upside since Melvin Gordon is currently on the roster, but in dynasty, you need to project into the future too. Gordon’s contract ends after the 2021 season, and he is not expected to be re-signed by the Broncos. The Broncos have built a young, talented offense and their offensive line is continuing to improve. They may only be a QB away from a high-powered offense or we could see Drew Lock improve his development this season. Williams has great all-around RB skills that project him to be a three-down RB when he takes over the backfield. That is rare nowadays in the NFL. Williams is also a young rookie since he just turned 21 years old at the end of April. All of these factors give Javonte Williams a high upside, and you do not even need to draft him at 1.01!

WR Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins

Jaylen Waddle was drafted 6th overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 2021 NFL Draft, as the second WR off the board. Waddle’s junior season at the University of Alabama was cut short due to an injury, but he is expected to be fully healthy going into his rookie season with the Dolphins. Waddle did not run the 40-yard dash during his pro day, but everyone knows he is a speedster and can run an extremely fast 40-yard dash. Several analysts have compared Waddle to Tyreek Hill because of his size and speed, and this may be a lazy comparison but only time will tell to see how productive Waddle can be on the field. The Miami Dolphins have been collecting first-round picks for several years and they now have a good, young team and have more first-round picks in the next couple of seasons. Tua Tagovailoa, who played with Waddle in college, did not have a stellar rookie season, but he was coming back for a significant hip injury. The offensive coordinator has changed, and the team has extreme speed on the field this year after signing Will Fuller and drafting Jaylen Waddle. Tua will improve this season and Waddle will develop with this younger team. Waddle has the skill set to be a big play waiting to happen on any play. If he can be consistent with big plays then he can be a WR1 in fantasy football. Just like Javonte Williams, Waddle is capable of being a dominant player for many years to come and you do not need to have the 1.01 pick to draft him.

WR Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals

Rondale Moore was drafted 49th overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2021 NFL Draft, as the sixth WR off the board. Moore had an incredible freshman year at Purdue University with 135 touches, 1,471 scrimmage yards, and 14 total TDs in 13 games! Unfortunately, due to injuries Moore only played 7 games total for his sophomore and junior year. He is only 5’ 7”, but insanely explosive with a 4.29 40 yard dash and 42.5” vertical jump! Moore joins a dynamic passing offense led by QB Kyler Murray. He may start as the third WR on the depth chart behind DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green, if healthy, but he will get at least 60% of snaps. If A.J. Green does not perform well this season then he can be cut next offseason after 6/1 without a dead cap hit and a $2.5 million savings for the team. Moore is going to develop alongside Murray, who appears to be an exciting and dynamic young QB. Rondale Moore has the skill set to capitalize on big plays in this offense for many years to come. As with most rookie WRs, you may not get a lot of fantasy points this year, but there is so much upside for him to be at least a WR2 for several years soon.

Intro to Dynasty Fantasy Football: Expectations and Rules

Intro to Dynasty Fantasy Football

By Zach Attack @FFChalupaBatman

I just finished my first ever dynasty startup draft for the #FFFitClub dynasty league.  I have been playing fantasy football for 14 years, but have never tried dynasty until now.  The thought of playing in a dynasty league can be intimidating for some, so I want to share my experience and some advice to help ease any nervousness to give dynasty a chance.

  1. There is no offseason in dynasty

At the beginning of a dynasty league it will feel similar to a redraft league.  There will be a startup draft that may be veterans only or include rookies.  If it is veterans only there will be a second, much smaller, draft of just rookies.  This rookie only draft typically happens after the actual NFL draft.  After the draft is complete you are waiting for the season to start then in-season will feel like redraft.  Then the season ends after a champion is crowned.  

Now a major difference from redraft, going into season 2 you keep all of your players that were on your roster when you finished season 1.  The only draft you will have in the “offseason” of season 2 is the rookie draft, and the draft order is typically reverse of the final standings.  

Some people may be intimidated by dynasty because now you see how important your startup draft is since that is your roster for years, unless you make trades.  There is no offseason because a player’s value is constantly changing based on news and performances, so ideally you want to be well connected with player news so you can try to trade away players at top value (if you want to) and trade for players at their lowest value (if you think the player will bounce back). However, if you have really been into redraft then you most likely pay attention to the big free agents and draft news already.  

  1. Knowing the league settings, rules, and scoring

Just like in redraft, you need to know how your league is setup and the scoring.  There are lots of options and you can find some incredibly creative league setups.  Scoring will greatly affect which players are more or less valuable.  Points per reception scoring will significantly impact WRs and RBs, and TE premiums will increase the value of TEs.  The thought of multiple drafts, taxi squads, and rookie picks can sound confusing.  It is okay to ask the commissioner and/or league-mates questions.  You do not have to be a dynasty expert when you go into your first ever startup draft.

  1. Trading

Trading is an art.  I love to trade, and in my home league (redraft) there are tons of trades and it is so much fun.  Some are hesitant to trade because they are afraid of “losing” the trade.  Typically, there is a lot more trading in dynasty because that is really the only way to change your team since the waiver wire will be shallow.  The best part of trading in dynasty is rookie picks!  Everyone values rookie picks differently, so you can use this to your advantage to seal the deal.  If you still are unsure of where to start there are several dynasty trade calculators out there to help give you a baseline of values.

  1. Long term commitment

Dynasty leagues are supposed to last “forever.”  There are leagues out there that have been going for 30+ years and that is amazing.  However, I expect most dynasty leagues last around 5 years because life happens.  Find a group of people you know or at least know they have a passion for fantasy football, and you have a higher chance of keeping the league together for a long time.  Try not to let the thought of long term commitment scare you away because once you try it you will have fun and want to keep playing season after season.

My Experience

I have never played dynasty before now because I never felt like I had a group of people that I could see all of us staying together long enough to make it worth my time.  I decided to create the first #FFFitClub dynasty league because I knew it would be a group of passionate fantasy football people and it would be low cost and have a charitable element.  We decided to do a vets only startup draft and you could draft rookie pick slots by drafting kickers.  This was a slow draft so we each had up to 8 hours to make a pick, which makes it much less stressful since you don’t feel rushed.  This is a 12 team PPR Superflex TE premium league, and I had the 1.09.  I could not be happier with my start: Justin Herbert, Justin Jefferson, Aaron Jones, and Calvin Ridley.  My focus was trying to draft younger, but hopefully proven, players.  I ended up not drafting any rookie draft slots because I never felt like the value was there when it was my turn to pick based on who was still available.  I had a blast doing my first startup draft! I knew this was my opportunity to build my team however I wanted and this would determine if I would try to contend for a championship this season or build a team that could contend in a year or two.  In redraft, you always play to win that season, but the great part of dynasty is you can lose for a year or two to collect assets to eventually create a dominant team.  Even if you do not like your team after the draft it isn’t the end of the world because you can make moves to build for the future instead of just worrying about this season.  

My Advice

  • Just give it a try! I promise you will find a lot of new things that you like about dynasty that you cannot do in redraft.
  • Do your research.  You should know players’ ages, contract situations, and team situations or at least look it up before your pick.
  • Know what kind of team you have built.  Finishing in the middle of the league won’t help you. Be realistic about your team and figure out if you are a true contender or not then make all decisions based on that expectation.
  • Don’t worry too much about ADP; draft your guys!  This will be your team (barring trades) so draft the players you would most excited to have on your roster.
  • It is okay to not know everything, ask questions!
  • Follow dynasty accounts on Twitter and listen to some dynasty podcasts (there are plenty to choose from).

Dynasty: Sleeper PPR RBs to Trade For

Kenyan Drake is the perfect sleeper RB to acquire

Dynasty champions and empires can be made by savvy pick-ups and trades of sleeping giants that others do not see. 2018: Phillip Lindsay; 2019: Austin Ekeler; 2020: James Robinson/Myles Gaskin – just to name a few over the past few years. Here are some running backs who, for one reason or another, are low-risk high-reward players that can wake up your roster and make your dreams of fantasy glory a reality.

Kenny Gainwell

I don’t know what is in the water in Memphis, but it just keeps producing intriguing athletes for the NFL. This year, one of my favorite under-the-radar rookies is Kenneth Gainwell. Now Kenneth opted out of the 2020 season due to covid concerns, which is understandable. But, based on his 2019 stats, he was one of the best pass catchers in college football and the sole reason 2020 stand-out rookie Antonio Gibson wasn’t able to get on the field. Over 2,000 scrimmage yards in 2019 with 51 receptions is an exceptional mark for a running back in college. His landing spot will be something I am definitely monitoring because he could have a Nyheim Hines-like role in the NFL. We saw in 2020 how good that can be in PPR formats (running back 15), even if a workhorse is there.

Mike Boone

The new man in Denver will be joining Melvin Gordon and Royce Freeman. Mike Boone is no stranger to being buried on a depth chart, sitting behind both Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison in Minnesota the past few years. Boone has had the opportunity to be the lead back at times due to injuries to Cook and Mattison, in which he has flashed in those occasions. If he can become the second man in Denver, that is a role that has had its fantasy relevance. With Melvin Gordon’s injury history, Boone could be one injury away from being an RB3/Flex to a low-end RB1 to high-end RB2 behind that offensive line.`

Phillip Lindsay

One of the biggest out-of-nowhere stories up until last year was Phillip Lindsay. We know the story – UDFA out of Colorado to sign with Broncos and start his career with back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons. This offseason though, he asked for his release after getting an original round tender from Denver and ended up landing on the Houston Texans. Now, I will not get into their QB situation here because we will see how that plays out. What we do know is David Johnson restructured his contract to not be cut, and the Texans brought in the corpse of Mark Ingram to presumably be a locker room presence. With that, we can expect DJ and Lindsay to share the workload. Since David Johnson is not the same player he once was, it’s not out of the question Lindsay works his way to the lead running back role. In 2020, we saw Houston’s top running back average 15 PPR fantasy points per game.

Kenyan Drake

One of the biggest surprises this offseason was Kenyan Drake signing with the Oakland Raiders. Also, the contract he got is not back-up money. 14.5 million dollar contract over 2 years with 11 million guaranteed. This is saying that at WORST Drake will be splitting work 50/50 with Josh Jacobs. Over Jacobs’ first few seasons, he has not been used as the primary pass-catching running back. Even though we as a fantasy community think Jacobs is a competent pass catcher, Gruden and the Raiders do not want him in that role. With the loss of numerous key offensive linemen as well, I believe Carr will need to get the ball out quicker more often. This is where Drake comes in. We didn’t see Drake highlighted in the passing game in Arizona, but that has more to do with Kyler being a mobile quarterback. When Drake was in Miami, he averaged 45 receptions per year, whereas Jacobs’ career high is 33 receptions. Drake has the passing game floor to be an RB2 on your roster, but he is one Josh Jacobs’ injury away from flirting with Top 12 production.

Now there is no way to tell if these sleepers will wake up, but these are some cheaper guys who can make your roster a nightmare to your opponents with a few things breaking right.

“You Miss 100% OF THE 

SHOTS YOU DON’T

TAKE.  -Wayne Gretsky”

-Michael Scott

Find me on Twitter @KidFlashFF

Dynasty Fantasy Football: NFC North QBs Outlook

Andy Dalton Is a Buy

By: Andrew Hayslip

Hey all, happy to be here working on my first piece for Pro Football Mania!  Over the next few paragraphs I’m going to do everything in my power to talk about a few quarterbacks, while striving for my perfect crystal ball projection.  Alas, three sentences in and we’re already off to a great start.  Fantastic.

But let’s get to it and have some fun actually looking at players in the 2021 fantasy season.  And today’s focus is going to be on specifically the Quarterbacks of the NFC North.  So Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, and the newly acquired Andy Dalton and Jared Goff.

But before we even get into the players or metrics specifically, its important to know that in any buy/sell scenario, we’re not operating in a vacuum.  I may “buy” Ryan Fitzpatrick and “sell” Patrick Mahomes for the 2021 season.  That doesn’t mean I’d take Fitzpatrick over Mahomes in a draft, more so an explanation of where they’re each going respectively, I like the value of one player over that of another.

Additional programming note:  we’re evaluating Average Draft Position (ADP) and player value in April.  That’s absurd.  These will change.  Maybe not a ton, and there is still value in evaluating their general perception among the industry, but changes will happen.  The draft is right around the corner and could very easily shake up everything.

But that’s enough with the caveats and nonsensical hedges by which I’ll cover myself when one or all of these calls flame out miserably. 

Lets get started.  

The first thing we have to do is stop and see the respective ADPs of each of the guys we’re discussing.  Right now, Aaron Rodgers is the highest ranked QB being taken of the four, towards the middle of the 4th round in 12 team leagues.  Andy Dalton is going undrafted.  As a note:  This data is full PPR (relevant only for the average draft spot, even though it means nothing to the QBs themselves) provided by fantasydata.com.

These are the respective values by which we’re going to judge our buy/sell decisions, as every player has a price.  Its just now our responsibility to figure out if its worth paying.

Aaron Rodgers

Verdict:  Sell

Woah hey alright, put the pitchforks down for a second… I know Rodgers is coming off of an MVP season and all of that.  He’s a fantastic player.  That said, Rodgers threw 48 touchdowns in 2020, a career-high, as well as a figure that best his three previous season totals by over 20 touchdowns. 

Now, I should take this opportunity to say I don’t expect Rodgers to regress to his totals of the past three years.  He’s playing better following 2020 than he was in those years where he threw 16 (in 7 games), 25, and 26 touchdowns, respectively.  I think the happy medium is right in-between that range, likely somewhere in the 30s.  And that’s completely fine.  But I think overall touchdowns are most likely to regress to what would be more “normal” for a quarterback of his age and use.  And nowhere reflects this quite like the goal line.  Of his 48 touchdowns, a whopping 29 of them came with less than 10 yards to go.  That number is utterly obscene.  And while it speaks to Rodgers’s trademark efficiency and safety with the ball, it’s a number that will likely normalize in 2021.

The last metric I want to point to isn’t even one of Rodgers, but rather that of the man he primarily shares the backfield with, Aaron Jones.  In 2020, within that same “opponent’s 10 yard line” range, Jones got 20 carries and converted 6 of them for touchdowns.   In 2019, what was considered a “breakout” year for Jones, he converted 11 of his 19 carries within the same range.   Similarly to Rodgers, he went from highly efficient to moderately inefficient given his opportunities, and could see a similar rebound to mirror a decline from Rodgers.  And that doesn’t even factor in the likely increased opportunities for 2nd year back AJ Dillon, who seems like he was built for goal-line work.

All in all, I see Rodgers regressing a moderate amount within the opposing 10 yard line.  Coupled with the likely increased efficiency of Aaron Jones, this could very easily result in a slight decline in the fantasy outlook of Rodgers.

Kirk Cousins

Verdict:  Buy

As of this moment, Kirk Cousins is going off the board at Quarterback 20, in the back end of the 11th round.  And simply put, he’s better than that.  Always has been.  Over the last 5 years, his average finish among QBs has been 10.6, averaging just over 18 points per game.

And I find this telling, as he’s had Dalvin Cook during his entire Minnesota tenure (when healthy of course).  Any narrative of him being on a run-first team simply doesn’t hold up for that reason alone.  Sure, a reasonable argument can be made that the scheme doesn’t make it such that he’ll have a 50 touchdown season, and that’s perfectly reasonable.  But getting a mid to high end QB2 at an ADP of 20 if the definition of value.  Especially when he has two elite receivers in Jefferson and Thielen, and dynamic outlet options in Cook and Tight End Irv Smith Jr.

…all that said, I don’t want you to go into the season with Cousins as your primary plan at the position.  You should probably be shooting a little higher and locking up a guy that does have the potential for a bigger statistical output.  But if you’re looking to draft a backup QB to pair with a high-risk guy, Cousins is a fantastic option to return above-drafted value.

Jared Goff

Verdict:  Sell

I cant pretend, I started the brainstorming piece of this article fully expecting Goff to be a buy.  The presumption would be that Detroit was going to likely be a bad team and that Goff would be able to garbage time his way to fantasy success.  And there’s a part of me that does still believe that.  Its easy to forget that towards the end of his time in Jacksonville, Blake Bortles was a valuable fantasy asset, as the team was often behind and he had to scramble in hopes of catching his team up.

I thought I’d likely try to push a similar narrative with Goff, I really did.  But then three main factors pushed me off of this narrative.

  • His ADP is already too high to provide reliability of value.
  • Garbage time still requires weapons to catch the ball.
  • We’ve only seen him succeed in a McVay system.

I won’t give the first its own paragraph, as its moderately self-explanatory.  For a player to get moderate value in the “dart throw” category, he has to be going late.  And the value of QB23, while certainly low, isn’t the most preposterous thing I’ve ever seen.  So that was a deterrent, but really points 2 and 3 got me thinking.  The first one is also moderately straightforward as well.  As it stands on April 7th, 2021, the Lions’ receiver room consists of Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, and Quintez Cephus.  Yikes.  If you’re going to be in catch-up mode and constantly pushing for points to close games, it would generally be helpful to have some elite weapons on the outside to help drive that goal.  This group likely isn’t it, even if you count Tight End TJ Hockenson in that mix.  And even if they were to add a receiver at 7 overall, I don’t know that a young rookie quite moves the needle enough to make me suddenly feel confident in the group as a whole.

The final point is one of speculation.  And its driven by the idea of not knowing what exactly Jared Goff is.  We’ve seen one season of him without the play-action and QB friendly system of Head Coach Sean McVay.  That season (his rookie season) had him looking like one of the absolute worst Quarterbacks in the NFL.  Yes, I know, rookie QB on a bad team and all of that.  I get it.  There are ways in which it can be explained away.  But any explaining HAS to be done with at least some amount of respect to the concern.  None of us know.  We think we might know, but its no certainty that McVay wasn’t the driving force behind Goff looking completely serviceable following his rookie year.

Andy Dalton

Verdict:  Buy

My goodness this is free money.  And I both love and hate the fact that I took it.  Andy Dalton is an easy easy buy.  And simply put, its because he’s free.   

Will Andy Dalton be an actual usable fantasy asset in 2021 though?  That’s the question we all have to look at and ask ourselves.  And my answer is… kinda?  And I know, that’s such a hedge.  No doubt.  

But the other side of that coin is that in 2020, Dalton wasn’t a fantasy tire fire either.  When he came back in week 11, he averaged over 17 fantasy points per game, which would have been a stream-worthy QB2 in many formats.  And that’s simply the definition of value if you can get it at an undrafted price.  

All that said… that was 2020.  And in Dallas.  Where the weapons are such that I could put up fantasy value throwing to those weapons.  Chicago is… not that.  Chicago has Allen Robinson, who is fantastic, but beyond that is a plethora of question marks.  Can Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet take the next steps?  Is Anthony Miller going to get traded?  Can Tarik Cohen come back from injury to be an outlet in the passing game?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but I can tell you that I have a surprising amount of confidence that this offense won’t be terrible in 2021.  I think Dalton is a professional quarterback who can elevate the play of the other guys such that they can in turn facilitate his value as a fantasy quarterback in 2QB and SuperFlex leagues.  I wouldn’t push it in single-quarterback formats, but if you completely punt on the position or find yourself in a bind, Dalton is likely an asset that has far more value than his current market price.

Summary

Sell:  Rodgers and Goff

Buy:  Cousins and Dalton

Caveat: All of the things can and likely will change.  Its April, have fun with it and understand the draft is going to throw a wrench is all of your carefully laid plans.  But at the end of the day, it’s just a game we do for the amusement of challenging and heckling our friend, so whatever.

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this diatribe.  If you want to discuss it or anything else related to the NFL, please don’t hesitate to hit me up on twitter, @FF_AHayslip. 

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