Unlock More Content Like This With a Footballguys Premium Subscription
"Footballguys is the best premium
fantasy football only site on the planet."
Matthew Berry, NBC Sports EDGE
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 of your teams. The diversity of rankings will result in a variety of opinions weekly.
Jay Cutler – Cutler will be a free agent after this year and although he might be re-signed by the Bears, that does not look like a guarantee at this point in the season. He does not carry a reputation for avoiding injuries and in fact, has missed games in each of the last four seasons. Although Cutler has a cannon for an arm, he continues to be mistake prone and throws too many interceptions. In eight NFL seasons, he has thrown for over 4,000 yards only once and has not thrown over 20 TDs since 2010.
Kirk Cousins – Cousins has filled in admirably for Robert Griffin III III, when called upon in his two seasons in the NFL. Granted the sample size is small, but he has an opportunity to add to that success as the 2013 season winds down. He has two more years on his rookie salary and will make an average of only $615,000 in those two seasons. Washington might be willing to let him go for a draft pick to replace the bounty given up to acquire Griffin last year.
Brock Osweiler, Ryan Mallett, Kirk Cousins, Josh Freeman - With the offseason upon us, it's time to start stashing long-shot upside plays to see what happens over the next few months. Perhaps Peyton Manning retires. Perhaps Ryan Mallett gets traded. Perhaps Kirk Cousins earns the starting job in Washington. Perhaps Josh Freeman is signed to be a starter. All of these things are unlikely to varying degrees, but if any of them happens, these quarterbacks could see a sizeable value jump. Since you no longer need to worry about fielding a starting lineup every week, it's time to drop your low-upside depth and replace it with some high-upside gambles.
Matthew Stafford - Stafford struggled badly down the stretch and may have cost Jim Schwartz his job. While I think Schwartz is generally a bad football coach I do believe hi- decision to let Stafford play his way probably helped the quarterbacks fantasy production. The future is uncertain in Detroit, and while Stafford's place there is secure we don't know what type of offense he'll be in or how productive he'll be after the last few weeks. If someone tries to reign him in that could be disastrous, if someone doesn't he will continue to be an inconsistent option with the potential to post QB1 numbers one week and QB20 the next.
Ben Roethlisberger - Roethlisberger's performance in a revamped offense the last several weeks has me encouraged. The performance of Antonio Brown as a true WR1 is even better news. I was of the belief a month ago that Roethlisberger was probably done as a QB1, but in the second half he's looked like a quarterback that may still have one or two great seasons left, especially if the front office can find another weapon for him.
C.J. Anderson, Khiry Robinson, Dujuan Harris, Latavius Murray, Michael Cox - At runningback, we again have a list of guys who don't have a starting job right now, and who probably won't have a starting job next year, but are worth rostering just on the off chance we're wrong. Any of them could be productive if given a chance. They're all worthy gambles after jettisoning the inevitable roster depth that you'll no longer need over the offseason.
Ray Rice – Rice has had his least productive season of his six with the Ravens this year. He is currently averaging 0.9 yards per carry less than his previous low of 4.0 in 2010 and almost 1.5 ypc less than his career average coming into this season. He continues to be targeted often in the passing game, but his average per reception is down even more, almost 3.0 ypr below his career average. In addition to his decreased averages, his usage is down significantly also. In 2011 and 2012, Rice received 68% of his team’s running back carries, but in 2013, that number is only 56.4%. Rice will only be 27 years old entering 2014, but his dynasty value will be considerably less.
Frank Gore – Gore has played well in 2013, averaging 4.2 ypc and still getting the majority of his team’s running back carries, but he will turn 30 prior to the start of the 2014 season. His overall lack of production has been the reduction of opportunities in the passing game. Gore had three years where he caught 50 or more passes, yet has caught only 60 over the course of the past three seasons. Gore has a contract with the 49ers for 2014, values at $6.45 Million with bonuses, but the team has three low salaried options (Hunter, James, & Lattimore) available if Gore should slip.
DeMarco Murray - Murray has been an absolute stud in the final quarter of the season with his productivity only being limited by the Cowboys strange refusal to use him. I have hopes that the next regime in Dallas will recognize his brilliance and that Murray's body can stand up to a full season's worth of work. Realistically, he's a top 12 option even if he misses a couple of games, but if he played a full season with a good offensive game plan he may be a top five back.
Reggie Bush - There's no telling what's going to happen in Detroit, but to me it looks like the team is at it's best with Bell as their primary back and Bush as the best change of pace pack in the league. A 50/50 split seems likely next year, and with Bush at 29 years old when the season starts next year it's hard to count on him playing 16 games. As I look at this more in the offseason I wouldn't be surprised if I drop Bush even farther down my list.
Torrey Smith - I was higher than most anyone on Smith because he has a couple of elite skills and I had confidence that he could master the rest of the route tree and become a surefire WR1 for years to come. That confidence has waned and it's time to accept that his ceiling is probably high-upside WR2. If the Ravens go out and add another weapon in the passing game and if Smith finally makes the leap we've been waiting for, he could reach the upside we all see in him. That's too many ifs to keep him in the top 12 at his position.
Hakeem Nicks – Nicks is a free agent following this year and has been less than impressive over the course of the past two seasons. He is a talented player, but has missed games in every one of his five NFL seasons and struggled with injuries even while continuing to play. After two straight seasons (09 & 10) where he averaged 77 catches and over 1,100 yards, he has slipped back with 103 catches for 1,486 yards and only 3 TDs over the past two years. The inconsistency of the New York Giant offense in general might allow him to still be pursued in free agency, but he enters it with less than stellar production over the past two seasons.
Roddy White - White bounced back nicely from nagging injuries and now there's a real possibility that he enters 2014 healthy, with Julio Jones on the other side of the field. White doesn't have the same upside at his age as the WR2 on the Falcons, but he has enough to warrant consideration as a WR3 in dynasty leagues. The Falcons are a prime bounce back candidate next year and White will likely be a PPR monster if he's healthy and Tony Gonzalez retires as expected.
Steve Johnson – Johnson has been the default WR #1 in Buffalo for the past four seasons, but the team added a couple of talented rookies this year, so Johnson has not been quite as much the focus.. Johnson has played 12 games this year and has caught 52 passes, or 4.3 per game. He is still under contract to the Bills through 2016, but his salaries might be considered high for his production. He is scheduled to make $5.4 Million, $5.75 Million and $5.85 Million in years 2014-2016. Even if he stays, the quarterback play at Buffalo and the increased competition for targets should see his production decrease going forward.
Markus Wheaton, Emmanuel Sanders, Marquise Goodwin, Santonio Holmes, Stedman Bailey, Quinton Patton - Wide receiver is different from the other positions in that there are rarely clear-cut “backups”- with five eligible receivers on any given play, everyone gets a chance to see the field. Instead, here's a list of talented players who have the potential to see much larger roles in 2014 than they had in 2013. As we leave this season behind us, it's time to move on from players whose roles are due to shrink, and start rostering players whose roles have a chance to grow.
Coby Fleener – Fleener was outplayed by fellow rookie Dwayne Allen last year. This year, Allen was injured in the first game of the season and placed on IR. In addition, the Colts lost Reggie Wayne, and still Fleener was unable to consistently produce. He has had a few big games, but not sustained success. In 2014, the Colts will have several receivers returning and Fleener’s opportunity for targets should be diminished.
Jared Cook – Cook opened 2013 in a huge way, catching 7 passes for 141 yards and 2 TDs against the Arizona Cardinals. He caught 5 more passes in week 3, but has not caught more than 4 passes in any game since. He has led the Rams in receiving with 44 catches and yards with 614, so there might be some hope for increased production when Sam Bradford returns next year, but his play this season does not provide confidence for that improvement.
Tyler Eifert, Jordan Reed, Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, Vance McDonald, Gavin Escobar, Zach Sudfeld, Chris Gragg, Levine Toilolo, Joseph Fauria - Yes, that's pretty much just a list of every fantasy-relevant rookie tight end from the 2013 class. This is not by accident. Historically, no position is as unproductive as rookie tight ends. Even the greatest tight ends in history almost universally started their careers slowly. Many people forget this and downgrade the rookies when they predictably fail to make an impact. With the season now behind us and 2014 looming on the horizon, it's time to start moving away from mediocre veterans and grabbing disappointing rookies in an effort to land the next great tight end.
Ladarius Green - After his mini-breakout earlier in the year Green posted three straight goose eggs. I know his defenders will say that he's gong to breakout once Antonio Gates is out of the equation, and that may be true...but having three straight goose eggs is not encouraging. Green has a prime opportunity moving forward, but it's difficult to rank him above others that have either a proven performance history or more upside.
Mychal Rivera - The Raiders started the season with no proven tight ends and it looks like they've found at least one. Rivera has made some impressively athletic catches over the past few weeks and looks like the Raiders tight end of the future. Uncertainty at quarterback and River's deficiency's in the run game limit his potential, but there is no one on the roster to challenge him as a pass catching tight end and the Raiders have many more pressing needs.