Dynasty League Football


Crisis Management and the Aaron Hernandez Saga


One of the most important traits a dynasty owner can have is the ability to be proactive instead of reactive.  So when it comes to the sudden, troubling news surrounding Patriots’ star tight end Aaron Hernandez, it’s imperative we cover all our bases and attempt to stay ahead of the curve.  Though as of now there’s no hard evidence linking Hernandez to the recent murder near his North Attleboro residence, there’s a lot of “smoke,” even involving allegations that Hernandez shot a colleague in the face this past February.  With the possibility that the consensus top-three tight end could miss game time, contingency plans must be enacted.

What follows is a short list of targets Hernandez owners should consider in the event he’s unable to suit up.  These are players who could be had relatively cheaply and might come with a level of upside higher than what their market values would otherwise dictate.  These alternative options will be broken down into two categories, starting with a group of “short term rentals.”

Quick Fixes

Tony Gonzalez, TE ATL

May ADP: 96.0 (8th round)

Synopsis:  By now, everyone is familiar with Gonzalez’ story.  The Falcons managed to coax him out of retirement for one more year with the promise of a legitimate shot at a Super Bowl Championship.  The Falcons’ gain is mirrored by that of the dynasty community, who can once-again expect a TE1-level performance in 2013.

Gonzalez might be trickier to acquire than those who comprise the rest of this list, mainly because his value is only to contenders.  Because of this, it’s more than likely he’s already in the starting lineup of a team looking to win a championship.  However, if he’s languishing on the roster of a rebuilding squad, I wouldn’t hesitate to offer up a 2014 second round pick for him.

Heath Miller, TE PIT

May ADP: 174.3 (15th round)

Synopsis:  Miller was one of the surprises of 2012, finishing as the overall PPR TE4.  The changeover in offensive coordinators from Bruce Arians to Todd Haley introduced a more “horizontal” passing attack and Miller was the prime beneficiary.  He recorded 71 receptions for 816 yards and eight touchdowns in 15 games, re-asserting himself as one of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite targets.

Miller’s downside is a combination of his age (30) and injury status.  During a week 16 clash with the Bengals, Miller shredded a trio of ligaments in his knee (ACL, PCL and MCL) and is now no lock to be ready for the 2013 opener.  However, even if he misses a few games, Miller’s skillset was never predicated upon speed or quick-twitch athleticism, and I don’t predict a huge drop-off when he returns.  He could likely be had for a future third round pick.

Owen Daniels, TE HOU

May ADP: 165.2 (14th round)

Synopsis:  Similar to Miller above, Daniels experienced a big turnaround in 2012.  Re-establishing himself as the only reliable pass-catching threat opposite all-world receiver Andre Johnson, Daniels finished the season with 62 receptions, 716 yards and six touchdowns – this led to a finish as the PPR TE9, and anyone who used a lottery ticket pick on the undervalued Texan was greatly rewarded.

The arrival of first round rookie receiver DeAndre Hopkins undoubtedly throws a wrench into Daniels’ long-term viability.  However, for a quick fix, Daniels still offers upside as a low-end TE1.  For the price of a mid-round future pick, he’s as good a short-term option as any.

Upside Plays

Jermichael Finley, TE GB

May ADP: 147.2 (13th round)

Synopsis:  If there were ever a cliche to perfectly sum up Finley’s current state, it would undoubtedly be “how the mighty have fallen.”  Once viewed as the best young tight end in the game, Finley’s shine has since lost some of his luster.  In fact, after falling out of the TE1-range in 2012, his stock has plummeted to that of an early 13th round selection in startup drafts.

Nevertheless, hope remains.  Former Packer Greg Jennings has taken his talents to Minnesota, freeing up nearly eight targets per game.  For his part, Finley is said to have looked “excellent” during the off-season according to head coach Mike McCarthy, as well as “stronger” and “more confident.”  He still possesses the skills worthy of a high-end TE1, but no longer comes at a cost.  Going into a contract year, now’s the time to make an offer.

Fred Davis, TE WSH

May ADP: 179.8 (15th round)

Synopsis:  I don’t need to go too in-depth on Davis, as our own Steve Wyremski recently dedicated an entire piece to his explaining why he’s underrated.  Simply put, fears of his chemistry with quarterback Robert Griffin III are unfounded, and rookie Jordan Reed doesn’t figure to offer up much in the way of immediate competition.  He’s already flashed high-end TE1 ability when healthy, and Davis figures to be the second option in the passing game behind receiver Pierre Garcon.

Getting back to that last part, health is obviously the key issue.  Davis’ Achilles’ tear kept him from receiving any meaningful interest in the 2013 free agency market, resulting in him re-upping with Washington on a one-year “prove it” deal.  He’s still rehabbing, but is said to be about 90% of the way there, and should be ready for at least part of training camp.  As the 25th tight end being drafted in startups, the potential reward is easily worth the cost.

Martellus Bennett, TE CHI

May ADP: 141.3 (12th round)

Synopsis:  During his time as Jason Witten’s caddy in Dallas, Bennett’s athleticism and potential were squandered.  In 2012, as a first-year starter for the division rival Giants, Bennett exceeded expectations to the tune of a finish as the PPR TE12.  Considering the down year from quarterback Eli Manning, as well as the overall mediocrity of New York’s offense, Bennett’s output was a revelation for both Giants fans and dynasty enthusiasts alike.

Despite his 2012 breakout, New York was unwilling to sign Bennett to a lucrative extension, and he inked a four-year pact with the Chicago Bears.  In new coach Marc Trestman’s offense, Bennett is expected to be utilized as a seam-stretching mismatch, highlighting his athletic abilities.  However, despite the strong likelihood of improving upon his 2012 season, Bennett still has his “one-year wonder” doubters, as he’s still lasting until the late 12th round in startup drafts.  Now’s the time to capitalize on any type of anxiety Bennett’s owners might have and a future second round pick should get the job done.


Currently, when it comes to Aaron Hernandez, patience is a virtue.  Remember, as of now there’s nothing more than rampant speculation circulating about the talented tight end, and it’s still entirely possible all of this will blow over.  Therefore, it’s crucial Hernandez owners don’t overreact and sell their star tight end for pennies on the dollar.  His current value is already in the dirt, so why not wait until the criminal proceedings play out, if it even gets that far?

Regardless, any and every fallback option should still be explored so owners can be at the ready if the news gets any worse.  I’ve detailed six relatively cheap alternative options at the tight end position and it’s my belief Hernandez owners should not hesitate to acquire one of them.  Even if it turns out Hernandez hasn’t been acting like a Boy Scout, you should try your best to do so – follow their motto and “Be Prepared.”

Follow me on Twitter @EDH_27

Eric Hardter

Eric Hardter

Senior Writer at Dynasty League Football
Eric is a Boston College chemistry grad school survivor with a minor in dynasty football, as well as the DLF Mailman and Podcast analyst.He prefers to utilize both statistics and sarcasm whenever possible, believes in process over results and thinks "Hot Takes" are the scourge of the fantasy landscape.

You can find his (typically strong and hopefully reasonable) opinions on Twitter at@EDH_27.
Eric Hardter

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  1. SJ

    June 19, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    Maybe J.Ballard?

    Thay said he could be next up in line if Gronk and Hern are out. And they said he’s been recovering well and looking good. ‘They’ being the boston beat writers.

    Prob not a ton of upside, but could be a bargain basement fallback option for those that don’t have the firepower to target someone better for likely only a short period of performance time.

    • Brian

      June 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      I heard Ballard was limping around when walking on the field. I don’t know that he is fully recovered and if you are relying solely on him then that might be a bad idea.

    • Eric Hardter

      June 20, 2013 at 4:43 am

      Ballard is a decent stash right now, but I have a tough time counting on if he’s not completely healthy. I think there’s a reason the Pats have something crazy like 7 TE’s currently signed…

  2. chris h

    June 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    What a joke. I consider myself a serious contender in our league as I finished 2nd last year in what seemed to be just an average season for my team. In reading several articles and evaluating my team recently I decided I needed to upgrade at TE to be able to beat the other top 3 teams in our league. I traded Jennings and Sproles (my WR4 and RB4) for Hernandez yesterday, and see this today.

    two questions:
    1) what the hell really happened? I can’t find any real information anywhere. is he going away, I keep hearing or reading he isn’t necessarily a suspect but he hasn’t been cleared
    2) i have pitta and gresham as my other two TE’s. given they were my only two last year i think that i’m okay, but my opinion is this is really just leaving my eggs in pittas basket. is that a wise move?

    • Eric Hardter

      June 20, 2013 at 4:42 am

      I think you’re fine with Pitta, who I actually prefer to all the options I listed (with the exception of Gonzalez, but he’s a one-year guy). I didn’t include him above because I don’t consider him particularly cost-effective, as many now view him as a top 6-8 TE.

    • Dave Rutley

      June 20, 2013 at 6:01 am

      Chris it’s looking very ugly. Local news/radio wonks are all assuming he will not be in uniform at the start of this season for the Pats (not pre-season, SEASON).

      The Florida situation with the lawsuit for the gun shot. http://www.tmz.com/2013/06/19/aaron-hernandez-new-england-patriots-lawsuit-gun-shooting-miami-strip-club/?adid=hero2

      The murder in Attleboro isn’t covered well in just one place but the most recent is they have footage of Hernandez in a car with the victim and 2 others. Authorities have said Hernandez is directly tied to the murder investigation. News is reporting that the victim is Hernandez’s girlfriend’s sister’s boyfriend (confusing I know).

      I think this article is extremely timely and while you may not be able to move Hernandez you should be proceeding assuming you need another piece to protect yourself at the TE position should Hernandez be very limited in 2013.

    • JT

      June 20, 2013 at 9:18 am

      Oh… you got burned……

      • JT

        June 20, 2013 at 9:19 am

        J/K. it was still an okay gamble.

    • Jordan

      June 20, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      you got burned by someone keeping up with the story! he destroyed his surveillance footage at his house, destroyed his cell phone and he has been linked to the site of the “execution style” homicide. the dude is at the very least an accomplice to murder and will spend a great deal of time in jail.

      good thing pitta is looking like a beast for the upcoming season!

    • cogwheel

      June 20, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Pitta is an excellent backup. Jim Caldwell loves targeting TEs. I think you’re fine bc you’ve underrated Pitta, although obviously its regrettable that you burned those assets acquiring A-Hern, of course.

  3. Zounder

    June 19, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    I had literally just drafted Hernandez in a start-up before the news broke. Talk about bad timing. 🙁

    • Eric Hardter

      June 20, 2013 at 4:42 am

      Yeah, that’s a tough one for sure…

  4. Jim

    June 19, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    This is why my league doesn’t draft til right before the season and why our league doesn’t do many offseason trades. Hate to trade for a player and then have this happen.

    • boobam13

      June 19, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      thats great for redrafts but dynastys are a whole different story

    • Jesse

      June 20, 2013 at 11:23 am

      Assuming all players have equal risk to something bad happening, it doesn’t matter if you trade or don’t trade in the offseason.

      “I don’t want to trade Kenny Britt + Dennis Pitta for Aaron Hernandez because something bad might happen. Phew! That was smart of me!”

      “I don’t want to trade Hernandez for Britt + Pitta because something bad might happen. DANG! I should have traded!”

      • scott

        June 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm

        I agree with Jesse completely… now if you’re worried about a player getting hurt in OTA’s or training camp, which there seems to be at least 1 a year, then leagues hold off on their drafts till later on…. but this could have happened at any point with Hernandez no matter when you draft

  5. mike_blahnik

    June 19, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Who are some good targets for a team in the middle of a rebuild? I obviously don’t want to pay too much as I’m acquiring assets for the future but I need to start someone. Might as well be an up-sider. Who is appreciating rather than depreciating.

    • Eric Hardter

      June 20, 2013 at 4:41 am

      For cost-efficient options, I’d look at the following guys:

      Potential to immediately contribute – Jordan Cameron, Rob Housler, Dwayne Allen

      Potential to contribute in a few years – Travis Kelce, Ladarius Green, Vance McDonald, Gavin Escobar, Adrien Robinson

  6. Brandon

    June 20, 2013 at 7:14 am

    This news makes the trade I just made great. Had Kaepernick, but wanted Russell Wilson, so I went to the 49er fan without a legit qb and traded kaepernick for 1.04 pick and Steve Johnson. Then traded Roddy white and Hernandez for Chris Johnson and Russell Wilson. Considering I won last year and traded my 1st rounder I think I’m doing alright.
    My current roster
    Qb: Rg3 & Russell Wilson
    Rb: Arian foster, Steven ridley, demarco Murray, Chris Johnson
    Wr: Julio Jones, dez Bryant, victor Cruz, Cecil shorts, tY Hilton
    Te: Dennis pitta & jermicheal Finley
    Looking at Hopkins, Bernard, or austin as my 1st pick

    • Brandon

      June 20, 2013 at 7:16 am

      Oh yeah add Stevie in that roster

    • Adam

      June 20, 2013 at 8:42 am

      Cool story

      • Brandon

        June 20, 2013 at 10:01 am

        No your comment is cooler

        • Adam

          June 21, 2013 at 8:21 pm

          Did you notice how many people cared about your awesome story?

  7. bonscott

    June 20, 2013 at 7:17 am

    How about rookie Zach Sudfeld…anything there worth rostering at the end of your bench?

  8. Joe

    June 20, 2013 at 9:29 am

    One man is dead and another has apparently thrown his life away and all we can feel is how this all affects our fantasy team roster?

    Sad commentary on the human race and how far we have fallen…we have truely become a tribe of sociopaths!

    • Eric Hardter

      June 20, 2013 at 9:44 am

      Joe, this is a dynasty football website. Regardless of the nature of Hernandez’ potential transgressions, it lands squarely on our radar. The two ways of reacting, from both a human nature and dynasty football perspective, are not mutually exclusive, so I’d hesitate to say that “all we can feel is how this affects our fantasy team roster.” However, as I said, it’s still a pertinent topic for this site.

    • Brandon

      June 20, 2013 at 9:59 am

      This dude aint my family. If you are such a humanitarian get off your desktop complaining and join the red cross.

      • John

        June 20, 2013 at 10:37 am

        “This dude ain’t my family”

        The future of our country is in great hands.

        • Brandon

          June 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

          If your looking for your next leader to our country on a dynasty football website then we know that your voting process is flawed. Must be from Boston, y’all loving Hernandez.

        • scott

          June 20, 2013 at 5:21 pm

          people die every day… I’m not gonna get upset each time I hear their story or I’d go crazy… I agree with Brandon

    • Ken Kelly

      June 20, 2013 at 5:41 pm

      Eric really said it as well or better than I could. This site is dedicated to fantasy football and dynasty leagues. If there’s news out there that impacts rosters in some fashion, it’s our responsibility to cover that news angle. We leave the “real news” and all other ways of looking at the story to other news outlets.

      If ABC was to run a piece on how this would impact a fantasy team, I’d call that irresponsible. If we were to run a post on our opinions of his guilt, the case or state facts about what we believe happened, that would be irresponsible of us.

      In the end, it’s a necessary burden this site must carry. It can be uncomfortable at times, but I’d ask all to remember these type of stories don’t reflect our feelings about any victims, crimes or the people involved – those are feelings and thoughts left to every individual to sort out.

      • BigD

        June 22, 2013 at 5:11 am

        thanks ken, eric. we all agree. we cant change the world. tragedies like these happen every day. its terrible and a waste of talent and “life”. we all feel for the innocent. we come here for football information. you go to work everyday for a paycheck despite the fight against that as well? we just enjoy this game and find entertainment here. we respect the ongoing case involving this crime, but we still have to address this issue for our teams without downplaying the importance of “human issues”. hopefully this crime can be settled for the rights of all involved…..we pray for that….hopefully i wont get trashed for saying pray!

  9. scotty2

    June 20, 2013 at 10:47 am

    I really doubt Hernandez pulled the trigger. But you know damn well he knows exactly what happened even if (big if from the sounds of it) he didn’t have an active role in the murder. But if Ray Lewis and Marvin Harrison can get away with murder, I like Hernandez’s chances in beating this one.

    • Chris

      June 21, 2013 at 10:31 pm

      Awww no you didn’t….Marvin only shot a guy i beleive with a musket but still

  10. Bill Rayfield

    June 20, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Destroying evidence if true is not good, the law enforcement community is not usually happy about that….

    Now they assume he either did it, or was there and knows who did it and he is helping cover it up. Hernandez’s value is somewhere around a half eaten stale bologna sandwich and a empty beer can until this cleared up. What a waste…………….

  11. Cy23

    June 20, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    I traded for Hernandez last week.

    Gave up Brees/James Jones, received Hernandez/Stewart/KJ Wright and Romo.

    Luckily I have Witten if Hernandez is unavailable for this year (but available in future years). If he goes to jail, this trade sucked.

  12. smcguiga

    June 20, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    If this guy did this he maybe the stupidest human on the planet and that is saying a lot given the amount of truly moronic people rooming the earth……he is probably going to do some time regardless As now looks like he is covering up tampering evidence and shot another guy in the face….unreal kid had it all

  13. Brian

    June 21, 2013 at 11:44 am

    I just traded away Heath Miller for Hernandez in my draft AFTER the news broke. Thoughts? I figure I won’t be missing Miller too much because I have Witten.

    • Cy23

      June 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      If Hernandez ever plays in the NFL again, I love the trade for you.

      If he doesn’t, it was a risky bet. But I don’t like Miller as a TE1, so therefore I really don’t see it as a loss to give him away for a potentially top 4 TE.

  14. phil

    June 21, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    i have both gronk and hernandez on my dynasty team and ive loved every minute of it until now…..gronk hurt and hernadez stupid…. so i went and got gates to bolster lineup…gave up blackmon and got gates and a 2nd rnd rookie pick….hoping gronk comes back earlier bc we can run 2 tes in our league(with one as flex)…..plus with chargers having some wr threats now maybe gates can at least perform like a low end num1….. as for hernandez i hope he beats this bc hesa hell of a player and scorer in fantasy when healthy…he seems doomed bc his actions/reactions have been retarded thus far…as for the future of the human race i think dumbass obama has already taken care of that so what does a “semi pro” players death mean to me? absolutely nothing besides the screwing me outta hernandez now

    • Adam

      June 22, 2013 at 8:53 am

      Wow…totally selling low on Blackmon! Gates is cooked and to give up a guy who was a first rounder last year and hasn’t even begun his career is really giving him away. Good Luck!

      • phil

        June 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm

        blackmon was a guy i picked 5th overall last yr and i think very highly on…but it doesnt seem his head is on straight and he definently doesnt have a qb in jax…also they seem hesitant to let henne play and hes the best they got…. plus i got the 1st 7th and 10th pick in the first round this year so im looking to replace him with tavon austin with the num 1 and by getting gates im stocked at the tight end spot…i still have gronk and hernandez if he dont go to jail im good at that spot… plus i dontthink very highly of any of the tight ends in this draft either… felt i had to make the move…

      • Adam

        June 24, 2013 at 5:17 am

        Gates has zero value, if you already owned Gronk, why wouldn’t you just look for a TE filler for a few games until Gronk comes back? You basically just traded Blackmon for a 2nd Round pick since Gates has zero value…you got robbed dude.

        • phil

          June 24, 2013 at 6:21 pm

          zero value? really? hmmmmmm really? so i guess im asking if you want in our fantasy league… id love to have several owners like you….would make winning every year a breeze…..blackmon has yet to prove he understands how to not fuck up in the nfl, and gates has proven to be a solid option….maybe it was hasty but im not looking to compete and “hope” gronk is healthy when he comes back.. im looking to go back to the title game for the 5th yr in a row… and i needed a complete team to do that…. blackmon was a bench guy for me and i will replace him with tavon most probably in the draft…..

          • TradeHappy

            June 25, 2013 at 1:46 am

            I would love to join your league Phil. You traded a high first rd rookie pick with the potential to be a top 15 wr if not higher for years. He has never had the chance to play with a real QB. For basically a stop gap TE and a 2nd rd. Blackmon had a decent rookie year. He scored 184 FP his rookie year,where AJ scored 218 his rookie year. AJ had far superior QB play throwing him the ball too. Blackmons last 2 games of the season he had a td and averaged over 20 points. I got Dez a 1st and 2nd round rookie picks. In a trade after his rookie year. For Austin miles Braylon Edwards Fred Jackson and two rookie 3rd rounds. Those picks turned into AJ green and kap.

            So off his rookie year stats, when he gets a QB and he continully improves. He could easily be a wr 1 or high end 2.

        • Adam

          June 25, 2013 at 5:48 am

          Phil, Blackmon’s ADP is 57…Gates’ is 179…do you see where I am going with this? 179 ADP for an aging, breaking down TE might as well be zero. Current 2.1 ADP is Zac Stacy (101 ADP overall) so you essentially gave up the 57th best player for the 101st and 179th…not exactly fair value.

          You basically traded the 5.9 for the 9.5 and 14.11 in a 12-team startup draft. Like I said, I would gladly join your league.

          • phil

            June 25, 2013 at 4:43 pm

            ok adam this is how i look at things and im not trying to be a smartass either… my wrs are andre johnson, welker, cobb, hartline and i got gronk and nernandez at te….with both them being hurt i traded blackmon who i think highly of, for gates and a 2nd…if and i mean if i could get stacy in our league withthat 2nd id be ecstatic…. he will go in the 1st prob bc rbs are more sought after… i needed gates and i know in our lg his production will prob avg around 10 points… when gronk comes back i can play them both and if hernandez plays i can trade gates for a future pick… im comfortable giving him up bc my team as a whole is kinda strong…i took him at 5 last year bc there was nothing better totake not bc i really wanted him so im happy…plus with the 1 7 and 10 picks this yr in the first i can replace him with like tavon or cordarelle and maybe someone else and hope to get another rb…im just saying that this was my thought process….other owners already smelled the blood inthe water about my te situation and of all the other tes id rather have gates…graham is unavailable for sure too

          • Adam

            June 25, 2013 at 4:59 pm

            All I was saying is you way undersold on Blackmon…I don’t own him in any leagues, but you gave up a lot to get a declining asset in Gates. You should have been able to get someone like Greg Olsen for Blackmon at the very least…I just think you way undersold, good luck!

  15. Chris

    June 21, 2013 at 10:36 pm

    Even if Hernandez doesnt go to jail. Godell is gonna hammer him. Look at Plex and he shot himself

    Gun law violation vs. Obstruction of justice Hernandez out one year maybe two

  16. ITSxWILL13

    June 22, 2013 at 8:15 am

    I am a Hernandez owner and I was just offered

    Heath Miller and Vincent Brown
    Hernandez and Pettigrew and a late 2nd

    I own Housler and celek also so ill have 3 tes

    but Brown is big bc I only have 2 serviceable WRs in Cruz and T.Smith

  17. RayRayV

    June 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Thoughts… offer Vick Ballard for Hernandez ( owner of A Hern has Bradshaw )

  18. Flying Ninja Monkey

    June 23, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Just gave up FDavis and 2014 2nd for Hernandez…

    Davis is my TE4 (behind Witten, Rudolph, Gonzo) and I figure the 2nd will be a later pick due to hoping that I’m a contender!

    I thought a good gamble for best case scenario a top 2014 TE.

  19. smcguiga

    June 25, 2013 at 6:44 am

    anyone else find it awfully strange that he hasn’t been arrested or even formally brought into station house for questioning(done at his house)…..seems odd with the facts that are known….my guess is they don’t feel he was trigger man but knows who was…can’t imagine that they would not have brought him in if they thought he actually shot him.

    Think he is gonna get some type of big suspension regardless but I think maybe the absolute worse case(murder one) is off table…anyone else have any thoughts on this?

  20. SJ

    June 26, 2013 at 7:28 am

    Released?! Wow….

    Welp.. there that goes… his value, I mean. What a mess.

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