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.
Sure, he’s the hotness right now, but Tyler Boyd didn’t immediately break out as a rookie. Playing behind A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell, Boyd’s 2016 season was solid but unspectacular. He followed that up with a 2017 season where he missed a few games with an injured hamstring, was a healthy scratch for a few games, and seldom targeted in the games he did play.
He’s paying off in a big way now for those that kept the faith, but it would be hard to blame owners in shallow leagues for dropping him during the worst parts of his 2017 season. With first-rounder John Ross in the fold, an anemic offense, and a sharp decrease in playing time, things looked bleak for Boyd’s future. He was on waivers in many leagues to start the year, or could’ve been had for nothing in a trade.
Boyd was a phenomenal wide receiver prospect, so it shouldn’t be a huge surprise he’s having success. Like Boyd, there are other some other WRs from the past couple classes that have seen their stock drop precipitously since they were drafted. Do any of them have a chance to break out in the second half of 2019, or perhaps turn the corner in 2019, and be the next Boyd?
How bad was Zay Jones last year? He had the least efficient season for a rookie WR with at least 50 targets since the turn of the century. He wasn’t just bad, he was historically bad.
|Odell Beckham Jr.||2014||12||130||91||1305||12||297||0.57|
So far this season, Jones still has negative efficiency, but it’s already a large improvement on where he was last year. It’s tough to even say if the negative efficiency this season is Jones’ fault though, as he might be playing for one of the worst passing teams of the modern era. Bills quarterbacks are on pace for 6 TD passes and 26 interceptions. The combination of Josh Allen, Nathan Peterman, and Derek Anderson have thus far combined for -0.21 fantasy points over expectation per pass attempt, the lowest number since the year 2000.1
The crazy part is, Jones’ -0.24 reFPOEPA is actually significantly better than the other primary targets on his team, Kelvin Benjamin(-0.48) and Charles Clay(-0.50). If Jones were starting to breakout, would we even notice? We can look take more detailed look at the Bills passing game in the Weekly Stat Explorer.
As a prospect, Jones failed to come out early, but that’s not uncommon for WRs from small schools who often need to play all four years to improve their draft slot. His combination of massive final year production and relative youth were still good enough to rank him fourth in the 2017 Phenom Index, and his production profile suggested at least a moderate chance of NFL success. Coupled with his high draft slot as the 37th overall pick, it’s fair to say that Jones has a strong prospect pedigree.
A torn labrum that he played through last season may be partially to blame for Jones’ rookie woes, and his QBs this year are just as large of an obstacle to his success.
On the other hand, Blair Andrews points out that poor rookie efficiency is definitely a huge red flag, but that’s also why Jones is available on the waiver wire in a lot of leagues right now.
The Bills offensive outlook is bleak, with Josh Allen appearing to have been overdrafted2 and an uninspiring offensive game plan and weapons around him. Things change fast in the NFL though, and the 2019 Bills will have a hard time being as bad as the 2018 version. Jones has quietly been making the best of a bad situation this year, and he should be back on your watch list after his disastrous first year likely had many owners write him off entirely.
Rashard Higgins is just coming back from a sprained MCL that had him miss the past three games. With rookie Antonio Callaway struggling to convert his massive opportunity into production, and now questionable to play on Sunday, Higgins could be stepping into a major role in the offense.
Higgins had negative efficiency his first two seasons, but has been a bright spot for the Browns on limited targets thus far this season. He’s also catching passes from a quarterback that, despite some rookie struggles, is probably better than anyone the Browns have rolled out at the position in the past decade.
Higgins was a very productive prospect in his own right, generating some interesting comps with his production profile, including Odell Beckham Jr., Stefon Diggs, and Jarvis Landry. In fact, back in 2016 Jon Moore called Higgins the discount Tyler Boyd based on his collegiate profile, so believing he could have a similar breakout isn’t too far-fetched. In shallower leagues, Higgins has probably bounced on and off the waiver wire since he came in the league, as his dynasty stock has been perpetually undervalued.
Now is the perfect time to climb aboard the Higgins hype train, even if it might take until 2019 for it to truly pay off. Then again, the change in coaching staff in Cleveland could have a more immediate impact than expected, and getting some useful production from him this year is a real possibility.
The primary beneficiary of Torrey Smith’s injury has thus far been D.J. Moore, but Curtis Samuel has also seen his usage tick up. The path to significant targets is far murkier for Samuel than it is for Jones or Higgins, as Carolina has a rushing QB and a target hog at RB.
While it’s not fair to expect a Boyd-like breakout this year for Samuel due to his current target competition, it’s hard to predict exactly what the Panthers will look like next season. Devin Funchess was not extended before the season and will get a shot at free agency at the end of the year. Greg Olsen will need offseason surgery on his troublesome foot, and while his two-year extension initially made it seem like he was a decent bet to play through 2020, his health and interest in broadcasting could potentially alter his timeline. Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright aren’t keeping any legitimately talented players off the field.
It’s difficult to evaluate Samuel’s college career due to the fact that he was a RB early on and still played somewhat of a hybrid role, but despite all that he still managed to top the Phenom Index for the 2017 class. He was young, productive, and explosive, and he already has one highlight reel TD against the Giants in his first game back this year.
Samuel’s injury in 2017 allowed many of his owners to stash him on IR, so you won’t find him on the waiver wire in as many leagues as Jones and Higgins, but he makes for a great cheap trade target for teams that are already gearing more towards the 2019 season.
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.
Demaryius Thomas is now a Texan and DaeSean Hamilton is out until at least Week 11 with a sprained MCL. Enter Tim Patrick.
Patrick has plus height and athleticism and was the dominant receiving weapon on a low-volume 2016 Utah offense. His age is certainly a knock against him, but he didn’t take a typical path through college.
Patrick transferred from Grossmont College to Utah in his junior year and suffered a gruesome leg injury in the latter half of the season, basically snapping his leg in half. He spent all of 2015 recovering, but then returned in 2016 to lead the team in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving TDs. In fact, if you squint, it’s not hard to see a poor-man’s Kenny Golladay.
While Patrick can’t compare to Golladay in the most important category, production, his numbers are still respectable, especially playing against a higher level of competition than Golladay.
Patrick caught his first NFL touchdown this past week, and he should be on the field plenty in Week 9 with an opportunity to make a case that he should be a regular part of the WR rotation behind Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders. For teams needing a spot starter in deep leagues for the next few weeks, Patrick is a guy who should be on the field seeing a few targets and even has some intriguing upside.