Dynasty Watch: Autumn is Coming
For better or worse, you feel different about your dynasty squad at the end of August than you did when last season concluded.
Sure, some of that is due to your rookie draft and trades you’ve made, but chances are your valuation of players carried over from the previous year has changed too. Dynasty ADP and trade value fluctuate throughout the offseason due to player movement, coaching changes, and the nuggets of news and soundbites from coaches that drive all sorts of narratives.1
The one thing that hasn’t factored into the equation yet is perhaps the most important: playing real football games that count.
During the regular season, it’s all about performance, and a few big games from a player can boost his value in a hurry. As an example, Will Fuller averaged over 17 points per game in the first four games of his career, and his value immediately spiked as he looked like he was on his way to stardom. After a couple of nagging injuries and the emergence of the Brock Osweiler, Fuller’s value quickly fell back to earth. The sell window was short-lived.2
In this series, I’ll be your regular season guide through the changing dynasty landscape. I’ll be looking at the players experiencing big swings in their value and also highlighting overlooked assets that might be on the verge of becoming relevant. Selling Fuller after four weeks may have been a good move in the above example, but selling Michael Thomas after his hot start most certainly would not have been. I’ll use our suite of apps and dive deep for the right statistics to help you decide when it’s time to make a move.
With a little over a week until the first game of the regular season, and the chaos of cut-downs still a few days away, let’s take a look at a few players whose values have fluctuated during the preseason.
Bust a Move
Three first-round wide receivers from the 2015 class have already been branded with the dreaded “Scarlet B” as they head into their third season. It looks like each of these three will have the opportunity to shake that bust label as they all should see significant snaps for their respective teams. Their value is at an inflection point. A poor showing will reinforce their status as busts in most owners’ minds, whereas a few strong games will put enough shine on their first-round pedigree to get people excited about a possible third-year breakout.
Kevin White has failed to impress this preseason with just four catches for 32 yards. He’s also been the subject of some less than encouraging reports from camp, and his ADP has been on a steady decline since startups began drafting this offseason. That’s started to change as the season-ending injury to Cameron Meredith3 has provided a boost in expected opportunity for White. He was the focal point of the Bears passing game in the four games he played in 2016, so it’s not hard to imagine that they will give him another shot to prove himself early this season.
A RotoViz reader recently asked on the forums if he should target White or Robby Anderson as an end of bench stash on a deep redraft team; he did not plan on ever starting either player but was hoping they’d develop into viable trade chips. I answered that White was the better stash due to his draft capital and prototypical WR1 build. Even a glimmer of hope could have visions of a dominant WR1 dancing in owners’ heads.
We’ve all seen players who are bad at football have occasional big games, especially if they are force-fed targets,4 and White is in a perfect position to capitalize whether he’s any good or not. If you own White and are looking to sell, the safe play is to move him now and benefit from the small gain from the Meredith injury. The riskier, higher-upside play is to let White play and hope he shows something before trying to move him. If you’re considering buying, just remember that White was likely overrated as a prospect.
Unlike White, Nelson Agholor has been receiving glowing reports throughout training camp, and the Eagles’ trade of Jordan Matthews would seem to indicate a vote of confidence in Agholor. One thing he does have in common with White is underwhelming play thus far in the preseason, catching just two passes for 28 yards.
Agholor also has much more competition for targets than White and has a much larger sample of poor play in regular season games, both of which have kept his cost suppressed. In fact, his closest comparable season from the RotoViz screener is from a former teammate who is currently unemployed.
These factors make Agholor’s value less volatile, as his larger sample of play and low cost will make opinions on him more entrenched and harder to change. Even with his post-Matthews bump, Agholor has still only moved up from undrafted to a late-round flier in many leagues. In leagues where he’s owned, a slow start could put him right back on the waiver wire.
Breshad Perriman’s value has been a rollercoaster this offseason. The retirement of Steve Smith opened up a load of opportunity for Perriman, and his value shot up immediately after the NFL draft when the Ravens failed to add any competition. And then Jeremy Maclin happened. Maclin’s addition and Perriman’s subsequent hamstring injury pushed Perriman’s value below what it had been even before the NFL draft.
Despite missing his entire rookie year with an injury and another scare in training camp before last season, Perriman played in all 16 games in 2016. His final numbers were nothing to get excited about but also weren’t terrible for a first year WR. He also posted a better season than anything White or Agholor has been able to produce thus far. His comparables from the Similarity Score App aren’t exactly exciting, and though there’s a reasonable chance he takes a step forward in 2017, a huge breakout seems unlikely.
Perriman currently looks like the WR3 in Baltimore, but Mike Wallace is 31 years old and in the final year of his contract, and Jeremy Maclin is coming off an injury and was released by a WR-needy Chiefs team.5 The long-term opportunity to become a major contributor exists. Ravens players, coaches, and reporters showered Perriman with praise during OTAs and the early part of training camp before he went down with the aforementioned hamstring injury, and he’s reportedly on track to start the regular season.
Perriman’s injury means that his value is likely at a low point, and there’s not much he can do in the first few weeks for it to get any lower. The Ravens tight end situation is a mess, and Joe Flacco‘s absence has prevented him from building a rapport with Maclin, potentially opening up more opportunity for Perriman. He is a hold through the early part of the season, and the only one of these players I’d be looking to acquire if I can get him for a reasonable price.
Roster cutdowns are sure to produce some big surprises around the league. I’ll analyze the chaos that ensues as more than 1,100 players suddenly find themselves without a team.
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- Many of which end up being complete bullshit. (back)
- I still really like Fuller overall, but it may be a long time before his value returns to where it was after Week 4 of the 2016 season. (back)
- Goodnight, sweet prince! (back)
- Hi, Rueben Randle. (back)
- I don’t think Maclin is finished and his release may be cap-related, but it still makes me wary that a contending team like Kansas City was willing to part ways with him despite being very thin at his position. (back)