Here is the sixth 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).
Ronald Jones, RB TB
Of all the dynasty relevant rookies in the 2018 class, nobody disappointed more than Ronald Jones. The former USC tailback checked in at 1.06 overall in the first ADP rankings after the 2018 draft and after a more than underwhelming season, dynasty owners are pondering what to do. On one hand, Jones only played eighty-five snaps last season and totaled just thirty touches. On the other hand, he missed numerous games due to injury and another handful as a healthy scratch. He doesn’t turn 22 until August and Tampa Bay has not brought in any backfield competition, but nothing about Jones’ rookie campaign can be portrayed as confidence in a value rebound. The Buccaneers have been linked to numerous RB’s in the draft, including a few of the names considered to be in the top tier and likely off-the-board in the first two or three rounds. Furthermore, Bruce Arians has historically used his RB as a key cog in the passing game and Jones has yet to show any pass-catching acumen.
Chill’s Take? The price on RoJo has fallen outside of RB3 territory and currently sits at RB46 in the latest DLF ADP. I’d buy in the same range outside of the top 5-6 RB’s in this class, which likely puts his price at a late second round pick. Unfortunately, he’s overly difficult to purchase at this price given the difficulty of the original owner being able to accept such a value loss. I’m shopping him for an early-mid second in every league and cashing out before the NFL Draft if possible.
Ito Smith, RB ATL
Ito Smith is seemingly always underestimated. From a limited FBS scholarship offer sheet to a lack of notoriety during a good career at Southern Mississippi to an NFL Draft combine snub, the masses have never fully bought in. Despite landing in a rough spot in Atlanta behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, Smith found his way into the lineup very quickly after the Falcons’ starter suffered a season ending injury after a few weeks. Smith showed well, amassing 117 touches and producing 7.5 fantasy points per game in a very limited backup role. At times, Smith looked more like the starter when compared to Tevin Coleman and with Coleman’s departure in free agency, the seas seemed to part and open a bigger role for him in 2019. Think again. He faces potential competition from Brian Hill and a 2019 Draft class that is chalked full of players with a similar prospect profile. Weighing under 200 pounds and not known as a prolific pass-catcher, many narratives could come true that push Ito Smith to the back of the position room for the upcoming season. The draft is loaded with RB’s who offer difference-making ability in the passing game and the acquisition of a player with this skill-set may really push Ito for the handcuff role in 2019.
Chill’s Take? The first and foremost move is trying to trade Ito Smith for a second round pick to the Devonta Freeman owner. He showed enough last year as a short-yardage back that many Freeman owners could value Smith as an insurance policy for another injury. If there are no offers worthwhile, hold Smith and hope the odds shake out in his favor and no running backs of significance are brought in as competition.
Curtis Samuel, WR CAR
Samuel lost almost his entire rookie season due to injury and for many owners who considered him a project, the confidence he would ever develop as an overall receiver dwindled. He surprised many in 2018 showing no ill-effects of the leg injury that cost him most of the 2017 season and producing 10.7 PPG on only 47 touches. Samuel proved himself a viable weapon for the Carolina Panthers and in 2019 he looks to continue developing into a trustworthy fantasy weapon. The departure of Devin Funchess should open more targets and the return of a health Cam Newton should only increase the quality of that opportunity. Unfortunately, Samuel isn’t out of the woods just quite yet as the 2019 WR class is loaded with many players who possess similar profiles and skills to Samuel. If he survives the draft with the Panthers not draft any other receivers with a similar usage tree, the sky is the limit for Samuel, Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore to transform the Panthers offense into one of the most dangerous quick strike units in the NFL.
Chill’s Take? I’m buying Samuel for a mid-late second round pick and don’t see any difference in this cost versus spending the same pick on a similar player in the rookie draft. Samuel has proven he can play and he’s still 22-years old; younger than many of the “high-end” prospects in this draft. The time to buy is now as the draft is going to really start to shape the WR landscape as it stands right now. If Samuel isn’t impacted, the post-draft price is only going up from here.
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