Posted 9/17 by Sigmund Bloom, Jeff Pasquino, and Will Grant, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
The purpose of this column is to spotlight deeper roster moves that could pay off big over the course of the season. Unless stated in a player's write up, we're not looking for one-week wonders here, but shark moves that could really strengthen your team down the road.
Dynasty Watch focuses on low risk; huge payoff roster moves that you might be able make before the guys in your league think about it. This aim of this column is to make you look like a genius to the other owners in your league. When news breaks and the other owners are scrambling to make a waiver wire move, we want them to be upset time and time again that the player is already on your squad.
Darren Sproles, RB, San Diego Chargers
What has he done so far
Sproles made a splash with his 25/122/2 performance in week 15 last year against a woeful Detroit defense, but his outlook was cloudy with the drafting of Jacob Hester, who San Diego seemed to see primarily as a tailback. Sproles still entered the season as LT's primary backup, and when Tomlinson aggravated his toe injury last week, Sproles positively went off to the tune of 125 total yards and touchdown on only 9 touches. He also returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown and had another very long run called back by penalty.
No matter how many times Tomlinson and Turner say LT's toe is getting better, history tells us that turf toe is a nagging injury for running backs. There's always the possibility that Tomlinson's condition wears down to the point that he can not play, and then Sproles becomes an instant top 10 back. Alternatively, the Chargers could use Sproles the way they used Jesse Chatman in 2004, and Michael Turner in 2005, to preserve Tomlinson and lighten his load. If this happens, Sproles becomes a viable flex play, and maybe even RB2 in good matchups.
Sproles has arrived in some form while LT is hurting, and he'll be a restricted free agent next year. Look for him to become Michael Turner part two.
Even though he's only 5'6" 180, Sproles has the breakaway speed, lateral agility, vision, and killer instinct to be an elite fantasy back - if he can hold up under the workload, and his coaches are willing to give him a shot.
Every now and then, a player comes along and shatters one of our rules about what it takes to success in the NFL. Maurice Jones-Drew took out the RB height assumption, and Sproles is now showing 5'6" running backs don't have to have thighs like tree trunks to make it in the NFL. He should evolve in an MJD/Bush like role later in his career when his role matches his considerable talent. Get your offers out now before his owners realize his game was not a fluke.
Chris Gamble, CB, Carolina Panthers
What has he done so far
Gamble was the 28th overall pick in the 2004 draft for Carolina. He had 74 and 75 combined tackles his first two seasons, but has slowly tapered off over the last two years and only had 47 combined tackles last year. He also missed several games over the last three seasons, which has also limited his performance. He also returned punts for his first three seasons, but has not done that since 2006.
He's currently one of the starting cornerbacks for Carolina opposite Ken Lucas. However, he had a solid performance last week against Chicago and has 12 solo tackles, 1 assist, two fumble recoveries (including 1 for a touchdown in the season opener) and 4 pass defenses over his first two games this season.
He's probably a free agent in your dynasty league due to his dwindling performance over the last two seasons. Gamble started out with some very promising numbers and slowly turned into a guy that you couldn't count on from week to week. He's off to a great start this season, and he's worth a roster slot now, if only to play him until he gets hurt.
Gamble had 149 combined tackles over his first two seasons, and finished as the 16th and 7th best fantasy DB respectively. After two games this season, he's on pace to hit more than 90. That makes him a starter in any dynasty league that requires a DB. His ball-hawking abilities should give him plenty of opportunities to defend and intercept passes as well. During his first two seasons, Gamble had 26 total pass defenses and 13 interceptions. Another example of just how good he can be.
Chris Gamble was a starter quality DB for his first two seasons before tapering off the last two years and missing a few games to injury. He's proven that he can put up solid numbers as a fantasy DB, and he's off to a heck of a start this season. Will he make it the whole season? Maybe, maybe not. But when a DB is averaging six solo tackles a game, and has recovered a couple fumbles, he's worth a roster slot on your dynasty team. Check your waiver wire this week. He's probably there just waiting for you to grab him. Take a shot and ride him as long as he continues to put up the numbers.
Players You Should Already Be Watching
- Kregg Lumpkin, RB, Green Bay Packers
An unheralded third string Packer running back busts off a long run in week 2 and earns praise from the coaching staff. Sound familiar? No I'm not flashing back to 2007 and Ryan Grant, I'm talking about Kregg Lumpkin. He looked better than Brandon Jackson in his limited work, and Ryan Grant struggled to get slightly more than a yard a carry vs. Detroit. Look for Lumpkin to rise up the depth chart and maybe get an opportunity to lead the Green Bay rushing offense while Grant's ailing hamstring heals.
- Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers
Nelson was bumped down to WR4 with James Jones return this week, but that didn't stop him from making an impact. Nelson got surprisingly easy separation on his 29 yard touchdown catch, and also flashed the quicks to get free at the line of scrimmage against press coverage. He's good enough to put numbers instantly if he gets an opportunity in the high flying Green Bay passing offense. Even if he doesn't get that chance early in his career, Nelson's time will come.
- Tim Hightower, RB, Arizona Cardinals
This just in- Edgerrin James is getting older. The Cardinals drafted this unknown RB out of Richmond (1-AA) who scored 20 touchdowns in his senior season. Hightower got rave reviews from RB coach Maurice Carthon, who immediately compared him to Marion Barber in running style. Now, don't go crazy here - Hightower is far from being the next MB3 by quite a bit - but consider his situation. He is currently the #2 RB on a good offensive team and getting short yardage, goal line and third down opportunities. Long term his is also the heir apparent to the starting running back role for Arizona, so if you can find a way to add him to your RB stable you should absolutely do just that.
- Steve Breaston, WR, Arizona Cardinals
Every year in Arizona, they throw, throw and throw some more. Normally the top wideouts are Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, but it is a little known fact that both wideouts have combined for 16 missed starts (and even more playing time) due to injury over the past four years. Even with both of them in the lineup, there is room for a third wideout to get plenty of looks. This is exactly why Bryant Johnson got a nice deal to go to San Francisco and start. The third WR option is always a good value, and this year it looks like that will be Breaston's role. Grab him now as a nice handcuff if you own either Boldin or Fitzgerald and you can spare the roster space.
- Mike Tolbert, RB, San Diego Chargers
Against Denver this week, Tolbert turned a short slant over the middle into a 67 yard highlight film this week against Denver. For the season he has 9 touches for 110 yards which isn't too bad considering he's a backup to LaDainian Tomlinson. But he's a rookie out of Coastal Carolina, and he's built a lot more like an NFL running back than Sproles. Is he going to be a Dynasty starter tomorrow or by week 5? Probably not. But he's definitely a guy you should keep your eye on. The Chargers are definitely trying to keep him involved in the offense each week.