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Dynasty Dichotomy

As you can imagine, we get asked a lot of questions around these parts. A LOT of questions. In fact, so many it’s hard to keep up sometimes, but we love it nonetheless.  Some of the most common questions we get are in regards to our rankings. One question in particular struck a chord with me the other day when someone asked me who I felt were the toughest players to rank in dynasty leagues this off-season.

Once I was asked that question, I immediately thought about writing this article and describing the players I felt were the toughest to rank. I then remembered something very important – the world does not, in fact, revolve around me. So, I asked our writing team at DLF the same question and I complied a scorecard based on their responses.

Each player was given one point each time their name was on a writer’s list. We had a total of 39 votes and the results were all across the board – that tells me that this year has a wide variety of players whose value is in flux. Even though we had a total of 30 players mentioned, there were some clear themes as well.

Here’s the list, with some commentary added to explain why they may be tough to rank this year:

The Leader in Clubhouse

Dez Bryant (4 votes)

It’s really no surprise to see Bryant on this list, nor is it shocking to see him at the top of it. There is no doubt that this season is a huge one for Dez in dynasty leagues. In fact, you could make a case that no other player has as much riding on this year than he does. Will he finally break through and become an elite WR1 or will he simply be a good WR2 or flex player? We ask that question now, but will probably have that answer by this time next season.

On Deck

Matt Ryan (3 votes)

There’s no doubting the fact that Matt Ryan is a very good quarterback in reality and fantasy. He has a fantastic supporting cast and an offense that’s built to suit his talents.

That’s the problem.

Ryan is a very good quarterback, but not an elite one as of yet. The question with him is not if he’s going to be a bust because he obviously won’t be. The question with Ryan is if he can truly take the next step from being a low-end QB1 to a truly elite one in dynasty leagues.

The Two Vote Crew

Chris Johnson

Which CJ2K are we going to see this year? Is it the ultra-dynamic version we saw burst on to the scene as a rookie, or the relatively ordinary one we saw last year.

Jonathan Stewart

Let’s see, we’ve never really talked about him on this site, right? He may have the highest ceiling in relation to the lowest floor of any running back I can remember. His story is both frustrating and amazing all at once.

Victor Cruz

I actually thought Cruz would win this competition because it is incredibly difficult to rank him accurately. Was he a one year wonder? Can he really be that productive again as the WR2 on his own team? Will Rueben Randle be good enough to steal some targets? Will other teams begin game planning against him more after it was effective at times last year? Is he actually the WR1 on the Giants? Needless to say, there are more questions than answers with Cruz.

CJ Spiller

Spiller is another lightning rod for controversy when it comes to rankings. If you believe the last half of the season wasn’t a mirage, the kid is a huge gem in dynasty leagues. If you believe he can’t post that kind of production over the season because of his size and the presence of Fred Jackson (or another committee mate in the future), he’s really just a solid flex player at best. Feel lucky?

Jared Cook

He had 21 catches, 335 yards and one touchdown in his last three games in 2011. The problem is he had a combined 28 catches, 424 yards and two touchdowns in all his other games last year. There’s no doubting his talent, but will the presence of Kendall Wright and return of Kenny Britt neutralize his potential?

Michael Vick

Remember this time last year when Vick was a popular pick in some leagues in the first or second rounds? We never really bought into that hype too much, but there’s no doubting that when he’s spectacular, he’s spectacular. The injuries are a huge concern, but he has the ability and talent around him to still put up some serious numbers. How many games will he have the chance to do that, though?

The Rest of the Challengers (one vote each)

Rob Gronkowski

If he can put up those types of numbers and keep the point differential between his tier and the tier below him that large (a point made from our last podcast), he’s worth a look as early as the late first round in some leagues. Problem is, that was a historic season that you just can’t expect to be repeated. Can you?

Justin Blackmon

From a can’t miss receiver to a player who some believe has a drinking problem. Super easy here!

Jamaal Charles

Charles was one of the most dynamic athletes in the game. Is he one of the most dynamic athletes in the game after his torn ACL?

Andre Johnson

He’ll be 31 on July 11th and has his share of injuries piling up. He’s also never had a single season with double digit touchdowns. Problem is nobody would be shocked if he either missed part of the season or went for 120 catches, 1,500 yards and 12 scores. Johnson may be the ultimate short-term dice roll in dynasty leagues.

Tom Brady

Fresh off the quietest 5,000 yard season in NFL history, Brady returns to wreak havoc on the rest of the league. With Brady, you know you get elite production – you just don’t know how long it will last. After all, he’ll be 35 when the season starts.

Peyton Manning

Manning is simply Tom Brady with more of an injury risk. That’s even tougher!

Mark Ingram

I honestly can’t recall a player being bailed on so quickly in a dynasty league. Expectations were just too high, but guessing exactly where he fits is still a challenge.

Dwayne Bowe

It sure would be nice if you knew he had a quarterback who could grow with him. It certainly doesn’t seem like Matt Cassel is going to be that guy.

Marshawn Lynch

Will he go from Beast mode to Feast mode after getting paid?

Pierre Thomas

You could honestly see a scenario where he doesn’t play much at all (Sproles and Ingram stay healthy and effective) or one that sees him lead the Saints in rushing (they don’t).

Santonio Holmes

What do you do with a talented receiver who walks out on practice and has Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow throwing him the ball. No, seriously. What do you do?

DeSean Jackson

Will millions of dollars make the alligators go away?

Kyle Rudolph

The addition of John Carlson is an odd one, but the concern here is more on Ponder’s outlook and Rudolph’s long-term role in the offense.

Doug Martin

He looks as advertised so far, but it’s tough to confidently put him over many established stars at the position without ever seeing him play a down in the league. After all, Boise State didn’t exactly play the Ravens every week.

Adrian Peterson

See Charles, Jamaal

Antonio Gates

By all accounts, he’s finally looking healthy again. By the same accounts, he’s now 32 years old. How much time does he really have left? What are three or four elite seasons really worth?

Nate Washington

Much like the dilemma with Jared Cook, it’s just very difficult to say how those passes are going to be distributed next year with Britt and Wright in the mix.

James Starks

Where do you put a seemingly ordinary player on an extraordinary offense that runs the ball in an inordinate fashion. Yeah, I’m confused by that, too.

Donald Brown

Brown has shown flashes of talent in the past and seems to have the inside track to the starting job in Indianapolis. However, would it really shock you if the Colts were in position to take a running back in the draft next year?

Matt Forte

His contract situation is a mess. So is the presence of Michael Bush.

Mike Wallace

He’s a one trick pony, but that’s one heck of a trick. You can’t expect a DeSean Jackson-like contract pout-fest from Wallace, but Antonio Brown is destined to get a lot of looks this season. Who ends up as Roethlisberger’s favorite target?

Mike Williams (TB)

Much like Stewart, Williams has been the source of a lot of discussion here this off-season. Much like Dez Bryant, this year is huge for him in dynasty leagues. Will he ever regain the form we saw from him as a rookie?

So, there you have it.  That’s the most lengthy answer to a simple question I can give. Who are the toughest players for YOU to rank?

Thanks to all the writers who contributed the names for the list. You can follow me on Twitter – @DLF_KenK.

Ken Kelly
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Luke
9 years ago

Dez Bryant has played two seasons, neither of which he had an offseason in. His rookie year, he put up 45/561/6. Last year he put 63/928/9. He’s a great RZ option. He’s finally healthy. I don’t see why he’s hated so much. He might be the most accomplished guy to be widely regarded as a disappointment. If he continues the progression that he had from his 1st to 2nd year, and now he finally has a offseason, he’ll be elite.

SkinnyElvis
Reply to  Luke
9 years ago

While he has not been in the police blotter, failing to get yourself in shape while being a professional athlete is a huge issue to me. You have to wonder how dedicated he is to his job which would limit him from becoming elite. He is being drafted as a WR1 so anything less than that in the next few years would make him a disappointment.

Reply to  SkinnyElvis
9 years ago

It’s Miles Austin that wasn’t in shape. Dez was in shape, he just got hurt on a punt return and had a nagging thigh issue. His body fat % is 3.1, which is ridiculous. I wouldn’t worry about his shape

sixshooter
Reply to  Luke Bouchard
9 years ago

Yup, I would agree and do believe Dez will have a very good season but will it be top 5, top 10 or top 20 good……just not sure! Definitely a great candidate for this story!

SkinnyElvis
Reply to  Luke Bouchard
9 years ago
alden bietz
Reply to  SkinnyElvis
9 years ago

The local beat writers are saying Dez is focused and in shape, working hard on his route running. He seems to be getting it.

Scott
Reply to  Luke
9 years ago

The thing that scares me is when I hear experts talk about Dez having a hard time understanding route-running. Maybe that is BS, but I think that is a red flag of sorts. Dez is still productive enough to be a dynasty asset, but developing more consistency would be nice. Hopefully he will reach his potential. In the end, I’m more about upside and will take risks on players with a high ceiling. But, I could also see where owning Dez would be maddening. I think he is a player that, if you own him, you probably won’t get enough to deal him. But, if you don’t own him, you probably won’t pony up enough to get him. So, I think Dez is a hold either way until season 3 is done.

Jack Daniels
9 years ago

Is Dez supposed to put up Megatron numbers to finally “arrive”? He’s shown great progression and entering his 3rd year (& just 23 years old) he should continue to improve.

There are too many great weapons on the Cowboys team (Witten, Miles, Murray and Robinson – last year) for him to get the 150+ targets the elite WR’s get. If he were in Seattle, Cleveland or Miami I could see him getting that many looks…

sixshooter
Reply to  Jack Daniels
9 years ago

You are right. Dez certainly puts up similar numbers to guys like Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Marshall “if” you look at stats while keeping number of targets in the back of your mind. He is neck and neck with those guys!

However, I don’t believe the reason for Bryant’s fewer targets restulting in less production is due to other weapons on the team as I believe it is more to do with his health concerns as well as ability to run routes and get open!

But, I do believe the hype around Bryant this offseason is because of your philosophy and the theory that he lost catches to other receivers and now that Laurent Robinson is gone…..he should get more and I do agree with that simply because it makes sense although I am still hesitant to blame Bryant’s lack of production because there weren’t enough balls to go around because he has more talent than the guys like Laurent Robinson that were putting up similar, if not better, stats!

If you look at the fact that Robinson started 9 fewer games than Bryant last year and still managed to come within 70 yds of Bryant and actually scored 2 more TD’s and averaged over a yard more per catch. Those are stats that one cannot completely dismiss because we are comparing a guy who started 9 more games than the other and then trying to say it was because he did not have the targets. The numbers just don’t add up.

Boomer
9 years ago

Kenny Britt????

Sam
9 years ago

What about Detroit back field?

sixshooter
Reply to  Sam
9 years ago

Great example! I have Best and LeShoure and don’t know whether to be happy that I have them on my team or not!

bulc flog
9 years ago

Good list! Exactly the type of players I like to nominate in auction draft!

sixshooter
Reply to  bulc flog
9 years ago

Great point Don! I just might have to print this article out along with the comments for a lil auction draft cheat sheet! Love the idea!

Eric MacKenzie
9 years ago

Sam Bradford: Is he still capable of becoming elite down the line or has the hiring of Jeff Fisher ensured long-term mediocrity for fantasy purposes?

Pretty much every second year player in the league: How is an offseason program going to impact them? Can we expect a big jump from a lot of these guys?

sixshooter
9 years ago

Awesome article. Very interesting. Totally agree with the difficulty in ranking the Dez Bryant’s, Andre Johnson’s, Chris Johnson’s, Peyton Manning’s, Donald Brown’s and Pierre Thomas’s. It’s easy for fans to kick back and mock somebody’s rankings but once they try it themselves….I am sure they will mock their own rankings list! I have mocked my lists every time I come up with one and I am certain anyone else who has ever created one would say the same if they were being honest!

RobbyRobDU
9 years ago

I don’t know if this has been tackled, but I think the biggest issue with Dynasty Rankings is how much do you punish a player for being older and how much do you reward cieling?

SO often I see a top 25 or so list for DYNASTY leagues that discount uber-talents that are entering relevance, have playing time openings, and have looked good in limited shots.

I have seen attempts at 2012 DYnasty Rankings v 2013 and beyond 2013 Dynasty Rankings, but never a composite I find accurate.

For Example, in an ACTUAL Dynasty ranking I find it hard to put Gates in the top 5 due to insane injury possibilities, presence of Ladarius Green, and Rivers’ inconsistency, but he is usually 3 or 4 (with the ever overrated Jermichael Finley being the 3 or the 4 usually)….yet Rudolph usually comes in between 20-25 and Housler never makes the list.

Just a thought, there obviously won’t be 16 competitive Dynasty teams in a 16 team league, so the team in last place should have Housler rater ahead of Gates IMHO, whereas a competitive team should not, but STILL have Houselr as a 15-20 type option due to insane upside

These are the kinds of issues that never seem to get tackled (no pun intended) and would make for very fun reads and debates.

Rant over. Great Article – Maybe should ave started with that haha =)

Robert Scibetta
9 years ago

Since we all know the home-run pick is the strongest primordial instinct in our ffb dna (and yes, the world DOES, in fact, revolve around me), how about my particular favorite-Greg Childs? At this time, I prefer him on my roster to AT LEAST 25 higher DLF400 WRs.

Not thrilled with what’s-his-name at QB (at least when I grabbed Torrey at 2.02 last year, I knew Flacco was throwing him the bomb!),
but if I can snag that future stud early, or as a throw-in, OMG!

Yup, I must admit, snagging Nicks at 4.01 in our 2010 start-up was better than winning the league that year lol! Call me SICK!

packer11491
9 years ago

I’m gonna be honest, I have not the slightest idea how Cam Newton doesn’t even have one vote. The guy put up phenominal numbers last season and he is saying how he is dissappointed with his play? I mean I am sure he is happy about how he did lol but it shows he is striving for improvement. Is it possible he was just a one hit wonder or is his true breakout season yet to come?

tebow
9 years ago

seems like i have most of these guys! No guts no glory! I like to stash my team full of high talent guys even if they are risky because there is always someone to pick up during the season to pulg in that gets points for a few weeks. If you hit the wire hard you will be able to stash some gems while still scoring points

Ben B
9 years ago

A bit of advice to the author: This is at its core a list of questions that any reader could, and probably are, asking themselves. A list of dynasty owner’s question, if you will.

Maybe a bit of analysis next time with an opinion on which way we thnk this goes and an “acquire now” or “hold” or “sell” rating would be ideal and have more substance to the reader.

But what this equates to is my own musings but without the decision I’ve made on each player to gut check against.

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