The fantasy season has come to an end. It is difficult to fully acknowledge this and many fantasy players will hang on tightly to the 2017 fantasy season in the form of DFS or playoff leagues, but for our purposes here at Dynasty League Football, the off-season is upon us.
The good news is there is no off-season for dynasty leaguers. The next few months will be filled with the NFL Combine, free agency, the NFL Draft and more. All of these events will greatly affect player value and dynasty strategy.
In this Off-Season Primer series, I’ll make sure you and your dynasty teams are ready for all that might happen by giving you an advance look at players who could be on the move in the upcoming months.
Anytime I have a question regarding a player’s contract or team salary cap situation, I visit Spotrac, which includes all of the information you could ever need regarding the financial side of the NFL, along with financial information for all other major sports as well. Here at DLF, we think so much of this site that we’ve included some of their graphics on each of our player pages. Here’s the chart for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as an example.
March will bring both free agency, along with teams naming their franchise and transition tag players, but even before these events, teams will begin preparing for the 2018 season by making some difficult decisions. Among these decisions will be cutting players, primarily due to their impending contract responsibilities. Spotrac.com recently released an article listing players who could be victims of these “cap cuts.” I strongly suggest you read NFL Players on the 2018 Roster Bubble by Michael Ginnitti, but for now, I’ll share some of the highlights, along with the potential dynasty fantasy football impact.
Andy Dalton, QB CIN
Potential Team Savings: $13.9 million
The Bengals are in a bad place with an impending coaching change and an all-around depressing season. Parting ways with a solid starting quarterback would be a rare occurrence in the NFL, but Dalton is just that… solid. Dalton has yet to win a playoff game and the team could opt to make sweeping changes under a new head coach. Also, the team must consider their long-term plans for in-demand backup AJ McCarron, who is one year away from free agency. Still, this move would be a shocker.
Blake Bortles, QB JAC
Potential Team Savings: $19.053 million
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A few months ago, the Jaguars dumping quarterback Blake Bortles was presumably an easy call, but that’s not the case any longer as he is playing the best football of his career and the Jags are headed for the playoffs. The team owns an option on Bortles, so their decision is fairly cut and dry from a financial standpoint. They could easily use the option to stick with Bortles for one more season.
Alex Smith, QB KC
Potential Team Savings: $17 million
Another quarterback playing the best football of his career is Chiefs veteran Alex Smith, who began the season at a torrid pace, before cooling off, along with the entire Kansas City offense. Now picking things back up as the playoffs near, Smith is not making things easy on head coach Andy Reid and the other decision-makers. Unlike the Bengals, Jaguars and may other teams, the Chiefs have a quarterback in waiting, rookie Patrick Mahomes, who was the team’s first-round pick last spring. Expect Smith to be looking for a new home this off-season with Mahomes being handed the keys to the potentially high-powered offense.
Eli Manning, QB NYG
Potential Team Savings: $9.8 million
The Giants will be another team under new leadership after both the head coach and general manager were recently fired. Just prior to that, the Giants benched long-time starting quarterback Eli Manning, who quickly regained his job. But that could be the signal that the end is near for Manning’s time with the team. New York should be in position to select one of the top rookie signal callers early in the draft if they choose, and Manning has reportedly considered retirement rather than looking for a new starting job.
Jonathan Stewart, RB CAR
Potential Team Savings: $3.75 million
The Panthers added running back Christian McCaffrey in last year’s draft and although he’s nothing like the pounding back Jonathan Stewart, it could be a sign the team is ready for a chance. Stewart has had a fine year, but could also be fairly easily replaced, especially with another deep crop of rookies on the way in 2018.
Lamar Miller, RB HOU
Potential Team Savings: $5.75 million
Texans running back Lamar Miller has offered fantasy players and his Houston team a solid and reliable weekly floor this season, but has failed to break many big plays or put together a huge game. Rookie runner D’Onta Foreman was starting to push for a full-on committee backfield before suffering a season-ending injury. If he was healthy, this move would seem like more of a possibility, but as things are, I still expect Miller to remain in Houston.
Mark Ingram, RB NO
Potential Team Savings: $4.6 million
One of the top stories of the season has been the amazing performances of Saints backs Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, but the idea that the team could part ways with Ingram this off-season is still being floated. There is a little bit of bad blood historically between Ingram and the Saints, but it is also difficult to mess with a Super Bowl contending roster. Expect Ingram to stick with the Saints.
Doug Martin, RB TB
Potential Team Savings: $6.75 million
This one is a no-brainer! Tampa Bay veteran Doug Martin has been suspended twice in the past calendar year. First by the league for a violation of the substance abuse policy, and most recently by the team, who kept him out of action in week 15. Martin has also been outplayed by Peyton Barber and is due a big contract in 2018. Not only will he be gone from Tampa, but he might have trouble finding any team to commit to him.
DeMarco Murray, RB TEN
Potential Team Savings: $6.5 million
The Titans running game, with the duo of veteran DeMarco Murray and powerful youngster Derrick Henry, was expected to be the strength of the offense. Instead, the entire offense has struggled and the two backs has essentially canceled out each other’s efforts. Tennessee could save Murray’s entire salary by dumping him and many expect them to do just that. This would make Henry a hot commodity in fantasy leagues this off-season.
Dez Bryant, WR DAL
Potential Team Savings: $12.5 million
The Cowboys have disappointed this season, especially in the six games without start running back Ezekiel Elliott. Dallas has very little behind star receiver Dez Bryant, but that hasn’t stopped the vultures from circling as Bryant has endured one of the worsts seasons of his career. The savings don’t seem like enough for the Cowboys to make the move, but they could potentially ask Bryant to re-work his contract for a bit more of a team-friendly deal.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR DEN
Potential Team Savings: $5.5 million
The Broncos offense has been putrid this season and they have no long-term answer at quarterback. The poor play under center has had a major impact on veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who has endured his worst season as a Bronco. Denver has few young options behind Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, so dumping the veteran would likely mean a full rebuild of the offense.
Randall Cobb, WR GB
Potential Team Savings: $9.5 million
The Packers will have difficult decisions to face with each of their top three wideouts. Top option Davante Adams will enter free agency, while both Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson could be cap casualties. It is almost impossible for the Pack to keep all three and Adams will clearly be a priority. This will come down to a choice between Cobb and Nelson.
Jason Witten, TE DAL
Potential Team Savings: $6.5 million
Along with the receiver Bryant, the Cowboys will also face a decision with veteran tight end Jason Witten. If the team dumps him, they save the entirety of his $6.5 million 2018 salary. The Cowboys reportedly had high hopes for young tight end Rico Gathers, who landed on the injured reserve list for the year. If the team cuts Witten, it could show what they think of the former basketballer Gathers.
Eric Ebron, TE DET
Potential Team Savings: $5.194 million
Last off-season, there were rumors that the Lions could part ways with tight end Eric Ebron and use an early pick on a rookie from the talented group. That didn’t happen, but the NFL trade deadline brought more reports of Ebron possibly being dealt out of Detroit. Again, that didn’t go down and since then, the tight end has been playing much better. Detroit will be forced to decide what they really have in their former top ten pick.
Jordan Reed, TE WAS
Potential Team Savings: $8.5 million
There is little argument that Redskins tight end Jordan Reed is one of the bets in the game, when healthy. Sadly, Reed’s healthy has become more of an issue each season and in 2018, he brings a big cap number. Veteran Vernon Davis can’t be viewed as the long-term answer, but he has shown others can succeed in the offense. Considering the Redskins will at least attempt to give quarterback Kirk Cousins a big payday, they’ll need all the cap space they can get and might find that by parting ways with Reed.