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
Michael Thomas, WR NO
This is very hard for me to believe, but Saints WR Michael Thomas is somehow still being underrated. In most cases, dynasty owners are doing anything they can to acquire a player like Thomas, a rookie WR in one of the league’s best offenses who is already being treated like his team’s best option. After two games to begin his career as WR43 and WR50, Thomas has been on fire. Over the following four games, he was WR13, WR22, WR12 and WR8 before his performance against the tough Seattle defense in Week Eight. Even against the Seahawks, he caught all six of his targets for 63 yards. That 12-15 fantasy point range is looking like Thomas’ floor in PPR leagues.
One of the concerns for Thomas entering the league was the competition on his own team for targets. With WRs like Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead, along with TE Coby Fleener, that was a valid reason to devalue Thomas in the early going. That hasn’t been an issue at all though. While Fleener has struggled, the trio of wideouts have taken turns being uber-productive. Thomas has led the team in targets three times and receiving yards twice through seven games. Thomas has everything going for him, yet he is still being overlooked, despite being a top 20 WR on the season. While other rookie are dealing with injuries (Corey Coleman, Josh Doctson) lack of playing time (Laquon Treadwell) or just the general inconsistencies that go along with being a rookie (Sterling Shepard, Will Fuller), Thomas continues to produce.
Devontae Booker, RB DEN
It’s been a wild week for Denver Broncos rookie RB Devontae Booker. After beginning the season with only a few touches, Booker saw his role grow from week to week. From Week One through Week Five, Booker’s snap count increased from just six all the way to 29. By Week Seven, Booker out-touched Anderson and nearly matched his fantasy production. Following that game against the Texans, we would find out that Anderson had suffered a knee injury. What began as a projected minor injury quickly turned into a more serious injury and by the end of last week, Anderson was placed on the injured reserve list.
The Broncos have historically had very strong running games and that has been especially true under HC Gary Kubiak. Dynasty players wasted no time into transferring their lofty expectations for Anderson over to the relatively unproven rookie. I even saw more than one trusted figure in the fantasy community refer to Booker as a “league winner” for this season.
In his first chance as the lead back against San Diego on Sunday, Booker didn’t exactly look like a league winner, but he did provide a solid return for his fantasy owners, putting up 84 total yards and a touchdown. He also briefly left the game with a shoulder injury that will be evaluated further, though coaches don’t seem to think it is serious. I would be very hesitant to buy Booker at his newly inflated price and wouldn’t dare guess what the Denver backfield will look like in 2017. The Broncos could return to Anderson if Booker flops. If the rookie runs away with the job, I could see Anderson taking a backseat. It wouldn’t even surprise me if they chose yet another rookie on Day Two of the NFL Draft.
J.J. Nelson, WR ARZ
The Arizona Cardinals have been making use of their depth at the wide receiver position. In recent weeks, all three of their top receivers, Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd, have been dealing with injuries. Even one of the key backups, Jaron Brown suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.
Another backup is making the most of his increased opportunity. In Week Seven, with both Browns out of action, J.J. Nelson led the team with 84 yards on three catches. The big play threat did it again in Week Eight with Floyd on the bench. Nelson caught eight balls for 79 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It’s a relatively small sample size, but Nelson is the WR7 over the past two weeks, pending Monday Night Football.
Much like the Denver backfield, it is difficult to project what the Cardinals receiver corps could look like in the near future. Floyd is set to hit free agency following the season and while there have been no indications Fitzgerald will retire, it’s always a possibility for a player his age. The great thing about Nelson is he is still very cheap as compared to many other young receivers. In fact, he might even be on your league’s waiver wire.
Will Fuller, WR HOU
Texans rookie WR Will Fuller is the first player to appear in both the Risers and Fallers section in the short life of this series. After beginning the season on a surprising hot streak, scoring as the WR8 and WR11 in the first four weeks of the season. It’s his other performances that have me concerned about his weekly consistency. Outside of those two games, Fuller has finished as the WR33, WR68, WR88, WR63 and is currently the WR72 for Week Eight, pending Monday Night Football. It is more than fair to expect some ups and downs from a rookie receiver, but Fuller’s below average hands have continued to plague him and QB Brock Osweiler is not doing much to make his pass-catchers better. Even star WR DeAndre Hopkins has been a major letdown this year.
After seeing his value quickly climb to begin the season, it is now reverting back to the pre-season level. Overall, I have still been very impressed with what I’ve seen from Fuller and love the idea of buying low on him. In fact, I did just that in one league last week and will continue to do so in other dynasty leagues. Counting on Fuller as a fantasy starter for the remainder of the season is not a sharp play though. Treat Fuller as a stash and he should reward dynasty owners with better hands and more consistent performances in 2017.
Ryan Mathews, RB PHI
After the off-season trade that sent RB DeMarco Murray to the Tennessee Titans, RB Ryan Mathews was left as the favorite to win the starting job for the Eagles. The team also had speedster Darren Sproles and rookie Wendell Smallwood, though neither was viewed as a threat to Mathews lead back role. Mathews began the season well, totaling 112 yards and three touchdowns through two games, placing him at RB15 in PPR leagues. By Week Three, Mathews was dealing with more injuries, which is very common for him. Since the naggings injuries crept back up, Mathews is just RB38, being outpaced by Sproles by nearly 20 points over that span.
Mathews has shown off his talent for years, but the injury issues have been persistent and have really killed his dynasty value. When healthy, Mathews is a fine option, but that doesn’t happen often enough. Even in recent games when he was seemingly ready for a full workload, the team has opted to use Sproles as a ball carrier, which hasn’t happened often in his career. Against the Cowboys in an important divisional matchup, Mathews saw just four carries compared to 15 for Sproles. Mathews is a player who is both impossible to rely on as a starter, but also difficult to drop due to name value and perceived upside should he gain a larger role. This is what I call a roster clogger.
Michael Floyd, WR ARZ
Often times, when one player in an offense is rising in value, it comes at the expense of a teammate. In the case of the previously mentioned J.J. Nelson, it is veteran Michael Floyd who is seeing his value drop. Floyd can’t blame Nelson for the drop though, as he has been struggling even before Nelson was seeing playing time this season.
Floyd has been active in all eight games this season, but has failed to record a reception in two of the contests, including the Week Eight game when he was dealing with a bad hamstring. In the other six games, Floyd has yet to finish any higher than WR33 in any week, making him a low-end WR3 at his best. In many occasions, a player in the final year of his contract will play the best ball of his career, in anticipation of a big payday. That is not working out for Floyd, who is on pace for 38 receptions and 514 yards, both of which would be new career low marks.
Floyd will soon be 27 years old and even in a down year, could be a highly sought after commodity on the free agent market. With their depth and his poor year, Floyd is a good bet to bolt for a new team, which could be a boost to his dynasty value. Like Fuller, he can’t be relied on as a fantasy starter, but he’s another player I’d buy low in hopes of a bounce back year in 2017.