Offseason Dynasty Rankings Commentary
After my first big rankings update this offseason, below are some of the larger player movements. This has been an active offseason so far, mainly driven by coaching changes, and I expect big changes after the NFL Draft in a few weeks.
The Peyton Manning retirement, and Brock Osweiler signing in Houston, opened the door for the Broncos to trade for Mark Sanchez on the cheap. While Sanchez is far from a fantasy star, he could easily replicate the Manning/Owseiler numbers from 2015. The pair of Denver passers barely eclipsed 500 pass attempts. Before we get to excited about Mark Sanchez, let's keep in mind that the team is still in pursuit of a veteran (Colin Kaepernick or Brian Hoyer) or will draft a quarterback early in the NFL Draft (e.g., Connor Cook) to supplement Sanchez. The reality is that coach Gary Kubiak will run a conservative offense. The Manning/Osweiler combination would have finished as a low-end QB2 last season if combining their numbers. So, that is where rank Sanchez.
The San Francisco 49ers quarterback situation is a mess for new coach Chip Kelly to inherit. It is sad when Blaine Gabbert is the top player at the position. Colin Kaepernick was rumored to be traded but is owed in excess of $14 million this season. So, a potential suitor will need to accept the risk that the 2014 and 2015 level of play is who Kaepernick will be PLUS pay a huge salary. If you are in a quarterback-premium league, stash Gabbert now. Yes, the 49ers may draft a rookie in the first round (like local product Jared Goff), but there is a very real chance Gabbert starts week one.
It is difficult to get behind Matthew Stafford after the Calvin Johnson retirement. Johnson buoyed Stafford's numbers tremendously and the quarterback will see his fantasy numbers suffer. There is little chance the newly-signed Marvin Jones can fill Johnson's big shoes.
Count me in the group who is optimistic that Hue Jackson can turn Robert Griffin III's career around. Jackson is great working with quarterbacks. Yes, a rookie is likely to be selected in the first round, but is Carson Wentz ready to start in the NFL? There is a very real chance that Griffin is the week-one starter for the Browns.
I realize that I am higher on Tom Brady than most. The Patriots know that the window is closing fast and New England is surrounding the start quarterback with talent. The Martellus Bennett addition was shrewd, and will help the running and passing attacks. In addition, I fully expect New England to draft a wide receiver on the second day of the NFL Draft, even after signing Chris Hogan and Nate Washington. Brady could have a huge season in 2016.
The Marshawn Lynch retirement has pushed Thomas Rawls up the rankings, even as Rawls is still recovering from injury. But, we need to ponder the possibility/probability that the Seahawks either sign a veteran (e.g., Arian Foster) or draft a rookie high in the draft. Seattle likes to run the ball and will want ample depth at the position. The liklihood that Rawls either competes or plays behind another runner tempers expectations.
Many are buying into the Lamar Miller hype with the Texans. While he is talented – and should get more touches in Houston than Miami – we must consider the idea of why the former Dolphins coaching staff did not think Miller could handle a larger workload. Further, while we do not necessarily agree with the sentiment, it was recently reported that former Dolphins coach Dan Campbell felt Jay Ajayi was a better back than Miller. If this is the case, then we should temper the sky-high expectations placed on Miller's fantasy upside.
One of the players who will find a place on many of my redraft teams is Alfred Morris. He could put up 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns in Dallas and be a serviceable RB2. The ceiling is capped by limited ability as a receiver, and the Cowboys struggle to score touchdowns. But, Morris is a guy who could be fantasy starter at a cheap price.
With another year gone by, Jerick McKinnon moves up the rankings. Yes, Adrian Peterson played very well last year. But, Father Time is undefeated and McKinnon could be a great dynasty stash to buy while the focus is still on Peterson's production. McKinnon's ability in the passing game gives owners a safe floor for fantasy.
One signing which gained very little press was Stevan Ridley signing in Detroit this past week. He can easily fill the Joique Bell role and perform at a higher level. When we look at the Lions running game, there really is not that much talent for Ridley to surpass on the depth chart. With Calvin Johnson retired, the offense could turn to the running game. Ridley was injured throughout the 2015 season so many have given up on the once-productive back.
The Martavis Bryant suspension pushed him down the rankings. Missing an entire season hurts his value, and so does the chance that Bryant cannot gain reinstatement in 2017. He was suspended for both failed drug tests and not showing up for others. Can we really trust him to make decisions without the help and support of the Steelers organization? In addition, we need to not be so swift to anoint Markus Wheaton and Sammie Coates to be Bryant's replacement. Neither are as talented as the now-suspended receiver. It could be a rookie that takes Bryant's position.
The Detroit Lions receiving corps is a mess. Golden Tate is a talented WR2, who will now be thrust into the WR1 role. Marvin Jones will look to fill the WR2 role. And Jeremy Kerley was signed to be the WR3. I do not like any of these options at their current values. There is a very real possibility that the team drafts a wideout to anchor the group. How can anyone get excited about Matthew Stafford throwing to these fantasy options.
I am very excited to see how the youngsters with a wasted 2015 season fare as sophomores in 2016. There are four receivers, in particular, I am watching. Kevin White will step into the WR2 role opposite Alshon Jeffery in Chicago. Breshad Perriman will complement Steve Smith in Baltimore. These two get plenty of ink spilled on their behalf. But, Chris Conley and DeAndre Smelter each could emerge as fantasy starters on receiver-devoid teams. Plus, Conley (in Kansas City) and Smelter (in San Francisco) are playing for teams which know how to get the receivers the ball.
The retirement of Heath Miller opened the door for the Steelers to get younger at the tight end position by signing Ladarius Green. Green has teased fantasy owners, but struggled to emerge even when given the chance. Yes, he was given gobs of cash and will get the opportunity to succeed. But, we advise also keeping an eye on second-year player Jesse James. In addition, Green's loss makes Antonio Gates a very solid TE1 option for one or two years.
The trade of Martellus Bennett to New England should not impact either his value or that of Rob Gronkowski. However, it does open the door for Zach Miller to become the every-week starter. He carried fantasy owners down the stretch, putting up TE1 numbers while Bennett was sidelined.
The signing of Jared Cook in Green Bay should only serve to make both he and Richard Rodgers worth very little in the world of fantasy football. With Jordy Nelson back to full health, the focus will be on the wide receivers, with Cook and Rodgers playing defined roles.
Feel free to email me (Tefertiller@Footballguys.com) with feedback. Also, I am on Twitter (www.Twitter.com/JeffTefertiller), LinkedIn, and Google+, so you can ask me questions on one of these as well.