With the start of the new league year that brought big trades and a ton of movement via free agency in the rearview mirror, we can start to look more at fantasy situations. The upcoming draft will certainly shake things up even more, but now presents a good time to talk Dynasty leagues. The great thing about Dynasty fantasy football is that it’s a year-long experience. Below are a couple handfuls of players who I’d be looking to unload coming off big seasons or while their value is at its highest.
Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders: In new Broncos coach Gary Kubiak’s nine seasons (eight as the Texans’ coach and one as the Ravens’ OC) running the offense, his No. 1 WR has thoroughly dominated the targets in the passing game with longtime TE Owen Daniels often operating as the No. 2 option. The No. 2 wide receiver (Eric Moulds, Kevin Walter, DeAndre Hopkins, and Torrey Smith) has been more of an afterthought. From 2006-2014, Andre Johnson and Steve Smith averaged 10.05 targets per game, while Daniels has seen 6.24 per game the past eight seasons under Kubiak. Over Kubiak’s past nine years, his No. 2 receiver averaged 6.5 targets per game. And that includes Walter’s inflated 2007 season when Andre Johnson missed nine games. Now, I know Peyton Manning directs his own show, but Peyton has said he’s open to guiding Kubiak’s scheme. Sanders was overall WR7 last season and saw 9.1 targets per game. He’ll never reach those numbers again. Barring an injury to Demaryius Thomas, Sanders is a lock to experience a decline. The Broncos are going to run the ball more under Kubiak. Sanders is more of a mid-range WR2 than top-half WR1. He just turned 28 last week and isn’t a big guy that is going to prolong his career when the speed goes in the gutter. Demaryius is the current and future No. 1, while Manning may be entering his final season.
Bears RB Matt Forte: Forte has finished as a top-two PPR fantasy running back each of the past two seasons, even when things completely went up in flames in Chicago last year. Outgoing coach Marc Trestman runs one of the most running back-friendly schemes in the league, which features his tailback in the passing game. Forte caught 176 balls across 32 games under Trestman. Prior to Trestman’s arrival, Forte’s career-high in catches was 63 as a 2008 rookie. He hovered around 55 grabs per season under Lovie Smith. Incoming coach John Fox is much more Lovie Smith than Marc Trestman. Fox likes a balanced, more traditional offense where running backs run the ball and receivers and tight ends catch it. Forte’s pass-game numbers are going to take a big hit. He’s also entering his age-30 season and coming off a 3.9 YPC campaign. Like real-life football, in the dynasty world, it’s much better to get out from under a player a year too early than one too late.
Giants WR Odell Beckham: This isn’t meant to be taken as a knock on OBJ whatsoever. He’s the complete receiver, though we’d all love for him to be taller. But will his value ever be higher than it is at the moment? Doubtful. According to Dynasty League Football’s latest ADP release for March, Beckham is going No. 1 overall in dynasty startup drafts. Others are also calling for him to be the No. 1 receiver off the board in re-draft leagues. Owners are willing to overpay just to have him. Unlike pure speed receivers his size, Beckham runs great routes, which should allow him to remain elite into his thirties as long as he stays healthy. After tearing his hamstring last spring, health should be a concern, as we’ve seen soft-tissue injuries linger for years in some players and derail careers. If I could turn Beckham into Mike Evans and a couple first-round rookie picks or swing him for Dez Bryant, I’d pull the trigger. People are drooling over Beckham right now.
Colts TE Dwayne Allen: Allen has the skill set to do so much more than the Colts ask of him, particularly as a pass catcher. The problems are that the Indianapolis offensive line is so bad and there are a ton of mouths to feed in the passing game. With Allen being a complete tight end who is proficient as a blocker, the Colts task him with blocking duties on over half his snaps. And even with Reggie Wayne and Hakeem Nicks out the door as free agents, the Colts have added Andre Johnson and Frank Gore, who is above-average in the pass game. Allen saw just 50 targets last season, which was 26th among tight ends, but finished as overall TE9 thanks to his eight touchdowns. Don’t expect a big bump in targets, leaving Allen as wholly touchdown-dependent. The Colts have a young core of pass catchers with T.Y. Hilton leading the way, followed by Donte Moncrief and Duron Carter at receiver and Coby Fleener at tight end. Allen just turned 25 in February, but has a concerning injury history that includes extensive hip surgery, a high-ankle sprain, and foot injury.
Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin: Maclin turns 27 in May and will spend his “prime” years with Alex Smith as his quarterback. He’s going from possibly the best situation in the league to one of the worst. Among 33 quarterbacks charted by Number Fire’s Graham Barfield, Smith had the worst deep-passing percentage in the league. Maclin’s former quarterbacks Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez finished first and 17th, respectively. Maclin set career-highs across the board under coach Chip Kelly in 2014, posting an 85-1,318-10 receiving line. Reuniting with coach Andy Reid may feel good, but Maclin’s numbers are going to suffer. It’d be a real win for Maclin if he eclipsed 1,000 yards and six touchdowns. Smith and Maclin are both signed to long-term deals, while Maclin has also torn each of his ACLs in his football playing career.
Jaguars TE Julius Thomas: Going from Peyton Manning to Blake Bortles is obviously going to hurt any pass catcher. After combining for 24 touchdowns across 27 regular-season games the past two seasons, one should reasonably expect 6-8 with Bortles. He’s still going to be the go-to guy in the red area, though Allen Robinson should also be a factor near the end zone. Much like Maclin above, soon-to-be 27-year-old Thomas goes from a great situation to a concerning one and will spend his should-be prime there. Also of concern with Thomas is his career-long ankle issues. He sat out his entire rookie season after a summer ankle injury and has missed five games and big chunks of others the past two years with high-ankle sprains. After being a locked-in top-three tight end the past two seasons, Thomas is more of a low-end TE1 heading to Jacksonville.
Saints QB Drew Brees: Brees showed signs of decline last season, averaging a four-year low 7.5 YPA and tossing a seven-year low 33 touchdowns to 17 interceptions. He turned 36 in January, and the Saints just traded two of his top pass-game targets in red-zone dominator Jimmy Graham and rising 22-year-old WR Kenny Stills. Brees has been left with Marques Colston, Brandin Cooks, C.J. Spiller, and Josh Hill. That’s not a bad group by any means, but the Saints handed out a pair of four-year, $16 million contracts to RBs Mark Ingram and Spiller this month. It suggests New Orleans is ready to take more off Brees’ plate and lean on its running game. Brees has been a preseason top-three fantasy quarterback for the past decade. Coming off an overall QB6 finish, another small decline may be in order in what could be Brees’ final season with the Saints. Get out from under Brees before it’s too late. Cam Newton would be a nice target.
49ers RB Carlos Hyde: The second-year running back’s stock has skyrocketed since Frank Gore left via free agency to join the Colts. He could really fall into either the sell-high or buy-low category depending on how in-tune with fantasy news owners are across the respective leagues. But in a league where owners are up to snuff, I’d probably lean toward selling Hyde while he’s at his current price point. I’ve seen him being dealt for guys like DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green. I’d much prefer the young, up-and-coming stud in Hopkins or the already-stud and relatively young Green, and it’s not particularly close for me. I’m not even sure the 49ers are sold on Hyde as a feature back. We haven’t heard anything from new 49ers OC Geep Chryst. San Francisco went out and signed Reggie Bush to handle the pass-game work out of the backfield, and this upcoming draft is loaded with running back talent. While Hyde is looking like he’ll handle 250-plus carries as a sophomore, that could change by the end of the day on May 2 when the draft comes to a close. Coming out of Ohio State, Hyde wasn’t billed as a powerful or explosive runner despite his 6-foot, 230-pound frame. He’s more of a guy that could wear a defense down with a heavy workload. Hyde’s longest run as a rookie was just 16 yards. The 49ers also lost powerful run-blocking LG Mike Iupati and one of the best coaches of the past half-decade in Jim Harbaugh.
Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu: Sanu operated as the Bengals No. 2 receiver and sometimes-No. 1 when A.J. Green missed three games and parts of a couple others last season. OC Hue Jackson sent Sanu on more downfield routes than he’d normally run. Sanu turned in a 56-790-5 receiving line on 97 targets. With Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert returning from missing a combined 31 games last season due to foot and shoulder injuries, respectively, Sanu will slide back into the background as the No. 4 or 5 option in the passing game. With everyone healthy, Sanu is more of a 3-5 targets per game player on a good day. He projects as a long-term gadget player without big-play ability.
Falcons RB Devonta Freeman: The time is now to trade Freeman and capitalize on his perceived lead-dog status in the Atlanta backfield following the release of Steven Jackson and free agency of Jacquizz Rodgers. Freeman doesn’t profile as an every-down running back. The Falcons are a lock to use the draft to add talent to their backfield and could even take a look at free agent Stevan Ridley. The coaching staff has been talking up Freeman, but he may not score many touchdowns, instead making his hay as a pass catcher out in space with plus acceleration and a good first step. Freeman drew some Shane Vereen, Darren Sproles, Giovani Bernard, and Andre Ellington comparisons coming out of Florida State. He’s a fine player, but not a bellcow. Flip him to someone who thinks he is that guy.