Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.
Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”
Andy Dalton (Jan ADP: 228, QB27)
Dalton hasn’t finished inside the top 12 since 2016. It doesn’t matter, but I thought I’d mention it. Why doesn’t it matter? Because at ADP 228, no one is being fooled at this point. Dalton continues to offer a solid streaming level floor. You don’t want to start him every week, but if you’re not sucked into chasing the least valuable position in single quarterback leagues, he’s a fine player.
At 31 years old, even coming off an 11-game season (QB26) shortened by thumb ligament tear, there’s really no reason to expect he’ll be less than that. With a strong depth chart, there is even that potential of his 2013 (QB5) upside. This puts him above most similar-value quarterbacks. Right now, however, he’s being drafted just ahead of Teddy Bridgewater, so there is value in not fearing his injury or the unlikely scenario that the Bengals try to be dynamic and forward-looking by drafting the next great quarterback.
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Jeff Driskel (Jan ADP: NA, QB N/A)
Driskel is a 25-year-old, former sixth-round pick. It doesn’t get less exciting. As with all backup quarterbacks, he is not roster-able in most dynasty formats outside of those that place extra value on the position. Sure, with this depth chart Driskel could be worth a stash in two-quarterback leagues, but honestly Tom Savage is just as, if not more, likely to take over the role in case of another Dalton injury and he has even less dynasty appeal.
Joe Mixon (Jan ADP: 15.6, QB7.9)
Mixon has been good. He has also failed to live up to the top-five potential almost every hyped running back prospect creates during draft season. In 2018, he finished as the RB10 in PPR leagues after only playing 14 games. Dynasty players have not been misled by the somewhat “quiet” meeting of expectations, however. He is ranked as the seventh running back and drafted inside the first 16 picks. There is no more valuable asset in fantasy football than a top-five running back in season. However, the best way to get that value is to find the player before they do it. In other words, Mixon looks like a high-value trade target. A solid rule of thumb is to trade for running backs with top-five potential, being drafted outside of that range.
Giovani Bernard (Jan ADP: 138.17, RB48.6)
Bernard signed a three-year contract extension that will make him a free agent in 2020. He is 27 years old. The Bengals have a reputation for being cheap with their skill position players. But I think that can sometimes obscure how good they are at curating and maintaining talent on their roster. Bernard is underrated in fantasy, and dynasty. In every league, this off-season, trades will happen for running backs whose likely ceiling is a top 24 finish. But backs like Bernard demonstrate how trading for the latest, most exciting running back with that kind of usage ceiling is flawed.
I think he’s the best receiving running back in the NFL. But over the last three years, he hasn’t finished higher than RB27. On the other hand, he also hasn’t had less than 17% of his team’s Weighted Opportunity Rating (Target Share adjusted for average depth of target, essentially.) Bernard’s game should age well. If the Bengals are scoring well, Bernard can produce good fantasy numbers even with Mixon on the team. I think he’s one of the easier bets at the position being drafted outside the first ten rounds.
Mark Walton (Jan ADP: 224.17, RB70.6)
There is always the potential for Bernard or Mixon becoming unavailable. If so, Mark Walton could be interesting. A 21-year-old, fourth-round pick in 2018, Walton is not a great athlete by NFL standards; measuring a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. However, he produced solid receiving numbers in college and he may see a value bump because of his potential in that role in the case of an injury or trade. At RB70, he could be worth a speculative add in dynasty.
A.J. Green (Jan ADP: 36.5, WR16.7)
Another season, another WR1 cut down by injury. Green’s injury history reads like that of an aging player suffering repeated soft tissue injuries since 2014. In 2018, he suffered yet another toe injury that cut his season down to only nine games dropping him to WR47, after a WR10 performance in 2017. But let’s face it, anyone who bets against Green’s talent is asking to lose.
When on the field (and I say this as a confirmed Tyler Boyd “truther”) he is the best player on the field, often on either team. I didn’t like his college profile when he came out, and the (metaphorical) beating he gave me for that in fantasy, still hurts. But at 30 years old, after repeated injury – two out of the last three seasons shortened to ten games or less – dynasty players are fast doing what they do: fading him. Here’s the thing. Numerous players have produced top-12 seasons after the age of 30. If you limit the sample to those with an A.J. Green-level history of production? The hit rate becomes a near certainty that he will beat his current ADP again before he is done. There’s risk, but there is also upside at a falling value.
At ADP 36.5, I think it’s time to make that decision. He is either a top 12 wide receiver, or the injuries and age make you too afraid to believe it. Make your decision, act accordingly. This middle-of-the-road ADP won’t do. By all means, take him at a fallen value, but do it expecting upside, or don’t.
Personally? I’m not betting against Green.
Tyler Boyd (Jan ADP: 51.3, WR31.7)
Boyd broke out into the top 24 wide receivers in his third season in 2018. He fit in his breakout just under the line of demarcation where players at the position become a lot less likely to ever do it. Phew! As a college mega producer, Boyd had long been a target of mine in the later rounds of drafts. However, let’s be real, he is not A.J. Green.
Can he be a team’s leading receiver? Yes. Can he be a top 12 fantasy wide receiver? Yes. But he’ll have to do it a different way. Luckily there is a three-year trend in usage at the position that runs in his favor having played 67% of his snaps in the slot. Can he do it with Green still on the team? Maybe not top 12, but three teams a year produce two top 24 wide receivers and I wouldn’t bet against Boyd and Green being one of those pairs in 2019. I value him as a top 24 wide receiver and at his ADP, he is a strong value to my eyes.
John Ross (Jan ADP: 174, Wide Receiver WR74.2)
If you like Ross, now is a good time to test the trade waters. As a late breakout in college and with me personally being unconvinced that single athletic traits offer much correlation to NFL production, I have always been low on Ross. As a first-round draft pick with a 21-years-old breakout age in college, he had a 22% chance of breaking into the top 24 in his first three years based on the hit rates for those players from 2003-2015. In 2019, he will be in his third season. Do we give him an extra year because he was injured in his rookie season? Honestly, I don’t know. The number of players who meet that criteria is very small, but the list is not very convincing. However, 22% is still a much better bet at his current ADP than it has been for the last two years. He hasn’t lost any of his talent or ability and he is a 23-year-old former first round pick.
Josh Malone (Jan ADP: 235.5, WR N/A)
Again, I think the Bengals get a bad rap for the players they have curated into viable fantasy options. Remember that time both Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones were on the team with Green and Boyd? Good times. If I was going to take a late-round flyer on someone else on the depth chart becoming relevant for dynasty (eventually), it would be Josh Malone. He was drafted in the fourth round in 2017 with an age-20 breakout age. (Hit rates fade very dramatically after age 19 and then again after age 20.) As a 6’3”, 208-lbs wide receiver who once produced over 35% of his college team’s receiving yards and touchdowns, he has potential. He has managed to stick to the depth chart through two draft classes and while he has never caught more than 17 passes in the NFL, I think the Bengals’ history of stashing relatively-productive NFL players on their depth chart bodes well. He has no trade value and his only draft appeal is in the very late rounds.
Tyler Eifert (Jan ADP: 230, TE35)
What to do with Tyler Eifert? For fantasy, he’s been a rollercoaster of injuries and touchdowns. Normally I’d say if you can bet on a player we know has the talent, at a discount because of fear, do it. But dang, he makes Jordan Reed look available. Theoretically, since he enters free agency this off-season, he is someone I might add on to a trade in the hope he gets a value jump. He more than likely lands a one-year incentive-laden contract somewhere. But it’s hard to believe anyone will bite too hard no matter where he goes.
C.J. Uzomah (Jan ADP: 239.83, TE33.5)
It seems pretty clear that Uzomah is the second tight end on the depth chart and starter when Eifert is injured. However, he’s also always failed to impress on those opportunities. A deep level streamer maybe? Drop if you need space… or just feel like making a roster move… any reason really.
Tyler Kroft (Jan ADP: 235.5, TE46.2)
Kroft has been pegged as the “backup to own” in dynasty in Cincinnati for a while. It takes time for players to develop at the position. But outside of his physical measurables, I can’t find much to “hang a hat on” for his hopes of hitting in the NFL. The fact he was drafted in the third round (two rounds above Uzomah) feels moot at this point. He failed to surpass Uzomah despite having any advantage in draft capital and three years to prove his worth. Just in case there was anyone out there still hanging on in dynasty, I think the roster spot is more valuable at this point.