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.
Patrick Mahomes II II - Mahomes has proven the game is not too large for him in his first year of starting duty. He set the record for touchdown passes in two games with ten. What separates him from the typical first-year quarterback is his arm talent to make any NFL throw, having a tremendous offensive supporting cast, and the confidence to trust what his eyes are seeing down the field. Mahomes moves up to my number six signal caller, behind only Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Andrew Luck.
Patrick Mahomes II II – Mahomes and the Chiefs are for real. Mahomes is averaging more than 10 yards per pass, almost 300 yards per game and has 10 passing touchdowns in his first two games as a starter. Mind you, he’s done this on the road against two teams that were 22-10 last year and 11-5 at home. You’re going to hear "It’s only xx games" a lot this year, but based on his performance so far, you should be looking at Mahomes as a top-five dynasty quarterback right now.
Jameis Winston – Once is a fluke, twice starts to look like a trend. Ryan Fitzpatrick has looked fantastic in his first two games this year. Winston has two more games to go before he can return to the team, and if Fitzpatrick continues at this pace, Winston is going to come back to holding a clipboard. Even if he does make it back into the starting lineup, Fitzpatrick has already set the bar for success. If Winston comes up short or the team starts under-performing, the Buccaneers are going to have a quick hook.
Blake Bortles – Blake Bortles was a big part of why the Jaguars were able to beat the Patriots this week. Bortles made come clutch throws, showed good poise and had good success running the ball against a team that ended their playoffs hopes last year. The Jaguars stayed aggressive, deep into the 4th quarter, and even with a two-score lead, they were still running empty backfield plays and throwing the ball. It showed great confidence in Bortles and he did not disappoint, posting 377 passing yards and 4 passing touchdowns. The touchdown passes went to four different receivers, and Bortles spread the ball around to nine different people by the end of the game. His stock is definitely on the rise.
Patrick Mahomes II II - Hands up if you thought Patrick Mahomes II would start his NFL career with 10 touchdowns and zero interceptions in his first two games. It is almost impossible to keep up this pace, but there is little doubt that Mahomes is ready to play at this level and play it well. I do expect some bad games to come along sooner or later, but his rapport with his receivers is evident and he doesn’t lack confidence. We can have enough faith in where he is heading to move him into the bottom end of the long-term starting elite bracket
Ryan Fitzpatrick - As we have seen numerous times from Ryan Fitzpatrick in the past, he does well for a short period of time, sometimes even a full season, but eventually he will disappoint. On his seventh team, he is going to play to his usual level in due course, but you have to ride his wave while you can. He is likely to be available on a lot of dynasty leagues and it could be one week until Jameis Winston returns or it could be longer if the Bucs want to ride the hot hand.
Alex Smith - Alex Smith may be locked in as the Washington starter for the next few seasons, but it is almost certain he will be the guy we have seen in 12 of his 13 seasons to date. Last year was clearly an exception and Andy Reid was evidently designing an offense for Patrick Mahomes II that Alex Smith was able to execute effectively. Smith will be a very good NFL quarterback but will be his normal fantasy self. Expect him to be a useful fantasy backup down the line, but his upside is likely to be capped once again.
Jameis Winston - It is hard to know what to make of Jameis Winston right now. Ryan Fitzpatrick has made this offense buzz in his two starts this season, something Winston wasn’t able to do at all last year. We just have to look at how DeSean Jackson has done in his first two games, compared to all of last season. Unless Fitzpatrick totally flops in Week 3, it will be hard to expect Winston to come straight back in without a major backlash, especially if he cannot play close to the level of the veteran. Winston is almost in a no-win situation in Tampa Bay and his ranking has to be dialed right back for now.
Patrick Mahomes II II - With 10 touchdowns in two weeks to start the season, Mahomes’ career is off to a historically great start. It is not just the numbers either, Mahomes looks fantastic. There isn’t a single quarterback I’d rather have on my dynasty team right now.
Sam Darnold - Based upon early returns, Darnold is the top rookie quarterback. He has size, mobility, and incredible accuracy throwing on the run. Still just 21-years old, there are going to be growing pains for Darnold this season (like his pair of interceptions in Week 2). However, if the Jets can start surrounding Darnold with better weapons, he can emerge as a fantasy star. Perhaps as soon as next season.
James Conner - James Conner is hardly the savior in Pittsburgh and after his fantastic showing against the Browns, he came back to earth against the Chiefs. A touchdown rescued his fantasy day, but he will generally be a running back that will take what the defense gives. He is not a long-term franchise back but will be able to keep an offense moving and be a useful contributor, be it in Pittsburgh or elsewhere. He moves up my fantasy rankings because he is going to be a starting back in the NFL until Le’Veon Bell comes back. As this may not be for another eight weeks and the Steelers may be struggling to make the playoffs when he does come back, they may just continue to use Conner until his rookie deal expires.
Ito Smith - Ito Smith is an undersized back that the Falcons picked up in the fourth round this year. With Devonta Freeman likely to be missing for a few more weeks, Smith could take the Tevin Coleman role and be almost fantasy usable. More importantly for dynasty managers, he could establish a role for himself in the NFL and put his name out there. Once Freeman returns it will be hard to distribute the ball amongst three backs, but Tevin Coleman is also prone to missing time, so we may see more of Smith down the stretch. He will be a nice add in deeper leagues.
David Johnson - With a contract extension, David Johnson is locked into Arizona for the next three years. While that may be great for his financial well-being, the new Cardinals are going to struggle following the departure of Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer. His 17 touchdowns from 2016 are going to be a distant memory and he is unlikely to play to the elite level he was expected to until this team clicks. That may not be this year, so Johnson has to move significantly down dynasty rankings. He should still be a reasonable start given his abilities as a pass catcher, but it will be almost impossible for him to live up to his draft slot.
Ronald Jones II II - I remain convinced in the long-term ability of Ronald Jones II to play in the NFL but fear he may be taking the Kenyan Drake path to start for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Drake was totally lost as a runner in his rookie year and needed time to develop. His skills were obvious, but it took him until halfway through season two before he looked the part. As Jones hasn’t even been active for the first two weeks of the season, he clearly needs to learn a lot. He moves down rankings for now, purely because he will take time. He could be a good option to trade for the patient manager as most of his current managers could be ready to take what they can get.
David Johnson - Johnson entered the season as a top-4 dynasty running back. There is a fear of overreacting to two poor weeks, but at this point, Johnson is barely clinging to top-10 status. The Arizona offense is a disaster and the new coaching staff doesn’t seem to know how to use Johnson’s full skill set.
Royce Freeman - Aside from Saquon Barkley, Freeman was the most impressive rookie running back in the preseason. Through two weeks of real games, he hasn’t even been the most impressive rookie running back on his own team. Phillip Lindsay has been the star, with 100+ yards from scrimmage in each of his first two games. In Week 2, Lindsay had more than twice as many touches as Freeman. It looks like a committee in Denver for the foreseeable future, and Lindsay could be the more valuable fantasy commodity in PPR leagues due to his usage as a pass catcher.
Matt Breida – Breida has basically cemented himself into the starting lineup this week after posting almost 150 yards from scrimmage as the lead back for the 49ers this week. Alfred Morris actually had more carries, but Breida made the most of his limited attempts. Morris will still steal a few carries from Breida this season, but you can expect Breida to see more opportunities as the season continues. Morris was always a stop gap since Jerrick McKinnon was lost for the season, but Breida is the guy who the 49ers will be counting on in the future, and you can expect San Francisco to lean heavily on him as the season wears on.
Marlon Mack – The Colts traveled to Washington this year and played pretty well, winning the game 20-9. However, despite starting the game, Mack had just six touches after the opening series and was pulled in the second quarter when the Colts were in the red zone. He actually only averaged 3.4 YPC compared to Jordan Wilkins (6.1 YPC), and Nyheim Hines had Indianapolis’s only rushing touchdown of the game. He’s buried in committee now and his role won’t be increasing with these numbers.
David Johnson – It’s only been two weeks, but the Arizona Cardinals look like a really bad team. They have scored just six total points in their first two games and the offense looks like they are completely lost. Johnson will get his share of volume touches, but defenses are keying on him and he’s going to struggle all season with the Cardinals. They have a ton of holes that they need to fill, and it looks like it could be a while before their offense is in place to take advantage of Johnson’s skills.
James Conner - With Le'Veon Bell out for an indeterminate amount of time, James Conner is making the case to the Steelers that he can be the long-term starter for them. Even being at a deficit and getting limit carries for most of the game, Conner managed to score a rushing touchdown. He’ll have days when he is more involved. Conner moves to my #18 dynasty running back, right behind Royce Freeman and Kerryon Johnson.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – Last week, you could attribute Smith-Schuster’s success to the entire overtime period. When that game finished, he had 119 receiving yards. This week, in the shoot-out with Kansas City, Smith-Schuster clearly outpaced Antonio Brown, with 13 receptions for 169 yards and a touchdown compared to Brown’s nine receptions for just 67 yards and no touchdowns. With Brown drawing the strongest coverage and James Conner a reasonable alternative to Le'Veon Bell, defenses can’t cover everyone, and Smith-Schuster is emerging as a legitimate fantasy receiver.
Nelson Agholor – As Alshon Jeffery continues to sit out, Agholor continues to pile up receptions. He might not be able to stretch the field like Jeffery, and he might not be a jump-ball guy, but he’s pulled down eight receptions in each of his first two games. In any fantasy league that rewards point for each reception, Agholor looks pretty decent right now.
Jarvis Landry and Antonio Calloway – The expected release or trade of Josh Gordon closes the door on another chapter from the ‘old’ Cleveland Browns and opens the door even wider for newcomers Landry and Calloway. The Browns are scrappy and even though they are searching for their first win, they have been competitive in their first two games this year. As the season wears on, I expect the Browns to get stronger and play tough. They’re going to lean heavily on Landry and Calloway and these guys are going to have some decent numbers by the end of the year.
JuJu Smith-Schuster - We saw signs of Smith-Schuster’s talent last year, but Smith-Schuster has proven he wasn’t a flash in the pan. He’s had over 9 targets and 100 yards for two straight games, showing the increasing priority on him in this offense. He’s the future in Pittsburgh with Antonio Brown on the back end of his career. He’s my WR10, ahead of Stefon Diggs, Sammy Watkins, and T.Y. Hilton.
Michael Thomas - With 28 catches through two games, Thomas has been the most dominant wide receiver in the league so far. It might be time to start discussing if Thomas is the top overall dynasty receiver and a top-5 player overall.
Mike Evans - After a monster 2016 season, Evans regressed in 2017 and his dynasty stock suffered as a result. Through two weeks, it is starting to look like 2017 was an anomaly, and Evans is the elite young wide receiver we thought he was.
Kenny Golladay - I was fairly aggressive with my ranking of Kenny Golladay but even that was probably too low. He has been one of the most impressive young wide receivers in the league and moves up even further. He is now a top-25 dynasty wide receiver.
Will Fuller V - Fuller was a fantasy monster last season when he was on the field with Deshaun Watson. He scored seven touchdowns in just four games, but many wrote it off as a fluke. In his first game back with Watson, Fuller caught 8 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. Fuller is pushing towards a top-20 wide receiver ranking.
John Ross - Ross drew headlines all offseason for the Bengals and a breakout second season looked possible. However, through two games Ross has just 2 catches for 11 yards and Tyler Boyd is emerging as the No. 2 wide receiver in Cincinnati. He falls out of the top-40 in my latest update.
Antonio Callaway- The 21-year old rookie got his first start in Week 2 and was productive, with 3 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown. Every bit as talented as the wide receivers taken in the first round, Callaway has a bright future if he can stay out of trouble.
Kenny Golladay - I didn’t think there would be enough ball to go around in Detroit for Kenny Golladay to be more than just a part-time contributor, but he has really impressed in his first two games in his second season. He has made numerous heads up, key plays that belie a second-year player and demonstrate that he may even be special. That doesn’t even cover his size and ability as a receiver. The asking price for Golladay will have risen steeply, as has my ranking of him, but he may just be worth making a move for, despite buying at the top of the market. The contract situations for both Marvin Jones Jr and Golden Tate mean that Golladay will quickly ascend to the number one receiver in 2019 and his value now, will only rise should he continue on his impressive start to the season.
Courtland Sutton - The box score does not recognize how well Courtland Sutton has almost done in the first two games of his NFL career. He had a 14-yard touchdown unluckily overturned and a 35-yard reception similarly just missing. He has all the moves to be a decent fantasy receiver for years to come and the opportunities are going to present themselves this year and especially in future when one or both of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are no longer on this team, probably as early as 2019. Sutton is ready to contribute and just needs a little more luck than he’s had to date.
Will Fuller V - The biggest enemy of Will Fuller V is his attachment to the training table. It is clear that the offense of the Houston Texans and Deshaun Watson looks a lot better when he is on the field and if he can stay fit, he will be a starting fantasy receiver for years to come. He has to rise in rankings for now, but more injuries are going to make him difficult to rely on. He has a very high touchdown ratio with Watson under center and is a high upside risk worth taking a chance on.
Demaryius Thomas - The play of Demaryius Thomas has noticeably declined over the last two years and it won’t be long before he has to face the Dez Bryant treatment in Denver. His contract is almost untenable in 2019 given his current production and while his week one production may have masked the obvious signs, his week two stat line against the Raiders is clearly worrying. Five receptions for 18 yards off 11 targets is awful for a star receiver. If I had him on my roster, I would wait for his next big game and unload him for what I could get.
Antonio Brown - Antonio Brown is a target magnet and will continue to be a dominant receiver in Pittsburgh, but the play of JuJu Smith-Schuster has reduced Brown to the 1B role for now. Given the shenanigans in Pittsburgh, I would be concerned about how dominant Brown can be given the negative stories getting publicity and if Brown can be mentally strong enough to retain his current production for much longer. If you can trade Brown on reputation I would heavily consider it as I am concerned that this is going to head south sooner, rather than later.
Marvin Jones Jr - The emergence of Kenny Golladay and the reliability of Golden Tate means that Marvin Jones Jr probably had his career year in 2017. Jones has started the 2018 season with two games of four catches for 54 yards. That can be expected to be his return for the remainder of the season on average. His contract with the Lions gives them an easy out after the season and as he is still well under 30, he should latch on with another team. His long-term worth as a dynasty option has to take a hit from last year though and if you can get a good offer, I would take it.
O.J. Howard - I had been skeptical about Howard’s fantasy upside in a Buccaneers offense loaded with talented pass catchers. However, he has looked very good early in 2018. His speed makes him a unique weapon and we are starting to see Tampa Bay find ways to use his athleticism effectively. His 75-yard touchdown in Week 2 was a big-time play.
Greg Olsen - For most NFL stars, the end of their careers do not play out according to plan. Injuries start to pile up and combined with the effects of age, strip players of their effectiveness. We may be reaching that point faster than expected for the 33-year old Olsen. He wants to come back in 4-5 weeks, but foot injuries are especially tricky and tough to come back from. There are no guarantees Olsen ever returns to fantasy
Jake Butt - It looks like Jake Butt will be the primary target of Case Keenum at tight end. He was well regarded as a rookie but missed his first season through injury. He will probably struggle to rank as a starting tight end in most leagues but could present as a nice depth option or bye week replacement in most leagues. If he continues to improve on his craft, he can be a starting option in future years, but I wouldn’t be cashing those checks just yet.
Austin Hooper - For some reason, Austin Hooper was overlooked as a starting option in fantasy leagues heading into the 2018 season. Now in his third year, he has improved rapidly, as you would expect a young tight end to do. It would surprise me if he didn’t finish the 2018 season as a bottom tier starting option and with further room to grow. The Falcons have a potent offense that allows Hooper a mismatch often and as he isn’t even 24 yet, has a long-term future in the league.
George Kittle - After his five reception for 90-yard performance, with so much more available, my conviction that George Kittle was all sizzle and no steak looked wrong. After a disappointing effort against the Lions in Week 2, it presents a confusing situation as to where exactly he is in his career. Garrett Celek is a veteran and will not be a regular visitor to the box score, but he looks more able to fulfill a role in this offense. I’m sure Kittle will have big games in the coming weeks, but I remain unconvinced that he is a starting tight end on a regular basis in this league.
Austin Hooper - I feel many gave up on Hooper too soon, and Hooper reminded us why we may need to wait on the development of tight ends. Matt Ryan is looking to him more this season, especially in the red zone. Hooper has also been sure-handed, including converting his red zone look into a touchdown. I slot Hooper at TE13, just behind George Kittle.
Rico Gathers – The Cowboys and the Giants were in a dogfight on Sunday night, and Gathers was the target of several passes from Dak Prescott in key situations. One pass bounced off of his hands and on the other, he was open for a touchdown but couldn’t catch up to the ball. He looked frustrated and out of place and more like a rookie than a three-year veteran. He has no place on your dynasty roster, even on deep roster leagues.
Jonnu Smith – If you were hoping that Smith would step in and pick up Delanie Walker’s stats, you were severely disappointed this week. Smith’s biggest contribution this week was a holding penalty in the second quarter. He still needs time to develop, and he shouldn’t be anywhere close to your starting lineup until he becomes more involved in the offense.
Eric Ebron – Two weeks – two touchdowns. No, that trend won’t continue, but with Andrew Luck looking sharp, the Colts and their two tight-end sets means that Ebron’s physical stats and skills make him a nightmare to cover along with the rest of the Indianapolis receivers. Ebron won’t post Travis Kelce like stats every week, but he’ll be a great red-zone threat and that’s all you can ask for from a tight end if you can’t get one of the top guys.
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