Week 7 is complete, and dynasty movement continues. Injuries have created new opportunities or raised long-term questions about players. Elsewhere young players are solidifying their opportunity for playing time and fantasy production. Weekly the Footballguys staff will share their thoughts on the dynasty ranking movement and answer a critical question you may face.
Question: What injury has most significantly impacted a player's dynasty outlook this season?
Javonte Williams was a consensus top-10 dynasty running back entering the season, but things couldn't have gone worse since. Not only did he suffer a season-ending knee injury, but he also suffered multiple ligament tears that put his long-term trajectory at risk. Many likened his injury to that of J.K. Dobbins, who has subsequently gone under the knife again after looking pedestrian in his long overdue return. Although Jeff asked us to focus on the injury, we also can't ignore how poorly the Broncos' offense looks overall under Nathaniel Hackett's stewardship.
Coming into this season, D'Andre Swift had big expectations. Most people expected the 3rd year back to take a big step forward and become a legitimate top 10 fantasy player. After opening the season with 170+ yards from scrimmage and a touchdown against the Eagles, he regressed to the middle of the starting running back tiers, and his ankle and shoulder injuries have caused him to miss the last three games. Swift has never made it a full season, and these seemingly nagging injuries have fantasy owners banging their heads against the wall. Hopefully, he comes back strong, but at this point, he's a player that most people over-paid for in redraft leagues and a guy who you have to expect will miss several games a season in a dynasty format.
There have been a few players that had injury histories that have risen and fallen rapidly, like D'Andre Swift and Michael Thomas this year. But the obvious one to me is Javonte Williams. Jason has already covered him, but I will elaborate on how desperate the situation is. I had him higher than almost anyone. He had a great rookie season and was set to phase Melvin Gordon III out. I saw a similar trend line to Derrick Henry. Unfortunately, his injury is very similar to that of J.K. Dobbins, but six weeks later in the season to that of Dobbins. Dobbins seemed to be on track to contribute this year, but setback after setback means he is unlikely to be anything, if at all, until 2023. Williams is gone for 2022 and, possibly, the entirety of 2023. His dynasty value craters. By 2024 who knows who the coach and quarterback will be in Denver, but it will be two coaches from the one who drafted him. He faces an uphill battle to ever be fantasy relevant ever again. Truly devastating.
Javonte Williams' injury shoved down his dynasty valuation from easily inside the top-five running backs in the marketplace to closer to RB15. Williams flashed as a rookie in 2021, but Denver brought back Melvin Gordon III in the offseason. Once Williams was seizing the job in the early weeks of 2022, the injury occurred. Will Denver add to the depth chart again in 2023? Will Williams be ready for Week 1? Unlike Breece Hall, who has been traded for consensus RB3-7 value in the days following his season-ending injury, Williams' injury has caused a sharp dynasty discount.
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia - Hurts may only have six passing touchdowns, but he also has six rushing touchdowns, and the Eagles look like a playoff-caliber team heading into November. That's directly related to Hurts and his command of the offense. He's posting an impressive 8.23 yards per attempt and averaging over 250 yards passing and 50 yards rushing per game. Having him on your fantasy team will give you an extra three or four points on any fantasy team that doesn't have Josh Allen at quarterback. He can literally win fantasy games by himself, and you can easily build your dynasty team around him.
Matt Ryan, Indianapolis - After posting his best stats of the season against Jacksonville - 389 yards passing and three touchdown passes, Ryan had a terrible game against the Titans and was benched for Sam Ehlinger. With Nick Foles still on the roster, it's hard to see how Ryan starts another game this season. He's had a great career, but he's probably finished as a fantasy quarterback.
Geno Smith, Seattle - Geno Smith wouldn’t be the first quarterback to have a career revival by a coach who believes he can manage the team well. Smith must be treated as the starter going forward, especially if he can eke out a winning record. Smith has been praised by head coach Pete Carroll as doing what he is told, a huge slap to previous starter Russell Wilson. Smith moves into the backup area of dynasty rankings.
Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh - Many rookies struggle to start their NFL careers. Kenny Pickett has a two-touchdown, seven-interception start as a professional. He moves down in rankings until he can manage to take that leap in his development. Keeping confident and learning will be crucial. He isn’t a lost cause by any stretch, but others are better options right now.
Zach Wilson, New York Jets - Wilson continues to hedge down in my dynasty valuations. Despite the team building around Wilson (unlike Justin Fields), Wilson has shown no progression from a bust track-level rookie season. One of the key metrics I track for quarterbacks is their TD-INT Rate Ratio. The NFL average is in the 1.00-1.10 range annually. Below 1.00 for a player's career puts them at risk of being replaced and below 0.80 is a near certainty they do not survive until the following Week 1 without strong competition added. Wilson's career mark sits at 0.60, with 2022 at 0.37 specifically. It would be a historical unicorn outcome for Wilson to skate through the rest of this season and the offseason with job security support with those numbers. By comparison, Joe Flacco sits at 1.17 this season within the same offense on 155 passes.
Russell Wilson, Denver - The Broncos' season has been a disaster, and every assumption I made about how Wilson would unlock the Broncos' offensive roster seems foolhardy in retrospect. The team is committed to Wilson for the next half-decade, so it's possible he can get healthy and have a resurgent few seasons. But 2022 looks lost, and one has to ask if the Broncos ownership will be willing to pull the ripcord on the Nathaniel Hackett experiment quickly enough to salvage Wilson's plummeting dynasty value.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati - There isn't much movement in the Top 10 this update, but I wanted to highlight swapping Joe Burrow ahead of Justin Herbert at No. 4. Herbert is still one of the elite assets at the position, but Burrow has shaken off early week sack woes and is back on track for record-setting yardage along with All-Pro level touchdown productivity. Burrow's supporting cast is younger and healthier, giving him the slightest edge over Herbert.
Bailey Zappe, New England - Zappe looked remarkably good in Mac Jones' stead, and Jones isn't pedigreed enough to confidently project as a long-term fixture in the Patriots lineup. Whether Zappe gets another chance in New England, he's not squarely on the radar for a possible starting competition as a free agent or trade target in a season or two. Zappe vaults up toward the top of the tier in dynasty leagues that routinely roster developmental backups.
Javonte Williams, Denver - The news that Javonte Williams tore his ACL and LCL, among other things, is similar to the injury of J.K. Dobbins. Dobbins has had a difficult road to recovery that is still ongoing. The injury to Williams occurred six to seven weeks further down the season than that to Dobbins, meaning that if the recovery time is similar, 2023 is a write-off as well. The 2024 season is too far to invest for dynasty managers with any certainty. Falls well outside the Top 50.
Travis Etienne, Jacksonville - The trading of James Robinson to the Jets seems to give a clear path to Travis Etienne being the dominant fantasy back in Jacksonville. That comes on top of a very productive trio of games where Etienne had 10 or more carries and solid work out of the backfield. Etienne does move up my rankings, but I still have doubts. Let us see if the coaching staff just uses another back first in place of Robinson or if Etienne has an increased workload.
D'Onta Foreman, Carolina - After brief stops in Houston, Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Foreman moved to the Titans (for a second time) and was excellent in relief of Derrick Henry last year. Carolina saw enough to sign him in free agency and was confident enough in his abilities to trade Christian McCaffery for a good price. Foreman is a cheap short-term solution for the Panthers as they rebuild. He can be useful this year and beyond for dynasty managers and has to take a big jump up rankings.
Ken Walker III, Seattle - Walker has moved into my top 10 dynasty running backs with his clarified starting role and early production track. The mind-blowing element is Walker's breakout is without any notable High-Leverage Opportunities (HLO) which weights together targets and goal-line carries. Seattle has yet to accrue a goal-line carry this season (the only team in the NFL) and is dead last in weighted HLO score overall. Walker has relied on big plays and long-range touchdowns but has delivered. Walker's burst, agility, and long speed are tough to ignore as a rookie with pedigree and a lead job.
Deon Jackson, Indianapolis - Jackson took full advantage of the nearly two full games Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines missed earlier this season. Jackson has prototypical size with quality athleticism. The key question exiting college was if he would excel in the passing game. With 16 catches over those two games, Jackson profiles as an underrated primary backup with starter upside in the future. Jackson might be dropped in dynasty leagues through the bye week gauntlet, but is an ideal stash for the next time Jonathan Taylor misses time or into the offseason, where he might win the RB2 job for 2023 Week 1.
Ken Walker III, Seattle - Walker was a consensus top-three pick in rookie drafts this year, but I wasn't willing to commit to him as a top-tier asset, given the uncertainties surrounding the Seahawks' rebuilding project. But seven weeks into the season, the Seahawks appear far better positioned than we expected, and Walker has already taken over the workhorse role. Walker looks set as a high-volume, productive feature back with double-digit touchdown potential for years to come. He moves into the Top 10 and will stay there, barring significant injury.
D'Andre Swift, Detroit - When you miss half of your games, can you be a top-five fantasy asset? While no one denies Swift's explosiveness and dual-threat potential, his inability to stay on the field has to factor into dynasty calculus. The upside is too enticing to knock Swift out of the Top 20, but I'd be marketing his wares to league mates while enough of them still see him as a potential fantasy star. Sell high.
Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas - Outside of Antonio Gibson, is there any veteran back with more red flags in the offseason? Jacobs started to break down from a heavy workload under Jon Gruden, and the front office opted against picking up Jacobs' fifth-year option. A new head coach Josh McDaniels came from a Patriots system that loved using running back committees. Yet, all the fears about Jacobs' role were misguided. He's not only still the starter, but he's also been dominant and garnered a snap share that's the envy of everyone outside of Derrick Henry in Tennessee. Whether Jacobs remains in Las Vegas or signs elsewhere, he now looks likely to be a high-volume feature back for another three or four seasons.
Gus Edwards, Baltimore - Edwards wasn't on the field for nearly two years, and it was easy to discount him on a Ravens team that's gone through a litany of other backs and was awaiting the triumphant return of the more heralded J.K. Dobbins. But Dobbins' had another knee surgery and is now a long-term question mark, at best. Meanwhile, Dobbins returned to the lineup and scored two touchdowns while running hard on a heavy workload this week. The Ravens will feed Edwards as much as he can handle.
D'Andre Swift, Detroit - The expectations on Swift are dropping like a stone. He can't seem to shake the injury bug, and fans are starting to question his commitment to the team. Swift has some serious talent, and when he's on the field, he performs at a decent level. But you don't spend a top-10 draft pick on a guy who is going to miss 1/4 of the season.
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants - Expectations on the Giants were just above zero this season. Most people expected them to be competing for the #1 overall pick. The Giants are 6-1, and Barkley is posting the best stats he has since his rookie season. If he can do this well with questionable wide receivers, imagine how well he'll perform when the Giants upgrade the rest of their offense.
Travis Etienne, Jacksonville - After a slow start, Etienne has steadily increased in production, posting his first 100-yard game last week against the Giants. He's playing so well that the Jaguars decided to trade away James Robinson to the Jets. With that move, Etienne has virtually no competition for carries in Jacksonville. He won't inherit all of Robinson's production, but if last week was any indication, Etienne could finish this season as a top-20 fantasy back after posting less than 120 yards from scrimmage in the first two games of the season.
Terrace Marshall Jr, Carolina - Marshall ran routes on almost every team dropback in Week 7 with Robbie Anderson traded away and the youth movement officially on for the Panthers. While on the bust path post-Year 1, Marshall had a 99% overall score in my prospect projection model and is poised to see plenty of playing time for the rest of 2022.
Rondale Moore, Arizona - Moore was one of my favorite prospects during his college career and entering the NFL Draft. His Arizona time has been frustrating with his lack of usage and repetitive gadget touches when in the fold. With DeAndre Hopkins back, Moore is locked into a distant ancillary role and continues on the bust track through two seasons.
Wan'Dale Robinson, New York - The Giants are 6-1 and winning close games by playing sound football in all three phases of the game. The receiving corps has been a disaster, but rookie Robinson has rounded into health at just the right time. He and veteran Darius Slayton are forming a 1-2 punch Daniel Jones can rely upon. Robinson's pedigree supports a long run as a starter in Brian Daboll's system, as Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Sterling Shepard are unlikely to be on the roster in 2023.
Noah Brown, Dallas - The Cowboys signed James Washington in free agency and spent a high draft pick on Jalen Tolbert while also investing in Michael Gallup long-term. Those three receivers were poised to hold down the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th spots on the depth chart, while CeeDee Lamb took over the top spot vacated by Amari Cooper. But performance matters, and Brown has stood out as the No. 2 behind Lamb. Even with Gallup back in the lineup, Brown has looked better. Don't be surprised if Brown becomes the team's full-time starter opposite Lamb in 2023, particularly if they opt to move on from Gallup and take the cap hit.
Romeo Doubs, Green Bay - Is the Doubs-Rodgers love affair over already? It's too early to bury Doubs, but the Packers continued inability to move the ball and Rodgers' impatience as his competitive window closes make Doubs less compelling than many of your league mates think. Doubs can lose value in many ways, including Rodgers opting to retire after the season.
Tyquan Thornton, New England - I didn't think much of Thornton coming out of college, and landing in New England made it easy to discount him in rookie drafts. But an injury-marred summer and September have made way for a healthy October and increasing role. I'm not saying Thornton is destined for stardom, but he's flashed enough where it's worth rostering him as a lottery ticket that pays off big if the young Patriots' nucleus all evolves successfully.
Chris Olave, New Orleans - Olave continues to perform well and is the clear #1 option for the Saints already. Despite missing the week six game against the Bengals, Olave still has twice as many receptions as any other receiver in New Orleans. Last week against the Cardinals, he was targeted 14 times on the 55 snaps he played. Anyone commanding 25% of the offense as a rookie is worth investing in for your fantasy team. At this rate, he'll finish in the top 20 for fantasy wide receivers and will be the guy everyone will wish they had drafted this year.
Skyy Moore, Kansas City - While Chris Olave is tearing it up in New Orleans, fantasy owners are wondering what the heck happened to Skyy Moore. Despite being on one of the best offenses in the league, Moore is averaging less than two targets per game, and he has just 100 yards receiving over the first seven games of the season. Moore has some solid potential, and the Chiefs didn't spend a second-round pick for him to not contribute to their offense. But at this point, unless there's a serious injury, fantasy owners will have to look at the 2023 season to see any value from Moore.
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati - Sometimes, there is enough ball to produce three strong fantasy wide receivers on the same team. Peyton Manning managed it, and now Joe Burrow is doing the same for the Bengals. Tyler Boyd was the third choice, but it can be argued he is outperforming Tee Higgins and is a must-start. Someone is likely moving on next year, Boyd or Higgins. If it is Boyd, he will be a guaranteed starter elsewhere. Deserves a good rise in rankings.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle - There are receivers that we constantly find reasons not to rate highly, and any excuse to look to others is taken. Tyler Lockett is one of those guys for me. Over the last five years, Lockett has consistently performed as a WR2, sometimes higher. Time to take the blinders off and give him some due respect and a rise in rankings.
Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh - Diontae Johnson is receiving the targets you want for a top-10 receiver, but the output is awful. Zero touchdowns and a low yards per-catch figure make Johnson a difficult receiver to evaluate right now. Out of the three talented receivers the Steelers have, Chase Claypool seems the most expendable, but the rise of George Pickens threatens Johnson's ranking in dynasty circles. He drops noticeably.
Kyle Pitts, Atlanta - What do you do with Kyle Pitts? The tight end position is shockingly unsettled in dynasty formats, given the advancing ages of stalwarts Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Zach Ertz, and Darren Waller. Mark Andrews is an easy No. 1, but then what? We all see Pitts' age and athleticism and see him as an easy dynasty gem. But he's been abysmal this year, and the Falcons are setting back the passing game by 30 years right now. You have to think Pitts can be the best at the position with a competent quarterback but is that something we can expect in the next few seasons? Fortunately for Pitts, the tight end position is woefully thin, so he remains a top-10 asset, but you need to discount him a round or two in overall rankings. There are another two or three dozen players at other positions I'd now trade Pitts for than I would've three months ago.
Greg Dulcich, Denver - The Broncos are having a horrible season, but Dulcich is one of the lone bright spots. After starting the year on injured reserve, most assumed 2022 would be a lost season for the UCLA rookie. But Albert Okwuegbunam has been a healthy inactive for two weeks in favor of Dulcich, who is producing immediately. Tight ends never look this natural as rookies, which bodes well in 2023 and beyond. As long as Denver gets the quarterback situation under control, Dulcich could be a must-start for years to come.
Mark Andrews, Baltimore - Andrews has just two targets last week against the Browns and is nursing a knee injury that has him missing practice. But through the first six games of the season, Andrews was the #2 fantasy tight end with over 450 yards receiving and five touchdowns. Hopefully, the injury doesn't keep him out long because he was on pace to post career-best numbers this season. Travis Kelce is still the clear #1 fantasy tight end - but Andrews is knocking on the door.
Harrison Bryant, Cleveland - Those of us hoping that David Njoku would move on in the off-season were disappointed. Harrison Bryant has demonstrated enough ability to be rated a starting fantasy tight end given the opportunity. With Njoku injured, he now has that opportunity. He rises significantly, but he now needs to prove his ability to rank even higher.
Greg Dulcich, Denver - Greg Dulcich was highly regarded and drafted high by the Broncos. A preseason injury took the wind out of his dynasty stock, but his performance since finding fitness has been highly promising. There is little confidence in the Denver offense at the moment, but Dulcich is a guy to watch closely. Back to where he was preseason.
Juwan Johnson, New Orleans - Johnson continues to impress in spurts and logged another quality game without Adam Trautman in the lineup for Week 7. Johnson is a flame-out as a wide receiver prospect but transitioned to tight end. After 12 receptions and a 25% touchdown rate in 2021, Johnson is on pace for more than 40 catches and a 10% touchdown rate this season. Johnson's body control and movement for the position are plus traits, and his use in the red zone has been promising. Johnson is still available in some of the more shallow dynasty formats as a streamer option.