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.
Deshaun Watson - Watson has quickly quieted his critics four games into his rookie season. He has shot up my dynasty rankings from QB22 after a shaky preseason and awful Week 1 debut all the way up to QB8 after Week 4. When dealing with small sample sizes, you have to adjust expectations aggressively when a player massively outperforms expectations. Watson has done that. He has performed significantly better in each successive outing, culminating with 34.7 fantasy points and 5 total touchdowns in an annihilation of the Tennessee Titans on Sunday. Watson has shown major improvement over the past two weeks as a passer. But from a fantasy perspective, his 132 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns in his three starts are especially intriguing. Over a full season, those numbers project to 704 rushing yards and 10.7 rushing touchdowns.
Jacoby Brissett - Brissett is only relevant for Superflex and Two-QB leagues but worth noting as he jumped 7 spots from QB39 to QB32. He has gone from the verge of getting cut by the New England Patriots to a player with a realistic shot of eventually developing into a full-time starter somewhere after three relatively impressive starts for the Indianapolis Colts. Brissett should have a couple more weeks to make his case to future employers before Andrew Luck returns.
Deshaun Watson - Watson is showing poise beyond his years and providing competent play that is lifting a team that had been sagging. His running ability also gives him upside over traditional passers and makes him one of the more valuable quarterbacks to own in dynasty going forward.
Joe Flacco - I thought that Flacco might be able to rebound this season, but that was before injuries ravaged this team and Flacco himself. On top of that, Flacco’s throwing and decision-making have been far from crisp on most plays. That may have to do with the lack of protection and continued recovery from a back surgery he underwent in the offseason. Having very few ways to challenge defenses at this point, Flacco is at the helm of one of the worst offenses in the league. I’m moving Flacco down my board and hoping that Ozzie Newsome can use some of the team’s draft capital to bring in pieces to boost Flacco’s stock in the future.
Matt Breida - With Carlos Hyde disappointing due to a hip injury, I’m starting to look at Matt Breida across my dynasty leagues in which he is not yet rostered. He seems to be a better fit for this team and his role expanded on Sunday when he logged a career-high ten touches. While he didn’t post eye-popping numbers in this divisional contest, you can tell that the coaching staff is fond of Breida and wants to see more of him going forward.
Andre Ellington - Don’t get me wrong -- I don’t think Ellington has returned to where he was prior to David Johnson. However, I do think he’s had a small resurgence in value. He’s being utilized as a pass catcher, which is where he tends to shine. Not banging it between the tackles constantly may also keep Ellington from getting hurt, as he has often been throughout his career. He’s moved up my board a few spots and has been a nice addition to many of my injury-ravaged PPR squads.
Todd Gurley - Gurley is a fascinating case study in how much difference a coaching change and improved surrounding talent can make for a running back. He jumps up from RB9 to RB3. Perhaps more importantly, he moves from a crowded second tier beneath Ezekiel Elliott, Le'Veon Bell, and David Johnson up into that elite tier. The increased production is amazing. After scoring just 6 touchdowns last season in 16 games, Gurley already has 7 through just 4 this year. While the touchdown rate is unsustainable and bound to decrease, the increase in his receiving production is even more noteworthy and more likely to continue. Gurley is averaging 5 catches and 58.5 yards receiving per game. Those are elite numbers that would give him a great shot at ending the season as the top fantasy running back if he can sustain them.
Alvin Kamara - Kamara moves up six spots from RB20 to RB14 in my updated rankings. With so many rookie running backs making major contributions and emerging as stars, Kamara’s more modest early success is flying under the radar. However, in PPR leagues Kamara also has extremely high upside in the Saints upside and has shown enough that his role should continue to grow. Kamara has already seen a whopping 28 passing targets, which puts him on pace for 112 on the season. He has looked like the best back on the Saints and could see his role continue to grow. Kamara received 15 touches in Week 4 and turned them into 25.6 PPR points. He could see a similar workload going forward and become a sneakily solid fantasy RB2 this season with RB1 upside for future years.
Isaiah Crowell - Crowell falls 14 spots from RB18 to RB32. He was a popular 3rd round pick in redraft leagues this fall and hyped for a potential breakout season. Instead, he has averaged less than 6.5 fantasy points per game. Crowell is in the final year of his rookie contract and looks like he may be falling out of favor with the Cleveland coaching staff. He has averaged less than 10 rushing attempts per game over the last three weeks, losing snaps to Duke Johnson Jr (who has been much more productive).
Stefon Diggs - Diggs has made a major move up from WR16 to WR7. Diggs is still just 23-years old and is emerging as one of the league’s most talented and productive young wide receivers. He has at least 93 receiving yards in three-of-four games and already has two multi-touchdown games. Part of Diggs’ rise in the rankings is also attributable to disappointing starts to the season from many of the receivers ranked just above him in the Week 1 update.
Amari Cooper - Cooper falls 7 spots from WR3 to WR10. He looked to be on the brink of the stereotypical third-year breakout common for so many young receivers. He garnered praise all offseason and stood out in training camp. Then the games started and Cooper disappeared. He has had several tough matchups but the struggles are more pervasive than that. He is leading the league with seven drops and looks like he has lost some confidence. Cooper is also in a tough spot because opposing teams are treating him like an elite WR1 by consistently putting a Safety back deep on his side of the field. This list’s Cooper’s opportunities as a deep threat and allows the cornerback covering him to be more aggressive on the short routes. If you believe in Cooper, now is the time to try to “buy low” with his owners likely very frustrated. If you own Cooper and thinks his breakout is never going to come, your chances to “sell high” may continue to shrink if he doesn’t shake out of his current funk soon.
Sammy Watkins - Watkins didn’t see a massive drop in overall value but is in a tightly-packed tier and even his relatively small decrease in value caused him to slide 10 spots from WR15 to WR25. The optimistic view of Watkins was that if he could get healthy and in a better situation, his talent would allow him to emerge as an elite receiver. Well, he has been pretty healthy this season and is playing on the league’s highest-scoring offense with a solid young quarterback and he has managed just one good fantasy game. Twice in the last three weeks, Watkins played most of the snaps but still failed to top 5.0 fantasy points. Until Watkins starts to turn his potential into production, he should be worth less than other productive young receivers like Davante Adams, DeVante Parker, and Jarvis Landry.
Juju Smith-Schuster - The Steelers recently promoted Smith-Schuster over Eli Rodgers on the depth chart. He had a break-out on Sunday against the Ravens. His deep speed and ability to elevate above defenders helped the Steelers get a win over a stingy defensive unit that held Martavis Bryant and Antonio Brown in check. Smith-Schuster is incredibly young and is appealing from a talent and age insulation standpoint.
Devin Funchess - I’ve been skeptical of Funchess heading into this season, but Sunday’s performance gave me cautious optimism. Seven catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns was the breakout performance for which his owners had been hoping. Admittedly, the Patriots defense is one of the worst in the league and was not the best test. He’ll likely draw Nevin Lawson in coverage in week five, which should give us a better idea of how much he has really progressed. I’ve moved Funchess up only a few spots on my board, with the potential for him to keep creeping up if we see his frequent flashes of talent morph into consistent production.
Jason Witten - In my opinion, Witten has begun to show his age over the last couple of games. He still has veteran savvy and knowledge of defensive coverages that will get him open every occasionally, but the athleticism that made him so great throughout his career seems to be dried up. If you’ve been using Witten as a stopgap option at the position, it’s time to find another one.
Eric Ebron - After four years of waiting, the time has come to concede that Ebron isn’t going to live up to the lofty first-round tight end expectations we had for him. Darren Fells out snapped Ebron 51-31 in this contest, signaling that the coaching staff is losing confidence in Ebron. At this point, he’s behind guys like Jonnu Smith, Adam Shaheen, and Gerald Everett on my dynasty rankings list.
Zach Ertz - Ertz only bumped up one spot, from TE4 to TE3. But his dynasty value still has made a big move up over the past three weeks. Ertz is now much closer to the top tier and Travis Kelce and has really separated himself from the pack of players below him. Through four games, Ertz has (along with Rob Gronkowski) been as consistent as any tight end in the league. He has at least 5 catches and 13 fantasy points in each game. The 26-year old Ertz also benefits from the continued emergence of young franchise quarterback Carson Wentz. The duo has great chemistry and with Ertz signed long term, should continue to thrive together.
Eric Ebron - Ebron continues to slide, falling from TE14 to TE20. Ebron is now in his fourth season and the potential breakout looks like it may never happen. He has managed just two catches in three of the first four Lions games. Even worse, it looks like he is losing the confidence of his coaching staff and franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford. The most likely scenario at this point is that Ebron will continue to be a mediocre NFL player and fantasy non-factor.