Dynasty Price is Right

Andrew Lightner

The 2016 NFL season has officially begun, with free agent frenzy taking place this past week. New faces in new places, and all this movement has the dynasty community buzzing more than bumble bees in the summertime! With NFL news swirling now on a daily basis, perhaps the itch to join a start up dynasty is getting stronger by the day. Well, I am here to help you out for your upcoming start up draft (c’mon, we both know you couldn’t control the urge). To avoid redundancy, if you are unaware of the format or basis of my series simply go back to my earlier installments. Simply click on my name below the article headline, and that will direct you to all my previous articles. For this particular portion of The Dynasty Price is Right (as this is officially now a two part series), head to the offseason edition article which was the introduction piece to the start up draft series part. This article will look back at February’s DLF ADP data, compiled by my friend and dynasty stud Ryan McDowell whom I am sure all of you are very familiar with. Now, because we are looking back on the ADP data of the previous month, I am refraining from selecting any players who’s value has been impacted by the recent free agency events in the NFL. Doing so wouldn’t be giving a fair evaluation of data knowing that situations have changed for certain players since last month. Instead I have chosen players who I doubt will have moved much in value in the past month or so. As I have stated in my previous articles, I am going to try to refrain covering the same player multiple times. So if I mention a player in the start up draft part of my series, it is safe to assume that I most likely view them as a buy in trades as well; and vice versa. As a final preface, I rounded each players ADP up or down to a nice, pretty whole number. Also, any statistical data used in profiling a player is based on standard PPR format.

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Martellus Bennett, CHI – FEB ADP 155, TE17 (Equates to a late 13th-round pick)

We all know the uncertainty surrounding Bennett, as he’s worn out his welcome in Chicago and they are looking to trade the volatile tight end. There have been rumors of Green Bay being interested, and while I am skeptical of that rumor coming true (though it would be a great landing spot if it were to happen), it seems if they don’t find a trade partner the Bears may flat out release him. Let’s not worry too much about the uncertainty of where he will be playing in 2016, and instead focus on what Bennett brings to the table from a fantasy perspective.

Bennett had a big coming out party in 2014, where he finished the season fifth among tight ends in both total points as well as points per game. After his 2014 season, expectations were raised among the fantasy community for the 2015 season; and unfortunately the tight end known as the Black Unicorn wasn’t so mystical this past season. However, he wasn’t a total dud as some may be led to believe. He missed some games at the end of the season, which I think also assisted in further decreasing his value amongst the dynasty community. Many owners often remember what a player has done most recently (isn’t that right, Devante Parker?), so how a player performs at the end of a season really carries fresh into the minds of owners into the offseason. However, in his ‘dud’ season, Bennett still averaged just over ten points per game in 2015. While that doesn’t sound earth shattering by any means, if I told you only 14 tight ends averaged double digit fantasy points per game last year, perhaps your tune will change. I think this helps convey how much of a wasteland the tight end position is, especially in terms of production. Bennett was less than one full point a game away from being a top 12 tight end in that category.

The tight end position as a whole isn’t exactly the greenest of pastures — more like a field of dead grass with patches of green here and there. For a tight end that was top five just two seasons ago and only just missing the cut of performing as a top 12 tight end last season when healthy, Bennett as the TE17 is clear value, especially when points at the tight end position are hard to come by outside of the cream of the crop. If you are drafting to win now, Bennett should be even more majestic (see what I did there?) in your eyes at this price. If you draft a young, upside tight end earlier in your draft like Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Eric Ebron, pairing them with an older vet who gives you a descent floor in terms of production like Bennett is a solid way to approach the position. Don’t worry yourself with the uncertainty of where Bennett will be playing; he’s going to be playing somewhere in 2016 and a team isn’t going to bring him in unless they plan to utilize him in their offense. At this price in a start up draft, there’s little risk here which good production upside, making Martellus Bennett a solid tight end target.

Justin Forsett, BAL – FEB ADP 175, RB53 (Equates to a mid 15th round pick)

If you are drafting with the intentions of competing for a championship year one, this pick is for you. People want to continue knocking Forsett for a variety of reasons and dismiss him because he’s just not a great talent in the eyes of the dynasty community. Couple that with the fact that the Ravens had a very poor 2015 season, and what you get is recency bias significantly dropping the value of Ravens players as a whole. I highlighted Joe Flacco as a start up pick to target in my previous article covering January’s ADP, and this time it’s his fellow teammate Forsett.

Forsett turned from journeyman to one of the fantasy gems of 2014, finishing the season as the RB8 in fantasy points. He was one of those waiver wire darlings that helped carry many fantasy teams to the playoffs. Yet people in the fantasy community still weren’t buying it, calling him a one year wonder who isn’t talented and just made the best of an opportunity. He certainly didn’t duplicate his great season again in 2015, and Forsett missed games at the end of the season just as Bennett did. Also like Bennett, he wasn’t as bad as people think last season. In the games Forsett played last year, he averaged a little over 12 points per game. To put that in perspective, he averaged more points per game than both Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, Eddie Lacy, and CJ Anderson.

I’m not here claiming that Forsett is a great talent; however I do think that sometimes people automatically correlate real football talent to fantasy talent, and mistakenly make an assumption that you have to have the former in order to have the latter. The fact remains that he is in a good situation in Baltimore and made the best of it the past two seasons. There isn’t a lot of competition in the Ravens backfield, and with the history of the past two seasons we have at our disposal, there is reason to believe that once again Forsett will be a factor in 2016. While pundits will point to Javorius Allen, I don’t think he’s a great player either. He is a bigger back who plays smaller than his size, which is always a red flag to me when evaluating running backs. The Ravens could bring in another running back via the draft, but they have other holes to fill on their roster so I don’t see them spending one of their first couple picks on a running back. If I had to guess, Forsett and Allen will likely split duties in some form or fashion. Going off the board as the 53rd running back, however, eliminates any risk with drafting Forsett. It also leaves a lot of meat on the bone to greatly outperform his ADP in 2016 if he gets even close to the percentage of workload he was given in the past two seasons. Even if he does split carries, the Ravens have shown a history of heavily involving their running backs in the passing game; and Forsett has shown the ability to catch the ball. This only raises his floor in PPR settings for 2016. He isn’t a long term option for dynasty rosters, but for those looking to win now, Forsett is one of my favorite running backs to target at such a low price.

DeAndre Smelter, SF – FEB ADP 149, WR76 (Equates to a mid 13th round pick)

Since my first two players highlighted as draft targets leaned more towards owners with a win-now mentality, I wanted to switch gears with my third mention and give those who prefer punting year one a player to target in a start up draft. Obviously there’s no NFL football to look back on with Smelter as he missed the entire season due to injury; therefore we don’t have much to go on in that perspective. So what is it that I like about the former Georgia Tech receiver? First and foremost, it is his athleticism. Originally known as a baseball player, Smelter was actually drafted by the Minnesota Twins; so clearly he’s a good athlete. Because of injury, we also don’t have combine numbers to look back on with Smelter, so it’s tough to really dig deep here. But at 6-foot-2 226lbs, Smelter has great frame for an NFL wide receiver. One thing I found interesting is that he has 11-inch hand size. To compare that with a few other wide receivers from the 2015 rookie class, Kevin White, Devante Parker, and Breshad Perriman all have 9 1/4-inch hand measurements; three 2015 rookies who are all considered to have good size for their position. Reverting back to his baseball pedigree real quick, one attribute that is often correlated to baseball is hand-eye coordination. I don’t think it needs to be stated the benefits of having good hand-eye coordination in relation to playing wide receiver in football. Georgia Tech is known for having size-speed athletic freaks at wide receiver. Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas are the two most obvious ones, as well as the bust Stephen Hill.

For me, this pick is all about upside; one of the biggest things I look for in the later stages of a start up draft (especially if I am punting). Certainly there is a very low floor here as well, but at WR76 there isn’t much downside if he never pans out. Also, the San Francisco 49ers aren’t exactly blowing the doors off the hinges with their wide receivers on the roster. Therefore, if Smelter can come back from injury and make some noise by flashing his ability, there isn’t much opposition to keep him from climbing up the depth chart. It may be long shot that the stars align here, but at this price it’s definitely worth taking a chance.

As always, feel free to interact with me on twitter (@alightner10291), or leave a comment below if you’d like to discuss a player, trades, or anything else you’d like. Thanks as always for reading, and check back again in a couple weeks for the next article of my series.


andrew lightner
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