The Hot Sheet looks at which top prospects are excelling and which ones are struggling on a week-to-week basis. The consensus top-flight players may not always appear on this list because we are trying to help you find the next group of breakout players before your leaguemates do.
The value of the players mentioned on the Hot List is rising, thanks to their performance on the field. On the other hand, Cold List players are struggling, and losing dynasty value as a result.
1) Dalvin Cook, RB MIN
Former Florida State RB Dalvin Cook’s offseason wasn’t going so well following his disappointing performance at February’s NFL Combine. A slow three-cone time got the attention of dynasty players and they couldn’t let go. Maybe NFL teams were worried as well because Cook fell further than most expected in the NFL Draft before the Vikings scooped him up in the second round. Although Minnesota had signed former Raider RB Latavius Murray in free agency, he was not expected to provide much of a roadblock for the rookie Cook. While Cook was impressing early in camp, Murray was missing practice time and when the Vikes released their initial depth chart, Cook was atop the list. Cook continued his solid play into the preseason action and even offered more than most expected as a receiver out of the backfield. As Minnesota continues to rework their horrid offensive line, Cook’s opportunities should only improve, which will continue to pump up his dynasty value.
2) DeVante Parker, WR MIA
The offseason was going along as scheduled for Dolphins WR DeVante Parker with a back and forth of glowing reports and reasons to doubt the Louisville product will live up to the hype. Then, his quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, suffered a season-ending injury. In most circumstances, this would be terrible news for the offense as a whole and especially the starting wideouts. But this time was different. Miami wasted little time in signing former Bears QB Jay Cutler out of retirement and it wasn’t long before some began to suggest maybe the Dolphins were actually better off with Smokin’ Jay. While that remains to be seen, and will have to wait until at least Week Two thanks to Hurricane Irma, Cutler’s comments calling Parker a “faster Alshon Jeffery” were enough to get fantasy players’ hopes up as the season neared.
3) Marshawn Lynch, RB OAK
One of the top stories of the offseason, the return of RB Marshawn Lynch to the NFL has brought with it many questions and conundrums. Since the majority of owners had left Beast Mode on the waiver wire following his Super Bowl night announcement that he would be hanging up his cleats, his return found him available through offseason waivers or combined rookie/free agent drafts, where the veterans are typically ignored in favor of the new shiny toys. This time was different as Lynch was routinely selected in the first round of these types of drafts. The other question, of course, centered on whether Lynch could actually be a factor after over a year away from the game. Most RBs over age 30 (Lynch turned 31 last spring) are scoffed at when it comes to dynasty leagues, but Lynch has become a highly-coveted asset.
4) Dede Westbrook, WR JAX
The preseason is almost impossible to project. We see so little of the established stars and third and fourth-stringer battle it out for a job. Nonetheless, when players ball out and lead the league in receiving, we should take notice. That’s even more true when that same player also happened to be a Heisman Trophy finalist the previous season. Of course, I’m talking about Jaguars rookie WR Dede Westbrook. Prior to being selected early on day three of the NFL Draft, it was an offseason to forget for Westbrook. Not only did he skip out on the Senior Bowl to the dismay of league scouts, but reports of both off-field issues and a nasty injury history became public. All of those negative reports were wiped away once Westbrook stepped on the field. In his debut, he caught a 42-yard touchdown and followed that up by posting a 6/131 line before missing some practice time with a minor injury. Westbrook has already bypassed Allen Hurns on the Jaguars depth chart and if Marqise Lee can’t stay healthy, it is easy to see a path of Westbrook finishing as Jacksonville’s second-leading receiver.
5) Kareem Hunt, RB KCC
Rookie RB Kareem Hunt was already generating some excitement from the dynasty community, but the unfortunate season-ending injury to starter Spencer Ware simply fast-forwarded the process. Soon after Ware was ruled out for the season, HC Andy Reid named Hunt as his starter, and his ADP, in both redraft and dynasty leagues, began to soar. By the time most drafts were wrapping up earlier this week, Hunt was coming off the board in the fourth-round range, which seems reasonable given Reid’s history of coaching highly successful RBs. Hunt was inexplicably compared to his fellow rookies in the deep class of 2017 and most seems to place him at the top of the heap, above Cook, Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey and others for this season. If he lives up to the hype, and he got off to a good start on Thursday night, despite his early fumble, he’ll be valued as a top ten dynasty RB in no time.
6) Nelson Agholor, WR PHI
Early this offseason, long before training camp even began, a steady stream of positive buzz on Eagles third-year WR Nelson Agholor began. I have to admit, I was a huge skeptic. Not only are the majority of summer puff pieces worthless, but Agholor has disappointed in back-to-back years after the Eagles made him their first-round draft choice in 2015. Although Philly had dumped bust Dorial Green-Beckham, there was still plenty of competition for targets and playing time, considering they signed both Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith through free agency. Soon though, reports of Agholor potentially taking over the slot role suggested Jordan Matthews could find his way to the bench. In the end, it was even worse. He found his way to Buffalo as the Eagles dealt Matthews and a future draft pick for DB Ronald Darby. This move signaled the Agholor hype was real and his dynasty value began to reflect this news. Agholor was held in check through much of the preseason action, but is listed as the team’s third wideout and it is safe to assume Smith’s best days are behind him.
7) Kenny Golladay, WR DET
Even when the Lions chose rookie WR Kenny Golladay in the third-round of the NFL, few dynasty owners paid attention. He routinely fell to the latter rounds of early rookie drafts, despite all signs pointing to for Northern Illinois product being an early contributor in Detroit. First, the Lions showed no interest in re-signing one of their prime red zone targets of 2016, veteran WR Anquan Boldin. Next, TE Eric Ebron was once again banged up and missing practice time. Early reports suggested it would be Golladay who could benefit from these storylines. Then, Week One of the preseason happened. Facing the Colts, Golladay torched second and third-stringers for three receptions, 53 yards and a pair of scores. While he slowed from that high point, including missing some time with a bad ankle, Golladay remains a player dynasty owners should be targeting.
8) DeShone Kizer, QB CLE
Three NFL teams hope they found their future starting QB in the first-round of the recent NFL Draft, but none of those three; Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson, are likely to see any action in Week One, the Browns will send out former Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer as they continue their long rebuild. Maybe Kizer shouldn’t get too much credit for beating out Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler and Kevin Hogan, but it wasn’t even much of a competition. The Browns have also been busy adding weapons for their rookie signal caller, starting with veteran Kenny Britt during the early free agency period and then acquiring Sammie Coates and Kasen Williams on league cut down day. Kizer clearly has a long way to go before becoming a player we consider as a fantasy starter, but he is certainly a player I want stashed at the end of my dynasty roster.
9) Kendall Wright, WR CHI
Like the previously mentioned Hunt and Cook, veteran WR Kendall Wright has benefitted from a teammate’s injury. During the Bears third preseason game, presumed top WR Cameron Meredith suffered a horrific knee injury that would later be revealed to be a torn ACL and Meredith’s season was over. It is not often a 27-year-old WR sees a chance for his dynasty value to spike, but Wright, a Titans castoff, could easily finish as the most targeted Bears receiver. While some may assume former first-round pick Kevin White is the heir apparent, he has failed to show he can stay on the field during his first two seasons in the league. Wright might even still be free on dynasty waiver wires and could offer fantasy starter caliber points in 2017.
10) Matt Breida, RB SF
Early offseason rumors suggested the 49ers, desperate for talent with a new head coach and general manager in town, could part ways with starting RB Carlos Hyde via trade or even release and that left dynasty owners to chase the potential starter in San Francisco. First, veteran Tim Hightower was stashed from waiver wires and then when HC Kyle Shanahan pounded the table for rookie RB Joe Williams, he became a second-round dynasty rookie pick. Following the draft though, the Niners signed UDFA Matt Breida with little fanfare. Breida outplayed both Hightower and Williams from the start, landing the veteran on the streets and the rookie on the IR list. While rumors of Hyde’s departure proved completely false, he does have a history of injuries and is entering his final year under contract. Breida is more of a long-term stash barring a Hyde injury, but it’s not inconceivable that he is the 2018 starter for this rebuilding team.
1) Willie Snead, WR NOS
When the Saints sent WR Brandin Cooks packing to New England, it appeared as if consistently undervalued WR Willie Snead would finally see his time in the sun. Sure, he would not be the top option of QB Drew Brees. That role belongs to second-year star Michael Thomas, but even the second option in the powerful Saints offense is exciting for fantasy players. Oddly though, when preseason games began, Snead was not the second option as he saw most of his time on the field in 3WR sets, with Ted Ginn playing ahead of him. This seemed to be a slight concern, but was only the beginning as Snead was popped for a three-game suspension. The Saints have shown a history of a short leash with their players stepping out of line, as shown by the aforementioned Cooks trade, so it is reasonable to think this could be the beginning of the end of Snead’s time in New Orleans.
2) Samaje Perine, RB WAS
The Washington Redskins have been searching for a reliable starting RB since Alfred Morris began his slow fade and most dynasty owners assumed they have found him when they drafted former Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine in the fourth-round. With only average talent Rob Kelley standing in his way, Perine was sure to claim this job early in the preseason and never look back…only that never happened. HC Jay Gruden has called Kelley “bigger and faster” this season, words that have rarely been said of the Tulane product. While Kelley remains an uninspiring fantasy option, the same can be said about Perine, who has lost a decent amount of dynasty value before his season even begins.
3) Breshad Perriman, WR BAL
Another year and more of the same story for Ravens WR Breshad Perriman, who missed much of the preseason with a hamstring injury. Dynasty owners are quickly growing weary of the injury storyline from the former first-round pick who missed the entire 2015 season. The Ravens might be worried too as they brought in former Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin, who is set to be the top target for QB Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense. Perriman’s dynasty value is fading with every appearance on the injury report or trip to the exercise bike.
4) LeGarrette Blount, RB PHI
While Patriots RB Mike Gillislee was running in score after score in the NFL season opener, some fantasy owners were surely reminded of last year’s NFL touchdown leader, LeGarrette Blount, who found the end zone 18 times for the Super Bowl champs. While the Pats made multiple moves at the RB position, including adding Gillislee and former Bengal Rex Burkhead. Blount had relatively little interest in the free agency market before landing with the Eagles. That didn’t go well though and there were multiple reports of Blount’s style not being a good fit for Philly and even suggestions that he might not make the final 53-man roster. While he did make the cut, the outlook remains grim for Blount, who is both tough to start and tough to drop. He’s a dynasty roster clogger.
5) Paxton Lynch, QB DEN
Despite his status as a first-round pick, QB Paxton Lynch spent most of his rookie season in 2016 on the sidelines, backing up Trevor Siemian. In his two starts, he gave fantasy owners and Broncos fans little reason for hope in the future, yet when the offseason began, he was routinely pegged as the Broncos starter. When camp began, Lynch never offered much competition for Siemian and by Week Three of the preseason, he had lost the job to his seventh-round teammate. Later, Lynch would suffer a shoulder injury that will make him unavailable for several weeks. Denver actually responded to this by signing their former starter, Brown Osweiler. At this point, Lynch is not even worthy of a roster spot in most dynasty formats.