Dynasty Trending Observations: Tommy DeVito is Him
It’s playoff time in fantasy football leagues all over. For some teams, they’re still alive and gunning for a championship. But for most, the off-season starts now. Below are a few developments on social media that could affect those off-season plans.
From @NFLGameDay: The #Chiefs won’t have RB Isiah Pacheco (shoulder), so Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerick McKinnon will split carries; Meanwhile, the #Chargers will have Austin Ekeler starting, but he's one of three RBs to be active. They’ll ride the hot hand. pic.twitter.com/kxpwRoq5zS
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 10, 2023
Ever since the Chargers let veteran running back Melvin Gordon walk after the 2019 season, Austin Ekeler has been a mainstay atop fantasy and dynasty rankings alike. The rare running back who is efficient both on the ground and through the air, Ekeler has totaled at least 1,500 total yards and 10-plus touchdowns in three of the prior four seasons. But he also might be hitting the proverbial running back cliff now that he’s entered his age-28 season. His 3.7 yards-per-carry average is nearly a yard less than his career average (4.5) and the 35 receiving yards per game he currently averages would be his lowest season total since 2018. Whatever the reason, it prompted the comments above from Chargers head coach Brandon Staley about cutting back on his usage in favor of another (i.e. younger) option.
For the Chargers part, they’ve partially attempted to supplement Ekeler’s production in the run game. Both Joshua Kelley and Isaiah Spiller were running backs taken in the fourth round by the Chargers (Kelley in 2020; Spiller in 2022) and have seen some run in their Chargers career. However, neither has been able to carve out a regular role in the Los Angeles offense until now. Will one of them give the Chargers something to think about?
Dynasty Impact: Ekeler has done a good job of fending off potential replacements in Los Angeles. Despite getting up there in age, his dynasty value has increased and remains well ahead of his backups.
But yesterday was a preview of what the Chargers could be doing the rest of the year. Star quarterback Justin Herbert suffered an injury that, thanks to the current Chargers position in the standings, might keep him out of the rest of the season. That means it could be time for the Chargers to see what they have, not just at running back, but at every position. We saw a glimpse of it in week 14 with Ekeler seeing nine carries and the combo of Kelley and Spiller seeing nine. Ekeler still saw all the targets out of the backfield but even that could change going forward. The point is, no one is safe on the Chargers, and with a new coach almost certainly arriving in 2024, all three running backs could be looking for new homes.
James Cook's average targets per route run is 31% since Joe Brady took over as offensive coordinator.
Role inside the 5-yard line remains non-existent but uptick in targets is great news for fantasy managers.
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland) December 11, 2023
There was never a question about how efficient James Cook was and is for the Buffalo Bills. In his rookie season last year, he averaged a stellar 5.7 yards per carry on his 89 carries and added 180 receiving yards on 21 targets. It was also good news that Buffalo let last year’s starter, Devin Singletary, walk in free agency and rolled with Cook to start the season which would hopefully lead to more volume. And while the road was a little bumpy in the middle of the season, the elevation of Joe Brady to offensive coordinator has boosted Cook’s fantasy value. In the last month, Cook has seen at least double-digit carries while averaging 4.5 receptions per game. That boost in attention has led Cook to have twice as many games with double-digit fantasy points than not. He’s currently on his way to lead his dynasty managers to a playoff berth and possible championship run.
Dynasty Impact: That bump in the road mentioned earlier coincided with the Bills’ signing of Leonard Fournette. Cook had been in single digits when it came to fantasy points for a few games and it was looking like his job was up for grabs. It turns out it was all for nothing as Fournette has yet to see the field and Cook has seen his value increase since then thanks to the promotion of Brady.
Cook is currently 16th in our DLF running back ranks and should remain there over the off-season. It’s not as if the Bills have a lot of cap room and they’d probably prefer to keep Cook and his rookie contract. And despite the hard decisions coming for the Bills when it comes to the salary cap, it’s not as if they’ll be moving on from Josh Allen who makes that offense run. Cook is a hold right now as it appears the Bills have finally figured out how to use him
Tommy DeVito’s agent looks exactly how I’d expect Tommy DeVito’s agent to look like pic.twitter.com/8kUq4vikLl
— Giants Daily (@NYGDaily) December 12, 2023
The 2023 NFL season has seen a lot of quarterbacks and it feels like every team has seen their backup at some point. And while we don’t have a Brock Purdy situation – where the backup takes over, for good – we’re at least getting a taste of it in New York. Quarterback Daniel Jones – he of the giant contract extension signed last off-season – has been out of action for over a month. And when he did play, he looked in danger of losing his job anyway. In six games this season, Jones threw for just two touchdowns but six interceptions. He was also averaging a career-low 151 passing yards per game and nowhere near anyone’s dynasty radar. In a way, his injury was a blessing in disguise for the Giants. Backup Tommy DeVito has led the Giants to three straight wins and is still in the playoff hunt.
Dynasty Impact: While DeVito is getting attention, the bigger concern for dynasty players is Daniel Jones. After a breakout 2022 season, the Giants re-signed Jones to an expensive, long-term deal. To say it hasn’t worked out would be an understatement. Between the poor play and the injury, it’s not unreasonable to expect the Giants to try and move on after this season.
They may have to spend a season in salary cap hell to move Jones, but it’s not the worst idea to roll with DeVito next year as a transition season before moving on as opposed to rolling out the Jones experiment again and delaying the inevitable. For Jones dynasty managers, you can safely move on now.
- Dynasty Trending Observations: What Next for Tony Pollard and Tee Higgins? - February 18, 2024
- Dynasty Trending Observations: Super Bowl Week - February 7, 2024
- Dynasty Trending Observations: Conference Championship Week - January 31, 2024