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 of your teams. The diversity of rankings will result in a variety of opinions weekly.
Carson Wentz - I was clearly wrong about the Eagles offense being a cesspool in 2016. A big reason for that is the performance of Carson Wentz. His competent play paired with the defense giving him favorable game scripts has been key in helping guide the Eagles to a 3-0 start. Like Dak Prescott, Wentz has shown unbelievable poise as a rookie. It’s clear that operating in a pro-style offense in college gave Wentz a major leg-up in his transition to the NFL. It’s not often that we can feel comfortable starting a rookie quarterback in our fantasy games, but Wentz is providing solid production at the position. He may attain Winston or Mariota-like dynasty value sooner than we expected.
Carson Wentz - Historically, fantasy owners underrate just how much value highly-drafted quarterbacks provide in dynasty. Quarterbacks who are taken at the very top of the NFL draft are, on average, pretty valuable assets. But that average hides all manner of sins; in truth, there are really two types of highly-drafted quarterbacks. The ones that are incredibly valuable, (Peyton Manning, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck), and the ones that are completely useless, (Jamarcus Russell, Tim Couch, Sam Bradford). There's very little middle-class there, (maybe just Eli Manning and Matt Ryan). His offense is keeping the training wheels on, but every good game increases the odds that Wentz will find his way into that first bucket and, more crucially, avoid the second.
Drew Brees - The biggest risk with old players is that they're going to suddenly and unexpectedly fall off the cliff. We saw it with Peyton Manning last year. We might be seeing it with Tony Romo right now. Three games in, it's a pretty safe bet that Drew Brees still has it, so his prospects for 2016 became much safer and his prospects for 2017 and beyond became commensurately brighter.
C.J. Anderson - Anderson has been Denver's best running back for a while now. After recovering from an early-season injury, Anderson led all runners in yards per carry after Denver's bye last year, and he was the best offensive player on the field in Denver's Super Bowl victory. Now he's getting featured-back workload, one of the small handful of under-26 backs who can make that claim. He's burned owners in the past, but it's time to take very seriously the thought of Anderson as a top-6 dynasty RB.
Adrian Peterson / Danny Woodhead - I'm a big fan of buying injured players, but that's because injured players have a great chance of returning to form, thanks to the miracles of modern medicine. But when a player is injured and old, those chances decline precipitously. The end comes for everyone, and there's a good chance that we've seen the last fantasy-relevant season from both of these backs.
Jerick McKinnon- I wrote a couple weeks ago that McKinnon could be a season-winner if Peterson went down. Fortunately for McKinnon owners, that scenario played out when Peterson injured his knee in week two. Peterson is not expected to be back until NFL playoff time. Clearly, the Peterson era is ending and the McKinnon era is beginning in Minnesota. Though McKinnon had a tough matchup on the road against the Panthers this week past, he ran much better than Matt Asiata. He made up for his lack of yardage on the ground with work in the passing game. McKinnon will undoubtedly do more for owners against run defenses that are less stifling.
Christine Michael- Michael is once again on the move up my rankings. Physical talent is finally intersecting with proper preparation and is a beautiful thing to behold. Rawls and Wilson being injured forced Seattle to lean heavily upon Michael in game three, and he showed that he was up to the task. While I don’t believe that the committee in Seattle will completely dissipate, I do think that Rawls and Prosise will return to a backfield in which they are both getting significantly out-touched by Michael.
Jordan Howard- As of this writing, Jeremy Langford looks like he could miss time with an ankle injury. Though Langford had been posting relevant fantasy production, it was evident watching him run that pure volume and not talent accounted for his output. Howard, on the other hand, is a better pure rushing threat than any other back currently on the roster. Decimated by injury, the Bears will be down and out in the majority of contests this year. They will want to give some of their younger players touches and opportunities that will help them to develop. Howard should benefit from this and set himself up to be their lead man for the foreseeable future.
Jay Ajayi - Though I don’t doubt Ajayi’s level of talent as a runner, he’s sliding down my dynasty board due to other factors. There seems to be some sort of lack of trust among the coaching staff, as evidenced by their offseason attempts to add other backs and by their keeping him on the inactive list in week one. We don’t know all the behind-the-scenes issues, but one that the team chose to share with us was that Ajayi pouted and did not work diligently after the team added Arian Foster. This shows a concerning lack of discipline on Ajayi’s part. Even though he scored the game-winning touchdown this week, we saw the Dolphins do everything they could to avoid giving him the majority of the touches, by splitting work with Isaiah Pead and Kenyon Drake. We’ve seen many examples of talented players derailed by attitude problems through the years. We need to monitor this situation closely to make sure Ajayi does not become another casualty of immaturity.
Willie Snead IV - This goes hand-in-hand with Drew Brees. As long as Drew Brees “has it”, his receivers are going to benefit. Since Brees still looks like a star, there's room for his top receiver to do very well in fantasy. And while many believe that top receiver is going to be Brandon Cooks or Michael Thomas, to this point in 2016, that top guy has been Willie Snead IV, one of the best slot receivers in the NFL.
Julio Jones - The argument for Julio Jones over much-younger stars like DeAndre Hopkins and Allen Robinson always hinged on the absolutely massive target volume Julio received and the huge short-term advantage he offered. So far in 2016, that target volume isn't there; Julio's 20 targets through three games tie for the team lead with... Jacob Tamme. His 62.7 yards per game would be a career low, even below his rookie season. Jones is far, far too good to continue averaging fewer than 7 targets per game, but with the most potent two-headed running back tandem in the league, Atlanta looks like a tremendous offense that simply doesn't need Julio to carry them like he's had to in the past. And with so many talented young players behind him, any slip from his record-setting volume pace is bad news.
Kyle Rudolph - A long-time middling pro known best known for a sophomore season that saw him snag a fluky-high 9 touchdowns and earn pro bowl MVP honors, Rudolph has never topped 500 receiving yards in any of his five professional seasons. While it might still dissipate, (small sample sizes and all), Rudolph has been getting a massive target volume through three games and looks primed to smash through that barrier; he's currently on pace for 885. With strong draft pedigree, (a former 2nd rounder), and still a month shy of his 27th birthday, perhaps it's time to start taking Rudolph a bit more seriously as a dynasty asset.
Eric Ebron - A player who was drafted in the top 10 at a position where players are rarely drafted in the top 10, many owners closed the book on Ebron's dynasty value after he struggled as a rookie at a position where almost every player struggles as a rookie. That was a mistake. Ebron is a good football player.
Cameron Brate- Sometimes in the NFL, it’s not just about how athletic you are, but rather how dependable you are. Brate was previously blocked by the superior athlete in Austin Seferian-Jenkins (ASJ), but a combination of offseason shenanigans and a DUI arrest led to the Buccaneers cutting ties with Seferian-Jenkins. Brate established rapport with Winston when ASJ missed time due to injury last year, and it clearly has carried over. We could see Winston leaned on him in a comeback effort against a stiff Rams defense. With the absorption of ASJ’s targets, Brate has suddenly become an asset at the depleted fantasy tight end position.