Who Wants to Draft a Non-Millionaire Player? – Part 1

Author: Steven Van Tassell

In the draft tips article from last week, finding value was the top recommendation. So, the next question is what players are going to give you enough value and help you win your Dynasty Owner league championship in 2020 and beyond. If you’re like Ricky Bobby and just focus on 2020 (“If you’re not first, you’re last”), then there are a lot of players who you can draft this year who have low salaries and will likely produce enough Dynasty Owner fantasy points to help you win now.

If you want to be competitive in both 2020 and beyond, there are still plenty of  players with contracts of under $1 million per year who are signed now for more than just the 2020 season. In fact, there are too many players to include in just one article. We’ll look at QBs, RBs and WRs first, then focus on TEs and kickers in the next article.

At RB, Phillip Lindsay only earns $575,000 and both Aaron Jones and Chris Carson make less than $651,000 per year, but all three of them only have one year left on their rookie deals. Alvin Kamara is a first round pick who also just fits under the $1 million figure with his 2020 salary of $964,443. Chris Godwin ($821,041 salary) was the #3 overall WR in Dynasty Owner in 2019 and a legitimate first round 2020 pick, but he’s only under contract for that salary for one more year. Cooper Kupp and Kenny Golladay are expected to be early round selections as well and also make less than $1 million, but both are only signed for 2020.

We won’t mention any of those players in this article, or players who just miss the $1 million cutoff, such as Bears RB David Montgomery who was picked in the third round of the 2019 draft and has a Dynasty Owner salary of just north of $1 million ($1,003,845 to be exact). Same with two Pittsburgh WRs (Diontae Johnson and James Washington) who should benefit from the return of Ben Roethlisberger both of whom make slightly over $1 million per year.

These non-millionaire guys with multiple years left on their rookie contracts may not be the ones who, by themselves, win you your 2020 Dynasty Owner league championship. To win, you’ll need them to contribute enough to provide some help at the minimum from your Bench or as a Bye Week Starter. Their contribution could also be more subtle as a guy who provides depth, but more importantly, saves your Dynasty Owner team some salary cap room to be able to afford those expensive, impact players who will help you win.

All stats are based on the Standard Dynasty Owner scoring system as outlined in the updated Dynasty Owner Constitution.

Backfield Limitations

If you are looking for one of these non-millionaire guys at either QB or RB, you’ll need to grab him earlier in your Dynasty Owner draft than you might think he’s worthy of being drafted as there are only four of them. Here’s how they rank in order (with salary figures):

  1. Devin Singletary (RB – BUF – $974,500 thru 2022): Now that Frank Gore has moved on to the Jets (why Frank?!? – just retire gracefully instead of as a backup for the Jets), Singletary is the starter in Buffalo for a team that ranked seventh overall in rushing yards in 2019. Sure, the Bills might pass more this year after adding Stefon Diggs or rookie Zack Moss might vulture some yards and TDs. However, unless you think Moss will overtake Singletary sometime this year, Singletary’s the first non-millionaire backfield guy to grab.
  2. Gardner Minshew II (QB – JAX – $677,721 thru 2022): Minshew is the Man in Jacksonville after being the backup last year and taking over when Nick Foles got injured. The Jaguars traded Foles and his $22 million per year contract to Chicago, so Mike Glennon is the backup to Minshew and unlikely to overtake him in training camp. Maybe the Jaguars sign Cam Newton, but if not, Minshew’s the starter and could be a valuable Bench QB or bye week starter. That’s really good for under $700,000.
  3. Tony Pollard (RB – DAL – $796,945 thru 2022): Pollard might be the backup to Ezekiel Elliott, but he’ll get the ball enough to keep on your Bench weekly in the hopes that he has a great game or two when the Cowboys are leading (or losing) by a lot and want to save Elliott. He had three of those games in 2019 in which he averaged 22.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. And if Elliott does get injured, Pollard becomes the starter in Dallas and gets inserted into a lot of Dynasty Owner lineups as either a RB or FLEX. He’s worth a spot on your roster even if you don’t own Elliott.
  4. Jarrett Stidham (QB – NE – $788,423 thru 2022): The G.O.A.T. is gone from New England and Bill Belichick appears committed to Stidham since he didn’t take a QB at all in the 2020 draft. The Patriots come into the 2020 season with Stidham, Brian Hoyer (only $1.05 million in Dynasty Owner salary) and two undrafted rookie free agents fighting for the third string spot. That’s it unless the Patriots suddenly have a change of heart and sign Cam Newton. Here’s hoping Stidham is the Steve Young of the Patriots (a Hall of Fame QB replacing another Hall of Fame QB) and not Hugh Millen, Tommy Hodson, or Marc Wilson (yes, those are the names of actual Patriots starting QBs in the early 1990s before they drafted Drew Bledsoe).

The rest of the non-millionaire QBs are expected to be backups in 2020, barring an injury, so we aren’t going to rank them. However, there are a few additional RBs who are lower-ranked backups or maybe third down, pass catching RBs who might be worth a Practice Squad spot as they are unlikely to contribute as a Starter or Bench player in 2020 unless the starting RB or RBs for their team gets injured. Several of them (Ito Smith in Atlanta, Alexander Mattison in Minnesota to name two) will find their way onto Dynasty Owner rosters as a handcuff to the starter, but they likely have limited value in 2020 barring injuries.

Receivers

There is a lot more value available at WR than QB and RB combined as 20 players meet our qualifications for inclusion on this list and we could have added more if we wanted. Let’s just limit ourselves to analyzing the top 12 of them (and list the other 8 in order) who should help your Dynasty Owner team in 2020 and beyond.

  1. Darius Slayton (NYG – $688,497 thru 2022): Finished the 2019 Dynasty Owner season as the #36 WR, which would make him a fringe starter in 12-team Dynasty Owner leagues for less than $700,000. Grabbing Slayton early will give you salary cap room to get productive veterans later on in the draft. Slayton had three games with 2 TDs in 2019 and more than 20.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. He might be the Giants #1 WR this year and if so, could be in for a bigger year than projected (216.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points).
  2. Michael Gallup (DAL – $880,995 thru 2021): Despite the presence of rookie first round pick CeeDee Lamb, Gallup is projected to have more Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2020 than 2019 (238.1 vs. 212.7). He had nine games with 10.0 or more Dynasty Owner fantasy points last season, up from three in 2018, and two more 2019 games that just fell short (9.5 and 9.3 respectively). Gallup takes a hit here down to the #2 slot because of the presence of Lamb and Amari Cooper, but he’s still worthy of a high Dynasty Owner draft pick in 2020.
  3. Terry McLaurin (WAS – $961,918 thru 2022): McLaurin just comes in under the $1 million salary necessary to be included here. He may be the top WR and is projected to be the #15 WR overall in Dynasty Owner, but costs a little bit over $80,000 more than Gallup and nearly $275,000 more than Slayton. Plus, he has the worst QB situation of the top three with second year QB Dwayne Haskins likely under center in Washington, or Kyle Allen if Coach Ron Rivera wants to go with a guy he coached last year in Carolina. McLaurin averaged 12.6 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game in seven games with Haskins at QB, lower than the 14.8 points per game in seven games with the other Redskins starting QBs (Case Keenum and Colt McCoy).
  4. Preston Williams (MIA – $588,333 thru 2021): Williams averaged 11.4 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game before a season-ending ACL tear in Week 9 versus the Jets. Did you know he had 24.5 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in that game and four other games with 10.0+ points in just eight games as an undrafted rookie free agent? He’s projected as the #66 WR in 2020 so he’s a fifth or sixth WR on your Dynasty Owner team, but one who could produce if needed for a couple of weeks based on what he did in half a season in 2019. All that production for just $583,333. Don’t wait too long to draft him or he’ll be gone.
  5. Russell Gage (ATL – $654,049 thru 2021): After the Falcons traded Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots, Gage became a bigger part of the Falcons offense. He averaged 10.3 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game in the last nine games of the season, flashing his potential for 2020. The Falcons appear to be happy with their WRs as they didn’t draft any, so Gage should be locked in as the #3 WR in Atlanta behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. The Falcons did pick up Hayden Hurst to replace Austin Hooper at TE, but there should be plenty of receptions to go around with the passing offense ranked first in completions and third in yards in 2019.
  6. Steven Sims Jr. (WAS – $590,000 thru 2021): If you’ve read any of my off-season articles such as (https://dynastyowner.com/2020/02/available-players-2020/), then you know that I’m a big fan of Steven Sims Jr. It started when I saw him take a reverse 65 yards for a TD against the stout New England defense in Week 5 (a 33-7 New England victory in Washington that I attended. The Patriots defense held the Redskins to 223 yards of total offense). He also averaged 20.8 in the final three games of the 2019 season. Sims would be higher on this list if the Redskins hadn’t drafted both Antonio Gibson and Antonio Gandy-Golden in the 2020 NFL draft to compete with him for targets. Dirt cheap at just $590,000 for two more years.
  7. Hunter Renfrow (LV – $708,987 thru 2022): Another guy who emerged at the end of the 2019 season and would be ranked higher except for the fact that the Raiders took three WRs in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. He had 45.7 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in Weeks 16 and 17 combined, but also had three other games with 10.0 or more points. Projected as the #45 WR in Dynasty Owner 2020 even after the Raiders drafted Henry Ruggs, Lynn Bowden and Bryan Edwards and will cost you less than each one of them, so he still has some value for Dynasty Owners.
  8. Tre’Quan Smith (NO – $855,131 thru 2021): The Saints passing offense had the second most completions and seventh most yards in 2019 despite having QB Drew Brees miss five complete games and most of a sixth game. Smith didn’t have great overall stats in 2019, but produced five receiving TDs (all from Brees) and almost all of his 74.4 Dynasty Owner fantasy points with Brees at QB, so it appears that he has his QB’s trust. He’s listed as a starting WR on the current Saints depth chart along with Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. If Smith can step up and be a reliable #3 WR for the high-powered Saints passing offense, his Dynasty Owners will gladly pay $855,131 for his services in 2020 and 2021.
  9. Scott Miller (TB – $661,960 thru 2022): Miller is one of the three leading candidates for the third receiver spot in Tampa Bay, along with Justin Watson and rookie fifth round draft pick Tyler Johnson. Miller had two double digit Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2019 and could have had two more but he wasn’t able to play in the final two games of the season. Both Tampa Bay starting WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were out for the final two games as well, so big performances from Miller were possible in those games if he hadn’t gotten injured.
  10. Justin Watson (TB – $690,435 thru 2021): Watson is really the 9B to Miller’s 9A as Dynasty Owners who are bullish on the Tampa Bay passing game in 2020 with the G.O.A.T. under center might want to own both of these candidates for the #3 WR position in Tampa. Watson had two games with 15.0+ Dynasty Owner fantasy points at the end of the season when Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Scott Miller were all out with injuries. However, he loses out to Miller for the 9 spot here simply because he has one less year on his contract and is almost $30,000 more in salary. That’s not a lot, but every dollar matters in Dynasty Owner.
  11. Olabisi Johnson (MIN – $648,572 thru 2022): No Stefon Diggs in Minnesota means the Vikings passing offense needs to replace a player who had 63 receptions, 1,130 receiving yards and 6 receiving TDs in 2019. They did pick up Tajae Sharpe in free agency and drafted Justin Jefferson in the first round of the 2020 draft and K.J. Osborn in the fifth round (it’s all about the U), so there’s plenty of competition for Johnson to replace Diggs. Johnson isn’t a dart throw, but for under $650,000 a year, he might be worth adding to your Dynasty Owner draft queue as a late round selection.
  12. Jakobi Meyers (NE – $588,333 thru 2021): There’s not a lot of depth at WR in New England after Julian Edelman and N’Keal Harry, so Meyers could be in for a big role in 2020. He scored Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 11 of 16 regular season games in 2019. In addition, Meyers had a great connection with new Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham during the 2019 pre-season with 16 receptions for 216 receiving yards and a touchdown. Hopes are high in New England that this carries over into the 2020 regular season.

If this were college football or college basketball rankings, we’d have a section called “Others Receiving Votes”. Here are a few additional names to round out a Top 20 of WRs, who just missed out on making it into our Top 12:

13. Miles Boykin (BAL – $893,732 thru 2022)

14. DeSean Hamilton (DEN – $785,660 thru 2021)

15. Kelvin Harmon (WAS – $661,960 thru 2022)

16. Keke Coutee (HOU – $797,257 thru 2021)

17. KeeSean Johnson (ARI – $682,328 thru 2022)

18. Javon Wims (CHI – $638,978 thru 2021)

19. Damion Ratley (CLE – $663,467 thru 2021)

20. John Ursua (SEA – $650,668 thru 2022)

Conclusions

There are plenty of lower paid, productive WRs with multiple seasons left on their rookie contract, more than QBs and RBs. With 12 team leagues and 30-man rosters, all of these players should find their way into a Dynasty Owner roster this season. Every Dynasty Owner will have to mix in some of these players to be able to afford higher priced talent. The key is getting value out of these non-millionaire players, not just filling out roster space with minimum salary players who aren’t playing and are just occupying space on your Practice Squad.

In a “regular” dynasty league, these young players are important to own, but their importance is amplified in Dynasty Owner because of the $110 million salary cap. You can’t just have Russell Wilson ($35 million), Ezekiel Elliott ($15 million), Julio Jones ($22 million) and Travis Kelce ($9.4 million) on your Dynasty Owner roster and win unless you find some value players to fill out your starting lineup and Bench.

There was plenty of activity in the Dynasty Owner universe last week. If you didn’t watch it already, everyone should check out the YouTube Livestream mock draft from Friday morning (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6m6ELEZQcQE). There are mock drafts going on constantly with some beta users setting up specific times to join and help calculate ADP for the 2020 drafts. We also two new articles recently from Milos Ljubic (@LjubicMilos on Twitter) and one from Chris Wolf (@ckwolf21 on Twitter) on Friday. 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