Editor’s Note: Ryan debuted the Dynasty Blueprint term all the way back in 2014, focusing on his personal dynasty strategy and philosophy. He introduced ideas like punting running backs and the now-common productive struggle. This series expands on the original, providing an in-depth look inside his dynasty mind.
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.
Lions vs Chiefs
The 2023 season kicked off last Thursday as the upstart Lions surprised defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs. The Lions invested in upgrading their offense this offseason, drafting running back Jahmyr Gibbs and tight end Sam LaPorta. Lions coaches suggested a heavy workload for Gibbs early but instead, he touched the ball only nine times, gaining 60 yards. There was plenty to be excited about though as Gibbs flashed his electric upside and forced six missed tackles on just seven carries. Gibbs remains my RB2 in dynasty rankings and is the RB3 in our recently released September Dynasty ADP.
The wide receiver position was the ultimate downfall for Kansas City in the opener as Kadarius Toney played one of the worst games you’ll see from a receiver. Toney played just 16 snaps and touched the ball twice for a total of 0 yards. He was charged with multiple drops, including one that led to the Lions’ pick-six. Second-year receiver Skyy Moore also disappointed, failing to catch a single pass. Both players are trending down in value after a poor start on a national stage. This is good news for rookie Rashee Rice, who scored his first career touchdown on a 3/29 line.
Titans vs Saints
It was an odd game for the Tennessee Titans, who were competitive and nearly stole a win away from the favored New Orleans Saints, despite the poor play of veteran quarterback Ryan Tannehill. In a game that was tight throughout, rookie running back Tyjae Spears actually played more snaps than veteran starter Derrick Henry, with a 34-30 margin. It’s mostly negligible and possibly meaningless, but it’s a very good sign for the future of the rookie back, who totaled 28 yards on four touches.
As mentioned, the Titans offense was not good. It will be difficult for this team to consistently produce even two, let alone three relevant pass-catchers. Veteran DeAndre Hopkins saw a massive target share, seeing 13 looks and producing a 7/65 line. This is a bad sign for second-year players Treylon Burks and Chig Okonkwo. I still believe in both players as long-term targets, but dynasty managers will need patience with this duo.
Jaguars vs Colts
The Calvin Ridley hype of the offseason suddenly seems very reasonable as the veteran went off with his new team. Ridley caught eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown on a team-high 11 targets. This is excellent news for those who showed patience over the past two years but it could be very bad news for Christian Kirk and his managers. Kirk looks like a slot-only receiver and only produced one catch and nine yards in the opener. He’ll be on my dynasty bench until something changes in Jacksonville.
No Jonathan Taylor, no problem for rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson of the Colts. Richardson passed for over 200 yards, ran for 40, and was responsible for a pair of touchdowns in his debut. Richardson’s passing skills were better than advertised and his running style was Cam Newton-esque, inviting punishment as he collided with defenders. With other quarterbacks disappointing, it is easy to see Richardson climbing even higher than his current QB10 ADP.
Texans vs Ravens
The Achilles injury to Ravens running back JK Dobbins is so difficult to see. With two major leg injuries in a three-year span, this is a deal-breaker for Dobbins. He’s currently the RB17 in our ADP and I expect him to fall outside of the top-40 backs by next month. Along with rehabbing that injury, he’ll also be searching for a new team as he enters free agency following this season. It is very possible that we’ve seen the last of Dobbins in the NFL.
The Dobbins injury was just part of the bad news for the Ravens on Sunday. While they got an ugly win against the Texans, they did so without Mark Andrews, lost multiple players to injury, and survived a stinker of a game from quarterback Lamar Jackson. The bright spot for Baltimore was rookie receiver Zay Flowers, who did damage throughout once he got the ball in his hands. Flowers had 54 yards after the catch, 34 yards after contact, and led the entire league with a 47.6% target share. On one of our final pre-season DLF Dynasty Podcast episodes, I predicted that Flowers would be a top-20 dynasty wide receiver by next offseason. I firmly stand by that after Week One and might even be low.
Bengals vs Browns
The Browns got an important and decisive win against in-state rival Cincinnati. That was largely thanks to their defense, not the play of quarterback Deshaun Watson, who continued his post-suspension struggles that were so evident last season. Watson saved his fantasy day with 45 rushing yards and a touchdown, but passed for just 154 yards. In his seven games with the Browns, Watson is averaging just over 15 fantasy points and has three QB1 games.
The Falcons’ offensive coaching staff remains a nemesis to dynasty managers. Rookie running back Bijan Robinson was impressive in his debut, totaling 83 yards and a touchdown, but second-year back Tyler Allgeier was given the bulk of the carries. Things were even worse for the pass catchers. Tight end Kyle Pitts led the Falcons in receiving with 44 yards on two grabs. Drake London drew just one target and zero receptions. Head coach Arthur Smith continues to draw the ire of fantasy players, but he’s also been quite successful, including a convincing win over Carolina on Sunday. Don’t expect things to change here anytime soon.
Cardinals vs Commanders
One of my favorite off-season trade targets and breakout candidates was Cardinals second-year tight end Trey McBride. Once viewed as the clear TE1 of his class, McBride had a quiet rookie season playing behind veteran Zach Ertz. Following his late-season injury, there was uncertainty if the veteran would be ready to begin this year. Not only did Ertz play in Week One, he was the clear top target for quarterback Josh Dobbs, drawing ten looks, yet producing just 21 yards. Meanwhile, McBride ran only ten routes and caught two passes. I’m not giving up on McBride yet, but this was a disappointing start to year two.
Packers vs Bears
It was an encouraging start for three young Packers. New starting quarterback Jordan Love carved up the Bears defense for 245 yards and three scores, while rookies Luke Musgrave (3/50) and Jayden Reed (2/48) did just enough to pique the interests of dynasty managers. Along with second-year receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs, expect this team to be exciting, but inconsistent, all year long. Love and Musgrave especially should be viewed as dynasty risers.
Raiders vs Bears
After multiple injuries to key receivers in Denver, most notably Jerry Jeudy, the expectation entering Week One was that rookie Marvin Mims could play a key role from the start. That was far from how the game played out. Instead, Mims played just 17 of the offense’s 64 snaps, catching two passes for nine yards. Among wide receivers, he was a distant fourth in the pecking order. With Jeudy due back soon, this was another bummer for anxious dynasty managers. Like some of the other players mentioned here, we’ll need to be patient with Mims.
Rams vs Seahawks
We have to talk about the Rams! One of the top stories of Sunday’s slate was the surprising opportunity and production of rookie receiver Puka Nacua. Even if you were in on Nacua as a dynasty sleeper or late-round rookie pick, no one expected the BYU product to see 15 targets in his first career game. Only two players have earned more targets in their NFL debut than Nacua, Terry Glenn in 1996 and Julian Edelman in 2009. With Cooper Kupp out for at least three more weeks, Nacua looks like an immediate weekly flex option.
The Rams running game was notable as well with Kyren Williams seeing a surprisingly high workload. Williams carried the ball 15 times for 52 yards and two touchdowns. He easily outproduced “starter” Cam Akers and drew more carries until the final drive of the game shifted those numbers. With Akers’ history in the Sean McVay doghouse, this is a scary start for our current RB26.
There was no surprise with the Seattle Seahawks pair of high-profile rookies. Both Zach Charbonnet and Jaxon Smith-Njigba played well behind their veteran teammates and produced sparingly. This fits with the history of head coach Pete Carroll and typical rookie usage. Both players should remain highly-valued dynasty assets and we…you guessed it, remain patient.
Bills vs Jets
Finally, it was terrible to see the injury to veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers in his first drive as a New York Jet. Yes, the hype has been over the top for both Rodgers and the Jets this offseason, but it is still difficult to see these players struggle with these types of serious injuries. That feeling is compounded if you were expecting Rodgers to be a savior of sorts for young receiver Garrett Wilson. Let’s hope the Jets pull out all the stops to find a new starting quarterback.
Here, I’ll share the moves I am looking to make in my personal dynasty leagues this week. That could include waiver wire targets and players to trade for or trade away.
Week One is always difficult when it comes to both waiver moves and talking trade. Typically, Week One will produce the highest number of popular waiver targets of the season, making it a challenge to navigate the player pool.
- If you’re in a shallow dynasty league with limited roster spots, the Rams rookie Nacua could be an option for you. Since he was a favorite of mine and several of my league mates throughout this offseason, I knew I didn’t even have to look for him on my waiver wires.
- Chargers superstar back Austin Ekeler suffered an ankle injury, which afforded backup Joshua Kelley a heavy workload late in that game. If Ekeler misses time, Kelley would slide right in as a fantasy starter.
- A few other wideouts I’ll be looking for on the waiver wire in my leagues include Patriots Kendrick Bourne and Demario Douglas and Steelers Allen Robinson and Calvin Austin.
As for early-season trade thoughts, as I’ve mentioned multiple times in this article already, I really try to be patient through the first three weeks of the season. This typically means no buying high or selling low. I have seen many mentions of giving up on the young Falcons, Drake London and Kyle Pitts. I realize this duo has been mostly frustrating to roster over the past year and I can’t confidently say things will get better soon. What I can say is both players will be with the Falcons longer than Desmond Ridder or Arthur Smith. If you agree with this, that is enough to make both players buy targets, not ones we want to give up on now.
Changing topics here, I do have a couple of teams on which JK Dobbins was one of my starting backs. With his injury, I’ve got to be aggressive in replacing him, given I view both of these teams as contenders. The problem is that after Week One, many of the backs who once looked like relatively reliable options suddenly have questions. Veterans Derrick Henry, Joe Mixon, and Miles Sanders struggled. Young backs Rachaad White and James Cook didn’t live up to the hype and new starters Alexander Mattison and Khalil Herbert looked average at best.
That leaves dynasty managers shopping for running back help to filter through the negatives while projecting which back will bounce back first. The decision becomes easy now. Henry and Mixon are the top trade targets for teams needing a boost at the position. While Henry saw fewer touches than his rookie teammate, he still managed 119 total yards. Mixon got caught in what became a blowout, touching the ball 16 times for a total of 73 yards. While these two are likely the most expensive of the backs mentioned, I also expect them to be the most productive moving forward.
In this section, I’ll be discussing any relevant dynasty strategy or simply any other topic on my mind.
I just checked. I used some form of the word “patient” five times so far in this article. If you listened to the latest DLF Dynasty Podcast, you also heard the same idea from both me and host Dan Meylor.
Now, I’m going to tell you to get aggressive. As I mentioned in the previous section, Week One is typically the most important time of the year for the waiver wire. This is the one game where what we thought we knew as dynasty managers is most often challenged. We saw examples of this in Week One with Kyren Williams and the Rams, as well as the Broncos receiving corps, among other situations.
Oftentimes, these Week One breakouts quickly fade. My fellow longtime dynasty players will recognize the name Frisman Jackson. The three-year veteran went off for the Browns in Week One of the 2005 season, catching eight passes for 128 yards and a score. That was the only touchdown of his career and he never had an impactful fantasy performance again. More recently, Ty’Son Williams looked like the Ravens starting back in the opener of the 2021 season. He totaled 94 yards and a touchdown and dynasty managers went all-in. After a couple more weeks of relevance, he was basically done.
While there are plenty of hits and misses, most dynasty leagues feature large rosters, shallow waiver wires, and competitive managers, making it hard to acquire impactful players. So, if you have a chance to acquire Nacua, Kelley, Williams, or yes, even Zach Wilson, don’t be afraid to become very aggressive.