Dynasty Blueprint: 5 Takeaways From Week 15
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. This article and all of the content on DLF is for you, the reader. The goal is to make you a better dynasty player and bring home some titles. Hopefully, this will help you reach that goal.
Here are the five dynasty-related stories that have my attention coming off of another week of NFL action.
James is Cooking
Following a Week Ten loss, the Bills surprisingly fired offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey. The move drew much criticism considering the loss was largely the fault of the special teams and defensive units. There was also debate about how much an in-season change could even help considering the offense would not be overhauled. In the four games since the move to Joe Brady, the winner has been undeniable…running back James Cook. Through the first ten weeks of the season, Cook was averaging 11.7 fantasy points and was the RB17 on the year. In the four games since the coaching move, Cook has posted over 24 fantasy points per game and is up to the RB7 on the season. He’s finished as an RB1 in four straight games.
On Sunday, Cook was the best player on the field against one of the top teams in the league. Cook ran all over the Dallas defense, including new career-highs of 25 carries for 179 yards. In our latest dynasty ADP, Cook was just the RB24. While there is still some concern about Cook’s long-term role, his production should continue to boost Cook’s value as the offseason nears.
A New Dynasty RB1?
My friend, and former DLFer, Ray Garvin recently sent this out via Twitter…
Jahmyr Gibbs is a superstar. The best rookie RB in the #NFL
— Ray G (@RayGQue) December 10, 2023
I’m sure nearly every fantasy footballer and football fan would agree with Ray’s first statement, especially after his performance on Saturday against the solid Broncos defense. It’s the second part that raises some eyebrows and gets conversations started.
A little less than a year ago, Bijan Robinson became the dynasty RB1. Before he stepped on an NFL field. Before he even was drafted. Since then, Robinson has held his spot at the top, but there are some reasons to doubt. Most of those have to do with Robinson’s head coach and his frustrating usage decisions. On Sunday, Robinson saw just half the number of carries as plodder Tyler Allgeier, finishing with a total of 14 yards. Meanwhile, Gibbs rushed for 100 yards and scored twice. For the season, both rookies have been very productive. Gibbs has notched five RB1 games and four RB2 performances. Robinson has six as an RB1 and a handful of RB2 games. So, while Gibbs has shown off his upside, Robinson has also been impressive, despite Arthur Smith.
Unless you’re ranking Christian McCaffrey as the dynasty RB1, and there’s nothing wrong with that, the debate between the two rooks for the top spot will carry on into the offseason and beyond.
Chiefs’ Ups and Downs
Through the first eleven weeks of the season, no Chiefs wide receiver had produced a WR1 fantasy performance. While the team has made efforts in recent years to improve their receiving corps, including using a Day Two pick on Skyy Moore and trading for Kadarius Toney, they had found little success and it was the obvious Achilles heel for the defending Super Bowl champs. The Chiefs needed someone to step up as their WR1. That happened beginning in Week 12 when rookie Rashee Rice finished as the WR3 with an 8/107/1 line. He followed that up with WR22 and WR12 games before this week’s 9/91/1 performance, which currently has him ranked as the WR7 for the week. Rice’s most recent ADP has him valued as the dynasty WR26 and 45 overall. At just 22 years old and aggressively claiming the role of Patrick Mahomes’ WR1, expect Rice to be a significant riser this offseason.
While Rice is trending up, there are reasons to be concerned about veteran superstar Travis Kelce. He managed just 28 yards on five receptions against the Patriots on Sunday. Kelce is still producing when compared to his peers. He entered Week 15 with four straight games as a top-eight fantasy scorer, but he has rarely flashed the upside we’ve all become spoiled by over the years. In recent years, Kelce put up fantasy numbers in line with elite wide receivers, making him an unreal advantage over other tight ends. Kelce hasn’t eclipsed 16 fantasy points in nearly two months and has only one of the top 21 fantasy games by a tight end this season. The ceiling has slowly disappeared.
The Fall of the King
This season has clearly been a step back for Derrick Henry. After dominating opposing defenses for years, Henry is showing his age this year. The Titans have struggled and Henry’s production has regularly been game-script-dependent. In games in which the Titans kept the score close, Henry looked like his old self. He’s produced seven RB1 games on the year. That’s what was so concerning about Sunday’s result. In a game the Titans led throughout, Henry rushed 16 times for just nine yards. He also caught four passes but totaled only one yard. That’s just ten yards from scrimmage on 20 total touches. This was the first time in NFL history a player has drawn 20 or more touches and failed to gain at least 15 yards.
Henry’s value has been falling fast throughout the season. He’s down to the RB29 in our December ADP, barely hanging onto his spot as a top-100 player. With rookie Tyjae Spears playing well and the Titans obviously nearing a rebuild, this could be Henry’s final month in Tennessee.
Before Week Fifteen kicked off, I realized that Bengals backup quarterback Jake Browning was coming off back-to-back QB4 performances. While he didn’t match those numbers against the Vikings this week, he is the QB7, pending Monday Night Football. That gives Browning three QB1 performances in just four starts on the year. He’s averaging just over 20 fantasy points per start, compared to a 15.38 average for Joe Burrow. Clearly, this is not a quarterback controversy in any way, but Browning is establishing himself as one of the better backups in the league. Although he is technically a free agent following the season, the Bengals still control his rights and can easily retain him. If Browning continues his high level of play, this could become a situation in which the team could cash out on Browning to a quarterback-needy team, since there are plenty of those around the league.
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY
The longtime DLF readers might remember this from my time penning the weekly DLF Dynasty Newsletter. Essentially, this area will offer me an opportunity to share whatever dynasty-related topic is at the front of my mind this week.
If you participate in the “fantasy football Twitter” part of the community, you likely saw some conversation over the past week surrounding trade deadlines in dynasty leagues. This is clearly a passionate subject for many. One side suggests they’d never play in leagues that used a traditional trade deadline, while the other is essentially accusing their opponents of cheating with no deadline in place. As with many topics, these extremes are the loudest but let’s try to find some middle ground.
I have always had trade deadlines in place in my leagues, dating back twenty years. In recent years though, I was questioned about the reasoning and I struggled to answer the question, outside of “that’s how we’ve always done it.” I knew then I had to at least consider making a change.
The strongest argument for a strict deadline seems to be to protect the league from a rogue manager wrecking the future of their team in an effort to bring home a title, and then even potentially leaving the league regardless of the outcome. At some point as a commissioner, you just have to trust your managers to have some integrity. That doesn’t mean people never leave a league but it does suggest they don’t bail under these circumstances.
In one of my current leagues that does have a deadline in place, I lost Justin Herbert, Josh Jacobs, and Christian Kirk in the weeks leading to the playoffs. While I was able to advance to the post-season, I didn’t have an opportunity to improve my team. I never stood a chance and was quickly bounced in this week’s first round of the playoffs.
After considering and thinking about this topic for a long while, I eventually settled on a rule that would allow managers the freedom to make moves, even into the post-season, but also protect the league. Most of my leagues now have a “soft” deadline. This means we have the same deadline date as previous seasons and if you want to make a deal beyond that week, you simply have to commit to the future of the league by paying your league fees for next season. This still offers managers the ability to go “all-in” if they make that decision, but aalso ensures those same managers will be around to rebuild their team, as well.
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