#TrendingNow Dynasty Risers and Fallers - 2017 Season Review

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I hope you have taken a week or two to relax and admire the work of your 2017 season. You only have a short window though, because as a dynasty fantasy owner, there is no offseason. It’s time to start planning what move will come next, whether it be a draft, free agency or trade. If your new to dynasty leagues, get used to the offseason hustle quickly. Other owners in your league are already ahead of you. If you are a veteran to dynasty leagues, then you already know what the offseason is all about.

This edition of #TrendingNow is a season recap and will discuss players who are likely to see a shift in their value this offseason, if they haven’t already. This article isn’t going to dive into those dark depths of deep league pickups. These are names that you already know. My analysis of deep stashes will take place with my dynasty team analysis during the offseason.

Let me take a moment to clarify what exactly this article means. #TrendingUp doesn’t mean I love a player. It just means their value is headed up right now, and it may be best to try and move them while value is high, or wait to grab them until their value comes down. If a player is #TrendingDown, then their value is not where it could be in several months. You should hold on to them for now or try and jump soon before their value goes back up. This isn’t a love/hate article, but an article to closely exam some of my top names to watch this offseason for one reason or another.

Editor's Note: Read about NFL Draft prospects, dynasty risers, 2017's biggest breakouts/busts and player news coverage all year round. It's always fantasy football season here. Read More Now!

 

Quarterbacks - #TrendingUp

Matthew Stafford - DET

I don’t understand how year after year Matthew Stafford does not get the same love as other top QBs. Stafford’s ADP last offseason was 111.3, good for QB15. Stafford had a good year in 2016 and after another year with Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, Stafford was going to be a bargain at that ADP. This past season Stafford set a career high in QB rating with 99.3 and was the most efficient he has ever been. Stafford finished the season as QB7, one of the biggest values at QB this season outside of Carson Wentz and Alex Smith. He is growing as a QB and when he turns 30 next year, he should be even better. Let’s hope Bob Quinn can get Stafford an upgrade on the offensive line and at running back. If Stafford can tap into the play action and actually see opposing defenses bite on it, he will be even better.

Blake Bortles - JAX

Blake Bortles wasn’t even supposed to be a starting QB in Week 1. Based on the comments from head coach Doug Marrone during the preseason, the game plan was to take the ball from Bortles and run it as much as possible. There was even a thought Chad Henne could take over as starter. Bortles proved to be a huge asset for some fantasy owners down the stretch. In Weeks 12-14, Bortles was 65 of 91 for 903 yards, seven TDs and no interceptions. The Jaguars have become one of the best offensive teams in football, finishing sixth in total yards per game and fifth in points per game. The best part though, is how young the offensive is. If the Jaguars can convince Allen Robinson to come back, Bortles will have some tremendous weapons to throw to and a running game to take the pressure off. He could be in for a really good 2018 and a great value for those who like to wait on QBs.

 

Quarterbacks - #TrendingDown

Drew Brees - NO

Since Drew Brees’s first season in New Orleans, he has been the golden standard of reliable play in fantasy football. Since 2006 Brees’s average finish has been QB3. You don’t get any better than that. In 2017 though, he saw his lowest finish at QB9. That sounds great and I am sure anyone would love to have that on their team. However, coming from a dynasty perspective, it’s time to find his replacement. The only thing Brees really improved on this season was his INT%, but that is easier to do when you have your least amount of pass attempts since 2009. If Mark Ingram does stay in New Orleans, the Saints will lean on him and Alvin Kamara. There is a good chance Brees will fall outside the top 10 QBs moving forward.

Alex Smith - KC

How is it that the QB4 of 2017 is #TrendingDown? Well, what offense will he be leading next year? I don’t see the Chiefs keeping Smith on the roster in 2018 since they will only owe $3.6 million in dead cap to cut him. The biggest issue with Smith this year was the low point of the midseason when it seemed like the entire Chiefs offense had disappeared. For as good as Smith was at the beginning and end of the season, he was just as bad during a stretch as well. Andy Reid had to defend his QB several times as Patrick Mahomes sat on the sideline waiting for his shot. In Mahomes only game action this year, he faced Broncos in Week 17 and threw for 284 yards and an interception. Mahomes has a much higher upside than Smith and could really open the potential of the Chiefs offense. If Smith is cut, it’s highly unlikely he will sign with a team that has weapons like Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Travis Kelce.

 

Running Backs - #TrendingUp

Derrick Henry - TEN

There is no way Demarco Murray is in Tennessee during the 2018 season. If the Titans cut the Murray, they will owe nothing. Dynasty owners have been waiting for Derrick Henry to take over duties in the backfield for two years now. Henry has a higher average yards per carry then Murray the last two years, but Murray still finds his way to the top of the depth chart every week. The best thing Henry could have done this year; is show he is more than just a back that runs through the tackles. Matt Harmon of NFL.com gave us some great stats on backs who excelled on outside runs.

Those are some great names to be in company with, so is Henry for real? I’m still up in the air. He could be the next Trent Richardson or he could be the next Mark Ingram. Either way though, his value will go up if Murray is released, so try and move now. If you are already a Henry owner, hold still unless you get one sweet deal.

Duke Johnson - CLE

Duke Johnson is another running back destined for bigger things in 2018 due to an increased role. If Hue Jackson really is back for another season in 2018, I don’t see Isiah Crowell resigning with Cleveland. Now we will get to see if Johnson has the abilities to be an every down back. Or will he prove to be just a PPR option for owners. So far, that’s all he has been. In 2017, Johnson finished as RB21 in standard scoring but RB11 in PPR scoring. He could end up being more though moving forward if his volume goes up next season. Crowell lead Browns running backs last season with 178 rushing attempts. If you give that workload to Johnson, he would have rushed for 747 yards. That would have given Johnson 1,440 all-purpose yards, more than Christian McCaffrey, Carlos Hyde and Leanord Fournette. He also would have only been 114 yards short of Alvin Kamara. If he can get a full season of RB1 workload, in an offense that will be greatly improved with a full season of Josh Gordon and big steps forward from Deshaun Kizer and David Njoku, he will be potentially reach RB5 overall.

 

Running Backs - #TrendingDown

Marlon Mack - IND

As I mentioned in the opening, just because a player in listed as #TrendingDown, doesn’t mean I don’t like them. As with Marlon Mack, this holds true. His perceived value is down right now because he was unable to take Frank Gores starting job. To be fair though, Gore is a freak of nature. Mack didn’t show enough in the run game for me to be confident in his ability to have RB1 upside, but he was explosive enough in the passing game that he can improve on his number this year. There is no word yet if Gore will be back with the Colts next season. He has expressed interest if Andrew Luck is back and healthy. Luck being healthy could be a key for Mack though if the Colts don’t add another running back. Jim Irsay has hinted at the possibility of adding another running back either through free agency or the draft. Irsay is going to want to make a splash this offseason (Le’Veon Bell anyone?) to gain the confidence of fans and create excitement for next year. If I could add Mack at a reasonable price this offseason, I would jump at the chance. Other owners will not have nearly the stake in him after a disappointing rookie campaign. Move now.

Melvin Gordon - LAC

Man was I high on Melvin Gordon at the start of the year. High powered, wide open offense and no clear cut person to take opportunities away. Well, I was right. Gordon had a great season finishing as the RB5, rushing for 1,000 for the first time in his career and matching his touchdown total from 2016. As great as the workload was for 2017, it’s going to be a concern moving forward because it seems like Gordon is putting up his numbers based on workload and not efficiency. Gordon has yet to average 4.0 yards a carry during his career. If for any reason his workload decreases, he could drop from the RB1 conversation, to RB2 or even RB3 conversations. Only three running backs in the top 20 of fantasy points had a lower YPC then Gordon in 2017. With 538 carries in the last two years, Gordon has seen quite the workload and he played through quite a few injuries this year. I don’t typically stay away from players based on injuries, but in this case, I am staying away from Gordon in 2018.

 

Wide Receivers - #TrendingUp

Keenan Allen - LAC

The same reason I said to stay away from Gordon next year is the same reason people were staying away from Keenan Allen prior to this season. Since his rookie year in 2013, I have done everything I can to have this guy on my team. Allen is an absolute beast that puts up WR1 numbers……when healthy. This is the first time in his five-year career that Allen has played in 16 games. His injuries haven’t been ones that should worry fantasy owners long term. The best part of this is the talent around Allen. The Chargers are one of the best young teams in the NFL, on both sides of the ball and they are already my pick to win the AFC West in 2018. It’s hard to say Allen is #TrendingUp when he seems to have reached peak value, but there is more in there. Allen almost missed all of 2016 so you can expect he needed to shake off some rust. He did that in the middle of the season when he had a five game stretch where he had 20 catches for 262 yards and no touchdowns. If you remove those five games, Allen averaged seven catches for 102 yards per game. He is in for an even bigger 2018, so try and convince the Allen owner in your league he’s more like his five worst games and not like his best 11 games. Or you could just play the injury card again. Just get him.

Nelson Agholor - PHI

Yeah, I didn’t see this coming. I was all aboard the Jordan Mathews train and his move back to the slot. After a surprising trade that sent Mathews to the Bills, Agholor was back in the lineup and ready to prove everyone he wasn’t a bust. He had two mediocre seasons to start his career but came on strong in 2017, especially in PPR formats. You can probably attribute some of Agholor’s success to the breakout of Carson Wentz this year, and this offense shows no signs of slowing down next year. Wentz probably won’t be ready to start the season, but I am still buying Agholor in 2018. His performances were very up and down as he had nine games with less than 50 receiving yards. He will become more consistent as he learns his spot in the offense and continues to grow with his QB. I think he is #TrendingUp although some owners may feel differently with Wentz missing the first portion of the season. If you are making a deal with the Agholor owner in your league, try to get him as a toss in.

 

Wide Receivers - #TrendingDown

Jordy Nelson - GB

The reign of Jordy Nelson being the WR1 in Green Bay is all done. Devante Adams is the best WR for the Packers now and that was showcased when Adams, not Nelson, continued to put up excellent numbers even after Aaron Rodgers went down with an injury. The worst part was it appeared Nelson seemed to take plays off and play slower without Rodgers. Did Rodgers make the receiver? Maybe. But now that Adams got his extension, Rodgers will be up next. It also seems like the Packers will be extending Ha Ha Clinton-Dixon, which won’t be cheap. They can keep Nelson next year and let him become a free agent after the season or cut him this offseason and only own $2.3 million in dead cap. I think the Packers will keep him to make another run, but they won’t resign him. Without Rodgers, Nelson hasn’t proven he can be a WR1. In fact, he wasn’t even a flex play without Rodgers this year. In nine games without Rodgers, Nelson only had 28 catches for 192 yards. I’m making a hard pass on Nelson this offseason, unless you can get him very cheap.

Mike Evans - TB

Okay, hold on for a second and stick with me. If you are a Tampa Bay fan or Mike Evans truther, please don’t flip the page. I know you are thinking I’m crazy right now, but at least give me the chance to defend my crazy analysis. Evans has 1,000 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons in the league, so it doesn’t appear he is slowing down, but he has been inconsistent as far as his TDs go. In 2014 and 2016, Evans had 12 touchdowns. In 2015 he had 3 and this past season he had 5. The team around the player can break him as much as it can make him, and I don’t have a ton of confidence in the Tampa Bay offense next year. Part of the reason is the inconsistent play of Jameis Winston. Not only that, but the Buccaneers don’t have a set situation at running back, DeSean Jackson isn’t the same receiver he used to be and the Tampa Bay offensive line was very mediocre this season. Evans obviously has all of the talents in the world, but unless Tampa Bay can fix some of their offensive line issues in the draft and free agency, it could be another year of inconsistent play. If that happens, you could wait and try to acquire Evans next season. If the Buccaneers get off to a slow start, jump at the chance to get him from an impatient owner.

 

Tight Ends - #TrendingUp

Eric Ebron - DET

I will regret this portion of the article someday. It always happens to me. Eric Ebron is one of the players who I will never be able to escape from. I drafted him in the first round of a rookie draft back in 2014. Just like the Lions, I passed on Odell Beckham Jr. in that draft to take Ebron. Lucky for me, Beckham was still there in the second round, so it didn’t burn me as much. Ebron had a decent end to the 2017 season, but it was another inconsistent and disappointing year outside of that. Ebron was supposed to have his breakout campaign this season after a huge step forward last year, but he took a huge step back instead. Ebron had five game this year in which he recorded single digit receiving yards. He came on strong at the end though. In Weeks 13-16 Ebron had 20 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns. It sounds like the Lions plan on picking up his option for 2018, which is in his best interest. Ebron isn’t going to find a better offense to play in through free agency. Stafford is also #TrendingUp, like the rest of his offense and that includes Ebron. They continue to get better with Jim Bob Cooter as the OC and hopefully whoever the new head coach is, will continue to build on that with or without Cooter. If the Lions can somehow pry Pat Shumur away from the Vikings, maybe Ebron can experience the same kind of growth Kyle Rudolph has the past two seasons.

George Kittle - SF

It was a pretty uneventful rookie season for George Kittle. He finished as the TE19 in PPR formats, only had 515 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers seem unimpressive, but Kittle had more receptions and receiving yards than any TE taken in the fifth round or later in NFL history. But the man with a golden arm is making everyone around him better. The emergence of Jimmy Garoppolo for the 49ers at the end of the season had an effect on Kittle, as he was able to post 11 catches for 194 yards and one touchdown during the final three weeks of the season. The only concern moving forward is how Kyle Shanahan has used his tight ends in the past. Even Jordan Reed didn’t post a sufficient stat line in his rookie season with Shanahan as his OC. He will need to fight with Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor for targets next season and that doesn’t even include the backs Shanahan will also use. Kittle could be a great late round flyer or grab him for TE depth this offseason with fingers crossed that he breaks out.

 

Tight Ends - #TrendingDown

Jimmy Graham - FA

Impending free agent Jimmy Graham looks destined to leave Seattle. Multiple reports have stated Graham will not resign with the Seahawks, although it appears Seattle has tried to keep talks alive. Graham was able to post double digit TDs for the first time since 2014, but posted a career low in catch percentage and yards per reception. In fact, it was a full five yards lower than 2016. During Grahams first season in Seattle, we gave him a pass. It was a run first offense that didn’t utilize tight ends the way New Orleans did. This season saw Russell Wilson put together a MVP season and has also saw the Seattle offense evolve into a pass first offense. I can’t buy into a 31-year-old tight end entering free agency with no guarantee he ends up with a better QB then the one he has now. Too much uncertainty and not enough production to pay for Grahams price.

Jordan Reed - WAS

There isn’t much to say, we all know Reed deserves to be here. Injuries have completely derailed the start of his career, and while there is still plenty of time left to turn it around, my main worry is concussions. Reed has had several in his career so far, and coupled with other injuries, he just has not been able to stay on the field. When Reed is on the field though, it’s hard to doubt the talent. It’s time to stop paying for it though. Unless you can get Reed extremely cheap this offseason, pass. However, he is worth a waiver if you decide to wait until the end to grab a TE or need one and his owner is selling cheap. Just have a backup plan in case it doesn’t work out.

 

More 2017 Dynasty League Strategy