Surprises, Values in 5-Round Dynasty Startup Mock
We are a short six weeks away from the end of the fantasy season. While this is a bittersweet time for most, dynasty players should be excited about the prospect of upcoming startup drafts. To get a pulse on the shift in player values, we gathered a few RotoViz writers for the first five rounds of a dynasty startup mock. We assumed a 12-team, PPR league, starting 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, and 1 Flex. Enjoy!
1.01 Ryan: Odell Beckham. The injury doesn’t scare me off his long-term outlook. He should remain a premier asset.
1.02 Charlie: David Johnson. Should be fresh and a workhorse in both the rushing and receiving games next year. Will he have a good QB? Does Le’Veon Bell? Not really. Like Bell, Johnson should get huge work in both facets of the game. Unlike Bell, he’s still got a shorter injury record and no suspensions.
1.03 Cort: Mike Evans. An effective DeSean Jackson and an ineffective Jamies Winston have combined to take some of the shine off of Evans’ dynasty stock. That capped upside won’t continue forever, though, and he doesn’t turn 25 until next summer. (Looking back at this pick, however, I would probably take DeAndre Hopkins instead.)
1.04 Hasan: Antonio Brown. Entering his age-29 season Brown is currently on pace to eclipse 300 PPR points for his fifth straight year. Note that Brown has two 100+ yard games without Ben Roethlisberger under center. He should remain the focal point of the Steelers passing attack regardless of signal caller and reward his dynasty owners for years to come.
1.05 John: Le’Veon Bell. His dual-threat ability and proven track record give him a ceiling that’s hard to match and a stable value.
1.06 Brian: DeAndre Hopkins. Closer to Mike Evans than any of the vets are to Antonio Brown
1.07 Brian: Todd Gurley. The draftniks said, “If only Gurley were in a decent offense, he’d be a stud.” They were right.
1.08 John: Amari Cooper. Despite a slow start to the season, he’s still put up some of the best numbers ever for a player of his age.
1.09 Hasan: Ezekiel Elliott. Despite the suspension, Elliott is still one of the few bellcow RBs in the NFL. He plays on a prolific offense and should continue seeing healthy volume.
1.10 Cort: Julio Jones. Mired in a Sarkasian funk, now might be the time to buy Julio if you’re a believer.
1.11 Charlie: A.J. Green. The most boring WR1. Works for me. He’s the WR5 this year despite Andy Dalton’s struggles.
1.12 Ryan: Brandin Cooks. The Jimmy Garoppolo trade likely means Brady isn’t retiring anytime soon. Still on his rookie deal through 2018.
2.01 Ryan: Melvin Gordon. Volume and more volume.
2.02 Charlie: Keenan Allen. Has been a top shelf WR when healthy. Had five double-digit PPR games to start 2017 and is averaging almost nine targets/game.
2.03 Cort: Michael Thomas. Thomas has been solid, if unspectacular, this season in the Saints new run-heavy approach. I’ll take five or six years of solid production in the second.
2.04 Hasan: Devonta Freeman. Freeman is the primary RB in Atlanta and to-date has handily out-carried Tevin Coleman. Additionally, Freeman is just as active as Coleman in the receiving game. Unlike Coleman, Freeman is signed to a long-term deal with the Falcons and has untapped upside if Coleman does not re-sign.
2.05 John: Leonard Fournette. He’s lived up to the hype so far and is working alongside a talented young defense that could keep him in decent game-scripts for years to come.
2.06 Brian: Kareem Hunt. If you throw out his massive Week 1 and his disappointing Week 8, he’s still averaging 18.9 points per game in PPR. Plus, he has room to grow as he becomes a better pass protector.
2.07 Brian: Stefon Diggs. Soft tissue injuries worry me, but that’s why I’m getting him in the mid-second instead of the mid-first.
2.08 John: T.Y. Hilton. The dire news about Andrew Luck’s shoulder is concerning, but Hilton is still a top receiving option. I’ll draft here and expect the QB situation will improve one way or another.
2.09 Hasan: Dalvin Cook. Despite playing only four games, Cook still leads all Vikings RBs in rushing yards. Had Cook remained healthy he would’ve been in the running for rookie-of-the-year. Cook is possibly the top RB in the 2017 class, and his injury presents a buying opportunity going forward.
2.10 Cort: Corey Davis. Going a bit out on a limb here considering the more proven talent still available, but save for Sammy Watkins landing in Green Bay as a UFA, I don’t see anyone with more long-term upside.
2.11 Charlie: Jarvis Landry. Miami hasn’t had a good QB since he was drafted yet he still produces. Currently, he’s in the top 11 among all WRs.
2.12 Ryan: Doug Baldwin. It’s November, when the Seahawks offense finally wakes up. Currently the WR8 on the season and climbing.
3.01 Ryan: Jordan Howard. The only thing John Fox loves more than punting on 4th and inches is running the ball 45 times.
3.02 Charlie: Adam Thielen. Look what he’s doing with a carousel of mediocre QBs. He’s the WR3 through Week 10 and unlike Diggs, seems to stay on the field more.
3.03 Cort: Rob Gronkowski. Still just 28, looking healthy, and with plenty of prime years ahead of him. There are so many examples of TEs staying productive well into their 30s that Gronkowski looks undervalued in all dynasty formats. A steal in the third round.
3.04 Hasan: Tyreek Hill. With the departure of Jeremy Maclin, Hill was thrust into the WR1 role for Kansas City. Currently, Hill is a top-10 WR and appears to have shed his boom/bust reputation. Turning 24 in March and set to garner the bulk of the workload going forward, Hill has plenty of long-term upside.
3.05 John: Travis Kelce. With Gronkowski off the board, I’ll take another difference-maker at tight end. Kelce has cemented himself as a top option at the position.
3.06 Brian: Christian McCaffrey. Just imagine how he’ll produce with a few carries.
3.07 Brian: Joe Mixon. I would try to trade out of this spot in a real draft. Maybe I should have taken Allen Robinson.
3.08 John: Sammy Watkins. His main problem this year has been a lack of volume, but he’s a free agent at the end of the season and could land in a much more favorable situation.
3.09 Hasan: Allen Robinson. Set to test free agency in 2018, Robinson’s landing spot is in flux. If he lands in a more pass-friendly offense than Jacksonville, Robinson should be able to reprise his 2015 campaign. Even if he re-signs with Jacksonville, Robinson should post WR2 numbers if Marqise Lee signs with a different franchise.
3.10 Cort: Dez Bryant. It really gets tough here, as all the WRs are either old or facing serious questions.
3.11 Charlie: Zach Ertz. Young, scoring well, franchise QB. What else do you want? TE is shallower than WR so I’m fine pivoting here.
3.12 Ryan: Alshon Jeffery. Trust the air yards. Where does he play in 2018?
4.01 Ryan: Davante Adams. The final year of rookie deal. Big off-season coming.
4.02 Charlie: Jordy Nelson. Should still be good for a few years. Could have more targets if Adams leaves. Cheaper than he should be because of Brett Hundley.
4.03 Cort: Derrick Henry. Close call between Alvin Kamara and Henry here.1 While Henry continues to tease, his unique talent is undeniable, and I have to assume that the Titans will move on from the more-expensive DeMarco Murray.
4.04 Hasan: Demaryius Thomas. He’s consistently posted over 90 catches and 1,000 yards since 2011. Despite the lackluster QB play, Thomas is currently on pace to post another 90-catch, 1,000-yard season. If Denver finally solves their QB issues, Thomas should return high-end WR2 numbers for the next few seasons. I’m not too concerned about his age.
4.05 John: Carlos Hyde. Has been a good RB when healthy and could end up with a better offense next year.
4.06 Brian: Alvin Kamara. Even as a member of the Saints RBBC, he’s an RB1 and could already be more valuable than his higher-profile rookie peers.
4.07 Brian: DeVante Parker. WR3 with impressive peripherals.
4.08 John: Corey Coleman. He’s struggled to stay healthy, but I refuse to believe he’s going to have a chronic issue with broken hands. Loved him as a prospect and the Browns will eventually lift the curse and get a real QB.
4.09 Hasan: Golden Tate. Tate is a terrific selection for those who play in full-point PPR leagues. He’s a target hog in the Detroit offense and converts most of his low aDOT targets into catches. Although Tate generally doesn’t find the end zone, his outsize target volume gives him a very high floor.
4.10 Cort: Lamar Miller. Just 26 years old and entering his prime, Miller is quietly on pace for yet another 1,300 all-purpose yard season. Signed until 2020, Miller also gets a boost by getting to play with Deshaun Watson over the final few years of his contract.
4.11 Charlie: LeSean McCoy. Still a top-10 PPR RB who’s averaged over 13 PPR points/game for eight straight seasons. The contract keeps him first in line, as does the complete absence of any options behind him.
4.12 Ryan: Mark Ingram. The Saints now have an offensive line and a competent defense. Both RBs are viable.
5.01 Ryan: Aaron Rodgers. I don’t love the pick but it’s starting to get ugly.
5.02 Charlie: Michael Crabtree. He’s a top-20 WR and more consistent than Amari Cooper. Of course, his career window is shorter, but he should have at least a couple more seasons in him.
5.03 Cort: JuJu Smith-Schuster. Is Smith-Schuster now a top-60 dynasty pick? Well, he is at RotoViz, and he’s been mentioned above Corey Davis. We love ‘em prodigious, and at 20, he’s doing things that few other 20-year-olds have done before.
5.04 Hasan: Jay Ajayi. Don’t be too concerned with his long-term knee issues and fit on this offense. He’s playing in a high-octane offense behind an improved offensive line. Although the Eagles are flush with RBs, Darren Sproles, LeGarrette Blount, and Kenjon Barner are set to hit free agency in 2018. Additionally, Wendell Smallwood, Donnell Pumphrey, and Corey Clement should not steal a lot of his early-down work. If Philadelphia opts to utilize him more in the passing game, Ajayi could return to RB1 status in 2018.
5.05 John: Russell Wilson – Wilson’s greatness is often overlooked. Still just 28, he’s only behind Rodgers in career passer rating among active players. However, he’s younger, also adds value with his legs, and has had to suffer through some atrocious offensive lines. At this point in the draft, he’s one of the safest assets available.
5.06 Brian: Will Fuller – A young NFL WR2 on what could be one of the top passing offenses going forward.
5.07 Brian: Deshaun Watson – I don’t like drafting QBs this early, but there’s about a 20 percent chance he’s the QB1 over the next few seasons.
5.08 John: Tevin Coleman – He may be trapped behind Freeman for one more year, but he’s already shown that he can gash NFL defenses on the ground and through the air when given a chance. I’ll take the talent here and hope that increased opportunity somehow manifests sooner rather than later.
5.09 Hasan: Dak Prescott. Neither am I a fan of snagging a QB this early, but Prescott has consistently produced at a high level since taking over as a rookie. Unlike Jared Goff or Carson Wentz, Prescott’s consistently posted impressive numbers and should continue doing so going forward.
5.10 Cort: Jordan Reed. Maybe he’s injury prone, or maybe he’s just used up all his dumb luck in one memorable stretch. If it’s the latter, he’s a steal this late. If it’s the former, well… at least I didn’t draft a QB.
5.11 Charlie: Nelson Agholor. A top-30 WR this year with a franchise QB. Late bloomer with a potentially limited ceiling, but he’s young and has a better team situation than most others players available.
Brian – The fifth round is gross. I’d take a random 2018 first over almost any of those guys, including the ones I drafted (Fuller and Watson). Otherwise, I’d be quite happy to start a dynasty league with either of my teams–Hopkins/Diggs/McCaffrey/Parker or Gurley/Hunt/Mixon/Kamara. Indeed, Mixon was the only pick I didn’t really like out of that bunch, and I think I’d be able to trade him in the offseason for someone I actually want on my roster.
Cort – RB and QB are generally being overvalued here, and I’m not in love with my fourth-round pick of Derrick Henry. Outside of three guys, every RB is plagued by questions, and as we’ve seen with DeMarco Murray and Isaiah Crowell (30th and 35th in dynasty ADP this offseason, but not picked here), the bottom can fall out fast and without prejudice. Given that, I’d rather speculate in later rounds and load up on talent elsewhere, including at TE, which appears slightly undervalued. Speaking of TEs, I’d probably reach for Evan Engram over Jordan Reed with my last pick, given a mulligan. Either way, what he’s doing is historic, and I believe he is a top-60 dynasty pick.
John – The fourth round is where the value really started to fall off a cliff. I’m not a fan of Carlos Hyde but picked him anyway, and then watched the next two guys I was considering go to Brian Malone before I made my next pick. One interesting aspect of this draft was the number of RBs that were drafted in the first five rounds by a group of writers who are generally adherents to the Zero RB. It’s a testament to the talent of the RBs that have come into the league the past few years that so many were considered premium dynasty assets at such a volatile position. High NFL draft capital and solid NFL production have drafters believing that many of these guys are worth taking a risk on.
Ryan – I struggle with where to value players during the season, and this really highlighted how steep the drop-off is beyond the top 40. I don’t love QB in the fifth but found it relatively safe. The top TEs could be a value if the market is in-line with our picks.
Charlie – Drafting is always fun, even midseason. I’m happy to scoop up as many dependable pass catchers as I can. This is just one mock, but it seems like TE drops off really quickly. That might be an area to explore in the offseason. As for RBs, guys like Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara, Carlos Hyde, and Chris Thompson are all top 10 this season. It’s possible none of them will be next year. Neither DeMarco Murray, Devonta Freeman, nor LeGarrette Blount has been able (so far) to replicate their top-10 seasons from a year ago. This isn’t a Zero RB advocacy blurb so much as it is an RB volatility blurb. Outside of the guaranteed workload guys, I’m happy to take multiple shots later in startups, then pound waivers and trades during the season.
Hasan – My draft turned out to be much more RB heavy than I had originally intended. However, I’m confident that several of my RB selections should retain their dynasty value in the near- to mid-term. Provided several of my drafted RBs maintain or improve their fantasy stats next season, they will make valuable trade chips in the not-too-distant future.