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
Marcus Mariota, QB TEN
Titans second year QB Marcus Mariota got off to somewhat of a slow start to the 2016 season. While the new Exotic Smashmouth offense Tennessee was employing was doing wonders for RB DeMarco Murray, Mariota was just a bystander. After many questioned why the Titans didn’t use their athletic QB to run the ball more last season, we heard from the coaching staff that would change this year. Through four games, it really hadn’t. Mariota had 72 rushing yards through the first month of the season. Adding nearly an additional two fantasy points each week is certainly not a bad thing, but we all knew Mariota could be a weapon and the Tennessee staff just didn’t seem ready to unleash him in that way.
In Week Five, we saw a breakout game from Mariota. While he threw for a modest 163 yards, that included three passing touchdowns. He also added seven rushes for 60 yards, both marking the second highest numbers of his career. Those numbers were good enough to make Mariota the top scoring QB of the week. These were all good things, but we needed to see more and we did as Mariota faced the Cleveland Browns in Week Six. He torched the Browns for a season-high 284 yards and posted his second consecutive three TD game. He once again had seven carries, this time gaining 64 yards on the ground.
We can’t expect those multiple touchdown games to become a regular occurrence, but if Mariota continues to run the ball like he has, his weekly fantasy production is insulated, giving him a high weekly floor. The former Oregon Duck has already been considered a top 10 dynasty QB and these types of performances could easily move him into the top five, potentially leapfrogging players like Blake Bortles and Jameis Winston, if he hasn’t already.
Jimmy Graham, TE SEA
It is rare to see a player who is nearly 30 years old gaining dynasty value, but that can happen when the dynasty appeal of said player bottoms out. This is what Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham is experiencing. After his move to the Seahawks in the off-season prior to the 2015 season, Graham was paired with QB Russell Wilson and expectations for the All-Pro TE were as high as ever. Unfortunately, Graham struggled to establish a rapport with Wilson and was far from the go-to option he had been for Drew Brees in New Orleans. Late in the season, Graham suffered a torn patellar tendon, requiring surgery and ending his disappointing year. Factoring in his age, the undesirable role in Seattle and now this serious injury, Graham’s long-term dynasty value was all but wiped out. He could routinely be had for a late dynasty startup pick or a third round rookie pick over the past off-season. Many, myself included, were completely writing him off.
Now, Graham is playing like his old self and seems to be a perfect fit in the Seattle offense. Graham already has more 100-yard games this season than he had all of last year and, along with WR Doug Baldwin, is the top targeted player in the Seahawks offense. When it comes to Graham’s dynasty value, I see a ceiling, based on his age, but he is certainly rising up the ranks from where he was left for dead this off-season. Graham was recently drafted as the TE7, ahead of young players like Zach Ertz and Hunter Henry.
Cameron Meredith, WR CHI
Bears WR Cameron Meredith is a former undrafted free agent who barely saw the field in his rookie year of 2015. In 12 games, Meredith caught 11 passes for 120 yards, hardly enough to get on the radar of dynasty owners. Things looked to be repeating themselves as Meredith failed to record a catch or even earn a target in the season’s first two games. Then, WR Kevin White went down with a leg injury, ending his season. Since then, Meredith has quickly shown he is not only worthy of a roster spot in dynasty leagues, but should be a weekly consideration for a starting position.
In Week Five, Meredith saw 12 targets, catching nine of them for 130 yards and a touchdown. When a relative no name player puts up numbers like this, it is natural to question if this was a fluke. It doesn’t look like that is the case as Meredith again led the team in targets, this time seeing a whopping 15 and catching 11 of them, matching his season-long numbers in 2015. Over the past two weeks, Meredith is the WR2 in PPR leagues, behind only Odell Beckham.
With QB Brian Hoyer expected to retain the job over Jay Cutler and the Bears likely to be playing from behind early and often the rest of the season, there is really no reason to expect these numbers to diminish. Some may be slow to come around on a breakout player like Meredith, so take this opportunity to make a move for him in a trade, or by all means add him from the waiver wire if he still resides there.
Tajae Sharpe, WR TEN
When a rookie earns a starting spot before training camp even begins, it gets the attention of fantasy players, especially when that rookie is a fifth round rookie that was being taken in the third or fourth rounds of rookie drafts. This was the case for Titans WR Tajae Sharpe, who was so impressive during rookie mini-camp that he was pegged as a starter. Sharpe continued his sharp play in training camp and pre-season, leading the Titans to deal troubled WR Dorial Green-Beckham to the Philadelphia Eagles before the season began.
Sharpe had a solid debut, catching seven of his team high 11 targets for 76 yards. Things have been all downhill since. Sharpe saw seven targets in each of the Titans three games, which was good enough to lead the team over that span, but he caught just nine passes for 96 yards, disappointing fantasy owners and leaving Tennessee to feed those opportunities to other players.
In Week Six, Sharpe failed to catch a single pass, while WRs Kendall Wright was the star and former Dolphin Rishard Matthews also played well. Titans HC Mike Mularkey explained that Sharpe has “taken a step back” in his development, noting issues specifically with route running.
Sharpe has gone from a player who looked like he was going to crash the WR party to someone who is simply a dynasty stash. Sharpe cannot be considered a weekly fantasy starter and if you can flip him for a second round draft pick in the esteemed class of 2017, that could be a wise move.
Jordan Reed, TE WAS
This one is a tough story. Redskins TE Jordan Reed has been diagnosed with a concussion, his sixth on record and his fourth since entering the NFL. Reed missed Week Six and his status for Week Seven is clearly in doubt.
None of those six concussions occurred in 2015 and Reed put up a monster season, finishing as the TE2 and posting new career bests in receptions, yards and touchdowns. This year, Reed picked up where he left off, averaging over six catches and 60 yards per game, scoring a pair of touchdowns through five games. Then came the concussion diagnosis following Week Five’s game.
For now, we must just wait and see, but if this latest head injury is a serious one, Reed could miss multiple games and his dynasty value could bottom out. Some have even suggested Reed should simply retire rather than risk further long-term damage, though Reed has never commented on this possibility.
Aaron Rodgers, QB GB
I guess the good news is that Aaron Rodgers continues to put up reliable fantasy numbers. Through five games this year, Rodgers has weekly finishes including QB3 (Week Three), QB7 (Week One) and QB14 (Week Five), but when digging deeper into some of the numbers, there are reasons to be concerned about Rodgers performance.
He has failed to throw for 300+ yards since Week Ten of 2015, a span of 12 regular season games. Through six weeks, Rodgers ranks 23rd in the league in QB Rating, 25th in passing yards, and 33rd in completion percentage.
For the past couple of seasons, Rodgers has been included with three other QBs forming the top tier of dynasty passers. That group also includes Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton. While it is certainly fair to question if Rodgers still belongs in this group, there is not exactly anyone moving up to claim the spot. Some of the players who have been most impressive early this season are also on the wrong side of 35 years old, limiting their long-term dynasty value. Of course, I’m thinking of Drew Brees and Tom Brady.
The reason for Rodgers struggles are tough to pinpoint. Last season, missing WR Jordy Nelson was the most often excuse as to what was wrong with Rodgers and the Packers offense. Nelson is back on the field this year, but that has not really changed anything. We can expect Rodgers to have several high-level season left, but his value is dipping from the previous high level. This might be a good time to make some offers for the Packers QB.