Fantasy Forecast #2
By Jeff Tefertiller
June 27th, 2011

The most difficult thing to do in dynasty leagues is forecast a player's value a year in advance. Yes, we all have different risk tolerances. But, the key to building a true dynasty is to accurately forecast if a player's value will be higher, or lower, this time next year. We will use weather forecasting terms for a player's dynasty outlook. In addition, please keep in mind that the 2012 season will be the paradigm. Which players will see their dynasty value increase exponentially and whose will plummet?

Anyone can predict that a 29- or 30-year old running back will decrease in value in a year. Who would not predict the decreased 2012 values for Michael Turner or Steven Jackson? Both are "sells" for many owners. That is the normal evolution. We will focus on the players whose futures are not so obvious.

So, which players' forecast will be sunny and who will be stormy?

The Forecast is Sunny

These are the players to buy over the next few months with the expectation that their respective values will increase.

  • Andy Dalton - The Cincinnati Bengals are a team in rebuilding mode. They selected their quarterback (Dalton) and wide receiver (A.J. Green) of the future. The circus around the future of Carson Palmer has overshadowed the fact that Dalton was the quarterback the team wanted. Palmer has threatened to retire if his trade demands are not met. Further, Adam Schefter reported that the only role Palmer would star in was as "Mr. Mom". Bengals' owner Mike Brown is not one to be bullied by trade demands. Whether either side relents - or not - Dalton will be the team's starting quarterback in 2012 or before. He was a player taken in the middle or late third round of many dynasty rookie drafts and could be worth as much as a first round pick if he plays well early in his career. The Rose Bowl Most Valuable Player is an accurate passer who relies on his intelligence and moxie more than a strong arm. Even if Chad Ochocinco is jettisoned, he will have two play-making young wide receivers (Green and Jerome Simpson) as well as second-year pro Jermaine Gresham to target. Cincinnati has built a solid young passing game with Dalton running the show. He will be worth much more in a year as the offense matures.

  • Ricky Stanzi - Stanzi is a player few football fans are familiar with outside of the Big 10. He led the Iowa Hawkeye offense the past three seasons. Stanzi improved each year and was able to make the undermanned Hawkeyes respectable. The Kansas City Chiefs spent a fifth round pick on the former Iowa star back in April with the hopes he could develop this season in the shadow of Matt Cassel. Stanzi does not have the best arm strength but excels in the finer parts of the position. Before the NFL Draft, Pro Football Weekly compared Stanzi to Tom Brady in terms of his ability to possibly develop into a solid starter. That may be crazy talk but shows the respect for the rookie. As the Kansas City starter, Cassel has failed to impress even with great coaching (Haley, Weis, Gailey, etc) and good weapons (Bowe, Charles, etc.) to target. He will receive in excess of $10 million for 2011 and is owed a boatload (almost $22 million) for the remaining three years on his contract. After completing 63% of his passes in New England once Tom Brady went down in 2008, Cassel has struggled to complete 56% in Kansas City. Pro Football Focus reported something most Chief fans already knew: Cassel stinks when throwing the ball down the field. He completed less than 25% of passes beyond twenty yards from the line of scrimmage. This percentage was worse than such notables as Alex Smith and Chad Henne. So, why will Stanzi be worth more in year? Right now, he is a waiver wire pick up in most leagues. Plus, Cassel is not very good and owed a lot of money. There is a good chance that the rookie will be starting before the end of the season as long as the Chiefs do not do something crazy like trade for Kevin Kolb. Stanzi threw for 25 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 2010 and could be the quarterback the Chiefs will develop for the future .. or 2011.
  • Storms Likely

    These are the players to hold or sell in dynasty leagues due to value. The players below may not be worth the same this time next year.

  • Leonard Hankerson - Hankerson has the ability to be a very good NFL receiver. His fantasy value this year will be constrained by his situation. With the prospect of either John Beck or Rex Grossman under center, the rookie from Miami will struggle to make an impact many weeks. The Redskins will have one of the, if not THE, worst passing games in the NFL, especially if Santana Moss exits in free agency. It is difficult enough for rookie wide receivers to be productive, but the situation will make it impossible for Hankerson. How can he be expected to produce quality numbers with a very poor quarterback play and questionable running game? The ground attack with Ryan Torain and Roy Helu will not be enough to garner a defense's respect. Next summer will be the time to buy. Hankerson has talent and can a quality fantasy option.
  • Severe Weather Ahead

    These are the players whose value will be in sharp decline very soon so sell quickly.

  • Daniel Thomas - Thomas has been selected as high as 1.03 (non-PPR) and 1.04 (PPR) in dynasty rookie drafts this Spring and Summer. He was rated highly by vaunted NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock as a great size/speed back. Thomas was able to be productive at Kansas State, but only played there his last two years of college. Prior to coming to The Little Apple (Manhattan, KS), Thomas bounced around Junior and private colleges in order to get his grades up. The 6'2", 227-pound bruiser has good feet and deceptive speed. So, why have him in this category? The main (and possibly lone) reason Thomas has the value he currently possesses is due to situation. Dynasty owners are expecting Thomas to be the lone tailback in Miami since both Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are free agents. Coach Sparano wants to have a strong running game. You would too if you had Chad Henne as your starting quarterback. But, the local Miami beat writers are starting to say publicly what I have thought all along, "Even though a second-round pick was used to select Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas in the 2011 draft, the Miami Dolphins openly admit they aren't finished restocking the backfield." In fact, the writer of that article goes on to say that the Dolphins are looking to lure a ball carrier like DeAngelo Williams, Ahmad Bradshaw, or one of a few other top free agents to Miami. Those that spent a very high dynasty rookie pick on Thomas likely would not have done so if they knew the rookie would compete for touches with a top free agent ball carrier. Since the focus of this article is on the 2012 season, the chances are high that Thomas' situation will be no better than that of Ryan Williams or Mikel Leshoure ... the two rookie backs mired in committees whom Thomas was selected over in the rookie drafts.

  • Greg Little - Little has the look of a future star. He is a big, physical wide receiver. But, will he be able to live up to the lofty expectations of dynasty owners who selected him as high as the 1.04 pick? There are many questions to be answered. Will Colt McCoy improve from his meager 7.1 average yards per pass attempt? Can the weak-armed quarterback be more proficient throwing deep or does his lack of arm strength limit his receivers? As noted above, it takes rookie wideouts a while to develop at the professional level. How much more difficult will it be for a player who missed the entire 2010 season? Lastly, will there even be enough pass targets to keep Little on the fantasy radar this year? The leading wideout pass target for McCoy last year was Mohamed Massaquoi with only 73 targets. Little is a player to monitor and try to buy in the middle of the season from a frustrated owner or wait until the summer of 2012. His ability should prevail, but it will take time.

  • DeMarco Murray - Murray flashed a lot of potential early in his college career at the University of Oklahoma. But, the injuries took a toll and his yards per carry average declined from over six yards per carry as a freshman to a pedestrian level of only 4.3 in 2010 (after averaging only 4.1 the year before). Murray is a good receiver out of the backfield and but does not possess good vision. The big question will be whether he can still make the big plays after the injuries. Many fantasy owners are drafting the player of 2007 or 2008. It might be too much to expect. Murray is not big enough to run inside consistently or possess the speed of his early college career to make many big plays. The injuries are the biggest concern. He struggled to stay healthy. This is an area that will need to improve the professional level. Murray is often drafted in the first round of rookie drafts. This is way too high. His skill set is very similar to Felix Jones, with whom he will compete for touches. The Cowboys also have Tashard Choice and may decide to keep Marion Barber with the short offseason. Even if Barber exits, Dallas will have a crowded backfield and Murray has not shown the ability to be special.
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