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.
Zach Wilson - It is tough to be optimistic on Wilson as a future fantasy QB1. He is firmly on the bust track post-Year 1 with the TD Rate and INT Rate ratios I track, especially for young quarterbacks. A coaching change could be in the works in the offseason as well. I have Wilson easily outside the top-20 dynasty quarterbacks and there is an argument to be closer to QB30 than QB20.
Cam Newton - Newton is running on fumes after a projected revival with his signing in Carolina and a quality first start against Washington (three total touchdowns). Since that game, Newton has eroded with one total touchdown versus four turnovers and completing fewer than half his passes. Newton is more likely out of the NFL in 2022 than competing for a starting job.
Davis Mills – Mills is reportedly getting the rest of the 2021 season as the starting quarterback for the Texans. He has played relatively well (considering he is a rookie and not getting much help) over his most recent starts. Over the remaining weeks, he needs to show what he can do, and he gets four weeks to do it. He has an excellent athletic profile, and he can make any NFL throw. He needs to be more consistent and finish drives in the end zone, but we’re at the end of the regular season, and Mills’ play could be a significant factor in who starts for Houston next year.
Joe Burrow is already very high on the dynasty rankings, but he is making a few throws a week that make me think he can ascend further. He has excellent weapons and looks to have an excellent rapport with all of them. It will not surprise me if the Bengals passing attack finishes the 2021 season on a tear.
Lamar Jackson - Lamar Jackson is an elite scorer at the quarterback position but was injured in Week 14 with his status uncertain as teams turn into the fantasy playoffs. It is possible Jackson misses time and if he does, he will likely be a buy. If you are not in the playoffs, consider sending an offer for Jackson based around a lesser quarterback who is currently healthy. Jackson is QB8 in scoring and should be extended during the offseason. The structure of that contract, along with his health over the course of the season, is key to monitor in his cost.
Cam Newton - Cam Newton’s “I’m back” moment lasted a week. Newton has been a disappointment since returning to the Panthers including being benched this week for backup P.J. Walker. The Panthers have been feckless in their pursuit of a franchise quarterback under David Tepper and Matt Rhule, so trusting Newton for an emergency spot is a dangerous proposition during the fantasy playoffs. The fact that Newton has been benched in one of the worst quarterback situations in the league after sitting out two months of the season in free agency confirms he is not a fantasy asset with starting upside at this point in his career.
Rashaad Penny – Penny was drafted in the first round several years ago, and he has never gotten off the ground due to injuries. He came into the NFL as a talented runner, but there were questions about his fit in the Seahawks offense. Penny has hung in there, and he blew up in Week 14. He had 10 carries in Week 13 but followed that with 16 carries in Week 14. He rushed for 137 yards and two scores this past week, and he looks the part. His late-season emergence is intriguing and could be necessary for the Seahawks with running back Chris Carson dealing with a neck injury.
Craig Reynolds – Reynolds has taken a challenging route to get to the Lions backfield on Sunday. Not really recruited, no big-school offers, undrafted and moving team to team, and last week, his opportunity came. Reynolds seized that opportunity in a significant way, and he has earned more looks over the remainder of the season. He is behind running backs D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, but he saw his opportunity with Swift hurt and Williams on the Covid list. Reynolds carried the ball 11 times for 83 yards and caught two passes. There is uncertainty with Swift, and Williams needs to clear Covid protocols to get back into action, but Reynolds has earned more time.
Christian McCaffrey – McCaffrey is an absolute superstar. He has been a fantasy monster ever since he entered the NFL, but he is now in the second year of dealing with injuries that have forced him to miss significant time. I am not saying it is time to move on, but I am saying that it is time to find out what you can get for him. Running backs fall off in a hurry, and holding him too long is a mistake.
Aaron Jones - Aaron Jones has been a disappointment this season, ranking 15th in points per game, and has been out-snapped by AJ Dillon in the three games they have played together since Week 10. Jones could be hurt worse than the Packers are letting on, but in his age 27 season, an RB2-type finish can result in a significant fall in price in the offseason.
Josh Jacobs - The 2021 Raiders have been a disaster by almost every measure. Josh Jacobs has been disappointing, ranking outside the top 25 in rushing yards at the running back position, with 496 yards through 11 games. That said, he has jumped substantially in receiving production this week, averaging 4 receptions per game, and has a top 5 finish in running back receptions in his range of outcomes, despite missing multiple games. Jacobs is a mid RB2 in points per game but has top-12 production in his range of outcomes for the rest of the season with his expanded receiving role in the absence of Kenyan Drake.
Leonard Fournette - Leonard Fournette leads the running back position in receptions through 14 weeks, an incredible development for a player the dynasty community wrote off less than two years ago. Leaving the embarrassing Jacksonville franchise has been a boom for Fournette’s career, ahead of an offseason payday. Fournette is still only 26 and is having one of the best seasons of the players in the age range, making him a value in the offseason.
Rashaad Penny - The classic 'injury-prone until they are not' player who has missed a drove of games in his career, but is healthy now. Penny can be a fantasy factor in the playoffs as clearly the best talent on the depth chart in Seattle *if* he stays healthy for the first time in a while.
Nick Chubb - I am a big fan of Nick Chubb the player, but he is limited in the passing game and Cleveland has paired him with a receiving-centric option over the years. Entering the offseason, Chubb is also not an insulated running back anymore at 26.7 years old for 2022. Chubb moves outside my top-12 dynasty running backs and could be closer to RB20 by the time offseason updates are complete.
Van Jefferson - In the past four weeks, Van Jefferson has been a WR2 in fantasy. With Robert Woods injured and his status with the team uncertain, Jefferson has a golden opportunity to establish himself as a complement to Cooper Kupp. The Rams do not have the draft pedigree to draft a wide receiver clearly better than Jefferson, so a continued stretch of strong play down the stretch could help his fantasy resume substantially.
Gabriel Davis - Gabriel Davis has been one of the best wide receivers in yards per route run in the past month. With Cole Beasley a potential cut candidate in the offseason, Davis could use this recent stretch to catapult him into a WR2 role in the offense in 2022. With only Stefon Diggs under a long-term deal amongst the receiving weapons, Davis could be a big contributor in a post-Beasley offense.
Hunter Renfrow - Since Week 10, Hunter Renfrow has been WR7 in points per game. If you put Renfrow in DK Metcalf’s body, he would be a WR1 in dynasty cost. Instead, Renfrow is more of a slot option that still has a significant source of skepticism in the dynasty community. Renfrow is the type of WR1 at WR3 cost that is worth riding out in his high-end production window in 2021.
Hunter Renfrow - More than a strong drop or rise with Renfrow, his spectrum of career comps surprised me with a 2022 and beyond focus to my analysis of Renfrow recently. Slot-centric receivers are like the receiving-centric running backs - even a strong pop season rarely turns into a repeat or a continued rise. It was generally a perfect storm of use that resides back down to earth. Renfrow is quality depth in a dynasty sense but expecting a top-24 season in 2022 would require another power outage with the wide receiver depth chart for the Raiders.
Tee Higgins - What if Higgins is the WR1 for the Bengals going forward? Both Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase are strong dynasty options and attached to Joe Burrow for the foreseeable future. Few are giving Higgins much probability of being the WR1 there. At a minimum, both can eat and survive and thrive together. Higgins is in my top-15 dynasty receivers with an offseason focus.
Rashod Bateman – Bateman is an uber-talented receiver, but his production has been up and down as he is dependent on targets. He is an exciting prospect because of what he has done with a higher workload. He should stabilize a bit as the 2021 season ends, and he could be a very electric weapon in 2022.
Amon-Ra St. Brown – St. Brown has taken an excellent step in the Lions passing attack since the Lions claimed receiver Josh Reynolds off of waivers from the Tennessee Titans. He has 24 targets and 18 catches over the past two games, totaling 159 yards and a score. He is a reliable option and a long-term piece of this offense.
DeVante Parker - Parker has dealt with injuries his entire NFL career, and it is a shame because he is a very talented receiver capable of winning in many ways. He returned from a shoulder injury for the Week 13 game, and he caught all five targets for 62 yards. If Parker can stay healthy, he fills a huge need for the Dolphins in the future.
George Kittle - Kittle is younger than Travis Kelce and Darren Waller with a strong profile of production than T.J. Hockenson. There is a strong argument for George Kittle as TE2 to Kyle Pitts at TE1 in dynasty. Contenders could even have Kittle at TE1, but I would recommend Pitts even with a blended approach. Kittle is the runaway TE1 in recent weeks, lapping the position for a postseason fantasy run.
Brevin Jordan - Manage expectations, but Jordan is getting an opportunity to emerge to close the season for Houston. Also, Jordan will be a breakout candidate in 2022 for a top-12 finish if he sustains the lead role into next season. Jordan faded to Day 3 of the draft but was a strong devy prospect during college and an elite producer at a young age.
Brevin Jordan – Jordan reminded me of Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith when I watched him play at Miami. A little on the shorter side, but full of playmaking ability, and that’s been on display the past few weeks. He has been much more involved in the offense over the past six games. He has 23 targets, 15 catches, 113 yards, and three scores over that span.
Austin Hooper – Hooper had a nice outing Sunday versus the Baltimore Ravens. He was targeted seven times, and he caught five passes for 30 yards and a score. He is doing this with tight end David Njoku out, but he and quarterback Baker Mayfield have chemistry. He has a chance to finish this season strong, and if he can, he could solidify his status with the team in 2022.
Mark Andrews - Mark Andrews has taken over as TE1 on the season, ahead of Travis Kelce. Andrews leads in expected fantasy points per game from the position, the only player not named Kelce to do so since 2019. Andrews, George Kittle, and Kyle Pitts present an interesting discussion in ranking in a post-Travis Kelce TE1 world in the 2022 offseason.
Travis Kelce - Travis Kelce is at a career crossroads. On one hand, he is still a top-three scorer at the position while on the other hand, this is either the worst or second-worst year of his career in efficiency stats like yards per reception, yards per route run, and has his lowest aDOT since 2016. He should not be written off, but the risk of his decline is too high for him to be the TE1 in the offseason. If he comes down to the cost of mid TE1, he will be essentially all upside, as there is virtually no risk to select him at that cost amongst tight ends who do not have his upside in a position that largely blends together in the cost range.
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