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 or dynasty trades referenced in this article can be found at dynastyleaguefootball.com
Nyheim Hines, RB IND
The Indianapolis Colts backfield has been a mystery since the team parted with veteran RB Frank Gore during the offseason. They were surprisingly inactive during free agency and then spent two late picks on rookie RBs Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins. Hines, while a talented player, was immediately viewed as an odd fit with second-year RB Marlon Mack, who possesses a similar skill set. Throughout the preseason and into the regular season, Mack has battled multiple injuries, opening the door to the rookies for extended playing time. While Wilkins has struggled, Hines has flourished, especially over the past two weeks. Hines has finished as the RB7 and RB16, primarily accruing his points as a receiver out of the backfield. Hines is fourth in the league among running backs with 29 receptions and his dynasty ADP is on the rise. Over the past month, he’s claimed the RB40 spot, up from RB53 last month. After playing 42% of the snaps in the first two games of the season, Hines has logged just under 70% of the snaps over the past three games. Mack has missed four of the team’s first five games though he is reportedly trending towards playing next week. In his one healthy game, Hines saw just one target though in the other four, he’s averaging 8.5 targets per game. While Hines’ dynasty value is on the rise, that could change depending on how the Colts manage their backfield touches with Mack back in action.
Austin Ekeler, RB LAC
Playing a part-time role as an undrafted rookie in 2017, Chargers RB Austin Ekeler finished as the RB45, showing flashes of upside. The only problem was starting RB Melvin Gordon was a major stumbling block as one of the league’s best workhorse backs. The Chargers coaching staff mentioned multiple times over the offseason that they planned on lightening Gordon’s workload moving forward, though they made no significant moves to bring in any competition. This should’ve been a major signal for dynasty owners, though most ignored it as Ekeler’s value remained stagnant. Last year, Ekeler was in on 19% of the Chargers snaps and that number has increased to 34% this year. Production is following that opportunity and being chased by Ekeler’s rising dynasty value. Through five weeks, Ekeler sports weekly fantasy finishes of RB7, RB20, RB40, RB23 and RB23. While these are not the numbers of the next superstar at the position, they do show that Ekeler can be relied on as a flex option each week. In just one month, Ekeler’s dynasty ADP climbed for RB65 to RB45, leaving room for more growth if his fantasy scoring continues.
Zach Ertz, TE PHI
It is not easy for some of the best players in the game to gain dynasty value unless of course, dynasty players fail to recognize them as elite in the first place. Eagles TE Zach Ertz has improved his fantasy rank in every season of his career, finishing as the TE23, TE13, TE9, TE6, TE3. Through five weeks and pending Monday Night Football, Ertz currently ranks as the TE1 this season. Ertz is the only player this season to finish in the top 12 of his position in each week. In the latest dynasty ADP, Ertz has reclaimed the TE3 spot, which was held by Giants TE Even Engram for much of the offseason and has an overall ADP of 41. Ertz leads the Eagles and all tight ends with 58 targets this year. He also leads his position in receptions (41) and receiving yards (437). There is a clear bond between Ertz and his QB Carson Wentz and now that the latter is fully healthy, Ertz can make a strong case to be considered among the top two tight ends in the league.
Randall Cobb, WR GB
Many dynasty players had concerns about Packers veteran WR Randall Cobb during the offseason. He had struggled over the previous two seasons, totaling just three WR1 scoring games in 2016 and 2017 combined. The good news is QB Aaron Rodgers was coming back after missing much of last season with an injury and while the Packers had drafted three rookie WRs, there was seemingly little pressure on Cobb as the team’s WR2. That has quickly changed. Cobb surprised with a WR5 finish in the season-opener but has since battled injuries, causing him to miss the past two games. In his place, WR Geronimo Allison has excelled and rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown have flashed as well. While Cobb is likely to play next week, he may have already lost a portion of his WR2 role to these upstarts. His dynasty ADP reflects this as well. The WR30 a year ago, Cobb has now tumbled to the WR57 spot in the latest dataset.
Tevin Coleman, RB ATL
When Falcons RB Devonta Freeman suffered a knee injury in the season opener, backup and upcoming free agent RB Tevin Coleman had a huge opportunity fall into his lap. Already drawing comparisons to RB Jerick McKinnon and expected to land a large contract following the 2018 season, a series of games with the backfield all to himself could’ve been a game-changer for Coleman. Instead, he finished as the RB13, RB27 and RB28 in the three-game span. These are respectable and useful but not what fantasy players or probably Coleman himself had in mind. Coleman is a difficult player to value because many are already projecting him as a value-gainer over the next six months, which means to acquire him now, you’ll have to overpay. Perhaps most troubling of all was the usage we saw from unproven rookie RB Ito Smith while Freeman was out of the lineup. Obviously, Coleman’s usage increased but his Week One snap rate of 51% only grew to a pinnacle of 78%, with Smith logging as much as 43% of the snaps. This can be attributed to the Falcons offensive game plan yet it is still a worry for Coleman’s long-term outlook.
Michael Crabtree, WR BAL
After playing the role of the Raiders WR1 for the past couple of seasons, ahead of dynasty star WR Amari Cooper, WR Michael Crabtree moved on, signing with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens completely overhauled their receiving corps this offseason, adding WRs John Brown and Willie Snead in addition to Crabtree. The veteran Crabtree was viewed as the lock to be the favorite target of QB Joe Flacco and in some ways he has. Crabtree leads the team with 46 targets yet his fellow new additions have been much more successful. Brown has 19 receptions for 396 yards and three scores and also leads the entire league with 871 air yards. Even Snead, who has seen 13 fewer looks than Crabtree has virtually matched his stat line. Crabtree has 24 receptions for 250 yards and a touchdown, giving him 55 fantasy points. Snead’s bottom line looks like this- 23/253/1/54.3. Crabtree’s dynasty value has a slow leak, dropping from WR50 in September to WR55 in October. If he continues to be the least effective of this trio, that leak will grow to a full-on flood in the coming months.