This is it, week 17, the end of the fantasy season. It’s hard to believe that another season has come and gone so quickly. With no fantasy reasons to look forward to for next week, I thought I’d give a nod to dynasty players.
What follows is a list of players that should be on your watch/acquire list. Some are due to injuries and others are because I see their value growing exponentially next year.
Considering my stance on the Zero QB Theorem I thought about not including any quarterbacks, but here are a couple you can probably acquire without breaking the bank.
E. J. Manuel – Missing five games will likely depress Manuel’s value, and if that’s the case in your league, you should acquire him. In the nine full games he played in, he scored 18+ in 5 games. That might not seem like much, but 18+ PPG would have made Manuel a QB1 this year. At a minimum he’ll make a nice streaming option.
Ryan Tannehill – Tannehill has been inconsistent this year, both fantasy and NFL wise. On the fantasy front, even with his inconsistent play he ended up ranking 14th among QBs – 2.74 points out of 12th place. If you think that Tannehill will continue to improve like I do, then make him a target. Don’t overpay. Barring a huge week 17, point to his poor week 16 (maybe week 17 too) as a reason you are taking a risk by acquiring. That should resonate with his owners. Hopefully they won’t realize that from weeks 10 thru 15 Tannehill ranked 5th among QBs in fantasy points scored.
Matt Ryan – Ryan had an ADP of QB6 (45.09/4th round) and with him not living up to expectations, he’s someone you should be able to get at a discounted price. As it stands now, prior to week 17, he ranks 12th among QBs in fantasy points scored. So, after losing Julio Jones for the season in week 5, having a hobbled Roddy White for much of the season, and with no Steven Jackson from weeks 3 thru 7, Ryan still finished the season as a QB1. At worst you’ll be acquiring a low end QB1.
Far too often dynasty owners devalue older players, especially running backs. Due to age and injury there are some running backs that you should be able to acquire at nicely discounted prices. Discounted enough that it will offset the risk that comes with them. Buying devalued older players isn’t just for teams a player or two away. Even teams that are rebuilding should look into acquiring these types of players. The reason is that if they do bounce back, those teams will be able to deal them to a contender for players and/or picks that will help to expedite your rebuild.
Arian Foster – The wheels may have fallen off of Foster due to a large workload the past two seasons, but that also means that his value has plunged too. I doubt that Foster owners will remember that thru six weeks he ranked 6th among RBs in fantasy points scored. Again, it’s about maximizing value, so don’t pay based on his previous production, sell the back injury and the risk that you’ll be taking on. Also, add in that with a new coaching staff there’s no telling what to expect from him in 2014.
Ray Rice – Rice is another running back that has had his value plunge. As bad as Rice was in 2013, he still finished the season as a RB2, ranking 24th in fantasy points scored thru 16 weeks. Bernard Pierce didn’t do much of anything to make me feel that Rice won’t have at least the same fantasy value next year. Considering the Ravens ranked 30th with a -74.6 run blocking score at PFF it’s amazing that Rice was able to eek out as much fantasy value as he did. Ozzie Newsome is one of the best general managers in the NFL and I have confidence that he’ll get the offensive line fixed.
Andre Ellington – Ellington doesn’t fit the old or injured criteria, but he’s still a running back I like as a target this offseason. He won’t come at much of a discount, but buying him this offseason will be much cheaper than it will be this time next year. In negotiations you’ll need to use his limited touches and uncertain future as a way to depress his value as much as possible. Do that and what you could end up with is a 2012 C.J. Spiller. This past season Ellington averaged 1.098 fantasy points per touch (PPTo) on 144 total touches, and finished as the #25 ranked RB. In 2011, Spiller averaged 1.070 on 129 touches and finished as the #29 ranked RB. In 2012, Spiller’s PPT was 1.072 on 224 touches, and he finished as the 7th ranked RB. It’s not a stretch to see Ellington picking up another 100 touches next year, and if he does that, he very well could finish as a top 10 RB like Spiller did in 2012.
Cordarrelle Patterson – Patterson’s quarterback situation is a concern, but even on limited touches he’s shown his big play potential and how he can be a fantasy asset. From weeks 8 thru 16 Patterson ranked 27th among WRs in fantasy points scored. He did that on 55 targets over that span of time. He’s still raw and with continued improvement from him, and hopefully a much more stable QB situation going forward I see him as a WR that can rank in top 10 as early as 2015. He likely won’t come at a discount but he’s a player that I have no issue with paying a bit of a premium for, because that premium will be much higher by the 2nd half of 2014.
Randall Cobb – Cobb’s injury could allow you to acquire him at a bit of a discount, I know I’d jump at that opportunity if it presented itself in one of my leagues. If you look at the four full games that he played in this year and extrapolate his production out you’d be looking at a WR that finished as the #1 WR in fantasy scoring. Cobb was on pace for 164 targets and with a points per target (PPTa) of 1.89 he would have scored 309.96 fantasy points. To put his PPTa in perspective, in 2012 it was 2.33. Calvin Johnson’s PPTa the past two years has been 1.95 (2013) and 1.77 (2012). I don’t think it’s far fetched to expect Cobb to get 140+ targets and achieve a PPTa between 1.75-2.00. If he does that, you’re looking at a high-end WR2 with top ten upside. The fact that he’ll have Aaron Rodgers throwing to him for the next 5+ years is a big plus in itself.
Everson Griffen – With Jared Allen likely playing his last game for the Vikings this week, Griffen could move into a productive starting position in 2014. The possibility of a coaching change is a bit of a concern, but based on how little you can get Griffen for, that risk will be mitigated.
Ryan Kerrigan – Acquiring Kerrigan is a speculative move based on the likelihood of a new coaching staff in Washington next year. With a new coaching staff there could be a change to a 4-3 defense. If that were to happen Kerrigan would very likely end up a DE and as a DE I can see him having top 15 upside. He’ll cost pennies on the dollar so there’s little risk in acquiring him. If Washington doesn’t end up a 4-3 defense then you can cut bait and move along.
Jerod Mayo – Mayo finished 2010 (1st) and 2012 (5th) as a top five linebacker. After week 5 (the last full game he played in this year) Mayo ranked as the #10 LB in fantasy points scored. It’s unlikely that his owner will deal him, let alone deal him at a value, but it won’t hurt to ask. In negotiations be sure to point out how many games he’s missed in his career and that he’s not getting any younger. Neither of those things concerns me, but they could help you acquire him at an affordable price.
I hope that you enjoyed reading Beyond TDs and Tackles this year as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have any fantasy questions this offseason feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter. If not, see you next year.