Dynasty League Football


Second and Third Year Player Development: Week Sixteen

In this weekly column, I will explore some young players who haven’t made much of a consistent impact to date.  Some players may be available on your waiver wire, some may be available via a cheap or moderate trade.  This week I’m going look at two wide receivers: St. Louis Rams Brandon Gibson and Detroit Lions Kris Durham along with Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.  Acquiring any of these players could decide how well your dynasty/keeper team does for the next few years.  I will focus on their most recent matchup to draw the majority of my insight.

Brandon Gibson WR, STL

This late in the season, I’m allowing myself to cheat with a fourth year player like Gibson.  His stat line on Sunday against the Bucs was very ordinary with two receptions for 33 yards on three targets.  The young wide receiver is running crisper routes and doing a better job getting separation against defensive backs in the last few weeks.  His biggest issue is playing time.  Outside of a healthy Danny Amendola, no other St. Louis Ram is getting significant targets.  The coaching staff is rotating in rookie receivers, Brian Quick and Chris Givens, as well.  This stops anyone of these receivers from getting into a flow during the game.  Sam Bradford is unable to build the trust or chemistry needed as the targets keep changing.

Gibson, not Givens, stepped up when Amendola was injured.  The fourth year player has increased his production every year since entering the league.  He is becoming a more refined receiver and is doing the little things that separate average receivers from productive ones.  The young wide receiver does a great job catching the ball at its highest point and makes a point to work back to the quarterback when he is under pressure.  He uses the sidelines as a blocker to set up his yards after the catch.  On the year, he has caught 63% of his targets (48 receptions) for 646 yards and five touchdowns.  His yardage and total touchdowns lead the Rams through 15 games.  I like him as a WR5 for dynasty leagues.  He should come cheaply and is good depth on a team that might pass more if Steven Jackson leaves.

Kris Durham WR, DET

This second year wide receiver seemed to come out of nowhere in Week 14 to join the Lions.  He was pulled from the Lions practice squad to account for the losses of Ryan Broyles (knee injury) and Titus Young (meltdown or injury, whichever you believe).  The 6′ 6″ 216 lb wide receiver has chemistry with Matthew Stafford as they were teammates in college.  Durham plucks the ball out of the air with his huge hands and does a good job shielding defenders when he attempts to catch the ball.  He seems a bit stiff when he isn’t running in a straight line.

Durham’s targets are getting swallowed up by the Lion’s focus on Calvin Johnson’s record-setting season.  Since he is an injury replacement, he needs to do more with the chances he is getting.  His performance of two receptions for 32 yards on five targets was ok, but not impressive.  Both of these catches were more about the threat of Johnson, than the athleticism of Durham.  The young receiver would have been more impressive if he would have come down with an over the shoulder, sideline tapping catch instead of running out of real estate.  On a short third and goal target, the ball was knocked away from him in the end zone at the last second by a much smaller defender.  A reception there would have sparked the Lions chances to win the game and the team’s overall confidence in him.  He is an end of the roster type of player, perhaps a WR7-8.

Andy Dalton QB, CIN

He was once described as a scrappy, determined leader who has now evolved his game into much more.  The scarlet second year quarterback was getting knocked around early by Pittsburgh, but stood tough in the pocket despite the constant pressure. Dalton was doing a good job throwing the ball high and away from the defenders especially near the sidelines. The signal caller did a good job of spreading the ball around as seven different receivers caught the ball against the Steelers.  He did not have a touchdown pass on the day, but that was not for a lack of trying.  Marvin Jones dropped a high pass that only he could have caught in the end zone, and A.J. Green was stripped in what might have been a touchdown reception as well.

Dalton was more accurate throwing shorter passes.  The Steelers defense did a good job pressuring his throws as they sacked him six times and intercepted the quarterback twice. He got flustered with all of those hits and began to over throw his receivers. Pittsburgh used some disguised off coverages which led to his two turnovers.  The second year player made some difficult throws when it counted as he made a down the middle toss to Jermaine Gresham that set up the game winning field goal.  Lawrence Timmons was in the tight end’s back pocket and Gresham still managed to make the reception.  Green, who is usually his best wide receiver, came down with ten grabs for 116 yards, but whiffed on at least five of the 18 targets that were thrown his direction.

The young quarterback completed only 47% of his passes for 278 yards and the two interceptions against the Steelers; however, on the year he has completed 62% of his passes and thrown for 3,591 yards with 26 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 15 games.  Dalton has also rushed 45 times for 115 yards and four touchdowns during that time frame.  He is performing like a low-end dynasty QB1.  I doubt if he wins you many games with his arm, but he shouldn’t cost you any either.  Perhaps if the Bengals get a better rushing threat, he may tumble-down to a platoon QB1-2.  I would put him in the Matt Schaub conversation as he, like Schaub, has receiving threats that make him better than his athletic abilities.  In a start-up dynasty league, he is the last possible starting quarterback that I would want to own.  You might be able to trade for him if you are in a shallower league that has other fringe signal callers available.

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9 years ago

Yeah, if I was waiting to take a QB late in a startup, Dalton is one of those guys who would be good late value, especially if you could pair him with AJ Green. I don’t watch a lot if CIN games, but when I have, Dalton seems very accurate with the ball, putting it where only AJG can get to it. Dalton’s situation reminds me a lot of Stafford (performance and value tied to his top WR), but the Lions throw the ball more. I checked the season stats in my league…Stafford was QB10, Dalton was QB12, and that’s pretty close to where I would rank them for dynasty.

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