Post-Hype Dynasty Targets (2021 Fantasy Football)
Dynasty football is a different type of game than redraft fantasy leagues. While redraft and best-ball leagues mostly prioritize immediate production, dynasty leagues place more emphasis on the long game. Some players take time to develop to the speed of a pro game. Others struggle to adapt to the scheme they were drafted into or languish under poor coaching. It’s not uncommon for young players to take two or three years, and sometimes, even more, to finally produce like fantasy starters.
However, even the most patient fantasy managers want to win. It’s not uncommon for managers to give up on struggling assets that do not pay dividends quickly enough. With the advent of analytics, it has become increasingly more common for fantasy managers to send rookies packing if they don’t meet certain thresholds of production in their first year. Moreover, sometimes players simply don’t meet a fantasy manager’s lofty (or unreasonable) projections, prompting a desire to sell now for fear of never recouping any value.
Does this mean that every dynasty asset that faceplants is someone to target? Of course not. However, a deeper look into why some of these following names failed to deliver on the hype may present unique buying opportunities.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB – KC)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s value may never be lower. He is the lead back in an Andy Reid offense with Patrick Mahomes under center, so he will never face stacked fronts. Edwards-Helaire is a first-round rookie rusher who cleared 1,100 yards from scrimmage and boasts an elite receiving profile. Yet, check Twitter, and you’d think he was the biggest bust of all the rookie running backs. His 88th percentile Burst Score on PlayerProfiler.com, pass-catching prowess, vision, and ability to set up blockers are precisely what you want to see in a running back featured in this offense.
For anyone who thinks Jonathan Taylor has played better than Clyde Edwards Helaire, let's look into it.
Evaded Takles per game:
CEH: 4.4 (4.6 ypc)
JT: 4.0 (4.1 ypc)
Yards created per game:
— Alejandro Pagan (@AlejandroPaga19) December 14, 2020
Granted, I won’t go as far as to suggest that CEH was better than Jonathan Taylor last year. However, the numbers do show that Edwards-Helaire is likely being undervalued based on what his opportunity share should be next year. The biggest reason he ranked, on average, 20th in FFPG in 2020 is that he scored only five total touchdowns last year and missed three games due to injury. Expect positive regression next year. If Edwards-Helaire had finished the game in Week 15 against New Orleans and played in the final two games of the year against the Atlanta Falcons and Los Angeles Chargers, two poor run defenses last year, he would have had a realistic shot at finishing the year with 1,000 yards rushing. Moreover, in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl loss, Edwards-Helaire averaged 7.1 YPC on his nine rushes. Expect more teams to sell out to stop Mahomes and the passing game, opening up even wider lanes for Edwards-Helaire. We should see far more of this next year:
If there were any questions about the ability of Clyde Edwards-Helaire to play RB in the NFL they were answered last night. Zone with Fish locked on the end gives CEH one backer to beat, and we see what makes him special when he jukes a safety off the field.@ArrowheadLive 1/2 pic.twitter.com/6obiph0005
— Caleb James (@CJScoobs) September 11, 2020
D.J. Chark (WR – JAX)
D.J. Chark is a rare breed of receiver. It’s not often that a receiver bottoms out as a rookie, only to break out as a Pro Bowler in Year 2 and then struggle again in his third year. The rollercoaster ride makes it difficult to evaluate Chark in the broader context of dynasty. In terms of his profile, Chark has top-end measurables. According to PlayerProfiler.com, Chark’s speed (96th percentile) and burst (93rd percentile) are elite. Despite having a less than ideal body mass index, Chark combines his speed and burst with superlative route running. Chark’s 29 deep targets ranked as the fifth most in the league last year, but poor quarterback play meant most of those targets were uncatchable (756 unrealized air yards, good for ninth-most in the league). That will not be the case in 2021, as Chark will almost certainly have mega prospect Trevor Lawrence throwing him the rock in new HC Urban Meyer’s spread attack. If Jacksonville opts to trade him, there are many teams that could use his skills.
Please give me D.J. Chark Jr. in Baltimore pic.twitter.com/Nfn0YJ5ici
— Ramey (@HoodieRamey) February 9, 2021
Chark had 53 receptions for 706 yards in 2020. If we give him just 40% of his unrealized air yards, he clears 1,000 yards for the second consecutive year. Instead, Chark barely finished as a top 40 WR based on FFPG last season. While his manager won’t move him for that low of a price, Chark remains a high-WR2 upside play that might be acquired for a second-round pick or WR3 price.
Drew Lock (QB – DEN)
This is less an endorsement of Drew Lock and more of a vote of confidence in his situation. The Broncos will likely stick with Lock if they can’t get Deshaun Watson. While I am not a big believer in Lock’s talent, he should have a healthy Courtland Sutton, plus a more experienced Jerry Jeudy, K.J. Hamler, and Noah Fant to throw to in 2021. That supporting cast can elevate even a pedestrian signal-caller. The Broncos still have a lot of holes on defense, and they should find themselves throwing enough to make Lock a solid QB2 in Super Flex leagues. Right now, his abysmal 2020 season has driven down his cost enough that he can probably be had for much less than quarterbacks usually cost in those league formats. I say all this with the caveat that I’m not a fan of Lock’s game. I wouldn’t be surprised if next season is his final year in Denver, but it’s entirely possible for him to produce solid fantasy stats in the way that bad quarterbacks often do when they have an elite supporting cast. Acquiring Lock now while his stock is down, only to flip him later for a profit if he can capitalize with better production later, could make for a sound investment strategy.
Marquise Brown (WR – BAL)
There is no way to sugarcoat this: Marquise Brown was a bust in 2020. He was more “Hollywood, Florida” than “Hollywood, California.” From Weeks 1-11, Brown averaged just 8.72 fantasy PPG and cleared 100 yards just one time (Week 1); he wasn’t even a top 60 receiver. However, from Week 12 on, Brown scored double-digit fantasy points in every game, clearing over 20 PPG in Week 17 as the Ravens tried to get more creative in drawing up plays to get the ball into his hands. Brown probably will never meet the hype that surrounded him heading into last season (where many drafters had visions of WR1 sugarplums dancing in their heads), but he might have more upside than most WR3 candidates you will find. Expect the Ravens to add a compliment to Brown this offseason, preferably one who can win in the short and intermediate areas on the field. That would open things up for Brown to thrive outside the hash marks and downfield where his speed can kill. If nothing else, Ravens’ WRs coach and passing-game coordinator David Culley took the Houston Texans’ HC gig, so a passing game that couldn’t get any worse actually has a realistic chance of getting better in 2021. Don’t forget that what made you think a “Marquise Brown SZN” was coming in the first place.
Marquise Brown can FLY pic.twitter.com/Ri7qA0lGAZ
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) May 6, 2020
Parris Campbell (WR – IND)
The Colts’ second-rounder from 2019 has spent more time in the trainer’s room than the field since he was drafted, but his litany of injuries may provide a unique buying opportunity. If Parris Campbell’s stock had fallen due to poor performance over his first two years, it would be hard to recommend him as a dynasty target. However, Campbell’s lack of production seemingly has more to do with availability than inability. Campbell rates in the 96th percentile among wide receivers in the 40-yard dash and in the 98th percentile in the broad jump. He’s an explosive playmaker, and his ability to win downfield makes him a perfect match for Carson Wentz’s arm. The lack of production and injury risks means you can probably acquire Campbell for a 3rd round rookie draft pick, where his profile arguably gives him a better chance of hitting than many of the names that will be available then.
Jalen Reagor (WR – PHI)
The loss of Carson Wentz seemingly depresses Jalen Reagor’s stock even more, but there are many reasons for optimism. First, he had an elite prospect profile. He broke out at age 18 with a 20% Dominator Rating, and then he posted a 30% Dominator Rating at age 19 while playing for TCU. His 15.2 YPR in college showed how dangerous Reagor could be in an offense that knows how to scheme him the ball. For better or worse, he will always be compared to Justin Jefferson since the Eagles famously passed on Jefferson for Reagor, causing the Vikings brass to giggle with glee and take Jefferson with the next pick.
Reagor will probably never produce as Jefferson did as a rookie, and that presents a buying window for fantasy managers if Reagor’s manager made the same mistake the Eagles did. The Eagles were a dysfunctional mess last season, resulting in the coaching staff getting fired. Reagor also missed some time with a UCL tear in his thumb, further slowing his development. Wentz seemed to struggle with drag routes, screens, and throws closer to the line of scrimmage, preferring the home run throw downfield. New HC Nick Sirianni’s scheme prioritizes getting his receivers the ball on the run closer to the line of scrimmage, allowing Reagor’s YAC skills to do all the work. There’s still high-end WR2 upside with Reagor, and frustrated managers may be willing to sell for less than the 1st rounder they likely spent on him.
Three notes from Sirianni on the offense he and Reich installed in Indy starting in 2018
1) multiple TE sets = exploitable matchups
2) getting the ball to receivers on the run w/in 5 yards of LoS (Jalen Reagor!)
3) using pass-catching running backshttps://t.co/IRjxOB5dTg
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) January 21, 2021
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