Dynasty Football Risers/Fallers Pre NFL Draft
As anyone in a keeper/dynasty league knows, the offseason is arguably more important than the actual season. Our work never stops. While the NFL Draft always shakes up the dynasty values of players, we still have that window between free agency and the draft to attempt to better our teams. Free agency was quite busy this year and resulted in quite the dramatic shifts in fantasy value for some players.
@MikeTagliereNFL has done a fantastic job recapping the moves of each player and dissecting the fantasy impact. Here you’ll find all the impacted players in one place. Let’s begin.
Mitch Trubisky (QB – CHI)
I don’t think it’s stretch to say that Mitch Trubisky is the biggest winner of the 2018 offseason. Trubisky is a former first overall pick and for good reason. R.C. Fischer over at FantasyFootballMetrics.net has described Trubisky as one of the best QBs he’s ever scouted.
A ssecond-year leap was always in the cards for Trubisky. The Bears front office just decided to make numerous moves to make that leap as easy as possible.
First and foremost, the Bears fired Jeff Fisher 2.0, more commonly known as John Fox, and replaced him with the offensive-minded Matt Nagy. Then free agency hit and the Bears signed Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and Taylor Gabriel. Trubisky had the worst supporting cast in the NFL last season.
He now has one of the best. Between Robinson, Cameron Meredith, Gabriel, Burton, Jordan Howard, and Tarik Cohen, Trubisky has a plethora of weapons at his disposal. I wouldn’t be surprised if Trubisky had a Jared Goff type sophomore campaign. He should not appear outside of anyone’s top 12 dynasty QBs.
Tyrod Taylor (QB – CLE)
I said I wasn’t going to talk about the NFL Draft, but here I am talking about the NFL Draft. Yes, it is very likely the Browns, despite rostering Taylor and Drew Stanton, will draft one of the big three QBs (that’s Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, and Sam Darnold, in that order, for those keeping score at home).
But even so, Taylor will be the starter Week 1 and should at least keep the job for the majority of the season. Taylor doesn’t get enough credit for being a competent passer, and we already know he’s the best running QB in the NFL. He’s gone from having one of the worst supporting casts in the NFL to having a cornucopia of goodness to help him.
Josh Gordon, Jarvis Landry, and Corey Coleman are one of the league’s best trios at WR. Duke Johnson is one of the league’s best satellite backs. Carlos Hyde is exceptionally formidable between the tackles and will make defenses respect the play action. Taylor’s floor remains as high as it’s always been, but his ceiling in Cleveland is legitimately top five at the position.
Kirk Cousins (QB – MIN)
Kirk Cousins has finished as a QB1 each of the past three seasons. While he’s had the privilege of throwing to guys like DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, Terrelle Pryor, and Jordan Reed, he’s never had a receiving duo as dangerous as Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. This is no knock on Jackson and Garcon, but by the time Cousins took over, both of them were on the downslope of their careers.
Thielen and Diggs are right in their primes and are both coming off WR1 seasons with Case Keenum as their QB. Also not to disparage Keenum, but he’s not Cousins. “The Captain” is locked in as a QB1, and with a three year, fully guaranteed contract, we know that for three years he’s not going anywhere. He is as safe as they come for dynasty owners.
Demaryius Thomas (WR – DEN)
I was initially going to add Emmanuel Sanders, but I decided against it because I think this is his last year in Denver. Things were looking very grim for the once great Demaryius Thomas, but Thomas’ struggles have hardly been his fault.
The quarterback play in Denver since Peyton Manning’s final year has been nothing short of deplorable. John Elway’s tenure as Broncos’ GM has been a complete embarrassment. He signed the second greatest QB of all time and made two Super Bowls because of it – he’s done nothing else. Trevor Siemian, his unwavering support of terrible Paxton Lynch, and bringing back Brock Osweiler twice has destroyed this once great defense’s window to win.
Elway finally took a step in the right direction this year in signing Case Keenum and trying to salvage what’s left of this team’s window. Keenum had what I considered the best receiving duo in the league last season and now moves to a team with what I thought was the best receiving duo in the league just two short years ago. With Keenum likely in town for at least two years, Thomas is still young enough to recapture that WR1 upside.
Allen Robinson (WR – CHI)
We’ve seen Allen Robinson perform at an elite level. He honestly looks like a Dez Bryant clone – back when Bryant was actually elite. Robinson’s 2015 was a season for the ages and while it would be ridiculous to project a repeat, getting away from Blake Bortles is automatically a boost to anyone’s dynasty value because Blake Bortles is the single worst starting QB in the NFL.
I’m sure Robinson would have rather not torn his ACL last season, but at least he was spared the misery that was another season of wildly inaccurate passes from Bortles. I can’t stress this enough. Bortles is a disgrace to quarterbacking. The Bears signed Robinson to be their alpha WR1, and Trubisky has all the tools necessary to return Robinson to the ranks of the elite.
While it’s fair to express caution over WRs switching team as we’ve learned from Scott Barrett at Pro Football Focus, Robinson, for all his talent, can’t be worse than he’s been the past two seasons (remember he was terrible in 2016 before missing the entire 2017 season). I am all in on Robinson for the foreseeable future.
Marquise Goodwin (WR – SF)
Marquise Goodwin was forced into the WR1 role last season. While he performed well, he is better suited to be a team’s WR2. I fully expected the 49ers to make a big WR signing. They didn’t.
I fully expect them to draft a WR, but even if they do, “Quise” is locked into a starting role with the aging Pierre Garcon moving to the slot. Goodwin thrived last year with Jimmy Garoppolo operating without a full knowledge of the playbook. After a full offseason to completely grasp the offense and improve rapport, Goodwin is poised to continue to prove he’s more than just a speedster.
Jerick McKinnon (RB – SF)
This one is the most obvious and also the one that brings the most joy to my face. I’ve been Jerick McKinnon supporter ever since he entered the league with the most impressive workout metrics in NFL history at the RB position. McKinnon is the most athletic RB in the league.
His early years in the NFL have been marred by poor coaching, poor offenses, and poor offensive lines. Kyle Shanahan not only made it a point to sign McKinnon, but paid him like a feature back and said that McKinnon would be like his Devonta Freeman. I still anticipate that the 49ers will draft a running back in the third or fourth round to pair with McKinnon (because Matt Breida failed as a satellite back last season and Joe Williams is complete garbage), but the man doesn’t need a Todd Gurley like workload to finally break through.
A 60% snap share would be enough for McKinnon to push RB1 value. It also doesn’t hurt playing with the greatest QB of all time, Jimmy Garoppolo.
Rex Burkhead (RB – NE)
So let me get this straight. New England’s most efficient RB from 2017, a guy who excels both between the tackles and as a pass catcher, resigned with the team while Dion Lewis walked. And the only other signing the team made at RB was Jeremy Hill?
I guess the Patriots are all in on Sexy Rexy. Rex Burkhead is going to start for one of the best offenses in the league and hopefully get the goal line carries (I’ll be furious if Hill is allowed to fall into the end zone for another 10-score season). Burkhead’s long-term value will never be safe because Patriots, but for now, for 2018, things are looking up.
Kenyan Drake (RB – MIA)
Sometimes it’s what teams don’t do that sends the strongest message. The Dolphins let Damien Williams walk, and all they did at the RB position is to sign Frank Gore’s walking corpse.
I cannot believe this guy still plays football or that teams think he is ever beneficial to have on the field. Gore is pretty much useless. Given that this is all the Dolphins have done at the position, they are tacitly showing confidence in giving Drake a real shot to be the main guy.
Trey Burton (TE – CHI)
Trey Burton is like Jordan Reed without all the injuries. He’s succeeded every time he’s been asked to step in for Zach Ertz. Now in Chicago, Burton will be the primary pass catching TE.
There is some concern he may come off the field for Adam Shaheen near the goal line because Burton cannot block, but I have faith in Matt Nagy to properly utilize Burton, including near the end zone where he can create mismatches. I have Burton firmly locked in as a mid TE1, and he’ll only be 27 this season.
Alex Smith (QB – WAS)
When you from Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce with Kareem Hunt at RB to Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed with Chris Thompson at RB, it’s not good. Washington does have other weapons in Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson, but the reality is Smith had an always reliable Kelce underneath with Hill uncoverable downfield. He has none of that in Washington.
Reed may never play football again, and the team has no one even close to as good as Hill. Smith has always been a product of his supporting cast when it comes to fantasy production. I’d be surprised if he was a QB1 this season and he’s not exactly a spring chicken when it comes to future seasons.
Derek Carr (QB – OAK)
Remember when Derek Carr was the next big thing? After his incredibly fortunate 2016 was exposed in 2017, the Raiders have done nothing to help him. In fact, they’ve done the exact opposite.
The Raiders released Michael Crabtree to sign the completely washed Jordy Nelson. They recommitted to the also washed Marshawn Lynch, but paired him with the might be washed/might never have been that good Doug Martin. The Raiders were also linked to Eric Decker at one point as well.
I have no idea what the Raiders are doing, but comments from Jon Gruden about sending the team back to 1998 are the last thing you want to hear from the coach of your fantasy quarterback. The Raiders are headed in the wrong direction, and I surmise that the second term of Gruden in Oakland will be an unmitigated disaster.
Jarvis Landry (WR – CLE)
I do think Jarvis Landry is a bit underappreciated. He’s not the greatest WR of all time, but he is excellent at what he does – make catches underneath and act as the best safety blanket in the league. From a fantasy standpoint, Landry’s performance requires volume.
In Cleveland, I do like the pairing with Tyrod Taylor, but the team has two good running backs, including one of the best pass-catching backs, Duke Johnson, who does what Landry does, and has Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman. I expect Coleman to be the odd man out, but he still exists, and Gordon is undoubtedly going to get his.
Landry saw 161 targets last season. I don’t see any way he gets anywhere near that number. He was already inefficient, somehow managing under 1,000 yards on 112 receptions, and now he has far more competition for targets and touches. If you can sell Landry as the guy he was last year, you should do it, but I imagine fantasy owners are savvier than to pay full price for Landry.
Jordy Nelson (WR – GB)
I doubt anyone wanted Jordy Nelson in dynasty leagues even before Green Bay released him. We’ve never seen Nelson away from Aaron Rodgers for an extended period. The limited information we have suggests that Nelson might not be that good.
Not to take anything away from Nelson as a player – he’s been elite with Rodgers, and for fantasy, that’s all we care about. The rapport between Nelson and Rodgers is something all QBs and WRs should strive for. However, the fact remains that Nelson’s numbers without Rodgers are unimpressive.
He’s now 33 years old and headed to an inferior offense. And this is all before I mention the fact that he looked entirely done last season. I don’t think Nelson will ever be more than a WR3 again, and even that might be wishful thinking.
Donte Moncrief (WR – JAX)
This one will be short and sweet. Donte Moncrief, who already wasn’t particularly good at football despite his elite measurables, just went from Andrew Luck to Blake Bortles. That is all.
Cameron Meredith (WR – CHI)
This one could be temporary as Cameron Meredith may end up somewhere else this season, but things are not looking good for a guy that was going to be a dominant alpha WR1 in 2017.
Meredith’s knee injury couldn’t have come at a worse time. He pretty much just missed his opportunity to become a household name. I love Meredith’s talent and think he deserves to be at least a WR2 on a team, but with Robinson, Trey Burton, and Taylor Gabriel in Chicago, there’s nowhere near enough meat on the bone for Meredith compared to last season, which he missed out on.
Cooper Kupp (WR – LAR)
I had this whole write-up in the Risers section about how Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods saw their value increase by the Rams inaction. That all went out the window when they went and traded for Brandin Cooks. Woods doesn’t take much of a hit. if any, because he’s pretty much in the same role he was last year. It’s Kupp that goes from a guy who was poised to see an uptick in targets to one that now should see a decrease.
Sammy Watkins, at best, is half the player Cooks is. Cooks will command 100+ targets. Those extra targets have to come from somewhere. Unfortunately, it will probably be at Kupp’s expense.
Carlos Hyde (RB – CLE)
Carlos Hyde is a great fit in Cleveland. I love the signing for them, and I love the moves they’ve made to hopefully turn things around at last. Unfortunately, for fantasy, this is probably the worst case scenario for Hyde. He went from a three-down all-purpose back to a two-down between the tackles grinder.
He will still be the goal line back, and the primary rusher, but Hyde will come off the field in obvious passing situations and in the two-minute drill/comeback mode for the far superior pass catcher, Duke Johnson. Hyde has no chance at matching his 88 targets from last season nor his 59 receptions. Take Hyde’s rushing numbers from last year (938 yards, eight touchdowns), and slice his receiving numbers by about 70% and that’s what he will be in Cleveland.
Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis (RB – TEN)
Derrick Henry’s dynasty value was pretty high last summer when it was abundantly clear that 2017 would be DeMarco Murray’s last in Tennessee. Murray’s ultimate release did nothing for Henry because it had been a foregone conclusion for so long. Henry was going to be an all-purpose workhorse in 2018.
Then the Titans signed Dion Lewis. This signing made a ton of sense as Henry can’t catch and Lewis is the best satellite back in the league.
The problem for Henry is that Lewis is more than just a satellite back. Lewis can run between the tackles and handle 12-15 carries a game. Lewis is going to command a good 40% of the snaps.
So Henry becomes a running back reliant upon rushing yards and touchdowns. We don’t like RBs that don’t catch passes. Henry is like a slightly better version of Carlos Hyde.
As for Lewis, he could’ve signed somewhere that provided him with a higher chance of being a primary back. That is unlikely to happen in Tennessee. Lewis will be great for the Titans, and if anything were to happen to Henry, Lewis’ value would skyrocket, but as of now, Henry and Lewis are both eating into each other’s value.