Ten Experts (plus Tim and Myself) Draft Their Dynasty, Here’s What Happened

Author: Steven Van Tassell

The Dynasty Owner Experts league draft was a couple of weeks before the return of Monday Night Football, but this past Monday night was just like the MNF of old. It was supposed to start at 9:00 PM (Eastern) and went way too long as the draft didn’t end until almost 1:00 AM.  Tim and I did a live stream of the proceedings that drew lower ratings than a late season Jacksonville-Tennessee game with both teams under .500. Only 211 views on YouTube so far, which is more than the videos that Tim and I have been doing on a regular basis, but less than the Christopher Harris Possum League video. On the positive side, at least two people have commented so far that they watched the entire video. Thanks to Alex Brazan and Timothy Scrom who posted that they watched it all and everyone else who watched at least part of it.

The first Dynasty Owner Experts League has 10 fantasy football experts, plus Dynasty Owner CEO Tim Peffer and me, drafting teams to crown the first Experts League Champion. Eddie and the other guys in my beta league will argue about whether our league is the “real” experts league or not. Since all of the people in this league have ten or more times as many Twitter followers as I do (231 followers and counting as of press time) and likely more fantasy football championship than I can possibly count, I’ll keep calling them the “experts” and pray that I win a game or two. Also don’t expect me to call out bad picks too much or poor lineup decision making for the same reason, they are the experts and I’m just hoping to show that I belong in the same league.

Thanks to everyone for participating and being a part of Dynasty Owner. I proud to have been asked and excited to be a part of it. The chat banter on Monday night was fun and I have a feeling that there were more private text messages between the other experts that I wasn’t included in that were as much fun (or even more) than what occurred in the chat. For the purposes of this article, ADP and Dynasty Owner ownership statistics were current as of August 29th.

Draft Boards

Part 1 – Rounds 1 to 11

It’s probably hard to see each individual choice, but to break it down for those of you who may not have seen a Dynasty Owner live draft board: green is for RBs; red is for QBs; purple is for WRs; and blue is for TEs. Lots of green and purple with sprinkles of red and blue. Players without a picture are rookies and you can see that there were three rookies drafted in the first round, including Clyde Edwards-Helaire surprisingly being chosen with the first overall pick by Jerry Donabedian from Rotowire. A total of 24 rookies were chosen in the first 11 rounds with a rookie taken in every round but Round 3). To demonstrate how QBs are more valued in Dynasty Owner, 9 out of 12 teams had two QBs by this point in the draft with 5 of those teams having their two QBs by the end of the seventh round. Most teams had two RBs by the end of the fourth round with two teams having three by that point. Only one team (Tyler Guenthner from Dynasty Happy Hour) drafted two TEs by this point in the draft and one team (me – Dynasty Owner Steve) had zero TEs.

Part 2 – Rounds 12 to 25

There’s lots of orange in the second half of the draft – that’s for kickers. You’ll see that five teams drafted three kickers, six took two of them and one team only drafted one (Sideline Squib). The first kicker taken was Matt Gay in Round 15 by Dynasty Owner Tim, followed four picks later by Younghoe Koo by Dynasty Owner Steve. Not a lot of patterns to be seen here in the second half of the draft, so let’s look at the individual teams.

I Can Analyze That Team in One Sentence

This sounds like a great idea for a game show, doesn’t it? If you’re old enough to know that it’s not an original idea and that I’m ripping off Name That Tune (“I can name that tune in one note”), congratulations on being old like me. If you don’t get the reference, here’s a very long Wikipedia entry on the show and its various iterations (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Name_That_Tune). If you are asking what does this have to do with football, then you clearly don’t know that Mrs. Frank Gifford (if anyone doesn’t know, Frank Gifford is a NFL Hall of Famer who was also on Monday Night Football for 27 years) was the orchestra vocalist at one time. Now, on to the analysis in draft order:

  1. Jerry Donabedian, aka JerryDeez (Rotowire) – @Jerrydonabedian – I can do this one in three letters, CEH.
  2. Just Joe (Rotowire) – @Rotowire – This team was looking like a bargain team until he spent almost $35 million on Jones, Amari Cooper and Zach Ertz in Rounds 6-8.
  3. Garret Price (Dynasty Nerds) – @DynastyPrice – He had rookie fever and the cure was using a lot of his $110 million salary cap on expensive WRs in Tyreek Hill and Allen Robinson and TEs in Darren Waller and Austin Hooper.
  4. Tim Peffer (Dynasty Owner Tim) – @Dynasty_Owner – Tim took CMC and Deshaun Watson in the first two rounds, that draft strategy looks familiar (see Vantastics, “All Star League”), but it might not be the best idea to copy me.
  5. Andy Hall (Lazer 103.3 in Des Moines) @AndyHallRadio – I really like this team as he made solid selections at the start, then some value and ended with a mix of value and experience.
  6. Michael Ginnitti (Spotrac) – @Spotrac – He has a Cardinals stack of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins and largely avoided picking top players with one year left on their contract, which probably isn’t surprising.
  7. Steve Serda (610 Sports KC) @StephenSerda – Steve has a lot of RBs and WRs on his roster with 18 of his 25 player roster playing those positions.
  8. Steven Van Tassell (Dynasty Owner Steve) – @SteveVT33 – I was excited but scared to see Patrick Mahomes drop to the #8 pick as this year could be a Ricky Bobby situation (“If you’re not first, you’re last”) followed by rebuilding with Mahomes’ contract weighing down my team.
  9. Kyle Yates (Fantasy Pros) – @KyleYNFL – Kyle went with the stars and scrubs approach by spending a lot of money early and often and then finding lots of value at the end.
  10. Tyler Guenthner (Dynasty Happy Hour) – @DHH_Tyler – Solid team and I’m not just saying that because he personally sniped me five even numbered rounds in a row by taking the guy I wanted two picks in front of me.
  11. Dynasty Rewind @DynastyRewind – Reports are that the four Rewind guys were in a Zoom chat so they can all claim credit for their picks in which they always looked for (and found) value throughout the draft, leaving them spending only $86 million and the title of the team with the most cap room left after the draft.
  12. Sideline Squib – @SidelineSquib – Steve Silvestri (@SteveSilvestri3) and Andrew Leehy (@DoOrDieNasty) love stacking so much they did it twice (one per Squibber) with their back to back picks, first with Broncos (Courtland Sutton and Drew Lock) and then Cowboys (Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb).

My Changing Draft Philosophy

For every 12-team draft, there are 12 draft philosophies. Since it would have taken a long time to talk with everyone about their philosophy for Dynasty Owner and these are extremely busy people, I decided to just share my own personal draft philosophy.

When the draft order was announced, I started to go through my Top 300 list and prepare and add players to my queue. With the #8 pick, I figured that I’d be getting Nick Chubb (#8 in my rankings) or maybe Alvin Kamara (#7 in my rankings) with my first pick. If either Kyler Murray (ADP 4.8) or more likely Deshaun Watson (ADP 6.7) fell into my lap, then I’d grab them, but otherwise I was prepared to go RB-RB with my first two picks based on my draft position. The idea was to get some low salary value players at the beginning of the draft.

That definitely did NOT happen as Patrick Mahomes dropped down to the #8 pick and I blew up my plan completely, but in a good way. Instead of thinking about what expensive veteran QB I was going to draft in the middle rounds or grabbing Josh Allen in the third round, I had gotten the reigning Super Bowl MVP. After that, it was six straight RBs (Kamara, Jacobs, Sanders, Chubb, Elliott, Swift) before two WRs (Godwin and Adams). Suddenly, it’s my pick and I’ve got the opportunity to get the #1 WR in Michael Thomas with my second round pick. I debated internally for a while, but ultimately decided to take Thomas and commit almost $65 million of my 2021 salary cap to two players. While I usually try to be flexible, this team construction was definitely not my usual Dynasty Owner strategy, but I embraced my inner Ricky Bobby and drafted Thomas.

After that, I need to make some value picks and get a RB or two and quickly. Devin Singletary was still around in the third round (pick #32 overall) and snatched up the #18 player in my Top 300 for my first RB, then grabbed my #26 ranked player in Kenny Golladay in the fourth round (pick #41). Both of them have salaries of under $1 million for 2020, so I was sitting at just over $25 million in 2020 salary (but over $65 million for 2021 or more if I try to keep Golladay around).

However, I deviated significantly from my Top 300 in the fifth round by selecting Raheem Mostert instead of several guys who I have rated higher, such as Chris Carson (who I ended up with in the sixth round anyway), Mark Ingram, James White, Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and Tarik Cohen to name a few. My feeling was that I needed a player with a reasonable salary signed for more than one year since I’m likely not going to be able to keep Golladay in 2021. That meant no drafting Johnson and Bell and their double digit million dollar contracts (although I ended up with Johnson as my eighth round selection), no to Carson, White, Gurley and Cohen because they are all on one year deal. I also deemed Mark Ingram’s contract as too high at $5 million for two years. The decision was between Mostert and one of three rookie RBs – Antonio Gibson who may start and two (A.J. Dillon and Ke’Shawn Vaughn) of whom are projected as 2020 backups – so I went with Mostert. It was after my selection that I noticed both of my top two RBs are on bye in Week 11 this year, which is why I drafted Chris Carson in the sixth round. Let’s not go round by round as I’m sure many of you are bored reading this by now. However, I will share one additional strategy that I employed in this draft which was paying attention to the draft of the people drafting around you.  Using the Live Draft board to see how much teams have spent and who they drafted, I was able to notice that @KyleYNFL who was picking right behind me in the odd numbered rounds and right in front of me in the even numbered rounds, spent over $100 million in salaries by the ninth round. As a result, he was going to have to draft sub-$1 million guys in every round afterward. He only had about $9.5 million left in salary for his last 16 players or right around $600,000 per pick. For me, it meant drafting a couple of guys who I wanted a bit earlier than I may have done so normally, such as when I picked Allen Lazard (ADP 137.4) in the eleventh round at pick #128 instead of waiting to see if he lasted until my next pick (#137). Because of his cap situation, I didn’t think Kyle would let Lazard go by twice.

Interesting Expert Observations

From the first pick of Clyde Edwards-Helaire to the last pick of Chris Conley and everywhere in between, there were plenty of interesting things that happened during this first Experts Dynasty Owner draft. Here’s a list of a few of them:

  • Most Surprising Pick(s): Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the #1 pick, followed closely by Johnathan Taylor with the #3 pick by @DynastyPrice from Dynasty Nerds. Christian McCaffrey and Patrick Mahomes lasting to the #4 and #8 overall picks were also a surprise.
  • First Comment that Shows How Dynasty Owner Is Different – After Tim and I drafted our first kickers, someone remarked on the chat “Is there something the Dynasty guys know that we don’t”. This was followed by several kickers getting drafted including two by @DynastyPrice after I took my second kicker. Perhaps he thought I knew something since he, Tyler from Dynasty Happy Hour, and the Dynasty Rewind guys each took three kickers. This is very likely something none of them have ever done before (and likely will never do again).
  • No Big Position Runs – There is usually a run on players at a position at some point in every fantasy draft, but that wasn’t really the case in this one. Maybe experts are less likely than the rest of us to get caught up in a position run, but the longest stretch of players selected at a single position was the 7 WRs chosen in the middle of the fourth round. It started with @KyleYNFL taking D.K. Metcalf and ended with @DynastyPrice grabbing Jalen Reagor before the run ended with Just Joe from Rotowire selecting James Conner. In contrast, if readers recall, the All-Star League had a run of 13 RBs taken in the first and second round.
  • Few Questionable Picks – Having looked at over 500 teams for my Dynasty Owner handcuff article (https://dynastyowner.com/2020/08/utilizing-handcuffs-star-players/), I saw a lot of bad draft picks. Guys who should not be taken at all such as C.J. Ham immediately spring to mind. My pick of Salvon Ahmed in the 22nd round was a bad one since I picked him up Monday night and he was promptly released by San Francisco on Tuesday. Fortunately, the Dolphins picked him up off waivers, but who knows if he’ll make the team or not. Even so, I’m not alone in having Ahmed as he’s owned in 68% of leagues (and dropping) right now. The other pick that could be deemed questionable was the selection of Josh Oliver (TE – JAC) in the 24th round by Sideline Squib. Oliver is out for all of 2020, but still has two years left after this year on his contract at $1.062 million per year. Oliver is only owned in 7% of Dynasty Owner leagues, but the Squib guys could just be planning ahead for 2021 with this pick. Check out the final draft boards posted earlier in this article and send your thoughts on questionable picks to me via Twitter (@SteveVT33) or post them in the YouTube chat.

Conclusions

Being part of the first Dynasty Owner experts draft was great and a true honor. Hopefully seeing how these experts drafted will give you some ideas on how to go about doing your own Dynasty Owner draft if you haven’t drafted yet. If you already drafted, check out the draft board and see if any of the experts drafted a similar team to yours. Is it maybe because you listen to them or was it just by chance?

Hope all of you enjoyed this recap article and the actual draft podcast on YouTube. Speaking of articles, more of them are coming from myself, Chris Wolf (@ckwolf21 on Twitter) and others. The podcast series with myself and Dynasty Owner CEO Tim Peffer continues to be taped and posted on the Dynasty Owner channel on YouTube and other places (iTunes, Spotify, Spreaker) as well. Subscribe to the YouTube channel and make sure to “Like” all of the videos to help promote them. Dynasty Owner is closing in on 500 subscribers on YouTube now and thank you all for watching and listening. All of this great content is available to help you win your Dynasty Owner league and maybe become the winner of the 2020 Chase for the Ring!

Follow us on Twitter: @Dynasty_Owner

The Top Five Players to Draft at Every Position

Author: Jay Poundsee

As we have all learned, Dynasty Owner is a far different fantasy football game than any of us have ever known. In this format, you will find more extraordinary differences in value than any other draft you have ever found yourself in. In my start-up draft, I watched players like Courtland Sutton and his $1,710,480 salary be drafted with the 34th pick. While a player like Julio Jones and his $22,000,000 salary fell to me all the way down at the 51st selection of the draft. Looking at these draft boards without any insight to the situation may be enough to drive the average man insane. The thought of trying to figure out how Mecole Hardman with a salary of $1,248,763 gets sandwiched between Keenan Allen at $11,250,000 and Stefon Diggs and his $14,400,000 salary may just drive you bonkers. Luckily, we at Dynasty Owner have your back and are here to help.

In this article I will be giving the top 5 players at each position I recommend targeting in your upcoming drafts. The requirements will be players with high upside, 2 or more years left on their deal, and under $9.9 (million) per year salary(5th year options will be assumed).

Quarterbacks

Let us start with what I feel is the most important position here in Dynasty Owner, which is the quarterback. The number one QB and most likely number 1 pick in every draft will be Lamar Jackson with 2 years at $2.3(million) left on his deal. He is almost a sure bet to be the best value in all of Dynasty Owner in terms of cost per point.

At number two, I have Kyler Murray, who has 4 years left at $8,789,661 per year. I have Kyler at number 2 because of the potential he showed in 2019 as a rookie on a bad football team. It also helps when you give a young talented kid a wide-out named Deandre Hopkins. Needless to say, the Arizona Cardinals are a must watch on TV this season.

At the 3rd quarterback spot has to be Daniel Jones with 4 years left at $6,416,014. I know the majority will have Josh Allen over Jones, but I feel Jones has more upside after the rookie year he just had. If you take Jones stats and stretch them out over 16 games, he would have broken Baker Mayfield’s rookie touchdown record of 27(paced at 32) along with roughly 350-400 rushing yards and that screams great cost per point at the quarterback position.

As mentioned above, I have Josh Allen at 4 with 2 years left at $5,295760. Allen has improved each year and seems to have a solid floor because of his rushing work near the goal line. When you pair that with a cheap salary it makes him an easy choice here.

Rounding out my top 5 is the incoming number 1 overall draft pick Mr. Joe Burrow at $9,047,534 and 5 years to go on his deal. I absolutely love Burrow’s potential as well as the sneaky good upside of the Bengals offense and what they have started to build around him in year 1. Burrow just had the best college season ever, while showing the most poise and confidence we have ever witnessed. He is still a rookie so for now he checks in at number 5. This kid has greatness written all over him!

Running Backs

With our next position, we will be talking about the running backs. In these rankings you won’t find any better than Saquon Barkley with 3 years left at $7,798,688. There isn’t much here to say about Barkley. He pretty much speaks for himself at this point, health is the only concern.

At number 2 I have Clyde Edwards-Helaire at $2,705,393 with 5 years left on his deal. I know hes only a rookie but looking back through recent history, first round running backs have always seen 200 plus touches (aside from Rashad Penny). If Joe Blow from the corner store was in this Chiefs backfield getting 200 plus touches at a low salary, I would want him on my roster. Let’s not forget the reports of Mahomes texting CEH during the draft saying “I want you on my team” or Coach Andy Reid’s Brian Westbrook comparison. I think it’s safe to say the chiefs have big time plans for their rookie.

At 3, I have Miles Sanders and his $1,337,544 salary with another 3 years to go in Doug Pederson’s offense. Philly’s running backs coach Deuce Staley has had nothing but high praises this off season about Sanders talent and his upcoming workload, which means big things are coming. Sanders is an immensely talented running back who broke out in the second half last year. I would rank him in the top 5 of all Running backs on pure talent alone.

At 4, I have Josh Jacobs and his $2,983,350 salary with 4 years left on his deal. Jacobs is a true workhorse who could use some work on his receiving, but he seems to have a remarkably high floor and a huge workload ahead of him.

Rounding out the running backs, I have Nick Chubb in 5th. His salary is $1,845,774 and he still has 2 more years left on his contract in Cleveland. The presence of Kareem Hunt is what puts Jacobs ahead of Chubb here.

Wide Receivers

Starting things off at wide receivers, I have one of my personal favorite young fantasy players in all formats and that’s DJ Moore with a potential 3 years left at $2,792,829. I love the upside of Moore and the potential he has shown his first 2 years and let’s face it, he’s yet to have anything but a below average quarterback throwing him the ball. The floor for DJ Moore is extremely high with Teddy Two Gloves in the mix. The next slot was tough for me as I am a diehard Ohio State Buckeye fan and love the upside mixed with production for Terry McLaurin.

With that said, at number 2 I have to go with AJ Brown at $1,413,092 and 3 years left on his deal. I think the upside of the Titans offense is far superior to The Washington Football Team giving AJ Brown a much safer floor and a higher ceiling going forward. In 2019 Brown had just under 19% of the Titans target share which is all but guaranteed to receive a boost in 2020. Somehow, despite all of that he was still able to produce 1,051 yards and 8 touchdowns. Once Ryan Tannehill (who the Titans resigned to a 4 year deal this past off season) took over, Brown exploded onto the fantasy scene.

My third receiver as stated above is Terry McLaurin, who I see as a target monster in Washington. We have all seen with targets comes production in just about all cases. McLaurin has 3 years left at $961,918 which is going to make him an amazing cost per point player in 2020 and years to come.

At number 4 I have DK Metcalf who has 3 years at $1,146,513 left on his deal. In 2019 Metcalf flashed tremendous potential alongside Russel Wilson. Anytime I can get a talent like that catching passes from a quarterback like Wilson sign me up.

At 5 I have my second DJ in DJ Chark JR at $1,111,807 and 2 years left on his current deal. The offense in Jacksonville doesn’t get my wheels spinning but Chark is too good of a cheap young talent to pass on.

Tight Ends

Finally, we have everyone’s favorite position the tight ends. My number 1 tight end here in Dynasty Owner regardless the requirements is none other than Mark Andrews with a salary of just $863,290 and 2 years left. I love the upside of Andrews in the Ravens offense where he played only 44 percent of the team’s offensive plays last year. With the way Andrews has produced thus far he’s almost a lock to be on the field more this season. Look for a big bump up in production for Mr. Andrews in the coming seasons.

In the 2nd spot, I have my breakout tight end in 2020, Dallas Goedert. Goederts salary is $1,406,068 and he has 2 years left on his current deal. I look for Zach Ertz to start showing his age and have a dip in production along with the Eagles receiving situation I look for Goedert to have a big year with a huge bump in targets this season.

At number 3, I have TJ Hockenson at $4,955,306 and 4 years left on his deal. Tight ends tend to take longer than any other position to transition into the NFL and with Hockenson at a cheap salary and potential high production coming over the next few years, he is a no-brainier for me to want on my roster.

Right behind Hockenson at number 4, I have his old Iowa Hawkeye teammate and freak athlete, Noah Fant. The Bronco tight end has as much upside as any young tight end at a salary of $ 3,147,680 and 4 years left in Denver. Which makes him a must have tight end in this format.

Bringing up the rear at number 5, I have Chris Herndon with 2 years left at $792,841. Herndon had a very disappointing year in 2019 with a suspension and 2 separate injuries holding him to just one catch for 7 yards. While 2019 may have been a disappointment, Herndon was excellent his rookie year breaking the rare 500 yard receiving mark for tight ends in their rookie year.

I hope this article helps all of you in your upcoming drafts and remember to always think about your salary next year, who has a new contract coming, and cost per point in this format it’s what will win you championships here in Dynasty Owner.

Follow us on Twitter: @Dynasty_Owner

Roster Roundup – Round Five: AFC East

Taking A Dive Into The Rosters From Around The League

Author: Chris Wolf

This time of year is typically the time when teams, trainers and agents hype up their players. We know how the world has changed in recent months and the NFL is no different in its approach to returning to “normalcy”. With the news of NFL staff and players testing positive for the Coronavirus, fantasy news is taking a backseat. As a result, fantasy players are missing out on the typical hyperbole surrounding pre-season roster news and notes.

In this series we will look at who’s who on rosters and how that may help in your drafts and early waivers.

Each week we will examine a division’s skill position current roster and predictive depth chart heading into training camp to see how that relates to their fantasy outlook.

Buffalo Bills

HC: Sean McDermott

OC: Brian Daboll

QB: Josh Allen, Matt Barkley, Davis Webb, Jake Fromm

RB: Devin Singletary, TJ Yeldon, Zack Moss, Taiwan Jones, Christian Wade, Antonio Williams, Patrick Demarco, Reggie Gilliam

WR: Stefon Diggs, John Brown, Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis, Isaiah McKenzie, Robert Foster, Andre Roberts, Isaiah Hodgins, Nick Easley

TE:Dawson Knox, Tyler Kroft, Lee Smith, Tommy Sweeney, Jason Croom, Nate Becker

Sean McDermott returns for his fourth season at the helm after leading the team to the playoffs in two of his first three years. There is talent on both sides of the ball, especially on the defense. OC Brian Daboll has generally called a well-balanced game with a definite emphasis on the run. Josh Allen returns under center with more optimism this year than his last two years. He now welcomes more weapons and a better offensive line. Allen is a unique talent utilizing both his cannon of an arm with a steady diet of his capable legs. In his 28 career games played, he has thrown for 30 TD’s to 21 INT’s. He’s not going to throw for a ton of yards, but he will make up for it on the ground. He has amassed 17 rushing scores and at least 510 yards in both of his seasons played. In 2019 Allen had 22 Red Zone rush attempts resulting in 9 TD’s including 5 TD’s within the 5-yard line. Like his popular comparison, that is truly Newton-esque. Allen makes for a fine QB1 or a great QB2 at a very affordable price tag of $5.3 million. Matt Barkley is a career back-up and presently has the no.2 job while the future Matt Barkley is Jake Fromm and he should beat out Davis Webb for the 3rd QB spot.

The RB position returns Devin Singletary and TJ Yeldon from last season’s middling run game. Frank Gore is gone, and his 173 attempts are now up for grabs but are expected to go to pre-draft darling Zack Moss. Singletary ($974,500) showed some promise in his rookie campaign but was often stifled behind a run blocking unit that graded out in the middle of the pack. Not only was he handicapped by a so-so offensive line, inside the 20 the snaps went to Gore and Allen. Gore and Singletary scored just 4 TD’s between them to Allen’s 9. Moss ($1.15 million) figures to come in to add some juice to the position after the departure of Gore. Moss was the all-time leading rusher and scorer at Utah and profiles as a solid runner with power and good hands. Singletary should lead the backfield in touches with Moss right behind him.

The Wide Receiver group got an upgrade this off-season with a big trade for former Viking Stefon Diggs. Diggs ($14.4 million) immediately figures to slot in as the #1 receiver and will be a fine complement to John Brown ($9 million) and Cole Beasley ($7.25 million). Diggs is a dynamic route runner that always seemed like he just needed the chains to come off. He will be hard pressed to find a ton of volume in this offense, but he should dominate the targets. Due to landing spot alone, he figures to post mid to low end WR2 numbers, but he has the makings of a top 12 receiver if this offense was to drastically change. Brown is a burner with fantastic ball tracking ability but is sure to take a hit in almost all categories with Diggs in town. Brown led the team in targets, receptions, yards and tied Beasley for 1st in scoring with 6 TD’s. Capable of lining up all over the field, Diggs arrival might just free Brown up from the opposing team’s top defenders allowing him to do what he does best…make plays in the open field. Beasley was a particularly good addition last year for Allen’s growth and his QB bail-out-ability provided a fantastic security blanket for the young Allen. He was second on the team in targets, receptions, and yards and should continue to occupy the slot much like he did in 2019. As Diggs enters his prime (age 27), Beasley (31) and Brown (30) will most likely be on the downward trajectory of Buffalo’s plans. The Bill’s selected both Gabriel Davis and Isaiah Hodgins in the 2020 draft to begin framing out their future at the position. Davis should settle into the WR4 role on the team, passing the forgotten speedster Robert Foster.

Dawson Knox was a rookie in 2019 and did not have the advantage to sit and learn behind veteran TE’s like the majority of rookie TE’s get to. The former 3rd rounder is highly athletic but is in a very crowded target situation with all those receivers and Singletary competing for grabs. Knox drew 51 targets for 28 catches, 388 yards and 2 touchdowns last year and that might be the range he stays in for 2020. Veteran Tyler Kroft was added to the mix but won’t be on any fantasy radar barring several injuries.

Miami Dolphins

HC: Brian Flores

OC: Chan Gailey

QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Rosen

RB: Jordan Howard, Matt Breida, Kalen Ballage, Myles Gaskin, Patrick Laird, Chandler Cox

WR: DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Gary Jennings, Isaiah Ford, Jakeem Grant, Mack Hollins, Matt Cole, Kirk Merritt

TE: Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, Adam Shaheen, Chris Myarick

The Dolphins were in the media dubbed “Tank for Tua” mode early in the season before the scrappy overachievers made the mistake of starting the poster boy for gritty- Ryan Fitzpatrick. HC Brian Flores obviously did not like the way the offense was heading (Fitzpatrick was their leading rusher) so he went and sprung the 68-year-old Chan Gailey from Shady Acres retirement home to shake things up. The Fins still wound up getting Tua and he will reportedly compete early for the starting gig even after being just a year removed from a horrible hip dislocation and ankle injury. Tua’s will to win and his insane accuracy will make it hard for the coaching staff to keep him off the field, pandemic or not. His mobility will be in question coming off hip and ankle injuries, but he is such a competitor, he will find a way to adjust his play. It will be fun to see who wins the starting job between these QB’s not named Josh Rosen.

The aforementioned run game was severely laughable in 2019 and can only get better. New additions Jordan Howard and Matt Brieda bring a bit of low-level thunder and lightning to the mix. Neither will win you a championship but offer good plug and play options at affordable salaries (Howard $4.88 million and Brieda at $3.26 million). Howard will be the “starter” but Brieda offers more dynamic upside through the air and ground. Both are upgrades but are far from ideal to rely on other than depth for your team.

DeVante Parker finally had the breakout season that everyone was waiting for in 2019. Ranking an NFL fifth in yards (1,202) and fourth (9) in touchdowns last year, Parker finally lived up to the previous expectations of being a team’s number one receiver. He has above average separation skills with high end body control but is not a burner. Parker wasn’t seeing the lion’s share of the targets until after rookie Preston Williams went down with a torn ACL in week 9. Williams was a pre-draft villain but a preseason hero and had ample success in the first half of the season posting a 32/428/3 line. This was done on 60 targets with many of them coming from Josh Rosen. Williams is a great bench stash at just $588,000 and is expected to be on track to start week 1. As of now the rest of the depth chart is up for grabs. Keep an eye on super athlete UDFA Kirk Merritt if he makes the team. Mike Gesicki figures to have a nice role in the passing game as the big slot and should command relative usage to last year. Entering his third year, he hopes to continue to improve on his 51/570/5 on 89 targets line. He has no competition from tight ends and is the favorite to take over in 3 WR sets now that Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson have chosen to opt out for 2020. Gesicki carries a nice price tag of just $1.6 million this year and next and should make for a fine low end TE1 or high end TE2.

New England Patriots

HC: Bill Belichick

OC: Josh McDaniels

QB: Cam Newton, Jarret Stidham, Brian Hoyer, Brian Lewerke

RB: Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris, Rex Burkhead, Lamar Miller, JJ Taylor

WR: Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Mohamed Sanu, Damiere Byrd, Jakobi Meyers, Matthew Slater, Quincy Adeboyejo, Gunner Olszewski, Jeff Thomas, Devin Ross, Will Hastings

TE: Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Ryan Izzo, Rashod Berry, Jakob Johnson, Jake Burt

Brady is gone, an NFL high 8 players have decided to opt out due to COVID concerns, the enigmatic Cam Newton comes to town, but Bill Belichick is still in charge. Forget the narrative of can Brady win without Belichick and vice versa. That was so 2020 spring. It’s now into training camp and Mr. Bill has his hands absolutely full. Jarret Stidham was to be the heir apparent after Brady left for free agency. The organization threw a bunch of praise and confidence behind the young signal caller until they were able to get a read on Newton’s health. Now it appears that Newton is the next in line, not Stidham. Newton has been incredible when he is fully healthy. His legs may actually have been more of an asset than his arm at times. Not short on arm strength but at times waning in accuracy, nobody would ever accuse Newton of having Manning-like accuracy (Peyton, not Eli). At a mere $1.75 million, it’s a worthwhile “risk” to roster Newton and hope that he is fully healthy and grasps McDaniel’s offense quickly.

Sony Michel has landed on the PUP and is a serious candidate to not begin the season on the active roster. He has buyer beware written all over him with his lengthy injury history and uncertain usage in 2020. Carrying the ball 247 times with a meager 3.7 YPC and just 2.56 yards after contact, Michel’s injuries slowed him considerably and the fact that he is not at all a receiving threat (19 catches in 2 years) you would be best to look away this year. White on the other hand, has been dynamic. Entering his 7th season after being selected in the 4th round by NE, White is an ideal player to utilize as a first up off the bench RB for your Dynasty Owner squad. At $4 million, he is at a reasonable price for expected production while averaging 13.2 fantasy points the past two years which is ideal for a mid-round fantasy contributor. Rex Burkhead (1 yr./$3 million) is a better real-life football player and will siphon touches from fantasy relevant players such as Damian Harris. Harris is a name to watch to ascend the depth chart especially with Michel’s recovery from surgery. The 2019 3rd rounder from Alabama is in a great position to contribute as the early down back and at a $907,00 price tag, he could be a valuable addition to your team. Late edition Lamar Miller is an indication that Michel is possibly not as far along in his rehab that most believed. Coming off an ACL tear from a year ago, Miller has the three down skill set to once again muddy the waters of a Patriots backfield depth chart.

Julian Edelman is the accomplished veteran of the wide receiver group, but he comes with a big ole’ caution tag. He will be 34 years old and recovering from shoulder surgery going into this season. He has had fantastic fantasy years on his resume, but the 2020 season just might not be one of them. His production absolutely fell off a cliff at the end of last season and will be entering training camp for the first time without Tom Brady since 2009. He was on an incredible pace last year and did see 154 targets, but he took a beating as the only reliable receiver for Brady. At $7.75 million and with his career coming to a close, your draft capital would be wisely spent elsewhere. N’Keal Harry ($2.5 million) hopes to become the true #1 receiver for NE and his 1st round pedigree should be put to the challenge. Harry is a big bodied (6’2”/228lbs) receiver that was targeted heavily in the red zone in his 5 starts last year and projects to fulfill the same role in 2020 due to the lack of competition at the position. His upside is tremendous, and the opportunity is there, if he can take a step forward in his sophomore campaign, he could be a steal in this year’s drafts. Mohamed Sanu is another veteran presence that should start outside opposite Harry with Edelman in the slot. New England traded a 2nd round pick last year to get Brady another weapon in the passing game but it never quite panned out for Sanu. He battled injuries and was cast out to the perimeter after seeing the slot for most of his career. He too is recovering from surgery (ankle) and hopes his time spent playing catch this offseason with Newton will pay dividends this season.

Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd are two names to monitor and both have shown flashes in pre-season play. Meyers was a part time player in 2019 pulling in 26 receptions for 359 scoreless yards. He figures to return to his role as the 4th or 5th receiver if the top 3 are ready to go. The Tight End position is as murky as ever with the probable top two tight ends being rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene now that Matt LaCosse has opted out. Asiasi is the probable starting traditional tight end where Keene will serve in the H-Back role. You won’t be breaking the bank with either of the 3rd round selections at $1.1 million a year and it could be a good time to get in while their stock is low.

New York Jets

HC: Adam Gase

OC: Dowell Loggains

QB: Sam Darnold, Joe Flacco, David Fales, James Morgan, Mike White

RB: Le’Veon Bell, Frank Gore, Lamical Perine, Kenneth Dixon, Josh Adams, Trevon Wesco

WR: Breshard Perriman, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims, Braxton Berrios, Josh Malone, Vyncint Smith, Jeff Smith, Jehu Chesson, Lawrence Cager, George Campbell

TE: Chris Herndon IV, Ryan Griffin, Daniel Brown, Ross Travis

Sam Darnold enters the pivotal year three for a QB this season. The third year is often the time teams will plan to draft a QB’s replacement before year four or to commit to the QB for a contract extension. Held to 13 games last year due to illness, Darnold improved on nearly every category from his rookie year where he also played 13 games. He did not have a stellar 2019. He averaged one interception and 2.5 sacks per game while throwing 19 TD’s. Darnold has not had the best supporting cast in his two years with the Jets so you really can’t blame him entirely but his draft pedigree (2018 3rd overall) should warrant a more stable outcome. His O-Line is completely different, and he has a new wide receiver in Breshard Perriman to work with after losing Robby Anderson to free agency. His $7.5 million salary is digestible but hopefully he would not be needed to win you any weeks. Joe Flacco was brought in to replace Luke Falk after last year’s stretch of embarrassment when Falk filled in for Darnold when he had Mono.

Adam Gase was not particularly good at hiding his displeasure for the signing of Le’Veon Bell last offseason. This year, Gase has talked him up saying “He’s been working extremely hard and looks good.” Thanks coach, we appreciate the news flash. Gase’s history shows that he prefers a committee backfield which is apparent going back to his Denver, Chicago, and Miami days as the OC and then HC. This backfield may be a bit rough to put a committee together though with Frank Gore, Lamichael Perine and possibly Kenneth Dixon. Bell should once again see most snaps and he possesses the three down talent that is coveted in fantasy football. At a hefty $13 million price tag, he carries the salary of a RB1, but you would be much more comfortable with him as your RB2. Gore may have been brought in for veteran leadership or a specific role, but he should not receive volume work at this point of his career if anything was to happen to Bell. Rookie Lamichael Perine is worth a stash due to his three down ability as well as two fading running backs in front of him on the depth chart. At just $1 million, those are the types of players that you can hold onto and hopefully they pop while at that salary.

Gase likes rolling out three receivers more than most play callers in the NFL. The problem is his starters in these 3WR sets are some of the weakest in the NFL. Crowder is the most talented and was a favorite of Darnolds while operating mainly out of the slot. He is a good route runner and helps his QB by always working back to the ball and finding soft spots in coverage. Perriman showed that he could operate as a WR1 when he filled in for Mike Evans and Chris Godwin missed time last year for the Bucs. But his small sample size as a starter is eclipsed by his disappointing years with Cleveland and Baltimore after being selected 26th overall in 2015. Only time will tell if he will be asked to shoulder the load of a WR1 or is he to be a deep threat compliment opposite Rookie Denzel Mims. Mims is a deep threat himself as well as being an accomplished contested catch receiver. His senior bowl practices turned enough heads to get him on team’s boards, but it was his explosive combine that led him to being drafted in the second round. At $1.35 million, he is one of the rookie receivers that could garner you an early return.

Chris Herndon returns after a forgetful sophomore campaign marred by a suspension and injuries. He figures to be a key piece of this offense with the ability to challenge for top two or three in targets for the Jets. He was a breakout candidate last year after posting 39/205/4 as a rookie in 2018. Now fully healed, he looks to bounce back as a post-hype fantasy player that is a solid TE2 for your team at just $793,000.  Veteran Ryan Griffin filled in for Herndon last year and nobody was brought in to compete for the job making Herndon an intriguing player to watch as he has been flying under the radar in drafts this summer.

That is the AFC East! We hope you enjoyed the read. Check back soon! We will continue with the NFC East next week.

Follow us on Twitter: @CKWolf21 and @Dynasty_Owner

Players to Pick Up with the Extra $2 Million in Salary Cap in 2020

Author: Steven Van Tassell

The announcement about the increase of $2 million in the 2020 Dynasty Owner salary cap is great news for Dynasty Owners. In case you miss it, due to players opting out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19, the Dynasty Owner salary cap for 2020 has been increased by $2 million. All Dynasty Owners can draft up to the $110 million salary cap, but then after the draft, everyone gets $2 million in extra cap room. That’s a second chance for everyone who drafted right up to the limit to pick up additional players. They will have to spend some Dynasty Dollars in the Free Agent Auction, but will at least be able to pick up some additional players to add to their rosters, up to the 30 player limit.

It’s time to head over to the Free Agent Auction page on the Dynasty Owner app or on the desktop and see who’s available. You’re not going to go out and get Aaron Rodgers and his $33.5 million contract with that extra salary cap room, but there are plenty of players who Dynasty Owners can pick up for their team for under $2 million who might help you out this season and maybe even beyond. Some especially savvy Dynasty Owners might even be able to add two or three players with their extra $2 million. We’re not talking about sure-fire starters or even guys who will be on your Dynasty Owner Bench at the beginning of the season. Looking closely at the Free Agent Auction, Dynasty Owners can find players who might be worth stashing on their Practice Squad in the hopes that they work their way into the starting lineup via strong performances on the field, or other players getting injured or contracting COVID-19.

For the purposes of this article, ADP and Dynasty Owner ownership statistics were current as of August 17th. All players recommended have salaries of $2 million or less for 2020 and are currently owned in less than 50% of Dynasty Owner leagues.

All stats are based on the Standard Dynasty Owner scoring system as outlined in the updated Dynasty Owner Constitution. Standard Dynasty Owner scoring gives you .1 points for every yard rushing or receiving, .1 point for every 2 yards passing, 1 point per reception, 6 points for a rushing, receiving or passing touchdown and 2 points for a successful 2-point conversion (rushing, receiving, or passing). Interceptions or fumbles lost cost you 3 points, while a fumble that is recovered by the player’s team is a loss of only 1 point. Bonus points are available for 100-199 yards rushing (2 points), 200 yards rushing or receiving (6 points), 300-399 yards passing (1 point) and 400 yards passing (4 points). There is also a 3 point bonus for clutch scoring, which is a score that results in a lead change in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime. Kickoff and punt return touchdowns are worth 6 points for the player and kickoff and punt returns are worth 1 point for every 40 yards.

Quarterback Handcuffs, Get Your Quarterback Handcuffs Here!

Did you draft a top QB for your Dynasty Owner team, but not his backup? Now might be the time to grab that handcuff if he’s still available in your league. Here’s a list of handcuff QBs to some top draft Dynasty Owner draft picks who likely can be added with the extra $2 million in salary cap room.

  • For everyone who picked from the #1 spot and drafted Lamar Jackson (or even #2 if he slipped to you), now is your opportunity to get RGIII as the handcuff. His $2 million salary will take up all of your extra cap space. This is only good for those of you in the 53% of leagues in which he’s available. Dynasty Owners without Lamar on their team can also go out and grab RGIII, but this is probably most urgent for Dynasty Owners with Lamar on their team. If he goes down to injury or even tests positive for COVID-19 and has to sit a couple of games, having RGIII might be worth the price.
  • If you had a top 5 pick and enough faith in the offense that Kliff Kingsbury is putting together in Arizona, then you might be a Kyler Murray owner. What happens if Murray gets injured or tests positive for COVID-19 and has to sit out a couple of weeks? Do you have a third quarterback on your roster to take Murray’s spot and be on your Bench for a couple of weeks or do you need another QB? Either way, you could always pick up his backup, Brett Hundley, who signed a one-year, $1,047,500 contract back in March to back up Murray for another year. Hundley only played in three games in 2019, but did play 11 games for the Packers back in 2017 and had 1,836 yards passing with 9 passing TDs along with 270 yards rushing and 2 rushing TDs (no Dynasty Owner fantasy points available for 2017). He’s only owned in 2% of Dynasty Owner leagues so he’s definitely widely available and maybe worth a flyer for Murray owners in particular.
  • Who’s going to be the backup to the $45 million Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City? If Andy Reid is to be believed, then it’s Chad Henne who was 2 for 3 passing for 29 yards as the backup in 2018, but is pretty expensive at $1.625 million per year for two years. Hopefully, you’re not in one of the 7% of leagues that he’s owned in or you’re out of luck. Last year’s backup Matt Moore is still there, available in 98% of Dynasty Owner leagues and he’ll cost a little over half of the extra $2 million with his $1.05 million salary. Finally, you can take XFL sensation Jordan Ta’amu who signed a one-year, $680,000 contract with the team back in March. He’s owned in 10% of leagues – most of the Mahomes’ backups. You could grab two of them (Henne and Ta’amu) if you just have $2 million or go hog wild and get all three for $3.335 million in salary cap room and want to protect your top draft pick that badly and have three spare roster spots.

Don’t Skip Running Backs, There Are Some Available

Running back is a difficult position to find Dynasty Owner value during the draft and even harder afterwards. Surprisingly, there are a few players making less than $2 million who Dynasty Owners could pick up and stash on their roster with that extra salary cap room. Of course, none of them are guaranteed starters or guaranteed to play much, but a few of them have the chance to produce.

  • What if I told you there was a 26 year old player available in 61% of Dynasty Owner leagues who scored 118.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points with over 10.0 points in four games last year? Well, there is, and his name is Peyton Barber. Barber is part of the running back mix in Washington along with Adrian Peterson, Bryce Love and Antonio Gibson. Coach Ron Rivera has warned people not to forget about Barber and many Dynasty Owner have heeded those words as his ownership jumped from 17% to 39% after that comment. He’s still available to most Dynasty Owners, unlike the rest of his competition, and only costs $1.5 million per year for the next two years. He might be the starter on Opening Day. Anything is possible in Washington these days.
  • We looked at handcuffs in our last article and one handcuff to a top 10 RB who is barely owned is Dontrell Hilliard of Cleveland. He’s technically backing up both Nick Chubb (ADP 9.5) and Kareem Hunt (ADP 51.1) and has competition for the #3 spot since he just came off the COVID-19 reserve list, but should probably still be owned in more than 2% of Dynasty Owner leagues since he only costs $750,000 in salary cap space. Other players in similar positions, such as Darwin Thompson, Mike Boone, are owned in over 80% of leagues. Even the three potential backups to Joe Mixon in Cincinnati are in the 40-60% ownership range. If Chubb goes down to injury, it’ll likely be Hunt to the rescue, but if both Chubb and Hunt can’t play, it’ll likely be Hilliard’s job with a new Head Coach in Kevin Stefanski who likes to run the ball. Not bad for a spot on your Practice Squad with some of your extra salary cap.
  • Last year, Wayne Gallman had a game with 26.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points versus Washington when Saquon Barkley was out with injury. Now, he might not be the backup for the Giants, but third in line behind Barkley and Dion Lewis. However, Gallman only carries a salary of $704,912 for one year and is only owned in 24% of Dynasty Owner leagues. He might be worth a flyer and spot on your Practice Squad if you spent a first round pick on Barkley.

Who Wants (Maybe) the Next Wes Welker or Julian Edelman?

There is quite the competition to be the #3 WR in Tampa Bay behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Rookie Tyler Johnson is the favorite in the competition among Dynasty Owners since he is owned in 100% of leagues. Scotty Miller is owned in 56%, an increase over late July/early August when his ownership was under 50%.  Both of them cost less than $750,000 in salary for 2020 ($737,355 for Johnson and $661,960 for Miller). However, you have to pay both of them for a couple of more years (3 for Johnson and 2 more for Miller). There’s another option for Dynasty Owners who want to own a guy who might be a favorite Brady target in Justin Watson.

Watson got the opportunity to play in Weeks 14-17 last year and averaged 10.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game in those four games. Not bad for only $690,435 in salary for the next two years. Dynasty Owners can grab Miller along with some other players at that low salary and hope he turns out to be the #3 guy in Tampa since he’s only rostered in 15% of Dynasty Owner leagues. Watson is making an impression with Coach Bruce Arians’ according to a recent article – https://www.cbssports.com/fantasy/football/news/buccaneers-justin-watson-catches-coachs-eye/ – so if he catches Brady’s eye as well, he could be someone to stash on your Practice Squad.

With the word from training camp that 49ers WR Jalen Hurd may have torn an ACL, other WRs could get a look at some additional work in the 49ers offense. There are plenty of them to choose from ranging from new signees J.J. Nelson and Tavon Austin to Trent Taylor returning from an injury that cost him the 2019 season to one player who has experience with the team, is still only 24 years old, and has one year left on a contract that will pay him only $1.6 million in 2020. That WR is Dante Pettis who had only 37.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points just a year after putting up 122.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in his rookie season in 2018. Pettis is currently only owned in 14% of Dynasty Owner leagues, which will probably increase overnight after this article is finished with Hurd owners rushing to the Free Agent Auction to pick up Pettis. If no Dynasty Owner in your league went out and grabbed Pettis yet, stop reading, go out and bid on him.

The Tight End Position Is Tight on Talent to Pick Up

The talent available at TE in the Free Agent Auction that could help your Dynasty Owner team in 2020 and fit under the $2 million in extra salary cap is hard to find. Just like every other position. At just over $3 million per year, Dynasty Owners can pick up either Darren Fells ($3.15 million; 110.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2019; 14% ownership) or Jacob Hollister ($3.26 million; 96.9 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2019; 8% ownership). Veteran Jason Witten is available in 98% of Dynasty Owner leagues for $4 million in 2020, but he plays behind Darren Waller in Las Vegas, thus explaining his low ownership. However, there are two TEs who fit the bill for inclusion in this article.

The first one is second year Bengals TE Drew Sample. Sample was selected in the second round of the 2019 draft, but only scored 8.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points before suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 10. Still, the Bengals are bound to improve in 2020 and invested a high pick in Sample so he could be part of their offensive mix this year with new QB Joe Burrow. Last year’s starter Tyler Eifert is now in Jacksonville and that leaves just C.J. Uzomah ahead of Sample on the Bengals TE depth chart. Since he’s only owned in 19% of Dynasty Owner leagues and his 2020 salary is just shy of $1.38 million. He does have has 3 years left on his contract, but Dynasty Owners won’t mind paying it if he plays and produces this year.

Since rookie TEs like Cole Kmet, Adam Trautman, Devin Asiasi were all drafted in the second round or later, all of them are scheduled to make less than $2 million this season. They aren’t available as both Kmet and Asiasi are owned in 100% of leagues, while Trautman is owned in 98% (check your league’s Free Agent Auction if you’re in a league in which Trautman is available, go grab him ASAP). After that, it’s time to start looking at later draft picks who might make an impact. Out of those guys, the one who looks best positioned to help Dynasty Owners in 2020 and beyond might be Brycen Hopkins of the Rams. Hopkins was a fourth round pick and slated to be third on the Rams depth chart behind Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. The Rams didn’t pass much out of two or more TE formations in the past two seasons (26th in 2019 and last in 2018 according to data available at Sharp Football Stats – https://www.sharpfootballstats.com/personnel-grouping-frequency.html). However, the loss of Brandin Cooks could mean more TE usage by the Rams in 2020 which is Hopkins’ most likely path to playing time since both Higbee and Everett have been remarkably healthy in their careers (Higbee only missed one game in four seasons and Everett has missed just three in three seasons, with all of those missed games coming last year). If you need another TE and want to spend some of your extra salary cap room, Hopkins might be worth the $822,032 in salary for the next four years.

Kicking Away Some Salary Cap Room

If you are like some Dynasty Owners and hate the fact that you need to have a kicker on your roster, maybe you didn’t go out and draft three of them. Now you have $2 million more in salary cap room, but are there any kickers still left in your league’s Free Agent Auction who you can get for that extra salary?

Not really. Most of the kickers available in a majority of Dynasty Owner leagues right now are veterans with multi-year contracts making just north of $4 million in salary in 2020. Dynasty Owners who spent up close to the $110 million salary cap are going to have to clear some space on their roster to fit any of those guys. However, there is one rookie competing for a roster spot who is owned in less than 50% of Dynasty Owner leagues right now – rookie seventh round draft pick Sam Sloman of the Los Angeles Rams. Sloman is owned in 29% of Dynasty Owner leagues, but is competing with fellow 30-year old rookie (but CFL veteran) Lirim Hajrullahu. Feel free to look for Hajrullahu in the Free Agent Auction, but you’re likely not finding him there since he’s rostered in 90% of Dynasty Owner leagues. Sloman carries just a salary of $677,622, but it’s a 4-year deal, so if he doesn’t win the starting job in L.A., then you might have to cut him and pay $677,622 (25% of his total contract) in Dynasty Dollars to get him off your roster.

The only other option might be to pick up a Jets kicker. That’s really bad as the Jets haven’t had a good kicker since Pat Leahy retired back in 1991 and Leahy’s career FG percentage was just 71.4% so he wasn’t really very good – he just happened to kick for them for 18 seasons.

Both Jets kickers are owned in just over 50% of Dynasty Owner leagues with Sam Ficken and his one-year, $675,000 contract owned in 56% while former Cowboys kicker Brett Maher is owned in 51% of Dynasty Owner leagues, but carries a slightly higher salary ($750,000). Neither had a great year in 2019 as Maher missed 10 FGs in 13 games (20 for 30 on FG attempts) while making all 36 PAT attempts for 68.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (5.2 points per game). Ficken was slightly worse as he went 19 of 27 in FG attempts (70.4%), but missed 3 PATs (23 for 26) to score just 67 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 15 games as the Jets kicker in 2019 (4.5 points per game). Neither is a great option, but if you get both, you’re guaranteed to own the Jets kicker. Ain’t that great?

Conclusions

Training camps have opened now, and we are less than one month out from the 2020 NFL season. It’s time to start filling out your Dynasty Owner roster after the draft with those five extra Practice Squad slots and for this year, the extra $2 million in salary cap room provided due to COVID-19.

There are lots of players available who make less than that $2 million in salary cap room, but only some are widely available and likely to help your Dynasty Owner team in the 2020 season. Hopefully, some of the ones highlighted here are available in your league and you’re able to grab them in the Free Agent Auction to help build your Dynasty.

You could also hang on to that $2 million, but that would have been a pretty short article. Speaking of articles, there are more of them coming from myself and Chris Wolf (@ckwolf21 on Twitter). The podcast series with myself and Dynasty Owner CEO Tim Peffer will continue to be posted on the Dynasty Owner channel on YouTube and other places (iTunes, Spotify, Spreaker) as well. Subscribe to the YouTube channel and make sure to “Like” all of the videos to help promote them. We have over 400 subscribers on YouTube now and thank you all for watching and listening. All of this great content is available to help you win your Dynasty Owner league and maybe become the winner of the 2020 Chase for the Ring!

Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner

Are Dynasty Owners’ Utilizing Handcuffs for Their Star Players?

Author: Steven Van Tassell

Surely everyone is aware of the terminology and know that a handcuff is a backup player who will likely take over for a team’s starter in the event of an injury. In addition to “regular” injuries that happen all of the time to NFL players, Dynasty Owners in 2020 also have to worry about players testing positive for COVID-19 and going on the new Reverse/COVID-19 list. This new list is defined as being for players who have tested positive, or players who are quarantining because they came into close contact with someone who tested positive.

One of my fellow Beta Users (Nick – Quaranteam) suggested that I look at whether Dynasty Owners were valuing handcuffs for their star players enough in 2020 due to COVID-19. The possibility is out there that some star players will contract the contagious disease and have to sit out games at some point this season. It’s not a minimum of three games as previously expected, but more flexible than that as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk explains in the following article: https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2020/07/18/clarifying-the-2020-injured-reserve-covid-19-rules/.

Since 12-team leagues are new to Dynasty Owner for 2020, we don’t have historical data to see whether handcuffs are being utilized more or less this season than last year, but we can still look at what’s going on this year. This analysis of handcuffs is based on a review of 43 Dynasty Owner drafts for the 2020 season. All of the drafts were conducted between June 14th and July 26th. There were 5 drafts by Beta users, 15 For the Love of the Game drafts by players only paying the $29 entry fee, 11 drafts in the $600 prize pool leagues ($50 entry fee per team) and 12 drafts in the $1,200 prize pool leagues ($100 entry fee per team).

For the purposes of this analysis, I’m looking at situations where there is a clear starter (Lamar Jackson, Christian McCaffrey, etc.) and then a backup who will likely only play if their team is winning or losing by a lot or if the starter gets hurt or is placed on the COVID-19 list. I purposely left out players on teams and positions in which the starting position is up for grabs, which is more of a hedging your bet on a certain position. Examples of that include starting QB for the San Diego Los Angeles Chargers as it’s reasonable to think either Justin Herbert or Tyrod Taylor could be the starter in Week 1, the Ravens’ RB situation with Mark Ingram and rookie J.K. Dobbins or the Rams who have a quartet of RBs (Cam Akers, Darrel Henderson, Malcolm Brown and John Kelly) who coach Sean McVay has identified as “NFL-legitimate starting-caliber backs”. There are other examples but that should give everyone an idea of what qualified as a handcuff versus hedging your bets.

All stats are based on the Standard Dynasty Owner scoring system as outlined in the updated Dynasty Owner Constitution. Standard Dynasty Owner scoring gives you .1 points for every yard rushing or receiving, .1 point for every 2 yards passing, 1 point per reception, 6 points for a rushing, receiving or passing touchdown and 2 points for a successful 2-point conversion (rushing, receiving, or passing). Interceptions or fumbles lost cost you 3 points, while a fumble that is recovered by the player’s team is a loss of only 1 point. Bonus points are available for 100-199 yards rushing (2 points), 200 yards rushing or receiving (6 points), 300-399 yards passing (1 point) and 400 yards passing (4 points). There is also a 3 point bonus for clutch scoring, which is a score that results in a lead change in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime. Kickoff and punt return touchdowns are worth 6 points for the player and kickoff and punt returns are worth 1 point for every 40 yards.

Handcuffing by Position and League Type

Overall, there were 300 identified handcuff situations over the 43 leagues analyzed, or an average of 6.98 per league. Teams could draft more than one handcuff for their players, and we’ve identified several interesting ones later on in this article. Since we are all in 12-team leagues now, that means only about half of the teams in each league drafted a handcuff for one of their players. There are multiple situations in which a team drafted more than one handcuff, so the average number of teams drafting a handcuff is lower than the number of situations.

By league type, there were more handcuffs per league in the $100 entry fee leagues (8.00 per league) than any other type by a significant margin (6.64 for $50 entry fee leagues, 6.60 for the $29 Love of the Game leagues and a low of 6.40 for the five Beta user leagues). The more cash people have invested in their Dynasty Owner team, the more likely they are to handcuff – very interesting. For newer players, Beta users are free for life and don’t pay anything in return for spending last year and this off-season spotting bugs in mock drafts and on the website and app.

By position, it’s not surprising that more people are drafting a handcuff at the running back position than any other position (141 in total, or 47% of all handcuffs are RBs). There were 104 WR handcuffs, or about one-third (35%). There were 38 handcuff QBs, or 13% of the 300 handcuffs, while only 17 handcuffs (6%) were TEs.

In terms of players, 74 individual star players were handcuffed with a lesser player. Thirty-one WRs were handcuffed, or over two-fifths (42%) of players handcuffed were WRs, followed by 19 RBs (26%), 16 QBs (22%) and a mere 8 TEs (11%). Let’s find out more about who was handcuffed most frequently and wasn’t frequently enough.

Running While Handcuffed

The position in which most fantasy football players utilize handcuffs is usually running backs based on their higher rate of injury and the current preference of many NFL coaches for running back by committee (RBBC). Dynasty Owner is no different in this regard as nearly half of the handcuffs in the early drafts were RB handcuffs with 19 starting RBs being handcuffed by 37 backups. Remember that we are looking only at handcuffs and not situations like those identified earlier where the starting job is “up for grabs”.

So, which RB was handcuffed the most in Dynasty Owner drafts? Was it the RB with the highest salary in Dynasty Owner, Ezekiel Elliott at $15 million in salary cap room, or was it one of the top two RBs drafted in Christian McCaffrey (ADP 2.6) or Saquon Barkley (ADP 3.8)?

The answer is: None of those guys. There was a tie as the most handcuffed RBs were in fact Dalvin Cook of the Vikings and James Conner of the Steelers, both of whom were handcuffed in 15 Dynasty Owner drafts. While both were handcuffed the same number of times, the most common handcuff was picking Conner and his $790,381 one-year contract along with Jaylen Samuels and his equally affordable $679,517 salary for the next two years.

Dalvin Cook and his threatened training camp holdout was big news back in early June when he announced it (Spoiler alert: He didn’t hold out and reported to training camp on time) and likely caused many of his Dynasty Owners to handcuff him with either Alexander Mattison (8 times) or Mike Boone (6 times). There was at least one team (Wasabi) who handcuffed Cook with both of those guys.

There was also one team (The Team) who handcuffed Cook, who they drafted with the #12 overall pick, with fullback C.J. Ham and his 4-year, $12 million salary. Ham was drafted with the first pick in the 20th round by The Team in their For the Love of the Game league. This wasn’t a wise pick for The Team since Mike Boone was still available if they wanted a handcuff. Ham is so lightly regarded by other Dynasty Owners that no other team has Ham on their roster. Probably because he’s a blocking fullback and had just 37.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points last year.

Two players on one-year contracts were also handcuffed nearly as often (14 times each). Kenyan Drake and his $8.483 million contract was handcuffed equally by Chase Edmonds and rookie Eno Benjamin. Joe Mixon was also handcuffed 14 times, but was handcuffed by four separate players (Giovani Bernard – 7 times; Trayveon Williams – 4 times; Rodney Anderson – 2 times; Jacques Patrick – 1 time). The four handcuff players were the most for any single starter. Congratulations!?!

Handcuffing the Top Picks at QB

In contrast, the most obvious handcuff at QB is drafting Robert Griffin III to pair with Lamar Jackson, who many Dynasty Owners have been taking with the #1 pick (ADP 1.3). Dynasty Owners who have chosen Lamar are handcuffing him with RGIII more than any other QB combo with 7 Dynasty Owners having done this. Interestingly, even though there were 15 For the Love of the Game drafts analyzed, none of the Lamar-RGIII handcuffs occurred in one of those leagues. For those Dynasty Owners who have Lamar and $2 million in salary cap room, RGIII is currently available in 50% of Dynasty Owner leagues.

That’s three more handcuffs than the trio of starting QBs who are next most likely to be handcuffs (Patrick Mahomes, Cam Newton and Carson Wentz). Mahomes is has the second best ADP (1.8) with 4 handcuffs (3 times by Chad Henne and 1 time by Jordan Ta’amu). All three of the potential Kansas City backup QBs are highly available for Mahomes’ owners who have salary cap room to protect their investment in the $450 million Super Bowl MVP.  Ta’amu is owned by the highest percentage (11%), followed by Henne at 7% and Matt Moore at only 2% ownership.

Despite not being signed by the Patriots until late June and only being selected at his new salary in the July drafts, Cam Newton was also handcuffed four times by backups in New England. Three Dynasty Owners chose Jarrett Stidham as Newton’s backup, while one chose Brian Hoyer. Even though Coach Bill Belichick has said that Newton won’t be handed the starting job, he’s the starter in New England barring an injury. For Newton’s Dynasty Owners who didn’t handcuff in the draft, but are thinking about it doing it now, sorry to inform you but Stidham and his $788,423 contract isn’t available in any Dynasty Owner leagues right now.

Finally, we have four Dynasty Owners who handcuffed Carson Wentz and his $32 million annual salary with rookie QB and 2nd round draft pick Jalen Hurts. Even though only a few Wentz owners chose Hurts as well, Hurts and his $1.5 million salary is 100% owned, compared to 78% ownership for Wentz. Wentz does have a better ADP (80.7) than Hurts (152.9). Nate Sudfeld, who might end up being the true backup in 2020 if media reports are true, is only owned in 2% of leagues. You’ll need $2 million in salary cap room to go get Sudfeld if you have Wentz but not Hurts, are concerned about Wentz’s injury history and want to ensure you have a stake in the Eagles’ offense this year.

The only other two first round QB draft picks – Kyler Murray (ADP 4.3) and Deshaun Watson (ADP 5.0) – were lightly handcuffed with only one Dynasty Owner handcuffing Murray with his likely backup in Brett Hundley and none of the Dynasty Owners who drafted through July 26th handcuffing Deshaun Watson. The owner who drafted Hundley (The Guns of Hochuli – great team name!) is the only one right now with Hundley on their roster.

Not a Lot of Handcuffing of Tight Ends

At the other end of the handcuff spectrum from RBs and QBs are TEs who are rarely being handcuffed in the early Dynasty Owner drafts. Only 8 starting TEs had their backup drafted by the same Dynasty Owner and it only occurred a total of 17 times, accounting for just 6% of all handcuffs drafted.

The consensus top three Dynasty Owner TEs (George Kittle, Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews) were rarely handcuffed by their Dynasty Owners even though they had clear backups at the time (Ross Dwelley for Kittle, Ricky Seals-Jones for Kelce and Nick Boyle for Andrews). Nobody handcuffed Mark Andrews and only one Dynasty Owner handcuffed Kelce or Kittle. Steveo FC was the only Dynasty Owner to draft both George Kittle and Ross Dwelley, in case Kittle can’t play, even though Dwelley performed pretty well in the two games (22.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points) that Kittle missed in 2019. Dwelley only cost Steveo FC a last round draft pick (#291 overall) and $750,000 in salary cap room. In case Kittle owners are thinking that having Dwelley on the roster is a good idea (even with the recent signing of Jordan Reed by the 49ers), he’s currently available in 96% of Dynasty Owner leagues. Kelce was also only handcuffed in one league by Kilmer’s Coyotes with Ricky Seals-Jones. Seals-Jones doesn’t cost much ($925,000) and is only signed to a one-year deal so Kelce owners in the three-quarters (78%) of Dynasty Owner leagues in which Seals-Jones isn’t owned could go out and grab him if they have cap room.

The most handcuffed starting TE is the eighth TE being drafted, on average, in Dynasty Owner – Evan Engram of the Giants. His backup Kaden Smith is being drafted well over 100 spots later than Engram (ADP of 79 vs. 201.8 for Smith). His cost is minimal as he has 3 years left on his contract at just $680,002 per year and his production was high in place of Engram last year, when he averaged just under 11.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy point per game and had four double-digit point games in just seven contests after Engram got injured last year.

The Single Most Handcuffed WR Is Also the Highest Drafted One

Michael Thomas is being drafted a full round ahead of any other WR with an ADP of 7.6. The next highest drafted WR by ADP right now is Chris Godwin with a current ADP of 20.3. Thomas has the third highest salary of any WR at $19.25 million and some of his Dynasty Owners are backing up their investment in the Ferrari of WRs (373.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2019). The handcuff of choice for Thomas’ Dynasty Owners, like The Jerk, is Deonte Harris who only had 34.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2019 – with twice as many coming from returns (23.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points) than rushing and receiving combined (11.5). Six Dynasty Owners have both Michael Thomas and Deonte Harris on their roster, the most of any single WR starter and backup. Since Taysom Hill is listed as a QB, I didn’t consider him as a handcuff for Thomas even though he does play WR fairly frequently.

While the Thomas-Harris handcuff was the single, most frequently drafted one, Thomas was not the most frequently handcuffed WR in Dynasty Owner drafts. That honor goes to Eagles rookie WR Jalen Reagor who was handcuffed 9 times by three different players (Quez Watkins – 4 times; Greg Ward – 4 times; John Hightower – 1 time), followed closely by Stefon Diggs of the Buffalo Bills. Three backup WRs (Gabriel Davis – 4 times; Duke Williams – 3 times; Isaiah Hodgins – 1 times) were also selected by the Diggs’ Dynasty Owner a total of 8 times, just one fewer time than Reagor. However, if you add in Diggs’ fellow starting WRs in Buffalo (John Brown and Cole Beasley), there were a total of 11 backup WRs selected as handcuffs to starting Buffalo WRs.

Eleven handcuffs for Buffalo WRs was the highest for any team, but there were three WRs being handcuffed. There are a lot of top WR pairing out there for the handcuffing, such as Mike Evans and Chris Godwin in Tampa Bay or A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd in Cincinnati, among others. Interestingly, there was a wide divergence in handcuffing for those two pairs with Green and Boyd being handcuffed twice as frequently as Evans and Godwin (10 times versus 5 times). There was an even split by Dynasty Owners handcuffing Green (and his $17.97 million salary) and Tyler Boyd (who has a $10.75 million salary). The much more expensive WR in Tampa Bay, Mike Evans, was handcuffed four out of the five times that a Dynasty Owner handcuffed one. Just only Dynasty Owner (WKFLD Jags) handcuffed Chris Godwin with Tyler Johnson.

Interesting Handcuffs

After looking at over 500 Dynasty Owner rosters, you see some “interesting” handcuff situations. Here are a few that stood out to me as I was looking at all of those rosters:

  • The Cincinnati Sizzlers drafted five Green Bay WRs, pretty much every WR on the Packers roster, except Davante Adams. That’s right they have Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown, Reggie Begelton and Jake Kumerow (in draft order). That’s the most players from any one team at a single position. Fortunately for them, they didn’t draft Devin Funchess even though they could have since they drafted in June before he opted out for the 2020 season.
  • Stacking three Bengals on one team was not an isolated phenomenon. Two teams in $100 entry fee leagues (Flex and SBB) drafted the same three Bengals RBs (Joe Mixon, Trayveon Williams and Giovani Bernard). They both even got Williams and Bernard with the same picks (#249 and #273 respectively). Another two teams (Toronto Squad and Young & Dumb) had three Bengals WRs. Toronto Squad drafted A.J. Green, Tee Higgins and Auden Tate, while Young & Dumb went with Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and John Ross. Young & Dumb loves Bengals since they have those three WRs, two RBs (Mixon and Bernard) and rookie QB Joe Burrow.
  • TFFO figured that he wanted a piece of the New England running game, so they went out and drafted Sony Michel, James White, Damien Harris and J.J. Taylor. Rex Burkhead went undrafted in that league and at the end of the draft, TFFO had a little over $7 million in cap room. To avoid Rex having hurt feelings about this situation, TFFO should spend part on their leftover cap room if they still have it. Might as well go get Lamar Miller while you’re at it.
  • Not to be outdone, Boomer2377 drafted four Eagles WRs. They avoided both DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey for good reason and went with Jalen Reagor, Hightower, Ward and Watkins in that order. I’m guessing Boomer2377 is an Eagles fan because they also have both Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts on their team as well.
  • Only four TEs had their backup drafted by the same team in more than one Dynasty Owner league. In addition to Engram, they were Darren Waller (handcuffed by Foster Moreau), Tyler Higbee (handcuffed by rookie Brycen Hopkins) and Austin Hooper (handcuffed by David Njoku). All these handcuffs were drafted twice.
  • The Clown Punchers took my recommendation of drafting three QBs (https://dynastyowner.com/2020/05/draft-tips-2020/), but possibly didn’t read the part about having them on different teams since they decided to draft three Kansas City QBs (Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne and Jordan Ta’amu). Hopefully, Mahomes stays healthy and Matt Moore isn’t the backup, or The Clown Punchers will be in trouble.
  • Many Dynasty Owners like a good handcuff, but Pohlcat, a $100 entry fee league Dynasty Owner, really, really likes to handcuff backfield players. Pohlcat drafted Lamar Jackson and RGIII, Austin Ekeler and Joshua Kelley, Todd Gurley and Ito Smith, plus two potential Giants backups to Saquon Barkley in Dion Lewis and Wayne Gallman. No word on why Pohlcat didn’t handcuff any WRs or TEs.
  • Does it count as a handcuff if you draft the backup before the starter?  Asking for Ball Busters who drafted Quintez Cephus of the Lions with the #153 pick then took the starter in Detroit, Marvin Jones, over 100 picks later on with the #256 pick.
  • Finally, the Midwest Tradesman spent only $34 shy of $33 million, or 30% of their salary cap, on Bengals WRs when they drafted Tyler Boyd ($10.75 million), A.J. Green ($17.971 million) and John Ross ($4,278,966).

Conclusions

There are a lot of ways to handcuff your starters in Dynasty Owner, but really no consensus on which one is best or which starters are most worth a handcuff. It’s your Dynasty, handcuff your guys if you want to and with who you want. This analysis covered 43 Dynasty Owner leagues with over 500 teams that had 300 identified handcuffs of 74 different players. That’s a lot of variety, but also indicates that there are a lot of Dynasty Owners who, even in this era of COVID-19, aren’t handcuffing.

In terms of position, running back was the most handcuffed position and by league, Dynasty Owners in $100 leagues were most likely to utilize handcuffs. We had a surprise RB (James Conner) be the most handcuffed player overall, even though he has an ADP of 49.8 and is the 26th RB off the draft board on average. The top QB (Lamar Jackson) and WR (Michael Thomas) were more heavily handcuffed than other players at their position, but in line with other high draft picks like RBs Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley. And if you handcuffed a TE, you are a rare breed indeed as I only identified 17 TE handcuffs in total, or half of leagues has a team with a handcuffed TE.

We are less than a month out from the 2020 NFL season and three are more articles coming from myself and Chris Wolf (@ckwolf21 on Twitter). The podcast series with myself and Dynasty Owner CEO Tim Peffer will continue to be posted on the Dynasty Owner channel on YouTube and other places (iTunes, Spotify, Spreaker) as well. Subscribe to the YouTube channel and make sure to “Like” all of the videos to help promote them. We have over 400 subscribers on YouTube now and thank you all for watching and listening. All of this great content is available to help you win your Dynasty Owner league and maybe become the winner of the 2020 Chase for the Ring!

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Roster Roundup – Round Four: NFC South

Taking A Dive Into The Rosters From Around The League

Author: Chris Wolf

This time of year is typically the time when teams, trainers and agents hype up their players. We know how the world has changed in recent months and the NFL is no different in its approach to returning to “normalcy”. With the news of NFL staff and players testing positive for the Coronavirus, fantasy news is taking a backseat. As a result, fantasy players are missing out on the typical hyperbole surrounding pre-season roster news and notes.

In this series we’ll take a look at who’s who on rosters and how that may help in your drafts and early waivers.

Each week we’ll examine a division’s skill position current roster and predictive depth chart heading into training camp to see how that relates to their fantasy outlook.

Atlanta Falcons

HC: Dan Quinn

OC: Dirk Koetter

QB: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Kurt Benkert, Danny Etling

RB: Todd Gurley, Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison, Ito Smith, Craig Reynolds, Mikey Daniel, Keith Smith

WR: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russel Gage, Laquon Treadwell, Christian Blake, Olamide Zaccheus, Devin Gray, Brandon Powell, Jalen McCleskey, Juwan Green, Chris Rowland

TE: Hayden Hurst, Khari Lee, Jaeden Graham, Carson Meier, Jared Pinkney, Caleb Repp

Matt Ryan is as reliable as they come. He has only missed one game in the last 10 years and unfortunately, is often overlooked. In the last decade, he has only one season where he hasn’t topped 4,000 yards. Ryan has also eclipsed 300+ yards in the 64 games he’s played. That is an insane rate of production for the 35-year-old out of Boston College. Ryan has a ton of targets in the passing game and should find his way back into the top 12 in QB scoring. The rest of the QB depth chart is very underwhelming with veteran Matt Schaub as the #2. Former LSU QB turned WR turned QB, Danny Etling is also present but has an uphill battle to make the team.

Todd Gurley is on a one-year contract valued at $5.5 million. He and his hefty contract were dumped by the Rams and one day later, Atlanta scooped him up to replace Devonta Freeman. Gurley is incredible when healthy and he is a true every down back when healthy. Health is a major concern when considering rostering Gurley. His arthritic right knee coupled with a history of an ACL tear, turf toe, and ankle sprains all are reasons for concern for Gurley. But, when he’s good, he’s really good. He is a natural pass catcher with an average of 9.6 yards per catch during his five-year career, he has also posted gaudy (again, when healthy) yards per carry averages of 4.8, 3.2, 4.7, 4.9, 3.8. Yards per carry is an overblown metric but it does tell a story here that he is elite when his body allows him to be. Still just 25 years old, he is hopeful to put together a solid season that extends his life in his home of Georgia.

Behind Gurley, there is little to be excited about. Ito Smith may be the first one up before Brian Hill, but both had their chance when Freeman went down last year. Smith is the shiftier of the two with better receiving chops and Brian Hill is between the 20’s guy to move the chains. The problem is…neither were effective when given the opportunity last year. Hill left all fantasy owners in the dust that took a chance on him in 2019 with 1.83 YPC in his two starts. Qadree Ollison is their goal line banger but is too one dimensional for much more.

Julio Jones is the best receiver in the NFL. There doesn’t need to be a debate, he wins. Yes, Michael Thomas had an extremely impressive season, but nobody does it better than Julio. He has 57 career TD’s, 55 games with at least 100+ yards and has amassed an incredible 12,125 yards. Just for perspective, Julio Jones’ 12,125 career yards is the equivalent of running from New Jersey to California 5 times over. He’s a beast and he’s primed for another solid campaign in 2020. As good as Jones is, he is the highest priced receiver around at $22 million per year. Calvin Ridley is a special talent and everyone with a voice is comparing his upcoming season to a Chris Godwin-like breakout. Ridley has already made an impact on this team in his first two seasons. So far, he has been targeted over 90 times, has over 60 receptions, went over 800 yards and has 17 touchdowns in two years. Those efficiency numbers are crazy for 90ish targets a year. In order for him to “breakout”, he will have to assume some of the 133 vacated targets from Austin Hooper and Mohamed Sanu. Russel Gage is an undervalued player in fantasy that could be in for an expanded role from his 69 targets in 2019. He trumps Ridley in reception percentage, drop rate, and yards after catch. That doesn’t mean Gage is in any way a better receiver, it means he operates on different parts of the field and route tree. Keep an eye on him when filling out the end of your bench. The Falcons have brought in former 1st rounder Laquon Treadwell and will attempt to get some value out of him as their 4th/5th receiver.

Austin Hooper was a target vacuum operating as Matt Ryan’s safety valve. He was lost in free agency to Cleveland, so the Falcons went out and traded 2nd and 4th round picks for Hayden Hurst in March. Hurst is a capable athlete and moves well for his size (6’4”/250lbs) and will fill in nicely as the intermediate pass target. A former minor league baseball player in the Pirates organization, Hurst walked on to South Carolina and set school records as a tight end in just his second year. He is 27 years old next month and is set to become a big part of this high-octane passing game. Hurst is a fantastic value at $2.8 with this year and next left on his contract.  Graham and Lee will be his direct backups and barring injury, will have a hard time with fantasy production.

Carolina Panthers

HC: Matt Rhule

OC: Joe Brady

QB: Teddy Bridgewater, Will Grier, PJ Walker

RB: Christian McCaffrey, Reggie Bonnafon, Jordan Scarlett, Mike Davis, Rodney Smith, Alex Armah

WR: DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel, Pharoh Cooper, Seth Roberts, DeAndrew White, Brandon Zylstra, Ishmael Hyman, Omar Bayless, Damion Jeanpeire JR, Keith Kirkwood, TreVontae Hights

TE: Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz, Temarrick Hemmingway, Colin Thompson, Giovanni Ricci, Cam Sutton

Rookie head coach Matt Rhule is known for turning college programs around. He has his work cut out for him with the team that he inherited in Carolina though. With an abysmal 2019 defensive showing, the Panthers used every one of this year’s draft picks on defensive players. This team is in search of a new identity since the departure of 9-year head coach Ron Rivera, and franchise cornerstones Greg Olsen, Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly.

Rhule isn’t alone in the team’s rebuild, they also brought in new OC Joe Brady who served as the passing game coordinator for the National Champions LSU. The Panthers certainly have talent at the skill positions with fantasy star Christian McCaffrey, 2020 breakout WR DJ Moore, and newly acquired Robby Anderson. There should be plenty of opportunities for new QB Teddy Bridgewater to hike the ball in comeback mode. Bridgewater is a competent QB on a team friendly salary ($21 million/3 years) without much competition behind him. Will Grier got thrown into the fire last year as a rookie and did not perform well. It appeared it was too much too soon for the young Grier. Hopefully better days are ahead for him, but he will have to fight off XFL standout P.J. Walker for the NO.2 spot behind Bridgewater. Walker reunites with college coach Rhule after serving as the face of the XFL. He is a dual threat in both the pass and run game and is an intriguing player to add to the watch list especially since Bridgewater has only played a full 16 games once in 5 seasons in the NFL.

Christian McCaffrey is one of those players that you can build a team around in both real life and fantasy football. He is loved by his teammates and coaches for his incredible work ethic and he is just plain fun to watch. With him you get a RB1 and a WR1 in the same package. In his three seasons in the league, his rushing and receiving yards have gone up each year as well as his touchdowns, rush attempts, targets, yards per game and yards per catch. He is a fantasy owner’s dream with these incredible stats, and he is one of the last bellow backs playing over 92% of the snaps over the past two seasons. If you are comfortable with his $16 million per year salary, get this guy on your team. His backup predicts to be Reggie Bonnafon but apparently veteran journeyman, Mike Davis is also in the mix for the role of fantasy’s least used reserve running back.

The receiving group is led by 2019 breakout D.J. Moore. Moore’s target total was good for 10th in the league while having Will Grier and Kyle Allen under center. With what should be a pass heavy offense, Moore is sure to improve on his 87/1,175/4 line from 2020. Moore ($2.8 million/3 years) is a prime example of top talent meets low cost in Dynasty Owner. Joining Moore is former Jet Robby Anderson. Anderson was also coached by Rhule in his days at Temple University. Anderson’s 15 YPC are elite in NFL terms but he doesn’t quite mesh with Bridgewater’s style of play. Teddy B is not known for his downfield throwing prowess but hopefully that all changes this year. The often-overlooked Curtis Samuel rounds out the starting Panthers’ receivers and we can only hope this coaching staff can tap into Samuel’s potential. He is a dynamic playmaker that just seemed to play out of position the last few seasons. He is uniquely capable of being a sure-handed possession type receiver as well as going down field. It is now Ian Thomas time. Greg Olsen had a fantastic career as a Panther. He has since moved on to the Las Vegas Raiders, opening the door for the freakishly athletic Ian Thomas. Thomas was drawing attention as early as his rookie year training camp. Entering his third year, the former fourth round pick is poised to take a big leap as a full time starter after filling in admirably for the oft injured Olsen.

New Orleans Saints

HC: Sean Payton

OC: Pete Carmichael

QB: Drew Brees, Taysom Hill, Jameis Winston, Tommy Stevens

RB: Alvin Kamara, Latavius Murray, Ty Montgomery, Dwayne Washington, Taquan Mizzell, Ricky Ortiz, Tony Jones Jr, Mike Burton

WR: Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Tre’Quan Smith, Deonte Harris, Austin Carr, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Juwan Johnson, Marquez Callaway, Krishawn Hogan, Emmanuel Butler, Tommylee Lewis, Maurice Harris

TE: Jared Cook, Josh Hill, Adam Trautman, Garrett Griffin, Jason Vander Laan, Cole Wick

The Saints may just have the best overall team on paper. They are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and are a favorite to go deep into the playoffs. Sean Payton has done an incredible job as head coach and play caller in his 13 seasons as head coach. The Saints are perceived to be in win now mode and they just might have the roster to award Payton with his second Lombardi trophy.  The team’s heart and soul reside with the player that wears #9. Drew Brees is iconic and has done more for the Saints organization than any other player in their history. His rapidly declining arm strength is a problem since that was always a big part of his game, but Payton adjusted accordingly the last two years and it has worked out well so far.

Brees is a bit of a Jekyl and Hyde when it comes to home/road splits. When he is home playing in a dome, he’s a must start in fantasy. When they are away is when things get dicey. He scores nearly four less fantasy points when he is away. Things may even out a bit in 2020 considering that he may not be taking so many deep shots by design. Brees’ salary is mid-range at $25 million and is in the range of Brady, Carr, Rivers. A big downer for Brees is Taysom Hill’s presence in Red Zone packages. Used more as a runner/receiver than a passer, Hill is a serious threat when the ball touches his hands. He more closely resembles a TE than a rushing QB, Hill is a gritty player that has a high price tag for a sub package QB. Rounding out the mentionable QBs is Jameis Winston. The former Buccaneer has a notorious 2019 season and was handed his walking papers by Bruce Arians and co. He signed an extremely modest deal to learn under Payton and Brees and hopes to turn his career around in 2021.

The running game again figures to be the focal point of the Saint’s offense. Kamara is a game changer but was hampered by back, knee and ankle injuries last year limiting him to just 14 games. Not only does he get the starter’s share of carries, he also averages 6 catches per game in his career. Expecting a return to form, Kamara is expected to return to top 3-5 RB status and offers a great one-year rental rate of less than $1 million this year. Latavius Murray was the number one back in fantasy when he was covering for Kamara in his 3 missed games last year. When given a chance, he could be a monster back behind this beast of an offensive line. The problem is; this offense hasn’t generated enough touches for Murray to be a viable start with a healthy Kamara in the lineup. Yes, Kamara and Mark Ingram were both top 6 fantasy back in 2017 but they also didn’t have a mature Michael Thomas soaking up 149 receptions. Ty Mongomery expects to be Alvin Kamara’s direct handcuff for 2020. Montgomery is a fun player to watch because he has the natural hands of a receiver but the running ability of a running back. Now liberated from Adam Gase’s rule, Montgomery might just niche himself a nice role in an offense led by a coach that may actually know how to use him.

This passing attack goes through one man. Michael Thomas has set an NFL record for most receptions (470) and receiving yards (5,512) in the first four years of his career. He is a true target monster that hauled in an incredible 149 receptions for 1,725 yards on an insane 80.5% catch rate. All of those metrics were NFL bests in 2019 and his receptions were good for an NFL best all-time! He figures to pick up where he left off last season but now, he has legitimate help across from him. Emmanuel Sanders proved many wrong last year as he quickly rebounded from a 2018 Achilies injury to produce a line of 66/869/5 while kicking in three 100-yard games during his stay with Denver and then San Francisco. Sanders is a spry 33-year-old that is sitting on a 2 year $16 million and is a low ceiling yet viable option in this Saints highly efficient offense. Tre’Quan Smith figures in as their WR 3-4 and the Saints are still holding out hope that he begins to put it together. Once touted as their answer to their WR2 search, Smith is long on athleticism but has yet to find all of the pieces to complete the puzzle. Often appearing lost and running the wrong routes, Smith will need to do more to make an impact in 2020. An intriguing prospect is Juwan Johnson out of Oregon by way of Penn State. At 6’4” and 230lbs, Johnson is a jump ball leaper with crazy good hands but unpolished route running. If he can clean up his game, he is someone to keep one eye on.

Jared Cook is on his 5th team in 11 NFL seasons. He eclipsed his career best 6 TD’s by scoring 9 times last year. He is a much needed big-bodied red zone threat in this offense but is somewhat limited between the 20’s with the chain-moving targets going to Thomas (188) and Kamara (104). Cook will continue his role in 2020 as a reliable red zone target and should see minimal competition from fellow TE’s Josh Hill (35 targets in 2019) and rookie Adam Trautman. Trautman is a future No.1 tight end in the NFL that may not need too long to acclimate to pro football life. PFF has graded him out as the #1 receiving talent in this year’s TE class and 2018’s as well. With training camp restrictions and no pre-season, it may be difficult for Trautman (or any rookie) to see an expanded early season role, especially in the receiving game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

HC: Bruce Arians

OC: Byron Leftwich

QB: Thomas Brady, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Griffin, Reid Sinnett

RB: Ronald Jones II, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Dare Ogunbowale, LeSean McCoy, Raymond Calais, TJ Logan, Aca’Cedric Ware

WR: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scott Miller, Justin Watson, Tyler Johnson, Spencer Schnell, Jaydon Mickens, Travis Jonsen, Codey McElroy, Cyril Grayson, John Hurst, Bryant Mitchell, Josh Pearson

TE: Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, Cameron Brate, Tanner Hudson, Anthony Auclair, Jordan Leggett

If there is an NFL team that is built to win now, it’s the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On the surface, the Buccaneers are racing against father time to win the second Super Bowl in franchise history. Tom Brady appears to have two years (at $25 million) left before hitting the links and Bruce Arians and Rob Gronkowski are sure to be right behind him. The coaching staff appears to have worthy successors but the QB room does not. Ryan Griffin is a locker room favorite that has shined in the preseason over the years, but he has never been elevated to No.2 on the depth chart, except for injury. Blaine Gabbert’s claim to fame was the unseating of Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco right before “the kneel”. He was a former Rivals.com 5-star recruit before landing in Missouri and has since bounced around between five NFL teams while owning a 48-47 TD to INT ratio. Brady is the GOAT and is sure to want to silence critics by winning yet another championship, this time without Bill Belichick. He has an enormous amount of talent surrounding but an even greater source of experience to draw from. As I tweeted back in April:

That is an insane number of trips to the endzone for these starters.

The running back position is a bit murky, but they do have a capable group. Ronald Jones bounced back nicely last year after a forgetful rookie season. He was held to a committee role with Peyton Barber and Dare Ogunbowale last year but that just may be what he is cut out for. When given the chance, he brought the juice to Barber’s molasses and gave the offense a shot in the arm with his big playmaking ability. Coming out of USC in 2018 he was criminally compared by some scouts and tauts to Jamaal Charles. Charles was a natural pass catcher and Jones was not. The breakaway speed is comparable, but the similarities end there. Jones did progress in the passing game last year when given the opportunity but the 3rd down role was owned by Ogunbowale.

Vaughn was most likely not the ideal pick at RB for Arians but it’s who they went with. He was an every down back at Vanderbilt and he can do a fine job in the run, pass and pass protection categories but he is a master of none. He’s not a punisher like Jonathan Taylor nor is he a pass catching specialist like CEH or Swift and he doesn’t have the playmaking ability of Cam Akers. Although, he just might have what it takes for this offense and that’s becoming a role player, not a superstar. This team is full of household names but that might not be needed when lining up behind Brady. Brady loves checking down and passing to his backs but what he loves more is keeping a clean jersey. Late edition, LeSean McCoy may help out here but is no lock to make this team after signing at the vet minimum for 1 year $1 million. Whichever back steps up in that department will certainly get their fair portion of the snaps.

The strength of this offense has been the receivers since Mike Evans ($16.5 million/4 years) came aboard in 2014. The strength continues in 2020 with his fellow Pro Bowl teammate Chris Godwin and up and coming talent like Scotty Miller, Justin Watson and Tyler Johnson. This is very good depth with Evans and Godwin obviously leading the way. Godwin is extremely versatile and can play inside or outside. He is equally tough playing off ball with his blocking as he is with the ball in his hands. He is working on a very attractive salary in 2020 at $821,000 and should be one of the first receivers off the board in drafts. Miller is an electric player with crazy straight-line speed, but he is being typecast as strictly a slot receiver by those outside of the organization. He and big slot Justin Watson figure to duke it out for WR3 honors while possible steal of the draft Tyler Johnson gets up to speed. Johnson was rated with PFF’s highest receiving grade in college football in 2018 and 2019. His college efficiency was off the charts improving every year leading to an impressive senior year where he averaged over 100yds and a TD a game while posting a 71.1 catch rate. He was overlooked in the pre-draft process allegedly for a falling out with a coach(s) but he has proclaimed that he will outperform everyone’s expectations.

On paper, this tight end group just isn’t fair. They have enough talent and experience for two NFL teams. The Bucs like to keep 6 receivers but may be forced to keep 5 if Calais wins the return job, they may not need to keep a sixth WR and instead use the roster spot on another TE. Gronk is the only lock but Howard and Brate don’t look like they are going anywhere anytime soon. Auclair is the long snapper, occasional FB and in-line blocker as well as locker room favorite. Hudson is a coach’s favorite that played very well in preseason last year and the coaching staff already said that he would have a role on this team. That would be five tight ends on the roster making the Chicago Bears very jealous.

That is the NFC South! We hope you enjoyed the read. Check back soon! We will continue with the AFC East next week.

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