We are almost a quarter of the way through the NFL season already as we enter October. We have enough new data points to aggressively update our priors but not enough to feel confident that some of the breakout fantasy performers will keep putting up big numbers. Figuring out the proper balance between acting on new information and not overreacting to small sample sizes is a major challenge at this point of the season and danger lies in wandering off too far in either direction. This month’s article will try to help guide you along that path towards determining what is real and what was just a mirage.
The dynasty trade value chart is tailored to 12-team PPR leagues a starting lineup of one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, and one flex. It now also includes trade values for Superflex leagues in a separate column. The chart is meant to serve primarily as a guide for trades but can also be a great resource during startup drafts. If the players and picks on each side of the trade offer add up to approximately the same number, the trade would be considered even. If you receive a trade offer that sends you players with a higher total number value than the players you are giving up, the offer is worth strongly considering. Each league is different, so pay close attention to the scoring and starting roster requirements specific to your league.
Dynasty Web Apps
We recently introduced a customizable dynasty trade value chart that adjusts the player values to fit your league size, starting lineup requirements, and scoring. Thank you to all who provided feedback. The newest version is available here:
We also made a simple dynasty trade value evaluator that allows you to analyze potential deals by entering the players and picks involved. It is available here:
These are still in the early stages of development so any and all feedback is appreciated (email@example.com or @hindery on twitter).
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- We have seen some quarterbacks take a step back after strong rookie seasons once the league gets a book on their tendencies. We are seeing the opposite from both Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow. These two are going to be a problem for AFC defensive coordinators for the next decade and players you can build your dynasty rosters around.
- Sam Darnold is the biggest riser of the early season. At this point, the “post-Adam Gase bounce” is almost unquestionably a real thing. It is also a reminder of how situationally-dependent quarterback success is. We tend to over-simplify and put it all on the shoulders of the individual but the success of a young quarterback is almost as much about the support structure (coaching, scheme, offensive line, and skill positions) as it is the player themself.
QB Leaders in Rushing FPG — Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) October 4, 2021
1. Lamar Jackson (10.0)
2. Sam Darnold (8.8)
3. Daniel Jones (7.7)
4. Kyler Murray (7.2)
5. Jalen Hurts (7.2)
6. Taysom Hill (7.4)
7. Tyrod Taylor (5.8)
Sam Darnold is averaging 23.7 FPG (5th-most), not far off his Gase-adjusted expectation pic.twitter.com/bGqlYDE0Cn
- It has been a mixed bag for all of the top rookie quarterbacks. If you judged any of the top five by their best moments, you could rank them way up there. On the other hand, if you looked at their lowlights, it would be enough to make you want to panic trade them away before the bottom falls out of their value. Patience is like a virtue here but if you have a strong gut feeling one way or the other on any of these guys, this is where you can get an edge on your opponents because the ultimate dynasty value of each of these guys is still very much in flux.
- Overall, it has been a slow start in terms of elite running back production. Derrick Henry has been the lone exception, scoring 4.0 PPG more than the RB2. His age is a concern but with running backs, you have to live in the moment. It is hard to underestimate the weekly edge an elite back provides in the short term so value Henry accordingly.
- Dalvin Cook has been a monster on the field but the injury issues have been plentiful enough throughout his career that he feels like an extra-risky dynasty asset.
- Najee Harris is on pace for 111 receptions. Yes, the Steelers offensive line is bad. The longer-term quarterback situation is scary, as well. His big-play ability at the NFL level is yet to be determined. But Harris looks like the rare back who is going to get massive usage as a runner and receiver going forward. How many guys can you say that about right now with any real confidence?
- D'Andre Swift has been banged up and in a virtual timeshare with Jamaal Williams. He is averaging just 10.2 carries per game in a bad offense. But then you look at the stats and see he is still the RB7 through four weeks. When in doubt in PPR leagues, focus on target projections. Swift is on pace for 98 receptions this season.
- Aaron Jones is a Top 5 running back yet again. He is a player who I struggle to value. The production continues to be there but I can’t help but worry about the lurking presence of A.J. Dillon and wonder if Jones is going to fade by the fantasy playoffs. Jones continues to carry significant dynasty value but won’t be on any of my rosters.
- Most overestimate their ability to predict future events. A probability-based framework is uncomfortable and may seem like hedging to some but it is the best way to approach inherently uncertain situations. Like the future of the Jacksonville backfield. If anyone tells you they know for sure how this situation will play out with James Robinson when Travis Etienne is added back into the mix next year, do not believe them. My take in the order of likelihood: (1) a timeshare with Etienne getting roughly one-third of the carries and over half of the targets, (2) Robinson holding onto the clear lead role with Etienne limited to a bit part, and (3) Etienne grabbing a clear lead role and Robinson fading to the background. Add it all up and is a high-risk, high-reward Top 20 dynasty running back and Etienne is not too far behind.
- The Philadelphia backfield is another spot where the pecking order in the medium term is also very much in doubt. We have seen Kenny Gainwell getting additional opportunities at Miles Sanders’expense. This is a situation to watch. If you did not hedge your bets on Sanders over the offseason, it may be too late now.
#Eagles RB usage through 4 weeks— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) October 4, 2021
- Miles Sanders: 65% snaps, 9.3 carries per game, 3.5 targets per game, 11.7 fantasy PPG
- Kenny Gainwell: 35% snaps, 4.8 carries per game, 4.5 targets per game, 10.1 fantasy PPG
- Ja’Marr Chase The WR12 fantasy ranking after four games is especially impressive considering Chase is just 21-years old and he sat out his final college season. If he continues to produce at this level, he will be in the conversation as the #1 overall pick in startup drafts this offseason.
- D.J. Moore Moore will leapfrog older guys like Davante Adams and Stefon Diggs in the dynasty wide receiver rankings if he can sustain his fast start. All of the hype was focused on fellow 2018-first-rounder Calvin Ridley this offseason but Moore was quietly situated just as well and is the one making good on his opportunity.
- Devonta Smith Each of the three wide receivers drafted in the top part of the first round are off to a strong start. Smith is showing some signs he has superstar potential. He has the speed, length and catch radius. If he keeps adding polish to his route running, look out.
- Quarter Season Star #1: Deebo Samuel WR3 overall feels a little bit fluky and is aided by a pair of long touchdowns. But a top 15 finish is certainly realistic given his talent and the potency of the 49ers offense and he belongs in the dynasty Top 20 at the position. Samuel was the third WR selected in the 2019 NFL Draft and had 802 yards as a rookie before his injury-plagued second season, so it is not like he has come completely out of nowhere.
- Quarter Season Star #2: Mike Williams The Chargers coaches told us all offseason Williams was going to put up big fantasy numbers. His WR7 overall numbers after four weeks actually seem sustainable based upon his usage and the elite play of Justin Herbert. The only thing holding that should give us pause is the fact he could hit free agency after the season. A new system and new quarterback would be major blows to his value.
- Quarter Season Star #3: Marquise Brown This feels like a legitimate post-hype breakout for Brown, who is the WR13 on the season. We saw a similar trajectory from Tyler Lockett after failing to live up to the initial hype.
- Kadarius Toney has been a personal favorite who has been flying a bit under the radar due to a rough offseason. We started to see some glimpses in Week 4 of why he was a first rounder on a whole lot of NFL boards. The buy-low window should still be open.
Kadarius Toney at the bottom of the screen gets such a clean release here that you can see the DB's lower half buckle. Play could be dead at the catch point for some WRs, but Toney already has his next move in mind. Shifts body weight, creates more YAC. #Giants #TogetherBlue pic.twitter.com/1DMZwKjnAj— Dan Schneier (@DanSchneierNFL) October 5, 2021
- Hunter Renfrow is a deeply discounted version of Cooper Kupp. Slot wide receivers always seem to sneak up on us in fantasy. If a guy is not a physical specimen, it takes longer for us to appreciate the level of production. Renfrow is WR21 through four weeks, just ahead of Calvin Ridley, DeAndre Hopkins, and CeeDee Lamb through four weeks.
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- It is early but it looks like another season where very few tight ends are going to really matter in the grand scheme of things. We just are not seeing many tight ends who are consistently producing. This lowered floor means that any production we do get at the position has added value. In this case, we almost need to view Travis Kelce and Darren Waller as if they were elite, older RB1s. That is how big of a weekly advantage we are getting from having them in our lineups when compared to replacement value.
- This comparison to replacement value at the position is why we should still be valuing Kyle Pitts as an elite dynasty asset despite his slow start. If he does reach anywhere near the Kelce/Waller level of production, his total fantasy PPGAR (points per game above replacement) should be as high as any player in the entire NFL over the next decade.
- Dawson Knox is quietly off to a very strong start. It could just be a momentary blip on the radar but we should be open to the possibility that we are seeing him emerge as a legitimate top producer at the position. Given the pass-heavy Bills scheme and lack of other big-bodied red-zone targets, Knox has legitimate 10-touchdown upside. The athleticism is there for Knox to be a major mismatch problem for defenses and the arrow seems to be pointing up. It is worth testing the waters to see if he could still be had on the cheap in trades.
Just saw Dawson Knox called a “spare part” in this #Bills offense. ðŸ¤·â™‚ï¸ twice as many receiving TDs as anyone else on the team, tied for team lead in red-zone targets, top 5 in NFL in RZ targets, 2nd in NFL in RZ reception, 2nd in RZ TDs. Fill my roster with those extra pieces.— Greg Vorse TV (@GregVorse) October 4, 2021
2022 Rookie Picks
The college football season is approximately 40% complete already so we have a big enough sample size to start making some more informed decisions about what 2022 rookie drafts will look like. Unfortunately, the lack of overall excitement I felt for this group heading into the season might have actually even dropped a little bit. There may not be a single position that ranks as above average compared to recent classes.
There are two positives. First, there are quite a few draft-eligible quarterbacks who are at least somewhat intriguing. Second, most of them have at least some rushing upside. Now, the big negative. There does not look to be a single sure thing NFL starter in the bunch. Malik Willis, Matt Corral, Sam Howell, Spencer Rattler, and Carson Strong seem to be the top names. I’m intrigued with Malik Cunningham as a longshot with fantasy upside. However, you can point to some obvious flaws with each and not all of them will end up entering the draft. My guess is one or two emerge as Top 10 picks by the end of the process just because QB-needy teams will talk themselves into it but this looks like a below-average class overall.
Running Back: D
Breece Hall, Isaiah Spiller, Kenneth Walker, and Kyren Williams each look like potential Day 2 prospects. However, if you were picking the four or five best running backs in the country, they might all be true freshmen or sophomores.
Wide Receiver: C
Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Treylon Burks, and Drake London feel like the surest things at this point. We should see at least two of them go in the first round. Jahan Dotson, Dontay Demus, Wan’Dale Robinson, and others are interesting. This is probably the skill best position group for 2022 but still ranks below the last couple of classes.
Tight End: D
Jahleel Billingsley has spent much of the early part of the season in Nick Saban’s doghouse. Jalen Wydermyer has disappointed. Charlie Kolar and Sam LaPorta are fine. There’s just not much to get excited about here.
Overall, it looks like a down year. Rookie picks always have solid trade value and tend to appreciate in value the closer the draft gets. That being said, the best move may be targeting picks in 2023 and seeing if you can get them at a time-value discount despite it being a stronger class.