By Steven Van Tassell (@SteveVT33)
Usually, I don’t do a recap of the weekend’s NFL games in the article introduction, but the four games in the Divisional Round this weekend were so unbelievable and amazing that I can’t let the opportunity to pass without giving out some thoughts. First of all, congratulations to the teams who survived and won. The Bengals, 49ers, Rams and Chiefs all won their games on the last possession and had to produce some kind of game-winning drive in order to be victorious.
The Bengals intercepted Titans QB Ryan Tannehill three times and the third interception with just 20 seconds left on the clock gave them the field position to be able to throw one pass from Joe Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase then rely on rookie kicker Evan McPherson to nail a 52-yard FG to win. This ended up being the least exciting finish of the weekend. In the Saturday night game, the 49ers blocked a punt and scored a special teams TD late in the fourth quarter, followed by a three and out for the Green Bay offense that allowed the 49ers to have one of their best drives of the game (9 plays for 44 yards) to set up the 45-yard FG to win it as the snow fell down around them at Lambeau Field. Both Saturday games featured much better defense than offense and some shaky special teams play by Green Bay, a season-long weakness that came back to haunt them in the playoffs. After those Saturday games, it was going to be hard for the Sunday games to top that, but they did.
First, tentative play calling by the Rams after they jumped out to a 27-3 lead combined with turnovers gave the G.O.A.T. and the Buccaneers the opportunity to come back and tie the game 27-27 with 42 seconds left. For some unknown reason, the Buccaneers secondary left Cooper Kupp wide open to catch two passes for 64 yards and put the Rams in position to have former Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay hit the game-winning 30 yard FG as time expired. Finally, the Bills and Chiefs combined for an incredible 25 points in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. It was a bad defense showcase as Tyreek Hill was allowed room to run and ran past the Bills defense for a 64-yard TD reception. That was followed immediately by a 75-yard TD drive by the Bills that took only 49 seconds. However, it was time for Game Mismanagement 101 class by Buffalo coach Sean McDermott who let his kicker kick the ball into the end zone on the kickoff with 13 seconds left to give the Chiefs offense the ball at the 25-yard line. If Buffalo had just kicked it in play so the Chiefs had to return the ball and spend precious seconds on a kickoff return, they might not have given up a 19-yard reception to Tyreek Hill then had their defense leave the entire middle of the field open for Travis Kelce so Mahomes could hit him with a 25-yard pass to put the Chiefs in FG range. Harrison Butker did the rest by hitting a 49-yard FG to send the game into overtime where the Chiefs drove the field and scored a TD to win it with Josh Allen sitting on the bench unable to do anything to stop it or even an opportunity to respond.
With the recap out of the way, let’s talk about some players who Dynasty Owners can pick up in the Free Agent Auction and add to their rosters right now. All of the players listed are available in at least 60% of Dynasty Owner leagues and are signed for the 2022 season with a salary of less than $2 million. This criteria excludes a significant portion of the available players in most Dynasty Owner leagues. Many players have no years left on their contracts and will be free agents in 2022, leaving their salary in question for the upcoming Dynasty Owner season. Many of the players with contracts have salaries that are too high for their level of production, which is why they are likely available in so many Dynasty Owner leagues. None of these players are likely to be in your Dynasty Owner Starting lineup for Week 1 of the 2022 season, but could possibly end up playing for your team (at least as a Bench option) during the upcoming season.
All stats cited 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.
For the purposes of this article, all statistics, ADP and Dynasty Owner rostered percentage statistics were current as of the morning of January 24th.
There are very few quarterbacks who fit the criteria for inclusion. There are some out there who are available in more than 60% of Dynasty Owner leagues, but almost all of them either have astronomically high salaries (Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, etc.) or need multiple injuries to other QBs to have a chance at playing next year (Jarrett Stidham and Felipe Franks). However, there is one QB out there who does qualify and should be added to Dynasty Owner rosters
Sam Ehlinger (QB – IND) – 3 years/$902,677 – 39.1% Roster Percentage
Colts coach Frank Reich has declined to commit to QB Carson Wentz ($32 million) as the Colts starting QB in 2022. Rookie Sam Ehlinger finished the season as the Colts backup QB, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be under center in their 2022 season opener. However, it does mean that he has the best chance of any QB likely to be a starter who is available in the Free Agent Auction right now and doesn’t have a multi-million dollar salary.
The Colts clearly have faith in Ehlinger even though he was just a sixth round draft pick for them as they released Jacob Eason who they drafted in the fourth round in 2020 after they activated Ehlinger off Injured Reserve in mid-October. Eason was the backup at the start of the season and the only other Colts’ QB to throw a pass this season. Ehlinger played 18 snaps in three games during the regular season with zero pass attempts and nine yards rushing (0.9 Dynasty Owner fantasy points). At a salary of only $902,677 per year, Ehlinger isn’t going to break your Dynasty Owner salary cap and with only 11 teams having their starting QB play all 17 games and just six more having a QB play in 16 games, it’s even money that the Colts will need to play at least two QBs during the 2022 season. Even if they keep Wentz and he’s the starter, he still missed 12 games over five previous seasons in Philadelphia. If they move on from Wentz and get a new QB, there’s no guarantee that the new starting QB will stay healthy for the entire year.
Running backs with a pulse and a spot on a NFL roster are likely to be on a Dynasty Owner roster. Injuries and the lack of traditional three-down back fueling the need for pass-catching RBs and backups to spell the starter mean that nearly every RB who has a chance to see the field are not available in your league’s Free Agent Auction. The pickings are slim as 65 RBs are rostered in 95% or more Dynasty Owner leagues right now and 111 are on a roster in 50% or more. Almost all of those RBs who aren’t on that list are free agents in 2022. One of the few who is signed for next year is:
Mike Boone (RB – DEN) – 1 year/$1.925 million – 34.3% Roster Percentage
Another player who missed the first half of the season then hardly played on offense was Denver RB Mike Boone. The Broncos were one of the few NFL teams without a major injury to either of their top two RBs (Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon). Williams played in all 17 games in his rookie season and Gordon played in 16 games. As a result, only four RBs had a carry in 2021 for the Broncos (Williams, Gordon, Boone and Demarea Crockett). Williams and Gordon dominated the backfield and had over 98% of the carries (406 out of 413) for Denver in 2021.
Gordon is a free agent and could be on the move, leaving Denver with Williams as the starter and Boone as the backup in 2022. Denver could sign additional veterans, a late-round rookie RB or some undrafted free agents to compete for roster spots as well. It’s also possible that the guy they gave a two-year, $3.85 million contract to on the first day of free agency last year is someone who they want to utilize more. With the way that injuries can destroy a team’s depth at RB in a hurry, it’s sensible for Dynasty Owners to have plenty of depth at the RB position. Adding Boone to your Dynasty Owner roster is a relatively cheap way to do that in the off-season for the cost of likely only $1 million Dynasty Dollars.
Wide Receiver and Tight End
If you thought the landscape was bleak for quarterbacks and running backs, then don’t look at wide receiver as the best candidate here might be Ben Skowronek from the Rams (3 years/$891,131) who is buried at fourth on the current Rams WR depth chart and could stay there next season after the return of Robert Woods and the likely departure of Odell Beckham Jr. Other than that, it’s players who are either too expensive (Jarvis Landry at $15.1 million and Jamal Agnew at $4.75 million) or didn’t do much in 2021 to make them seem worthy of having a role in 2022.
In contrast, there are actually three tight ends who fit the bill. With two of the best TEs (Mark Andrews and Dalton Schultz) in line for significant raises in 2022, it’s probably time for a lot of Dynasty Owners to find another affordable TE to add to their ranks.
Josiah Deguara (TE – GB) – 2 years/$1,136,941 – 38.5% Roster Percentage
Sneaking in just under the roster threshold is Green Bay TE Josiah Deguara. Deguara moved into a more prominent spot in the Packers’ offense after the injury to Robert Tonyan and played decently with 54.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in the final nine games of the season (6.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game). The Packers’ salary cap issues ($38.4 million over) makes it unlikely that the team will re-sign Tonyan or sign another prominent free agent TE with both Deguara and Marcedes Lewis (1 year/$2.96 million) under contract already. Deguara is much more affordable and younger than Lewis (24 years old vs. 37 years old) and had more Dynasty Owner fantasy points too (only 43.4 points in 17 games for Lewis).
Of course, Dynasty Owners with Deguara may have Jordan Love throwing him passes instead of Aaron Rodgers, which should negatively impact his value. Picking up Deguara isn’t a sure thing, but if Rodgers returns to Green Bay, then it’s possible Dynasty Owners would have the Packers’ top TE for only an off-season Free Agent Auction bid of $1 million. Tonyan was the TE5 in Dynasty Owner for 2020 and Deguara does have third round NFL draft capital, so the potential is there for Dynasty Owners willing to take a chance. Our 2021 Chase for the Ring Champion SKOL Vikings already did this off-season and he’s a Vikings fan. That should tell you something.
John Bates (TE – WAS) – 3 years/$1,050,604 – 29.6% Roster Percentage
Rookie John Bates ended up as the top TE in Washington in Week 18 after injuries to Logan Thomas and Ricky Seals-Jones saw both on Injured Reserve. Of course, he only had 1.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (1 reception for 5 receiving yards) in that game. However, he averaged 5.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game after the Football Team’s Week 9 bye (46.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 9 games. Thomas signed a 3-year/$24 million contract extension last July, but after his season ending ACL tear surgery, he’s not a lock to be ready for the start of the 2022 season. That opens up a role for Bates, the team’s 2021 fourth round draft pick, to get plenty of work in the off-season. Ricky Seals-Jones is an impeding free agent in 2022 leaving Bates, Thomas and Sammis Reyes, who was signed by the team as part of the International Pathway Program, as the only TEs with contracts for 2022.
The identity of the Washington QB in 2022 is unclear. Incumbent Taylor Heinicke was up and down last season, but is still signed for the 2022 season. The Football Team could sign a veteran QB to challenge Heinicke for the starting position next year, or serve as a capable backup. There is room for Bates to carve out a significant role with a dearth of offensive weapons for the team after WR Terry McLaurin and RB Antonio Gibson.
Zach Gentry (TE – PIT) – 1 year/$716,115 – 1.2% Roster Percentage
Despite being a 2019 fifth round draft pick, Gentry only had one reception in 2019 and didn’t play a snap on offense in 2020. He finally got an opportunity in 2021 as the third string TE behind veteran Eric Ebron and rookie Pat Freiermuth and ended up with 35.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 17 games played (2.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game). Most of those points came in two games. The first was Week 16 when he was the Steelers’ starter with both Freiermuth and Ebron out and produced 7.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (4 receptions for 31 receiving yards). The second was Week 18 when Freiermuth was back, but Gentry still had 7.9 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (4 receptions for 39 receiving yards). Ebron is a free agent in 2022, which could leave Gentry as the primary backup, or the Steelers could add a veteran free agent to complement Freiermuth and put Gentry back as the third TE.
The identity of the Pittsburgh starting QB in 2022 is unclear. Gentry is also highly unlikely to be a primary offensive weapon with the presence of Freiermuth, RB Najee Harris, and WRs Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool on the Steelers’ roster. Obviously this is clearly a highly speculative addition to your Dynasty Owner roster, but if you have Freiermuth on your team, then bidding $1 million Dynasty Dollars on Gentry and his $716,115 salary is a cheap handcuff option.
Sorry, no kickers here for those Dynasty Owners who love themselves the kickers. None qualified as most don’t have multi-year contracts and if they do, they are either rostered in a high percentage of DO leagues, cost at least $4 million per year, or both.
Remember, all five of these players are likely available to pick up off the Free Agent Auction right now. However, none of them are going to singlehandedly lead you to be the 2022 Chase for the Ring Champion or even help your team win its League. Of course, few people thought that Cordarrelle Patterson ($3 million) would be the RB8 for the 2021 season as he was still available in over half (50.9%) of Dynasty Owner leagues before Week 2 of the season. Taking a chance with some speculative additions in the off-season might pay huge dividends and if they don’t pan out, the cost of dropping them is low (under $800,000 Dynasty Dollars each) to go pick up someone else.
The weekly Dynasty Owner livestream will return this Wednesday at 4 PM (Eastern) with myself and Tim Peffer. Not sure about this week, but we should have plenty of guests over the course of the off-season. Set the timer on YouTube so you don’t miss it live, or make sure to watch it afterwards. Either way, don’t forget to smash the Like button. You can also listen wherever you get your podcasts.
Please read all of the off-season articles and videos from our Dynasty Owner team as well. The schedule has changed slightly. On Mondays, I’ll talk about players, salaries and contracts to help new and returning Dynasty Owners navigate how to play our unique game. Jay Pounds will talk everything about rebuilding your Dynasty Owner roster on Tuesday. Nate Christian is back for 2022 and will do prospect previews every Thursday. Finally, Friday is Free Agent Friday as Matt Morrison – The Jerk breaks down the free agents on every NFL team by division.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!
Steven Van Tassell is the Head of Content for Dynasty Owner Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and