4 Players to Buy-Low in Dynasty Leagues (2022 Fantasy Football)
Ever since I became smitten with the enjoyably-degenerate frolic known as dynasty fantasy football, one constant drumbeat has been that “Dynasty is like the stock market.” Savvy managers will attempt to acquire “shares” of certain players before their value increases. The irrational hope is that the sleeper rookie fourth-round pick becomes the equivalent of buying stock in Amazon back in 2002. Realistically, a dynasty manager must simply continue to build their roster through a series of transactions that incrementally improve the odds of winning.
I have identified buy-low candidates from each position that are valued much lower leading into the 2022 season than they will be in the near future. Not every player is like “some kind of fruit company” Forrest Gump invested in, but there are certainly some penny stocks that figure to return respectable dividends at the very least. Note that ADP referenced is from FantasyPros dynasty ADP.
Last season was an absolute tragedy. The Matt Nagy offense was an affront to coaching football. He did the opposite of what any coach in their right mind would have done to prepare his team for battle with a mobile rookie quarterback. There was virtually no pre-snap motion to speak of. Third-string quarterback Nick Foles won a Super Bowl with the Eagles using a pared-down offense, almost exclusively featuring run-pass option plays (RPO). The 2021 Chicago Bears with Justin Fields, an alumnus of the Ohio State Buckeye RPO scheme under Ryan Day, did not use RPOs.
With a level of incompetence barely seen before in the NFL, Fields successfully used his mobility to score fantasy points against the odds. He looked very much like the five-star, blue chip prospect versus three very good defenses in the second half of the season. Fields averaged nearly 22 fantasy points in those three games against the 49ers, Steelers, and Packers.
Justin Fields is too good of a player to not flourish under the new Matt Eberflus regime. The receiving corps might pale in comparison to the weapons he enjoyed in Columbus, but there is plenty of optimism building around this franchise’s rebuild. Mobile quarterbacks with far less arm talent have been fantasy league winners. Fields will have every opportunity to play his way into the QB1 conversation with his first-round draft capital on a team striving to revamp its identity.
Fields is currently the QB13 in dynasty ADP. This might sound reasonable, except for the glaring omission of his top-five potential as an elite rushing quarterback. Call me an optimist, but I’d much rather wait on quarterback in a dynasty draft if players like Fields with extremely high ceilings are available multiple rounds later than the established studs.
The Los Angeles Chargers are making all the right moves these days. Isaiah Spiller was nothing short of an elite running back for Texas A&M in the Southeastern Conference. A nagging hip injury derailed any chance of a satisfactory performance at the NFL Rookie Scouting Combine. He was immediately labeled as an athletically-challenged “bust” following his poor showing in Indy, despite trending as a top-three lock in the 2022 class of RBs entering the Underwear Olympics.
The Chargers had unsuccessfully tried to complement their stud RB Austin Ekeler with consecutive late-round selections Larry Rountree and Joshua Kelley. Justin Jackson was unfortunately never a picture of availability. The L.A. front office must have been giddy to see Spiller, who compiled 3,578 scrimmage yards and 26 touchdowns in three seasons against the rugged SEC, fall to the fourth round in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Spiller is the prototypical size for a three-down running back, at 6-foot and 217 pounds. Although not considered a very explosive player in the open field, he is extremely intelligent as a ball carrier. Spiller’s vision and anticipation allow him to set up his blocks and maximize yardage, something that was lacking from the parade of ancillary backs behind Ekeler the last two seasons.
Should the former Aggie succeed as an NFL runner, it would stabilize one of the more talented backfields in the NFL. Justin Herbert is already one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL after two seasons. Ekeler is wonderful, but he is also past the dreaded RB age cliff. Spiller is in prime position to work as the thunder to Ekeler’s lightning right away and has the chops to step in as a bellcow should Ekeler miss time.
An ADP of RB40 is an insult to the resume that Isaiah Spiller brings into the league. There are a great deal of less-talented RBs that are getting plucked before him in dynasty drafts. Only one rookie from this RB class (Breece Hall) has a more direct path to significant touches right away in 2022. Whereas Hall is appropriately going in the top 10 dynasty RBs, Spiller is still in the bargain bin with the $1 DVDs because of a meaningless combine workout. I already have Spiller ranked as my dynasty RB25 and would not be the least bit surprised to see him climb further once he puts some NFL reps on tape.
Ranking the wide receiver position for fantasy, especially dynasty, is a truly daunting task. The NFL is in the midst of both unprecedented passing production and a huge influx of receiving talent. Instead of reiterating points about some obvious WRs on the rise, you can read about them here.
I have already admitted my wrongness about the Houston Texans’ passing tandem of Davis Mills and Collins. After last season’s unexpected rookie production from each of them, my opinion on these two has gone from pessimistic to predicting them to be a potential breakout from the bargain basement.
Mills thoroughly underwhelmed me during his years at Stanford, which he entered as a top QB recruit. It appears that the talent as a signal-caller was there all along. Mills produced five games of over 20 fantasy points as a third-round rookie on a talent-starved Texans team. One of his favorite receivers to look for down the field and in the red zone was none other than the 6-foot-4 monster out of Michigan.
Don’t get me wrong, Nico Collins was nowhere near a reliable fantasy asset in 2021 (WR86). His dynasty ADP is only slightly more optimistic at WR72. Hidden in this uninspiring lack of production is a placement of trust in Collins toward the back half of 2021. According to Matt Harmon’s preeminent Reception Perception (RP), Collins was thrust into the challenging X-receiver position (outside and on the line of scrimmage). His performance didn’t suggest that he was on the verge of stardom, but his success rate versus man and press coverage warranted a comparison to Tee Higgins‘ rookie season from Harmon.
Since cost-benefit analysis is so important in dynasty, there might not be a lower-ranking WR (and QB) with upside equivalent to the young duo in Houston. Collins is stylistically similar to Courtland Sutton, who has been lofted into WR1 conversations on the heels of a huge QB upgrade and more time elapsed since his ACL injury in 2020. It bears mention that Sutton’s success rates in 2021 were much poorer than the ultra-raw Wolverine produced as a rookie (RP).
Should Mills continue to exceed expectations, Collins is an intriguing dart throw in all fantasy formats with continuous growth as a professional receiver. If it does not materialize, the letdown figures to be mild from a very modest initial investment price.
The tight end position is enigmatic, to say the least. There are a select few elite options, with an ambiguous cluster of faces thereafter. Guessing the next great dynasty TE seems unlikely, but there are a few identifying traits that point me in the direction of the Cleveland Browns’ new $54 million man. It isn’t always wise to “follow the money”, but there is no doubt that this contract is an indication of extreme optimism in the 26-year-old Njoku.
The eventual debut of franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson and the departures of Austin Hooper and Jarvis Landry are also notches in Njoku’s favor. The former Miami Hurricane is a supremely-gifted athlete, with a 97th-percentile burst score, according to Player Profiler. Even in a muddy situation with an injured Baker Mayfield, Njoku flashed some impressive big-play upside in 2021 and finished as TE23. In the event that Njoku ends up as one of the top two targets in the Browns’ passing game, he is on the verge of TE1-tier production.
David Njoku got paid, an upgrade at quarterback for the long term, and has all of the athletic traits to suggest that a 90-100 target season puts him in elite company at the scarcest position in fantasy football. His positional competition, Harrison Bryant, might frustrate fantasy managers on occasion. This should not discourage any dynasty team from adding “Chief” at a nice bargain (TE14).
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