Much of the allure of the dynasty format is in the fact that, as we say here at DLF, “There is NO off-season!”
True to that statement, it doesn’t matter if your team went undefeated and hoisted the championship trophy, or you pulled a Cleveland Browns (or Detroit Lions) from the past and went winless, the work required to prepare for next year is the same. One of these necessary processes is the end-of-season “stash” addition(s) – this process involves identification of those players who are rising into the end of the current season or are projected to benefit from movement either due to their own free agency or, perhaps, the free agency status of players above them on the depth chart. The concept is simple, the application of it, not so much.
Obviously, the roster limit in your league will be a primary component toward determining which players may or may not be available for immediate addition. Another variable will be the strength of your roster from top to bottom. I have not seen many rosters in my history within the dynasty format which couldn’t benefit from some selective pruning, finally cutting bait on some of those pet projects who are the apples of our eyes alone. But, on the flip side of this topic, you must not move on from players with positive future catalysts simply to make a move. Be very selective in which players you choose to drop, which you choose to add and why you are doing both. It’s all too easy to get impatient and make a move you’ll later regret.
After identifying the three or four most likely cut candidates from your current roster, set upon the task of identifying the most attractive free agents within your league pool, without regard to your own roster need(s). It’s nice if an end-of-season stash could fill a current hole but what we’re targeting, first and foremost, is future value of the player without regard to his position. Our goal is to locate and secure future production above all else. Once identified, you then will compare the future prospects of your cut-candidates with that of the identified free agents to determine if addition is warranted. Before diving in, let me also state these players don’t only have to be available as free agents, they make for great trade toss-ins as well.
Let’s get to the names.
Quintez Cephus, WR DET
Age: 23, DLF Rank: WR88
I’ve been shocked to find Cephus available in most all of my dynasty leagues, including some of the deeper-roster variety.
Cephus was operating as Detroit’s WR1 until a broken collarbone ended his season. Through five games, he had produced 204 yards and two touchdowns across 15 receptions. Dynasty teams began dropping the 23-year-old for greener pastures, though. Since then, rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown has taken over as the team’s primary receiver and Cephus hasn’t garnered much attention since the injury. He’s escaped notice from most coaches due to lack of stats and playing on a poor team.
There’s an even-odds chance Cephus is available even in deeper-roster leagues and he’s a worthy addition immediately while others remain hungover from a long fantasy season.
Brevin Jordan, TE HOU
Age: 21, DLF Rank: TE42
There’s no question the Houston Texans have a long and arduous road ahead. Deshaun Watson will likely be moving on, a new coach is almost assuredly soon-to-be named and while rookie quarterback Davis Mills has made a late-season push to be the team’s 2022 starter under center, there’s every chance a more noteworthy veteran will be taking the reins. Youth will be served at nearly every position.
As for Jordan, the team’s under-sized fifth-round selection at tight end in 2021, he’s made a late-season push to sit atop the depth chart in 2022. Unlike Mills, however, Jordan is far more secure in his position. The tight end position often boasts difference makers from beyond the first round of the NFL Draft and Jordan has shown athleticism and production late in 2021 and should clearly be in the team’s plans as the “move” option to open 2022 as long as the team doesn’t bring in a notable veteran presence.
Currently ranked by only a single ranker and as our TE42, Jordan may be available in your free agent pool now.
Kylen Granson, TE IND
Age: 23, DLF Rank: TE39
Mo Alie-Cox is 29 and a free agent in 2022. Jack Doyle is 33 and will be entering the last year of his contract, leaving Granson as the TE2 with upside heading into 2022. Granson’s snaps have been trending higher during the second half of 2021 and while he’s yet to reel in more than two receptions in any single game and has not yet produced his first touchdown, I’ve liked the dynamic he’s shown as a receiver. Undersized at 6’2″ he is not expected to open the season as the starter over Doyle, but with Doyle’s advancing age and ongoing injury status, Granson may get a chance to run with the starters.
He represents more of a deep-roster candidate but is worth a look for tight end needy teams.
Tyler Johnson, WR TB
Age: 23, DLF Rank: WR87
Johnson is likely already rostered in most medium-to-deep roster leagues but it’s worth a quick check of your player pool to determine his status. The former University of Minnesota standout would benefit with any movement above him on the roster, most likely a status change to veteran Antonio Brown. With Brown and Chris Godwin both free agents in 2022, there’s enough upside catalyst to roster Johnson now on the chance he’s no worse than the WR3 come kick-off of 2022.
Johnson is a versatile player, can play the slot and at 6’1/206 lbs., looks a lot like the aforementioned Godwin. As DLF’s WR87, he’s still on the fringes of the dynasty radar and should be rostered if available. Furthermore, even in shallow roster leagues, I believe Johnson has upside potential for rebuilding teams enough to garner significant interest. Patience may be needed, but I’m confident in saying it will pay off.
Quez Watkins, WR PHI
Age: 23, DLF Rank: WR82
It’s a perfect setup for the 2020 sixth-round selection. Watkins is flashy and strong at the top of his routes with plus-level stems to create separation and the speed to make defenders pay. Sub-par deep ball play from quarterback Jalen Hurts has kept Watkins in the shadows while rookie Devonta Smith continues to create the buzz. Sophomore receiver Jalen Reagor has yet to establish himself and Watkins trails only Smith in total snaps in 2021. The runway for greater production in the future is apparent.
The addition of a veteran presence during the off-season could hurt Watkins’ chances of producing significantly in 2022, but should that occur, it’s Reagor who could be impacted to a greater degree. For Watkins, who reminds me of ex-Giants receiver Victor Cruz, another year of development and a more established presence within the young offense should pay dividends in the near-term. Best of all, he’s likely swimming in your free agent pool now.
David Njoku, TE CLE
Age: 25, DLF Rank: TE30
Njoku is further down on this list, more as an interesting ranking situation as evidenced by our TE30 ranking. In fact, I’ve seen Njoku left off tight end rankings altogether on some sites while being ranked highly, relative to his production, on others.
Njoku is a free agent in 2022 and has graced the rumor mill over the past two seasons as a player on the move. In the end, he remained in Cleveland and plays behind Austin Hooper, whom the Browns gave an enormous contract. Hooper carries a whopping $11.25M dead cap hit and will likely remain on the Browns’ roster for 2022 while Njoku will look to secure a starting role elsewhere. With youth, versatility and dynamic on his side, there should be no shortage of takers for Njoku’s talent and he should be starting in 2022.
In all likelihood, Njoku is already rostered but a check is needed at this time. As fantasy teams make moves for the off-season, his production may be criticized and an impatient coach may send him to your free agency pool not realizing he’s a free agent following 2021.
Kene Nwangwu, RB MIN
Age: 23, DLF Rank: Unranked
When I scout running backs, I look for a certain dynamic, an “it” factor if you will. While Nwangwu didn’t produce materially out of Iowa State and wasn’t scouted by most, the Vikings noted dynamic enough to select him in the fourth round of the 2021 Draft, high honors for a player with a very limited resume’.
But as a backup runner and special teams role player, Nwangwu has flashed if only with limited touches. Rostering Nwangwu is a long term bet as Alexander Mattison, the clear backup to Dalvin Cook, is not a free agent until 2023, while Cook is signed through 2025. But with good size, dynamic and current role, there’s plenty of opportunity to for the rookie to see increased snaps in 2022 with a possible depth chart upgrade in 2023, if not sooner. He is a fine addition for competitive teams with time on their side in deep-roster leagues. Rebuilding teams can consider him as well, though the wait may be tough to justify given other opportunities.
Ty Johnson, RB NYJ
Age: 24, DLF Rank: RB75
I’ve long been confused as to why Ty Johnson isn’t getting more opportunities, especially in an offense needing production from the running back position. In most cases, Johnson has been the odd man out to an incoming higher-selected rookie, but when auditing his game, he’s far more capable than being given credit.
Johnson carries a 4.3 career yards per carry average, albeit on only 172 carries over his four year career. He shines as a receiver and has reeled in 71 receptions on 102 targets. At only 24 years of age, he simply needs more touches. Tevin Coleman is not the answer in New York and while rookie Michael Carter has produced in similar fashion to that of Johnson, he doesn’t possess the size or experience. I believe Johnson’s best opportunity lies with a future team as a free agent in 2023 but injury or off-season shuffling could present something greater in 2022. In any case, he’s probably available now for addition in most league formats.
Gardner Minshew, QB PHI
Age: 26, DLF Rank: QB40
There’s something about Gardner Minshew that just screams he’s getting another shot as a starter. I can’t help but think about mercurial and eccentric ex-Bears quarterback Jim McMahon when considering Minshew as there’s just something about him.
After his acquisition by the Eagles, Minshew fell to a backup role behind Jalen Hurts and there he’ll stay for the remainder of the season. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess as to what the future holds, but Minshew has a style and grit other players will rally around and he’s proven he can win in the league. In a single game early in December, Minshew drew the start and completed 80% of his passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns, guiding the Eagles to the win. He was turned down for any opportunity to keep the starting job but I feel his time is coming again within the next year.
Before writing him off, note Minshew has a 39:11 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 63.5% completion rate in three years. You wouldn’t be out on a limb to suggest he’s the most capable backup quarterback in the league right now. Add him now if available.
Hope you enjoyed a quick look at some of my top dynasty stashes as we head into the off-season. If you have questions about any players not mentioned or other input, hit me up in the comments below.
Happy New Year to all! Be well, be safe and be good to each other, please.
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