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Going Deep

Dynasty Buy-Low Targets

by Nick Mensio
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

With free agency and the draft over, it feels like a prime time to dive into some fantasy football talk. That's what we're all here for, anyway. By playing dynasty, it gives us the opportunity to manage a fantasy team year-round and keeps us in the loop all year. Below are nine players I've pinpointed as guys to target in your respective leagues.

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Eagles WR Nelson Agholor Age: Turns 23 on May 24. … Last summer, Agholor was coming off the board in dynasty start-up drafts at 44th overall on average. Among receivers, he was being drafted as WR23, just behind Allen Robinson and right ahead of Emmanuel Sanders. A lot of things can change in a year. As of the end of April, Agholor’s stock has tumbled all the way to 88th overall. Receivers like Devin Funchess, Leonte Carroo, Sterling Shepard, and Michael Crabtree are currently being drafted before Agholor. Shepard has a decent case now that he’s landed with the Giants as Odell Beckham’s sidekick, but the way the Eagles have gone about business this offseason suggests they’re still very comfortable with Agholor as a starter. And coach Doug Pederson has said as much. Philadelphia didn’t draft a single receiver and only signed the division-rival Giants’ trash, Rueben Randle, to a one-year deal. Chris Givens was also added to the mix, but he’s not a starting-caliber player in this league as a one-trick pony deep threat. Agholor battled a hip injury and high-ankle sprain as a rookie, wheezing his way to a disappointing 23-283-1 line as he rotated with mediocre veterans Riley Cooper and Miles Austin. Cooper and Austin have been free agents for 2-3 months now and haven’t drawn a sniff of interest. Ex-coach Chip Kelly’s rotation is gone, and Agholor is now a candidate for a monster sophomore leap. This offense figures to remain run-oriented, but Agholor should be no lower than third in line for targets behind Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz. Coming out of USC, Agholor was billed as a pristine route-runner with excellent burst and the ability to play inside and outside, much like Jeremy Maclin, who Pederson coached in Kansas City. Agholor flashed a bit last preseason, and seems like a much better fit for this West Coast offense.

Colts TE Dwayne Allen Age: Turned 26 in February. … Tape watchers have long been enamored with Allen since his days at Clemson. Coming out of college, some were dubbing Allen a poor man’s Rob Gronkowski because of his ability as an all-around tight end proficient as an inline blocker, pass catcher, and red-zone maven. We’ve seen the blocking and red-zone ability from Allen, but the targets haven’t been there for him to this point in his career to make him a true featured tight end. Injuries have also played a part in Allen’s slow start. But with both Allen and Coby Fleener free agents back in March, the Colts opted to invest in Allen with a four-year, $29.4 million contract and let Fleener walk. Allen said new OC Rob Chudzinski has promised him an increased offensive role moving forward. With Fleener out of the picture and the Colts otherwise standing pat at tight end, Fleener’s 81 targets have to go somewhere. After seeing just 26 targets in 2015, a jump into the mid-60s range is well within the realm of possibility for Allen. With Andrew Luck back healthy, double-digit touchdown upside is also very real. The time to acquire Allen is now.

Steelers WR Sammie Coates Age: Turned 23 in March. … Coates’ stock has steadily been on the rise since the end of the season. He gave us a glimpse of the upside by reeling in two balls for 61 yards on 23 offensive snaps against the Broncos in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Prior to that, Coates played a total of 37 snaps the first 17 weeks of the season and was a weekly inactive. But with Martavis Bryant now suspended for one year and out the entire 2016 campaign, Coates has been gifted a big opportunity on a silver platter. For the most part, the Steelers have stood pat at receiver this offseason, drafting only DeMarcus Ayers in the seventh round and re-signing Darrius Heyward-Bey to a three-year, $3.8 million contract. That’s special teams and No. 4 receiver money for DHB as he’s reinvented himself as a gunner and occasional deep threat. Coates, Markus Wheaton, and DHB will all compete for snaps behind Antonio Brown. If talent trumps all, then Coates would win out, but he’s going to have to up his work ethic after reporting to the team out of shape as a rookie. Still, coming out of Auburn, Coates crushed his pre-draft workouts with a 4.43 forty, 41-inch vertical, and 10-foot-11 broad jump at a Greek god-esque 6’2/212 with long arms. He’s a prototypical outside receiver playing in one of the league’s top offenses with a top quarterback. The only direction for Coates to go is up after a mostly-lost rookie season.

Falcons RB Tevin Coleman Age: Turned 23 in April. … Coleman opened his rookie season as the Falcons’ starter and got the rock 20 times in the Week 1 opener. But a Week 2 rib injury pretty much torpedoed his season. He missed much of that game and the following two weeks. During that time, Devonta Freeman took off and ran with the job, becoming the overall RB1 for the season. Coleman received just 58 carries from Week 5 on, turning them into 280 yards (4.83 YPC) and zero touchdowns. As a rookie, Coleman struggled in the other aspects of being an NFL running back; he fumbled too often, dropped a number of passes, and wasn’t reliable in pass protection. All these things are enough to get a player benched in OC Kyle Shanahan’s offense. But the regime has talked up Coleman this offseason, with both GM Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn pumping up the second-year back as a “tandem” with Freeman. It’s important to note that Freeman wasn’t handpicked by this coaching staff, and Coleman was as a third-rounder. With running back such a difficult position to find bankable assets, sending out feelers on Coleman in dynasty isn’t a bad idea. All it takes is for Freeman to get hurt and Coleman to “Wally Pipp” the starting job back. At his best, Coleman is a game-breaking, home-run hitter as an outside-the-tackles runner.

Colts WR Phillip Dorsett Age: Turned 23 in January. … The Colts used the 29th overall pick in last year’s draft on the pint-sized (5’10/185) Dorsett. It was done more for the future than the present, as the Colts had just signed Andre Johnson as the No. 2 receiver with Donte Moncrief as the No. 3. Dorsett never really challenged Moncrief and only saw 36 total targets as a rookie, composing an 18-225-1 line. But gone are Johnson and TE Coby Fleener, leaving behind 157 targets. The Colts didn’t draft or sign a single notable receiver or tight end, unless we count Patriots castoffs Josh Boyce and Brian Tyms. (I don’t.) Dorsett has zero competition for the No. 3 receiver job and has nowhere to go but up. Yet, he’s still generated very little buzz since the Colts’ disappointing 2015 came to a close. As mentioned above, Andrew Luck is healthy and back under center after missing half of last season. Dorsett is a 4.33 speed demon with top-notch explosion. Playing on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf for half his games, Dorsett has the skills to do serious damage post-catch. His upside is through the roof. After playing just 215 offensive snaps last year, Dorsett could push for 800-plus in 2016.

Cardinals WR J.J. Nelson Age: Turned 24 in April. … Targeting Nelson is more for forward-thinkers, which is what dynasty is all about. He’s still buried behind Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown on the depth chart, but both Fitzgerald and Floyd are in the final years of their contracts, and Fitzgerald turns 33 in August. This could be his last hoorah. Floyd has a good chance at getting a second contract, but GM Steve Keim doesn’t seem like the type to overpay for him. Nelson is a beanpole at 5’10/165 and needs to add some weight, but he’s exceptionally fast after burning a 4.28 forty at last year’s Combine. Nelson parlayed 174 rookie-year snaps into a 14-332-2 line, averaging a robust 23.7 yards per catch. Keim has said “there’s no question” Nelson’s role can grow on offense, but it may not happen until 2017, barring injury. Coach Bruce Arians’ downfield, attacking passing offense suits Nelson’s mouth-watering deep speed perfectly.

Saints RB C.J. Spiller Age: Turns 29 in August. … Spiller is the only real veteran to make the list, but he’s simply dirt-cheap right now. Being drafted around 212th overall in MFL10s at MyFantasyLeague.com for redraft leagues, Spiller is free all over the fantasy football landscape after a dreadful first season in New Orleans. In dynasty startups, Spiller is being selected after running backs like Shane Vereen, Lance Dunbar, and Alfred Morris. He’s being sold for a song at the moment. Spiller is too talented to be ignored this much. Saints GM Mickey Loomis is blaming Spiller’s poor 2015 on a knee injury after Spiller underwent a scope in training camp that forced him to miss the start of the season. Whatever the reason, Spiller was terrible, but the Saints haven’t done much, if anything outside of selecting RB Daniel Lasco in the seventh round, to upgrade their running back group. Khiry Robinson left to join the Jets, and the Saints re-signed run-of-the-mill vets Tim Hightower and Travaris Cadet. Neither is a lock to make the team out of camp. Spiller’s $3.25 million salary will likely keep him safe. Mark Ingram returns as the starter, but Spiller is the early favorite to operate as Ingram’s change-of-pace in a top-end offense that plays its home games on turf. Spiller still has plenty of tread left on the tires, even at his advanced age.

Browns RB Terrell Watson Age: Turns 23 in August. … Heck, Watson probably isn’t even rostered in most dynasty leagues. He’s essentially free to add off waivers or can be acquired as a “throw-in” in trades. Watson is a mammoth (6’1/236) running back out of small school Azusa Pacific, where he shattered all of Christian Okoye’s rushing records. He’s drawn some Jonathan Stewart and Steven Jackson comparisons because of his size and plow-ahead running style. Watson ran 4.55 with a 35.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-3 broad jump and signed with the Bengals as an UDFA last May. He rushed 25 times for 130 yards (5.2 YPC) last preseason. He wasn’t able to crack Cincinnati’s deep running back group, however, and was stashed on the practice squad all year, spending the season learning OC Hue Jackson’s offense. Now, Jackson is obviously the Browns’ head coach and signed Watson to a reserve-futures contract in January. I know Jackson just recently talked up Isaiah Crowell as his lead back, but Crowell has disappointed much of his first two seasons, and the Browns didn’t draft or sign a running back after the start of the new league year. Watson already knows the offense the best out of the whole running back group. Crowell hasn’t been promised anything. Watson is an ultra-deep sleeper who literally costs nothing. I’d add him anywhere he’s available.

Lions RB Zach Zenner Age: Turns 25 in September. … Zenner was a #DraftTwitter favorite last year, but ended up going undrafted out of South Dakota State before signing on with the Lions. He’s obviously on the older side for his experience level, but Zenner truly has an every-down back skill set and elite measurable athletics, posting the second-highest SPARQ score in last year’s class. He ran a 4.60 forty with a 41-inch vertical and 10-foot-1 broad jump. Zenner dominated last preseason, rushing 35 times for 183 yards (5.2 YPC) and two touchdowns and catching eight passes for 66 yards and a third score. He also repeatedly stonewalled oncoming pass rushers in pass protection. Zenner made the team out of camp but ended up suffering multiple cracked ribs and a partially collapsed lung in Week 6. He missed the rest of the season on I.R., but had just been starting to carve out a role in Detroit’s backfield. The Lions released plodding early-down runner Joique Bell after the season and only added 27-year-old Stevan Ridley, who is a year removed from an ACL tear, and seventh-rounder Dwayne Washington to their backfield. Beat writer Tim Twentyman of the Lions’ team website believes Zenner has a chance to “see a considerable increase to his touches” this season. In a perfect world, Zenner would handle early-down work with Ameer Abdullah handling 10-12 touches in a tandem as the COP back. Theo Riddick isn’t even necessarily a running back as a pass catcher-only. Like Watson above, Zenner is super cheap.

Nick Mensio

Nick Mensio has been covering the NFL for Rotoworld since 2012. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.