2017 Dynasty Lessons Learned (Fantasy Football)

Jan 4, 2018

2017 showed that young WRs need time to develop, so there’s no reason why impending third year WRs, like Will Fuller, can’t breakout in 2018

After each season it is important to take stock of new trends in the NFL to stay ahead of changes in the dynasty marketplace. Here are four key lessons to draw from the 2017 season.

Cellar Dweller Offenses Rebound
Offseason narratives drive a lot of fantasy football value. One of the most common narratives is to assume bottom tier offenses are going to be bad two seasons in a row.

Familiar narratives in 2017 included that Jared Goff was a bust, mocking the New York Jets, and that poor quarterback play would hamper Houston and San Francisco’s offenses. Betting against all these narratives would have been a profitable endeavor six months ago.

In 2017, the teams that finished in the bottom eight of scoring in 2016 rose on average 43.5 points and improved an average of eight spots in terms of NFL scoring rank. This includes the Los Angeles Rams who were led by Jared Goff (who was labeled a bust after the 2016 season).

The bottom quarter of scoring offenses in 2017 were Cleveland, New York Giants, Indianapolis, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Cincinnati, and Arizona Cardinals. The New York, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Arizona will all have new coaches in 2018 and represent good target teams to find value.

Wide Receivers Still Take Time to Develop
The 2014 rookie wide receiver class changed fantasy football changed fantasy football in profound ways. The rookie years successes of Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Kelvin Benjamin, Brandin Cooks, and Allen Robinson changed reshaped the top three rounds of dynasty startup valuations.

Perhaps more importantly than the individual players, the 2014 rookie class changed the expectations of the wide receiver positions. Before 2014, targeting “Third-Year Breakout Wide Receivers” was a popular strategy.

After 2014, dynasty owners have grown impatient with your wide receivers. If a wide receiver is not producing like a top 24 receiver by the midseason of their second season, they get labeled busts.

The past two seasons have been a good reminder that wide receivers still take time to adjust to the NFL. Recent third-year breakouts include Davante Adams, Devin Funchess, and Nelson Agholor, all three of whom were a punchline entering their third seasons. This was despite the fact Adams struggled with injuries, Funchess was a positional convert, and Agholar was a first-round NFL pick.

The 2016 and 2017 wide receiver rookie classes have mostly fallen flat. Will Fuller, Corey Coleman, and Josh Doctson headline the likeliest version of third-year breakouts, but there are other later values. Laquon Treadwell, Leonte Carroo, and Tyler Boyd all had promise entering the NFL but have yet to produce. They are cheap options late in startup drafts or to acquire as a small part of a bigger trade in the offseason.

Similarly, the 2017 class has seen slow starts from Mike Williams and John Ross. They have each plummeted multiple rounds of startup value since August, and represent cheap bets on draft pedigree and a developmental view of the wide receiver position.

Fluctuating Positional Values
The wide receiver position has dominated dynasty positional values in recent years particularly in the wake of the 2014 wide receiver class. Strength at the receiver position with relatively weaker and older top running backs made investing in wide receivers a sound strategy.

Since 2015, there has been a growing resurgence at the running back position with the addition of Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Devonta Freeman, Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott, and others combined with the 2017 class. This has been combined with three classes of lackluster receiving prospects which created a market where the elite running backs are on par with the elite wide receivers.

As a result, if you are drafting a startup team in 2018, you are likely to see running back values in the first five rounds of drafts where historically receivers were better options. The strength of running back and the influx of fantasy relevant tight ends have created a dynasty market where it is crucial to be very selective at wide receiver.

From 2015 through 2017, it made sense to target wide receivers early and be lean at the position while using the middle and later rounds on the quarterback, running back, and tight end positions. With the changing marketplace, targeting running backs and tight ends early can allow you to be selective but deeper in your wide receiver selections in the middle rounds of drafts.

Have a Backup Plan at Quarterback
The 2017 season was a bad year for injuries at the quarterback position, with Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Carson Wentz, Carson Palmer, Ryan Tannehill, Deshaun Watson, Josh McCown, and Sam Bradford all ending up on injured reserve. That represents 25% of NFL teams who had to deal with a starting quarterback on IR.

While 2017 may be an outlier regarding injuries, the season was a reminder that quarterbacks do not progress linearly. Entering 2017, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, and Marcus Mariota were largely viewed as franchise quarterbacks entering their prime, yet each had a turbulent fantasy season and enters 2018 with questions about their future.

In start one quarterback leagues, it is attractive to roster one “franchise” type quarterback while using the waiver wire to cover bye weeks or injuries. 2017 is a cautionary tale about how easily the approach can go wrong.

Developing a reliable option as a second quarterback can be done at a low cost and insures against injury and poor play. Even if your starter is healthy and playing well, your backup will be worth starts in the season as streaming matchup plays.


Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher | SoundCloud | Google Play | TuneIn | RSS

Jordan McNamara is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Jordan, check out his archive and follow him @McNamaraDynasty.

What's your take? Leave a comment

Fantasy Games
DRAFT photo
Get a FREE $3 Best Ball entry with your 1st deposit
FanDuel photo
Play for your share of $1m+
for FREE with first deposit
CBS Sports photo
Serious Fantasy Football
Get our Mobile App!

Enter your phone number below, and we'll text you a link to download the app.

1Leonard Fournette (JAC)RB
2Dion Lewis (NE)RB
3Jay Ajayi (PHI)RB
4Latavius Murray (MIN)RB
5Jerick McKinnon (MIN)RB
6Stefon Diggs (MIN)WR
7Rex Burkhead (NE)RB
8James White (NE)RB
9Adam Thielen (MIN)WR
10T.J. Yeldon (JAC)RB
 View all Flex Rankings 
11Rob Gronkowski (NE)TE
12LeGarrette Blount (PHI)RB
13Corey Clement (PHI)RB
14Brandin Cooks (NE)WR
15Alshon Jeffery (PHI)WR
16Marqise Lee (JAC)WR
17Nelson Agholor (PHI)WR
18Chris Hogan (NE)WR
19Danny Amendola (NE)WR
20Dede Westbrook (JAC)WR
21Allen Hurns (JAC)WR
22Keelan Cole (JAC)WR
23Jarius Wright (MIN)WR
24Torrey Smith (PHI)WR
25Zach Ertz (PHI)TE
26Kyle Rudolph (MIN)TE
27Michael Floyd (MIN)WR
28Marcedes Lewis (JAC)TE
29James O'Shaughnessy (JAC)TE
30Laquon Treadwell (MIN)WR
1Jose Altuve (HOU)2B
2Paul Goldschmidt (ARI)1B
3Nolan Arenado (COL)3B
4Mike Trout (LAA)CF,DH
5Mookie Betts (BOS)RF
6Charlie Blackmon (COL)CF
7Max Scherzer (WSH)SP
8Joey Votto (CIN)1B
9Kris Bryant (CHC)1B,3B
10Chris Sale (BOS)SP
 View All Rankings 
11Manny Machado (BAL)3B,SS
12Anthony Rizzo (CHC)1B,2B
13Corey Seager (LAD)SS
14Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)RF
15Clayton Kershaw (LAD)SP
16Corey Kluber (CLE)SP
17Daniel Murphy (WSH)1B,2B
18Nelson Cruz (SEA)RF,DH
19George Springer (HOU)CF,RF
20Freddie Freeman (ATL)1B,3B
21Francisco Lindor (CLE)SS
22Edwin Encarnacion (CLE)1B,DH
23Josh Donaldson (TOR)3B,DH
24Yu Darvish (FA)SP
25Robinson Cano (SEA)2B
26Bryce Harper (WSH)RF
27Miguel Cabrera (DET)1B,DH
28J.D. Martinez (FA)RF
29Madison Bumgarner (SF)SP
30Jose Abreu (CWS)1B,DH
1Kevin Durant (GSW)SF,PF
2Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL)SF,PF
3James Harden (HOU)PG,SG
4Stephen Curry (GSW)PG,SG
5Russell Westbrook (OKC)PG
6Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN)C
7Anthony Davis (NOR)PF,C
8Kawhi Leonard (SAS)SG,SF
9LeBron James (CLE)SF,PF
10Nikola Jokic (DEN)PF,C
 View All Rankings 
11John Wall (WAS)PG
12DeMarcus Cousins (NOR)PF,C
13Chris Paul (HOU)PG
14Damian Lillard (POR)PG
15Jimmy Butler (MIN)SG,SF
16Rudy Gobert (UTH)C
17Kyrie Irving (BOS)PG,SG
18Hassan Whiteside (MIA)C,PF
19Myles Turner (IND)PF,C
20Paul George (OKC)SG,SF
21Kyle Lowry (TOR)PG
22Draymond Green (GSW)SF,PF
23Kristaps Porzingis (NYK)PF,C
24Kemba Walker (CHA)PG
25CJ McCollum (POR)PG,SG
26Mike Conley (MEM)PG
27Bradley Beal (WAS)SG
28Klay Thompson (GSW)SG,SF
29Marc Gasol (MEM)C
30Kevin Love (CLE)PF,C