Daily Dynasty Update – August 4th

And a happy Sunday to you.

Happy kickoff everybody!

Dennis Pitta, Jeremy Maclin out for the year

First it was Jeremy Maclin then Dennis Pitta. Maclin to a torn ACL and Pitta to a dislocated hip. The dynasty analysis:

  • Dennis Pitta – Pitta was ranked no later than six in dynasty rankings. With Anquan Boldin traded, Pitta was in line for a ton of targets and receptions. And with the lack of reliable tight end targets around the league, could have even improved his dynasty draft ranking. Now Pitta has a fractured hip which is not all that dissimilar from what Bo Jackson had which ended his career. In fact, two of the eight players with the same type of injury had their careers ended because of it. Needless to say, there’s little reason to draft Pitta unless you have some sort of injured reserve in your leagues. Ed Dickson will improve on his 44th dynasty ranking. He did have a respectable 54/528/5 line in his only season as a starter but that will probably be the ceiling for him.
  • Jeremy Maclin – Maclin was ranked 25th in dynasty rankings heading into the season (and a contract year) before tearing his ACL. 25th may have been high seeing as Chip Kelly goes run-first and the quarterback question is still up in the air. But showing glimpses of talent, being the #1 target on a team and at just 25 years old, Maclin still made a good investment in dynasty leagues. However, now he’ll have to wait until his age-26 season and find a team willing to take a chance. For the Eagles this year, Riley Cooper will take over. If a player of Maclin’s ability produced no more than 66 yards a game over four years, I don’t know that Cooper can do much more.

Daily Dynasty Football Update – July 25th

Let’s do this:

  • DeAngelo Williams is penciled in as the starter at running back until Jonathan Stewart can prove he’s healthy. When that will be, no one’s exactly sure. Williams is sure to be of some value this year with one of the best quarterbacks in the league and with no additions to the receiving corps. After 2013 is another story for the 30-year old which is why he sits at only 52 in dynasty rankings. Only draft/trade for Williams if you’re in win-now mode.
  • With Robert Griffin III still recovering from his knee injury, Kirk Cousins will take first-string snaps at quarterback for most of the pre-season. In his lone start last year, Cousins completed 70% of his passes on 37 attempts for 329 yards in a 38-21 win at Cleveland. With a solid pre-season, Cousins can improve his stock even further. Signed to a four-year rookie contract, the Redskins will use Cousins as much as they can before he makes great trade bait a la Matt Schaub. I love Cousins as a taxi-squad player that could be a starter in 2-3 years. And if you’re an RG3 fantasy owner, what are you waiting for?
  • The Chiefs seem to be setting up rookie tight end Travis Kelce to line up in a variety of positions which bodes well for targets. Drafted in the third round, Kelce is competing with Anthony Fasano and Tony Moeaki for snaps. Fasano was just signed in March but has traditionally been a blocker while Moeaki has significant injury concerns. Kelce had serious character issues coming in to the draft but, after being drafted in the 3rd round, would appear to be set up to be the long-term solution in Kansas City. Kelce currently sits at 20 in dynasty rankings thanks to his age and the fact that tight end is such a premium.

Dynasty Rookie Running Backs – Part I

Conventional re-draft fantasy football leagues emphasize getting a running back early due to the lack of quality personnel. In a fantasy league where your only concern is the next 16 games, it’s easy to identify who’s capable of being successful in the short term. But just because running backs are so essential in re-draft leagues doesn’t necessarily mean the same in dynasty leagues. While still important, running backs in dynasty leagues are more easily replaceable than a franchise quarterback, not unlike the NFL. Be careful of how much you offer up to get that rookie running back. As you’ll see below (and in our rankings), there’s plenty of options at running back. Let’s take a look at the first ones drafted this past April.

  • Giovani Bernard (CIN) – The first running back off the board in the NFL draft is the one to own in dynasty leagues. After being compared to Ray Rice at the combine, Cincinnati took Bernard to compliment Benjarvus Green-Ellis. Early on, Cincinnati has gushed about his big play ability, even splitting Bernard out wide. With Green-Ellis’ contract expiring after 2014, that leaves Bernard in the drivers seat to be the man in Cincinnati. Sure, this year he’ll be the primary backup for Green-Ellis while getting the 3rd down work but don’t be surprised if they can’t keep him off the field in 2013.
  • Le’Veon Bell (PIT) – The 48th overall pick from Michigan State, Bell is a big boy at 6′ 1″ and 244 pounds. Scouts expect him to get the first shot at being a 3-down back due to his ability to block and catch. Plus, there is little-to-no competition among the returning runners like Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman. Bell entered, perhaps, the best situation for a fantasy running back. If wouldn’t be a reach to take Bell over Bernard in your dynasty fantasy drafts.
  • Montee Ball (DEN) – Drafted 58th overall, Ball was entering a crowded backfield in Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno, and Ronnie Hillman. After McGahee was cut, people assumed that Ball was going to be the man but the situation is still murky. With Knowshon Moreno rushing for 100 yards in a the last couple games of 2012 and 2012 3rd round pick Ronnie Hillman still in the fold, it’s not as if Ball has a clear path to being the starter. Furthermore, his heavy workload at Wisconsin will cut into his career carries. For dynasty leagues, it’s something to consider if you’re needing a running back early on. I’d avoid Ball until the running back picture in Denver is more clear.
  • Eddie Lacy (GB) – Lacy was presumed to be the first running back off the board but ended up being the 4th. He slipped because of concerns over a fused toe that might cause problems down the road. For dynasty fantasy leaguers, Green Bay isn’t exactly the most ideal place for a running back simply because Aaron Rodgers is too good to take the ball out of his hands. Plus, he does have some competition in fellow rookie Jonathan Franklin and 2012 holdover DuJuan Harris who did show some promise towards the end of the season. On the positive side, he’s been compared to Steven Jackson and should have plenty of opportunities for goal-line work. But how long Lacy lasts remains to be seen. I’d feel safe drafting Lacy in the 2nd round of your dynasty draft. Anything higher would give me pause.
  • Christine Michael (SEA) – Perhaps the most intriguing back in this years draft, Michael was drafted with the last pick of the second round by Seattle. Michael didn’t start off his NFL career well by ‘taking too much NyQuil.’ Once he got into camp, his pass protection was questioned, which is common for rookie running backs and can prevent them from getting on the field. But there’s just so much talent to offset the negatives. ESPN’s Matt Williamson has labeled him a top-10 talent in 2016. Plus, since Marshawn Lynch has been missing camp, Michael’s been the one to draw the first team reps over Robert Turbin. Pete Carroll has been one to let the best man win no matter the age or experience and Michael may just have too much talent to keep him off the field. He may not be one to draft in your dynasty drafts first round but could be a steal in the second.

For Part II click here. For Part III click here.

Matt Forte to get more catches

One could argue that Matt Forte peaked in his rookie season. After all, he carried the ball (the cursed) 300+ times while setting career-highs in rushing yards (1,238), touchdowns (12), and receptions (63). He’s averaged right at 1,000 yards rushing since and has seen his receptions steadily drop to a career-low 44 last year. At 27, there’s been a lot of wear-and-tear on those tires but help may be on the way, at least for the short term.

With the addition of Marc Trestman as Head Coach, Forte should expect to see more routes and throws his way. Trestman’s offenses over 10 years as an offensive coordinate averaged 65 catches for the running back. With Jay Cutler at quarterback and an (allegedly) improved offensive line, Forte should have no problem matching his career high. But while the short-term looks bright, the added work should speed up the downhill arc of his career. Forte already has 1,200 carries through his first five years and has been nicked up in the past with a sprained MCL in 2011 and an ankle sprain in 2012. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to have Forte on your roster as a low-end RB1 or a high-end RB2 if you’re in win-now mode in 2013. But his shelf life at that level can’t be expected to be more than 2-3 years. Look to sell high after the next year or two.

Why are safeties are better than corners in fantasy?

Looking at the latest DB rankings for dynasty, you’ll see safeties take the top 1o spots. This is similar to the DL rankings that put ends at the top of the list over interior linemen.  But why is that?

If you were to look at the top tackling DB’s last year, you’d find a safety-heavy list with only three corners in the top 20. In fact, there’s no more than four corners in the top 20 for years and there were none in 2009. The fact is, tackles are the most consistent stats when looking at DB’s so it’s best to rank them by that. Plus, even if tackles are 1 point in your league while interceptions are 4, you’d still be better served drafting a tackling machine like Morgan Burnett who’s had 230 tackles over the last two years. Tackles are just more common than interceptions and happen at a higher ratio than the tackle/interception point ratio in most, if not all, dynasty leagues.

But why do safeties have way more tackles? Inherently, they’re the safety valve of the defense. They are there to prevent plays from going 10, 15, 20 yards. Corners, good corners anyway, are there to prevent the receivers from even catching the ball. That’s why corners will never have high tackle numbers if they’re picking passes off. The top six leaders in interceptions last year had 60-76-64-55-76-53 tackles respectively. Plus, corners are relegated to one side of the field while the safeties cover much more ground on any given play. They’re instinctively playing the ball while the corners have specific assignments.

Bottom line – get a safety as your DB1. Only if you’ve got that locked up would I even consider drafting a corner.

Dynasty Defensive Linemen Rankings – Top Tier

Looking at the recently published defensive linemen rankings in dynasty fantasy football leagues, there’s a consensus at the top. Houston end JJ Watt should be at the top of any IPD list. He exploded in his second year with a league leading 20.5 sacks and, maybe an even more impressive, 16 passes defended from the line. With Wade Phillips back leading the defense, and Watt entering his age-24 season, there’s no reason to doubt Watt’s potential. Whether it’s dynasty or re-draft leagues, Watt is at the top.

Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Football Giants was JJ Watt before JJ Watt was JJ Watt. In 2011, JPP had a breakout in his second year, just like Watt, with 16.5 sacks and 7 passes defended. But the Giants defense overall regressed mightily to the 2nd worst in the league statistically. On top of that, Pierre-Paul recently completed back surgery which puts his status to start the season in jeopardy. Even if he were to start in Week 1, the G-Men don’t plan on taxing him in training camp and pre-season which might delay his conditioning. At least he’s only entering his age-24 season (like Watt) so there’s time for JPP to bounce back.

St. Louis Ram Robert Quinn, the consensus #3 DL in dynasty, is all about potential. Only entering his age-23 season, Quinn’s coming off a 10.5 sack season while only starting 14 games. He’s also getting a new defensive coordinator in Tim Walton who previously coached the secondary in Detroit under Jim Schwartz, who coached under current St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher. Walton led an average secondary in Detroit that did no better than 16th in opposing passing yards. Hopefully, Walton can get more out of Quinn regardless.

Dynasty Linebacker Rankings – Top Tier

After just calculating the amalgamated linebacker rankings, it’s clear there’s a top tier of five. Luke Kuechly of Carolina is the consensus #1 no matter what rankings you’re looking at. The combination of his age (22) and the fact that he’ll be a three-down back on a pretty bad team means he should see plenty of opportunities to be right in the action for many years to come.

The next two spots are interchangeable and include San Francisco’s NaVorro Bowman and St. Louis’ James Laurinaitis. Laurinaitis is another three-down back playing the middle. He seemingly had his hands on everything – four passes defended, two interceptions and 117 solo tackles to go with 25 assists. The guy is a beast and is only ranked lower than Kuechly because of his age (26). The same could be said of Bowman who actually had more total tackles than Laurinaitis (148-142), more sacks (2.0-0.5), more passes defended (6-4). He’s also a year younger (25-26). If you put a gun to my head and told me to pick one, I’d go with Bowman.

The next two include Seattle’s Bobby Wagner, with a similar resume than Laurinaitis and Bowman but is just 23.

Next is the first outside linebacker of the group, Lavonte David. The second year linebacker from Tampa Bay is just 23 and has the potential to rack up sacks with 19 tackles for a loss in his rookie season.

Bottom line is you can’t go wrong if one of these guys is your lead LB for the next five years.