#TrendingNow - Dynasty Risers and Fallers

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There’s nothing like a great start to the fantasy football season. In one of my leagues, we always play the game “you know football is back when” and I want to kick this article off with a good one. You know football is back when you have to plug your phone in multiple times on Sundays just to check your fantasy scores.

As excited as you may be at kickoff that first Sunday of the season, your whole season can be ruined just a few hours later. Owners this year have already been hit hard by preseason injuries, but Week 1 also saw Allen Robinson gone for the season (ACL) and David Johnson (wrist) for upwards of 12 weeks.

If your season gets off to a 0-1 start, that’s okay, you still have plenty of time left to turn it around. Just be thankful you survived Week 1. That said, hope springs eternal in dynasty leagues where youth rules. Let's look at who's trending up or down for dynasty leagues heading into Week 2 of the NFL season.

Editor's note: Purchase any NFL Lineup Optimizer pass (including daily DFS cheat sheets), and you also get access to NBA and NHL Optimizers and DFS cheat sheets.

 

#TrendingUp

Kenny Golladay (WR, DET)

Is it possible for Golladay to be trending up even more than he already was heading into Week 1? It may not seem possible, but it is. It became more and more clear during the preseason that Golladay would be working in three-receiver sets this season and he out-snapped TJ Jones 44-19 on Sunday. Golladay is going to start taking away snaps from Eric Ebron moving forward as well. Part of the reason Ebron was facing a potential breakout this year was because someone was going to see the 95 targets Anquan Boldin had in 2016.

Week 1 against the Cardinals shows Golladay will be that guy instead. Ebron saw three targets for nine yards on two catches. Compare that to Golladay's seven targets for 69 yards on four catches, and let's also add the two touchdowns on top of that. Golladay has officially become the WR to own in Detroit for dynasty. Golden Tate is great for PPR leagues and Jones is nothing more than a low end WR2, but there is room for all three to succeed. The defense in Detroit is still shaky at best which will lead to more opportunities for Matthew Stafford and his weapons to put up big numbers for fantasy owners. If you still have the chance, buy now before it’s too late, but expect to pay a steep price.

Sterling Shepard (WR, NYG)

When the Giants added Brandon Marshall this offseason, it looked as if Shepard would see some regression after an impressive rookie campaign. After an embarrassing loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, it looks as if Shepard could become Eli Manning’s safety blanket this year. His receiving yards were not impressive against the Cowboys (44) but he hauled in 7 of 8 targets. The offensive line in New York is going to be brutal and Manning will not have a ton of time to sit back and wait for receivers to get open.

Shepard could be a great flex play in PPR leagues until Marshall is out of a Giants uniform, but would then move back to a WR2 after that. When Odell Beckham Jr. returns, it could help open the field even more. With Beckham and Marshall on the outside, it will leave plenty of room for Shepard to get open in the middle of the field and take those quick throws from Manning. Check in with the Shepard owner in your leagues and see if you can get him at a discount after a poor offensive performance by the Giants. He could help you in a PPR league this year, but his true value lies in 2018 and beyond.

Minnesota Vikings Offense

I was extremely critical of the Vikings offense this offseason. Wasn’t a fan of Stefon Diggs, left Dalvin Cook outside my top 10 rookies at one point, was adamant Sam Bradford was not a dynamic enough quarterback to lead any Vikings players back to fantasy stardom and accused the offensive line of still being one of the worst in football. Well, they sure shut me up. Now, we probably need to temper expectations a little bit because the New Orleans Saints have not been accused of having a great defense in quite some time, but they showed me enough to change my mind. Bradford and Alex Smith, two of the simplest QBs in the NFL, just went off in Week 1 with some major fantasy stats.

In the run game, Cook looked explosive against the Saints getting to the outside, breaking away from defenders and running it between the tackles with force. He looked like a legit RB2 against the Saints and has room to grow. He is going to face tough matchups with games against the Bears and Packers front seven this year, but this is a good start to his career. The biggest plus for Cook was being trusted by the coaching staff with a full workload in week one. 22 carries and another three receptions compared to Latavius Murray carrying the ball twice is enough reason to believe there are no restrictions on Cook this season.

Even though Adam Thielen continues to be the go-to for Bradford, Diggs had the two receptions that mattered most. 93 yards on seven catches and two touchdowns is a monster start to the season for a receiver who has all the talent in the world but may have had struggles showcasing that talent with his QB. Bradford was able to get the ball to Diggs on several different routes and actually showed some confidence in his throws downfield. That is the single biggest key to opening up this offense. Bradford has to be able to stretch the field with Diggs to take the pressure off Thielen, Kyle Rudolph and Cook. The Vikings executed perfectly on Monday night and have the look of an offense on the rise.

 

#TrendingDown

Rex Burkhead (RB, NE)

Even if Bill Belichick wasn’t able to outsmart the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night, he was able to outsmart fantasy football owners one more time. For over a week, reports continued to come out of Patriots camp leading owners to believe Burkhead was the running back to own in New England, but we were Bill-boozled. Everyone knows the New England backfield is always tough to sort through, and you could expect the leading rusher to be a different person for three straight weeks. Burkhead does not seem to be the option in New England however as he received as many carries as Chris Hogan. Yes, that’s correct, Chris Hogan the receiver.

The RB to own in New England is James White who received 10 carries for 38 yards and tacked on three receptions for 30 yards. Mike Gillislee will own the goal line this year and carry all the TD value. When you add in the weapons for Tom Brady to throw to, there isn’t enough room for Burkhead to be a legitimate fantasy option. There is no need to stash him in dynasty leagues, New England is never afraid to cut someone who isn’t worth a roster spot. If Burkhead had any value as a starting RB in the NFL, someone other than the Patriots would have signed him this year. Keep in mind, his former team let him walk and then used a second round pick on a RB. It appears the ride is over.

Josh Doctson (WR, WAS)

Zero. That’s the number of catches Doctson had in week one against the Philadelphia Eagles. Zero is also the number of a much more important stat. Targets. Doctson wasn’t even targeted one time in a game that saw the Redskins down a majority of the time. What’s worse is how awful the running game was on top of that, and he still didn’t get any looks in a game that was set up perfectly for Kirk Cousins to air it out. There has been a ton of hype about the Redskins offense this year and rightfully so. This was a bad week against a defense that will be pretty good this year, so we will chalk it up to first week struggles, but Doctson may not have much of a role moving forward this year.

Doctson was already behind Terrell Pryor, Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed in the target pecking order but he’s also behind Chris Thompson AND Ryan Grant as well now. Doctson only made it onto the field for 20 of the Redskins 63 offensive plays. In an offseason where the Redskins lost two 1,000 yard receivers in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, it’s incredible that Doctson didn’t even see a target in week one. Even in dynasty leagues, I’m not looking to add Doctson. If you already own him, you won’t get anything for him. If he happens to have a huge game, sell and sell quickly before he puts another goose egg on the board.

Arizona Cardinals Offense

One of the most important players in fantasy football may be lost for the next 12 weeks. At this point, it’s speculation until the Cardinals announce the extent of the injury to David Johnson’s wrist, but it doesn’t look good. Without their best player, the Cardinals have the look of an aging team that could be one more injury away from a season in the basement of the NFC West. The biggest concern is how poorly Carson Palmer performed against a Lions defense that really is not that good. Palmer was 27 of 48 for 269 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Even more alarming was Palmers average completion of 5.6 yards.

If Johnson is out for a majority of the season, how can you rely on a 37-year-old QB to carry your team to the post season? As a fantasy owner, how can you rely on Palmer to get your players the ball in a one dimensional offense? Outside of Johnson, there are no true dynasty targets on this Cardinals team. John Brown and JJ Nelson offer some intriguing upside, but nothing more than low end WR2 or flex plays. Larry Fitzgerald is still a worthy PPR option, especially in redraft formats, but I would be inclined to trade him right away in dynasty. This offense will not run fluently without Johnson in the backfield and the Cardinals do not have anyone on the roster capable of even filling half his role. Hang on tight Cardinals fans, this could be a long year.

 

More 2017 Dynasty League Strategy