The early off-season is the ideal time to look back over the past few months in an effort to analyze the ever-changing player value. After a long season, it is sometimes easy to lose perspective of how we felt about many individual players just six months ago.
In an effort to regain that necessary point of view that is so important as dynasty players turn their attention to projecting the 2019 season, I analyzed the monthly dynasty ADP data found here at DLF, comparing pre-season (September) ADP to the end of season (January) information.
These are the top five “risers” found when comparing September and January DLF dynasty ADP.
Phillip Lindsay, RB DEN
September Dynasty ADP: 212.5
January Dynasty ADP: 45.67
It should be no surprise that Broncos rookie back Phillip Lindsay is the top riser through the 2018 season. Even after a successful college career, Lindsay was essentially off the radar for dynasty players and even the NFL. He wasn’t even invited to the February NFL Combine and then went undrafted in April. Just having left the University of Colorado, Lindsay signed as an undrafted free agent with the local team even though Denver had just used a draft pick on their presumed future starting running back Royce Freeman.
Although Lindsay performed well enough in training camp and pre-season action to earn a roster spot, fantasy players didn’t have a real sense of how the backfield would shake out until Lindsay drew 17 touches in the season opener. Despite his size (5’8”, 190 pounds) Lindsay became the lead back for the Broncos, rushing for over 1,000 yards and finishing as the RB13 for the season. A serious wrist injury in week 16 required surgery and ended Lindsay’s season but not before he became a top-50 value in dynasty leagues.
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Damien Williams, RB KC
September Dynasty ADP: 241
January Dynasty ADP: 76.83
As you might note from the ADP chart above, Chiefs veteran running back Damien Williams did not take the typical, slow value increase over a full season. Instead, a late-season offensive explosion from Williams gave him one of the greatest one-month ADP increases in our history. After four solid yet unspectacular seasons with the Dolphins, Williams joined the Chiefs for the 2018 season but was viewed as nothing more than the third back behind second-year starter Kareem Hunt and veteran Spencer Ware. That all changed in early December when a video was released showing Hunt in an altercation with a young female. That ultimately resulted in Hunt being released by the Chiefs and landing on the Commissioner’s Exempt list for the remainder of the season.
While Ware was the next man up, he too missed much of the remainder of the season with injuries pushing Williams into the starting role. There will be a great deal of debate this off-season centering around Williams’ viability in dynasty leagues in the 2019 season. While much of his recent success can be attributed to the strength of the Chiefs offense, that matters little as long as Williams retains a key role in 2019. Considering the team signed Williams to a contract extension soon after Hunt’s dismissal should speak volumes to dynasty owners.
Tyler Boyd, WR CIN
September Dynasty ADP: 205.17
January Dynasty ADP: 51.33
After a pair of disappointing seasons to begin his career, Bengals wideout Tyler Boyd added life to the old third-year wide receiver breakout theory, serving as the secondary target in the Cincinnati offense. Boyd saw a major spike in playing time following the pre-season release of veteran starter Brandon LaFell, who had acted as a roadblock to the team’s young receivers in the previous seasons. This was a clear sign that the Cincinnati offense was ready for a young player to step up. Many dynasty owners rushed to add Boyd in a trade or even from the waiver wire while others sided with speedster John Ross. We know how that worked out.
Boyd had six games with 85+ receiving yards and scored seven touchdowns on the season. After top wideout A.J. Green went down with a season-ending injury, the popular assumption was that Boyd would see a spike in production but instead, he struggled facing the defenders’ top stoppers. Boyd later suffered his own injury and missed the final two games of the season. With Green and quarterback Andy Dalton expected back but a change on the coaching staff, Boyd is being underrated at his current fifth-round draft position.
James Conner, RB PIT
September Dynasty ADP: 162.67
January Dynasty ADP: 19.5
One of the top stories of the entire 2018 season was the full-year holdout of Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. With Bell away from the team, second-year back James Conner climbed up the depth chart. Like fantasy players, the Steelers clearly didn’t believe Bell was serious with his threats as they entered training camp with little depth in the backfield. Conner was the lead back from day one with no real challenger for his weekly touches. That led to a breakout game in week one in which Conner put up nearly 200 total yards and scored twice. That was a sign of things to come as Conner finished as the RB6 for the season, totaling almost 1,500 yards from scrimmage with 13 touchdowns. Like others on this list, Conner suffered an injury and missed three games late in the season.
With Bell set to find a new team this off-season, Conner appears set to take over the coveted role as the Pittsburgh starting back for the long-term. Conner is now among the top ten backs in dynasty leagues, coming in as the RB10 in both January dynasty ADP as well as DLF’s latest positional rankings.
Robert Foster, WR BUF
August Dynasty ADP: 241
January Dynasty ADP: 124.33
As evidenced in the chart about, undrafted rookie receiver Robert Foster wasn’t really even on the radar for dynasty players until late in the season. Foster is no fluke though as he was formerly a highly-recruited wideout, playing his college career at Alabama. He could never break through for a significant role for the Crimson Tide, dealing with multiple injuries during his time there.
After going undrafted last spring, Foster landed in a nice spot considered the weakness of the Bills wide receiver depth chart. The team had wasted a draft pick in a trade for former Panther receiver Kelvin Benjamin and their own early second rounder, Zay Jones, was proving to be an inconsistent performer as well. After totaling two catches through the first six games, Foster’s playing time took a quick leap and the team later responded by releasing Benjamin and fellow veteran Andre Holmes. Foster took off from there, routinely leading the team in receiving and posting four top-24 fantasy performances in a five-game stretch. There are doubts that Foster can carry over his late-season momentum into the 2019 season, but the Bills have so many needs that they might not have a choice.
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