Each week, Footballguys staff members will share the big movers in their respective Dynasty Rankings. Since the contributors will rotate, please check in weekly. The focus of this article will be on the “why” more than the movement itself. Dynasty Rankings are fluid and we hope that sharing the rationale will help you in your quest to create dynasties with all your teams. The diversity of rankings will result in a variety of opinions weekly.
Mike Glennon - By the week, I am more optimistic Glennon will get a starting opportunity for 2017. The key factors include teams attempting to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo or favoring someone like Brian Hoyer in free agency. The 2017 incoming rookie crop projects as weaker than previous recent classes.
Kirk Cousins - In a contract year, Cousins has posted eight top-10 fantasy weeks, including three top-5 finishes. His situation is optimal with a bevy of weapons and a quality system with Jay Gruden. My only pause is the upcoming free agency of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. If both leave, the incumbent targets for Cousins next year would be Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder, and a returning-from-injury Josh Doctson.
Kirk Cousins - I was hesitant to rank Cousins too high this year, waiting to see if he could come close to his 2nd half of 2015 in which he was among the top QBs in the league. He certainly has done so. From Week 6 on he has on a per game basis outperformed all but Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Andrew Luck using a typical scoring system (and 6th for the full season). He has somehow managed to do it without DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed much of the time, and rookie first-rounder Josh Doctson all season. It is also notable that he did not wilt playing under the franchise tag as other quarterbacks have often done. The good news is Doctson should be ready to roll next year. Cousins turns 29 just before next season so he is in his prime, and has solid evidence from both 2015 and 2016 that he can put up the fantasy points. If you see him ranked elsewhere not in the top 1/4 of the league among fantasy quarterbacks I think it would have to be due to lack of reputation and pedigree. He's the real deal.
Tyrod Taylor - Taylor is sort of the opposite of Cousins above. Buffalo wasn't willing to go all in on Taylor after the 2015 season, but instead of paying the price of a franchise tag they decided to sign him to a long-term contract they could easily get out of after 2016 if he didn't perform as hoped. While his fantasy stats in 2015 looked nice, he never showed the consistent accuracy that would make a General Manager trust him long term. In 2016, as Buffalo once again is sure to miss the playoffs, it is becoming evident that neither HC Rex Ryan or QB Taylor will be leading the Bills in 2017. Guys like Taylor and Colin Kaepernick are reminders that, while it is nice to get those extra points running the ball, if they can't pass well enough they won't be starters for long in the NFL. Fine for redraft while they are in there starting but don't count on them in dynasty long term.
Rob Kelley - Ranking surprising undrafted rookies is always a tough guess. Lack of track record and uncertain commitment from the coaching staff can turn a potentially promising player back into a nobody with just a bad game or two. I've been cautious ranking Kelley but keep moving him up and now have him in my top 30 RBs. Once preseason games began, the undrafted Kelley passed fellow rookie Keith Marshall who had been getting all the hype in Spring and Summer. Then when Matt Jones continued the fumbling that had gone on in 2015, HC Gruden had had enough and gave Kelley his chance. Not only has Matt Jones not reclaimed the job, he has been on the game day inactive list week after week while Kelley has cemented his starting role. Since taking over in Week 8 as starter Kelley has been the #11 fantasy RB (PPR). Will he be another Arian Foster, also an undrafted guy? Very unlikely since Kelley isn't much of a pass catcher. Probably not even another Rawls or Blount or CJ Anderson, all undrafted RBs. But maybe close to it. He is in a good system and, so far, is handling the job well, and HC Gruden recently said he wants to give the ball to Kelley more which is very encouraging.
Devontae Booker - When C.J. Anderson went out for the season with injury, Booker had his shot. Coaches had already been talking of RBBC before Anderson's injury and were excited to get Booker on the field. Though just a fourth rounder and not especially strong or fast, I bought into the noise and had Booker ranked too high after Anderson went down. But since then Booker has been terrible, and was on the verge of being bypassed by practice squad call-up Kapri Bibbs when Bibbs got hurt and went on IR. Then the Broncos pulled old Justin Forsett off the street who immediately bypassed Booker. Such is the coaching staff's current trust in Booker. Now, he's just a rookie and he could rebound, but such lack of faith suggests HC Kubiak is not likely to view Booker as competition for the starting job in 2017 when Anderson and Bibbs are back healthy.
Carlos Hyde - Hyde gets lost a bit by playing on the horrible 49ers, but quietly he is a low-RB1 in PPR points-per-game this season. Hyde is running hot and has five weekly finishes in the top-8 through 11 games played. Without a pass game of any consistency, Hyde is one of the most impressive running back performers this season. Hyde is finally healthy, in his prime production window, and poised for a strong 2017.
Devontae Booker - Justin Forsett arrived in Denver and already moved past the rookie on the depth chart in his first active game. Booker continues to underperform with his opportunities and lacks the vision to find cracks which were found by Kapri Bibbs, C.J. Anderson, and now Justin Forsett behind the same offensive line. The sell-high window is gone for Booker, but now the recommendation is sell for what you can.
Marqise Lee - The former second-round pick logged his most impressive tape of the season (maybe his career) in Week 14. The Vikings are a strong secondary and Lee exhibited outstanding ball skills, tracking, and after-catch acumen while the rest of the Jacksonville pass game wilted. Lee is the most productive Jaguars pass target this season and, finally healthy, showing his upside as an inside and outside NFL receiver.
Laquon Treadwell - I recently looked at near-redshirt Round 1 wide receivers in my projection model and the odds continue to fall for Treadwell to turn things around and become a future fantasy starter. Treadwell's lack of athleticism in the pre-draft process was alarming, but the depth chart was wide open for early playing time. Treadwell has routinely been WR5 in terms of snaps for the Vikings and yet to separate from a defensive back on a route from my game notes. Treadwell's historical odds began in the 55% range to become a fantasy starter but now are in the 20-25% range.
Kevin White - It is near the end of White's sophomore season and he has done little yet. Hurt in both of his NFL years, many fantasy players have short memories and he has become a forgotten man. I've seen dynasty rankings with White ranked in the 40s and 50s. That's just wrong in my opinion; I have him in the mid-teens now that this season is about over and we're looking to 2017 when he'll be healthy. If ever there was a fantastic bargain, if that's how his current dynasty owners are valuing him (i.e., 40s and 50s), it is him. The Bears drafted White as the 7th overall pick in 2015 and there was pre-draft debate from a lot of folks that he might have been better than Amari Cooper who was taken 4th overall. Alshon Jeffery's contract is up and he is most likely leaving Chicago. The rest of the receivers on the team are underwhelming. Don't sleep on White just because the stats haven't proven him yet. He was drafted 7th overall because he is a superior talent. White needs to be on your trade target list. Buy, buy, buy.
Allen Robinson - Robinson, after his standout 2015 season, was a preseason top 6 dynasty receiver. This year started strangely as he caught just 6 of 15 targets in Week 1, and that turned out to be an omen for a season of inconsistency. Quarterback Bortles has been terrible (though he has often salvaged a decent fantasy day in garbage time), and Robinson has managed to catch only 48% of his passes on the year. There was a nice stretch in midseason, but over the last month he has been almost invisible with a combined 9-90-1 over four games including 1-17-0 in Week 14. This followed a team meeting held to supposedly get the QB and WR on the same page. I suspect Robinson will be less disappointing in 2017 than 2016, but it now seems 2015 was a bit of a fluke and that has me continuing to move Robinson (as well as Bortles) down my rankings from the elite preseason level.
A.J. Derby - If you can recall a little NFL history you may remember that Broncos' HC Kubiak loves getting the ball to the tight end. Owen Daniels followed Kubiak from city to city and was always productive when healthy; he just was hurt a lot. On a per game basis, there were seasons he was near the top of the tight end stats. Owens was done after 2016 at age 30-something, and Denver hoped a Virgil Green / Jeff Heuerman (who they drafted in 2015) would fill the bill. But neither worked out, so they parted with a 5th round pick a few weeks ago to add AJ Derby of the Patriots. Derby was stuck behind Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett, the Patriots were happy to get the pick, and the Broncos were happy to get a solid pass catching tight end who had a strong preseason. I think Derby could be another Owen Daniels (sans the injuries hopefully) and so far has caught 12 of 14 targets since joining the team. Now getting acclimated in the offense, Derby was 5-57 in Week 14, 4-43 in Week 12. Drafted in 2015 and 25 years old, I see good things ahead for him in the Kubiak offense. So, encouraged am I by what I've seen of him just starting out, I have boldly moved him up to a dynasty rank of #16.
Delanie Walker - There's a handful of aging tight ends I could discuss for down movement but most of them have already underperformed this year and rankings have already incorporated that. The one I want to mention is Walker, who when healthy has still been very productive but is a player I'd be looking to sell if I can find an owner more interested in his nice 2016 stats than the decline I see ahead. With 2016 about over, I've moved him from 9th to 15th with extra downside risk. He turns 33 before next season begins and the Titans are no longer the same as when he arrived a few years ago from San Francisco. He put up some nice numbers for a few years on a bad team with few decent receivers, but now quarterback Mariota is maturing and developing a rapport with Rishard Matthews and will do so with Tajae Sharpe, and whoever they add next year. I think 2017 is the year Walker is no longer a difference maker and begins to be phased out.
Cameron Brate - Brate is an upcoming free agent and excelling with his opportunities as Tampa Bay's starter this season. His ball skills are exceptional and he can win down the seam. For large parts of the season, Brate has been the only dependable target outside of Mike Evans for Jameis Winston. Expect a strong offer in free agency and Tampa Bay would be best served to retain Brate as their starter going forward.
Clive Walford - Tight end development in fantasy terms is the slowest of all skill positions, but Walford has been a disappointment this season in Year 2. His snap counts have been underwhelming, ceding time to Mychal Rivera and Lee Smith regularly. On the fantasy side, Walford has just two weeks inside the top-20 tight ends and one since Week 2. While Derek Carr is distributing fantasy production, Walford is seeing little. 2017 is projecting as a make or (more likely) break season for Walford in terms of dynasty market value.