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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.
Lamar Jackson - Jackson, before injury, was having a poor year (putting it lightly). This is specifically as a passer. Jackson also has seen a decline in his rushing efficiency and touchdowns, but my concern level is being raised looking at Jackson strictly as a passer. His ratio of touchdown rate to interception rate is borderline horrific this season. In a vacuum, it is low enough to be at risk of losing his job the following year. Jackson is at no such risk, but his dynasty market value warrants careful consideration of what if Jackson is not quite so dynamic or impactful as a runner in the future.
Taylor Heinicke - Heinicke has been a great story from late last season until now. However, the historical prism is Heinicke will devolve into a longer-term backup at best soon (possibly in the next two weeks with Washington wanting to see more of Kyle Allen). Heinicke is probably not worth a roster spot in a stock 1QB format into the offseason.
Trey Lance – Lance is in a position to start for the 49ers with starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo dealing with a fracture and a torn ligament in his thumb. While nothing is off the table yet, it sounds as if Garoppolo will try and gut this out, and we have to wait and see what happens this week. Lance appears here because he likely costs less to acquire right now than he did during your draft, and his time to take this job is now. Lance will be a very productive fantasy quarterback, and if you can get him now at a bit of a discount, it is a move you should make.
Joe Burrow - Burrow has made moves up this list all year, and while he was already very high on the dynasty rankings, he has moved into elite QB1 territory at this point of the 2021 season. The last time he appeared here (two weeks ago), I wanted to see more from him than the few throws that popped every week, and he has done that. He has excellent weapons and terrific rapport with all of them. The Bengals offense is loaded in the short- and long-term, and Burrow has likely cemented himself as a top-five dynasty quarterback entering the 2022-23 season.
Justin Herbert - Herbert belongs in an elite group of quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes II, Josh Allen, and Dak Prescott. Herbert has multiple hits through two seasons and presents both a high-end passing upside to go along with rushing potential. Herbert’s growth as a passer from year one to year two was not a foregone conclusion as much of his rookie season production was the product of high variance production on third down and under pressure. With two seasons under his belt, Herbert is on an elite track and one of the faces of the quarterback position for years to come.
Baker Mayfield - Mayfield is one of the most underperforming quarterbacks in the league. While Mayfield has been unable to elevate his team because of injuries, this is not a great excuse considering Aaron Rodgers has not practiced in weeks and may be in line for his second consecutive MVP award. Mayfield is firmly on the non-success track at the position without any contractual security and warrants pivoting from early in the offseason.
Joe Mixon – Mixon has earned the trust of fantasy players as he is a true full-workload running back in a league devoid of them. I think he is a top-five running back for next season as he plays in a stacked offense and rarely leaves the field. Mixon was high in the rankings to begin with, but he has passed players like Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and Panthers Back Christian McCaffrey for dynasty purposes.
David Montgomery – Montgomery is a critical building block for the Bears offense, and there should be little impact as to who is playing quarterback for him. Some running backs are very dependent on specific quarterback play (think Alvin Kamara with quarterback Drew Brees and without Drew Brees, or what the Steelers have done with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and their stable of running backs), but Montgomery is not that type of player. Montgomery is a dangerous player as a runner and pass-catcher, which means he does not necessarily need to come off the field. He is already very productive, and while he isn’t immune to the change that is coming, he can handle the changes better than most running backs in the NFL.
Travis Etienne – Etienne was a first-round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, but he was injured in training camp and has missed the entire regular season. Starting running back James Robinson suffered an Achilles injury this weekend, and it is a significant injury to overcome. Etienne likely enters training camp in 2022 as the undisputed starter, and you may be able to acquire him for much less than what was paid on draft day. He is a very talented player, capable of generating production as a runner and pass-catcher.
Saquon Barkley - Barkley has failed to make a difference in fantasy football in nearly three years. Since his return from his latest injury, Barkley (11.2 points per game) has been a Devin Singletary-type performer (11.1 points per game), with a more popular name. Barkley’s defenders will point to the Giants’ troubles on offense as an excuse for Barkley’s play, but that fails as an excuse because Barkley has underperformed his backup, journeyman, Devontae Booker. Barkley’s dynasty stock should take a significant ding until he shows the upside of his pre-draft hype and rookie season performance.
Josh Jacobs - Jacobs entered the season thought of as a run-centric back without any receiving upside. Jacobs has proceeded to have the worst season of his career rushing, while coming in sixth in receptions at the running back position with the potential to finish as high as the fourth running back in receptions on the season. Jacobs will be an RB2 finisher on the season and has three hits in as many seasons, with both run-centric and receiving-centric production profiles on his resume. If the Raiders get on the right track organizationally, Jacobs has the type of Leonard Fournette blend of skillsets to produce elite finishes at the position.
Cam Akers - The return of Cam Akers from a July torn Achilles tendon is remarkable. Caution is warranted on vaulting him on the position because there have not been major successes from running backs who have torn their Achilles tendon. However, there are reasons to be optimistic. First, Akers will likely play before the offseason to give dynasty GMs an idea of how his recovery has gone. Second, there have been successful recoveries from recent running backs (Kene Nwangwu, DOnta Foreman, and Marlon Mack) along with athletes like Kevin Durant in other sports. The return of Akers is a great story, and one to watch closely as the season winds down.
James Robinson - A torn Achilles now clouds Robinson's 2022 outlook (unless on an apparent Cam Akers-like timetable) and adds to Travis Etienne's assumptive return next season. Will Robinson be considered the favorite over a Round 1 running back like Etienne? At a minimum, Robinson's injury softens the incumbent probabilities, adding to the new coaching staff.
Saquon Barkley - Barkley has underwhelmed in recent weeks and the announcement of the head coach and quarterback returning for 2022 has a status quo projection for a franchise (and running back) to soften Barkley's appeal for an age 25 bounce back to his previous highs. Barkley is still decently insulated by the market (see Joe Mixon this year for an age 25 previous example), but 2022 is a critical must-have year for Barkley to return to form.
Jaylen Waddle - Waddle’s rookie season breakout is approaching an Anquan Boldin level. Waddle should challenge for the most receptions by a rookie and will be nearly impossible to keep out of the top 10 wide receivers in offseason ranks. If Miami lands an upgrade at quarterback this offseason, Waddle’s stock could elevate even higher.
Tee Higgins - Higgins is coming off a huge performance in Week 16 and is firmly inside the top 20 of the position in scoring this season. Higgins’s value will likely be capped by the presence of JaMarr Chase in the offense, but Higgins has established himself as a high-end number two wide receiver alongside Chase in a Joe Burrow-led offense. The offense has the makings of a good core for years to come.
Diontae Johnson - Johnson is firmly in the top 12 of the wide receiver position despite playing with a severely limited Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh will likely see a quarterback change in the offseason, but it is difficult to see a way the situation gets worst for Johnson. All told, Johnson is a strong performer who will likely remain a value because of the quality of his situation.
Zay Jones – Jones has become the No. 2 option in the Raiders passing attack, emerging over the past four to five games. He has 36 targets and 25 catches over the last five games with 192 yards. There was an opportunity to fill the No. 2 role with the Raiders, and Jones looks to have stepped into it.
Josh Palmer – Palmer was an exciting prospect entering the NFL from Tennessee, but it looked like it would take time for Palmer to produce as he was behind several entrenched starters. However, injuries and the Covid situation have pushed Palmer into playing an important role. Palmer has scored in two of the last three games, generating 124 yards on 11 catches while seeing 14 targets. It will be hard for Palmer to jump ahead of the players in front of him, but he is talented and moving up the rankings.
Odell Beckham – Beckham is quickly becoming the second option in the Rams passing game. He has earned the trust of quarterback Matthew Stafford, and Stafford is rewarding him with targets in the red zone. Beckham is only 29 years old, and there is still tread on his tires. He should continue to be productive in the Rams offense, and it looks like his career has been rejuvenated. If he finishes strong, he will re-emerge as a very relevant option in dynasty formats.
Julio Jones - Jones had a lost year in 2021 with injury and a lack of impact. At 33 years old for 2022, Jones had zero wiggle room for a down year for his dynasty value. Jones will be in the flier zone and I would bet sold for Round 3 or Round 4 picks regularly in the offseason.
Tyler Johnson - Johnson is an early-caution-flag example for the young wide receiver with some semblance of buzz for a rise in the offseason or next season. Johnson has yet to be entrusted with much of a workload and, despite Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin slated as free agents, there is no guarantee one (or both) will be gone or Tampa would not keep Johnson down the depth chart with other options. Johnson, on a base level, is a Day 3 wide receiver with a few flashes, one of the riskiest profiles to value all that highly in dynasty trading or even a roster spot.
Rob Gronkowski - Gronkowski is an interesting dynasty valuation. He has already retired once and is to be considered iffy to return any singular offseason for another year. That said, Gronkowski is a strong bet to outproduce his younger peers in a one-year window in 2022 should he return. This reminds me of Tony Gonzalez in his later years where he produced well but his market value was shot. I have Gronkowski in the TE10-15 range for his upside is plenty below him do not possess the odds of even one impactful season in the future as Gronkowski.
Logan Thomas - Thomas' 2021 season was derailed by injury and his profile by career arc is riddled with risk. Eight years into his career, Thomas will be a one-hit-wonder (TE7 in PPG in 2019) and coming off an injury. Plus, John Bates has flashed late this season as a developing rookie on the same depth chart. Also, Washington has yet to fix their ancillary wide receiver spots beyond Terry McLaurin and will be in the quarterback market this offseason. Thomas has 2TE value, but minimal appeal as a strong hold in 1TE formats.
Brevin Jordan – Jordan continues to play incredibly well for a rookie playing a challenging position in the NFL as the transition is tough. Most tight ends struggle in year one, but Jordan has looked terrific at times and has carved out an important role in the Texans offense. Jordan has two touchdowns in the past four games he has played in, seeing 18 targets. He has 13 catches and 112 yards over that span.
Dalton Schultz – Schultz is an emerging superstar tight end playing in an incredibly potent offense. Dallas has many weapons, but quarterback Dak Prescott looks for Schultz a lot. Over the past six weeks, Schultz has seen 40 targets, 31 catches, 295 yards, and three touchdowns. Schultz can be viewed as a TE1 going into the 2022 season.
Noah Fant - Fant has performed almost exactly at expectation in the past three seasons. This is better than underperforming expectations but will be difficult to make a difference outside of a notable improvement in the quarterback position in the offseason. Fant represents a key pivot candidate in the offseason.
Darren Waller - Waller has only played 10 games this season but has performed to an elite level when on the field. However, Waller is turning 30 next season with injury concerns which creates a dangerous value profile heading into the offseason. If Waller settles outside the top 5 tight ends in the offseason, he will be a target player because he had TE1 upside in a range of the position without that upside.
If you would like to review our most recent Dynasty rankings, here is a link.