Dynasty rankings are in constant flux, and staying informed is the key to making roster decisions for your fantasy football team. The Dynasty Watch series highlights some key takeaways from each week’s games.
Father time is undefeated. If your fantasy team is too, it might be time to buy some cheap veteran depth to help you get through the bye weeks. And if you’re at the other end of the standings, it might be time to start unloading some of your older players.
Once wide receivers and running backs reach the age of 30, their value in dynasty leagues is almost always in a state of decline. That decline can come fast too, with even former superstars in a position where if you wait too long, you’ll only be getting pennies on the dollar.1
At the same time, there are older players with gas left in the tank that can be had for cheap because their owners start panicking at the first sign of trouble. If you traded for Larry Fitzgerald three years ago, you reaped some major benefits over the past few seasons, and Jordy Nelson led the league in touchdown receptions at age 31 coming off a season lost to injury.
With that in mind, let’s go shopping at the old-folks home and figure out which veterans we should be targeting.
There are plenty of reasons to be nervous about Doug Baldwin’s production this year. He’s already had injuries to both knees, he just turned 30 years old, and Brian Schottenheimer has the Seahawks passing at one of the lowest rates in the league. Add it all up, and it’s easy to see why many owners would be selling.
And that’s why it’s time to buy.2 The Seahawks are actually eighth in pace so far this season, and with Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson gone Baldwin is in line to once again command a large target share.
If the Seahawks are playing catchup versus the Rams in Week 5, look for Russell Wilson to target Baldwin heavily and remind us why he was a third-round redraft pick this offseason. See what it would take to acquire him before that happens.
It’s been years now since Demaryius Thomas has been a fantasy force. We’ve blamed nagging injuries — “His hip though!” — and poor QB play for his inability to turn his top-12 volume into top-12 production.
Maybe those are valid excuses, but John Elway isn’t walking through that door. Well, at least not as a quarterback. What Thomas has got right now is Case Keenum and negative efficiency that has him on pace for his worst season yet.3
What Thomas still has going for him is a large share of his team’s targets, however, even that has been slowly eroding. I generally preach that we should be buying volume, but when the volume is the only thing left sustaining an aging player, any decrease in that volume can cause the bottom to drop out fast.
Thomas still leads the team in targets, WOPR, and red zone targets. The volume is still there, though it has dipped in the past two weeks. These are reasons he should still be an easy sell, and that’s exactly what it’s time to do.
There’s zero reason non-contending teams should still have Thomas on their roster at the end of the 2018 season. Start working WR-needy leaguemates now and see if you can extract a premium young player or pick(s) as teams get desperate to find starters during bye weeks.
Are we witnessing the death throes of a once great career? Fitzgerald has implied that he might not be done playing football after this year, but his start to the season begs the question of whether he’s already done. Whether it’s the fault of Sam Bradford, a balky hamstring, a terrible offense, or simply his advanced age, Fitzgerald is off to his worst start since his rookie year.
Unlike Thomas, Fitzgerald does have a new QB walking through the door, and he might actually be good. The Cardinals offense sputtered in their first game under Josh Rosen, but it may have been more the fault of a concentration of drops in one game, including a few by Fitzgerald, rather than poor performance.
Through four weeks the Cardinals have definitely earned their reputation as one of the league’s worst offenses, but Rosen injects some hope that the team can, and will, improve on that. If Fitzgerald maintains his market share of targets, he’ll have enticing volume once the Cardinals start running more plays, a category where they’re currently at historically low numbers.
As for his age, the list of 200 PPR point seasons from WRs 35 or older is longer than you might imagine, with 13 of them since the year 2000. Fitzgerald’s advanced age is a concern, but that’s already being priced in.
Struggling Fitzgerald owners in leagues with shallow benches are already eyeing young players on the waiver wire, and the idea of dropping the 35-year-old outright must be crossing their mind. Finding out if Fitzgerald has anything left might only cost a late-round pick at this point. For teams that need depth for the upcoming bye weeks, see if you can dangle a final-round pick for him and get a shot at a useful player from an owner looking to just get anything for a player that is clogging their roster.
Sleeper of the Week
Each week I’ll use this space to highlight a player for deep dynasty leagues where every player already getting significant touches is already owned.
The latest report is that Alex Collins missed practice was simply precautionary, but it’s always worth monitoring one of the most valuable backfields in football.
With Kenneth Dixon on injured reserve for at least 8 weeks, the player who would play behind Javorius Allen in the event of an injury to Collins is De’Lance Turner.
An unheralded prospect coming from Alcorn State, Turner ripped off a couple long plays for the Ravens in the preseason, including a 65-yard touchdown run. Apparently, that was enough to catch the eye of Ravens coaches as he earned a spot on the roster after Dixon’s move to the IR.
Here’s what I had to say when I profiled Turner as a super deep sleeper back in the preseason:
The Ravens brought in three undrafted free agents at RB, but only one of them had much college production. De’Lance Turner did not face the toughest competition during his time at Alcorn State, but he accumulated more yards from scrimmage in his final season than fellow UDFA Gus Edwards’ final three seasons combined, and double what Mark Thompson was able to do in his final two seasons.
Player Year School Class G Att Yds YPC ruTD Rec reYds YPR reTD De’Lance Turner 2015 Alcorn St SO 3 7 22 3.1 0 0 0 0 0 De’Lance Turner 2016 Alcorn St JR 11 132 744 5.6 5 11 137 12.5 0 De’Lance Turner 2017 Alcorn St SR 12 180 1357 7.5 10 21 212 17.7 3 Mark Thompson 2016 Florida JR 10 68 299 4.4 2 4 105 26.3 1 Mark Thompson 2017 Florida SR 9 58 297 5.1 3 12 79 6.6 0 Gus Edwards 2013 Miami (FL) FR 9 66 338 5.1 5 0 0 0 Gus Edwards 2014 Miami (FL) SO 10 61 349 5.7 6 2 44 22 0 Gus Edwards 2016 Miami (FL) SR 10 59 290 4.9 1 1 9 9 0 Gus Edwards 2017 Rutgers SR 12 164 713 4.3 6 13 103 7.9 1
Turner was able to rip off some big plays, an element sorely missing from the Baltimore ground attack. He also got limited work in college as a returner, which gives him a slight edge in making a roster that lost its top return man from 2017, Michael Campanaro.
Dixon’s injury now has Turner just one more injury away from what could be a sizable role, so any signs that Collins might miss time, or even a surprise injury to Allen, could open the door to fantasy relevancy for Turner.
- Dez Bryant sends his regards. (back)
- Full disclosure, I recently traded Tre’Quan Smith, a second, and a fourth for Baldwin in a dynasty bestball league)
Fantasy owners are rightfully scared any time they hear the word “knee,” but Dr. Budoff has speculated that Badwin’s maladies might be relatively minor, and not something we should really be scared of for fantasy purposes. If he’s been playing with an arthritic knee for most of his career already, and his other knee had just a mild MCL sprain, there’s no reason to downgrade expectations much beyond the first couple weeks back.
Baldwin already led the team in targets in his first game back, despite playing slightly less than his usual complement of snaps. Pete Carroll seemed to suggest this week that he could be back to his full workload soon though, saying:
“He felt great about it, came out of the game great,” Carroll said. “We’ll take care of him again this week as he builds some background of being back in the fold, but I expect him to play a ton this week.”
With a Week 7 bye coming up to give him some additional rest, Baldwin’s health concerns may be overblown.
Concerns about Schottenheimer’s run-heavy offense are real, but Baldwin has always managed to be productive on few targets anyway.
While Seattle is on pace to throw the ball fewer times than they have since the 2015 season, not every game will be a slog like the past two Seattle wins versus two of the NFL’s slowest offenses.((Dallas and Arizona rank 24th and 30th in pace, respectively. (back)
- The Monday night game wasn’t in the screener yet, so this doesn’t even count the four catches for 24 yards he put up versus a Chiefs defense that has been routinely shredded. You don’t need to understand the mechanics behind Expected Points to know that performance isn’t going to help his score this year. (back)