This is my personal weekly Dynasty Blueprint. Here, you’ll find my “Game Notes,” which comes directly from my fantasy football notebook, along with multiple post-game conversations with others. In the “Game Play” section, I’ll explain what I’m doing with my personal dynasty teams, including waiver wire targets and trade ideas. Finally, “Game Theory” will focus on dynasty strategy.
- For the second straight week, we witnessed a serious injury early in the Thursday night game. While this one may not have been as hurtful for dynasty players, it was certainly significant for Jaguars receiver DJ Chark, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury. As if that wasn’t bad enough for Chark managers, it will also seemingly have an impact on the other wideouts. Chark had been the primary deep threat for quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Without him, the role shifted to veteran Marvin Jones, while Laviska Shenault became the target hog, posting his best game of the season with six catches and 110 total yards. This is very good news for Shenault but could push Jones out of fantasy lineups.
- James Robinson’s usage has increased with each game since the season-opener scare in which veteran Carlos Hyde outplayed him. In this game, Robinson scored twice and rushed for 78 yards – that came with Hyde out due to an injury, though. It could give some hope for Robinson. While I’m willing to move on from Robinson in dynasty leagues, I’m still not seeing the value to make it a reasonable move.
- Injuries to their wide receiver corps forced the Giants to finally give first-round wideout Kadarius Toney a shot at serious playing time. I expect that playing time to continue after he turned in a solid performance, leading the Giants with nine targets, catching six of them for 78 yards. Among Giants pass catchers, only Kenny Golladay played more snaps or ran more routes than the rookie Toney.
- Saints running back Alvin Kamara has seen 20 or more carries four times in his NFL career. Three of those have come this season. For a player who relies on his work as a receiver for explosive plays, that is not good news. It is also not what dynasty managers want to see. This was Kamara’s first career game in which he was not targeted at all and only the second time in his career he failed to record a reception. There are some clear warning signs with this Saints offense and I don’t see a quick fix to salvage Kamara’s consistent production. I would be pivoting from Kamara as quickly as possible in dynasty leagues.
- Over the past two games, Miles Sanders has just nine rushing attempts for 40 yards and he has scored fewer than nine fantasy points in three straight games. With rookie Kenneth Gainwell’s role increasing, it is becoming clear this new Eagles’ coaching staff, who inherited Sanders, simply do not trust him. Sanders might need a change of scenery to realize his upside.
- The Eagles have played much better than their 1-3 record and second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts is blossoming into a fantasy superstar. It was reported prior to the weekend’s games that the Eagles no longer had interest in trading for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. There could be many reasons for that decision, but one clear factor is the play of Hurts, who is currently the QB3 on the season.
- A big part of Hurts’ continued success is the instant WR1 status of rookie DeVonta Smith. One of the most-debated prospects in this rookie class, Smith has drawn at least six targets in each game this year and Sunday’s contest against the Chiefs was his best statistical performance, catching seven of ten targets for 122 yards – that more than doubles his yardage from the first three games combined.
- The good news is Chiefs back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is producing. He’s hit the 100-yard mark in each of the past two games and has added a pair of receiving scores, making him a top-ten back over that span. The bad news is CEH simply hasn’t been the effective playmaker the Chiefs expected. He’s lost a pair of fumbles already this year and his playing time is starting to take a hit. Edwards-Helaire played 52% of the Chiefs snaps in Week Four, a new season-low. Veteran backup Darrel Williams set a new season-high with 36% of the playing time and found the end zone. Williams now has five red zone carries on the season, compared to six for Edwards-Helaire.
- As is often the case, dynasty managers were a year too early on Bills tight end Dawson Knox. After a somewhat disappointing 2020 season, Knox is looking like a breakout candidate through the first month of this season. He caught both of Josh Allen’s Week Four touchdowns and posted his third TE1 game of the season. The Bills are now one of many teams who spread the ball around on a weekly basis, turning many weapons fantasy assets, but causing frustration when they are held in check. Knox joins Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley as Allen’s rotational supporting cast.
- Sam Darnold now leads the league in rushing touchdowns after a two-score game on Sunday. There are plenty of funny comments regarding Darnold’s sudden Vick-like production but the bottom line is Darnold has joined a growing list of players who thrive after getting away from former Jets head coach Adam Gase. A top-five fantasy signal caller on the season, Darnold’s value hasn’t yet caught up to his production. While his rushing output won’t continue, his efficiency and budding partnership with receiver DJ Moore should flourish.
- Ezekiel Elliott is back, in case there was any doubt. After a slow start to the year, Elliott has posted a pair of dominant games and is rehabbing his dynasty value. Elliott is also getting more involved in the passing game. On 45 snaps, he ran 14 routes, compared to just four (on 18 snaps) for backup Tony Pollard. Those designed plays for Pollard we saw the first two weeks of the season seem to have vanished. In dynasty leagues, I now prefer Elliott to Kamara and would make that trade if I had the opportunity.
- The good news is star running back Dalvin Cook was able to return for the Vikings. The bad news is he was in and out of the game, clearly still bothered by the ankle injury that kept him out of action in Week Three and didn’t look like himself when he was healthy. Backup Alexander Mattison saw more carries despite playing ten fewer snaps than Cook. With Cook’s injury history, this will be one to monitor moving forward.
- Baker Mayfield really struggled against the Vikings and it wasn’t necessarily due to anything the defense was doing. Mayfield missed his top receiver Odell Beckham for a late-game touchdown and the wideout was clearly frustrated – that’s probably because that was the third potential touchdown he could’ve had in this game, if not for off-target Mayfield throws. Beckham finished with just two catches for 27 yards on seven targets. Just as Nick Chubb’s upside is limited due to a lack of passing game work, the rest of the offense is limited by a good, but not great, quarterback.
- Jacoby Brissett continued to quarterback the Dolphins with Tua Tagovailoa on the injured reserve. Brissett himself should not be considered a fantasy option but he has locked in on tight end Mike Gesicki. The tight end who started slowly this year has scored 16+ fantasy points in a game seven times in his career – two of those have come in the past two games with Brissett under center.
- Will Fuller has simply not had a good year. After missing Week One due to a PED suspension, Fuller opted to sit the following game due to a personal matter. He returned in Week Three, only to get banged up. It looked like the speedy wideout would miss the game this past week and he probably wishes he had. Instead, he caught one pass before breaking a finger and missing the remainder of the game. He’s expected to miss multiple games. I still like Fuller long-term but will check back and target him as a buy-low later this year. This looks like a lost season for the former Texan.
- We saw the warning signs with this offense and specifically the backfield. Myles Gaskin is an average talent at best and this team is intent on implementing an ugly committee backfield, including Malcolm Brown and Salvon Ahmed. Stay away from this disaster and get Gaskin off your roster at any cost.
- Rookie back Michael Carter continued to gain work in the Jets backfield. I had already suggested veteran Tevin Coleman could be dumped from dynasty rosters and the same is now true for Ty Johnson. Carter will still be difficult to trust in starting lineups but he’s the only back of the three with any long-term upside. Carter played over half the snaps on Sunday, rushing for 38 yards and his first career touchdown.
- Jamison Crowder made his season debut for the Jets and was an immediate factor, catching seven passes for 61 yards and a score on a team-high nine targets. Crowder is always overlooked and this year has been no different, especially when he began the season on the shelf due to Covid. He may have benefitted from the absence of rookie Elijah Moore, who sat out with a concussion, but he will also be a thorn in the side of those expecting big things from Moore as a rookie.
- Derrick Henry just continues to put up massive numbers, including just enough work in the passing game to keep fantasy players excited. Henry touched the ball 35 times Sunday and is the RB1 on the year by a wide margin. If we were starting a new redraft league today, he’d be the 1.01 pick. In dynasty, he is still the player with the widest gap in perceived value. Some dynasty managers value current production above all else and consider him a top-five asset. Others consider his age, historic lack of PPR upside and workload and knock him down a tier or two. I have been in the latter group but Henry continues to prove us wrong. I’m not ready to say I value Henry among the top-five players in the dynasty game, but I’d easily prefer him to Kamara or Cook, who have maintained their lofty ADP status.
- Zach Wilson gave us cause for hope, playing the best game of his career. His deep touchdown pass to Corey Davis in the fourth quarter was a thing of beauty. Wilson finished with 297 passing yards and two scores.
- Justin Fields was better in his second start for the Bears but that’s not saying much in comparison to his debut. Fields took just one sack, but barely eclipsed 200 passing yards, only rushed three times and still doesn’t have a solid connection with the Bears’ best player, Allen Robinson. To make things worse, Bears head coach Adam Ga….I mean Matt Nagy continues to suggest veteran Andy Dalton will regain his job once fully healthy. Nagy remains the favorite to be the first coach fired this season.
- Last week, Lions head coach Dan Campbell promised “you’re going to see a lot more D’Andre Swift.” Instead, Swift drew just eight carries for 16 yards, both season-lows. Veteran Jamaal Williams carried 14 times for 66 yards. I am not too worried about this as it was potentially just a matter of sticking with the “hot hand,” which coaches love to do. Swift also offers a floor for PPR players as he added four grabs for 33 yards. More on Swift later…
- Cordarrelle Patterson. Wow. I’m not sure what else to say. The former dynasty darling stayed hot in Week Four despite seeing his rushing workload decrease. Patterson did his damage by scoring three touchdowns as a receiver, posting what was easily the best game of his career. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith helped multiple Titans stars produce career-years in 2020 and he’s doing the same thing for Patterson now. While the three-score games can’t be expected, I do see Patterson being a weekly producer in PPR leagues and would be a buyer, not a seller, if I’m contending. The improved play of Matt Ryan in this one gives me hope for the Falcons offense as a whole. If you’ve seen any type of discount available on pass catchers like Kyle Pitts or Calvin Ridley, jump on it.
- Curtis Samuel made his debut for the Washington Football Team and was immediately involved, catching all four of his targets. This will not be good news for rookie Dyami Brown, who played a season-low 28 snaps.
- Darrell Henderson was back for the Rams and was quickly treated as the workhorse back – that may have had something to do with Sony Michel losing a fumble early in the game. Michel finished with just three carries while Henderson totaled 116 yards.
- After an injury to starter Jimmy Garoppolo, rookie Trey Lance took over for the 49ers in the second half. Lance was unable to lead his team to a win, but did keep them competitive and scored over 20 fantasy points in just one half. Lance struggled as a passer but did add a rushing floor, something fellow rookie Fields should be doing, too. Lance also threw a pair of scores to receiver Deebo Samuel.
- While Samuel is thriving in this offense, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle continue to struggle. There were signs we should be worried about Aiyuk but not making better use of Kittle is odd and outright confusing. I consider both players trade targets, though their value hasn’t slipped far since the pre-season.
- AJ Dillon led the way for the Packers, outgaining starter Aaron Jones. Don’t be fooled by this one. Much of Dillon’s work came in the second half as the Packers were cruising to an easy win over Pittsburgh.
- I didn’t expect to have the chance to write about one of my all-time favorites, Packers receiver Randall Cobb, but here we go. With Marquez Valdes-Scantling out of the lineup and on the injured reserve, Cobb stepped up and scored twice. This might feel like a fluke, but my DLF Podcast co-host and noted Packers fan Dan Meylor suggested Cobb’s ability to play inside and out could keep him on the field moving forward and Matt Schneidman of The Athletic suggested Cobb’s usage “could unlock” the Packers offense. Oh, baby!
- The Ravens made Ty’Son Williams a healthy scratch in Week Four, which was a bit surprising. That left veterans Le’Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray as the active backs. The trio combined for 74 rushing yards and 89 years of age. This remains a backfield to avoid.
- I’ve already discussed Kamara’s struggles but another reason for that is the loss of coach Joe Lombardi. Credited with the ability to scheme the offense to get Kamara the ball, Lombardi is now the offensive coordinator for the Chargers and running back Austin Ekeler (who with a similar skill set to Kamara), is off to the best start of his career. Ekeler totaled 145 yards and two scores on Monday night and among running backs, only Derrick Henry has more fantasy points on the season.
- After three weeks of elite production, Mike Williams disappointed, catching one of four targets for 11 yards. Every player will have poor games and Williams is no different.
I don’t think there is enough accountability in the fantasy sports industry. While there is a great deal of nuance beyond a win-loss record, I am adding a weekly update about how my personal leagues are going in an effort to increase that accountability, at least for myself.
Dynasty Leagues: 18
Week Three Record: 18-4 (some leagues use weekly doubleheaders)
Season-Long Record: 60-30
More Week Four injuries means some solid waiver wire targets as we prepare for Week Five.
- David Montgomery suffered a knee injury in Week Four. While not a season-ender, it will keep him out of action for at least a month, based on early projections. Veteran Damien Williams was also nicked up in this game but should be ready for the Week Five start. Williams is likely rostered in many dynasty leagues but if available, he’s the top target of the week. In deep leagues, check for rookie Khalil Herbert and stash him at the end of your roster.
- Bengals running back Joe Mixon suffered an ankle injury that could keep him out of action. Samaje Perine is the next man up and gets a juicy matchup against the Packers forgiving run defense. Over the long-term, I’m more interested in rookie Chris Evans, who has started to eat into Mixon’s pass-game role.
- Rookie Chuba Hubbard drew the start and the bulk of the backfield workload, totaling 71 yards on 15 touches, but second-year undrafted back Rodney Smith was the pass-catching back for the Panthers. Smith caught all five targets for 48 yards and would be a waiver wire option in deep leagues. His situation, of course, changes when starter Christian McCaffrey returns to the lineup.
- Logan Thomas left the Washington game with a hamstring injury that could cost him the team’s Week Five contest. Veteran Ricky Seals-Jones is next in line, but should not be a high-priority waiver target.
- A concussion forced Broncos starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from the game and gave 2020 starter Drew Lock another shot. He didn’t do much with that but could get the start in Week Five. Only an option in superflex leagues, Lock belongs on those rosters with this news.
- Veteran tight end Rob Gronkowski missed his revenge game against the Patriots on Sunday night and we learned that his rib injury is more serious than expected. He’ll miss some more time, making Cameron Brate a waiver target, especially in TE-premium leagues.
- If you’re in a shallow dynasty league, make sure Kenneth Gainwell, Dalton Schultz and Kadarius Toney are rostered.
With four weeks of results, we are starting to get a firm grasp on what to really expect from teams and players around the league. The same can be said of our dynasty leagues. Now is the time to target teams on the opposite side of the standings from you. If you have built a contender, start feasting off those 0-4 rosters to improve your team. If this is a Productive Struggle year for you, get those veterans and expiring assets off your roster in exchange for draft picks or high-upside youth. This is a process dynasty managers should be going through each Tuesday for the remainder of the season.
For my specific teams, I’ve already hinted at it in the Game Notes section, but my priority this week is to get Alvin Kamara off my rosters. In our latest dynasty ADP, he is maintaining his first-round value at the 1.07 spot. There are potentially as many as 20 players I’d take ahead of him instead and would flip him for those in a trade. The easiest targets might be Ezekiel Elliott or Aaron Jones, as the younger backs have obscene value, as always.
In lieu of specific dynasty strategy, I wanted to share a preview of our October dynasty ADP data. As you know, I collect this data monthly, including during the regular season, through mock drafts. The in-season mocks and ADP is the best as we see, in almost real-time, how player value is impacted weekly. I’ve seen some make the argument that dynasty player value shouldn’t change on a weekly basis. I agree, it changes on a daily basis as part of an ever-evolving market. If you choose to ignore that, it will eventually cost your dynasty teams.
Here’s the new top-24 players from October. This information can be used to buy low or sell high. Just don’t ignore it.
|1.01||Christian McCaffrey, RB CAR|
|1.02||D’Andre Swift, RB DET|
|1.03||Justin Jefferson, WR MIN|
|1.04||Dalvin Cook, RB MIN|
|1.05||Jonathan Taylor, RB IND|
|1.06||CeeDee Lamb, WR DAL|
|1.07||Alvin Kamara, RB NO|
|1.08||DK Metcalf, WR SEA|
|1.09||Davante Adams, WR GB|
|1.10||Najee Harris, RB PIT|
|1.11||Ja’Marr Chase, WR CIN|
|1.12||Tyreek Hill, WR KC|
|2.01||Saquon Barkley, RB NYG|
|2.02||Derrick Henry, RB TEN|
|2.03||Calvin Ridley, WR ATL|
|2.04||AJ Brown, WR TEN|
|2.05||Antonio Gibson, RB WAS|
|2.06||Stefon Diggs, WR BUF|
|2.07||Kyle Pitts, TE ATL|
|2.08||DJ Moore, WR CAR|
|2.09||Travis Kelce, TE KC|
|2.10||Ezekiel Elliott, RB DAL|
|2.11||Aaron Jones, RB GB|
|2.12||Nick Chubb, RB CLE|
See you next week!