Player value in dynasty football reminds me of watching ocean waves. They ebb and flow, always in a state of flux. Competitive dynasty players anticipate these movements before they happen and act by picking up, buying, or selling players as the situation demands. Owners have previously been at the mercy of regular waiver segments to assist in dynasty pickups, but these fail to take the long-term view necessary to dynasty success. This segment (which will become a weekly feature in season) will focus on identifying assets that will help dynasty teams build for the future.
Important Notes: Budget percentages will be added to the inseason version of this report for both contending and rebuilding teams as an extra guidepost. 2016 rookies who may be out there on your waiver wire will be added in the training camp edition of this publication.
(May Be Available In 25 OR FEWER ROSTER SPOT Leagues)
Robert Griffin III, WAS- Griffin survived the NFL draft without the Browns taking a quarterback in the first two rounds. The Browns publicly are saying that their third round selection, Cody Kessler, will compete with Griffin in camp; but it’s hard to see a scenario in which Kessler will beat out Griffin for the starting job. The newly drafted Corey Coleman can only help Griffin’s case. One of Griffin’s biggest strengths is his deep accuracy, and Coleman excels at speeding down the field to grab those deep shots.
Colin Kaepernick, SF- Free agency and the Draft have come and gone without Kaepernick finding a new home. Kaepernick has made statements in the last several days to indicate he is comfortable sticking with the 49ers. There’s still a possibility of a trade, but it’s more likely that Kaepernick will stay in San Francisco and emerge as the starter in a Chip Kelly system that is likely to get the most out of Kaepernick's mobility.
Brock Osweiler, HOU- After not getting the money he wanted from the Broncos, Osweiler headed to the Texans. It wasn’t exactly how we expected it to go down, but Osweiler will get his chance to start. The Texans added Lamar Miller via free agency and took Will Fuller V in the first round of the Draft, giving Osweiler additional options that should take some of the pressure off of his shoulders.
Jerick McKinnon, MIN- Many thought the Vikings might take an RB in this year’s draft, but it never came to fruition. Adrian Peterson's time in Minnesota is drawing to a close, and the athletic project is losing the project tag with how well he's played when he has seen action.
Matt Jones, WAS- Alfred Morris departed in free agency, leaving Jones to showcase his skills as the lead man in Washington. The rugged runner should continue to improve and develop in year two. Keith Marshall was drafted in the seventh by the Redskins, but shouldn’t threaten Jones’ hold on the job at any point.
Jay Ajayi, MIA- One of the biggest winners after the Draft has to be Jay Ajayi. Owners (myself included) were skittish because the Dolphins had spent most of the offseason flirting with adding other running backs. Ultimately, they only added Kenyan Drake, more of a complimentary third down option than a threat to take the lion’s share of the carries. Miami may yet add another veteran free agent, (they’ve been rumored to have interest in a still-healing Arian Foster) but it currently looks as if Ajayi is in line to get the majority of touches in a very exciting Adam Gase designed offense.
Marvin Jones Jr, DET- With Calvin Johnson retiring, Detroit felt a strong need to go out and fill the void opposite Golden Tate. While he won’t completely fill the shoes of Megatron, Detroit will definitely look to make him a focal point in their offense, unlike Cincinnati.
Stefon Diggs, MIN- Diggs came on strong for the Vikings in the middle of 2015. He was sometimes being traded for two future first-round picks in dynasty leagues. His value comes crashing back to earth with the addition of Laquon Treadwell, signaling the Vikings don’t view him as the primary option. Still, Diggs will be one of the nicer complimentary options in the league as Teddy Bridgewater continues to develop.
Cody Latimer, DEN- We saw Latimer become more involved when Manning wasn't at the helm last year. With either Mark Sanchez or Paxton Lynch as quarterback, we can expect Latimer’s involvement to increase.
Sammie Coates Jr, PIT- He was very raw coming in, but the physical gifts are definitely there. In an explosive Steelers offense and with Martavis Bryant about to serve a year-long suspension, we can’t count him out.
Zach Miller, CHI-Chicago traded away the disgruntled Martellus Bennett to the Patriots. Meanwhile, Miller quietly signed a 2-year deal to remain with the team. He showed well when Bennett was out last year and becomes much more interesting now that Bennett has been dealt away. The Bears also abstained from drafting a tight end, making us believe they are very comfortable going forward with Miller as the starter.
(May Be Available IN MORE THAN 25, BUT FEWER THAN 40 ROSTER SPOT Leagues)
Jimmy Garoppolo, NE- Groomed behind Tom Brady, Garoppolo has learned from one of the best in the business. Some other team (or New England themselves) will give him a shot to start. It doesn’t hurt that he’ll get a four-game audition at the beginning of this year due to the Brady suspension.
Ryan Nassib, NYG- Eli Manning has stayed surprisingly healthy, so Nassib has rarely gotten to show what he can do. Nassib is heading to free agency in 2017 and will more than likely pick a team where he has a chance to start.
Karlos Williams, BUF- The addition of Jonathan Williams is a bit concerning long-term, but Williams played well enough in 2015 that I think he’ll still be the primary backup to LeSean McCoy, at least for 2016.
Robert Turbin, DAL- The Colts did not take any running backs in this year’s class. “Turbo” is an average talent, but any back that has a shot at significant playing time in the Colts offense is worth a look. He’ll be backing up the aged Frank Gore in 2016.
James Starks- I saw Starks discarded in a lot of dynasty leagues when he hit free agency. After testing free agency, Starks decided to re-sign with the Packers. He’ll have value this year should Lacy’s weight woes creep up again or should Lacy suffer an injury. He's worth stashing in deeper leagues to see if you hit the production jackpot.
Jeremy Langford/ Ka'deem Carey, CHI- With the addition of Jordan Howard in the Draft, this Bears backfield became even more of a mess. We’ll have to see how things shape up in training camp to get clarity on this situation, but one of these runners should emerge as the primary option headed into the 2016 regular season.
Zach Zenner, DET- An injury marred his rookie season, but he was outplaying fellow rookie Ameer Abdullah at that point. With Joique Bell cut, we could see Zenner secure Bell’s old role this upcoming year.
Andre Ellington, ARI- Talent was never the question-- it’s been the injuries that have derailed Ellington. It may not happen with Arizona, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ellington once again producing as a starter with another team.
Javorius Allen, BAL- Unfortunately, Allen’s value took a major hit when Baltimore drafted the more talented Kenneth Dixon in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. Allen will now face competition in camp with Dixon, Justin Forsett, and Trent Richardson. I don’t see him coming out on top on the depth chart with all that competition.
Travis Benjamin, SD- Benjamin landed in a great situation in which a secondary wide receiver to play opposite of Keenan Allen was sorely needed. We saw that he could fill that role nicely last year in Cleveland. He'll likely do even better this year with Phillip Rivers throwing him passes.
Seth Roberts, OAK- We heard the buzz in camp and it didn't die down when the 2015 regular season came. Roberts is behind Cooper and Crabtree, but he is one injury away from being able to step into a number two role in a productive situation.
Jeff Janis, GB- In the nightmare that was the Packers’ 2015 season, Janis had more opportunity than usual, but failed to latch on the way I had hoped he would. I believe the Packers will rebound in 2016 and simply getting on the field may have been enough to jumpstart the development of the metric freak.
Cordarrelle Patterson/ Charles Johnson, MIN- Minnesota took Laquon Treadwell in the first round of the Draft, a clear indicator that they are relegating these two to situational work. It’s clearly going to take a team change for either to have the fantasy relevance they once enjoyed.
(May Be Available In 40+ ROSTER SPOTS LEAGUES/ Leagues WITH LARGE TAXI SQUADS)
Blaine Gabbert, SF- A laughing stock for many years, Gabbert showed development and poise during his time as the 49ers starter in 2015. While I believe that Kaepernick will end up starting the season for the 49ers, there is enough volatility in that situation to warrant holding on to Gabbert in very deep leagues to see how things pan out.
Mike Glennon, TB- Trade rumors swirled around Glennon leading up to and during the Draft, but Tampa hung on to him as the backup to Jameis Winston. He will need an injury to Winston or a change of scenery (he is a free agent next year) to unlock his value.
Garrett Grayson, NO- He’s a little short for the quarterback position, but he’s very smart and poised. Sound familiar? That’s because he’s sitting behind Drew Brees, who had a very similar profile. I look for him to be Brees’ eventual replacement.
Brett Hundley, GB- The Packers had genuinely good things to say about his development in year one. He’ll sit behind Rogers for several years, but he’ll get his shot, either with the Packers or someone else.
Mark Sanchez, DEN- The Broncos took Paxton Lynch in the first round of the draft and Gary Kubiak has declared that Lynch and Sanchez will compete for the starting nod. Sanchez will eventually give way to Lynch, but has value as a starter until that time.
Chase Daniel, PHI- The drafting of Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ insistence on keeping an unhappy Bradford are the reasons Daniel has moved down a section in these rankings. A Bradford trade or in-season injury could bump Daniel back into primary backup relevance.
Johnny Manziel, CLE- Cutting Manziel from Cleveland this offseason may be the start of the “career-near-death experience" that Manziel needs to straighten up. The talent (especially the rushing ability) is there and his price (basically free in dynasty leagues right now) makes him a very interesting addition.
Charles Sims, TB- Doug Martin got an extension, but I still see Sims as someone who will have a role in that Buccaneers offense, especially as a pass catcher. The Buccaneers did not add a running back in the draft, something I believe signals their contentment with their running back situation at this time.
Juwan Thompson, DEN- The Broncos taking Devontae Booker in the fifth round was very bad news for Thompson long-term, as Booker is a very skilled one-cut runner who fits very well in the Kubiak scheme. Thompson may have a slight leg up on Booker for this year, however, as Booker will have to learn the offense. An injury to Anderson could lead to a Thompson and Hillman timeshare situation.
Christine Michael, SEA- Taking three running backs in the Draft is not good news for Thomas Rawls or Christine Michael long-term. Michael played well in his return to the team, but it may have been too little too late. Training camp should give us clarity as to whether Michael remains in the doghouse with the Seattle coaching staff.
Corey Grant, JAX- Here’s another athletic back who is buried behind Ivory, Yeldon, and Robinson on the depth chart. Yet we only need to look to what happened with David Johnson this past year to see that sometimes injuries break just right and allow a buried player to emerge and show what they can do.
DeAndre Carter, NE- We can say with confidence that both Baltimore and New England know how to scout talent. Carter started as an undrafted free agent in Baltimore, where Steve Smith took him under his wing. After being cut and spending some time with the Raiders, Carter drew interest from the Bengals, but ultimately made it onto New England's squad. With a real need for quality receivers on this team, it would be easy to envision a scenario in which Carter is promoted and rises quickly.
Chris Hogan, NE- Stuck in a tepid Buffalo offense for the last three seasons, Hogan has shown flashes of what he could do with a better situation. He's got that situation now in New England. It wouldn't be a huge surprise to me if Hogan produces better than most expected in 2016.
Tyrell Williams, SD- This raw small-school prospect has my attention. His height, speed, and movement skills are very intriguing. Malcolm Floyd retiring could be just the thing he needed to stick on the active roster. The Chargers also did not take a wide receiver in the Draft, which is encouraging news for Williams.
Erik Swoope, IND- Dwayne Allen ended up sticking around, but we know he hasn’t exactly been the picture of health. If he were to go down again, the very athletic and developing Swoope may see the field, especially with Coby Fleener no longer standing in the way.
Lost at Sea
(Players who recently Appeared in this column, but have had their value have decrease to the point they hold no value in all but the very deepest of dynasty leagues.)
David Cobb, TEN- Cobb's stock has endured one blow after another in 2016. The trade for DeMarco Murray greatly deflated his value, but the drafting of Derrick Henry in the second round of the Draft completely tanked it. Cobb will be buried on the depth chart and will need injuries ahead of him to come back into relevance.
Derek Carrier, WAS- Vernon Davis signing with the Redskins really bites into Carrier's ability to get quality playing time. If Davis doesn't stick on the roster, Carrier might swim back into The Deep.