It’s the time of year when most fantasy
gamers slow down, but not so in dynasty leagues where the action
stays hot all year round. In dynasty leagues, this time of year
my focus is on two things; rookie research and acquiring players
at a discount.
Obvious acquisitions stand out like Patrick Mahomes, Saquon Barkley,
and Michael Thomas. These guys are young, super talented, and correspondingly,
SUPER expensive. More times than not, acquiring these types of players
can ruin your team because of the price you will have to pay to
obtain them. Instead, I look to less glamorous players that might
be coming off tough seasons or simply haven't broken out yet whose
return on investment will likely be much greater. When looking for
these types of players I consider age, talent, and situation as
my starting points as well as the basic market value of the player.
In this piece I will highlight five players that I am personally
looking to acquire in dynasty leagues, why they stand out to me,
and a general price Iíd be willing to pay to acquire them.
Generally speaking, non-elite quarterbacks in fantasy football are
not hard to acquire, as there is a lot of quality depth at the position.
My basic strategy in dynasty leagues is to buy older veteran QBs
that still can put up top ten numbers, or preferably buy younger
guys that have high upside but have yet to break out or are coming
off a bad year.
Mariota fits this strategy perfectly, as he is just 25 years
old, supremely talented, has put up solid but unspectacular seasons.
He is a buy low player because he has failed to live up to his potential
and is also an injury concern. Of all the quarterbacks drafted in
the past five years I would argue Mariota is physically as talented
as any of them, with adequate size (6í4íí 220),
a good arm, above average accuracy, and perhaps most important for
fantasy purposes, elite speed and quickness for the position.
While Mariota has certainly been a mediocre QB through four seasons
I would argue his (lack of) supporting cast, injuries, offensive
game plan (run heavy), and coaching (quality and quantity) have
been a big part of that mediocrity.
The injury concern is real, but that just makes him more of a bargain
right now, as QB injuries tend to be a bit fluky, especially with
guys that are elite athletes at the position.
As for his 2019 prospects, it is yet to be determined how his supporting
cast will change but Corey Davis is showing flashes of above average
talent and is going into his all-important 3rd season. Tight end
Delanie Walker should be back after injury, and Jonnu Smith is raw
With a solid amount of cap space and many experts mocking an early
WR to them, the chances are Mariotaís weapons will be improved.
Add this to a solid offensive line, an emerging run game with Derrick
Henry, system continuity, and this being Mariotaís contract
year, and I think the odds of a career season from Mariota could
be at hand. Am I saying Mariota is going to be a top 5 QB in 2019?
Absolutely not. Currently though, he is being ranked by many experts
outside the top 20 dynasty QBís even though I think he clearly
possesses top 10 upside at just 25 years old at a position where
many of the elites are being aged out (Brady, Brees, Ben, etc.).
Even if things donít break perfect in 2019, Mariota has the talent
to be an elite fantasy QB at some point so this preseason may represent
the last time you can buy him at an extreme discount. In 1 QB leagues,
Iíve seen Mariota get traded for as little as a high 3rd round rookie
pick which is insane unless your league has very few bench spots
(most dynasty leagues have large benches). Even in 2 QB and superflex
leagues, Iíve seen him get traded for an early 2nd round rookie
draft pick, which I would do in a heartbeat, especially in a supposed
down draft year.
While trading for lower-end QBís is not a sexy move, acquiring
a guy like Mariota at a big discount is the kind of move that
you can look back on in a year or two and say it really helped
build a successful dynasty team. While certain things will have
to break the right way for Mariota to be a big hit in 2019, the
investment is well worth the cost of this ultra-talented 25 year
Through two seasons David Njoku has 88
receptions, 1025 yards and 8 touchdowns in 32 games.
Iím going all in on the Browns this coming season as I love me some
the run game, and to a lesser extent Jarvis
Landry and Antonio Calloway. However, the guy that I think is
the best dynasty value in Cleveland is David Njoku.
Through two seasons Njoku has 88 receptions, 1025 yards and 8
touchdowns in 32 games. Solid numbers overall but they donít
scream elite just yet. After finishing as the TE9 in most leagues
this past year, owners are certainly well aware of Njoku but his
season was not exciting enough to make his value rise from where
it was heading into last year. While you're not going to steal
Njoku from anyone, based on his potential, Iíd argue this
is the last time youíll be able to acquire him for a discount.
First letís look at what makes Njoku special. At 6í4íí
250 and just 22 years old, Njoku is perhaps a bit slight for a
traditional role, but basically he is a wide receiver filling
the TE position, both in skillset and the way he is used on the
field. As an athlete there is little argument that Njoku is elite,
and perhaps the very best at the position, with insane measurables
in speed, agility, catch radius, and quickness.
The interesting thing about Njoku is he has only played the position
about four years now (including college), so he is still learning
the finer points of his role. Going into his third season, and
with a full offseason to build chemistry with Mayfield, I see
a potential top 4 TE season on the horizon, as one of the positions
highest upside players on an emerging offense where he should
be among, if not THE target leader on his team.
Njokuís situation is also very safe. If the Browns donít
add anyone of significance, Njoku should be a target hog, with
mediocre receiving threats around him. If they do add a WR through
the draft or free agency, Njoku is still going to get the same
amount of snaps and should be a redzone beast, as it appears Coach
Kitchens prefers to throw near the goal line rather than run.
I firmly believe Njoku is at the bottom of the Kelce/Ertz/Kittle
tier, but is usually being valued as a full tier below. In terms
of rookie draft picks, Iíve seen him get traded for a later
first (1.06-1.09) in several leagues and Iíd be fine even
paying a bit more considering the upside, position scarcity, and
age combination. This time next year you may have to pay multiple
firsts for Njoku so I recommend buying now before any hype starts
building and his value goes through the roof.
Perhaps the lowest ranked player on this list, Williams has played
second and third fiddle most of his career with the Chargers and
thus is at the very bottom of most dynasty rosters, if owned at
all (in shallower leagues). For those of us who still believe
in his talent, the opportunity might finally be coming around
for Williams to become a consistent fantasy starter.
Speaking of talent, Williams has the profile of an upper-tiered
receiver, standing 6í3íí with a massive wingspan
and near-elite speed. While nobody would mistake Williams for
a route-running technician, he now has four yearsí experience
under his belt after coming in as a raw prospect.
Still just 27 years old, Williams will finally be a free agent
and is expected to leave the Chargers in search of more playing
time. While his destination is obviously unknown, the free agent
WR list is short on quality so I believe Williams will have his
choices of place to go (within reason), and I also believe a prominent
offensive role will be his main focus wherever he signs.
The upside with Williams is that of a higher end WR2, as evidenced
by his 2016 season where he produced 1059 yards and 7 touchdowns
on 69 receptions, filling in for Keenan Allen who missed the season
with injury. If Williams goes to a place where he is the WR1 (Buffalo?
Raiders?), I fully believe he will live up to high end WR2 status,
and even flirt with WR1 numbers from time to time. Even if Williams
lands in a less than perfect situation I believe his floor should
be that of a lower end WR3, even though he is currently trading
more like a WR4.
The time to get Williams is now, before the free agency period
opens and his name gets floated around and the hype begins to
build. Personally Iíd be willing to go as high as a late
2nd round rookie pick to acquire him, and Iíve certainly
seen him go for quite a bit less. Itís certainly a speculative
trade but I believe in his talent and has some production to back
it up, along with being at a prime age to realize his upside.
While others in your league are out there throwing huge amounts
of capital for proven studs, maximize your dynasty teamís
value and acquire Williams before he becomes the next big thing.
My argument to acquire Drake is based partly on his talent but
even more on the apparent disgust that fantasy owners have for
him and the Dolphins.
While Drake is far from an elite back, he has actually done quite
well with the opportunities he has received. At 6í1íí,
210 pounds, with elite speed and good receiving skills, Drake
has the makings of a back that could touch the ball 225+ times
and be productive, yet he has maxed out at 173 touches (2018)
likely due to stubborn and conservative coaching. When given the
chance, Drake has produced with eight double-digit fantasy point
games this past year and five in 2017 despite touching the ball
18+ times in just three games in his three-year career.
Despite his very limited usage this past season Drake finished
among the top 15 at the position in receptions, receiving yards,
and yards per touch. As a player just entering the prime of his
career at 25 years old (and with little wear and tear), Drake
just needs opportunity to break off a 2-3 year run as a top 15
Speaking of opportunity, the fantasy community is very down on
Drake and the Dolphins in general. To me this presents a major
buying opportunity to acquire Drake for a price much lower than
I believe he deserves. Based on past usage, new coaching and a
team in flux we do not know what kind of role Drake will have
this year but I am willing to make some educated assumptions based
on what we do know. In the backfield, it is very likely last yearís
starter, Frank Gore, will be gone. This leaves Drake and 2018
rookie Kalen Ballage as the main backs returning in 2019. While
it is possible the Dolphins add a free agent or draft a back,
I believe it is highly unlikely it is an impact player, based
on lack of cap space and much bigger position needs (QB, defense,
In 2019, this is a backfield most likely led by Drake (15+ touches/game?).
As a player with above average receiving skills, Drake seems immune
to game script and so Iím also not worried about consistency,
especially on a team that could be playing from behind a lot.
With big play ability I think some long touchdowns will come,
which could negate the fact that the offense in general might
not be efficient or get many goaline opportunities.
While we do not know what kind of offensive philosophy new Head
Coach Brian Flores will install, it is likely that, without a
stable franchise QB in place, the run game and short pass game
will be highlighted. This plays perfectly into Drakeís strengths
and even though the Miami offense will likely not be a juggernaut,
Drake could produce top 15 RB numbers as the focal point of the
Ranked consistently outside the top 25 backs in dynasty, Drake
should be fairly cheap to acquire. With his value and the team
outlook at a new low, I believe you can get Drake for a mid or
late 2nd round rookie draft pick, a price Iím more than
willing to pay to acquire a player with upside to outproduce players
drafted much earlier in this yearís class. Donít fall
victim to the narrative around Drake in many fantasy circles,
Drake is a player on the rise.
Godwin is an interesting player to have on this list because he
has almost no chance to be the best receiver on his team and he
is already highly regarded by hardcore dynasty owners, yet I still
believe the buying window is open enough to make him a hard buy
at a decent value.
Godwin, through two seasons has had a huge range in production,
ranging from several zero and one reception games to multiple
15+ fantasy point games. There is no doubt he has the talent,
decent size (6í1íí210), above average route
running ability, quality hands (just 2 drops last year) and excellent
athleticism (95th percentile SPARQ score). The issue with Godwin
has mostly been opportunity, as he has been at best, the 3rd option
in his first two seasons, including behind target hog Mike Evans.
This coming season, the Bucs will likely lose DeSean Jackson,
making Godwin their number two option in the pass game. While
Evans will obviously still command the most targets, he will also
command the most attention, meaning Godwin should have some excellent
matchups that he can exploit. With a more capable coaching staff
in charge I believe they will capitalize on Godwinís strengths
and mismatches and a career year will be in order, especially
if they have to throw nearly as much as last season thanks to
horrendous defensive play.
The price of Godwin is debatable, as there are a ton of owners
with little to no attachment to him but also some with a cult-like
following for Godwin. In many cases Godwin will be priced at his
peak and therefore use caution when negotiating, however Iím
in several leagues where owners view him as a moderately high
upside flyer. Personally, Iíd put his peak value at near
a late 1st round rookie pick in this 2019 class, but I am a big
believer in him, more than most. If you can get him for a mid
2nd round rookie pick that is probably more realistic and ďsafeĒ.
With talk of DeSean Jackson re-signing it may be a good time to
put out feelers for Godwin, but I do not believe Jackson will
return to the Bucs, based on their cap space and his lack of chemistry
with Jameis Winston.
Godwin, like others on this list, represents a guy that you can
get for ďaverageĒ value right now but is poised to
take a big leap in his third season, providing a quality return
on your investment.