| Highlighting a few key risers and fallers,
the Dynasty Dashboard assists in keeping you on top of
player valuation changes as they are developing. Further, a deep
sleeper or largely overlooked player worthy of consideration for
a spot on your roster will also be identified each week. Keep an
eye on the dashboard and drive your team toward dynasty league success.
Marshall - For some strange reason, when I pause to evaluate
the Bears WR situation through five weeks this season, I canít help
but have a visual pop into my head of Jan Brady whining, ďMarshall,
Marshall, Marshall.Ē The amount of attention the veteran receiver
is getting in the teamís aerial assault should be enough to make
the other Chicago receivers jealous. Cutler chucks the rock in Marshallís
direction seemingly nonstop. Tight coverage, double coverage, it
simply doesnít matter. Cutler has an incredible level of trust for
Marshall and it is clear the two have great on-field chemistry with
one another. Marshall is tied for 4th in the NFL with a whopping
56 targets through 5 games. Second in targets for the Bears is Alshon
Jeffery with only 23. What is interesting is that Marshall has been
targeted on a league-leading 32.9% of all of his teamís designed
pass plays. Cutler is very clearly locked into his top WR at this
Cutler is locked into Marshall - 56 targets
in five games.
Admittedly, only a couple of months ago, I was not as high on Marshall
as many others may have been. I thought the move to Chicago increased
his value, but only in a small manner. However, the way that things
have unfolded to this point has made me reexamine my position. While
the season isnít even one-third of the way completed, Marshall
is the obvious big dog in the receiving corps. He is positioned
to get a steady diet of looks from Cutler while the other receivers
will have to fight for the remaining scraps. The team isnít
going to have to put up big passing stats in order for the former
Dolphins wideout to get his. Marshall owners should be excited about
how things have worked out for their stud WR.
Gonzalez - Despite being one of the all-time greats at
his position, Tony Gonzalezís advanced age kept him a good way down
dynasty rankings boards in the preseason. Modest slippage in production
the last few years didnít help his cause either. His long-term value
dipped substantially, but even his short-term value was in question
with it appearing very unlikely that he would be able to keep up,
statistically, with the likes of Gronkowski, Graham, Hernandez and
a few others this season. Well, in case you werenít aware, it is
Gonzalez that is leading all TEs in receptions and receiving yards
at this juncture of the season. He has 39 catches for 388 yards
and 4 TDs. Not too bad for a guy that most, including yours truly,
were starting to write off as too old.
Frankly, all of the key elements of the Atlanta passing game are
all worthy of being upgraded from wherever they may have been situated
in dynasty rankings during the preseason. The Falcons are no longer
a team that is looking to lean heavily on the ground game and Michael
Turner. Make no mistake about it, they are an elite passing team.
Matt Ryan has blossomed into a special QB and he has two elite WRs
and one of the greatest TEs to ever play the game catching passes
for him. Dirk Koetter, the teamís new offensive coordinator, has
done a great job of utilizing his unitís weapons.
The receiving pie appears big enough to feed all three of White,
Jones and Gonzalez going forward, yet I would expect the veteran
TEís production to cool a bit from the hot start. Still, if
he is able to remain largely healthy, it is looking like Gonzalez
could make a real push for his first 1,000-yard campaign since 2008.
With defenses focused so heavily on White and Jones, Gonzalez should
continue to get plenty of targets. He is a great short-term solution
at TE for a playoff-caliber dynasty team. It is possible that this
will be the final year of his phenomenal career, but it is shaping
up to be a great one.
Rivers - Having Vincent Jackson and a healthy/younger
Antonio Gates to rely on as his primary options, Phillip Rivers
was a mid-range dynasty QB1. Jackson provided Rivers an elite downfield
threat. He stretched the field and repeatedly won jump balls on
behalf of his QB. Gates was a matchup nightmare at the TE position
for San Diegoís opposition. His big body, soft hands and athleticism
made him a nearly impossible to cover at times. Unfortunately for
Rivers, he doesnít have the same level of weaponry to work with
these days. Jackson now plays for Tampa Bay and it is looking more
and more like nagging injuries and age are catching up with Gates.
Malcom Floyd and Robert Meachem are decent players, yet I donít
believe that either of them have skill sets necessary to elevate
the play and production of their QB. Jackson, along with Gates in
his prime, provided Rivers with distinct advantages in specific
aspects of the passing game that he simply doesnít have any longer.
Dynasty owners that have Rivers as their outright QB1 right now
likely arenít feeling so great about their situation at the
position. While his stock is not tanking, it has edged downward
in the last several weeks. Rivers is no longer a 2nd or 3rd tier
dynasty QB but is instead now in the mix with players like Romo,
Vick and even Flacco. Serving in a quarterback-by-committee platoon
or as a top-shelf backup, Rivers can help dynasty teams this year
and beyond. However, if you are penciling him in as your unquestioned
starter week-in and week-out, then you are more often than not losing
the battle at QB in your head-to-head matchups. The return of Vincent
Brown in a few weeks should upgrade the WR position for the Bolts,
but probably only modestly.
Jackson - The 49ers have a dominant defense, so if anyone
expected Jackson to post more than merely pedestrian numbers against
them in Week 5, they were being quite optimistic. Unfortunately,
he didnít even reach pedestrian-level stats, being held to 34 yards
from scrimmage and 0 TDs. Sadly, this sort of production is not
too far off of what Jackson has averaged in his 3 games played this
year. Spraining his knee midway through Week 1ís tussle against
the Jets, Jackson simply hasnít been able to get things on track
this season. With only 128 total yards from scrimmage and no TDs,
his dynasty stock is falling at a brisk pace.
Ultimately, it is more than the slow start and potentially lingering
injury that has me worried about Jackson moving forward. First,
his advanced age at his position is a legitimate reason for concern.
Some may not realize it, but Jackson is already 31 years old and
will be 32 not too long after the Superbowl is decided this season.
RBs in their 30ís are on shaky ground. The next issue for Jackson
is the emergence of C.J. Spiller. While Jackson was out with the
aforementioned knee injury, Spiller was exceptional. He was electric
whenever he got the ball in space, consistently making big plays.
In the past two weeks, this duo has split the workload at RB, with
Jackson receiving a few more touches than Spiller. Yet, despite
the recent divvying of duties being slightly in Jacksonís favor,
I believe it is only a matter of time before Spiller is leading
the way in the Buffalo backfield, particularly once/if the Bills
are out of the playoff hunt.
Spotted in the High Beams
Randle - In Week 3 it was Ramses Barden that stepped
up at WR for the Giants. Injuries to Hakeem Nicks and Domenik Hixon
allowed Barden the opportunity to see the field much more than he
previously had, and Barden performed admirably. He registered 9
receptions for 138 yards. In Week 5, Randle’s number was called
to fill in for injured players ahead of him on the depth chart.
This time it was Nicks and Barden sidelined by injury. Given his
first significant workload, Randle came through with 6 grabs for
82 yards. The rookie undeniably had a very good game and showed
the world a glimpse of why the Giants spent a 2nd round pick on
him in the last draft.
Going forward, it might be easy for some to become overly enthusiastic
about the first-year WR out of LSU. Randle has NFL size and skills,
and he has now shown he can produce when given the opportunity.
However, while I think there are more than enough reasons to be
excited about him in the long run, people should temper their expectations
for the remainder of 2012. Once Nicks is back on the field, Randle’s
role will be greatly diminished compared to what we saw last week.
Further, Barden’s return will muddy the water even more. Randle
is talented, so he is a great player to own for the long haul, in
my view, but patience is going to be necessary as the Giants have
quality depth at the WR positions and it may take him some time
to establish a consistent, significant role for the team.