Volatile Values For Your Dynasty Team
Found on Twitter @TannerSkol
Ew. Volatile players are gross and should be sold even if it's less than value, right? Yes please, and then trade them to me for cheap. Dynasty fantasy football is quickly evolving and the industry is giving people jumps on players to avoid, and their value can plummet very quickly if there is any kind of volatility or looming age cliff.
Here’s the thing though. Building for the future is fun and all, especially around rookie fever season, but don’t forget that you still have games to win this year. And if you play dynasty correctly, you never really have to fully rebuild. You clearly can and it might work, BUT there are so many good players out there that are just being cast aside because of risk, looming contract extensions, age, or injury history. There are lots of players out there that can be had cheap and will give your fantasy team a bigger boost than what you have to pay to get them. In theory, their volatility pushes their value down so far that they become values to you and me.
In a theoretical situation, lets look at a team made up of just some risky players that could boom or bust making their dynasty value "volatile"…
QB: Drew Brees
RB: James Conner
RB: Chris Carson
WR: Adam Thielen
WR: Julien Edelman
WR: Brandin Cooks
TE: Chris Herndon
FLX: David Johnson
SF: Ben Roethlisberger
These are all players that I think are getting pushed way too far down boards because of the risk of their name or situation. While not a sexy squad, if things go right, this lineup alone would be good enough to likely make the playoffs in your league and most of these players are guys nobody wants. Let’s break this down a little bit.
A lot of these players are of course a little bit older and closer to the end of their career and might not give you three to four years of production. However, sometimes you don’t need three to four years at a position to be a contending team in your league. Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to go for the win and then slowly build it up by hitting on young players along the road. If you get two, three, maybe even four seasons, that means you have two to four years to find the replacement. For example; if you have Drew Brees who is an older quarterback you might only have one or two more years left. This can give you up to two years to find his replacement while also getting top ten production out of a quarterback. With the way situations can change it's also not impossible that his replacement is already on your team. They might just need some more time.
Being able to get some volatile players at a discount is something that many people take for granted and don’t want to do because of course.. the volatility. These players can really help your team, especially at a discount.
Let’s dive in.
Drew Brees is old, we get it. This past offseason he was heavily considering retirement which means that he isn't going to be around all that much longer. That fear of retirement, however, is going to help you get him for next to nothing. Well, maybe not nothing but cheap for a quarterback. If you could have a guaranteed 20 points per game out of a quarterback slot, how valuable would that be to your team this season? Maybe not next season, but you never know what will happen in the next year as variables change all the time. In 2019 Drew Brees finished QB7 and had the second-best passer rating in the league while basically just throwing the ball to Michael Thomas every play. In 2020 he’s going to have Alvin Kamara back fully healthy, they added Emmanuel Sanders the WR2 they’ve needed so badly, added a rookie tight end, Adam Trautman, in the third round, and bolstered the offensive line once again with the addition of Cesar Ruiz. Besides an injury or COVID-19 illness, there is hardly a scenario out there that Drew Brees doesn’t finish as a top ten fantasy quarterback.
His current ADP is QB22 and I can’t say that it’s not fair considering this could be his final season, but he is going to drastically outperform that ADP. I’m of course not saying to trade Joe Burrow for him who could be the starter for the next 15 years for the Bengals, but if you need a quarterback to bolster your lineup, Drew Brees is a great target.
Last year was not James Conner’s banner year. In fact, it was somewhat of a train wreck and left a sour taste in the mouth of some fantasy owners. But first let’s throw it back to 2018, James Conner’s big break. In just 13 games James Conner finished RB6 in total points and points per game in PPR scoring. The first thing that jumps off the page with Conner’s 2018 season was the number of touches he had. In his 13 games, he had 270 touches averaging just over 20 touches per game. Switch over to 2019 when the injury bug was hitting him left and right and his role started to switch. He was on the field for more than 45% of snaps in just eight games and was injured and taken out of two others. He totaled 150 touches in those games and while there were a lot of different variables between the two seasons, one of the most important things to remember about Conner is that despite the injuries and role switch, he still averaged over four yards per carry in both seasons. In 2018 he averaged 4.53 yards per carry and then dropped to 4 yards per carry in 2019 in a very dysfunctional offense while also fighting several injuries. His current ADP is sitting at RB27 despite finishing as the RB35 in just eight healthy games. On a team and coaching staff that has a history of using the workhorse back and producing high end running backs, this makes Conner a great value in any deal.
The fear around him of course is the draft pick of Anthony McFarland in the fourth round this year and Benny Snell in the fourth round last year. Anthony McFarland comes into the league with an injury history just like James Conner and does not possess the size to hold up to a heavy workload in their system. The fourth-round picks look to be setting up for a very serviceable backup tandem along with Benny Snell, but not much more. As a three-down back, this job is James Conner’s for the taking once again. If his owner in your league doesn’t treat him that way, he’s a great player to target.
Did everyone forget that Chris Carson was fifth in the league last year in rushing yards? He is at ADP RB26 even though he finished as the RB12 in points per game last year. Did the signing of Carlos Hyde scare you off? Or maybe the fourth-round draft selection of Deejay Dallas? It doesn't scare me.
I remember when the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny and the backfield was thought to be all his. Carson was going to be the backup to their first-round pick and then Carson went on to continue running like the young bull that he was on his way to over 1,100 yards on 4.66 yards per carry. Then last year we didn’t know if Rashaad Penny was going to be more involved and potentially take his job over and again dropped Carson in rankings, just for him to run for over 1,200 yards and 4.42 yards per carry.
In week 16, Chris Carson hurt his hip and it required surgery. I will also point out that the sour taste factor is also in effect here. Week 16 is of course most championship weeks and he left a lot of people hanging after getting hurt in the first quarter against one of the worst defenses against the run last year, the Arizona Cardinals. I’ll piggyback off that point, and remind you how poor that game went for Seattle. They didn’t have Carlos Hyde or Deejay Dallas yet but their whole offense was thrown way off when they didn’t have their young bull running out of the backfield. Back to the injury though, it has lots of owners a little bit leery of what this season could look like for him once again. He is going to be coming off an injury that required surgery and has a couple of capable backs in the backfield with him and we don't know exactly what his role will be. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.
I fully expect Chris Carson to come out of camp once again, prove everyone wrong, and ball out. It’s just what he does.
Adam Thielen was a painful draft pick last year. His 2019 dynasty ADP was WR13 making him a high-end WR2 and dealt with some hamstring injuries that kicked him well behind that draft position. He finished as the WR59 that included missed weeks, games started, and then left due to injuries, booms, and busts. His situation leaves a lot of risk on the table and has pushed him down value charts and draft position. He is currently the WR23 in ADP and WR35 in ECR. If you look at his points per game it doesn’t look good but looking at his whole season and the games he played in, his season was not nearly as bad as it seemed. He played more than 52% of snaps in just seven games and in those seven games, he had 5+ catches and 55+ yards in five of those games and also tallied four touchdowns in those seven games. He also had six touchdowns on the season while only appearing in nine games.
This offseason the Vikings also moved on from a problematic receiver who forced his way out of a stable team with an above-average quarterback. That man of course was Stefon Diggs. As a Vikings fan, I thought it was ridiculous that he wanted to force his way out of Kirk Cousins to Josh Allen, but that’s a whole different conversation. Thielen's counterpart is gone and the competition for targets just got a lot easier. I mean a lot. Diggs demanded around 74 targets a game or he would be fuming on the sidelines.
Last season Kirk Cousins threw for 3,606 yards which was good for 16th in the league on 444 attempts and that was 24th in the league. This shows how efficient Kirk Cousins was and if the attempts rise this year, so will the passing yards. The NFL has shown in the past that it can quickly adjust to a team's gameplan and teams need to be able to adjust season to season. If the Vikings decide they need to throw the ball more this season (especially if Dalvin Cook holds out for any of the season) somebody has to be catching those passes. Their receiving core right now looks like Thielen a pro-bowler, Justin Jefferson, the 22nd pick in this year’s draft, Olabisi Johnson a seventh round pick last year, Tajae Sharpe a free agent signing on a $1 million deal, Irv Smith the second round pick last year, and Kyle Rudolph who struggles to move besides when he’s Mossing P.J. Williams to send the Saints home for the season. Skol baby.
Somebody is going to have to account for somewhere between a floor of 3,500 passing yards for Kirk Cousins and a ceiling of 4500 yards. Odds are the lion share is going to Adam Thielen and he can be had rather cheap.
Tom the GOAT is gone. Fresh off a signing of Cam Newton it looks as though there will be some kind of camp battle between him and Jarrett Stidham. The great Cam Newton who won the Heisman, the national championship, an NFC title, and an MVP has built himself a very good pedigree in the NFL until this past season. The bad news for Cam and for the Patriots, is that his health is a real concern and that's clear to everyone after he was cut and left on the open market after just about all of the free agents not named Devonta Freeman were signed. The good news is that this section is not about Cam Newton. This is about Julian Edelman.
Last season Julian Edelman finished the season as the WR7 in PPR. He has always been labeled as somewhat injury-prone but in his age 33 season he managed to put together a season that he didn't miss a single game, proving that he can still, in fact, stay healthy. The situation around Edelman definitely isn't all that attractive and would make him somebody to avoid due to age, quarterback, and offense volume, but let's take a look at what his value is looking like. His current ADP is WR56.. WIDE RECEIVER FIFTY-SIX. Sorry for yelling but this is a guy who finished as a top ten wide receiver and is being left for dead. Usually, advising trying to acquire or draft a receiver who is in his mid-30s with some injuries in the past is not advisable but when his value has this big of a dip, what is there to hurt? He is his team's number one receiver and there really isn't a ton of talent or experience around him. The only other receiver there of note is N'keal Harry and he looked really slow last year when he was on the field. He has the first-round draft capital so if he looked good at all last year I wouldn't be as excited about Edelman this year, but what did N'Keal Harry do last year to instill confidence? I was not thrilled about him last year in the draft and he was very underwhelming in his rookie campaign.
In the past the Patriots with Tom Brady were a team that would get the ball out quickly to the tight ends, running backs, and slot receivers and that is where their strengths are going to be again. Depending on who wins the quarterback job, it's likely the offense could look similar to what it did with Brady. If Cam wins the job, it could become more about an option system after he showed last year with the shoulder that he can't push the ball down the field well anymore. This would still mean lots of quick throws in RPO's while once in awhile trying to take the top off the defense. If Stidham gets the job they aren't going to want him holding the ball in the pocket for very long and are going to want him to get it out quickly. Either way, Julian Edelman should be a beneficiary of a short/moderate aDOT gameplan that won't include all that many deep shots.
To top it off every season that Julian Edelman has stayed healthy since 2013 he has finished as a top 17 wide receiver, so if he stays healthy he is going to be a steal.
Somehow Brandin Cooks has gotten a reputation for being injury-prone and not reliable. I’m not sure if its the 36 times he’s been traded for top two round picks or whether it's the concussions, but nobody seems to trust him anymore. After being traded to the Texans he finds himself in a battle to be the number one receiver once again for a good offense. In Los Angeles, he was being squeezed out by Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods who are both phenomenal receivers and he found himself as the number three in the offense. One of the most attractive pieces on Brandin Cooks is that he now gets to line up alongside Will Fuller. Now, we all know that DeAndre Hopkins is amazing and can do whatever he wants against man, zone, double, triple, quadruple coverage, heck the whole defense could be covering him and DeShaun could probably still throw his way and he’d bring it down. But one thing that really helped out Hopkins and that offense was having Will Fuller blazing trails on the outside making life a lot easier over the middle and underneath. Brandin Cooks now gets to line up opposite him while they make sure Fuller doesn't beat them deep with lots of safety help. Now that Hopkins is gone, somebody is going to have to account for 150 targets and 1,100 yards from last year that he accounted for. Before last season Cooks had four consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and had under 1,100 just once. In those four seasons, he averaged 119 targets and 15.06 yards per catch. He even defeated the narrative that when you switch teams your receiving totals take a hit because in those four seasons he played for three different teams.
Now If I haven’t convinced you, yet let me also point out that he is still just 26 years old and assuming that he is old, injury-prone, and not going to be able to bounce back is not the correct path here. This is the same age as Tyreek Hill, Amari Cooper, Mike Evans, Kenny Golladay, Stefon Diggs, and is even younger than Cooper Kupp. He is by no means washed up but is being drafted and traded as such. His current June ADP is at WR42 and this is a guy that could get 120 targets this season. Every season he’s seen between 110 and 130 targets he’s finished as a top 15 wide receiver. The value there speaks for itself.
Last year was a rough one for Herndon. He was generating a lot of buzz in the offseason after having a really good rookie season and a lot of people were ranking him in the top 12-15 tight ends. He then got suspended for violating the substance abuse policy and on his way back from the suspension, he hurt his hamstring which kept him out several weeks. Then after finally suiting up in Week 10, he fractured his rib and ended up on IR. He kind of got left for dead after that because Ryan Griffin came in at 65 years old or whatever he was, and was very fantasy relevant. After that, we just assumed that anyone could do what Herndon did his rookie year.
Herndon’s June ADP sits at TE28 behind basically everyone making him a TE3 at a onzie position. However, the Jets love to use the tight end and I feel like somehow it's still a secret. Sam Darnold loves to look their way and I’m not sure if it is a Sam Darnold thing or an Adam Gase thing but it’s worth noting that in both Herndon and Darnold’s rookie years they had a very strong connection. Both still very young this is something that could last a long time.
This year, waiting on tight ends in startup leagues has been a very common trend and ending up with guys like Hayden Hurst, Mike Gesicki, Jonnu Smith, or Blake Jarwin seems like the way to go...but with Herndon, you can wait even longer. He's like the post sleeper hype sleeper. He’s not even being drafted in the top 24 tight ends which means people are drafting their backups at the position before he’s drafted. Even if he is a backup on your squad, he would be a really good one with a ton of upside that could be had for pennies. One of the best things about targeting him here is that he is still only going into his third season and it wouldn't be selling out for one season should you target him. He's also a long term answer.
Oh, David Johnson. The sourest of sour tastes. He let so many people down in fantasy leagues last year by getting dinged up, being outperformed by Chase Edmonds, and then outshined by Kenyan Drake. After all of that, he was involved in a trade that with enough convincing I could maybe get my grandma to take, but nobody else. And by maybe, I mean only because my grandma is so sweet and would do anything for me. To top it off, not even Texans fans are excited about him because they had to trade their best player away to get him and a measly second-round pick. The poor guy.
While all of that is enough convincing needed to totally forget about David Johnson and not want to touch him with a 100-foot pole, don’t forget that he’s going to get so many touches this season. Bill O’Brien is going to have to prove that he knew exactly what he was doing with this trade and force-feed him over and over and over. Also worth mentioning is that next year his dead cap hit drops from 12 million to two million and if cut would save the team seven million dollars. This gives them free rein to run him into the ground at 28 and cut bait next season. If you’re looking for a long term answer at running back, David Johnson might not be your guy, but if you want somebody to help you out and give you that last push for the championship, by all means, see how sour the taste is in his owner's mouth.
His June ADP is RB25 making him an RB3 in drafts. If he assumed the role of a three-down back he is going to be able to put up a lot of fantasy points. Last year between Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde they caught 55 balls and carried it 328 times. Duke Johnson will still be on the team as a complementary back but Carlos Hyde is gone. Duke Johnson likely won’t get the same amount of receptions as that might be what David Johnson is best at.
The hair is cut and the beard is trimmed. Big Ben is back. A gruesome elbow injury in Week 1 in Foxborough kept Big Ben out basically the entire season and he said that once he could throw the ball again he would cut his hair. The hair is cut, I repeat the hair is cut.
Since 2019 was an abysmal year for the Pittsburgh Steelers, let's go back once again to 2018. The Steelers had an all-pro wide receiver on the outside, Antonio Brown, a young star in the slot, Juju, and a young bull in the backfield, James Conner. Oh, the fantasy points. The offense went crazy and put up 428 points good for sixth in the league, and Big Ben threw the ball 675(!!) times for 5,008 yards. Oh, the fantasy points.
Ok, fast forward to 2020. The all-pro receiver is gone due to a slew of off the field issues, but as an organization, they don't miss him one bit. That young star is now going into his fourth season and after a couple nagging injuries while also catching the ball from Santa’s headlights, is looking to bounce back to those elite numbers he put up in 2018. If we give Juju the Antonio Brown label, there’s another young receiver entering his second year that could easily take the Juju tag. Diontae Johnson is a budding star and after catching passes from that same reindeer, showed that he can be a very good receiver in this league by being a pleasant surprise his rookie year. Also new to the receiving core is a size and speed specimen, the second-round pick, Chase Claypool. That aforementioned young bull is still in the backfield and has an even better supporting cast behind him after back to back seasons using fourth round selections on his backups. All that to say that the team from 2018 that Big Ben left behind is still there. They lost Antonio Brown but have players in place to replace the targets and yardage totals making this an offense that can once again soar.
With the defense much better than it has been in quite a while, the passing volume likely won’t be the same as it was in 2018 but this was a defense who specialized in takeaways last year. While they might run the ball more if they are ahead, they are going to have more scoring opportunities because of it. Even if Roethlisberger doesn’t throw the ball 675 times again he will still be able to be a very valuable fantasy player, even though the fear of the looming injury and Antonio Brown leaving town are still there. He’s being drafted as the QB28 behind Jarrett Stidham who hasn’t taken a snap as a starter and Dwayne Haskins who was very underwhelming last season. This is literally stealing candy from a baby.
Now with this article ending, please remember that these aren’t players that you’d necessarily want to build your team around. You have free will to build your team however you want to, but this squad wouldn't give you much long term stability and I encourage you to have a good mix of stability and volatility in your lineup. It will give you a good floor and a higher ceiling so that you can go get those money pots in your league. I hope you learned a little something in this article and hope even more that you made it to the end with me. Now go make some offers for volatile values.
Happy Fantasy Footballing.