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 is your regular season guide through the shifting dynasty landscape.
Football is here, and Dynasty Watch is back.
There will be a lot more to digest after Week 1, but cut-down day gives us a lot of information on some of the deeper players on fantasy rosters who could become bigger players down the road. We’re going to try to keep the information concise and actionable with some quick hits to start the season. Consider adding or trading for some of the names below if they are available in your leagues.
Last year’s article turned up some moderately successful deep RB sleepers like Javorius Allen, Austin Ekeler, and Matt Breida. Let’s see if we can find some other quality pickups to help round out our rosters.
- The Cardinals brought in Brice Butler as a free agent and it muddied the waters for the rest of the wide receivers competing for a spot. His release leaves just five WRs on the roster, one of whom, Trent Sherfield, is a longshot to be relevant. That leaves a bigger slice of the pie for Chad Williams, Christian Kirk, and J.J. Nelson. I ultimately like Kirk to become the WR2 there, but Williams is still almost free in some places,1 so taking a cheap shot on him is worth a gamble.
- The surprise release of Amara Darboh, a third-round pick just last year,2 improves the outlook for free agent additions Jaron Brown and Brandon Marshall, as well and last year’s seventh-round pick David Moore. With Doug Baldwin’s knee already a cause for concern and Tyler Lockett spending time on the injury report during the preseason, all the Seahawks WRs should be on your radar as guys who could end up in larger roles sooner rather than later.
- Cam Sims impressed for the Redskins in the preseason, and earned himself a roster spot. He’s a deep sleeper as the Redskins kept six WRs and he’s buried on the depth chart, but a name to file away as one of the more surprising players to make a roster this year.
- Kendall Wright looked well-positioned to secure a role in the Vikings WR corps, but was let go on Saturday leaving just Stacy Coley and Brandon Zylstra to compete with Laquon Treadwell for the WR3 role. That role wasn’t worth much last year, but Treadwell is still just 23 years old, and for those hoping that he’ll eventually pay off on his first-round pedigree it’s a positive indicator.
- The Colts cut all the way down to just five WRs. Behind the top three of TY Hilton, Ryan Grant, and Chester Rogers are UDFAs Zach Pascal and Marcus Johnson.3 The winners here might be Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle as it’s reasonable to expect them to play a lot of two-TE sets, but Grant is also looking more like a locked in WR2 on an offense that will probably need to pass a lot.
- The Patriots cut a whole team’s worth of WRs during the offseason, and with Julian Edelman’s suspension, will enter the season with Phillip Dorsett and Cordarelle Patterson filling major roles. The biggest beneficiaries here will probably be the non-WRs like James White and Rob Gronkowski, but Dorsett should be rostered in all leagues in case he can show something during the first few weeks of the season.
- The Cowboys cut both Bo Scarborough and Darius Jackson, leaving just Rod Smith as the only true RB behind Ezekiel Elliot.4 Smith played well in relief of Elliot last year, and saw a surprising amount of usage in the passing game. This cements Smith’s status as one of the more valuable handcuffs in the league.
- The Falcons trimmed down to just three running backs, assuring that Ito Smith will have a crack at a role if either of the backs in front of him goes down.
- All reports had Jonathan Williams winning the backup role in New Orleans and filling in for the suspended Mark Ingram during the first four weeks. So much for that. His release left just rookie Boston Scott and post-cut addition Mike Gillislee on the depth chart behind Alvin Kamara. Scott has also recently been cut, so Gillislee is now a priority add.
- Phillip Lindsay has been electric in the preseason, and the Broncos cutting De’Angelo Henderson cements his spot on the team with some upside as a third-down back.
- There was speculation that rookie Justin Jackson could challenge Austin Ekeler for the backup role behind Melvin Gordon. Jackson was injured for much of the preseason, but survived initial cuts, only to later be released to add Antonio Gates to the roster. Ekeler remains a high-value backup.
- I mentioned Akrum Wadley as a deep sleeper for the Titans, but ultimately he didn’t even make the practice squad. David Fluellen will enter the season as the Titans third RB, with Dalyn Dawkins getting a spot on the practice squad. The reality is that if anything happens to Derrick Henry or Dion Lewis, the other RB would probably absorb most of the work, but the depth chart behind them is still wide open.
- Kenneth Dixon stayed healthy enough to fend off any competition and remains part of the valuable Ravens backfield. Javorius Allen was the man behind Alex Collins last year, but he also was forced to the bench by Dixon the last time they were both active and healthy.
- With Elijah McGuire on Injured Reserve and Charcandrick West and Thomas Rawls getting cut, Trenton Cannon secures a spot as the Jets third RB. Cannon is an interesting small-school prospect who could eventually take over for the aging Bilal Powell.
- Paxton Lynch survived one day past the initial cuts, but was subsequently let go, giving Chad Kelly sole possession of the second spot on the depth chart. Case Keenum’s contract is only a two year deal, but still has a lot of dead money in the second year. It’s still a positive sign for Kelly’s value in 2QB or Superflex leagues.
- The Giants claimed they weren’t concerned about Eli Manning’s replacement because they already had Davis Webb on the roster. That was a lie.5 In deeper Superflex leagues, Kyle Lauletta becomes an interesting name to follow.
- And listed as the WR2 on the initial depth chart (back)
- 42nd pick of the round, so the very end of the third, but third nonetheless. (back)
- Dynasty expert Brian Malone assures me that Pascal and Johnson are just randomly generated names from when he used to play Madden on franchise mode, not real players. He’s an expert, you can trust him. (back)
- Jamize Olawale is a fullback (back)
- Channeling my inner Maury Povich. (back)