We scour the news around the NFL to bring you what matters most to you and your dynasty team: the most current news on players, both superstars and the relative unknowns, and analysis to decipher the respective situations. These are many of the major stories and not meant to be an exhaustive look at all the recent happenings around the league.
June 7 Monday, Peter King wrote that he "would bet Rodgers, today, is solid on never playing for the Packers again." This is the strongest statement yet on Rodgers’ future with the Packers. King went deep into the situation, even proposing solutions for the relationship. He wrote, "The Packers need to extend an olive branch for a situation—whether they acknowledge the reality of it—that could turn into a football and fan disaster in 2021 … This is that olive branch. It’s a face-saving thing for both sides." As training camp nears, this situation could turn ugly.
May 26 The quarterback position has been tumultuous this offseason, especially with stars in their respective primes. Aaron Rodgers has not shown up for offseason activities in Green Bay and is said to want a trade. Who knows if it will happen or if he finally reports, but we expect the situation to continue to fester. Surely, the Packers know the dynamic duo of Blake Bortles and Jordan Love are not good enough to pull off an eight-win season. The longer this stalemate goes, the less the odds for a trade. The Broncos are the only viable suitor at this point, and they will wait until the Packers front office realizes that they pushed their star away. We get the feeling that this is personal for Rodgers and he might sit the season out just to prove his point.
May 26 Throughout most of the offseason, the Rodgers situation has been overshadowed by Deshaun Watson’s legal predicament. At least 20 women are ready to testify against Watson. Sure, the expectation is that he will settle the civil suits, but two factors remain: Watson will likely garner an NFL suspension AND Watson reiterated his desire to be traded just in the last few days. Sure, most will point out that the star quarterback has bigger fish to fry. They’d be correct. However, if Watson is already thinking about which uniform he will wear in 2021, a collective settlement is closer than reported.
June 13 Kyler Murray's fantasy upside is tied to his high-volume passing offense and rushing ability. Fantasy managers should take note of Murray's comments last week about desiring to run less, "Honestly, the way I see it is, my legs should be a luxury ... And it kind of wasn't like that last year. It was me having to run for us in a sense. Once my shoulder was banged up and I wasn't trying to put myself out there and take those hits, we hit a lull. Honestly, I think it was a lesson for us. We can't be one-dimensional. We've got be better in all aspects of the game." File this away in case Murray has an off-year without the rushing totals. Murray averaged over 51 rushing yards per game in 2020 and even had an 100-yard rushing outburst against Miami in Week 9. The athletic quarterback also added 11 rushing totals on the season. His ability to make plays on the ground may be be the difference between you winning your fantasy season and possibly missing the playoffs.
May 26 Tyrod Taylor is the favorite to start Week1 for the Texans. The veteran started the first game last year for the Chargers, a win over the Bengals. Before Week 2, a team doctor punctured a lung while trying to administer a pain medicine injection. He ceded the starting gig to rookie Justin Herbert and the rest is history. Houston drafted Davis Mills in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. While many will get excited about Mills, he will have a tough time passing Taylor on the depth chart until later in the year, assuming Watson is suspended or traded. Fantasy players should cheer for Mills to have a good training camp as Taylor will not be able to pass well enough for Brandin Cooks and the receivers to be fantasy viable.
May 26 There was much ink spilled over Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer telling reporters that rookie tailback Travis Etienne was working mostly as a receiver in rookie camp. The part of the quote that is often omitted is Meyer saying that the team has faith in the first-round pick’s rushing abilities and wants to use him in a variety of situations. Per Meyer, “Worst case scenario you have a running back that's elite with receiver skills.” Most pundits immediately assumed a Percy Harvin-like role for Etienne. This would not be a bad thing for Etienne’s fantasy profile. With James Robinson and Carlos Hyde already in the backfield, any way to scheme touches for Etienne is welcomed. There is another consideration often forgotten. The Jaguars do not have much talent. This team will be bad and playing from behind often. It could set up Etienne as the pass-catcher in garbage time.
May 26 The Athletic's Jay Morrison got fantasy footballers in a frenzy last week as he reported that tailback Joe Mixon would remain on the field almost full time. Mixon is undervalued in dynasty leagues as he could benefit from the firepower in the passing game. Also, Giovani Bernard signed to play in Tampa Bay. This leaves Samaje Perine as the primary backup for Mixon in 2021. If Mixon benefits from a prolific passing attack, so would Perine if Mixon misses time. He makes a great stash in deeper leagues.
May 26 This is the time of year where crazy things are said by head coaches and fantasy players must read with a filter. One such quote came from Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio when he said last week that the team would "utilize all three" of their running backs this season. Melvin Gordon III is a proven star. The Broncos also traded up in the draft to select the hard-charging Javonte Williams. We expect Gordon and Williams to split touches similar to last year with Gordon and Phillip Lindsay. After Lindsay signed in Houston, Denver signed Mike Boone, previously with the Vikings. We expect Gordon, by far the best receiver of the three, to dominate touches. Fangio has always liked using a committee, but Boone should be seen as insurance for the other two. Fangio’s quote is mistakenly seen as an even split of touches between the three. What he said was, "Hopefully this year with our three backs — Boone being one of them, who we really like that we signed in free agency — we'll get a nice flow and get a good understanding and philosophy of the system which we'll take from week to week to utilize all three of them," In the same press conference, Fangio told reporters that Gordon will likely be the team’s leading ball carrier. Boone should see special teams duty and an occasional series unless one of the other two is injured.
June 7 The big news this week was the Julio Jones trade. The Atlanta Falcons gave Jones and a 2023 sixth-round pick, and the Tennessee Titans gave a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 fourth-rounder in return. Jones has been elite every year of his ten-year career, averaging 1,565 receiving yards per season before the injury-riddled 2020 season. Titans general manager Jon Robinson told Peter King, "Missing time last year, what were the circumstances surrounding that? And based on our evaluation of him, he’s healthy and doesn’t look like he’s lost anything to us.” The Titans have a strong receiving duo with Jones and A.J. Brown. Two of the most physically gifted players of all time. For fantasy, the big winner might be quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He has been a low-end QB1 option the past two seasons and not has more weekly upside with the two play-making receivers.
May 26 The salary cap forces unwanted decisions. One such decision is the Atlanta Falcons potentially trading Julio Jones. The new regime has a large rebuild effort ahead of them, making the potential trade more palatable. We see a declining, yet still spectacular, Jones. The issue is two-fold: he wants to play for a winner and the team needs to create cap space to sign this year’s rookies. Making matters more difficult is the team’s asking price (a first-round pick) and Jones’ guaranteed salary of $15.3 million for 2021 and $19 million salary number for 2022. Not many teams have the cap space to take on the salary, much less pay the extravagant price for the 32-year-old Jones. There are ample rumors going around about where the star receiver wants to play in 2021, but he may not get a choice given so few teams have that much cap space available. To illustrate how awesome Jones has been in his ten-year career, he has started at least 13 games in eight of the ten years, has the most receiving yards in the NFL over this time period, and has averaged 95 yards per game throughout his career. Graham Barfield tweeted out statistics about Jones’ impact on quarterback Matt Ryan, “Matt Ryan’s splits with/without Julio Jones since 2012:
With Julio (122 games)
- Passing yards per game (YPG) — 293
- YPA — 7.9
- TDs per game — 1.9
- INTs per game — 0.7
- Win percentage — 0.53
Without Julio (22 games)
- YPG — 260
- YPA — 7.2
- TDs — 1.6
- INTs — 1.1
- Win% — 0.27
In dynasty leagues, Jones makes a great buy candidate as he still has a few years left of elite production.
June 13 This weekend, beat reporter Hays Carlyon tweeted a bit of news that caused many to adjust their dynasty rankings, "I asked somebody in the Jaguars building: Who is the player that the coaches are buzzing about? The answer was Laviska Shenault Jr". This was just a week after coach Urban Meyer called out Shenault's teammate D.J. Chark Jr, “I just didn’t like his size. His strength, I just thought, was way below average, way below what we expect from our receivers, and he was told that ... He’s a big guy that played little last year, and that can’t happen. Guys like Mike Thomas and (for Flordia player under Meyer) Louis Murphy are those big, strong, fast receivers, and he’s got to play big and strong.” Shenault should be a target for savvy dynasty players.
June 19 The New York Jets wide receiver situation will be a mess for fantasy players this year. Last week, the team convinced Jamison Crowder to halve his salary for 2020, guaranteeing him a spot on the team. With newly-signed Corey Davis and rookie Elijah Moore added, Crowder will be a situational player. Crowder’s presence may limit Moore’s year-one upside. Further, the crowded receiving corps may make each of the three inexpensive to acquire and all three are good long-term bets for fantasy viability, even if it means Crowder will be elsewhere in 2022. Keelan Cole was also added in free agency and has been playing in front of second-year player Denzel Mims. Beat reporter Ralph Vacchiano wrote second-year Denzel Mims was one of the team's few receivers to not play with the first team on the first day of minicamp. The Athletic's Connor Hughes reported that Cole, not Mims, has a spot in the Jets' three-receiver sets. This was with Crowder on the sideline. Crowder’s presence pushes Mims to the fifth receiver. Ouch!
June 19 Beat reporter Andrew Callahan said, "don’t be surprised if Jakobi Meyers looks like" New England’s top receiver during the team's minicamp. He added that Meyers had a strong spring. The team lost Julian Edelman to retirement, but added Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Meyers had a few strong games as a rookie in 2020 and is primed for a breakout in 2021. On the flipside, Callahan reported that former 2019 first-round pick will be fighting for a roster spot. We expect Harry to be a late-summer trade candidate. Meyers is one of our favorite players to acquire this offseason. He is cheap with upside. The youngster just needs improved quarterback play to take the next step in his development.
June 7 Many in the fantasy community are recommending Anthony Firkser as a sleeper. Long-time Titans beat writer Terry McCormick threw cold water on the idea over the weekend by tweeting, “Robinson said #Titans are still monitoring the TE position. Likes what they have, but constantly looking at what's available or may become away.” As if the Julio Jones trade did not hurt Firskser’s value and upside enough, this tweet should give pause.
If you would like to review our most recent Dynasty rankings, here is a link.