As exciting a spectacle as the NFL Draft has become, looking over your dynasty rosters as the day three selections wind down can feel like the ultimate Debbie Downer. Some of those assets you’ve been burning a roster spot on for a couple of seasons aren’t looking so hot anymore. On the flip side, you may have a few not-so-shiny-anymore assets that have new appeal.
In this two-part series, I’m digging into the biggest dynasty IDP winners and losers following the NFL Draft. Part one looked at the AFC.
Justin Hollins, EDGE LAR
Granted the Rams were light on picks until Saturday, but I thought they might add to an edge room that has Leonard Floyd, Terrell Lewis, Hollins and not much else that’s recognizable. (I guess it’s fine to feel OK with that when you also have Aaron Donald.) Floyd is an established commodity, but Lewis was benched and made a healthy inactive for the final six games of the regular season and all of the playoffs. Hollins never saw more than a 43 percent snap share once he returned from injury in week 14, but given Ogbonnia Okoronkwo’s departure in free agency and the dearth of other options, Hollins appears to be in line for a fantasy-viable workload.
Cody Barton, LB SEA
If you’ve waited patiently for three years for Barton to get a shot, your time is here. There’s nothing but special teams fodder on Seattle’s off-ball depth chart after Jordyn Brooks and Barton, so the Seahawks appear to be committed to giving Barton a go at near-full time work. He’s never played more than 189 defensive snaps in a season, and he’s not been especially productive when given the opportunity – he managed 18 total tackles playing 138 snaps over the final two weeks of the 2021 regular season – but given the projected volume he’s probably going to fall into LB3 production.
Jamin Davis and Cole Holcomb, LB WAS
Given all the hubbub made late last season about Washington needing a true three-down middle-of-the-defense linebacker, the Commanders’ commanders (general manager Martin Mayhew and head coach Ron Rivera) didn’t add to the off-ball room in the draft or free agency. And, they’ve indicated that Holcomb is secure in his three-down role, so I think that we can again feel good about Holcomb as an LB2 for this season. Beyond that, he’s due to hit free agency next off-season, so we’ll see just how committed Washington is to him – my guess is that his long-term outlook is tenuous.
As for Davis, he has some reason for optimism as the second linebacker even though he won’t likely be seeing fantasy starter-worthy snaps. If he can manage to show improvement, he might have a three-down future in a post-Holcomb world. Davis’ career is off to a dubious start though, and he’s a very recent lesson in not overdrafting linebackers in your rookie draft.
Blake Martinez, LB NYG
Unless you believe that day three selections Micah McFadden and Darrian Beavers were draft steals, Martinez is primed for at least one more season of monster tackle numbers. A restructured contract kept him with the Giants for the final year of his contract – an outcome that was by no means a given after Martinez tore his ACL early in the 2021 season. Already 28, Martinez doesn’t have an athletic skill set that seems likely to allow him to play into his early 30s. On your non-contending teams with Martinez shares, you might consider selling before his value rolls off a cliff.
Nicholas Morrow, LB CHI
If you found yourself in spots last year where Alec Ogletree was a palatable option, might I entice you with this year’s version? Morrow is actually an upgrade, and is similar in size and speed to his new running mate, Roquan Smith. Also to Morrow’s benefit, with Matt Eberflus and Alan Williams bringing over their defensive scheme from Indianapolis, Chicago’s second linebacker should play quite a bit more than Ogletree did last season (two-thirds of the defensive snaps).
Morrow actually had a nice season for the Raiders in 2020 but missed all of 2021 with an ankle injury. If you look at Bobby Okereke’s numbers from 2021 and tell yourself a nice story, you can convince yourself that Morrow might be capable of LB3 production in 2022.
Kamren Curl, S WAS
My Curl shares were shaking pre-draft given the sheer number of mocks sending Kyle Hamilton to the Commanders. A trade back and a Jahan Dotson pick later, I was feeling a bit better. Landon Collins is no longer around to worry with, so the downhill, tackle-friendly safety spot should be Curl’s to keep, considering both Bobby McCain and rookie Percy Butler are better coverage players.
Marcus Epps and K’Von Wallace, S PHI
Granted this is truly scraping the bottom of the barrel if you’re looking for help at safety, but for now it looks as if either Epps or Wallace will fill a full-time safety spot in Philadelphia opposite Anthony Harris. I don’t have much else to say about either of them, other than it’s surprising to me that the Eagles find themselves in such a position. There’s probably another shoe to drop before the season begins.
Talanoa Hufanga and George Odum, S SF
Just a small step up from the Eagles safety group in terms of star power, the Niners have a solid free safety in Jimmie Ward and a decent-sized level of concern at the other spot. Jaquiski Tartt is still on the street and I wouldn’t rule out a return, but for now a camp battle seems likely between Odum, the former Colt who has shown to be a productive tackler when given the opportunity, and Hufanga, who is purely a downhill safety entering his second season.
Pre-draft I would have bet money (if I were into that sort of thing) that San Francisco would end up with either Bryan Cook or Nick Cross with one of its day two selections, but with an opportunity for Cook in round two, the 49ers opted for USC edge Drake Jackson. Cook went one pick later to Kansas City. In the late third, the Niners took running back Tyrion Davis-Price, and Cross went to the Colts three picks later. I sort of like Odum to emerge here as a sneaky fantasy S3 or better.
Jayron Kearse, S DAL
Last season’s safety surprise, Kearse inked a short-term deal to return to Dallas. The Cowboys didn’t draft a safety but added undrafted free agents Markquese Bell and Juanyeh Thomas to compete behind Kearse, Malik Hooker and Donovan Wilson. So Kearse looks primed for a 2021 rerun, and hitting 100 total tackles should be well within reason. I can’t see a repeat of ten passes defended and nine tackles in the backfield, but still he should remain in the S2 discussion for 2022.
Julian Love, S NYG
Outside of Xavier McKinney and rookie Dane Belton, the Giants don’t have much to run out at safety other than Love, meaning he’ll get first shot at a much larger opportunity in what I’m assuming will be a two-high system under Wink Martindale. Don’t expect anything more than fantasy backup production, but Love is at least roster-worthy.
Austin Bryant, Charles Harris and Julian Okwara, EDGE DET
Bryant and Okwara weren’t helping you much to begin with, but Harris probably served as a low-end edge starter for more than a few teams in 2021. The selection of Aidan Hutchinson at the the second overall pick, combined with the return of Romeo Okwara – not to mention the addition of promising rookies Josh Paschal and James Houston – means that Julian Okwara should no longer be holding up one of your roster spots. And while Harris never lived up to his first-round draft capital, he was a serviceable starter last season in real-life and in fantasy. Those days are probably over.
Quincy Roche, EDGE NYG
Roche was actually productive once he started to see significant snaps on defense starting in week eight, but things were going to have to go really right for him to maintain spot-start appeal on fantasy rosters. When the Texans and Jets went with cornerbacks at the third and fourth picks, the Giants saw an edge with elite upside in Kayvon Thibodeaux available at the fifth pick. The former Oregon star will pair with sophomore Azeez Ojulari to give Big Blue a formidable duo for the foreseeable future, leaving Roche as the third option at best. He’s still roster-worthy in big play/true position formats but barring injury to Thibodeaux or Ojulari, Roche is now just a back-end dynasty depth option.
Milton Williams, DT PHI
I’m a huge fan of Williams, but it’s a numbers game along the Philadelphia defensive line and the lack of available volume for a smaller subset of that group is going to hold back fantasy potential. Williams, who lined up both as a three- and four-tech, may have to wait until 2023 to get a larger share of the pie, and that assumes Fletcher Cox retires and Javon Hargrave is elsewhere after his contract runs out next off-season. In the short-term, I’m assuming the insertion of first-rounder Jordan Davis into the A gaps will result in Hargrave, Williams and Cox doing a good bit of rotating as the primary B gap linemen.
Most IDP players realize that Crowder’s 2021 production was purely the result of volume. If there’s a worse player who logged more than 1,000 snaps, I’m not aware of them, and the Giants made sure in the draft that if something again happens to Blake Martinez there are other options to choose from. New York didn’t spend day one or day two draft capital at stack linebacker, though the additions of Indiana’s Micah McFadden in the early fifth and Cincinnati’s Darrian Beavers in the early sixth should be enough to push Crowder to third or fourth on the off-ball linebacker depth chart.
Deion Jones and Mykal Walker, LB ATL
Yes, Foye Oluokun left in free agency, but Atlanta’s moves at off-ball linebacker signaled uneasiness with Jones and Walker, the presumed starters early in the off-season. Walker is probably the one to be more concerned about – and I’m having a hard time with it – but Jones is coming off a miserable year by his standards and his contract screams cap casualty after 2022. The Falcons used their 58th overall pick on the athletic Troy Andersen and signed former Titans first-rounder Rashaan Evans plus Nick Kwiatkowski to one-year deals in free agency. I’m not looking at Evans as a short- or long-term fantasy option here, but he’s clearly a roadblock for Walker. And assuming the rookie doesn’t bomb, Andersen’s entrance likely means the door for the high-priced Jones prior to 2023.
Davion Taylor and Kyzir White, LB PHI
White looked ticketed for a three-down off-ball role after signing a one-year deal with Philadelphia as a free agent. And I’m still assuming that White, who enjoyed a breakout fantasy season in his fourth year with the Chargers, will still play that part for half – or perhaps all – of the season. The Eagles are likely to want to know at some point this season what they have in surprising third-rounder Nakobe Dean, so don’t count on White holding his value as the season winds into the fantasy playoffs.
Despite the late day two draft capital in 2020, Taylor was always a longshot to make it as a fantasy-viable asset. Through two seasons he hasn’t shown enough development to warrant additional investment, and he’s faded well down the depth chart. Undersized but seriously athletic rookie Kyron Johnson is coming for Taylor’s roster spot.
Camryn Bynum, S MIN
Don’t totally throw in the towel on the second-year corner-turned-safety, but Bynum definitely took a short-term hit with the first-round selection of Lewis Cine. Harrison Smith has a stranglehold on the top safety spot in Minnesota, so at best Bynum, who showed well as a rookie, is the third safety. Smith is still playing well – and being paid very well – but he is 33, meaning Bynum is worth monitoring in case of injury to Smith or a slow start to Cine’s career.