Jesse Pantuosco (@JessePantuosco): Some fantasy owners will be playing for the championship this week. For everyone else … well there’s always next year. So let’s talk about next year. I enjoy redraft leagues as much as the next guy but to me, keeper and dynasty leagues are the real test. Ideally in a keeper, you want either a known game-changer (Julio Jones comes to mind) or a young player who could blossom into a star (JuJu Smith-Schuster would fit that criteria). So, in talking keepers and dynasty stashes, who are some of your favorites heading into 2018? And as a follow-up, which players, be it regression candidates or fading stars, are you moving away from next year?
Rich Hribar (@LordReebs): Obviously the most appealing keeper will be Alvin Kamara considering the draft capital needed to obtain him in 2017 relative to his expected ADP next summer. Much will be written about how Kamara's efficiency is unsustainable and how he can't possibly score a touchdown once every 13.9 touches again. But he fits the archetype of an uber-back and plays in an elite offense, so I think you just cut the analysis off right there and roll with it like we did with David Johnson after his rookie year.
The obvious difference is that Kamara will potentially be in a timeshare with Mark Ingram (sidebar: I doubt Ingram gets All-Pro status because only two backs get those spots and Todd Gurley and Le'Veon Bell are mortal locks, which means he’d have to make it as a flex). The Saints traded up for Kamara in the draft, had a plan for him and it's hit in spades. People may not realize it because of how he’s used, but Kamara is also a bigger guy (214 pounds) than his role suggests. His BMI is the same as Ezekiel Elliott's (that's Combine Zeke, not Cabo/Apollo Creed Zeke). Derrick Henry should also be a popular keeper as the Titans can release DeMarco Murray with no dead cap money this offseason.
Raymond Summerlin (@RMSummerlin): I would remind everyone it is too early to give up on rookies who underperformed for whatever reason. The three top receivers in this year’s draft—Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross—and Joe Mixon (to some extent) all come to mind. But lower-end guys like Curtis Samuel, Chris Godwin, D'Onta Foreman, Taywan Taylor, and others are also not finished just because they had quiet rookie seasons, especially if they can reasonably be expected to see more volume moving forward.
One guy I have my eye on is Mack Hollins. I admittedly was higher on him than most, so my rose-colored glasses should be taken into account. That said, Hollins plays with a quarterback (Carson Wentz) and in an offense on the rise, has shown well when given the opportunity, and could see a lot more of it moving forward with Torrey Smith likely to be let go this offseason. His upside took a hit when Alshon Jeffery signed his extension, but I still want Hollins on my Dynasty bench.
Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat): Feeding off what Ray said, I still like Zay Jones a bit. He has the skill-set to eventually prosper and showed some of that promise in a couple games this year. Obviously, it’s been hard for him to develop any kind of consistency in Buffalo’s dysfunctional offense. The Bills probably put too much on his plate in year one.
Kamara is obviously the gem of this class. Kamara’s efficiency won't last, but his volume has nowhere to go but up. Think of what he could do with a Kenyan Drake-like workload. Speaking of Drake, it’s hard not to be in love with him in Dynasty considering how cheap he was.
JuJu Smith-Schuster—now there's a Dynasty league introduction. You probably drafted him because of his extreme youth, team and real-life draft position. You're keeping him because he showed exactly what you want to see from a young guy. He could be a top three-or-four guy in Dynasty in a few years.
Some "down ballot" guys who flashed: Dede Westbrook showed the ability to both compile and make big plays, which is exactly what you’re looking for in a rookie pass-catcher. Cooper Kupp doesn't have youth on his side, but it’s always encouraging to see that kind of volume right out of the gate as well as a red-zone role. Aaron Jones also did a lot with a little and should remain relatively cheap this offseason. Some freebie RBs I wouldn't mind having on my roster: Mike Davis and Peyton Barber. Both earned their teams' trust down the stretch.
Finally, it's not often that we really go gaga over quarterbacks in Dynasty leagues, but I want Jimmy Garoppolo on all my teams. There's a strong chance he's the next Real Franchise Quarterback. His skill-set with Kyle Shanahan's brain ... look out.
Pantuosco: Pat and I are sharing a brain on Kenyan Drake. I don’t think any of us thought Drake would ascend to lead status this quickly, or ever—he didn’t even start in college. But thanks to a perfect storm of trades (Jay Ajayi) and injuries (Damien Williams), the 2016 third-rounder has emerged as Miami’s clear workhorse. With Williams sidelined the last three weeks, Drake has averaged an absurd 26 touches per game. To put that in perspective, Le’Veon Bell, the gold standard at running back, has averaged 24.7 touches over that same span. Volume, efficiency (4.88 yards per carry over his last three games), scoring (three touchdowns in his last four outings), receiving ability—the 23-year-old checks off all the boxes for fantasy owners. It’s an admittedly small sample size but with Ajayi in Philly and Williams headed for free agency, I’m betting Drake will be in the RB1 discussion next year.
Marlon Mack didn’t exactly blow the roof off as a rookie and it’s probably a red flag that he wasn’t able to overtake the league’s oldest running back in Frank Gore. But I think there’s reason for optimism going forward with Gore a longshot to return and Andrew Luck (hopefully) back from a year-long shoulder injury. There’s risk, of course. None of us know what to expect with Luck and Mack will likely be playing under a new coaching staff next year. But there’s upside here and I think that makes him a worthy hold in dynasty.
Robby Anderson took a huge leap this year and could be a star with the right quarterback, but that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Who will be the Jets’ quarterback next year? Will they draft someone (Sam Darnold or Josh Allen perhaps), sign a veteran free agent (Alex Smith could be available), or will they pony up for another year of Josh McCown? I think we can all agree Bryce Petty isn’t the answer (neither is future roster casualty Christian Hackenberg). There’s a lot of uncertainty there and I’d be hesitant to go all-in on Anderson until we have some clarity on the matter.