Fantasy Football Dynasty Report for Week 15
Welcome back to the Dynasty Report, Footclan!
Managing a dynasty team requires year-long engagement and commitment. By far, the toughest aspect of building a dynasty roster is balancing the present and the future. And while it may seem overwhelming at times, hopefully, the Dynasty Report can provide some guidance as you build towards that championship team.
As we approach the end of the season, the dynasty landscape continues to change as depth charts are adjusted and injuries occur. If you are new to this series, each week I will provide you with the following:
- Dynasty Tip of the Week
- Dynasty Stock Report
- Bonus Segment (an intriguing statistic, college prospect evaluation, or a dynasty stash)
Let’s dive in!
Dynasty Tip of The Week
Check Your Waivers
As we approach the end of the season, whether you are a contender or a rebuilding team, you can already plan for the upcoming off-season. Part of that process is making sure your team is stocked up with as much potential and talent heading into the 2021 season. So while you are likely past your trade deadline, you can still make waiver claims that can set you up for future success. Especially with COVID-19 forcing dynasty managers to prioritize depth over unproductive, young players, you might find some intriguing names sitting on your waiver wire.
To identify players with potential upside, I like to look at the upcoming free-agent class and their respective teams. Generally, if there is a possibility that a player like Kenny Golladay or Chris Godwin might leave their current team, there may be an opening for added opportunity. In addition, keep an eye on the snap counts across some of the non-playoff teams over these next couple of weeks. Teams out of contention could look towards the future by giving their young players the opportunity to showcase their abilities for an improved role in 2021. A few players who could see added opportunity next season, and might still be available on your waiver wire:
- Tyler Johnson – Tampa Bay Buccaneers, WR
- Adam Trautman – New Orleans Saints, TE
- Isaiah Coulter – Houston Texans, WR
- Jace Sternberger – Green Bay Packers, TE
- J.J. Taylor – New England Patriots, RB
- Quintez Cephus – Detroit Lions, WR
- Lynn Bowden Jr. – Miami Dolphins, WR/RB
- Donald Parham – Los Angeles Chargers, TE
Dynasty Stock Report
Jalen Hurts – Philadelphia Eagles, QB
In last week’s dynasty report, we discussed Carson Wentz’s declining dynasty value. The direct beneficiary is Jalen Hurts, who just had his first start for Philadelphia against a tough New Orleans defense. The rookie would not disappoint as he led the Eagles to their first win since their bye week. And from a fantasy standpoint, he would finish the week as the QB11, totaling 273 total yards with one touchdown.
While his passing numbers leave plenty of room for improvement – 57% completion rate and only 5.6 yards per attempt – it’s Hurts’ mobility that makes him such an intriguing fantasy QB going forward. His ability to scramble and extend plays, similar to his days at Oklahoma and Alabama, was on full display this past week as he ran for 106 rushing yards on 18 attempts. Heading into week 15, Doug Pederson has already named Hurts the starting QB against the Cardinals, making it clear that he is the future at the QB position for this team. Assuming he continues to produce like he did this past week, fantasy managers could be looking at a top 12 dynasty QB going forward, simply due to his immense rushing floor.
Todd Gurley – Atlanta Falcons, RB
After two dominant seasons in 2017 and 2018, we saw a steep decline in fantasy production for Todd Gurley, whose total opportunities declined by 18.9% (64) from the prior year. And while fantasy managers were not expecting a return to his top tier RB1 self, there was still some optimism that a change in scenery to the Atlanta Falcons could boost his overall upside. To start the season, Gurley was actually on pace to finish as an RB1. From weeks 1 to 9, he was the RB6 in total PPR points, RB5 in rushing yards (584), and RB4 in total opportunities (181).
However, since suffering a knee injury in week 11, Gurley has not been the same fantasy player as this Falcons backfield has become more of a committee. In that timespan, his snap percentage has declined substantially to 33% after averaging 57% of the snaps to start the year. And in these last two games, he ranks as the RB64, while averaging only 9 opportunities and 25.5 scrimmage yards per game. Going forward, his dynasty value will carry some uncertainty as he approaches free agency once again. And since his fantasy value is so volume-dependent, his dynasty stock could diminish even further if he lands on a team that will not utilize him as the lead RB for their backfield.
Cam Akers – Los Angeles Rams, RB
Cam Akers has had a tough season battling injuries and playing in a committee behind both Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson to start the season. However, over the last two games, we have seen Sean McVay gradually entrust the backfield to Akers. Since week 13, Akers has led all Rams running backs in snap percentage (63%), opportunities per game (27), and scrimmage yards per game (144). And from an efficiency standpoint this season, per PlayerProfiler, Akers also leads this backfield in yards created per touch (1.52) and juke rate (20.9%) despite ranking 3rd in the league in average defenders in the box (7.3).
Cam Akers rushing vs. Patriots:
🔥 171 rushing yards
🔥 110 yards after contact pic.twitter.com/FFz8l3G1BS
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) December 12, 2020
As a result of the increased opportunity, Akers has been a matchup-winning RB for fantasy since week 13, pacing as the RB9 in PPR points per game (18.9). And assuming the Rams continue to lean on him, I expect a dominant run for Akers as he faces the Jets, Seahawks, and the Cardinals to end the season. And similar to his fellow rookie RBs, his dynasty stock continues to rise as he cements himself as the RB1 for this Rams offense.
Bryan Edwards – Las Vegas Raiders, WR
The Las Vegas Raiders have struggled to replace Amari Cooper since trading him to Dallas back in 2018. As a result, the Raiders spent their first and second-round picks this past off-season to invest in the WR position. One of those receivers was Bryan Edwards out of South Carolina, who many expected to be the X-receiver for this Raiders team. However, an ankle sprain has seemingly set Edwards back as he has yet to carve out a meaningful role in this offense.
Since returning from his ankle injury, he has played behind Nelson Agholor, Hunter Renfrow, and Henry Ruggs, accumulating only six targets in six games. As a result, his dynasty ADP has dropped from WR43 (September) to WR51 in November. So while several rookie receivers have already broken out, fantasy managers will need to remain patient with Edwards. With Agholor entering free agency after this season, Edwards’ opportunity will likely come in 2021, giving him a full off-season to acclimate to this offense.
Gabriel Davis – Buffalo Bills, WR
Since being drafted in the fourth round by Buffalo, Gabriel Davis has impressed his fellow Bills receivers after displaying a veteran-like approach to learning the playbook. However, he would have to wait on his opportunity as he would start the season playing behind Stefon Diggs, John Brown, and Cole Beasley. After Brown was placed on IR due to an ankle injury, Davis finally received the expanded opportunity to shine. Over the last three games, Davis has averaged 5.3 targets, 3 receptions, and 55.3 yards per game, while scoring a touchdown every single week. As a result, he ranks as the WR24 in that timespan, ahead of players like Mike Evans, Adam Thielen, and Robert Woods.
Davis has certainly carved out a role in this offense as a big-play receiver, so I expect him to remain involved even when John Brown returns. Per recent reports, Brown is expected to resume practicing this week, which will likely cap Davis’ production going forward. For dynasty, Davis remains a high-upside receiver as Brown approaches a contract year next season. It is highly unlikely that the Bills re-sign him, which means Davis could be the de facto WR2 behind Stefon Diggs heading into the 2022 season.
Bonus: College Prospect Evaluation
Devonta Smith – Alabama Crimson Tide, WR
If you are a dynasty manager looking to upgrade at WR, this is the draft to acquire as many picks as possible. In past dynasty reports, we reviewed Jaylen Waddle, Ja’Marr Chase, and Rondale Moore, who are all outstanding prospects at the position. This next receiver we are about to dive into is right up there contending to be the WR1 of this rookie class. Devonta Smith, Senior WR for Alabama, has been one of the most productive players over the last 4 seasons. In fact, he currently holds the record for most career receiving touchdowns (38) in SEC history, while also ranking 3rd in total career receiving yards (3,436). And after Jaylen Waddle suffered his season-ending ankle injury earlier this year, Smith would go on to lead the country in receiving yards (1,327) on an impressive 38.2% team market share for Alabama.
Most 15+ yard catches over the last two seasons:
1. DeVonta Smith – 59
2. Rashod Bateman – 47
3. Ja'Marr Chase- 46 pic.twitter.com/f2zP9VeBHb
— PFF College (@PFF_College) December 11, 2020
Smith excels in almost every facet of the game. He is one of the smoothest route runners in this class, knowing how to get open against man, press, or zone coverage. He also possesses outstanding quickness and burst, which makes him an exceptional separator at both the line of scrimmage and down the field. What makes Smith so dangerous is his ability to sell routes and deceive defenders. Even just a timely stutter or jab step can result in separation simply because of Smith’s efficient and quick feet.
And while you might hear some criticism regarding his size – measuring in at 6’1” and only 175 lbs – Smith plays so much bigger than that. When you see his ability to track the ball and fight for contested targets, you immediately forget about his smaller frame. Part of that mentality is linked to Smith’s fearlessness. He does not shy away from contact, which makes him one of the toughest receivers in this class. And to top it all off, he is also an excellent punt returner, averaging 25.6 yards per opportunity.
All in all, Smith is one of the most well-rounded receivers in this 2021 class. Ray Garvin, creator of Destination Devy, has already said that he would not be surprised if Smith is the first receiver drafted this Spring. And considering his complete skillset, I expect his draft stock to continue to rise as we get closer to the NFL draft.
NFL Draft Projection: Early-to-Mid 1st Round
Fantasy Rookie Draft Projection (1QB/1TE): Mid 1st Round