Dynasty League Risers & Fallers: Preseason Week 1
Mo Brewington provides dynasty league risers and fallers following Week 1 of the preseason.
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As Dynasty owners, our valuations of players are constantly evolving, whether talking about a rookie who has yet to tap their full potential, or a veteran on a new team carving out a role for himself.
We watch and dissect every bit of information about these players in an effort to assign a value to their services. Be it draft, auction, trade or waiver value, it is imperative that we quantify their worth, and avoid making costly mistakes with our limited capital and transaction windows.
Through this “Risers & Fallers” series, we will do our part to help illustrate the players that are on the verge of making noise in the Dynasty world who could strengthen your team, and separate the ones who aren’t worth the headaches and anxiety.
Some weeks these assessments will be based on the player’s own production in recent games. Other times it may be the poor play of those around them, leading to an overall slide in their output. Perhaps the starter ahead of them on the depth chart is in decline, opening the door for a lesser known player to make his mark. Or maybe the offensive line has been ravaged by injuries, turning a weekly stud into a sitting duck who’s output is sure to suffer.
In any case, the goal here is to keep you ahead of the curve, and give you an edge on your league-mates when building your Dynasty roster and ultimately in the WIN column.
So, without further adieu, here are the Risers & Fallers for Preseason Week 1.
Allen Robinson (JAC – WR): RISER
His status as a first-round worthy WR1 has been questioned by pundits all off-season long. Granted, it’s only a preseason game, but anyone who watched Robinson’s performance against the Jets last week got a free sample of what could be a monster fantasy season. In a mere three receptions in the first quarter alone, Robinson put up a ridiculous 80 receiving yards. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, two of these catches came at the expense of a beleaguered and bewildered Dee Milliner, but that’s not A-Rob’s problem. If you’re foolish enough to try and play him man up, particularly without safety help, as was the case on the 45-yard bomb Robinson hauled in to finish the trifecta, you get what you deserve. You should have no reservations about selecting Robinson in the first half of Round 1. He’s on the verge of validating the theory about wide receivers who put it all together in year three. BUY! BUY!BUY!
Chris Ivory / T.J. Yeldon (JAC – RB): RISERS
Back to Jacksonville…there’s a belief among some that the Jaguars’ signing of Ivory to a five-year contract this off-season equated to a no-confidence vote in Yeldon. Based on what I saw in the Jags first preseason game, nothing could be further from the truth. Jacksonville began the exhibition by giving fans a glimpse of what this potent combination could look like in the weeks to come, running six of their first seven plays through one of these two backs. It was a clear demonstration of their willingness to feature either, in the run or pass game.
Yeldon caught an eight-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage, then he ran the rock for another five yards on second down. Next came Ivory on a 12-yard rumble through the right side of the Jet defense, followed by a four-yard reception on the fourth play from scrimmage. Blake Bortles would then hit Allen Robinson on a 19-yard, back-shoulder fade down the left stripe, before Yeldon and Ivory rammed back-to-back six and 10-yard carries down the Jets throat, leading the team inside the New York 10-yard line.
As impressive a start as this seven-play, 61-yard sequence was, it would end in a field goal for the Jags. If I had to venture a guess as to why…it was because they went away from this treacherous trio on the last two downs of the series. It’ll be fascinating to watch this offense develop over the next 19 or so weeks and beyond. Each of these backs are capable of tearing off game-breaking plays on any given down. Time will tell if the offense can truly support both, but that’s a gamble I’m willing to take – handcuffing them wherever possible.
Matt Forte (NYJ – RB): FALLER
One notable absence from that Jags vs. Jets tilt last week was New York’s new feature back, Forte. Veterans sitting out preseason contest is typically not newsworthy. However, Forte’s situation isn’t exactly typical. For starters, he’s 30 years of age, picking up a brand new system, and has been sidelined for nearly all of the Jets’ training camp with what appears to be a severe hamstring injury. Then there’s Bilal Powell, with a similar skillset as the vet, but who boasts an extra season in Chan Gaily’s system under his belt. And, finally, you have Forte’s current valuation, RB16, with roughly a third-round ADP prior to last week’s contest. While he has proven his value time and again over his eight-year career, owners need to be ultra cautious of overvaluing Forte this season without a viable “plan B” in the event he struggles to adapt, or turns out to be less than the All-Pro dual threat who has won us so many games in years past.
Last season, Forte missed 25% of the Bears games, compiling just 1,281 combined rushing and receiving yards because of injuries, the lowest output of his career. Should injury force him to miss such a significant portion of this season, there is no chance he justifies his current price tag in fantasy drafts. In the days following their first preseason game, Jets head coach Todd Bowles stated that Forte is nowhere near ready to take the field, further opening the door for Powell, as well as former Saint Khiry Robinson, who could wind up handling the team’s short-yardage needs. In fairness to Forte and the Jets, their concern is not whether Matt can be a viable fantasy option, it’s avoiding setbacks in his recovery, and getting him healthy enough to help the team win this season. I’m fairly confident that will happen…eventually. For fantasy purposes, however, owners may choose to heed the flashing red warning lights surrounding his venerable name.
Alfred Morris (DAL – RB): RISER
Anyone who has discussed fantasy football with me over the past month has heard my “Alfred Morris Tirade.” The frightening part about it is how easily it rolls off my lips, considering I’m a die-hard Eagles fan. It goes like this….
In 2014, Dallas ran the football 508 times, with Demarco Murray accounting for 392 of those carries. Now, I hold no delusions of Morris supplanting Ezekiel Elliot as the team’s No. 1 back, in either snaps, carries, or touches overall. I do, however, contend that the team will absolutely attempt to re-create that 2014 dynamic, leaning on it’s run game to the tune of 500+ attempts in 2016. This time, they’ll use the committee approach rather than running any one back into the ground.
If we assign Zeke, say… 225 carries, a reasonable, estimate in my mind, it would leave another 275 rushing attempts to split between Morris and Darren McFadden. Those 275 carries split 50/50 shake out to roughly 137 a piece. Knowing what we know about McFadden, however, what is the likelihood DMC misses some time, and Morris ends up with closer to 175 of those carries, or more? I’d say the odds are fairly decent when we factor in McFadden’s 29 games missed to injury in the NFL to Alfred’s spotless attendance sheet, having never missed a game as a professional. In fact, as of today, McFadden is currently questionable for Week 1, still recovering from surgery to repair a broken elbow. Advantage Alfred.
When we consider Morris has only failed to exceed the 1,000-yard plateau once in his four-year career, while McFadden has surpassed 1,000 yards just twice in his eight seasons, a contrast begins to emerge. McFadden had one of his best seasons ever in 2015 for the Cowboys, one of the two times he managed to eclipse 1k yards on the ground. Considering the current circumstances, how willing are you to bet on an encore performance?
By comparison, we can only hypothesize what Morris could do behind that renown Dallas offensive line. Yet, we’ve seen him dominate with less to work with up front. His 2015 stats in Washington were marred by a time share with Matt Jones on a team with a 43-to-57 run/pass ratio. A career low in attempts (202) was the biggest factor in his failure to approach 1,000 yards on the season. In Dallas, that run/pass ratio is likely to swing back toward 50/50 as the team looks to keep Tony Romo, and his ailing back, off the turf. Morris is well suited to handle the short-yardage work, and he could legitimately wind up in a two-back committee with Elliott when all’s said and done. We’ll watch this one unfold over the next few weeks, but if you’re looking to get the drop on your opponents, now would be an ideal time to jump on Morris before this equation becomes more widely accepted by the fantasy community.
Carson Wentz (PHI – QB): HEELS-OVER-HEAD FALLER
With two minutes remaining in the first half of the Eagles vs. Buccaneers preseason opener, the Philadelphia crowd rose to its collective feet, as the savior of their franchise unexpectedly entered the game to begin his ascension to gridiron greatness. Ironically, the result of his first play under center would summarize the rabid anticipation of the fans, and the evening as a whole…a False Start penalty. Wentz followed up the infraction with a string of solidly thrown strikes, with as many dropped as were caught by the lackluster Philadelphia receiving corp to end the first half.
As he played into the second stanza, Wentz demonstrated his tremendous mobility, rolling out of pressure on multiple occasions, including a bad snap which he corralled 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage and still managed to throw away while scrambling to his right, avoiding a huge loss. He placed a few balls in bad spots for his receivers, a correctable flaw. Yet the 12-for-24 stat line he posted won’t reflect the number of his passes which hit receivers square in the hands but were not controlled.
All in all, it was a very solid outing for the rookie in his first taste of NFL action. When you consider how poorly the Eagles’ current second string quarterback, Chase Daniel, played, this game was very close to putting Wentz in the “RISERS” category, with a real chance of surpassing Daniel for the back-up job this preseason leaving him one step closer to becoming a viable fantasy option for your team. So, why then is he listed, not just as a “FALLER,” but as a “HEAD-OVER-HEELS FALLER?”
That, my friends, is due to the fact he was sent into a complete somersault while getting whacked on a zone read run in the fourth quarter by Tampa’s Javien Elliott. It is unknown if this was the hit which caused the disastrous result, but following the game, it was learned that Wentz suffered a cracked rib, which will likely keep him out for the remainder of the preseason. Combined with Head Coach Doug Pederson’s proclamation earlier this off-season that Wentz would remain the team’s third quarterback behind both Daniel and starter Sam Bradford, this injury will effectively end Wentz’s 2016 campaign, absent an injury to one or both of the starters ahead of him.