We’ve recently improved our dynasty rankings pages, and with the flurry of free agent signings, our writers are updating on the fly. With big names like Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, Kirk Cousins, and Jimmy Graham just a small slice of the players changing teams, the writers explain how they changed their rankings to reflect these moves.
The quarterback signings didn’t really affect my QB rankings very much, but they do help some of the receivers. Larry Fitzgerald remains appealing for another year, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders get a bump, and the Vikings can support two top-12 WRs.1
Sammy Watkins value doesn’t change much. He got a good contract but Patrick Mahomes is still an unknown quantity, and Watkins has to contend with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill for targets. I’m not sure he does any more than he did in LA. I did move Jimmy Graham up quite a bit. Green Bay tight ends haven’t panned out in the past but Graham is (was?) a different caliber player than their recent options. The contract and opportunity sans Jordy Nelson are there. The only question is how Graham will fare now that he’s playing with the worst QB of his career.2 Tight end is a thin position after Rob Gronkowski and Kelce, and Graham is one of the few players who can legitimately reach their level. He may have only a couple seasons left but they could be very good ones.
The Vikings signing of Kirk Cousins moved him up significantly in my rankings.3 Case Keenum showed how efficient the Vikings offense can be with two star WRs, a consistent if not an explosive ground game, and a reliable red zone weapon in Kyle Rudolph. If they can protect Cousins like they did Keenum, then this is one of the most exciting offenses in football.
I was already higher on Mahomes than any other ranker, but I’d argue that others are overly concerned with the uncertainty. His near-term opportunity is guaranteed, and the wide range of outcomes is a benefit not a detriment at a position where the second tier tends to bunch together. The addition of Watkins gives him the playmakers to be an instant star – he eviscerated the Broncos in Week 17 with almost nothing – and the ceiling to differentiate himself from the declining veterans and weekly streamers. I moved him two spots to No. 10, and that may still be too low.
While we know WR movement isn’t ideal for established veterans in solid situations, Watkins hadn’t shown a strong rapport with Jared Goff or a good fit in the Rams offense. Moving to the Chiefs, he must again start over in terms of continuity, but he moves to an offense that may be more tailored to his strengths. This is also a blow to resident deep threat Tyreek Hill and mildly lowers the ceiling for Kelce. I essentially flipped Watkins and Hill, moving the incumbent from the mid-teens to the low 20s and boosting the newcomer back into his slot a few spaces behind Allen Robinson.
Speaking of Robinson, he was already high in my rankings, but the move to a target-needy offense with a potentially forward-thinking coach moves him back in the top 10. He should be the 2018 version of DeAndre Hopkins, resurrecting his career in spectacular fashion. On the downside, I had to grudgingly demote Marqise Lee from the mid-20s to No. 33. Remaining in a run-first offense with an accuracy-challenged QB decreases his chances of achieving a true fifth-year breakout.
The first wave of signings mostly impacted my Mahomes and Mitchell Trubisky rankings. Bringing in additional weapons for these two young QBs is a good reason to be optimistic about their near-term success, and they now have more upside than most of the other QBs I’ve ranked around them. Andrew Luck continues to decline in my rankings, if only because his injury is still a concern. We are yet to get any positive news regarding Luck’s availability, and until we do so, I am reluctant to bump him up.
Both Watkins and Hill have experienced slight declines in my rankings. I had noted that Hill was a sell candidate last year, and now he must compete with Watkins for targets.
I was among the lowest on Trey Burton prior to his signing with the Bears. Though I thought it was unlikely he would re-sign with the Eagles, I really wasn’t sure what the market would look like for him. With a 4-year, $32 million contract, it’s clear the Bears want him to be a part of the passing game, especially since he’s undersized for the position and doesn’t provide much in the way of blocking. Burton moves up from 30th to 19th, while Adam Shaheen drops all the way down to 26th, and that may still be too high.
The other big TE news was Jimmy Graham signing with the Packers. While Green Bay has been a TE graveyard for years, the available landing spots for Graham were limited. Other than a reunion with the Saints, pretty much any landing spot would be a downgrade from Seattle. I’m concerned about the sparse usage of the TE position in Green Bay, but it’s certainly no worse than what he could’ve been subjected to with the Jets, Jaguars, or Dolphins, and there’s always a chance he finds the chemistry with Aaron Rodgers that his predecessors have lacked. Combined with Cousins signing in Minnesota, I flip-flopped Graham and Kyle Rudolph as the seventh and eighth TEs in my rankings.
I believe I was the highest ranker for Derrick Henry prior to the signing of Dion Lewis, having him as my 10th ranked RB. So much for that. The contract signed by Lewis clearly signals a big role for him, and it’s not yet apparent who will even be the lead back in the committee. I’m still higher on Henry than most, only dropping him down to 18th in my rankings, but there’s now a great deal of uncertainty about his role, and if he’s a non-factor in the passing game, his value takes a big hit. Lewis also drops several spots, as I’d hoped he would land on a team where he could be the clear lead back. It’s a lose-lose from a fantasy perspective.4
The Browns’ flurry of trades has forced me to shift my rankings more than anything else that’s happened recently. I was by far the highest on Josh Gordon, ranking him 10th. I’ve dropped him down to 21–which means I’m still the highest on him. That said, I’m not confident Tyrod Taylor5 will be able to sustain three top-25 WRs, as my rankings currently indicate, so perhaps more revision is needed.6
I have been hoping for a third-year breakout for Corey Coleman, but I’m afraid another Browns’ receiver will have to miss games for that to happen now. Of course, Coleman has only played one season (with a deep playoff run) worth of games in his career, so maybe we can give him a little extra time. The good thing (for Coleman) about the Browns’ receiver corps is that there is as of yet no truly established WR1 on the team — why couldn’t Coleman become the top option?
Even if they don’t draft Barkley, the trade for Jarvis Landry also hurts Duke Johnson because Landry figures to take the shorter targets that used to be Johnson’s. I previously had Johnson as the RB14–making me not quite the highest on him, but close. Now he’s my RB26.
- Is that a hot take? (back)
- Pretty sure that’s a hot take. (back)
- To be fair, he was so low due to the uncertainty regarding his destination – you didn’t want him with the Browns – and now that’s cleared up, he’s back where he should be. (back)
- Though from a real football perspective, I’m excited to see if this Titans offense can rebound this year. (back)
- Or whatever rookie QB they draft. (back)
- Although they are dynasty rankings–the longer time horizon should afford me a little leeway in terms of rationality. (back)