While we’re heading into week 12 of the NFL season and everyone’s focus is the fantasy playoffs right around the corner, it’s never too early to give thought about the upcoming off-season. The regular season may be where wins and losses are tallied, but the off-season is arguably where dynasty is truly won and lost. Therefore, I am going to forecast ahead and identify which players look to end up at the top of my dynasty shopping list. This can be a bit tricky, considering the NFL season is not yet over and many things can happen between now and then to affect a player’s value. Still, based on how I see things currently, I will give you names of who I plan on targeting.
I am not going to list underperforming studs like DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, Todd Gurley, etc. Targeting players like this should be self-explanatory, as it’s always a good idea to try acquiring supremely talented players at a suppressed price due to underwhelming production. Also, the players I identify does not necessarily mean I think they are going to be cheap to acquire. Instead, it simply means that I believe there’s value to be had there. So without further ado, here is my list of who I will be targeting in 2017 (starting lineup style).
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Carson Wentz, QB PHI
Full disclosure — quarterback is the position I spend the least amount of time on. I only play in two or three super flex leagues, and in leagues which only require one starting quarterback I find it’s the least important position to focus on. However, being that I live outside of Philadelphia, I am forced to watch a lot of Eagles’ games (more than I care to since I am not an Eagles fan). Therefore, I have seen the vast majority of Carson Wentz’s snaps. I am very impressed with his skill set as well as his ability to command an offense. The latter is especially impressive considering the fact that he’s a rookie from a small college. Wentz has had some struggles of late, but that is to be expected from a rookie signal caller.
What is really holding Carson back is his severe lack of playmaking receivers. Jordan Matthews is nice slot receiver, but he is not a number one wideout. Dorial Green-Beckham, a former dynasty favorite due to his massive physical upside, has done little since being acquired from the Tennessee Titans. Nelson Agholor just flat out stinks. And finally we have Zach Ertz, who has had a couple of good games this season, but overall has not been the dynamic tight end many dynasty owners expected him to become.
The Eagles desperately need to add a playmaking wide receiver on the outside, which I fully anticipate they will do in the off-season, either via the draft or possibly through free agency. In a couple years, as the Eagles surround their new franchise quarterback with better talent and Carson continues to develop, I firmly believe that Wentz has all the skills to be a true QB1. If you are a believer that he has all the makings of a future great quarterback, then this off-season is the time to pounce before Wentz ascends. I would be fine going into the 2017 season having Carson as my backup quarterback, with future expectations that he will become a fantasy QB1.
CJ Prosise, RB SEA
It’s a bit unfortunate to see Prosise go down with an injury after flashing what he is capable of doing on the football field the past couple weeks. However, it may end up being a blessing in disguise for dynasty owners looking to acquire his services. It all started in the primetime game two weeks ago against the New England Patriots, where Prosise essentially functioned as the lead back for the Seahawks. It was during that game we really got to see what this promising rookie is capable of. Prosise ran the ball even better than I expected him to, and his receiving prowess was on full display as well. There are a bunch of running backs in the NFL that are capable of catching passes out of the backfield, but only a handful that can actually excel at running routes. As a converted wide receiver in college, it is evident that Prosise can do just that.
It’s the versatility displayed that really excites me when it comes to CJ Prosise. He has the potential to be a true weapon at the running back position, and in PPR settings looks like a potential dynasty staple down the road. I’m not entirely sure what his ultimate upside is, but fortunately for dynasty owners it seems like we’ll only have a brief glimpse of Prosise on the field in 2016. Coupled with the possibility of Thomas Rawls showing positively again down the stretch with his backfield mates injured, CJ’s price should remain affordable this upcoming off-season.
Theo Riddick, RB DET
This running back simply gets no love in the dynasty community. Even though Riddick finished the 2015 season as the RB18, his August ADP put him at RB39. This season, Theo is averaging just over 17 points per game, which puts him firmly in RB1 status. I completely understand why people don’t get overly excited for the Lions running back. He’s not a great runner, and therefore will never be a complete fantasy running back. However, he’s outstanding catching passes out of the backfield, and continues to produce fantasy points. He has a cheap high floor due to the volume he receives in the passing game, and while he doesn’t carry prototypical upside you may look for in a running back, he actually carries a higher weekly scoring ceiling than you may think. Out of eight games he’s played this season, Riddick has eclipsed 25 points three times.
Theo Riddick is a player who has much higher roster value than market value. What I mean by that is his dynasty value lies in what he brings to your roster: cheap fantasy points at the running back position as well as valuable depth at a position that regularly sees volatility due to injuries. Riddick is not a player you acquire with the intentions to flip him down the road for profit. He’s never going to carry a ton of market value in trades. This can be used to your advantage by trying to acquire Riddick on the cheap and reap the benefits of owning him without giving up anything significant.
As I mentioned above, Theo never gets valued highly no matter what he does. To my point, I just so happened to see a poll on Twitter the day of writing this asking for a price check on Theo Riddick in dynasty (in rookie draft picks). Almost 25% of the votes chose a 3rd round rookie pick. A 3rd round pick for a running back that is averaging over 17 points per game this year?? I would turn over every 3rd pick I own across all my dynasty leagues for every Theo Riddick share in a heartbeat. This just further shows how little this pass catching specialist gets valued in dynasty. Use this to your advantage and instantly add quality depth to your running back core.
Stefon Diggs, WR MIN
Diggs has a special place in my heart. I have been a big fan of his since his days at Maryland. When a player you have been keen on from day one pans out to become the player you always thought they could be, you always gain a certain attachment to him. That’s the case with me when it comes to Stefon Diggs. While he certainly won’t be cheap, I still think there is value in trading for the Vikings wide receiver. I still don’t believe Diggs is being valued in line with his ability. In DLF’s own Ryan McDowell’s November ADP, Diggs came in with a third round tag. Obviously this is good, but what I found is a handful of players with a higher ADP in which I would rather have Diggs. Kelvin Benjamin, Jordan Matthews, Corey Coleman, and Randall Cobb are all wide receivers who came in higher that I would rather easily select Stefon Diggs over. In fact, I don’t see much (if any) difference talent wise between Diggs and Brandin Cooks, a wide receiver who’s ADP was a whole round higher.
On the season, Diggs is averaging just over 17 points per game, which is tenth for wide receivers. Ironically, Cooks (who I just mentioned) is right below him at 11th. There has been some ups and downs in terms of weekly production with the Minnesota wideout, but overall the Vikings offense has been a mess so it should be expected. Their offensive line has been terrible, they have no running game to speak of, and outside of a Kyle Rudolph resurgence the Vikings have very little receiving options to take focus away from Diggs. While Diggs runs a lot out of the slot, he is fully capable of playing on the outside as well; something a lot of other high end slot receivers have difficulties with.
I love watching this guy play football. I firmly believe Stefon is only scratching the surface of his potential, and think he can become one of the NFL’s best wide receivers. I am curious to see how the Vikings offense will look down the road when Teddy Bridgewater eventually returns from his injury, and when (and if) Laquon Treadwell actually starts playing in football games. Either way, it looks as though the Vikings have a cornerstone piece to their offense with #14. I recall last season when Mike Wallace said that Diggs reminded him a lot of Antonio Brown. Many people kind of rolled their eyes at such a statement when it was made. While I am not quite ready to put him on the same pedestal as (in my opinion) the best wide receiver in football, perhaps Wallace’s comment wasn’t so farfetched after all.
Jamison Crowder, WR WAS
Outside of Diggs, Jamison Crowder may be my favorite player on this list. On the year, Crowder is the Redskins leading receiver in yards and touchdowns, and only two catches shy in receptions. In terms of fantasy, he is averaging more points per game than the likes of Jarvis Landry, Kelvin Benjamin, Jordan Matthews, and even Allen Robinson. Crowder also has three 100 yard games in his last four. Yet I still believe he will go a bit undervalued this upcoming off-season.
Even though Crowder is primarily a slot receiver, he has shown the ability to hold his own on the outside, similar to Diggs. This was primarily evident when DeSean Jackson was out with an injury, forcing Crowder to play some on the outside as well. He won’t ‘wow’ you with physical attributes or measurements, but Crowder runs good routes, excels at making cuts in and out of his breaks, has reliable hands, and possesses run-after-the-catch ability. Jamison Crowder does so many of the little things really well in spite of his small stature, which has quickly helped make him one of Kirk Cousins favorite targets.
Even while enjoying a solid 2016 campaign, there is long term potential for more opportunities down the road for Jamison Crowder. Mainly, the questions that loom around DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, and how much longer they will be donning the Redskins uniform. There is a strong possibility that one of the two will not be in Washington next year, and it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that both are gone.
In the November ADP, Jamison Crowder came in at WR39, which doesn’t even put him in WR3 range. While I do think this will end up being a bit higher in next month’s ADP, this still seems quite low for the Redskins leading wide receiver. What I found even more surprising was that Josh Doctson had a higher ADP than Crowder. One could possibly argue that Doctson may have the higher upside of the two, but I’ll gladly take the known in Jamison over the total unknown in Doctson.
Will Fuller, WR HOU
Will Fuller came blazing (yes, that was a pun on his speed) out of the gates his rookie season, scoring three double digit fantasy weeks the first month of the season; two of those weeks included outputs over 20 points. However, his production has come to a screeching halt since then. Partly due to injury, perhaps partly due to the proverbial rookie wall, and most definitely partly due to his quarterback Brock Osweiler being terrible. No matter the reason, the glisten has dulled off the rookie from Notre Dame a bit.
To my point, I saw a trade made in one of my dynasty leagues last week, where Fuller was shipped away for Isiah Crowell and a 2017 fourth round pick. A fourth round rookie pick is essentially worthless, so in essence it was a swap of Fuller and Crowell. In no way would that trade ever happen in September. I still greatly prefer the Fuller side personally, but it shows that he is much more obtainable now than he was a couple months ago. Obviously I am not suggesting every Will Fuller owner will be willing to part with him for something like this, but it’ll be worth sending out some feelers for him.
Admittedly, I was not a fan of the Notre Dame wide receiver when he entered the NFL draft. My thoughts were that he would be a better real life wide receiver than a fantasy one. I didn’t think he was much more than just a vertical threat, and therefore passed up on him in the majority of my rookie drafts. I am willing to admit that I was wrong in my assessment, and acknowledge that he has abilities that supersedes being merely a burner. Thankfully, I believe I will have a second chance to acquire him this upcoming off-season at a reasonable price. For others who passed on him as well should consider doing the same if the opportunity presents itself.
Hunter Henry, TE SD
This was a tough choice, as I debated selecting Eric Ebron as my tight end selection as well. Ultimately I decided to give Hunter Henry the slight nod. Similar to Fuller, Hunter Henry started his rookie season strong, scoring double digit fantasy points four consecutive weeks in his first six. Also like Fuller, he has been dealing with injury that has slowed him down a bit. That, and the fact that old man river, aka Antonio Gates, simply won’t go away. Assuming that Gates isn’t an immortal, he will eventually retire which will open the door for Hunter Henry to become the go-to tight end for the Chargers.
When watching Henry in that one month stretch early on in the season, it was easy to see the playmaking ability he possesses. On top of his evident talent, the San Diego Chargers could be an interesting offense down the road. There is plenty of long term promise with Keenan Allen, the breakout of Tyrell Williams, and the waking up of Melvin Gordon. My personal favorite piece of this offense to buy however is Hunter Henry. Keenan’s injury history scares me away, and I am not 100% sold on Melvin Gordon as a true RB1 long term.
I don’t think Henry will come cheaply, as I believe a lot of dynasty people already have him ranked in the TE5-8 range. In a couple years though, I could see him being a top 3-5 tight end. Consistent performers Greg Olsen and Delanie Walker are getting older. Tyler Eifert, while incredibly talented, is teetering on being labeled injury prone (if he isn’t already by some). Jordan Reed suffered another concussion this season; so while he has actually stayed relatively healthy the past couple seasons, it is fair to worry how long his career will last with his concussion history. So outside of Rob Gronkowski, the position is filled with question marks long term. That is why I am willing to jump on Hunter Henry with the hope that he’ll be a mainstay as a TE1 in the future.
These are several of the players that have made their way onto my 2017 target list. It’s never too early to work on creating your own personal shopping list for the off-season. Feel free to share a few of your choices as buys in the comments below!