Dynasty Roundtable, June 2019

The Dynasty staff answers the burning questions on the minds of dynasty owners.  Contributions by Daniel Simpkins, Andy Hicks, Chad Parsons, Jason Wood, and Jeff Haseley

The dynasty staffers at Footballguys will have regular Dynasty Roundtables throughout the offseason. This is the third installment with several staffers contributing.

1. Which second-year quarterback (with the exception of Baker Mayfield) do you expect to have the best fantasy season: Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, or Lamar Jackson?

Simpkins

Lamar Jackson is the most likely of this group to be at the top of the heap by year’s end. As was detailed here, Jackson did a great job his rookie year and was showing the most development as a pocket passer, despite a very difficult set of circumstances. Even if you don’t believe in his passing ability, he has the highest rushing upside of the bunch, even over Josh Allen.

Hicks

Focusing on pure fantasy terms the answer should be Lamar Jackson. Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen don’t do enough with their legs and their passing talent isn’t far enough advanced to make up for that. Josh Allen could threaten on the rushing front, but his runs weren't often the result of design and therefore more likely to be unpredictable. Allen is even further behind in the passing game so 2019 should be a development year for him. Jackson did have an upgrade at stretching the field but will need to connect when asked to throw the ball more frequently. Jackson is the most likely to be a starting fantasy quarterback in 2019, but he could be a disaster if he hasn’t progressed as a passer or gets figured out as a runner.

Parsons

Fantasy-wise, I will take Josh Allen with his rushing boost which fast-tracks still developing young NFL passers. In terms of progressing as a traditional NFL passer, give me Sam Darnold, who still needs better weapons on the outside to thrive production-wise, is on the rise.

Wood

I'm not particularly enthusiastic about any of these guys for 2019, but right now Josh Allen is slightly higher in my rankings than Lamar Jackson. Anyone that thinks the Ravens can let Jackson run 150+ times effectively is kidding themselves, yet I didn't see enough from Jackson at Louisville or last year in Baltimore as a passer to believe he can make a seamless transition. If you want to argue Jackson evolves into a functional passer in the next two or three seasons, I'm all ears. But this year? I'm from Missouri, you need to show me. Allen's resume as an NFL-caliber passer isn't much better, but I have become appreciative of what he did in college given an absolute lack of supporting talent.

Haseley

My gut says this will be either Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson with my preference leaning towards Jackson. Rushing quarterbacks generally are better fantasy producers. They can turn an average fantasy performance into a top-12 weekly ranking due to a respectable rushing game. Lamar Jackson had 147 rushes last season. If he can develop even a mild passing game and stay healthy, he has a chance to finish inside the Top 6 of fantasy quarterbacks.

2. Speaking of Allen, which Buffalo receiver - if any - are you investing in? If none, why and which sleepers are you monitoring?

Simpkins

Robert Foster seems to have the most rapport with Allen. Though it’s not easy to be bullish about this offense, Foster is easily acquirable for a second or third-round pick in most formats. You can take him quite late in startup drafts with very little downside.

Hicks

Zay Jones continues to be underrated heading into the 2019 season. He looks like the prototypical third-year breakout wide receiver. Jones had an uneven and overwhelming rookie season, followed by significant development in his second season. In five of his last seven games, he saw at least nine targets and recorded six touchdowns. The rapport between him and Josh Allen will only grow, and we quickly forget he was a high draft pick in 2017 when selected with the 37th-overall pick. Cole Beasley never finished higher than the 40th-ranked fantasy receiver and at age 30 won’t do that in Buffalo. John Brown looks like a second or third receiver, not a fantasy stud. Thankfully his serious health issue looks under control, but at age 29 is not going to break out in Buffalo. Robert Foster had a golden five-game stretch where he had three 100-yard receiving games and one 94-yard game. That said the team signed Cole Beasley and John Brown in free agency so his 2018 season may be seen more as a fluke than the real deal.

Parsons

I will take a dart throw on John Brown with the best profile of the bunch and health being a big factor for Brown to emerge. Cole Beasley is probably the best bet for a high floor of the group for say, 45-50 receptions, but the ceiling does not offer much for fantasy. Robert Foster would be the sleeper based on his partial season of flashes and especially if Brown is not much of a factor.

Wood

There isn't a sure bet on the Bills roster. John Brown is getting his annual push by a subset of the analyst community, but why should 2019 be different than 2018? Brown flashed last year in Baltimore with Joe Flacco but was completely negated with Lamar Jackson. If Josh Allen is also a limited passer in a run-heavy offense, why should we think Brown will re-emerge? Cole Beasley is a complementary piece to a contending team and is getting up there in years. He can help as a chain mover and may lead the Bills' in targets, but he'll never be an every-week fantasy asset without being in a pass-happy system. Zay Jones is the one I'm most interested in stashing in dynasty formats, but admittedly given how active the front office has been in adding receivers, I'm not sure they believe in Jones as much as I do. Robert Foster has done well given limited opportunities, but his injury situation and the addition of multiple veterans gives me pause. In DEEP dynasty leagues, keep an eye on David Sills. He was always open at West Virginia.

Haseley

The leading receiver for Buffalo in 2019 is anyone's game. No one player stands out as the team's go-to receiver, and it's highly likely that the leading receiver won't exceed 65 receptions. A player with 60 catches and 6 touchdowns is generally a WR3 or flex option. Last year Zay Jones quietly finished with 56 catches and 7 touchdowns and he finished as the 40th-ranked wide receiver in PPR scoring. The best Bills receiver is a flex option, and the wrong pick is probably a borderline fantasy starter, if that. Those inferences alone cause me to shy away from targeting any particular player. However, in the rare instance where things aren't as they seem (we see it every year in the NFL), the Bills receiver that piques my interest the most is Robert Foster. Foster finished as the #15 wide receiver in the league after Week 10. He totaled 511 receiving yards in that span with 3 touchdowns, plus he averaged 20 yards per catch and caught 69% of the passes thrown his way, which is rare to see for a receiver with such a high yards-per-catch average. If anyone is going to be a surprise in Buffalo, my money is on Foster.

3. The Baltimore running game will set up one or more of the backs for fantasy viability? With Mark Ingram II, Gus Edwards, Kenneth Dixon, and Justice Hill in the fold, who should be the best fantasy option.

Simpkins

Mark Ingram II will be the best fantasy option of the bunch. Ingram is also a decent pass catcher and we may see Baltimore utilize that part of his game more than the Saints did after Kamara came along.

Hicks

Adding to the crowded Baltimore Ravens backfield is the most experienced and pedigreed back on their roster in Mark Ingram II. Ingram will be 30 this year, and backs of his vintage do not tend to have a great record on a new team after an entire career on another franchise. Ingram though does not have a huge amount of tread on his tires, having shared time with other backs. Gus Edwards is a plodder, but reliable. Justice Hill offers excitement, but the main threat to rushing attempts is the quarterback in Lamar Jackson. It is hard to see Ingram getting more than 200 carries and his projected reception total is a great mystery. Where he will make or break fantasy rosters is his touchdown totals. Only once in his eight-year career has he exceeded 10 touchdowns and while his upside is as an RB2, his downside is potentially much lower depending on how the rushing attempts are split. I cannot see a role for Kenneth Dixon and maybe even Dixon and Edwards are battling for one roster spot. In order, I would go, Mark Ingram II, Justice Hill, Gus Edwards, and then Kenneth Dixon. We need to see how Hill does in training camp and if he is ready to have a significant role.

Parsons

Mark Ingram II is the clear choice here. Gus Edwards was a Plan B/C/D type option last year, but Baltimore addressed the position with Ingram and Justice Hill this offseason. Ingram will be a better version of Edwards paired with Lamar Jackson in the backfield, adding more receiving work as well.

Wood

I'm all in on Mark Ingram II for 2019. The Ravens prioritized signing him, which is encouraging as most teams play the waiting game on the running back position these days. Ingram has been a fantasy stud on a per-touch basis throughout his career and seemingly steps into the most run-oriented offense in the AFC.

Haseley

My gut says Mark Ingram II will be the team's lead back. He has shown he can be a force as a rusher and also as a receiver. The development of Justice Hill and the usage of Kenneth Dixon will ultimately determine the volume that Ingram will see. I envision 250 carries for Ingram, which would put him over 1,000 yards and likely a top-20, if not top-15, running back.

Staying in Baltimore, rookies Marquise Brown and Myles Boykin are the top two receivers on the depth chart. Do you expect either - or both - to be fantasy relevant? Could Willie Snead IV or Chris Brown emerge as the top receiver?

Simpkins

It will take some time for Brown and Boykin. Rookies typically don’t adjust instantly to the speed and nuances of the NFL game. Eventually, the belief is that both can be top targets for Jackson. For this year, look for Willie Snead IV to be the top receiver, but for the tight ends Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst to be more involved in the passing game than some folks think.

Hicks

Baltimore has not produced a fantasy WR1 in ages; the best they have had was Torrey Smith who barely crawled into the WR2 territory for a few years. Until I see John Harbaugh commit to a passing game and Lamar Jackson capable of delivering it, whoever sees the targets is just going to be an occasional blip on the box score. My feeling is that Brown is there to stretch the field, so they have more room to run the ball. Willie Snead IV and the tight ends will hover around the line of scrimmage to be a change of pace, but Brown is sure to see a few blown coverages. Whether Jackson can get him the ball remains to be seen.

Parsons

Willie Snead IV is my sneaky bet for Baltimore's passing game (outside of the tight ends), but Marquise Brown is the best ball and/or upside play if his foot is right by midseason as a dynamic playmaker downfield.

Wood

As to the receivers, I was disappointed on draft weekend when both Boykin and Brown ended up in Baltimore. They were two of my favorite rookie prospects and seeing them end up in an offense that may not throw 450 times a year was discouraging. It's hard to project fantasy relevance in 2019 unless one ends up with 6-8 touchdowns -- something that's hard to predict.

Haseley

In seven games as a starter last year, Lamar Jackson exceeded 200 yards passing one time. He also never had more than 14 completions in a game. If those stats stay the same, it will be difficult to find a consistent wide receiver fantasy option on the Ravens. As a result, my interests generally turn to another team to find fantasy success.

With the look of the Ravens offense, what type of fantasy production are you expecting from Lamar Jackson?

Simpkins

Jackson did some great work from the pocket and has the added benefit of being able to produce with his legs. Rushing ability is a boon for fantasy quarterbacks, even if they prove to be poor passers. Tim Tebow and Josh Allen are great examples of that truth. The fact that Jackson is a competent passer should excite fantasy general managers even more. Expect Jackson to finish among the top ten.

Hicks

How good are the Baltimore coaching staff at keeping one step ahead of opposing defenses? By drafting Marquise Brown, Myles Boykin, and Justice Hill in the first four rounds, they obviously have a plan, but can they implement it effectively and can Lamar Jackson execute it? It will be fascinating to see the Ravens in early season action and Jackson will be one of those players who has a high ceiling, but a really low floor as well.

Parsons

Lamar Jackson's fantasy production should be solid regardless of his passing progression due to his rushing prowess, which puts quarterbacks on the high-QB2 spectrum, or better, by default. The bigger concern is Jackson's durability with the number of shots he took through his rushing volume last season.

Wood

I'm in the wait-and-see mode on Lamar Jackson. I don't believe a quarterback can be run first and succeed consistently. And I haven't seen any evidence Jackson can make NFL-level throws with regularity.

Haseley

I would be surprised to see Lamar Jackson average 17 carries per game, which is what he averaged since Week 11 last year when he was named the starter. At 6'3, 200 pounds, Jackson will be hard-pressed to stay healthy for a full season taking that level of abuse week in and week out. However, when he's healthy he can put up strong numbers every week. He's Tim Tebow with better rushing ability and a slightly better arm. Tebow finished 19th in 2011, his best fantasy year. Jackson has top-12 potential with the possibility of top-6 numbers if he stays healthy and develops a passing game.

4. The tight end position drops off dramatically after the top three (Ertz, Kelce, and Kittle). Which tight end do you expect to step up and be an elite starter? Can Ebron repeat the touchdown rate with Doyle back? Can Engram step up in uncertain offense? Can O.J. Howard stay healthy and finally put everything together in an Arians offense not known for tight end success? Jared Cook seems to be the most likely candidate now that he is in New Orleans. Can we trust him? Hunter Henry? Vance McDonald? Delanie Walker? David Njoku? Austin Hooper?

Simpkins

If Hunter Henry is a full go after his season-ending injury, I expect him to be the one that jumps back up to the top options among the position. Phillip Rivers had a great deal of chemistry with Henry and there will be a need for target absorption with Tyrell Williams now in Oakland.

Hicks

I have Evan Engram ahead of Zach Ertz, but primarily because he should be the Giants best receiver. Not because I think the Giants have a foolproof plan to get him the ball.

Eric Ebron always had the talent and was drafted in the top 10 in Detroit. As usual with the Lions, it didn’t work out and he found success in Indianapolis. His touchdown rate was freakish, but with Andrew Luck throwing the ball I wouldn’t rule anything out. Doyle could be a threat or an afterthought. When Jack Doyle did play last year, Ebron still recorded touchdowns in five of those six games. The only game he didn’t have a touchdown as a zero catch, zero target performance.

I would be wary of Jared Cook in 2019. He has always had talent but never put it together, until 2018 with the Raiders. The Raiders had traded Amari Cooper and were talent depleted at receiver. That isn’t the situation in New Orleans. Cook will be 32 this year as well.

O.J. Howard could be a victim of the Bruce Arians era in Tampa Bay, but he has all-world talent and should be approaching his peak as a player. I would be wary in hoping that Arians can use him as a primary weapon.

Hunter Henry should continue where he left off in 2017, an ascending talent that is in the perfect situation to succeed. We do need to monitor his movement during training camp though to ensure he is back to 100% fitness.

Vance McDonald has threatened to be a fantasy starter for years and is now finally in the position to do so. With Jesse James and Antonio Brown elsewhere, McDonald just needs a few more touchdowns to become a reliable fantasy starter on a week to week basis.

Delanie Walker is 35 and coming off a broken ankle. At best, he can threaten to become a fantasy starter, but more than likely given the roster movements at wide receiver and his age, he is winding down.

David Njoku could be the threat that has huge games and loads of nothing depending on the game script and how heavily the star players are targeted. Good luck figuring out which week is a good one.

Austin Hooper will enter consideration as a starting fantasy tight end, but my concern with him is consistency and the Falcons approach to offense. He saw more than five receptions in only three games last year, and with the Falcons struggling in the red zone, Hooper wasn’t the threat he should be.

Parsons

My three best bets are Evan Engram, O.J. Howard, and Jared Cook. Howard has the most competition for targets with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin there. Engram could have the clearest path to volume with no strong WR1 present, but the question of quarterback quality. Cook will have Drew Brees and a wide-open passing game beyond Michael Thomas to potentially exploit for the requisite 100+ targets.

Wood

I respectfully disagree with the premise, as Hunter Henry can easily match the top three's production. We know the Chargers and Philip Rivers are at their best with a productive tight end, and Henry is far enough removed from his ACL injury to expect 100% effectiveness. If Henry ended up as the No. 2 tight end (behind Travis Kelce), I wouldn't be at all surprised.

I'm less enthusiastic about drafting Ebron at his draft slot. As you mentioned, his value is touchdown dependent, and variance could easily make him overdrafted by a few rounds even if his underlying play sustains.

O.J. Howard certainly has the talent to thrive, but I'm not paying the price for him as the "next guy after the elites." This is a year to either go hard early on one of the sure things or wait a long time.

Haseley

The No. 4 tight end is a toss-up between Eric Ebron, Evan Engram, and Jared Cook. There are doubts about all three, but they also have a great deal of potential. Ebron, because he's been there before and has shown to be a reliable target for Andrew Luck and the Colts, especially in the red zone. The uncertainty of Jack Doyle's presence gives pause. Engram has always performed well in the absence of Odell Beckham Jr Jr. He's free from lingering injuries and is expected to compete with Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard for the lead in receptions among downfield players (Saquon Barkley excluded). Jared Cook is the quiet option; however, his stock is rising quickly. The Saints and Drew Brees have heavily utilized the tight end position, especially when that tight end has above-average ability. We saw it with Jimmy Graham and Ben Watson. Jeremy Shockey had some success as well. Jared Cook is an above average tight end who has been on some bad teams, which has stunted his fantasy popularity. He has the tools to be a big contributor with the Saints in 2019, but there's also the concern that Drew Brees is in the decline of his career. Brees failed to finish higher than 15th in each of the last five games of the 2018 season.

My gut says Eric Ebron will finish at the TE4 in 2019. The Colts offense loves to feature the tight end (21 touchdowns to tight ends in 2018). The next closest was 13 by Kansas City. Andrew Luck's rapport with Ebron is difficult to ignore and ultimately should produce Top 5 numbers this year. He's my pick.

5. The Tyreek Hill situation is sad, but owners want to know how best to play the situation. How should dynasty owners react to the news that the police investigation is inactive? If your answer is to buy, at what price? If it is to sell, what are you expecting in return? If your advice is to hold, is it because he could get a four- or six-game suspension then his value will rise?

Simpkins

If you are a Hill owner, don’t rejoice yet. A lengthy suspension is still likely. Buying Hill seems foolish when he’s proven over and over again that he has not really dealt with the underlying issues. We need to hear that he’s gone through some sort of counseling or rehabilitation experience before even considering trading for him or drafting him. If you own him, I’m recommending selling if you can get a late first, early second, or an equivalent value. He could recover his dynasty value with time, but he could just as easily have another incident or have more evidence in the case come to light that makes him lose all worth.

Parsons

I am done with these high-risk players off the field. I exited my only dynasty share of Hill at the first drop of the news earlier in the offseason in a Superflex league for the 1.01 to draft Kyler Murray. We already must tolerate injury risk among other things, but Hill's risk was beyond the typical. I would buy for a third-round rookie pick but am generally out recommending adding market share of Hill.

Wood

I'm going to assume Hill gets suspended for eight games because the Commissioner has shown a willingness to use circumstantial evidence of current and past transgressions in his decision-making. We know Hill's son was abused, it's just that there isn't enough evidence to prove criminally. But sadly, if Hill manages to avoid further mistakes, he'll remain an elite, league-winning fantasy asset. Personally speaking, I think someone with his history of violence against his girlfriend and child is a high risk of additional transgressions, and that would be potentially career-threatening. As a result, the best strategy is to sell high after Hill's suspension is announced but before he has a chance to further jeopardize his career.

Haseley

My instincts say Tyreek Hill will play in 2019 and there's a non-zero chance that he could be eligible to play all 16 games. Even if he is suspended for four or six games, he still will have fantasy value when he plays, which makes him the one to target.

Which Chiefs receiver are you investing for Kansas City?

Simpkins

General managers have lost faith in Sammy Watkins and are selling him cheaply enough that he’s worth purchasing. Talent has never been a question with Watkins. It has purely been health concerns that have derailed his career so far. There are indications coming out of Kansas City that the training staff finally has Watkins at full health and on a regimen that makes him less likely to deal with injury again this season. With Hill probably out for an extended period, this seems like the season when Watkins could truly seize the lead role in Kansas City. It’s worth paying a mid-to-late first to purchase Watkins and hope that scenario plays out.

Hicks

Simply put, Tyreek Hill is an explosive threat seen very rarely in the NFL. If he plays, the whole offense has a new dimension that opens avenues for all other players. If he doesn’t then I don’t doubt Andy Reid's capability of coming up with a good plan, but this player is the key to this whole offense. Regardless of what is happening off the field, he is a blue chip fantasy option. He has risk given his temperament, but while he can help an NFL team, he will find opportunities until his off-field issues make that impossible for the team. The NFL has shown it cares more about image than practicalities, so unless the public outcry becomes unbearable Hill will get punished, come back with some protest and life will move on. From a dynasty practical point, 2019 will be a case of where you sit. If you are a contender and cannot handle holding Hill, get a good price and upgrade your 2019 chances. If you can hold him, do so.

All other Chief receivers are risky propositions. Sammy Watkins has done the least from the vaunted first round receivers of 2014. Even Kelvin Benjamin has had higher highs. Brandin Cooks made Watkins exploits with the Rams seem pedestrian. Prove it, Sammy.

Mecole Hardman is a rookie and will play like it. Expectations must be kept in check. Excluding Travis Kelce, the others are all fighting for scraps. One may stand out and core out a fantasy role, but good luck figuring out who. The best option is to analyze training camp reports and see who is clicking with Mahomes.

Parsons

I am a big Sammy Watkins fan and injury more than anything has held Watkins back of late. His own health, combined with missed time from Tyreek Hill, would fuel a WR1 stretch and/or season for Watkins. Demarcus Robinson is my darkhorse candidate for fantasy production in Kansas City this season.

Wood

As to the other receivers, I find myself warming up to Sammy Watkins for the first time in years. He's still a major injury risk until proven otherwise, but the ceiling for Watkins as the de facto No. 1 in Kansas City is too high to ignore. He could be an every-week WR1 if Hill misses games.

I'm not a Mecole Hardman fan. To my mind, the Chiefs overdrafted him because Hardman has the raw profile of a Tyreek Hill type, and in their panic over Hill's nebulous future, they overreached. I think there's a better chance Hardman never plays meaningful snaps he emerges a star.

Haseley

A combination of Travis Kelce, Sammy Watkins, and Demarcus Robinson can fill the void in his absence. Mecole Hardman has a chance to make a splash in the offense, but it seems unlikely that he will develop into a fantasy starter in year one, especially when Hill is available.

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