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A player’s dynasty value can sometimes be a tricky thing to assess. As we have discussed here, there are a variety of factors that dictate a player’s value. One of the most important of these is a player’s position on his team’s depth chart. In the majority of cases, a player who has earned a starting position for his team has a greater value than other players following him on the depth chart. This is exactly how it should be. After all, these players have most often demonstrated a greater skill set as compared to other players. But, there are some exceptions to this rule.

As I peruse the most current NFL depth charts, there are several instances where a backup player actually has more upside and value than the player currently starting ahead of him. Part of the reason for this goes back to the idea of “roster cloggers” we addressed a few weeks ago. A player may have earned the right to start for his team, but that does not always equate to dynasty value for your team.

The way dynasty owners can take advantage of this idea is by acquiring the backup player at a potentially a cheaper cost than the starter. Often, owners might value one player over another simply because the former is a starter.

Here are some examples of backup players I would value over their team’s starter.

Quarterback

Colin Kaepernick/Alex Smith, SF

Second year quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a great unknown, which is the case with many of the backup players, although he has been used more this season. With the success the 49ers have enjoyed the past two seasons, they are almost obligated to stick with their starting quarterback Alex Smith for the time being. With that said, Smith offers little upside in dynasty leagues. He currently ranks as QB24 and is not a player that should be appearing in starting lineups. Kaepernick has shown this year that he can be effective with both his arm and his feet.

In limited action, Kaepernick has twice rushed for fifty or more yards in a game and he has collected three rushing touchdowns on the season, which is more than running backs Steven Jackson, Darren McFadden, LeSean McCoy, Maurice Jones-Drew, DeMarco Murray or Ryan Mathews. In week ten, in relief of an injured Smith, Kaepernick led his 49er team to a comeback against division rival St. Louis, a game that ultimately ended in a tie. With Kaepernick not likely to get a chance to start until 2013 at the earliest, his price should still be cheap, and he may even be on the waiver wire in many leagues. With a deep bench, he makes a perfect candidate to stash and offers more upside than the starter Smith.

Running Backs

Daryl Richardson/Steven Jackson, STL

Jacquizz Rodgers/Michael Turner, ATL

CJ Spiller/Fred Jackson, BUF

Each of these situations are similar in that the veteran starting running back is showing signs of slowing down. All three teams are beginning to give more carries to the younger backs, eating into the touches of the established veterans. While Steven Jackson, Michael Turner and Fred Jackson have been quality NFL and fantasy football running backs for years, the increase in age means a decrease in value. In fact, the young Bills running back CJ Spiller is already outscoring his teammate, the starter Jackson, and rookie Daryl Richardson has been a great surprise, often outscoring starter Steven Jackson this season.

Unfortunately, most dynasty owners stash young running backs like gold and will not give them up easily. If you can find an owner who places more value on current production or even past performance than the potential and youth of these players, that would be your opportunity to acquire these high upside running backs.

Wide Receivers

Keshawn Martin/Kevin Walter, HOU

Kendall Wright/Nate Washington, TEN

Chris Givens/Brandon Gibson, STL

Each of these rookie wide receivers are currently backup, or in some cases third wide receivers for their teams, playing behind the reliable veterans. Although neither Washington nor Gibson would be considered as old, this is still a situation where the rookie offers far more upside and potential for dynasty teams. Each of these offenses have been focused on the run game in recent years with top running backs like Arian Foster, Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson, but with younger options at wide receiver emerging, the offense could become more balanced. As a first round rookie pick in most dynasty leagues, Titans wide receiver Kendall Wright will still be very costly to acquire, but Rams rookie Chris Givens and certainly Texans rookie Keshawn Martin could be had at a reasonable price. Do not be surprised to see these players overtaking the current starter by next season, if not sooner.

Tight Ends

Rod Housler/Todd Heap, ARI

Jordan Cameron/Ben Watson, CLE

Again, these two situations are very similar with the solid veteran starter blocking the second year tight end bursting with potential. Both Todd Heap of the Cardinals and the Browns Ben Watson have been well rounded players for years and have provided their teams with a solid blocking and above average pass catching tight end, but neither of these have been reliable fantasy options and neither have any dynasty value at all. Their backups, on the other hand, are just waiting for the opportunity to claim their starting job, and maybe even become a fantasy starter for your team.

Both Housler and Cameron were drafted in the mid rounds of the 2012 NFL draft and dynasty owners immediately were drawn to them as their new teams had been lacking a playmaker at the tight end position. The difficult thing to understand sometimes is that there are so many facets to the tight end position. A successful tight end has to have a well rounded game and if he is lacking in one area, namely run blocking, he may not see the field.

Both the Browns and the Cardinals have elected to continue starting the veterans and Housler and Cameron continue to learn the position. With that said, both players offer fantasy starter upside and considering that both Heap and Watson will be free agents following the 2012 season, maybe the young guys will get their chance in 2013.

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Ryan McDowell
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Zach Levitt
9 years ago

My Current QBs: Luck, Fitzpatrick, Ponder, Foles

Should I drop Fitzpatrick for Kaepernick?

Josh Gans
Reply to  Zach Levitt
9 years ago

I dont see much value in Fitz. I would drop Fitz for Kaep.

ziggy19
9 years ago

How much value do you think Leonard Hankerson holds? would you rather own Hank or Keshawn Martin?

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