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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Dynasty Owner Stock Market Report: Who’s Up and Who’s Down?

Author: Steven Van Tassell

With the NFL draft in the rearview mirror and the schedule due to come out late this week, a lot of fantasy football players are looking at what rookies will make an impact next year. Since the focus is on the rookies who were just drafted, a potentially overlooked aspect is what will be the impact of the draft on veteran players. Since this is the first season of Dynasty Owner after an NFL draft, let’s do a “stock market” report where we look at players whose stock is down after the draft and those whose stock is up.

For every rookie who will make an impact during the 2020 Dynasty Owner season, there will be a veteran player who will lose playing time, along with targets, catches or carries. The first part of this article focuses on the players most impacted in a negative fashion by his team’s selections in the 2020 NFL draft.  Because of the sheer number and talent of the rookie WRs chosen in the draft, four out of the five players whose Dynasty Owner stock is down after the draft are WRs.

On the other hand, sometimes the draft improves a player’s stock with his team. It could be because the team didn’t draft any players to compete with him for playing time or their team drafted players who should help him perform better. In the second part of this article, the focus will be on some players whose stock should rise because of what their team did or didn’t do during the draft. In contrast to the stock down list, we have players at every skill position (QB, RB, WR and TE) on the stock list up.

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 .25 points for every 10 yards.

Stock Down for These Players

Amari Cooper (DAL – WR): Jerry Jones got to do the draft alone on his yacht without those pesky scouts, coaches and player personnel people around to influence his selections. Rumor has it that this is what happened in 2014 when Jerry really wanted to draft Johnny Manziel and the Cowboys front office staff convinced him to draft a player at a position they needed (offensive guard Zack Martin who by the way has made it to the Pro Bowl in each of his first six seasons, the fifth offensive lineman to ever do that). Not this year! Despite needs at other positions and having two top WRs in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, Jones couldn’t resist taking a WR who slipped down to the 17th pick in CeeDee Lamb.

The selection of Lamb should reduce targets for both Cooper and Gallup, but in Dynasty Owner, it’s Cooper will be negatively impacted to a greater extent since he costs $20 million per season for five more seasons vs. $880,995 for Gallup for the next two years. Sometimes a team can have three productive receivers (see the 2018 Rams through the first five games, before Cooper Kupp got injured, as Kupp, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks were all top 25 fantasy WRs), but for what Cooper is making, he needs to be a clear #1 WR. He’s unlikely to earn that salary now with both Gallup and Lamb around.

Tyrell Williams (LV – WR): The Raiders drafted a WR (Henry Ruggs III) in the first round which obviously hurts the value of the rest of the WRs on the team. After that, they went ahead and drafted two more WRs with back-to-back third round selections (Lynn Bowden Jr. and Bryan Edwards). Drafting three players at the same position can only be seen as an indictment of the current guys on the roster who play the same position.

Some people think these picks plus the addition of veteran TE Jason Witten foreshadows a reduction in Darren Waller’s usage, but the player most impacted in Dynasty Owner will be WR Tyrell Williams. Williams is still getting paid Top 20 WR money as he’s scheduled to make over $11 million in 2020. Williams is owned in only 41% of Dynasty Owner leagues right now and those owners are probably wishing they dropped him for free when they had the chance.

Alshon Jeffery (PHI – WR): Another team with poor production and injury problems from its WRs in 2019 were the Philadelphia Eagles. To address this glaring issue, the Eagles went ahead and drafted WR Jalen Reagor in the first round. This selection hurts the fantasy value of all of the Eagles incumbent WRs who were injured or didn’t play well in 2019 (Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside). The player who will be hurt the most though is Alshon Jeffery. That’s because Jeffery’s salary is higher at $13 million than the $9.3 million that Jackson will make and much higher than the $1.236 million due Arcega-Whiteside in 2020. 

A.J. Green (CIN – WR): Despite not playing a down in 2019, some Dynasty Owners still kept Green on their rosters through amnesty and are preparing to pay him nearly $18 million in 2020. Those owners were likely expecting Green to develop a rapport with rookie QB Joe Burrow and a return to 2018 form when he scored 10.0 or more Dynasty Owner fantasy points in all eight games he played before getting injured, averaging 18.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game.

What his Dynasty Owners were not anticipating was that the Bengals would grab a WR (Tee Higgins) with the first pick of the second round. Green’s 2020 salary is over $7 million higher than fellow Bengals WR Tyler Boyd ($17.97 million vs. $10.75 million for Boyd). The Bengals also just signed Boyd to a 4-year, $43 million deal last off-season, so they probably see Boyd and Higgins as their WR duo of the future, not Green.

Jimmy Graham (CHI – TE): When the Bears released fellow highly paid TE Troy Burton a few days before the NFL draft, Graham’s stock was looking up as the top TE on the team, even though the Bears have plenty of TEs on their roster. Then the Bears went ahead and drafted another TE in the second round (Cole Kmet). By having his new team use a high pick on another TE, it shows that the Bears probably don’t think Graham will return to his 2011 and 2013 form in 2020 and want to have his replacement ready to go. At $8 million per year for both 2020 and 2021, Graham is the 7th highest paid TE in Dynasty Owner and will need to hold off Kmet and the rest of the Bears TE corps to be valuable enough to be paying that much for two more years.

Stock Up for These Players

Jarret Stidham (NE – QB): Long-time Patriots fans shouldn’t have been surprised that Bill Belichick didn’t spend a draft pick on a QB this year. For years, people have assumed that the Patriots would draft a replacement for Tom Brady in the first round and he never did it. Remember that Jimmy Garoppolo was a late second round pick, Jacoby Brissett was a late third round pick and Stidham was a late fourth round pick. Now that Brady is gone to Tampa Bay, Belichick didn’t suddenly change and draft a QB with the Patriots first round pick. He did what he’s done many times in the past – he traded down for more late round picks. As Belichick might have said “On to Cincinnati”.

The decision to not draft a QB was a vote of confidence in Jarret Stidham as the Patriots starting QB for 2020 and maybe beyond, depending on his performance. Stidham will only cost Dynasty Owners $788,423 per year for the next three seasons and he’s still available in quite a few leagues (37% to be exact). If you’re a Belichick believer and Stidham is available in your league, go ahead and grab him before someone else does.

Matthew Stafford (DET – QB): Another team who many people thought would draft a QB in the first round was the Detroit Lions. In a vote of confidence for incumbent QB Matthew Stafford, they didn’t and roll into the 2020 season with Stafford, career backup Chase Daniel and David Blough, who started the last five games of the 2020 season as a rookie, as their QBs. Lions’ General Manager Bob Quinn also just gave a vote of confidence to Stafford in an by saying “Matthew (Stafford) is our guy” (https://lionswire.usatoday.com/2020/05/03/bob-quinn-is-happy-with-where-the-lions-stand-at-quarterback/.

Not only did they not draft his replacement, the Lions helped out their porous running game, ranked 21st in yards per carry and 22nd in yards per game in 2019, by drafting D’Andre Swift with the third pick of the second round (35th overall selection). Swift was the second RB drafted and should start and help improve the Lions’ running game to take pressure off of Stafford. While Stafford is making $27 million in salary, that’s only the 11th highest in Dynasty Owner. He’s available in 91% of Dynasty Owner leagues right now for anyone who has that kind of room on their roster for one of the favorites for the 2020 Comeback Player of the Year award.

Jordan Howard and Matt Brieda (MIA – RB): Instead of drafting a RB, the Dolphins took their QB of the future in the first round (Tua Tagovailoa) and two offensive linemen (tackle Austin Jackson in the first round and guard Robert Hunt in the second round). The selection of the linemen should help the Dolphins running game with Howard and Brieda being the primary beneficiaries.

In case you want to go grab them in the Free Agent Auction, neither one is available in many Dynasty Owner leagues (Brieda is owned in 98% while Howard is owned in 93.5%). Brieda is cheaper ($3.259 million vs. $4.875 million for Howard) and only has one year left on his deal versus two years for Howard, so his stock might be up a slight bit more than Howard’s. However, both of them and their owners should benefit from how the Dolphins drafted in 2020.

Allen Lazard (GB – WR): In case you weren’t aware, Lazard was the #2 WR in Green Bay in 2019 with 102.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 11 games, an average of 9.3 points per game. He dressed for all 16 games, but only had a catch in 11 of them. The only WR that the Packers signed so far this off-season is Devin Funchess, who was a disappointment in Carolina and injured for almost all year in 2019 with Indianapolis. In a curious move, they also didn’t draft a WR in the 2020 draft at all. That wasn’t the only curious Green Bay draft move this year, but that’s a story for another article.

For Lazard’s Dynasty Owners, this was good news as it means he’s probably locked in as the #2 WR behind Davante Adams for 2020 for only $675,000 in salary. That’s a great bargain and if you are in a league in which Lazard is available in the Free Agent Auction (35% of them), you should probably go grab him ASAP.

Jonnu Smith (TEN – TE): Delanie Walker is no longer a member of the Tennessee Titans as he was released back in mid-March. This led to speculation that the Titans might grab a TE in the draft. They didn’t so it looks like Jonnu Smith will be the starter. He earned the opportunity to work with Ryan Tannehill again as in the 10 games that Tannehill started in 2019, Smith averaged 8.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game and had 4 games with 10.0 or more points. Over a full 16-game season, this would have made Smith the 11th ranked TE in Dynasty Owner last season. Not bad for just $776,572 in salary for 2020. He is owned in 87% of Dynasty Owner leagues so there are plenty of Dynasty Owners who will benefit from having Smith on their roster this year.

Conclusions

After the NFL draft, there is always a lot of talk about the players drafted and projections on how they are going to do at the next level. Just as important for Dynasty Owners is figuring out how the draft will impact the value of current players already on their rosters. There were plenty of WRs drafted this year, which negatively impacted the value of several veteran WRs, while players at every position had an anticipated increase in value based on who their teams did or didn’t draft.

There is lots of activity coming up in the Dynasty Owner universe as Tim outlined recently. The NFL schedule is also due to be released by the end of the week. There are Dynasty Owner podcasts to view if you haven’t seen them yet. We also have Slack message board debates and commentary on breaking NFL news, a couple of articles by Chris Wolf (follow him on Twitter – @ckwolf21) and one from our newest writer, Milos Ljubic. 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!

Steven Van Tassell is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner.

Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner

The Aftermath of the First Virtual NFL Draft

Author: Chris Wolf

The first virtual draft is a wrap. It went over with minimal glitches and I want to say we were pleasantly surprised by the in-home reactions and view into NFL front offices (or basements). We all know that the NFL is a copycat league and it has never been more evident as what we saw this past weekend. Several teams chased the KC all-speed model and a few crafted their drafts after the Ravens and 49’ers run heavy schemes.

On the surface, there were winners and losers on draft weekend. At first glance, the Ravens, Cowboys and Vikings appeared to come away with an impressive rookie haul. Then we have the Green Bay Packers. You have to think that the double schalaking they received from San Francisco last year led them to draft components of a run heavy strategy.

Only time will tell how the rookie projects will assimilate to their new teams but, we can have fun projecting their success in their new landing spots. Speaking only of skilled positions related to our Dynasty Owner leagues, let’s get a bird’s eye view of some of the newest crop of NFL players that may help your team in 2020-2021.

* 2020 ​estimated​ cap charges according to overthecap.com are in parenthesis after their names*

Pick 1.01 Joe Burrow ($6,580,000) CIN ​- Andy Dalton’s recent release carves the path for this Heisman winner to start day 1. Needless to say, he should be an early to mid first round pick for your dynasty team.

Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb ​- Draft ‘em. All three are 1st round dynasty rookie values.

Pick 1.21 Jalen Reagor ($2,412,850) PHI –​ Great fit for a great offense. He could see immediate playing time if the Eagles move on from either Alshon Jeffery or Desean Jackson.

Pick 1.22 Justin Jefferson ($2,385,965) MIN –​ This NFL ready rookie steps into a great starting opportunity with the Vikings. He’ll most likely be the first rookie wide receiver taken redraft leagues and he’s a sure-fire first round pick in dynasty drafts.

Pick 1.32 Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($1,967,559) KC –​ The top running back selected in the NFL’s best offense. This should be your 1.01 or 1.02 in Rookie Drafts. Don’t overthink this.

Pick 2.1 Tee Higgins ($1,579,410) CIN -​ In a crowded wide receiver room, it would take moving AJ Green for Higgins to attempt to have any 2020 value. This may be a draft and stash pick for you this year.

Pick 2.2 Michael Pittman Jr ($1,565,970) IND -​ The Colt’s pulled off a very impressive draft to plug the holes in their offense. They collectively gushed over Pittman Jr liking him to Vincent Jackson. He should step in as an immediate starter opposite the aging T.Y. Hilton.

Pick 2.3 D’Andre Swift ($1,552,530) DET -​ It’s really hard to trust the Detroit Lions rushing attack but Swift is a rare athlete that may be able to thrive in any environment. They used an early 2nd round pick on him and he should see plenty of touches year 1.

Pick 2.9 Jonathan Taylor ($1,423,480) IND – This is unfair. The best pure runner in the draft is going to the team with the best overall offensive line. He’ll most likely be the 1.02 selection in your rookie draft.

Pick 2.17 Chase Claypool ($1,203,000) PIT – There are many varying opinions on this athletic freak. The one thing we do know is, he can allow JuJu to work back into the slot where he excelled in 2017 and 2018. Take note that Claypool is a big bodied receiver that the Steelers used their first pick on.

Pick 2.20 Cam Akers ($1,122,371) LAR – ESPN’s Todd McShay considers Akers the “most underrated running back in the class”. He’s a complete back with outstanding speed that could benefit from a hopefully improved L.A. Rams Offense. He’s used to running behind bad offensive lines so he should feel right at home here.

Pick 2.23 J.K. Dobbins ($1,041,716) BAL – The Ravens want to dominate the ground game to open their improved passing attack. They went out to draft one of the best in this year’s class to compliment the NFL’s MVP. He has the opportunity to be a dominant player in this offense.

Pick 2.27 Denzel Mims ($987,945) NYJ – Mims has the opportunity for a high volume role in his first year. 100 or more targets is not an unreasonable projection.

Pick 3.12 Ke’Shawn Vaughn ($864,720) TB – 7.9 ypc behind a sub-par offensive line at Vanderbilt. He offers good balance and vision to a stacked offense led by Tom Brady.

Pick 3.17 Bryan Edwards ($853,174) LVR – A much needed weapon for Derek Carr. What he lacks in top-end speed, he makes up for with his instinctive route running. Could compete for heavy targets early.

Pick 3.22 Zack Moss ($838,605) BUF – Already assigned the Frank Gore role by coaches in the Bills offense. This could lead to plenty of goal line work for an up and coming offense. Injuries are a concern for this dynamic back.

Pick 3.29 Darrynton Evans ($829,416) TEN – Evans is a home run threat that should find a niche as a complimentary back in a run-first offense. More of a compliment than a handcuff to Derek Henry.

Pick 4.18 Anthony McFarland ($790,608) PIT – His arrival breathes much needed life into the Steeler’s running back room. He’s a tough runner with good hands that could have an opportunity at some point in year one. 8-10 touches per game is a reasonable assumption.

Pick 4.36 Antonio Gandy-Golden ($733,600) WSH – A long strider with good hands will compete for snaps with sophomore Kelvin Harmon opposite rookie standout Terry McLaurin.

Pick 5.16 Tyler Johnson ($688,600) TB – A great value in round 5 of a loaded WR class. He’s a polished route runner that could push Scotty Miller and Justin Watson for the 3rd WR role in Tampa.

Pick 6.8 Donovan Peoples-Jones ($656,650) CLE – It’s not often that you find a year one contributor in later rounds but Peoples-Jones may surprise people this year. He’s talented enough to push for a role in 3 WR sets in what projects to be a much improved offense.

Other rookies such as Laviska Shenault Jr, Brandon Aiyuk, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, and KJ Hamler are good players who may find first year value but they are in a bit murkier situations. The goal is to win every year and slot players for future roles behind those with clearer projected outcomes.

The rookies included on this list have the possibility of making an impact on their teams during their rookie campaign and all should be viewed as top 20 players at their respective positions. Draft them with confidence and hopefully a few will contribute to your team sooner than later.

Chris Wolf is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner.

Follow us on Twitter: @Dynasty_Owner

Old Faces in New Places (Schitt’s Creek Version)

Author: Stephen Van Tassell

If you’re not familiar with Schitt’s Creek, then I recommend you go to Netflix and start watching as it’s a very funny show. If you’ve seen it, don’t go ruining it for me and others with spoilers in one of the Slack channels because I’m only on season two. Here’s a summary of the show from Wikipedia.

The series follows the trials and tribulations of the formerly wealthy Rose family who are forced to relocate to Schitt’s Creek, a small town they once purchased as a joke. Now living in two adjoining motel rooms, Johnny and Moira Rose—along with their adult children, David and Alexis—must adjust to a life without money and with each other.

So, it’s the opposite of the Jeffersons and means that this article will focus on players who have moved teams during the NFL off-season, but will highlight players who aren’t making as much as they did in 2019. They aren’t living in a motel without any money, but like the Roses, they are going to have to learn how to adjust to life in a new town with less money.

Are all of them suddenly worth having on your Dynasty Owner roster since they will count less against your salary cap than they did last year? Not exactly. Less money doesn’t automatically equal making the league minimum salary and some of the players highlighted still carry pretty hefty contracts of $6 million per year or higher. Just like the Jeffersons article, there are a lot of players who left one team in free agency for less money with another team, so we can’t cover everyone. Let’s look at six guys who will be making less in 2020, but hoping to play well enough to earn a higher paid contract for 2021 and beyond (all except one who signed a two year deal).

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 .25 points for every 10 yards.

U Know These TEs

Let’s start with a pair of TEs from the University of Miami – Jimmy Graham and Greg Olsen. Both are in the later stages of their careers before they move on to other pursuits (Olsen is likely to be a TV football analyst, while Graham is apparently an experienced pilot). Both signed contracts this off-season with a new team, but for less money than they were making in 2019. We’ll start with Jimmy Graham since he is slightly younger (33 vs. 35 for Olsen) and had a slightly bigger salary reduction ($2 million vs. $1.55 million for Olsen).

New Bears TE Jimmy Graham moved over to Chicago from Green Bay by signing a two-year, $16 million contract, worth $8 million per year in Dynasty Owner (Graham is the only one here who isn’t playing for a 2021 contract). This is down from the $10 million contract his Dynasty Owners paid in 2019. He slipped from the highest paid TE in the NFL to a tie for sixth place with fellow Bears TE Trey Burton. While his 2020 contract is less than 2019, Dynasty Owners shouldn’t settle for just a savings of $2 million but go for the entire contract and drop Graham while they can for free.

As the top TE in Green Bay, Graham only had 99.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2019, an average of 6.2 points per game, with just three games of 10.0+ Dynasty Owner fantasy points. He ranked as the #21 TE in Dynasty Owner last year despite playing in all 16 games and not having much significant competition from the other TEs on the Green Bay roster. This is after he was the #11 TE in Dynasty Owner in 2018. Even if he’s the top TE in Chicago, he’s going from the inconsistent Aaron Rodgers to an even worse QB in either Nick Foles or Mitchell Trubisky. Plus, he’s likely sharing the TE role with Trey Burton (unless Burton gets released). Regardless, that’s not worth $8 million in salary for the Dynasty Owners in 24% of leagues in which Graham is owned. Nor is he worth picking up in the rest of the leagues in which he’s available in the Free Agent Auction.

In a previous article this month, I looked at Greg Olsen. For those of you who want the full analysis, check it out at  https://dynastyowner.com/2020/03/amnesty-candidates-part-4/. If you don’t want to read it, here are the highlights:

  • Signed a one year, $7 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks back in mid-February that is valid for the 2020 Dynasty Owner season
  • 2020 salary is $1.55 million less than 2019 salary
  • Was the 13th best TE in Dynasty Owner in 2019 with an average of 8.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game in the 14 games he played
  • Had three explosive games mixed in (25.5, 17.8 and 17.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points), but in half of his 2019 games, he scored 7.0 or fewer Dynasty Owner fantasy points, meaning he was at best a Bench option for half of the season
  • Better QB in 2020 (Russell Wilson) versus Kyle Allen for most of 2019
  • Two other good TEs on Seattle roster in Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister plus competing with WRs Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf for catches

Olsen is rostered in 39% of Dynasty Owner leagues now – higher than 12 days ago when the last article was posted and he was rostered in 37% of Dynasty Owner leagues, so clearly more people disagree with me and have picked him up rather than dropped him. He’s the 12th highest paid TE as of right now according to Spotrac (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/tight-end/) so he’ll need to be a starting Dynasty Owner TE to justify his salary.

Trust me, I don’t like recommending that you drop my fellow University of Miami alumni, but both Graham and Olsen will cost too much in salary to justify being on your Dynasty Owner roster in 2020. Drop them if you need cap room or see if another owner is bullish on them and trade away those contracts.

A is For “Are Either of These Guys Worth $1,047,500?”

Both Geronimo Allison and Nelson Agholor will receive $1,047,500 with their new teams. Allison is in his fifth season, but the first with the Detroit Lions after four relatively unproductive years with the Green Bay Packers, while Agholor starts fresh in Las Vegas with the Raiders after five years in Philadelphia.

Both seem very similar but are also different in many ways, such as the percentage of leagues they are rostered in Dynasty Owner (74% for Allison versus 24% for Agholor). Kind of surprising considering that Allison was slightly more expensive in 2019 ($2.8 million) than Agholor ($2.34 million). Agholor appears to be in a better spot with his new team as he’s likely the third WR for the Raiders, behind Tyrell Williams and Hunter Renfrow, while Allison is stuck at fourth on the Lions depth chart behind Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola.

If Allison can return to his 2018 form when he averaged 12.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points (in only 5 games), he might be a bargain for his Owners at his new salary, but that seems unlikely unless multiple injuries hit the Lions WR corps. If you’re a Dynasty Owner with Allison on your roster and really tight on salary cap or roster space, you can safely drop Allison (Full Disclosure: I’m an Allison Dynasty Owner, but have room for him on my roster in terms of salary and roster space, so I’m keeping him, for now).

Agholor on the other hand is probably someone Dynasty Owners should grab now in the Free Agent Auction if they need cheap players with some upside as he possibly could also return punts in Las Vegas next year and get some return yardage points (.25 points for every 10 yards of punt and kickoff returns). Since he’s likely available in your league, put in a bid for Agholor now and hope nobody else in your league is reading this recommendation. Don’t drop the ball on this one, right Philly Hero Man (https://ftw.usatoday.com/2019/09/philly-hero-unlike-agholor)!

Talk About a Salary Reduction

Finally, let’s look at two players who are taking a huge reduction in salary to play for a new team in 2020 – Devin Funchess and Todd Gurley. Gurley is the big name here, so let’s wait on him and analyze Funchess first.

Funchess was an early second round draft pick in 2015 by Carolina who thought the big body WR would be a great target for Cam Newton to throw the ball. Sadly, that never really worked out too well as even in his best year (2017), Funchess had just 63 catches for 840 yards and 8 receiving TDs. That’s 195.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points or 12.2 points per game. We don’t have Dynasty Owner stats to rank him for 2017, but if those were his 2019 stats, he would have ranked as the #29 WR, just behind Emmanuel Sanders and right in front of Marvin Jones. Keep in mind that 2017 was his best year and he would have only been, on average, the third best WR on your team. Basically, that’s a FLEX starter or bye week/injury replacement starting WR. In 2018, Funchess had 124.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points to rank as the #56 WR in Dynasty Owner, which is Practice Squad depth. There are plenty of other WRs you can have who are younger (Funchess will be 26 when the NFL starts in 2020) or get paid less than the $2.5 million for one year that Funchess signed for with Green Bay. According to Spotrac, Funchess is tied for the 61st highest paid WR right now (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/wide-receiver/).

If you think Funchess can return to his level of play in 2017 and be the #2 WR in Green Bay, then go pick him up since he’s only owned in 6.5% of Dynasty Owner leagues. Don’t worry about Green Bay drafting another WR who will vault over him on the depth chart, as they haven’t drafted an offensive skill position player (QB, RB, WR, or TE) in the first round since Aaron Rodgers in 2005. If you don’t have confidence that he’ll be back from the injury that wiped out almost all of his 2019 season or that his “best” days are behind him, go find a younger, cheaper WR or even two WRs in your league’s Free Agent Auction. Even if I wanted Funchess (which I don’t), he’s actually owned in my Dynasty Owner league, so I can’t pick him up.

In a surprise move, the Los Angeles Rams released Todd Gurley two weeks ago and he subsequently signed a one year, $6 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons. In a move that many Dynasty Owners can now appreciate more, the Rams had a challenging salary cap situation and released both Gurley and LB Clay Matthews to help alleviate that problem. The $6 million contract that Gurley signed with Atlanta will make him the 10th highest paid RB in the NFL in 2020 (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/running-back/).

The new contract replaced the 4-year, $57.5 million contract he signed with the Rams back in July of 2018, an average contract amount of $14.375 million that his Dynasty Owners paid for him in 2019. Gurley was the second highest paid RB in 2019, behind only Ezekiel Elliott, but finished the 2019 as the #16 RB in Dynasty Owner. Dynasty Owners were paying top dollar for likely the second best RB on their roster. Even at that salary level, Gurley was still rostered in 98% of Dynasty Owner leagues last season.

So, should Dynasty Owners with Gurley on their roster drop him now for free even though they are “saving” over $8 million in salary cap space, put him up for trade or keep him. Earlier this year at his $14.375 million salary, dropping was the recommended option (https://dynastyowner.com/2020/02/amnesty-candidates-part-1/), but now I think you should explore trade options for Gurley first and then if nobody in your league wants to give you anything of value, then you drop Gurley.

Here are the pros and the cons of keeping Gurley on your Dynasty Owner roster:

Pros

  • Motivated by release from Rams
  • Playing closer to where he went to college (Georgia) and high school (Tarboro, North Carolina)
  • Supposedly a better offensive line in Atlanta than Los Angeles, but the Falcons only averaged slightly more yards per carry in 2019 than the Rams (3.76 versus 3.74)

Cons

  • Still has arthritis in his knees
  • Moving from playing on grass to FieldTurf, which won’t help his knees
  • Averaged only 3.84 yards per carry in 2019, down from 4.88 in 2018 and 4.67 in 2017 and had fewest rushing yards in career (857 yards in 2019)
  • Receptions and receiving yards (31 receptions for 207 yards) were lowest since rookie season, with the lowest yards per reception (6.68) of his career

The cons outweigh the pros for me, especially the arthritis in his knee, so I’d make offers to trade Gurley if I could find a Dynasty Owner more bullish on his 2020 prospects, or if no trade offers are acceptable, then drop him and save the $6 million in salary.

Conclusions

Signing a new contract for less money does not necessarily mean that a player is worth their new salary and should be kept on your Dynasty Owner roster or picked up if he is in the Free Agent Auction. Sadly, for the most part, the guys mentioned in this article are still not worth their new salaries in Dynasty Owner and should be dropped or left in the Free Agent Auction for other Owners to bid on.

Now that we have extra time (until April 8th) to drop players with no fee, there’s time to cover some of the players who signed more recently or players we didn’t cover in previous articles or even in this article like Eric Ebron, who got a slightly lower salary recently with Pittsburgh.

Don’t forget about all of the great Dynasty Owner specific podcasts you can watch or listen to. The YouTube Live podcast from Thursday with special guest Christopher Harris and the one from last Friday, which was a lot of fun to participate in, are highly recommended. We also have message board debates and Twitter posts that you can check out.  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!

Steven Van Tassell is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner.

Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner

Old Faces in New Places (The Jeffersons Version)

Author: Steven Van Tassell

We’re a moving on up! Moving on up! To the East Side! To a De-Luxe apartment in the sky! This first of two articles on players who have moved teams since free agency started will focus on players who received a salary increase. That’s why the title has the Jeffersons in it (look it up if you don’t get it).

While they all may have gotten a salary increase, some of them will be worth the extra money, some won’t be, and others are in the middle. There are a lot of players who left one team in free agency for more money with another team, so we can’t cover everyone (sorry if you are looking for analysis of Robby Anderson, Tajae Sharpe or Case Keenum). Instead, let’s take a look in depth in this article at a few other players.

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 .25 points for every 10 yards.

Standard Dynasty Owner scoring for kickers gives you 1 point for every extra point, while a missed extra point will cost you 1 point. It’s 2 points for a field goal of between 0 and 39 yards, 4 points for a field goal between 40 and 49 yards and 5 points for a field goal of 50 yards or longer. A missed field goal of between 0 and 39 yards will cost you 3 points, while a miss of 40 yards or more is a loss of 2 points.

I’ll Take Veteran QBs for $25 Million, Alex

This off-season, we had two veteran QBs sign $25 million contracts with new teams – Philip Rivers and the G.O.A.T. (Tom Brady). While Brady is older (43 when the 2020 NFL season starts vs. 38 for Rivers), he was the one who got a two-year deal, while Rivers settled for just one year. That’s just not fair, Rivers has nine kids to support!

Regardless of how many kids they have or age, both Rivers and Brady are tied together this off-season because they are playing for a new team for the first time in the twilight of their careers. Their $25 million contracts, on average, put them into a tie with Drew Brees and Derek Carr for 12th on the list of highest paid QBs (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/quarterback/). Both are making slightly more than in 2019, $2 million for Brady and almost $4.2 million for Rivers. However, which one (if either) is a better fit for your Dynasty Owner team, or should you drop Rivers or Brady if you have them on your roster currently. We’ll break down Brady first, because he’s the G.O.A.T. then Rivers.

Brady finished the 2019 season as the #11 QB in Dynasty Owner (for the second consecutive year) with an average of 21.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game. He was fairly consistent as he really only put up one very bad game (4.2 points in Week 4 versus Buffalo) versus four games with 30.0+ Dynasty Owner fantasy points (three in the first five weeks, then one thereafter). He’ll be another year older in 2020, but has better WRs in Tampa Bay (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin) than he did in New England (Julian Edelman), but a worse running game (Ronald Jones in Tampa Bay versus Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead in New England) to help take the load off.

So, the question of the day is – Is Brady going to improve in 2020? Honestly, probably not, but he could stay in the same range as the past two seasons and finish as the #11 QB again, which is fine based on his salary ranking. For the Dynasty Owners who have him on their roster (he’s owned in 89% of Dynasty Owner leagues), hold him unless you really need the salary cap room or have a younger, better QB (or better yet, two) on your roster. Trading is dicey as what are you going to get in dynasty for a 43-year old QB?

Rivers is owned in fewer Dynasty Owner leagues (48%) than Brady and finished the 2019 season as the #18 QB in Dynasty Owner, a decline from #12 in 2018. His weapons in Indianapolis (T.Y. Hilton, Marlon Mack and Jack Doyle plus a rookie/free agent WR) aren’t as good as they were on the Chargers (Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler and Hunter Henry), so expect that he’s not going to be better in 2020. Maybe having an actual home crowd to play in front of will make him perform better, but don’t count on it. Drop Rivers if you need salary cap room or if a cheaper, younger QB such as Teddy Bridgewater ($21 million contract, owned in 43% of Dynasty Owner leagues) or just a younger QB who costs the same (Derek Carr – owned in 41% of Dynasty Owner leagues) is available.

Are These Receivers Worth Four Million More?

In another coincidence, we have three receivers (two WRs and one TE) who got new contracts with new teams that will pay them $4 million more than they were paid in 2019 (technically, it’s “only” $3.75 million more for Tyler Eifert, but that’s close enough). All of them were not highly owned in Dynasty Owner in 2019 at their old salaries, but are expected to have expanded roles with their new teams, thus justifying the higher salary to their new team. The question for Dynasty Owners is – Are they worth their new 2020 salary or not?  Let’s take a look and see.

  • Former Packers and Cowboys WR Randall Cobb signed a 3-year, $27 million contract ($9 million per year for Dynasty Owner purposes) with the Houston Texans to replace the traded DeAndre Hopkins. At least, that’s the assumption and what the Texans hope happens. He was only owned in 4% of Dynasty Owner leagues at $5 million in 2019 when he was on the Cowboys and finished the season as the #44 WR in Dynasty Owner with 153.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. He did miss one game, so his average was just over 10.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game (10.2). Unless he improves greatly on that performance in 2020, he’s unlikely to be worth $9 million, which puts him right now as the 28th highest paid WR in 2020 (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/wide-receiver/). If you have $9 million in salary cap room and think Cobb will improve in the Houston offense over what he did for Dallas and become someone you can put in your Active lineup as a WR or FLEX on a weekly basis, then he’s almost certainly available in your league and you should go pick him up. I don’t support that move and think you can find better ways to spend that salary cap space.
  • For $1 million less, Dynasty Owners can pick up Breshard Perriman of the New York Jets. Like Cobb, the former first round pick of the Baltimore Ravens is making $4 million more in 2020 than 2019 ($8 million in 2020, up from $4 million in 2019), but he’s three years younger than Cobb (27 at the start of the 2020 NFL season versus 30 for Cobb). Perriman projects as the top outside WR threat for the Jets, which was Robby Anderson last year. Anderson finished #41 WR, but had to play several games without Sam Darnold at QB with mostly Luke Falk in his place (0 TDs in three games and released as soon as Darnold was healthy and back ready to play QB). Perriman had flashes of brilliance at the end of the 2019 season with Tampa Bay and averaged 21.2 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in the final five games of the season (helping many fantasy players at the end of the season and in the playoffs). He probably can’t sustain the success he had at the end of last season, but I’d take him over Cobb if I needed a WR and had the salary cap room. He’s available in 70% of Dynasty Owner leagues, so take a look if you have roster space and $8 million available.
  • Finally, we have new Jacksonville TE Tyler Eifert. Eifert technically didn’t get a $4 million increase (it was only $3.75 million), but still raised his salary from $4 million in 2019 to $7.75 million in 2020 when he signed his new 2-year, $15.5 million contract. If Eifert is the 2015 version of himself, then he’s well worth this new contract (52 receptions, 615 yards receiving, 13 receiving TDs in 13 games). However, if he’s the Eifert who played only 14 games over the next three seasons from 2016 to 2018, or the 2019 version who played all 16 games but only had 106.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points, then he’s definitely not worth it. Eifert averaged just 6.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game in 2019 and finished as the #19 TE. According to Spotrac, he’s the eighth highest paid TE (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/tight-end/). I just don’t see him as being worth that contract, even with Gardner Minshew II throwing him the ball, so his Dynasty Owner ownership of 20% should go down, not up during this free drop period.

Greg the Leg Moves from LA to Dallas

Finally, we have another kicker, in addition to Mason Crosby who was highlighted in a previous article (https://dynastyowner.com/2020/03/afford-new-home/), who got a new contract worth more than he made in 2019. Greg Zuerlein, aka Greg the Leg, received a three year, $7.5 million contract from the Dallas Cowboys and will no longer be kicking for the Rams. Greg the Leg was with the Rams so long that he played with them when they were still in St. Louis.

His new contract is worth only $250,000 more per year than his old one, but is he really worth $2.5 million in Dynasty Owner salary cap room? Should his Dynasty Owner drop him or keep him (you can’t pick him up because he’s owned in 98% of leagues right now)?

Even though $2.5 million seems like a lot of your $110 million salary cap for a kicker, Zuerlein will only be the 18th highest paid kicker in the NFL in 2020 (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/kicker/). He finished as the #13 kicker in Dynasty Owner in what was a poor season for him. He missed nine FGs in 2019 (1 FG under 40 yards and 8 of 40+ yards), but was perfect in PAT attempts (42 for 42). He missed as many FGs in 2019 as he did in the prior three seasons combined. As a Zuerlein Dynasty Owner, I’m sticking with Greg the Leg and predicting that he bounces back in 2020. I have two other, cheaper kickers as well and recommend everyone try and have the same on their roster.

Conclusions

Not everyone who got a new contract in 2020 is going to be worth the higher salary in Dynasty Owner. Breshard Perriman is one player who Dynasty Owners should look at getting if he’s available in your league, the G.O.A.T. and Greg the Leg are two guys to hold. Dynasty Owners can probably even try to work a trade for Zuerlein as well. In contrast, Randall Cobb, Tyler Eifert and Phillip Rivers can be dropped if you need salary cap room or left in the Free Agent Auction.

There’s more contract news to cover before Dynasty Owners have to pay the drop fee to release a player. A second article about players who switched teams this off-season, but are getting paid less than they did in 2019, is coming tomorrow. And don’t forget about all of the great Dynasty Owner specific podcasts (particularly the Live podcast from Friday – which was a lot of fun), message board debates and Twitter posts.  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!

Steven Van Tassell is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner.

Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner

Trading Places

Author: Steven Van Tassell

What a great movie! The 1983 comedy starring Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy with Jamie Lee Curtis plus Ralph Bellamy and Don Ameche as the Duke brothers. I love that movie and personally own a Duke & Duke Commodities Brokers T-shirt and went on a tour of Philadelphia that highlighted the Duke brothers bank location.

I could go on and on, but this isn’t a movie review article. It’s a Dynasty Owner fantasy football article about recent trades in the NFL and their Dynasty Owner impact. There have been several trades since the start of NFL free agent signings last Wednesday and even before that as teams could start negotiating with free agents starting last Monday. While many of the players traded have been offensive linemen or on the defensive side of the ball, which doesn’t matter in Dynasty Owner, some players traded might be on your Dynasty Owner roster and others might still be available in your league’s Free Agent Auction.

Trades aren’t going to change the player’s contract details – for the most part, unless they sign a new deal with their new team. However, a trade can impact their usage and productivity and make an underutilized player in 2019 into a superstar in 2020 (David Johnson – your Dynasty Owners are looking at you) or vice versa.

Surprisingly, there are plenty of trades to cover. Does anyone else remember the days when NFL trades were rare and mostly players getting traded for draft picks, not other players? Trades like the “Great Trade Robbery” deal in which Dallas traded Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for eight draft picks that the Cowboys eventually turned into 5 players (Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Darren Woodson, Kevin Smith and Clayton Holmes) who helped lead them to 3 Super Bowl victories in the 1990s. How shrewd of Jimmie Johnson to pull off that deal? And yes, I’m giving Jerry Jones zero credit – look what he’s done as Owner and General Manger since Jimmie and his players have left – Nothing! Now, it seems like there are trades every off-season and even some during the season, such as the Dolphins trading off several players in the middle of last season, including Kenyan Drake to the Arizona Cardinals.

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 .25 points for every 10 yards.

Mega-Trade Analysis

No, not Kyle Allen to the Redskins or Nick Foles to the Bears. I’ll get to those deals later. I’m talking about the David Johnson-DeAndre Hopkins trade (plus draft picks) between the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans. The consensus is that the Texans gave up too much (Hopkins and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL draft) to acquire Johnson (plus a 2020 second-round pick and 2021 fourth-round pick) from the Cardinals. Here is a sampling of headlines about how the Texans got fleeced:

Personally, I feel like this trade gets rejected in many traditional dynasty leagues, but what about Dynasty Owner? How will the trade impact Dynasty Owners who have Hopkins (rostered in 100% of Dynasty Owner leagues) or Johnson (rostered in 89% of Dynasty Owner leagues) on their Dynasty Owner rosters (Full disclosure: I’m a David Johnson Dynasty Owner and have seriously considered releasing him).

For Hopkins owners, this appears to be a really good deal. In 2019, he was the #5 WR in Dynasty Owner for the entire season, even though he didn’t play in the season finale. This is after being the #1 Dynasty Owner WR in 2018. Based on current average salaries on Spotrac, Hopkins’ $16.2 million salary is tied for the eighth highest among WRs (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/wide-receiver/).

Hopkins should be able to, at least, maintain the production he had with Deshaun Watson and Bill O’Brien in 2018 and 2019 with Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury in 2020, so his Dynasty Owners definitely should hang on to him. Even better news for his Dynasty Owners is that they can keep him for 3 more years at that price (provided the Cardinals don’t rip up his deal and give him more money). Hopkins will be the clear top WR in Arizona and is an immediate upgrade over their top two WRs from 2019 (Larry Fitzgerald who was the #35 WR in Dynasty Owner and Christian Kirk who was ranked #37), also making QB Kyler Murray a better value in Dynasty Owner as well.

For Johnson owners, the outlook is improved from what was expected in Arizona, but questions remain on if he is worth his Dynasty Owner salary. Johnson will cost his Dynasty Owners $13 million in both 2020 and 2021. After the Rams released Todd Gurley, Johnson became the third highest paid RB in the NFL behind Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell (https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/average/running-back/).

Johnson is a replacement for Carlos Hyde as the Texans’ lead RB and Hyde was the #29 ranked RB in Dynasty Owner in 2019. If he performs at the same level as Hyde did, then he’s clearly a candidate to drop while Dynasty Owners can drop for free (until March 31st). If you are a believer in Johnson’s abilities and think he can perform at the same level he did in the first six games of the 2019 season (121.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points, or 20.2 per game) and do that over the course of the entire 2020 season, then you’re looking at 323.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. That would have been good for the #2 RB in Dynasty Owner in 2019, behind only Christian McCaffrey and just ahead of Aaron Jones who had 322.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. That level of production is totally worth his $13 million salary.

This is a tough call for Johnson’s Dynasty Owners. I’m holding him for now, but would be open for trade offers if I get any. If you don’t own Johnson in your Dynasty Owner league and think he’ll perform as well as he did in the first six games of 2019, then make an offer to the Johnson owner in your league and see what happens. If you think he’s more like the RB who was stuck behind Kenyan Drake at the end of last year or even just the #9 Dynasty Owner RB like he was in 2018, then dropping Johnson and saving $13 million in salary cap room is the way to go.

Receivers Getting Traded for Draft Picks

The Buffalo Bills made a splashy trade, getting Vikings WR Stefon Diggs (and a seventh round draft pick in 2020) in exchange for a first round 2020 draft pick (#22 selection) plus three additional picks (2020 – fifth and sixth round picks and 2021 – fourth round pick). Diggs was unhappy in Minnesota and his Dynasty Owners hope a change of scenery will return Diggs’ performance back to his 2018 levels. He was the #11 WR in Dynasty Owner in 2018, but fell back to #24 in 2019 after being drafted on average at the end of the fourth round in Dynasty Owner drafts (ADP 39). He did win a Dynasty Owner Player of the Week honor in Week 6 with a 43.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy point performance, but otherwise averaged just 11.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game in the rest of the Dynasty Owner regular season. That wasn’t the performance his Dynasty Owners were looking for in a player costing $14.4 million in salary.

Will Diggs be able to improve in Buffalo with QB Josh Allen and his 58.8% completion percentage or will he continue to disappoint? Even though it’s free now until the end of the month, dropping Diggs isn’t really a good option for his Dynasty Owners (and nobody has done it yet as his ownership remains at 100%). He seems likely to compete with John Brown for catches in Buffalo, so I’m not completely sold on him returning to his 2018 performance level. My recommendation is trading him (if possible) to a Dynasty Owner who’s more optimistic about the deal.

Hayden Hurst goes from Baltimore to Atlanta to replace Austin Hooper as the Falcons TE.  He was traded (plus a fourth round draft pick) for a second and a fifth round pick. Speaking of trades, that’s probably what you’ll need to do to acquire Hurst in Dynasty Owner as he’s rostered in 83% of leagues right now. The late first round draft pick in 2018 was stuck behind Mark Andrews in Baltimore, but still managed to catch 30 passes for 349 yards and 2 receiving TDs (76.9 Dynasty Owner fantasy points) and finish the 2019 season as the #34 TE in Dynasty Owner. Now with Atlanta, he has the opportunity to be the top TE and could project as a top 10 Starting TE in 2020. His $2.76 million contract is very reasonable. Make an offer if you don’t own Hurst in Dynasty Owner and want him on your roster, then hope his current Dynasty Owner doesn’t value him as much as he should.

Quarterbacks on the Move

For everyone who was waiting for what to do about Nick Foles and Kyle Allen, this section is for you. Both were traded for roughly the same amount as Foles was shipped from Jacksonville to the Chicago Bears for a compensatory fourth round pick (140th overall selection), while Allen was dealt to Washington from Carolina for a fifth round selection (148th overall). Pretty similar trade return for players with very different salaries in Dynasty Owner.

Nick Foles becomes the favorite to be the starting QB in Chicago, but still has to beat out Mitchell Trubisky for the job. Foles was injured in the first game of the 2019 season and played only two full games after returning from injury (averaging a respectable 20.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in those games). However, he also played awful in his third start back with -4.1 Dynasty Owner fantasy points from three turnovers before being replaced by Gardner Minshew II for the rest of the season. His contract is pretty low for a veteran QB at $22 million per year (17th highest right now according to Spotrac, but he’ll be on your Dynasty Owner books for three more years at that figure. Unless Foles voids the contract after the 2020 season, which he can do now after restricting his contract after being traded. If you need to drop a higher priced QB like Aaron Rodgers to make some room, Foles is widely available. He’s only rostered in 9% of Dynasty Owner leagues. Grab him now, if you think he becomes the starter and plays well in Chicago as he could be your Dynasty Owner Bench QB or a flex Starter depending on matchups.

In contrast, former Carolina QB Kyle Allen is rostered in a majority (57%) of Dynasty Owner leagues after playing in 13 games last season. He’s reunited in Washington with Head Coach Ron Rivera, but seems likely to be the backup for the Redskins behind Dwayne Haskins. However, just because he’s the backup doesn’t mean you should drop him in Dynasty Owner. His one-year, very salary cap friendly contract (for either $585,000 or $675,000 depending on the source) means that he’s a great Practice Squad stash for your team in case Haskins gets injured or is ineffective. He was the #29 QB in Dynasty Owner last year, but did have two games of more than 30.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points and three additional games of more than 20.0 points, so he was serviceable as a Starter or Bench QB in select games. Don’t drop Allen just yet if you own him and pick him up if available in your league as your third or fourth QB. With 30 man rosters now, Dynasty Owners should have an available roster spot for his miniscule salary.

Conclusions

Now that the new NFL league year has kicked in, free agents have started signing new contracts, some with new teams and some re-signing with their current team. Plus, trades are being made.  Trades generally aren’t going to change salary figures, but may cause Dynasty Owners to change their outlook on a player with only a week to go to get your Dynasty Owner roster up to at least 25 players, but not more than 30, and your team’s salaries under the $110 million salary cap.

Out of the players traded so far this off-season, DeAndre Hopkins and Hayden Hurst are the most likely to improve on their 2019 performances, but if you don’t own either one, you’ll probably have to give up something of value to get them from their current Dynasty Owner. Hurst is in the Free Agent Auction in a few leagues, but not many, while Hopkins is not. David Johnson is intriguing but a risky hold because of his $13 million salary, while Dynasty Owners should be looking to deal Stefon Diggs if they need the salary cap room. Neither traded QB is a lock to start, but Nick Foles might be the starter in Chicago. Kyle Allen is cheap to own and stash on your Practice Squad if he’s available as a Free Agent in your league.

There’s lots more contract news to cover as we haven’t yet talked about free agents who signed with new teams. That’ll be the focus of the next article to help Dynasty Owners with their decision-making before free drops end at the end of March. Besides these articles, don’t forget about all of the great Dynasty Owner specific podcasts, message board debates and Twitter posts. 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!

Steven Van Tassell is a freelance writer for Dynasty Owner.

Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner