Dynasty Stock Market: Player Movement

Ryan McDowell

With the fantasy football off-season now a couple of weeks old, hopefully you are already underway in assessing your team, your competition and the moves that need to be made over the next several months. As I go through this process in each of my leagues, I focus on players whose situations could be vastly different next season. Many of these players are either free agents, soon to be free agents due to being a cap casualty or will be affected by one of the aforementioned players moving on. Here are just a few players who could land in new situations in 2014 and how those moves could affect their dynasty value.

Michael Vick, QB FAmichael_vick4

Following the re-signing of Jay Cutler by the Bears last week, veteran Michael Vick is probably the best available quarterback in a league where many teams need an upgrade. I have seen and heard many have the opinion that Vick’s career is over and he’ll never land another job. I disagree for a couple of reasons. First, Vick has shown the ability to post impressive numbers when healthy. In his four full games in 2013, he averaged 270 passing yards, over 53 rushing yards and just fewer than two touchdowns per game. Through those four games, Vick was the fourth highest scoring fantasy quarterback. The other reason I am confident Vick lands a new job is the overall need of so many teams at that position. Nearly a third of the league has a weakness at the quarterback position and someone will give Vick an offer. Assuming Vick does leave, it doesn’t really affect the Eagles since they have Nick Foles locked up as their starter.

Chris Johnson, RB TEN

Titans running back Chris Johnson is not technically a free agent, yet, but he does have a large chunk of change coming his way next season and all reports say the team will release Johnson rather than honor that deal. Johnson himself has also made it clear he would not consider restructuring his deal in order to remain in Tennessee. Despite what seems like poor overall play from the running back position across the league this season, there are actually few teams who have a desperate need at the position. Would the Giants consider signing Johnson to pair with Andre Brown? If they do, that is clearly a bad sign for the future of David Wilson. Local beat writers also report the Titans are confident to go into next season with Shonn Greene as their primary ball carrier. He was signed last off-season to play the backup role behind Johnson and played better than most expected. While his dynasty value will see a slight increase, expect the team to also add a rookie runner through the draft to compete for carries and be groomed to take over the lead role.

Knowshon Moreno, RB FA

Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno is wrapping up the best year of his career as he earned the starting role early on and never relinquished it, despite the expectation of a running-back-by-committee in the Mile High City.  Moreno racked up over 1,500 total yards and 13 touchdowns on the season. Even with these impressive numbers, he is being undervalued in dynasty leagues. In fact, in our recent January dynasty mock drafts, Moreno is routinely falling to the sixth round or later. Moreno is still just twenty-six years old and doesn’t have a huge career workload, so why is he being so disrespected by dynasty owners? It likely has a lot to do with the uncertainty surrounding where Moreno plays next year. The Broncos have two key free agents on offense, including wide receiver Eric Decker, not to mention the huge contract that Demaryius Thomas will soon require, so it could be difficult for them to retain all of their assets. If they choose to let Moreno walk, it is certain his new team will not be the same ideal situation he enjoyed in Denver.  Instead, maybe the Broncos elect to roll with their recent mid round picks of Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman. Both disappointed at times this season and Hillman was eventually benched. If either or both earn increased playing time in 2014, their dynasty value could quickly ascend.

Hakeem Nicks, WR FA

Wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was once viewed as one of the top playmakers in the league and was expected to be the big ticket free agent this off-season. The Giants even tried on multiple occasions to re-sign him, hoping to keep him from ever hitting the open market. Right now, they are probably glad they were not successful. The Giants offense had a disastrous season and Nicks once again dealt with recurring injuries, which has been an all too common theme throughout Nicks’ career. Now, following a season in which he failed to score a single touchdown, Nicks is free to all and is sure to be disappointed once he discovers his true market value. It’s safe to assume he won’t be back in New York and the Carolina Panthers have been commonly linked to Nicks, due to their need at the wide receiver position and the fact that North Carolina is Nicks’ home state. The Giants’ offense can’t be as bad in 2014 as it was this season. Not only will Nicks likely be gone, but they will have new leadership as well, since the team let offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride go following the conclusion of the regular season. Expect wide receiver Rueben Randle, who doubled his rookie season production this year, to be a hot name when it comes to breakout player predictions. Randle is already a highly valued asset, but like we have seen in the past season with players like Josh Gordon and Alshon Jeffery, breakout wide receivers can gain value in short order and be worth the price you paid for them.

Miles Austin, WR DAL

Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin is another player who was not scheduled to be a free agent this off-season, but is expected to find himself in that category soon as he is due over $8 million following his subpar and injury riddled season. Austin had by far his worst season in the past six years, totaling only 244 receiving yards, or less than Josh Gordon had in week thirteen against the Jaguars.  Combine the constant injuries with the large contract due and Austin will surely be hitting the streets soon. Don’t expect a big market for his services, but someone will give the veteran wideout a shot, and he could be a good value in dynasty leagues too. He’s been almost forgotten in early mocks, falling into the late rounds of the draft or even going undrafted. Once Austin is gone, it will be easy to point to wide receiver Terrance Williams as the biggest beneficiary. While he should get a few more looks, the Cowboys will be forced to add another wide receiver, so a Williams breakout could be stalled.

Nate Burleson, WR DET

Wide receiver Nate Burleson of the Detroit Lions is one of the rare players who never seem to have off-season value despite how well he may perform during the season. He has been a respectable second wide receiver playing alongside Calvin Johnson for years. The team has tried to fill that gap, but has not been successful. With Burleson due $7.5 million next season, he is another likely cap casualty victim. Expect the Lions to use a high draft pick, perhaps even their first round pick, on a wide receiver. Whoever that player is will see a huge boost in dynasty value and will rise near the top of rookie drafts. Burleson will not have any real value should he land on another team, but he is a candidate to restructure his contact in order to stay with the team, should the Lions be interested in that.

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