Editor’s Note: This is the first article from one of our new Member Corner writers, Scott Connor. Follow Scott on Twitter @CharlesChillFFB
April is here and that means we’re only weeks away from the annual NFL Draft. For dynasty owners, ‘tis’ the season for a new influx of talent entering the league as we anxiously await the final piece of data (landing spot) in the rookie scouting process. An old saying tells us “there can be too many cooks in the kitchen,” and in this case, if you can’t stand the heat, you may be on the way out. Here is the first part of an eight-part series highlighting three dynasty players in each division on the value hot seat leading up to the NFL Draft, complete with actionable pre-NFL Draft dynasty advice (Note: for purposes of this article series, assume a 12-team super-flex, full PPR scoring format.)
Duke Johnson, RB CLE
Just two seasons ago, Duke Johnson scored 208.10 PPR points in what appeared to be the start of a steady career as an NFL satellite back. Entering his fourth season, the Browns rewarded him with a three-year contract extension which seemingly locked the former Miami star into a solid role in the Cleveland offense. Not so fast. The Browns subsequently signed Carlos Hyde in free agency and spent an early day-two pick on Nick Chubb. Johnson saw a career-low in touches in 2018 and is now rumored to be on the trade block. Even with Hyde moving on via trade last season, the Browns’ showed how they valued The Duke when they wasted no time signing former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt shortly after his release from Kansas City. Despite his pending suspension, Hunt’s presence has relegated Johnson to the trade bait page and has left dynasty owners wondering what to do. The NFL Draft will almost assuredly swing his value upwards with a trade to a place with more opportunity. If he remains in Cleveland, dynasty owners will be facing a decision about how long they should continue to wait on the situation to change.
Chill’s Take? Buy at a late 2nd/early 3rd round level and hope for a new home. If it happens, consider re-selling before the 2019 season (or during it) at a profit given the likelihood that Johnson finds long-term success as a steady fantasy producer.
James Washington, WR PIT
Less than a year ago, James Washington was on the other side of the room. Dynasty owners anxiously awaited his new landing spot with hopes he would find a fast track to fantasy production. Unfortunately, the opposite happened. Despite early day-two draft capital, the Oklahoma State product landed in Pittsburgh. The Steelers already sported two top fifteen dynasty wideouts in Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster and presumably, the best pass-catching running back around in Le’Veon Bell. Targets were going to be tough to come by in this offense and even with a full year without Bell, Washington managed only 38 targets and was a game day inactive twice during the 2018 season. His pre-NFL Draft ADP plummeted from the 7th overall rookie to the 27th ranked newcomer according to the December 2018 ADP figures. For dynasty owners who invested appreciable capital, 2018 was almost as bad as it could get. Quietly though, rumblings of a divorce between the Steelers and Antonio Brown shot Washington’s value back up sharply over the past few months and it currently sits as the 14th ranked rookie in the 2018 class. The team proceeded to trade Brown, but a week later, signed Donte Moncrief to a two-year contract. Once again, it’s waiting time for James Washington owners.
Chill’s Take? Sell him for a 2020 1st round pick and bank on the Steelers being much less sold on Washington than many in the dynasty community. Consider buying either Donte Moncrief or the newly drafted Steelers’ rookie wide receiver (if drafted on day two or earlier) and bank on a potential profit with either down the road.
Andy Dalton, QB CIN
The Dalton Scale. Well-known in NFL circles as the median line at quarterback and the definition of “average” from a positional standpoint. Despite earning a starting role since day one of his NFL career, Dalton’s dynasty value has been far from consistent. He’s shown pockets of QB1 potential all while tuning out whispers about being close to losing his starting job. After failing to win an NFL playoff game in five tries for the Bengals, Dalton has seen arguably his two best fantasy seasons cut short due to injury. With the regime change in Cincinnati, rumblings of him being ousted in the Queen City have never been louder. Dalton’s dynasty value survived NFL free agency and is looking promising to hold at least another year as a starting signal-caller, but an intriguing 2019 quarterback class combined with an offensive-minded, newly-minted head coach may entice the Bengals to draft Dalton’s replacement as early as this season. If Cincinnati pass on a quarterback in the first two rounds, it’s likely they decide to take one last shot with Dalton at the helm and may add both offensive line and offensive skill weapons that could peg him as a rebound candidate in 2019.
Chill’s Take? Buy Andy Dalton for anything less than a 1st round pick in dynasty super-flex, hope the Bengals’ offense is potent in 2019 and that The Red Rifle does enough to warrant an NFL starting QB job for three-five more seasons.