In the previous two editions of Flash Forward, I detailed the community’s thoughts on some of the top players in the game and the expectation for their value over the next year. Through posing questions asking which players were locks to be 2016 first round picks and which players were sleepers to be first round picks (link to 2nd article), we gained a great deal of insight about which players are expected to retain or even gain value over the next several months.
Today, we’ll take a look in the opposite direction as I asked this question via Twitter:
— Ryan McDowell (@RyanMc23) June 29, 2015
The scope of this question is obviously limited to the 12 players listed – the current top 12 based on the cumulative dynasty ADP of all 36 DLF dynasty mock drafts from January through June. Even with limited options, much can be taken from the responses and the takeaway is clear even before you see the results. You don’t want to see the cornerstones of your team near the top of this list, as the respondents expect those players to lose value over the course of the next several months.
Again, I asked for just one player per response and 72 people answered the call. Here are the results, including the percentage of total answers each player received.
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For the most part, I want to focus on the top vote getters in this exercise and some possible reasons why are expected to dip in dynasty value, but first, take a look at the bottom of the list.
Two players (receivers Dez Bryant and Julio Jones) did not receive a single vote, meaning no one responding to the survey expects those players to fall out of the first round in 2016. This should not be a surprise since they were both among the top three vote getters on in the initial article looking at 2016 First Round Locks. Despite the recent threats of a hold out prior to his new contract extension with the Cowboys, no one actually seemed worried any missed time would affect his long-term value. Or perhaps we just knew it would never come to that. Regardless, Bryant is locked as a Cowboy for the remaining prime of his career and with Jason Witten showing his age and DeMarco Murray up in Philadelphia, Bryant should dominate the targets like never before.
Jones is certainly a fan favorite based on the data I collected through these questions, along with his always-high monthly dynasty ADP. I have to admit, this surprises me a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jones and think he has elite ability, but the numbers speak for themselves. He’s never started a full 16 game season. In his four-year career, he’s outscored AJ Green, Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas once each in PPR fantasy scoring. That doesn’t mean he should be far behind that trio, but it surprises me to see him easily ahead of all three as well.
Speaking of Johnson, he easily outpaced the rest of the field in this exercise. Many people responding called Johnson the “easy” answer. In 2014, he played in the fewest games of his career, just 13. In one of those 13 games he saw action, he caught his only target in abbreviated action. To the surprise of no one, Johnson’s limited time on the field greatly affected quarterback Matthew Stafford as well, who suffered through one of his worst seasons as a professional. The big question is can the duo bounce back and again provide elite fantasy scoring to their dynasty owners? There is really no reason to think they can’t, especially Johnson. As long as he’s healthy, he’s the best receiver in the game, though that doesn’t mean he’s the best receiver to own in dynasty leagues.
Due to his age (he’ll turn 30 early in the regular season), many dynasty players are beginning to devalue the future Hall of Famer. I understand this mindset and am guilty of it myself. Like it or not, even if Johnson bounces back and posts another elite season, he is very likely to lose value come 2016 and this is due almost completely to his age. Back to the original question, I agree with those saying Johnson was the easy response to the question considering he was the twelfth player on the list and was a first round pick in only half, 18 of the 36 dynasty mock drafts from January through June. With some of the up and comers mentioned in the previous two articles in the series, its easy to see DeAndre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks, Allen Robinson and Amari Cooper moving into the first round if they live up to the astronomical expectations.
Chicago receiver Alshon Jeffery is another unique situation. He’s the second choice in this query, nearly doubling up the next closest fellow fantasy stud. Like Johnson, Jeffery currently resides near the bottom of the 2015 first round ADP, but unlike the Lions’ superstar, age is on Jeffery’s side as he just turned 25. Another positive for him (at least on paper) is the departure of Brandon Marshall, who was traded to the Jets earlier this off-season. Jeffery did lead the team in targets in 2014, but the void Marshall leaves could push Jeffery near the top of the league in opportunities. With head coach Marc Trestman gone and quarterback Jay Cutler seemingly spiraling downward, will that be enough to help him maintain his value? I think the Jeffrey selection as a player who could fall out of the first round is mostly a result of him currently being overdrafted. Jeffrey is a player I’d be glad to have on any of my dynasty teams and one that should produce at a high level, but I do agree with the responses that have him falling into the second round range next year.
The final player I want to focus on is our third highest vote getter, Denver wideout Demaryius Thomas. I see two primary concerns when it comes to assessing Thomas’ value. First, the impending loss of his quarterback, all-time great Peyton Manning could be a problem. No one knows how much longer Manning will lace them up, but it’s clearly in the year-to-year phase and it would not be a surprise if Manning retired following the end of the 2015 season. Along with the approaching loss of Manning, Thomas is also one year older than the other elite receivers in the top tier, namely Green, Jones and Bryant.
If I own these three players, I’m hanging onto them for now, especially Thomas and Johnson. Both have already been losing some value during the off-season as owners focus on acquiring younger players. With the clear expectation all three of these players will excel in 2015, I would consider selling Johnson or Thomas for a younger receiver in that top tier.
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