Editor’s note: Christmas has come early with a slate of Saturday games, and we’ve got you covered for all of them.
Let’s face it, there’s an enormous amount of information out there on Sunday (and in this case, Saturday) mornings. We’re not going to waste your time by repeating the news and notes about who’s in or out this week, since that’s really not what you visit us for. We’re also not going to do another article on starts or sits this week – we already have the personalized lineup advice for you on the premium content. Again, there are 100 places you can go for that, so no reason to repeat ourselves or others.
The Sunday Morning Huddle goes through each game and states what we’re looking to see from a dynasty perspective. One player will be picked from each team who has dynasty value tied to the game – players at a pivot point where their value could increase or decrease based on opportunity and performance.
New York (Jets) at New England
The Jets don’t have a lot of players that have their value directly tied to this game after a down season for the team. Quarterback Bryce Petty could either be a total non-factor in 2017 and beyond, or he could be the Jets starter going forward. How he plays to close out 2016 will go a long way towards determining his role, and he’ll need to show some promise against a divisional foe here to even maintain value.
After a hot month, Malcolm Mitchell cooled off significantly in week 15. Whether he bounces back in week 16 or not will be a big indicator of which direction and how rapidly his value will move in the off-season, regardless of other Patriots roster moves and draft picks. He’s shown great promise and involvement to date, but there also needs to be consistency to keep his value moving rather than being stagnant.
Tennessee at Jacksonville
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
Titans’ tight end Delanie Walker showed off shades of his 2015 production through the mid-season for a stretch, but has fallen off since. While he is still a formidable tight end, given his age and the emergence of other weapons in the passing game, it is fair to question whether he can maintain his value moving into 2017. Does he remain involved to the end of 2016 or does he fade?
In 2016, Marqise Lee has looked like the more valuable player for the Jaguars when compared to Allen Robinson. Look for Lee to keep it up through the final few games and lock in a role for 2017. Keep in mind Lee was drafted ahead of Robinson in 2014, so he does have chops and pedigree – health has been his issue to date but a healthy 2016 has him looking like a building block.
San Diego at Cleveland
Early in the season, Hunter Henry exploded for a few games and then faded into the background as Antonio Gates returned to health. Henry has remained involved, though, with a touchdown in four of the team’s last five games. Cleveland hemorrhages points to tight ends, so I expect Henry to continue to produce despite a limited role here. The more this continues, the more he looks like the heir-apparent.
Coach Hue Jackson has said that he feels Isaiah Crowell is a player for the team to build around. While the team as a whole is awful, Crowell has shown flashes this season. Still, to be viewed as a building piece, one would expect a player to be able to put the team on his back once in a while. We haven’t really seen that from Crowell. Despite coach speak, I think Crowell’s value is on the bubble. Check in to see if he can pick it up in this game.
Minnesota at Green Bay
Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen has produced admirably throughout 2016. On the flip side, he is a free agent following this season and he has disappeared at times. Word is he should be active for Saturday’s game, so look for him to get back to putting up fantasy points. If he doesn’t, his pedigree isn’t that of someone who is guaranteed a role on an offense. He really needs to produce to parlay this opportunity into a role going forward.
Has a wide receiver lost more value over the past few years than Randall Cobb? The only ones that come to mind for me are now either retired or were overvalued to begin with. I’m thinking guys like Calvin Johnson and Cordarrelle Patterson. It isn’t looking good for Cobb’s value moving forward right now. If he can’t turn this train around in week 16 and 17, his value certainly has to tank further.
Washington at Chicago
Another week, another 300+ yard outing for Kirk Cousins, who has certainly played his way into a big contract signing this off-season. I don’t expect Cousins to take his eyes off of the prize this week against a struggling Bears defense. If he can keep up his current pace, he should be guaranteed to gain in dynasty value over the off-season as his situation becomes more stable.
This is yet another week where Jordan Howard is pretty much the whole show for dynasty value on the Bears. He’s played his way into a likely large role in 2017, and that isn’t on track to change unless he faceplants over the final few weeks. Just make sure he doesn’t tank and you will know what you need to about his future prospects.
Miami at Buffalo
After exploding in the middle of the season, Jay Ajayi has cooled off significantly – especially in terms of per-play efficiency. Given that his draft pedigree (fifth round) is negligible, he is easily replaced in terms of roster moves. Look for Ajayi to rebound in the last few weeks, or for his dynasty value to be volatile throughout the off-season as he will have his fans and his detractors due to his combination of highlights and lowlights in 2016.
Despite a relatively bad offense and multiple injuries, Sammy Watkins has maintained his value fairly well. Now mostly healthy but struggling through lingering injuries, it’s becoming fair to wonder if he is capable of being fully healthy. Some guys just can’t shake injuries like others. So we have two things here: he needs to either get healthy to maintain value moving forward, or show that he can produce like a top wide receiver while injured. So far he has done neither.
Atlanta at Carolina
Declared healthy, Julio Jones is back for action. He’s another player who is explosive and one of the league’s elite wide receivers. He also has a fairly lengthy injury history at this point in his career and he’s approaching the dreaded age for dynasty value of “near 30.” The Panthers cornerbacks haven’t offered a ton of resistance to opposition this year, so for me Julio needs to play like an elite receiver against them or he will continue his slow slide down the value boards.
On the other side, we have Greg Olsen who has been one of the top tight ends in the league for years on end. He is getting older, though, and his down stretches in 2016 leave questions surrounding him heading into the closing weeks. The Falcons have been burned against tight ends this year, so what I am looking for is Olsen to approach his ceiling in this game to reaffirm that that ceiling is still intact moving forward.
Indianapolis at Oakland
I’m really not sure what more TY Hilton can do this year to boost his value, but I’m also a firm believer that he deserves to be among everyone’s top five wide receivers at this point. Oakland has struggled this year against small, quick wide receivers this year so Hilton’s tear through the league should continue, keeping pace with his rise through the rankings as others falter.
The Raiders have been leaning on Latavius Murray and it has paid dividends. The Colts aren’t stopping anyone consistently on the ground, so keep an eye on the touch share that Murray gets in this game to gauge his future value. His role is extremely valuable so if he can maintain it, it can only mean an increase for him through the off-season.
Arizona at Seattle
I can’t speak to what it truly means, but JJ Nelson has the most to gain or lose for the Cardinals right now. While undersized for an NFL wide receiver, he has splurges of production that could indicate a worthwhile role and production in the future. What we need to see is consistency from him, and against the Seahawks on the road would be a good time to show it.
Another player that could benefit from efficiency is Thomas Rawls, who has had erratic production since his return to health. His value right now is being kept afloat by the notion that he could be a bellcow back. His production right now is not that of a bellcow back. Something has to give one way or another, so we have more clarity moving into 2017. Without that clarity, his value can only move down.
San Francisco at Los Angeles
Realistically, Colin Kaepernick could either be a starter going forward or devoid of dynasty value. Which will it be? He has looked good in some places and absolutely awful in others this season. The Rams defensive front is stout but the secondary is not, so he should be able to get some production against them. Use this as a litmus test for how the team will value him this offseason.
If there is a time in 2016 for a blow-up game from Todd Gurley, this is probably it. The 49ers can’t defend against the run and Gurley hasn’t put up good rushing production. This is a situation where either the 49ers will look better on defense than they are, or Gurley will produce like he hasn’t produced since 2015. Either way, we’ll have a good idea of what we might be able to expect from Gurley going forward until the team can rebuild effectively.
Tampa Bay at New Orleans
Doug Martin is the man with the most to lose or gain for the Buccaneers. Failing to be the back that the team needs him to be lately, in the same offense that saw Charles Sims, Jacquizz Rodgers, and Peyton Barber all look decent at points this season, can only mean bad things for his value. Lucky for him, the Saints don’t defend the run very well and he could turn this into a get-right game. Otherwise, I think the team looks elsewhere for its starter in 2017.
A few weeks back, trade rumors for the off-season were swirling around Brandin Cooks. Since then, he has hit his ceiling again. Which Cooks do we get from week to week? Is volatility what the Saints are looking for? I would have to imagine that his value will be lower in most other offenses in the league, so whether he can entice the team to keep him with production or not will go a long way towards determining his future value.
Cincinnati at Houston
This year, Andy Dalton has had to endure losing weapon after weapon. He lost Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in the off-season, Tyler Eifert went down to injury, and he soldiered on. Then Giovani Bernard went to the injured reserve and AJ Green suffered a hamstring injury, and Eifert came back but is out again with an injury. This is a rough season for Dalton, and I want to see what he can do, virtually without weapons, against a tough Texans defense. If he can hold his own, I think it’s a boon to his future value.
Here is an obvious pick: Tom Savage has his dynasty value as a pivot point. It’s his first start, against a decent team and a good defense that has been to the playoffs for years in a row prior to this year. How does he do? Let’s watch and find out.
Baltimore at Pittsburgh
While technically this isn’t his rookie year, it’s his first year playing, and Breshad Perriman has been inconsistent at best. He follows up good performances with clunkers. Most rookie wide receivers that go on to have good careers begin to put things together and string good games in a row towards the end of their first year. Perriman isn’t doing that right now, and I think his value is on a bubble unless he can pick it up in these last few weeks.
Oddly, Antonio Brown hasn’t had as large of a role lately. I’m not sure what to make of that. He is still an elite fantasy wide receiver, but look to see how involved he is to close out the season. This could turn into an alarming trend and a value down based on lack of clarity for his role moving forward.
Denver at Kansas City
This past off-season, Demaryius Thomas saw a significant dropoff in his dynasty value. While he hasn’t lit the league on fire, he’s shown that he has plenty left in the tank even with a game-manager type quarterback under center in Trevor Siemian. He has been a model of consistency with some bigger games mixed in, and I think that if he can continue that to close the year out his value should remain level for the offseason rather than continuing its slide.
The last time these teams met, it was the Tyreek Hill show as he torched the Broncos in all facets of the game. Last week, he didn’t record a catch against the Falcons. Which Hill do we get this week? Will the Broncos have learned their lesson and be prepared to defend him this time around? It will be very telling for Hill’s long term dynasty value, as his explosiveness is where his value lies. If it can be schemed away, he could tank. Fast.
Detroit at Dallas
This off-season, Marvin Jones was the shiny new toy for the Lions. The season started and he erupted. Then, he cratered and hasn’t really come back to form, with his dynasty value having a very weak pulse. What does he do to close out the season? The Lions can’t be pleased moving into 2017 with Golden Tate, Jones, and Eric Ebron as their top options. Anquan Boldin is no guarantee to still be around as he could retire. So that means the team could be looking to the draft, free agency, or a trade to get a receiver, and that could bump Jones down the depth chart.
Bear with me, this could be an odd line of logic. The Cowboys just clenched the division and a bye in the playoffs. I think what they do with Ezekiel Elliot this week will be indicative of his value to the team and his dynasty value. Do they use him sparingly and try to keep him healthy? Do they run him into the ground like they did DeMarco Murray a few years ago? Time will tell, but making his longevity and health a priority can only mean good things for his dynasty value.