For novice fantasy football enthusiasts, this
time of year is slow and mostly uneventful, but for hardcore dynasty
owners the next several months are some of the most exciting, and
potentially valuable parts of the dynasty football cycle.
One of my favorite things to do in the “offseason” is
to acquire players at a value below their future potential. Whether
their 2019 season was lackluster in performance or the player was
struggling with injury, or their perceived value in the community
is lower than what it should be, owners should be looking to gobble
up shares of these players before any sort of potential hype may
boost their value this summer.
The following are 5 players that I am targeting heavily the next
few months that represent an opportunity to get a great return on
There are very few people who would rank Sam Darnold inside their
top 12 dynasty Quarterbacks, and up to this point in his career
he has given fantasy owners very little reason to. Missing six
games in two years and finishing outside the top 20 QBís
both seasons has made Darnold more of an afterthought in the fantasy
football community. With big name quarterbacks getting all the
attention and hype, Darnold is likely very deep on someoneís
bench, or possibly not owned at all in shallow 1 QB dynasty leagues.
The Jets and Adam Gase are being laughed at more than praised
leading most Jets players, including Darnold, to get a bad rap
in the dynasty community.
Darnold remains one of the more naturally talented players at the
position and the fact that he is still just 22 years old means there
is lots of time for him to turn things around. Iíll say that
again, Darnold is just 22 years old. He is younger than Joe Burrow
but with two years of NFL experience under his belt. On the field,
Darnold has shown glimpses of greatness, especially towards the
end of his rookie season, and the middle of the 2019 season. He
improved his completion percentage and his TD/INT ratio in year
two despite having one of the more mediocre receiving corps in the
entire league and one of the worst offensive lines. Darnold showed
a lot of poise under pressure and had some WOW plays using his legs
to avoid the defense and make impressive throws.
The circumstances Darnold has been in his first two seasons (fluke
injuries, bad supporting cast, changing systems, Gase as coach)
are about as bad as it gets for a young QB, yet Darnold has shown
progress and potential in spite of these obstacles. To me the arrow
has no choice but to point up, as it is likely the Jets improve
their supporting cast this offseason and fire Gase in the next 12
months. As these circumstances unfold, the price tag on Darnold
will creep up so donít wait around, be proactive and grab
Darnold on the cheap while you still can.
Bold prediction: Darnold will be a top 12 fantasy QB
in 2020 and will be top 7 sometime in the next three seasons.
Other Quarterbacks to Target:
Wentz, PHI: Wentz had the absolute
worst wide receiver unit in the NFL for much of the season. This
will improve dramatically in 2020.
Tannehill, TEN: Most believe 2019
was a fluke but he was very efficient (70.3 comp %) and should
have a full offseason as the starter with an impressive receiving
corps and potentially more pass attempts per game in 2020.
I know, we are going deep here right away, but thatís normally
where the bargains are! Chase Edmonds is one of my favorite deep
acquisitions this offseason for a couple reasons. First, he is
way under the radar as 99.9% of the Arizona Cardinals fantasy
talk revolves around Kyler Murray, Christian Kirk, David Johnson
and Kenyan Drake. Under the radar usually means dirt cheap as
well, and in my mind, major value.
Second, you want a part of this backfield for 2020, as the offensive
scheme was allowing a lot of running room despite a well below
average offensive line.
Third, Edmonds, when given an opportunity to be the man, responded
with 126 yards and 3 touchdowns in Week 7 against the Giants.
If not for a very untimely hamstring strain, Edmonds could have
had a huge second half of the season, but unfortunately for him,
Kenyan Drake came in and dominated the touches and production,
never looking back.
For the upcoming season the backfield is a complete question mark,
as David Johnson still has a huge contract and basically canít
be cut, and Kenyan Drake is a free agent, but has expressed interest
in staying in Arizona. While I think there is very little chance
the Cardinals go into the season with Edmonds as their starter,
I think he will get meaningful touches right away and is a very
underrated and undervalued handcuff to whoever the starter will
As an Edmonds believer and optimist, I could see a scenario similar
to 2019 Austin Ekeler, where Edmonds gets a ton of receptions,
some carries, and perhaps a handful of games as the starter due
to injury or hot hand. With the Cardinals likely to improve the
line, Kyler becoming more comfortable in year two, and the entire
offense taking another step forward, this backfield could be a
goldmine, with Edmonds being by far the best value.
Bold prediction: Edmonds will finish as a top 24 RB in PPR leagues
Other Running Backs to Target:
HOU: Efficiency is off the charts, he just needs more opportunity
and still in the prime of his career. He should be dirt cheap as
LAR: The dynasty community freaks out about his health
but he held up well in 2019 and offensive line should be a major
focus this offseason. Gurley still has a nose for the end zone and
could re-emerge as a top 10 back in 2020.
Freeman, DEN: Freeman fits what new
offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has historically done. Freeman
is just 24 years old and profiles as a three-down back.
Samuel is my number one value target in all of dynasty this offseason,
as his 2019 season was mostly a disappointment, outshined by a
breakout year from D.J. Moore and a historically great year from
There were a number of things that worked against Samuel but most
of them revolved around the Panthers quarterback position. In
training camp we would get daily updates about how Samuel was
the most impressive player, routinely catching passes from Cam
Newton and making the defense look silly. Fast forward to Week
3 of the regular season and there is no more Cam Newton under
center for the remainder of the year. In his place was noodle-armed
Kyle Allen who was a game manager and check-down artist who routinely
missed Samuel downfield, even when wide open.
Despite Samuelís lackluster cumulative stats, there was
definitely reason to get excited if you looked deeper. Samuel
finished 9th in the NFL in air yards, and 4th in aDOT among receivers
targeted 75+ times, basically meaning he has huge big play potential
with better QB accuracy. Add this to his rushing usage and production,
which has gone up in each of his first three years, and Samuel
has the makings of a dynamic playmaker on the cusp of a breakout.
With a new, and more creative coach coming to town in Matt Rhule,
an upgrade at QB (Newton, a free agent, or a rookie), the last
year of his rookie contract as motivation, and the defenses continuing
to focus on Moore and McCaffrey, Samuel could be in the midst
of a perfect storm for a breakout year despite not being ranked
among the top 30 fantasy receivers. The time to get Samuel is
now, before the Panthers decide on a QB, because anyone but Allen
will be an upgrade.
Bold prediction: Samuel will finish 2020 as a top 18 fantasy
WR in both standard and PPR leagues.
There is one thing that anyone who has played dynasty fantasy
football for several years will confirm; the dynasty community
is biased, in some cases extremely, when it comes to age of players
and their value. Time after time I see young unproven players,
sometimes even rookies, being valued over guys that were legit
studs a year or two previously simply based on age. Thielen, who
will be 30 by the time the season starts, had a down year in 2019
missing basically half the season with injury.
The injury, down year, and advanced age make a perfect storm
of buying opportunity in my eyes, as Thielen never missed a game
previously, has relatively fresh legs for a 30 year-old, and was
a back to back 1,200-yard receiver previous to 2019. While Kirk
Cousins gets a lot of flak in the fantasy community, the truth
is, he is an above average starter who seems to favor Thielen
as his number one target, even with Stefon Diggs on the opposite
Speaking of Diggs, there are plenty of trade rumors swirling this
offseason and Diggs himself has not helped to calm these rumors,
as he recently removed anything Vikings-related from his Instagram
account. If Diggs moved on it would obviously leave a huge target
void, of which Thielen would be the biggest beneficiary. Even
if Diggs stays, Thielen should rebound as Cousins go-to guy on
a team whose pass attempts (30th in NFL last year) is bound to
climb in 2020.
Buy Thielen ASAP before Diggs possibly leaves, and even if he
stays heís an absolute value as an older vet poised to return
to form for at least one to two more seasons.
Bold prediction: Thielen returns to top 12 WR status in 2020.
Other Wide Receivers to Target:
Lockett, SEA: Most are on the DK
Metcalf hype train as the Seattle receiver to own but Wilson
to Lockett is one of the most efficient duoís in the NFL and Wilson
is pushing to throw more in 2020.
CIN: Deep but cheap. Tate is in line for a QB upgrade.
He flashed in 2019 and I think itís doubtful the Bengals bring
back A.J. Green.
Harry, NE: One of the few 2019 rookie Receivers NOT
to break out, Harry might be the most talented of the class, but
never could get on the field enough to showcase his abilities.
As an owner who fell in love with Smith as a rookie (I drafted
him several times), things haven't exactly panned out. Smith has
yet to top 35 receptions or 450 yards in a season and even when
perennial starter Delanie Walker has been out with injury, Jonnu
has been less than consistent.
What has been holding Smith back is his raw abilities. A freak
athlete (93rd percentile SPARQ score), Smith went to Florida International
and mostly got by (and drafted) on his athleticism, while needing
a lot of work on the finer points of the tight end position -
a position notorious for taking several years to master. With
Walker entrenched as the starter, Smith had struggled to get snaps
his first two seasons, but finally went over 700 in 2019, which
was over 100 more than his previous career high. With the extra
playing time, Smith looked more refined and still as explosive
as ever, posting a hearty 9.8 yards per target, with 8 of his
35 receptions going over 20 yards. Just as exciting, the Titans
found ways to get Smith involved as a rusher, giving him 4 carries
for 78 yards, including a 40+ yard memorable run in the playoffs.
With Walker likely to leave the Titans this offseason, Smith looks
like the clear-cut starter on a suddenly efficient ad even dynamic
offense. With an already solid offensive line, the hope is Smith
will be mostly focused on running routes, and with very competent
receivers and a strong run game, the defensive pressure should
not be focused on Jonnu most of the time.
Still just 24 years old, Smith looks like he could be on the verge
of his true breakout year in 2020 but does not have the hype surrounding
his name. As good an athlete as anyone at the position, Smith
can provide the ďboomĒ weeks that many at the position
cannot, while still being a relatively cheap acquisition compared
to bigger names. The best time to get Smith is now, with Walkerís
future in Tennessee up in the air and the attention focused more
on breakout rookie A.J. Brown.
Bold prediction: Smith will finish 2020 as a TE1.
Other Tight Ends to Target:
NO: The age (32) factor will make him cheap and with Brees
committed to another season, Cook could finish as a top 10 TE with
a fairly consistent week-to-week output along with some blow-up
MIN: Just 21 years old, Smith flashed in 2019 and should
take on a bigger role in 2020. A great athlete with great draft
capital and college background, the starting position in Minnesota
should be all his by 2021 if not sooner.
CLE: Still just 23 years old despite playing three seasons
in the NFL, Njoku is a freak athlete who was raw coming in but should
be finally ready to play to his potential.