Let’s face it, there’s an enormous amount of information out there on Sunday mornings. We’re not going to waste your time by repeating the news and notes about who’s in or out this week, since that’s really not what you visit us for. We’re also not going to do another article on starts or sits this week – we already have the personalized lineup advice for you on the premium content. Again, there are 100 places you can go for that, so no reason to repeat ourselves or others.
The Sunday Morning Huddle goes through each game and states what we’re looking to see from a dynasty perspective. One player will be picked from each team who has dynasty value tied to the game – players at a pivot point where their value could increase or decrease based on opportunity and performance.
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Jacksonville at Buffalo
Perhaps no quarterback has had more fantasy production despite a lack of good, meaningful quarterback play on the football field than Blake Bortles over the past two seasons. While the stats are still good enough to be startable, one has to question whether he will ever turn the corner and be a guy who can produce when the game is tight or in his team’s favor. Throw in the uncertainty around the team’s front office and coaching staff going forward, and there are too many question marks to view Bortles as a safe asset moving forward. How will he fare against Buffalo? As Bortles goes, so go the receivers for the Jaguars.
It is unfortunate that LeSean McCoy has been banged up multiple times this year. Between talent and opportunity, Shady is not lacking. His only hangup has been his injuries and, despite his massive contract, those are keeping his future cloudy at best. Word is he should be able to play this week despite a thumb surgery on Monday. He’s been productive when he plays, but my concern is that the Bills address the position in the 2017 draft. Can he produce despite this latest injury?
San Diego at Houston
If 2015 was the perfect storm for Melvin Gordon to fail with an injured receiving corps and decimated offensive line, then whatever has aligned in 2016 is the polar opposite. This could be his career year, or it could be the start of a stellar career. Which is it? We likely won’t know until at least 2017, but with Keenan Allen returning, Antonio Gates nearing retirement, etc., there is a ton of room for Gordon to either rise or fall in the next year or two. The first step is for him to keep it up against a Texans defense that is beatable on the ground.
September was the month of Will Fuller, but he has been injured and Braxton Miller, a fellow rookie, got the start last week. While he didn’t light up the box score, catching five of seven targets for 25 yards and a touchdown is more than enough to earn him more chances going forward. It was always said of Miller that he is a project that could either hit or bust, and so far he is looking like a hit – earlier than expected, even. There are a lot of mouths to feed in Houston, but Miller could carve out a meaningful role going forward.
Arizona at Atlanta
Everyone hates owning an old wide receiver since they will fall off sooner than later. Then we have Larry Fitzgerald, who keeps getting it done despite his age. His contract situation and workload in the Arizona offense gives him the safest floor of the bunch for 2017. Fitz should do well again against Atlanta, and help to solidify his role for next year. While we know the cliff is coming, we don’t know when. He could continue to play well up until his retirement based on what we have seen.
As a young running back with tons of promise and production when healthy, Tevin Coleman spends significantly less time being healthy than his fellow running back Devonta Freeman. While I expect a timeshare between the two when healthy, I have reservations about Coleman’s long term value since he is getting injured frequently. Really, the only thing that can change this perception would be Coleman both playing a significant role and maintaining his health for a long period of time. The clock starts now – can he do it?
Tennessee at Chicago
Don’t look now, but Rishard Matthews signed a multi year contract this off-season and has been playing quite well for the past month. With the timing of his emergence in Tennessee coinciding with Marcus Mariota’s explosion of production, it looks like Matthews will be a fixture for the foreseeable future. Chicago’s lackluster defense should keep him rolling.
Perennially dismissed Marquess Wilson has a real chance to carve out a future for himself on the Chicago Bears over the next week or two. While I rightly projected Zach Miller as the primary beneficiary of Alshon Jeffery’s suspension, Miller turned right around and went on injured reserve. So, now we have to discern who the new beneficiary is. Eddie Royal looks likely to be either out or limited, and Cameron Meredith is locked into the number one role for now. That leaves the one player with the most to gain or lose going forward as Wilson. Can he seize this opportunity and produce?
Los Angeles at New Orleans
With the Jared Goff era under way in Los Angeles, the next question is whether it will last. Pedestrian in his first start, he now gets a soft Saints defense in a game that will force the Rams to try to put up as many points as possible. In this game I mostly want to see if he takes steps forward from his first game, and if he appears serviceable against a very beatable defense.
Another running back that is productive when healthy, but seemingly never healthy for a long period of time is Mark Ingram. Given the strength of the 2017 running back class, it is fair to question whether his role is secure going forward. Add on that he was benched a few weeks ago in-game in favor of Tim Hightower, and it is clear that his time as a featured player for this team may be coming to a close. He may or may not play this week, but the only way for him to bolster his value is for him to be both active and productive. Being either inactive or unproductive will be a value down for him long term as the team eyes the draft.
Cincinnati at Baltimore
It feels like a common theme for this week is players with increased or decreased opportunity and/or production as a result of injuries. Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd fits the mold as the Ravens are likely to double team Tyler Eifert, and the opening up of extra targets for Boyd in the absence of star wide receiver AJ Green. Last week he parlayed this situation into his first touchdown of the year and a respectable stat line. The only question is if he can keep his momentum.
Two weeks ago, Kenneth Dixon led the team in targets. Last week, he took a clear back seat to Terrance West. What will the workload distribution be this week? While it is great to see West finally producing, it is hampering Dixon’s value in the short term and adding serious question marks for him long term. What we need to see to remove those question marks is an increasing share of the work for Dixon. Less than that will cast doubt on his ability, and in turn his value.
San Francisco at Miami
According to coach Chip Kelly, Carlos Hyde is the main focus for the team’s offense. Well, between injuries and mediocre play at 3.8 yards per carry, that hasn’t turned into truly meaningful production yet. That meaningful production is what we are waiting on in order to declare a value increase for Hyde and to secure his role into the future. I’m still waiting, and so should you. The talent and opportunity are there, but the team is bad so it makes it tough. He still needs to show enough to keep the 49ers from drafting a new feature back, although he may be safe due to the number of holes that need filled on the roster.
On the opposing team, Jay Ajayi has been on a tear the past month, and he gets one of the softest matchups for a running back in 2016. Last week, LeGarrette Blount failed to truly capitalize on this matchup as the team instead featured Tom Brady and the passing game. Miami has a less potent passing offense, and the team should run through the 49ers using Ajayi. Continued success can only mean a higher value for him, but struggling here would be somewhat alarming.
New York (Giants) at Cleveland
Most players on the Giants roster have a pretty secure value. One rookie can stand to gain or lose quite a bit of value over the next few weeks in running back Paul Perkins. For a while, it looked like he was going to get more touches each week going forward. That was until Rashad Jennings showed up to play and put his stamp on the backfield over the past few weeks, and he isn’t likely to give up that stranglehold against the Browns this week. Check to see if Perkins maintains his role or if he is being phased out already. As mentioned many times in this article, the 2017 running back class is strong and the Giants are yet another team who could invest early if they don’t think Perkins can take the next step.
Checking into the fourth round in our 2017 Startup Mock Draft, Terrelle Pryor has had a meteoric rise this season. Is that sustainable? The quarterback situation is as unstable as ever in Cleveland and Corey Coleman will only have a larger role moving forward. At 27 years old, I can’t imagine that Pryor has a ton of room to continue to move up in value, so he may be at his peak. This is certainly higher than I would take him, and based on this I can only assert that his value is at a pivot point inasmuch as it is likely to fall moving forward and beginning immediately.
Seattle at Tampa Bay
The time is now for running back Thomas Rawls. With Marshawn Lynch retired, Christine Michael gone, and CJ Prosise injured, this is Rawls’ one and possibly only opportunity to make this backfield his own. With increased work in the passing game since his return, he could prove to have the chops to be a three down workhorse. His destiny is his own. I cannot stress that enough, as the offensive line isn’t particularly good. He will have to make most of what he gets.
With most players for Tampa Bay having secure roles going forward, Cameron Brate is one player that needs to continue to produce to maintain value. His lack of consistency will be an issue as the team eyes 2017 preparations. He could be an integral part of the game plan moving forward, or he could be relegated to backup duties. Look for him to gain consistency starting this week in order to maintain value.
New England at New York (Jets)
With no one wide receiver really looking like a star for the Patriots this year, Malcolm Mitchell stepped up last week hauling in four of five targets for 98 yards and a touchdown. That’s pretty stellar for a rookie. The Jets haven’t been doing a good job of stopping opposing wide receivers this year, so Mitchell has a real shot at continuing a breakout late in the season. That will only mean good things for his value going forward.
The Jets have a player with a tale of two seasons in Quincy Enunwa. Early in the year he looked like the potential heir apparent to the number two or possibly even number one role in New York for the future. Since, his play has cratered; however, the cratering coincides with a severe drop off in the level of quarterback play. I’m not sure how to differentiate between Enunwa’s declining statistical output and the varying levels of quarterback play. We are in wait and see mode with Enunwa. If he can put it back together, his value should hold steady.
Carolina at Oakland
To say that the sophomore season for Devin Funchess has been disappointing for his owners is an understatement. He has at least been consistently receiving some work in each game, giving hope for the future. Oakland has some cornerbacks giving out free points to opposing wide receivers, so this could be a spot where Funchess begins to turn things around. Alternatively, he could put up a goose egg and move down even further.
After a promising rookie season, Clive Walford is in a similar situation to Funchess. A fourth option on his own team at best, he is receiving work weekly but not enough to be meaningful. The Panthers have been giving up some production to tight ends lately, though, so this could be a turning point or a crater point for Walford as well.
Kansas City at Denver
While Andy Reid remains confident in Alex Smith, I’m sure his dynasty owners are getting a little anxious. He really hasn’t played at as high of a level lately, having thrown just four touchdowns since the team’s week five bye. To be fair, he exited one game early and missed another, but four touchdowns is within the realm of possibility for a quarterback in any given game. Things aren’t likely to be looking up against Denver on the road, so we could be glimpsing a player in severe value decline.
It didn’t light the world on fire, but AJ Derby caught two passes for 22 yards in the Broncos last game. You have to factor in a few other things contextually to understand the significance here. Gary Kubiak is a coach known for having productive tight ends, and specifically featuring just one pass catching tight end. Derby is new to the team following an in season trade after which the Broncos reportedly told him they wanted him to contribute as soon as possible, and there were weeks this season in which the Broncos did not have a tight end record a reception. All signs point to an increased role for Derby and him being the hand picked guy for the featured tight end spot going forward. Watch closely Sunday night to see how far along they are with those plans.
Green Bay at Philadelphia
There continues to be a perception that Aaron Rodgers is not playing as good of football as he used to. While that is rooted in statistical analysis, he is still generating a very high fantasy football point output. Scrolling through several of my leagues, he is the highest scoring quarterback on the season in more than one. His value might be low due to perceived (and probably real) inefficiencies, and that trend could continue against a decent Eagles defense.
The Eagles wide receiver corps has been a mess this season, with their lack of experience wreaking havoc on rookie quarterback Carson Wentz’ consistency lately. With Nelson Agholor reportedly on the outside for the moment, Dorial Green-Beckham may be surging at just the right time after posting a five catch, 54 yard, one touchdown performance last week. The Packers secondary is very beatable so it should be fun to watch and see if DGB can continue to progress and soak up targets that were going Agholor’s way.