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Dynasty Rankings Movement, Week 9

 Footballguys staff and the reasoning behind the movement

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. 

Quarterback

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Deshaun Watson - I discussed Watson in week five’s edition, and I continue to be impressed with the young signal-caller. In a tough contest in Seattle, Watson was able to hang with Russell Wilson and nearly pull off an upset win in the shootout. He has even shown some improvement on his deep accuracy, which was one of his weaknesses in the college days. Watson has moved up into the Mariota and Winston zone of my dynasty rankings.

Teddy Bridgewater - As injury attrition mounts, let’s not forget about Bridgewater. He’s still out there for free in some of the shallow dynasty leagues. The team is winning on the strength of the defense and run game, but undoubtedly wants to improve their pass game before playoff time. While Keenum has proven to be a serviceable backup, the team knows that a playmaker like Bridgewater will give them a better chance. Bridgewater’s recovery has gone well up to this point, and sources tell us Bridgewater could be ready to play again as soon as week 10. I’m moving him a couple of spots up my board on this good news and I encourage you to pick him up or buy low where possible.

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Jimmy Garoppolo - Garoppolo was slated to start for another team in 2018 because the Patriots weren't going to be able to afford him. Now we know he'll be starting for the 49ers as Kyle Shanahan's new offensive lynchpin. While the 49ers offense needs plenty of help, Garoppolo now has certainly in terms of a role, and an offensive coaching staff in Year One of a six-year contract. The team will build around him and give him every opportunity to gain fantasy relevance immediately.

Deshaun Watson -  I already ranked Watson as a dynasty QB1, but his play over the last month has convinced me to vault him into the upper echelon. There are only a handful of quarterbacks with more value in dynasty leagues right now.

Carson Wentz - Wentz was already an elite dynasty prospect, but he's taken a Herculean step forward this season and is playing at an MVP level on a team with young supporting pieces and stability among the front office and coaching staff. Wentz is on a very short list of quarterbacks you should be building your dynasty rosters around.

C.J. Beathard - Beathard got his shot over Brian Hoyer this month and failed miserably. The film shows nothing to build around, and Kyle Shanahan apparently agrees since the team traded for Jimmy Garoppolo at the trade deadline. Beathard is now relegated to QB2 duties on the 49ers for the next few seasons, but his play has now exposed him as a limited backup with no long-term path to becoming an effective starter.

Andrew Luck -  This is a massive move. Luck had remained my #1 dynasty quarterback throughout the preseason and his missed time thus far, but another setback and the impressive play of youngsters like Carson Wentz, Dak Prescott, and Deshaun Watson have warranted a major step down in Luck's overall dynasty value. He still projects as a viable QB1 once he's healthy, but he's no longer the cream of the crop.

Kirk Cousins - Cousins drops a few slots because his most obvious free agent destination -- San Francisco -- is off the table with the Garoppolo trade. He can, and likely will, stay in Washington as the starter but the team appears to be on the downslope with Sean McVay out of the picture. Cousins projects as a middling fantasy asset right now.

Running Back

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Aaron Jones - Jones has vaulted ahead of fellow rookie Jamaal Williams, and has shown enough as a between-the-tackles runner to displace Ty Montgomery as the most intriguing dynasty prospect in the Packers backfield. The loss of Aaron Rodgers throws cold water on Jones' redraft potential this year, but he should enter 2018 as a prime candidate for fringe RB1 production, in both standard and PPR formats.

Alex Collins - Alex Collins' path to fantasy relevance has been windier than a yo-yo but he's made the most of his limited touches in Baltimore and broke free against the Dolphins this past week. The Ravens need an offensive identity and it would serve them well to regain balance, which means committing to the most impressive running back on the roster -- Collins. The backfield is crowded, with or without the return of injured Danny Woodhead, which is why Collins still slots as a low-end dynasty RB3 for now.

Kenyan Drake -  Adam Gase expressed frustration and anger over his team's offensive struggles, and essentially threw Jay Ajayi under the bus in his most recent post-game press conference. Gase' comments were further validated when the Dolphins agreed to trade Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles at the deadline. That leaves the combination of Kenyan Drake and Damien Williams to man the backfield in Miami for the final two months. While some may bet on Williams because of his past performances, it's Drake that intrigues me. Drake has the size and pedigree to be a workhorse, and Gase' willingness to let Ajayi go for a late round draft pick suggests Drake will be given an opportunity this year to earn a feature role in 2017 and beyond.

Paul Perkins -  Perkins' stock has never been lower. The Giants are still struggling to run the ball, yet Perkins isn't in the rotation in favor of Orleans Darkwa and Wayne Gallman. The former UCLA Bruin showed the requisite skills in college to have a role in an NFL offense, but that hasn't translated into real-life production. At this juncture, Perkins probably needs a fresh start on another team, and history says there are no guarantees for an unproductive running back heading to their second team.

Jay Ajayi -  Ajayi's ranking was going to fall before the trade, based on his woeful lack of production this year. Now that he's been traded to the Eagles, there's a narrative for a rebound, yet I've still chosen to downgrade him. Ajayi has always had systemic health risks and now heads to a team with plenty of other options at the position. If Ajayi gets starting-caliber snaps in the next few weeks and is productive, he'll make his way back into the mid-tier of RB2s.

Wendell Smallwood -  Smallwood drops for three reasons. One, his health. The young back hasn't been able to steer clear of the injury report. Two, his production. Smallwood has flashed at times but has yet to deliver a performance worthy of long-term excitement. Three, his role. The Eagles trade for Jay Ajayi at the deadline adds to an already crowded backfield. With LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement already seeing meaningful snaps, the addition of Ajayi makes it even harder to project a significant increase in touches for Smallwood.

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Alex Collins - Collins moves a few spots up my personal board. While the Ravens aren’t going to generate tremendous game scripts for Collins this year, we see a runner that has great foot frequency for a bigger back, runs with urgency, and is hard to bring down. The Ravens have bigger holes to plug with their NFL Draft capital, so I think it’s very possible that Collins may play himself into the lead role on this team going forward.

Ameer Abdullah - I was high on Abdullah coming out of college, but it’s just not happening for him with the Lions. The offensive line injuries are certainly a factor, but Abdullah is also not getting goal-line work, something that is hurting his already limited value. I hope that one day he’ll get a chance on some other team, one that will better utilize the skill set that Abdullah possesses.

Wide Receiver

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JuJu Smith-Schuster - Smith-Schuster is rocketing up my rankings. I highlighted him in the week five edition of this column as someone we should be very excited about going forward. I could not have predicted how soon his opportunity would come. While Martavis Bryant hasn’t relapsed in terms of substance abuse, he has once again put himself on the outs with the Steelers by demanding a trade and making himself bigger than the team. Bryant was inactive for Sunday’s contest, and Smith-Schuster took full advantage by scoring a punt return touchdown, a long receiving touchdown, and totaling 193 yards. I believe the team is moving on from the headache that is Bryant and that we’ll see much more of Smith-Schuster going forward. He’s also the most age insulated asset in dynasty at the moment, making him even more valuable to owners building a young core.

Mack Hollins - Hollins is someone I’m watching closely. He has already done some good things on special teams and limited snaps on offense. The six-foot-four, 220-pounder is deceptively fast for his size and is showing development on his route running with every passing week. Alshon Jeffery is not a lock to return next year, so I’m adding Hollins across my deeper dynasty leagues in hopes that he’ll earn a bigger role in the future.

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Mack Hollins - The rookie hasn't played meaningful snaps year-to-date, but he's started making huge plays downfield in his limited touches. That's vitally important since neither Torrey Smith nor Alshon Jeffery has lived up to their veteran billing. With Carson Wentz playing like an MVP, the door is wide open for Hollins to push for a starting role as early as 2018. He's still too inexperienced to project as a fantasy starter, but his path is significantly clearer than it was a month ago.

Will Fuller V - Fuller's current productivity is due for regression. There's no way he can keep up this ridiculous touchdown rate. However, it's clear he's got unrivaled chemistry with Deshaun Watson, and there's nothing on the Texans depth chart to hint at Fuller losing snaps in 2017 or beyond. Even if Fuller's touchdown rate regresses (it will), his snap count and role within an emerging young pass offense remain enticing and worthy of an upgrade.

Adam Thielen - I was already higher on Thielen's prospects than most, but his play has warranted a further upgrade. He's better than Stefon Diggs. Flat out. Thielen is healthier, too. Considering he's caught passes from Case Keenum for most of the season, it's astounding to think he's on pace for 100+ receptions and is pushing for the league lead in receiving yards.

JuJu Smith-Schuster - Smith-Schuster's performance this past week in place of the demoted Martavis Bryant was the final piece to the upgrade puzzle. The Steelers may or may not part ways with Bryant, but it's clear Smith-Schuster will be starting opposite Antonio Brown for the foreseeable future. Brown and Le'Veon Bell's roles combined with the declining play of Ben Roethlisberger keep Smith-Schuster from moving too high, but he's an asset worth acquiring either way.

Martavis Bryant - This shouldn't require much explanation. He's in the doghouse and the team has said he won't be traded. That means Bryant has no chance of value until 2018 and that's only if he lands on another team, keeps out of trouble, and earns a role.

Tyrell Williams - This downgrade hurts my heart because I felt Williams was grossly undervalued entering this season coming off a dominant 2016. Unfortunately, Williams hasn't done enough to warrant his prior ranking and that's even with Mike Williams missing the first half of the season.

DeVante Parker - Adam Gase is frustrated with the Dolphins offense and Parker is in the crosshairs. He's done well this year, when healthy. But, as usual, he's rarely 100% healthy. At this point, Parker's inability to stay on the field warrants a discount despite his obvious physical attributes.

John Brown - Brown was already on thin ice given his on-again, off-again health issues. Now with Carson Palmer on injured reserve and the Cardinals facing a possible complete rebuild, Brown becomes risky in both short- and long-term scenarios.

Tight End

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Tyler Kroft, Cincinnati -- Kroft, a former 3rd round pick, has shrugged off injury concerns to become a playmaker for the Bengals in Tyler Eifert's absence. With Eifert's career now in jeopardy (in my opinion), Kroft could parlay strong play this year into a multi-year role as one of the Bengals' key pieces alongside A.J. Green.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, New York Jets -- Seferian-Jenkins has been a bright spot in a problematic tight end position this year. The Jets are respectable, surprising most, and Seferian-Jenkins is a part of their offensive stability. It would be surprising if he's not provided a multi-year deal to remain with New York for the next few seasons.

Adam Shaheen - Shaheen gets an upgrade due to Zach Miller's horrifying injury. The rookie may not be worth much this year, even with an expanded role, but he has the pedigree and physical attributes to intrigue in 2018 and beyond, particularly if Mitchell Trubisky pans out.

Zach Miller - Miller suffered a horrifying leg injury that almost assuredly ends his playing career. I'll be elated if this downgrade proves incorrect, but the medical prognosis is damning, unfortunately.

Martellus Bennett - Bennett plans to retire after this season. Although players frequently change their minds, Bennett does have a variety of interests beyond football, including writing comic books and producing films. Since he's failed to live up to preseason expectations in Green Bay, and now plans to end his career, it doesn't make sense to keep him rated as a starter in dynasty formats.

Tyler Eifert - Eifert's season is over, again, thanks to another back surgery. No one questions Eifert's abilities. He's an elite playmaker, particularly in the red zone, when healthy. But he's never healthy. And with another back surgery, it's time to start wondering about his long-term health beyond his playing days. Only he and his family can make that call, but Eifert is far too risky in dynasty circles now to count on as anything more than your TE2 on deep rosters.

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Adam Shaheen - Zach Miller’s horrific leg injury on Sunday may mean we never see him play another NFL down. For the present, it means more work for Dion Sims, but it could also spell more opportunity down the line for Adam Shaheen. This metric marvel out of Ashland was taken in the second round by the Bears, signaling that they have big plans for his future. We already got a taste of what he could do in the red zone against the Steelers in week three when he converted his lone target into a touchdown. I already had him pretty high on my board, and while he won’t move significantly, the injury situation ahead of him can only mean good things for Shaheen’s future.

Jonnu Smith - Delanie Walker has been banged up a bit this year, but even when Walker has been healthy, Smith has been worked into this offense. He has played much better than your typical rookie tight end and continues to earn Mariota’s trust, especially in critical third-down conversion scenarios. There are still some shallow leagues in which he’s not rostered, but I am encouraging owners to rectify that immediately.