Each week, Footballguys staff members will share the big movers in their respective Dynasty Rankings. Since the contributors will rotate, please check in weekly. The focus of this article will be on the “why” more than the movement itself. Dynasty Rankings are fluid and we hope that sharing the rationale will help you in your quest to create dynasties with all your teams. The diversity of rankings will result in a variety of opinions weekly.
Mac Jones - I continue to be impressed with Mac Jones, whether the game is going well or not for the Patriots passing game. Jones has the benefit of the Patriots infrastructure plus the wide receivers to be addressed in the offseason. Jones turning into the best quarterback in the class when looking back five years from now, or QB2 as worst, would not surprise me with Jones' high-floor outcome and an underrated ceiling.
Ben Roethlisberger - When is the contending ceiling coming for Roethlisberger? He has more than one touchdown in a single game this season. This is despite Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth, and Najee Harris as notable passing game components. His utility and impact, even in Superflex, has been a massive disappointment for the 40-year-old in the offseason.
Joe Burrow – Burrow is performing extremely well and producing at a high level every week. The addition of wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase has elevated the offense and made it more explosive. While it was expected that Burrow would receive some long-term benefit, he is getting it now and is ascending to the top of dynasty quarterback rankings.
Taylor Heinicke – Heinicke became the starter in Washington with the injury to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1. He started strong, performing really well through week four, but his play since then has simply been not good enough. He has thrown three touchdown passes to go with six interceptions over the past four weeks, and while there is no certainty here, it feels like Fitzpatrick takes this job back when he returns.
Sam Darnold - After a big start to the season, Sam Darnold has regressed to the non-franchise quarterback his production always indicated. Darnold’s 6.6 yards per attempt in 2021 is exactly in line with his 6.6 career yards per attempt. A lot of excuses were made for Darnold in New York, but four years into his career, he has shown us exactly who he is, and that is not a franchise quarterback.
Matthew Stafford - In his first season with the Rams, Matthew Stafford has produced 9.1 yards per attempt, the second-best performance at the quarterback position behind Tom Brady. Stafford’s passing yards (2,475) and touchdowns (22) rank second at the position behind only Tom Brady. Stafford was an easy buy at his cost in the offseason and should be a top-ten option at the position in the offseason.
D'Andre Swift – Swift is an electric space player capable of making defenders miss, and he is at his best catching passes out of the backfield. The Lions are going to be trailing in most games, and from a general sense, game scripts are extremely favorable this year. The Lions are devoid of offensive talent, and Swift can give solid production as a running back while being an elite pass-catcher out of the backfield.
Michael Carter – Carter has been rising rankings for a few weeks, but he is going to see a ton of work with quarterback Zach Wilson out with a knee injury. Quarterback Mike White is not going to challenge defenses vertically, instead of relying on short throws to move the chains. Carter is going to catch a lot of passes over the next month and he will produce as a runner too. I had viewed Carter as a “next year” type of player, but his time is now and he is moving in a positive way.
Khalil Herbert – Herbert impresses while running the ball, enough to make some forget about running back David Montgomery who was placed on I.R. a few weeks ago. It feels like the Bears have a lot of talent at the position with running back Damien Williams in the mix too. However, it is Herbert reaping the benefit of Montgomery’s absence as he has totaled 78 carries in the past four games. Herbert looks like the real deal and it will be interesting to see how the Bears handle this situation over the next few months.
Antonio Gibson - Antonio Gibson entered the NFL as a wide receiver from Memphis in college but has failed to take a leap as a professional receiving option out of the backfield. Gibson is nursing a stress fracture in his leg and continues to be a second option in the passing game out of the backfield behind J.D. McKissic, and saw Jarrett Patterson outproduce him on the ground in Week 8. Despite the optimism that he could be Washington’s version of Christian McCaffrey, Gibson has proven to be more Josh Jacobs than McCaffrey.
Darrell Henderson - Darrell Henderson is in the top 12 of the position running back position in seasonal scoring while playing over 80% of the Rams’ running back snaps when healthy this season. At 24 years old, with a lead job in one of the best offenses in the league, Henderson presents as an interesting long-term bet, but his value rise will be capped by Cam Akers’ return looming in 2022. Henderson’s 2021 seasonal outlook along with his 2021 outs, make him an intriguing buy now for contending teams.
Zack Moss - Zack Moss was a Week 1 inactive, before playing behind Devin Singletary in Week 2. Since Week 3, Moss has out-snapped Singletary and has secured the leading running back position in the backfield. From Week 3 through Week 8, Moss has ranked 25th in points at the running back position, despite having a bye during that time, and is consolidating the position in one of the league’s best offenses.
Derrick Henry - While not falling through the floor or anything in my dynasty values, Henry is basically done for this fantasy season even if he returns for a Titans playoff run. Any chunk of missed time for a back of Henry's age (28 in January) does move the needle, especially if he comes back to more of a committee look than the monster workload of the first half of 2021. The next meaningful game Henry plays for a dynasty team is likely at 28.7 years old to open the 2022 season. While he could be a buy if a middle-of-the-road or non-contending team bails now, his value is declining and not coming back up again in his career arc.
Mark Ingram II - I will argue Ingram has more value as a high-end injury-away role in New Orleans than the 1A in Houston. Ingram would inherit elite touches for the Saints if Alvin Kamara were to miss time, while Houston could be better with Tyrod Taylor back this season but still far lagging from an auto-start weekly.
Ja'Marr Chase - Ja'Marr Chase’s start to the season confirms he can make the transition from college to the pros. That is a good sign, but as I laid out on last week’s Footballguys Dynasty Show, he is a candidate for regression. In many ways, Chase’s start to his career is like A.J. Brown’s as he is benefitting from unsustainable touchdown variance. His statistical profile projects to leave those buying high disappointed as the volume in the Cincinnati offense projects more of a WR2 role than his current top 10 production.
Keenan Allen - Keenan Allen had a moderate breakout in Week 8, with 6 receptions, 77 yards, and 1 touchdown, but still has only two touchdowns on 69 targets. His 10 targets per game pace represent elite at the position and he is overshadowed by Mike Williams’s breakout. Allen remains a key buy for contenders down the stretch.
Michael Pittman Jr - Michael Pittman Jr finally broke out in Week 8, with a two-touchdown performance, vaulting him into the top 11 in fantasy scoring on the season. Pittman has not had his bye yet but ranks 10th in receptions and 11th in receiving yards among wide receivers. With two touchdowns in Week 8, he has regressed towards his expected stat line, which is in line with a WR1/2 breakout, despite a questionable quarterback situation.
Amari Cooper - Week 8 was yet another reminder Amari Cooper is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Cooper carried Dallas and Cooper Rush to a comeback win with critical plays. While it was Cooper's first massive performance since Week 1, such is the life for the variance (not a bad thing) of wide receivers plus Cooper has been working through known injuries - and still producing in recent weeks. At 27 years old, Cooper is viewed as too old to be a core dynasty asset by some and yet right in the pocket of 'still young enough and old enough to be established as one of the preeminent technicians at the position' in the NFL.
Robby Anderson - Anderson is swooning in his production this year even without Terrace Marshall Jr having much of an impact. I never would have guessed such a result. Anderson is 28 years old but feels like 32 based on his limited market appeal as a result of the lack of production. Anderson has one game of at least 50 yards this season despite 50 targets. Anderson's contract is also an albatross for Carolina to try to escape in the offseason due to dead money and D.J. Moore is locked in ahead of Anderson and Marshall should be climbing Anderson's coattails by 2022.
Jamal Agnew – Agnew is a converted defensive back playing wide receiver, and he is making it look easy. He is an explosive mover capable of creating separation quickly, and he is seeing plenty of targets over the past few weeks in Jacksonville. He has 25 targets in the last three games, including 12 in the Week 8 loss to Seattle.
Laviska Shenault Jr – Shenault has not been able to get untracked for the 2021 Jaguars football team. He is incredibly physically gifted, but it seems the Jaguars do not have much of a plan for him which is making him almost unplayable. If Agnew is moving in a positive direction, that means Shenault is moving down rankings as he is not a stylistic fit right now.
A.J. Brown – Brown might be the single biggest beneficiary when it comes to running back Derrick Henry’s foot injury. Henry drives the Titans offense, but he is going to miss a lot of time, which means a change in mentality may be coming. The Titans are going to have to throw the ball more and Brown has the ability to put this offense on his back. There could be a significant opportunity for Brown to lead the NFL in wide receiver production over the back half of the 2021 season.
Robert Tonyan Jr - Tonyan was a regression candidate in 2021 but few projected such a decline to the tune of 204 yards and two touchdowns through essentially half of the season. Tonyan is out with an ACL tear and is a 2022 free agent while recovering from said injury. Tonyan has an undrafted pedigree with one season of note in the NFL and 28 years old for next season. Tonyan will be a tough dynasty asset outside of moderate to deeper 2TE formats as a hold through rookie draft time.
Anthony Firkser - While Firkser did not have the 2020 season of Robert Tonyan Jr, he was in the upside subset having a breakout, or at least streaming, potential in 2021. Firkser has an invisible 12-103-0 stat line through six healthy games and this on a Tennessee offense that has missing A.J. Brown and Julio Jones in games and is searching for any consistency from their ancillary wide receivers. Firkser has been a massive disappointment compared to expectations and frankly should be on more waiver wires than he currently resides.
Pat Freiermuth – Freiermuth was an intriguing prospect coming into the NFL and he ended up in a nice spot for long-term purposes while also having a shot to produce as a rookie. He is seeing almost four targets per game, including some critical red-zone looks. Freiermuth’s long-term outlook is favorable and he is showing what he is capable of as a rookie.
T.J. Hockenson – Hockenson came into the season ranking below the elites at the position, but he has performed incredibly well at the almost-halfway point of the 2021 season. He has 48 catches (first in the NFL before Monday Night Football) on 64 targets (second in the NFL) and the Lions are going to be throwing all year as they are going to be behind playing catch up.
Dalton Schultz - Through eight games, Schultz is a top-six tight end in seasonal scoring. Schultz was cheap in the offseason after the market believed Blake Jarwin was going to reclaim his job after returning from a 2020 injury. After Jarwin’s season-ending injury in 2020, Schultz has taken over the job in the Dallas offense and has not given up control to Jarwin after his return. Schultz is 25 years old and linked to a good offense in the near future which should create TE1 production.
Kyle Pitts - Kyle Pitts is a top-six tight end in seasonal production at 21 years old. The first-round pick should prove even more productive as Calvin Ridley has announced he will take time away from the team for the indefinite future. Pitts has passed the threshold question of whether his skills translate and is an elite foundational piece across the skill positions in dynasty.
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