Welcome to the Dynasty Three & Out, where each week, we’ll focus on three players gaining value and three others losing dynasty value based on the latest news and performances on the field.
Note: Any dynasty ADP referenced in this article can be found at dynastyleaguefootball.com
Jay Ajayi, RB MIA
After Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi rushed for 204 yards in Week Six, I was hesitant to include him as a “riser” in this series. After all, I try not to change my long-term dynasty valuation of players based on a single game. In Week Seven, Ajayi faced the above average Bills defense. Even after his monster game the previous week, many were considering him an iffy start in season-long and DFS lineups.
We could not have been more wrong. Ajayi bested his 204 yard performance by ten yards, putting 214 on the Bills defense and showed that he is a force in the dynasty landscape. In less than two years in the league, Ajayi has had some rough stretches already. His rookie season started slowly as he recovered from knee and rib injuries. Once he did get on the field, he was most often stuck behind RB Lamar Miller. Once Miller moved on this past off-season, Ajayi was presumably in prime position to take over the lead role. His value spiked through the early off-season as a result, but he still had some doubters, mostly related to his injury concerns.
The number of Ajayi “haters” grew once the Dolphins drafted former Alabama RB Kenyan Drake and then signed veteran Arian Foster, who earned the starting job for Week One. To make things even worse, Ajayi was a healthy scratch for the season opener. Playing for a coaching staff that did not draft him, combined with the addition of Foster painted an ugly picture for Ajayi and his dynasty value. Even when Foster went down with an injury, the Dolphins coaching staff stubbornly opted for a four-man running back by committee, including Damien Williams, Drake and Isaiah Pead.
Early this month, when I gathered the latest dynasty average draft position (ADP), Ajayi was nearly an afterthought, being drafted at 149 overall, barely inside the top 50 running backs. That will clearly change next time startup drafts are held. Dolphins beat writers have stated that Ajayi is locked in as the starter and considering the many hole on that team, Miami would be wise to stick with the few talented young players they have rather than handing starting jobs to players whose best days are behind them. Ajayi could easily move up as many as 75 spots in our next round of dynasty mock draft and it will likely take a future first round rookie pick to acquire him in a trade after his rushing explosion.
Jack Doyle, TE IND
Every year there are situations that play out during the season that when I really consider the end result, I become frustrated I didn’t project and profit from the scenario. The breakout year being enjoyed by Colts TE Jack Doyle is one of those. No, I am not saying I had scouted Doyle or really even knew who he was prior to this season, but I was aware of some factors that could’ve given me, and others, a head start on acquiring Doyle before he gained any real value.
The Colts offense has always included heavy doses of two tight end sets. They’ve had the fortune the past few seasons of using both Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Once Fleener bolted for New Orleans via free agency, that left dynasty owners overpaying for Allen, but largely ignoring which player might benefit from increased playing time as the second tight end. That doesn’t even take into account Allen’s injury history, which Doyle has been benefiting from in recent weeks.
Doyle burst onto the scene in a big way in Week One, catching a pair of touchdowns from QB Andrew Luck. Understandably, many dynasty owners ignored this performance. After all, there always seems to be a fluky breakout game in Week One that sends owners to the waiver wire, yet never pays off again. That wasn’t the case for Doyle. After that TE1 game in the season opener, Doyle has followed up with two other games inside the top ten of weekly TE performers and pending the results of Monday Night Football, he’s looking at another TE1 overall week after he caught nine passes for 78 yards and a score against the Tennessee Titans.
Doyle’s value is on the rise not only because of his performance, though he is the TE4 on the season, but also because of some of the lackluster outings from other players who had been highly ranked. Tyler Eifert, Zach Ertz, Ladarius Green, Rob Gronkowski, Eric Ebron and Jordan Reed have all missed time due to injuries. Even usually reliable veterans like Antonio Gates and Julius Thomas can’t be counted on this season.
Spencer Ware, RB KC
It’s been a long road to becoming a dynasty and NFL-relevant player for Chiefs RB Spencer Ware. After being drafted late in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks, Ware played sparingly and was not even close to being on the fantasy radar. In fact, Ware was out of the league for the 2014 season. Kansas City took a shot on him in the off-season prior to the 2015 season and that proved to be a wise decision.
An early season injury to starting RB Jamaal Charles opened the door for more playing time for the other backs on the team and it was Charcandrick West who got the first crack. After he too suffered an injury, it was Ware’s chance to lead the way as Kansas City headed towards a playoff berth. Ware had a few big games down the stretch and was firmly on the dynasty radar, especially with Charles spending the entire off-season recovering from his injury.
Whether Charles had a setback or the team was just being overly cautious, we’re not exactly sure, but Charles has been slowly eased back into the Kansas City offense this year and the backfield has belonged to Ware. Even with the bye, Ware is still a top ten fantasy scorer at his position, averaging over 17 points per game in PPR leagues. Charles is sure to continue to see his role grow, but that doesn’t mean Ware will fade into the background. At just 24 years old, there is little reason to think Ware is going away and he’s deserving of a top 20 dynasty rank, at least.
Allen Robinson, WR JAX
One of the most sought after players of the off-season by dynasty leaguers was Jaguars WR Allen Robinson. Who can blame them? Robinson had just come off a season that saw him burst onto the scene, establishing himself as a stud WR, finishing the 2015 season as WR6. Robinson was only 23 years old to begin the 2016 season and was surrounded by other young up and comers like QB Blake Bortles, WR Allen Hurns and RB T.J. Yeldon.
Granted, everyone knew we should expect a dip in ARob’s production, considering a stat line like the 80/1,400/14 he put up last season was not easily reproduced. We didn’t really expect this much of a falloff though. Through six games, Robinson has yet to break 75 yards in any game is hauling in less than half of his targets. Perhaps even more troubling for Robinson is the improvement displayed by his teammate Marqise Lee, who has become a factor in the offense, taking targets away from Robinson.
Robinson is on pace for just under 800 yards and eight scores and he’s not even a safe automatic weekly start anymore, depending on the depth of the individual team. Robinson was being routinely drafted inside the top three picks in dynasty startup drafts, but it is fair to say WRs Mike Evans and Amari Cooper, and potentially others have bypassed him.
T.J. Yeldon, RB JAX
Robinson is not the only young Jacksonville player struggling. His teammate, RB T.J. Yeldon is also seeing his stock drop as a result of his recent play. Many were projecting a breakout season for Yeldon early last off-season, but those hopes were crushed when the Jags overpaid for free agent RB Chris Ivory, who was expected to carry the bulk of the load.
Things changed again though when Ivory couldn’t overcome a pre-season injury. Yeldon would have his shot to regain the prime role in the Jacksonville backfield. Unfortunately, he couldn’t capitalize on that chance. Even with Ivory out of action, Yeldon managed a season high of just 39 rushing yards. His fantasy production was being propped up, at least in PPR leagues, by his involvement in the Jags passing game. Through the first four games, Yeldon was averaging over four receptions per game.
Entering Week Six, coming off the team’s bye week, Jaguars OC Greg Olsen spoke highly of Yeldon, saying the former Alabama star had taken ownership of the featured back role. That statement has proven to be the kiss of death. In the two games since, Ivory has outplayed Yeldon, despite receiving fewer snaps. The dynasty community has not really trusted Yeldon since the team added Ivory. In our October dynasty ADP, he was being drafted at 72 overall, the RB16. That is sure to change drastically by next time and it would not be a surprise at all to see the Jags use a Day Two pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on the running back position, further cementing Yeldon’s dynasty stock.
Eric Decker, WR NYJ
After Jets WR Eric Decker missed a pair of games early in the season with a shoulder injury, it was not at all surprising to see the team then place him on the injured reserve list. There had been rumors that the injury was serious enough to end his season. While that was a tough blow considering Decker’s consistent weekly production the past few seasons, it is one that dynasty owners have to expect each season. Chalk it up to bad luck and look for a replacement. Maybe even send out some “buy low” offers and stash the injured star until the next season.
Dynasty owners were not however, prepared for the follow up report about Decker’s medical situation. On top of needing surgery to replace a torn rotator cuff, Decker first required hip surgery. The hip surgery has an estimated six-month recovery timeline and he will need to be off crutches before he can undergo the shoulder surgery. That second procedure carries up to eight months to recover from. All of this puts Decker’s 2017 season, or at least the beginning of it, in jeopardy.
As I mentioned, Decker has been Mr. Reliable for fantasy owners, but there’s a solid chance he could land on the 2017 PUP list, meaning he might not return until Week Seven of next season. That doesn’t mean he can’t still be a trade target for contending teams, but the price has certainly dropped even more than a typical season-ending injury might cause.