Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the regular season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
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Signed through 2017 for just shy of $25 million, Brees has indicated he prefers to play out the final year of his contract to signing an extension. Retirement appears to be at least a couple years away, so the combination of continuing to play at an elite level (37 touchdown passes and over 5,200 yards in 2017) and the motivation of a walk year sets Brees up as a great target for win-now dynasty teams.
After bouncing around the league with stops in Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville and Atlanta, in 2013 McCown finally found a longterm home to hold his clipboard in New Orleans. Aside from completing an efficient 32-of-39 passes for 335 yards in 2015, McCown attempted a total of one regular season pass in 2013, 2014 and 2016 combined. Turning 36 before the season starts, he is only worth a deep league pickup in the event of a Brees injury.
A third round pick in 2015, Grayson is stashed in many a deep league or 2-QB roster. Reviews vary widely on his projections, from being a below-average NFL quarterback to being Brees’ successor. There’s no reason to expect him to see the field anytime soon, so he is currently just a name to monitor.
For all of the knocks on Ingram in 2016, he played in all 16 games and surpassed the 1,000 yard rushing mark for the first time in his six year career. He also continued to be relevant in the passing game, hauling in 46 of 57 targets for 319 yards and the first four receiving touchdowns of his career. The 27-year-old goes into 2017 (with two years remaining on his contract) as the unquestioned feature back after averaging well over five yards per carry.
Moreover, his only competition for early down carries was the aging Tim Hightower, who is also set to become a free agent. Being drafted in January ADP as the 52nd player off the board, four spots higher than in December, Ingram could be a good trade target if his owner is afraid of his job security and/or injury history.
With all indications that the Saints are looking to re-sign Hightower, and his status on the wrong side of 30, there is a good chance he remains in New Orleans for the 2017 season. Although he was a hero in the fantasy playoffs in 2015 and had flashes of fantasy relevance in 2016, even if Ingram were to miss time it would be difficult to expect more than RB2 numbers from Hightower. He’s an Ingram handcuff only.
The curious case of Cadet circled back to New Orleans after spending time with San Francisco and New England over the previous calendar year. Throughout his well-traveled season, Cadet caught 40 of 53 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns, good for career highs in receptions and touchdown receptions. Though an unrestricted free agent, there is also a good chance that he returns to provide a trusted third-down target at a low price tag. At best, he will post similar numbers to 2016.
A seventh-round pick out of California in 2016, Lasco displayed elite athleticism at the NFL Combine by posting the top scores among running backs in the vertical jump and broad jump, second place in the 60-yard shuttle and top-11 finishes in every other category (including fourth in the 40-yard dash, seventh in the bench press and sixth in the 20-yard shuttle). Pending free agent or draft acquisitions to challenge him, both of which will be strong gauges on how the team views him, Lasco likely has the inside track to push Hightower for a backup role. He is likely not available on waivers, but as a 21st-round pick in January ADP is a fantastic buy low option.
The Saints’ seventh round running back selection the previous season was Murphy, though he has a much tougher hill to climb for fantasy relevance than Lasco. While he has the explosiveness a team wants on special teams and as a receiver, he can’t hang onto the ball. There’s a good chance he is an early camp casualty.
Freshly resigned, the 34-year-old Kuhn will provide sneaky value in the 40th round of your touchdown only leagues. Beyond that, his only fantasy relevance is frustrating Ingram owners.
The “bad Michael Thomas”, as some draft hyperbolers named him, had himself a solid rookie season. 92 receptions on 122 targets for 1,137 yard and nine touchdowns rightly gave his value a meteoric rise, most recently to the 17th player drafted in dynasty mocks. Even with the presence of Brandin Cooks and (potentially unjustified) concern over Brees hanging up his cleats sooner than later, Thomas will be a mainstay in the early rounds of dynasty drafts for the foreseeable future.
Although he slipped one spot from December ADP, and Thomas is catching up quickly, Cooks remains an early second round dynasty pick. Still only 23, he has three full seasons and over 200 receptions under his belt already. While the receptions and targets decreased in 2016, Cooks’ efficiency actually increased as he caught a higher percentage of passes while also increasing his yards-per-target. Inconsistent production early in 2016 was frustrating to his dynasty owners, though his targets throughout the season were remarkably consistent. Though he may be preferable to own in bestball, Cooks is a productive low-end WR1 or high-end WR2 who may be getting undervalued.
The third wheel in the BMW trio, as an exclusive rights free agent Snead is likely to remain with the Saints as a valuable third receiver who frustrates his fantasy owners. Despite posting consecutive seasons with similar production (69 receptions on 102 targets for 984 yards and three touchdowns in 2015, 72/104/895/4 in 2016), the game-to-game consistency makes him a risky flex play. Between dumpoffs to the running backs, a healthy dose of tight end targets and the presence of the aforementioned young receivers, Snead is unlikely to see an increase in opportunities barring an injury. He is currently a low-upside option with a decent floor, though with the talent to contribute more if his situation changes.
Coleman’s 6’6” frame, not his production, has kept him on fantasy rosters over the last two seasons. While he was supposed to be the successful rookie in 2015, it was Snead (also an UDFA) who outperformed him, and Coleman’s statistics almost universally declined in his sophomore season. He’s a restricted free agent heading into 2017, and while it would hurt to see a downgrade at quarterback, perhaps a change of scenery is necessary to see any fantasy value. He is just too buried on this depth chart.
Jake Lampman and Tommylee Lewis
These two are combined given their similar skillsets (see: special teamers). Both are assets as return options but unlikely to become fantasy relevant on offense, and even then it is not set in stone that both make the 53-man roster.
Corey Fuller and Jordan Williams
Like Lampman and Lewis, these two are end-of-roster options. Unfortunately for them, they have even less to offer. One may make the roster but both can be ignored in all formats.
After he signed his lucrative free agent deal to get away from Dwayne Allen, many expected Fleener to explode (for better or worse). Neither happened, as his end-of-year statistics were remarkably similar to the average of his previous three seasons in Indianapolis. A narrative can be made for Fleener’s productivity to increase in 2017 (namely an increased comfort level with the offense), but he will continue to be just one of many options. As the 16th tight end in 2016 fantasy production, it is likely more cost effective to stream your tight ends than pay the moderate price for Fleener.
Overvalued in 2015 after the departure of Jimmy Graham, Hill actually increased his yardage by nearly 25% in 2016. Granted, statistics can be misleading and he only totaled 149 receiving yards. I wrote about him back in October 2014 (here), and while I still really like his talent, the opportunity just isn’t there.
The former Miami tight end hit fantasy radars briefly in 2015 after he scored two touchdowns in the first three games of the season, but hasn’t caught a pass since then. He can catch but isn’t going to be worth a bench spot.
Michael Hoomanawanui, Garrett Griffin, John Phillips and Mitchell Loewen
“Hooman” will get snaps due to his blocking ability, but he’s irrelevant in fantasy. The others are all nothing more than organizational depth.