Upon Further Review

Chad Scott


Our dynasty rankings are something the DLF crew have given a great deal of thought to this off-season.  We would like to give our loyal readers a more in-depth explanation of why we rank the way we do.  The beauty of having multiple staffers ranking is no one person thinks exactly the same.  At DLF, we have a total of eight writers ranking players each month – that’s eight different views about any player your dynasty mind inquires about.

I shined the hot light on our rankers on the reasons they have selected players ranked higher or lower than the total aggregate.

Some were squeamish and some couldn’t take the pressure.  Alas, we were able to bring you the first article of “Upon further review” in a monthly series.

We hope this gives our readers a bit more insight into our degenerate minds.

Eric Dickens: You currently have Dez Bryant ranked the lowest at #12, with his average rank being #6.  Your blurb on Bryant asks “Can he be consistent all year like his second half of 2012?”

From your ranking, I can only assume you’re not a believer and the second half of 2012 was somewhat of a fluke.  Coincidentally, you are the highest of all our Rankers on Miles Austin as your #15 WR (#31 on average).  If Austin can stay healthy, you’re saying he and Bryant could have similar type value going forward.  Could you elaborate on why you have them ranked as such?

My concerns w/ Bryant are minimal (I have him at WR12, rounding out a tier of Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White and Victor Cruz), but I need to see him perform consistently from game to game as he did in the second half of the 2012 season. I realize in dynasty you often have to bank on a player’s ability before seeing the production, but in Dez’s case, I’ve seen quite a bit of volatility in his play and just don’t quite trust him as much as the guys ranked above him.

As far as Austin is concerned, I have thought for many years he was a consistently underrated WR. When healthy (and that’s the key with him) he has above average ability after the catch and is a Tony Romo favorite. I think he’s a potential high end WR2 that you can draft as a WR3. With plenty of passes to go around, there’s no reason that Bryant and Austin can’t co-exist as top 20 WR’s in 2013 & beyond.

Jeff Haverlack: You have Ryan Tannehill ranked as the #22 QB in your current rankings.  His composite ranking is #15.  The Dolphins went out and got Mike Wallace, Dustin Keller and re-signed Brian Hartline.  Why do you hate Tanny…is it because of his wife?  Explain yourself, good sir.

No, it’s not because of his wife.  In fact, if his wife wasn’t such a great looking gal, I’d have him ranked lower.  He gets bonus points because of her.

In all seriousness, when you look at the quarterbacks I have above him and when considering his/their respective ages, I think QB22 is not only appropriate, but realistic as well.  It’s true that he now has an upgraded receiving corps.  In 2012 he had a nearly 1:1 TD: INT ratio (12/13) although he did throw for nearly 3,300 yards as a rookie, somewhat impressive.  I’m just not convinced the additions of Wallace and Keller are going to equate to anything more than slight increases in passing efficiency and touchdowns.

When you look at the landscape of quarterbacks, I like to see my field generals with touchdown numbers approaching or eclipsing 2x their interception rate.  That’s not to say he doesn’t have skill or that he didn’t surprise me in 2012 but when looking at the quarterbacks above him in my rankings you see relatively young and established players that are producing well beyond Tannehill’s numbers.  Once I get beyond QB16 or so, I’m getting into my QB3 territory and while I do like to have youth for development, that doesn’t necessitate taking him over names such as Ben Roethlisberger, Josh Freeman or Matt Schaub unless I feel he has significant upside to warrant it.

Tannehill may have that level of upside given the upgrades in Miami, but I’m not even close to sold on him yet, nor do I fear him landing on another roster.

Eric Olinger: Ronnie Hillman was a name going fairly high in rookie and startup drafts last season.  As a whole, our DLF rankers have Hillman as the #33 overall RB, but you have him ranked at just #54.  For what it’s worth, I’m caught right in the middle, ranking him at #42.  I tend to agree with your ranking, but even I’m curious to know why you’re the lowest on Hillman.  Do you have something against the Ronnies of the world?  Did Ronnie Brown burn you at some point?

I think the reason he was so highly sought after last year was because we all thought Knowshon Moreno was an afterthought. We expected Hillman to step into a timeshare with Willis McGahee and be a PPR asset – that’s not what happened. When McGahee went down we saw the reemergence of Moreno and Hillman never really looked comfortable as a pro. When you have Peyton Manning back there coming off neck surgeries you don’t screw around, you play who you trust to keep his butt clean.

That’s why I don’t have Hillman ranked any higher. In my view he is a developmental guy that should be drafted as a low RB4 or RB5. He isn’t someone I would want to count on for bye weeks or if my starter went down but I’d like to have him just in case it clicks. Draft weekend will tell us a ton. The Broncos have been linked to Eddie Lacy and other top running backs, so if he makes it out of the weekend without any new competition he stands a chance. If they take a running back in the first three rounds, I will probably drop him even further.

Jarrett BeharAfter listening to the DLF Podcast, I couldn’t help but look at where you have Owen Daniels currently ranked.  You’re the highest on Daniels, ranking him at #8 while your fellow brethren have him ranked #17 on average.  I know how much you love Matt Schaub.  I can only guess your ranking is based on Kevin Walters leaving for Tennessee.  Ya know, because he was a focal point of that offense.  Does his leaving lead you to believe there will be an increase in targets/production?  Or can we do away with this Walters charade and just give me the skinny for your ranking?

When Daniels has been healthy and played with Matt Schaub, he’s been a solid TE1.  Even with the injuries last year and only playing 15 games, he was still the PPR TE10. In 2008, he was the PPR TE6 and in 2007, he was the PPR TE7.  In 2009, in the seven games he played, he was on pace for 271.3 points which would have put him on pace for the PPR TE2 just behind Dallas Clark.  2010 was his comeback from the ACL season and 2011 was marred by the Schaub injury.  Assuming he can stay healthy (which coupled with age is why I have him at eight, he will be a top option in the Texans passing game in 2013 with Andre Johnson and Arian Foster.  Because he has produced at a high level before, I value him more than some other guys that are ranked higher, like Jermaine Gresham and Jared Cook, but have never really produced at a consistent high level.  Daniels is a back end TE1 and will be for the next several years.

Steve Wyremski: You must be doing an interview with Ryan Mathews soon.  You currently have Mathews ranked as the #10 RB when his average is #18.  Is there some sort of Tom Foolery going on here?  Trying to trade Mathews in a league where people see your rankings?  All kidding aside, Mathews has the talent, and hopefully the coach to get his points per game up in 2013…But how many games will that be?  Why are you the highest ranker of Mathews?  Also, give me a prediction on how many times he suits up in 2013 

Funny you should mention an interview. Look for it to be published the day after the draft.

Seriously, though, he’s one of the best bounce back candidates for 2013. Yes, he has chronic injury issues, but he’s a year removed from a 1,000 yard season, 50 catches, and a top ten running back finish. There are few players in the RB10+ ranking range that don’t come with similar concerns (Darren McFadden (injury), Matt Forte (age), DeMarco Murray (injury), MJD (age), Chris Johnson (everything), Reggie Bush (age and injury), etc.). In my mind, Mathews possesses similar upside to McFadden but there is an apparent gap with how the two are perceived. McFadden is ranked closer to the RB10 range, while Mathews the RB20 range. I don’t see a difference between the two and have them ranked within two spots of each other in the same tier.

Overall, a lot of our fellow rankers appear to prefer the older guys with a long track record to the young backs with question marks. That’s not how I prefer to run my teams. It’s very infrequent that I’d roster an aging back who will have limited market value. I’d much prefer to build my team with a young back who has done it before and has the ability to do it again. Mathews exemplifies that. He has a fourth to fifth round ADP which is absurd given the upside he presents and the fact that many who are ranked and drafted ahead of him possess similar, if not greater, risks.

Ken Moody: I’ve lumped you in with fellow DLF partner, Jeff, on your QB rankings.  I already teased him about Tannehill and now it’s your turn to explain your reasoning behind Philip Rivers.  You currently have Rivers ranked as the #13 QB, just before Ryan Tannehill.  You must dig his shot put style of throwing or maybe you’re a true believer in both Danario Alexander and Vincent Brown.  Granted, your ranking tells us he’s just a top QB2, but you’re the highest on him and he’s an interesting name in a new system.  What are your thoughts about him in 2013 and beyond?

First off, in the interests of full disclosure, I am a Chargers fan.  But I do not consider myself a homer.  I believe I look at the players with a realistic perspective (see my ranking of Antonio Gates).

In Rivers, I see a QB who has struggled behind a disintegrating offensive line, diminishing talent at WR, and a running back who has not helped shoulder as much of a load as he should.  Plus, under Norv Turner, the entire team had started to stagnate.  Turner is a nice guy with some good coaching qualities, but we all know he was a terrible head coach.  I am not trying to point to everyone else and absolve Rivers of his shortcomings, but even Manning or Tom Brady would have suffered in the same situation.

Let’s not forget, in 2010 Rivers somehow managed to lead the league in passing, throwing for 4,710 yards to 17 different receivers. He managed to overcome injuries and obstacles to have an historic season, but in 2011 and 2012, the odds were just too stacked against him.  I think he got rattled, and his head coach didn’t do enough to help him regain his focus.

Word is there is a new energy and excitement in the Chargers locker room.  The new coach and front office are bringing a new vibe to the team.  I believe in Vincent Brown.  I believe Matthews is good enough – when healthy.  I’m not saying he will return to 2010 form, but I do believe the next few years will see an uptick in production. At 31, his clock is ticking, and his best season is almost certainly behind him.  But given the right offensive line and surrounding personnel,  I still believe Rivers is still one of the better passing QB’s in the league, with two or three more years of solid productivity left in his tank.

Ryan McDowell- Seems rather bold of you to put Justin Blackmon as your #11 WR when his aggregate is only #26.  I can only assume you’re not completely worried about the dastardly duo of Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert.  Blackmon excelled with Henne as the starter, but if Gabbert is named the #1 come opening Sunday, will you still be so bold in your ranking?

First of all, most of my rankings reflect my approach to building dynasty teams, which is to focus on acquiring as much talented youth as possible. I feel that identifying the future stud players before they gain the stud price tag is an essential part of success in dynasty leagues. With my rankings of Jaguars wide receiver Blackmon as WR11, it would not surprise anyone that I have him tagged as a stud in the making. Honestly, I’m not sure why Blackmon is not higher on other’s rankings. Here’s what I see.

In his rookie year, after having enough success in college to warrant a top five pick in the NFL draft, Blackmon struggled to find a rhythm with one of the worst quarterbacks we have seen in years, Gabbert. In the ten games that Gabbert started, Blackmon scored a total of 59 points in PPR leagues – that placed him as WR71.  Obviously, many dynasty owners were down on him and began to doubt themselves after spending a high rookie draft pick on the former Oklahoma State Cowboy. In week ten though, Gabbert suffered an injury and backup quarterback Henne came in the game. Due to that injury and an eventual benching of Gabbert, Henne started the remainder of the season.

Although Henne is not known for a strong arm or even being a particularly talented quarterback, it was clear he was a huge upgrade over Gabbert. Both Blackmon and wide receiver Cecil Shorts greatly improved with Henne at the helm. From week nine, when Henne took over, Blackmon scored over 131 fantasy points, making him WR9, outscoring players like Julio Jones, AJ Green, Roddy White and Vincent Jackson.

Looking at 2013 and beyond, Blackmon is only 23 years old and has as much upside as nearly any wide receiver in the league. The Jaguars quarterback situation is still in doubt and there is a chance that Gabbert could regain the starting job. While that would not be good for Blackmon, Shorts or the Jaguars in general, it would certainly be a short term situation. If the Jaguars do not select quarterback Geno Smith, they would upgrade the position in the 2014 draft. I do not expect Blackmon to score as WR9, or even WR11 for the 2013 season, but as I said earlier, I try to be ahead of the curve when it comes to identifying future studs.