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.
Paxton Lynch - Lynch’s dynasty stock seems to have bottomed out on a day on which it should have been moving upward. Lynch got the start, but was performing poorly against what had been a porous Oakland Raiders defense before an ankle injury sidelined him. The Broncos will likely pick in the top five of the draft, Lynch is not developing as quickly as they would have hoped, and a talented Chad Kelly is waiting in the wings to provide competition. Therefore, we must conclude that it’s more likely that Lynch isn’t going to be the quarterback of the future for Denver that we hoped he would be.
Jimmy Garoppolo - The 49ers weren’t planning to start Garoppolo any time soon as he assimilates to a complex West Coast system. Yet when C.J. Beathard went down late in the game, Garoppolo came off the bench and tossed a touchdown. While it didn’t shift the outcome, it was positive and may lead to Garoppolo getting the start against the Bears next week. It will be interesting to see if the signal caller that San Francisco is placing their hopes in can be a quick study and generate momentum heading into next year.
Mitchell Trubisky - Much like Carson Wentz and Jared Goff last season, with Trubisky as a rookie I look for breadcrumbs of optimism each week. The situation is horrible for fantasy production as journeyman Dontrelle Inman is the No.1 receiver with a rookie tight end Adam Shaheen the most upside at that position. Trubisky makes a handful of quality plays above his situation each game and shows a balanced skillset from mobility to extend plays and log rushing production to accuracy and drive on intermediate throws to the far side of the field. A weapons upgrade is on track in the offseason and Trubisky is one of the better buys in dynasty at the quarterback position, especially in Superflex formats.
Case Keenum - Keenum's days as the Vikings starter may be numbered, but he joins Jared Goff as a quarterback that has flourished once removed from the career-killing anvil that was Jeff Fisher. Keenum started as the Vikings’ caretaker, but he's having a fringe Pro Bowl year for a team vying for the league's best record. He's young enough to vie for a starting role somewhere in 2018.
Jimmy Garoppolo - In spite of the 49ers woes, I believe in Kyle Shanahan and his ability to build a competitive offense. The 49ers weren't expecting immediate dividends and Shanahan and John Lynch have six-year deals to encourage them to build for the long term. Garoppolo will be given every opportunity to be the team's franchise quarterback. It's impossible to trust his success in New England since the system is ironclad, but he's young with a strong opportunity, and that's worth bumping up the rankings.
Teddy Bridgewater - Sam Bradford's lost season casts a shadow on his future in Minnesota. Meanwhile, Bridgewater is back on the practice field. The Vikings have no reason to turn away from Case Keenum right now, but Bridgewater has a great chance of retaking the starting job in 2018.
Alex Smith - What a difference two months can make. Smith was playing like an MVP as the Chiefs rolled to a 5-0 start, but he's regressed over the last two months. With Patrick Mahomes in the wings, Smith's days as the starter may be numbered. He's always been a better fantasy quarterback than his perception suggests, but he needs a starting job to be relevant.
Derek Carr - Carr remains a promising, young passer. However, strong play by a handful of other young quarterbacks and the Raiders' struggles warrant a slight downgrade. Carr is now more of a high upside QB2 for dynasty purposes than a fringe starter.
Jameis Winston - Winston falls a few spots but remains a Top-10 prospect. His injury and the fact the Buccaneers are looking at another rebuild from the top down casts more doubt about Winston's ability to play at a consistent, Pro Bowl level.
Jamaal Williams - While I view Williams as a solid sell (if trade deadline has not passed) for non-contenders and in the offseason, he is taking full advantage of his clear runs of snaps as the Packers starter. Williams should garner Round 1 rookie pick returns at present and if he can keep the job for much of the rest of the season.
Alvin Kamara - Alvin Kamara is not only one of the most exciting rookies to watch, he is vaulting himself to the top of the heap across the NFL overall at the running back position. Kamara is the perfect fit for Sean Payton and Drew Brees and game script independent as the preferred pass-catching back and mixing in with red zone and interior touches. Since the Adrian Peterson trade, Kamara is the top scoring PPR running back at more than 23 PPG, surpassed only by the now-suspended Ezekiel Elliott. Kamara has 24 PPR points or more in four straight games and is proving to be a trump card deciding dynasty playoff teams down the stretch. While the top-5 or so dynasty running backs is a tough tier to crack, having Kamara immediately following is becoming more commonplace than bold.
Orleans Darkwa - Let's be clear, Darkwa's ranking still puts him as a fringe asset in most leagues. But I hadn't ranked him in my Top 90 prior to this iteration and that was a mistake. Darkwa's lack of pedigree caused many, myself included, to discount his strong preseason performances in favor of the more hyped Paul Perkins and Wayne Gallman. Darkwa has shown enough effort and vision to carve out at least a backup role for the rebuilding Giants.
Alex Collins - When Collins landed in Baltimore, I wasn't excited given the veteran-laden roster competing for snaps. Yet, Collins has earned an increasingly important role and has played his best football since Danny Woodhead's return. Collins is young enough that we can credibly argue for further upside.
Samaje Perine - I was super high on the rookie entering the season and then let his struggles knock him down. I went overboard. He's Oklahoma's all-time leading rusher and is clearly Washington's best running back. It just took him some time to learn how to block at the NFL level. Perine can leverage a strong finish over the next month into a clear-cut workhorse role in 2018.
Wendell Smallwood - Smallwood is the odd man out in an incredibly productive running back committee. The Eagles are making liberal use of Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount, and Corey Clement. And then Kenjon Barner sees a few snaps. Smallwood is persona non-grata and it's hard to see much of a future, at least on the Eagles.
Mike Gillislee - It's never smart to overvalue a Patriots running back, and Gillislee has gone from a 3TD performance in Week One to a healthy scratch in recent weeks. He's talented and young, so there's a chance he vaults back to relevance on another roster in 2018 or 2019. For now, he's a deep fringe roster hold, at best.
Doug Martin - I give up. Martin has been dominant at times, and awful at times. This year, he's been more awful than dominant. He's already survived one coaching change and I can't see him remaining a part of the Buccaneers plans in 2018 if (when?) the team brings on another coaching staff.
Samaje Perine - Some were giving up hope for Perine early in the season after fumble trouble, but the rookie runner just needed our patience. He’s now taking better care of the football and running with more decisiveness. With Thompson sidelined for the year, Perine has the backfield largely to himself. He’ll have the opportunity to cement himself as the primary between-the-tackles option for Washington going forward. That alone is worth pushing him up in our rankings a few spots.
Jamaal Williams - I wrote about Williams in my last update, but I feel Williams is showing enough to be moved up a few more spots. Among the many positive plays Williams made on Sunday night was a great touchdown catch and run against an overaggressive Steelers defense. We can see the light coming on for the young back. He is displaying great patience and choosing the correct cutback lanes more often. It will be interesting to see what he can do when Rogers is back and forcing defenses to take their men out of the box.
Robby Anderson - I was all in on Anderson during the preseason, but the Jets dumpster-fire tactics and acquisition of Jermaine Kearse tempered my enthusiasm. I overreacted. Anderson is everything I had hoped, and as importantly Josh McCown has been a productive quarterback. Anderson is making big plays every week regardless of the defensive matchup. On a Jets team without many young building blocks, Anderson is a gem.
Devin Funchess - The Panthers believed in Funchess when the fantasy community didn't, and it's paid off handsomely. The Panthers sent Kelvin Benjamin packing, and Funchess has filled the role of a top target without missing a beat. He doesn't have the all-around game to project as an elite prospect, but he's earned the right to be part of a WR2 tier.
Adam Thielen - I was already one of Thielen's most ardent supporters, but he's done enough to vault into WR1 consideration for dynasty purposes. He's a better player than Stefon Diggs and has produced regardless of who's under center for the Vikings.
Josh Gordon - I'm not going crazy on the Gordon hype. But he was unranked and as we go to press he's been reinstated, and his coaches are promising a "major" role for the mercurial receiver. To warrant his current ranking, he need only maintain a spot in the Top 3 of the depth chart for a winless team. It's not a high bar.
John Brown - I'm a John Brown truther, but it's hard to ignore the constant injuries and lack of faith by the coaches. The Cardinals are hard to forecast beyond 2017, but it seems fair to say John Brown will not be a priority.
Martavis Bryant - Bryant dug a huge hole with his teammates and coaches, and it's hard to imagine he'll become the breakout candidate we hoped for a few months ago. His talent profile is elite, and it's not impossible to think he'll become productive in a new setting. For now, he's a declining asset stuck on a team that no longer believes in him.
Dez Bryant -I held on for too long ranking Bryant as a WR1. He's not making plays, even when Dak Prescott hits him with a perfect throw. The Cowboys have no alternative but to keep treating Bryant as the #1 target, but he's better suited to #2 duties at this point in his (declining) career.
Tyrell Williams - I was so sure the rest of the fantasy community had Tyrell Williams wrong. He had a dominant breakout season in 2016 and returned as a starter. Yet, he's been maddeningly inconsistent and hasn't done enough to think he can hold off Mike Williams in 2018.
Eric Decker - Decker continues to move down my board. Despite multiple opportunities created by injuries to Corey Davis and now Rishard Matthews, he just can’t seem to get on the same page with Marcus Mariota and become a meaningful fantasy contributor as he was for both the Broncos and Jets.
Zay Jones - I’m going to give Jones credit for bouncing back from a tough start to his career. Though he struggled early on with drops, I believe we are seeing him begin to acclimate to the speed of the game. The Bills are getting Jones steadily more involved in the offense and he found the end zone on Sunday, giving the Bills the points they needed to edge out the Chiefs. When Kelvin Benjamin is ready to play, we could see Jones moved primarily to the slot, where he does his best work.
Sammy Watkins - While 2017 is looking like a lost one for Watkins on a fantasy front, Week 12 served as a needed reminder for doubters Watkins is still a top-level talent miring through a non-optimal period of usage with the Rams 'spread it around' offense. Watkins is 24 years old and could be changing teams in the offseason, still averaging more than 60 yards per game for his career and close to half a touchdown per contest, not to mention more than 16 yards per catch. 2016 and 2017 have largely been lost seasons for the former top-5 draft pick, but is one of the better talent buys in dynasty heading into 2018.
Mike Williams and John Ross - Accruing discounted NFL Draft capital as distressed assets is a long-term winning strategy in dynasty. Williams and especially Ross have been non-performers so far in their rookie seasons despite top-10 pedigree. Williams has started to trade as an ancillary piece in dynasty trades in recent weeks and Ross even more so with deals like a future Round 2 pick or assets like Alex Collins and late round picks. Both are poised to be startup and trade market values in the offseason.
Cameron Brate - Brate was a strong performer in 2016 and the first half of 2017. However, O.J. Howard's involvement has evolved, as expected, from a primary blocker early in his rookie season to a pass-catcher over the past month. As a result, Brate's production has been minimal, posting just 4-37-0 on 12 targets over the four-game span. However, Brate fits the profile to see more time as an NFL starter beyond this season considering his strong tape and production for a season-and-a-half leading up to the recent power outage. Brate is a restricted free agent this offseason and is a quality talent bet as Tampa Bay transitions to O.J. Howard as the clear starter next season.
Zach Ertz - Ertz has become Wentz’s go-to target at all points on the field. Touchdowns are tough to predict from year to year, and it’s likely that Ertz won’t score as many next year due to regression. The important thing that is more likely to carry over is the connection Ertz and Wentz seem to have. As long as he has that, Ertz will remain in the conversation as one of the top five tight ends in the league.
Ricky Seals-Jones - Before the injury that knocked him out of the game, we were seeing some flashes from the freaky athlete for the second week straight. He’s very lacking as a blocker, but is showing his chops as a pass catcher. He’s undoubtedly raw, but we’ve seen other tight end prospects with the physical tools translate with enough time. While the Arians system hasn’t been tight-end friendly historically, perhaps we are seeing that begin to change.
Ricky Seals-Jones -Don't overreact; he's still ranked at a point where he holds little long-term fantasy relevance. But I had to rank the undrafted rookie after two dominating weeks. He's played very few snaps, and could be a flash in the pan. But the tight end position is boom-or-bust beyond a handful of elite stars, and Seals-Jones has done more in two weeks than most Cardinals tight ends have done in a whole season under Bruce Arians.
Jared Cook - Cook has been one of the few bright spots on a disappointing Raiders team. It's hard to imagine he hasn't earned a role in 2018 and beyond. Cook isn't someone you want to have in your starting lineup every week, but he's part of a tier of lower-end TE1s for the next few seasons.
Greg Olsen - Olsen falls out of my Top 10 given his less-than-encouraging return from injured reserve. At his age, he has little margin for error and I need to see a healthy, productive stretch to warrant a TE1 ranking.
Tyler Eifert - It's conceivable Eifert's career is over. The talent is never in question, but the injury history is astonishing.