Off-season Dynasty Football Risers
In this straight forward series, I’ll investigate risers in dynasty fantasy football leagues throughout the season. Despite the uptick in their outlooks in recent weeks, these five players may still be under valued among dynasty owners fixated on their relatively uninspiring redraft ranks.
Devin Singletary (BUF): I know what you’re thinking. A running back… on Buffalo! What is this guy thinking? Didn’t the Bills just sign future Hall-of-Fame running back, Frank Gore, to help ease the load off of LeSean McCoy? Although the Bills are currently shaping up to have one of the ugliest fantasy-looking backfields with McCoy, Gore, Yeldon and Singletary all fighting for touches (and a roster spot), the early word out of the Bills’ camp is that Singletary has been receiving “a ton” of first-team reps and has already surpassed Yeldon on the depth chart. Take into account the fact that McCoy is 31, Gore is 35, and both will be unrestricted free agents at the end of this season, you have the perfect recipe for a young, hungry back to take control of this backfield; possibly during the upcoming season. The Bills drafted Singletary 74th overall out of Florida Atlantic University after he fell from his original second-round projection for poor performance in the combine. Singeltary had a disappointing 4.66 forty and 7.32 three-cone drill, but was a yards-creating force with in Conference USA despite playing behind a poor offensive line. He was second in the nation in forced missed tackles ranking only behind David Montgomery. Additionally, an astonishing 76% of his rushing yards came after contact. Even if McCoy and Gore both make it through a full season, Singletary is the future of this Bills’ backfield. (Just to emphasize how under-the-radar Singletary is, The Dynasty Guru’s own TJ Gaines didn’t even have him in his top-77 running back ranking.)
Ronald Jones (TB): Jones’ rookie campaign was a complete and total disappointment. Jones did little to disprove reports that his pass protection and his ability to read blocks were poor and he amassed a meager 44 yards (1.9 yards per carry). Despite that, this off-season has brought with it a fresh wave of optimism surrounding Jones in camp. Not only was Barber the first player since 2013 to have 250+ touches and fail to reach 1,000 yards, but new head coach Bruce Arians has been toting Jones’ improvement all off-season. As a highly-regarded second round pick (38th overall) out of USC, Jones was at times listed as the number two back in last year’s class behind only Saquon Barkley. With 4.48 speed and listed at 208 pounds, Jones fits the prototypical body type for a great NFL running back. If he can improve his pass protection, I expect Jones to quickly surpass Barber as Tampa’s lead back early in the season (if he does not do so prior to that in camp). Our TJ Gaines currently has Ronald Jones ranked as his 44th ranked running back.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (GB): While I do love MVS from both a dynasty and re-draft perspective, the guy really let me down last year in the highly coveted Week 14 playoff match-up. I have a personal policy that as soon as I clinch a spot in my league’s playoffs, I immediately start planning for Week 14 by targeting players in favorable situations. (Valdes-Scantling was my guy last year.) Geronimo Allison had gone down with his soft-muscle core injury and Aaron Rodgers… well, he’s Aaron Rodgers, I don’t really need to say more than that. Going up against a perennially poor Atlanta Falcons secondary at home in a game that had a projected over / under of 51.5 points, I really thought MVS was going to explode. Two receptions, 19 yards, and 60 minutes of football later, and Scantling was dead to me. I ended up winning my match-up, but having touted MVS’s position to my league for weeks in advance, his poor performance almost felt like a personal slight.
But 2019 is a brand-new year. Although no one is expecting MVS to make a dent in Davante Adams’ target share, he has a very solid chance at emerging as the undisputed number two receiver in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense. At 6’ 4”, weighing in at 206, and possessing 4.37 40-speed, I wouldn’t bet against him. Scantling is an athletic specimen who as a rookie ranked 16th in the league in yards per catch and posted a final receiving line of 38-581-2. Let’s also not forget Rodgers had his worst season as a starting quarterback and only threw 25 touchdowns as he was feuding with former head coach Mike McCarthy. Even if Rodgers returns to 75% of what he has been in the past, I am all in on Scantling for 2019 and beyond. TJ Gaines currently ranks MVS as his #57 wide receiver.
KeeSean Johnson (ARI): The second recently drafted rookie on this list, KeeSean Johnson was taken in the sixth round at 174th overall by Steve Keim and the brand new Arizona Cardinals “air raid” attack led by Kliff Kingsbury. You might be thinking to yourself, “Wasn’t he one of three wide receivers the Cardinals drafted?” and to that I would tell you that you are correct. In fact, Johnson was the last of three receivers Arizona picked in the 2019 Draft where they also selected Andy Isabella with the 62nd overall pick and Hakeem Butler in the fourth round. However, according to any credible source covering the Cardinals’ camp, Johnson has surpassed both of his fellow rookie teammates on the depth chart and currently ranks as the number three wide receiver behind Larry Fitz and Christian Kirk. As a caveat, Johnson will most likely never become the number one “go-to” wide out for the Cardinals as Christian Kirk is still only 22-years old and has a promising future with his brand new quarterback. Meanwhile, although Fitz has already defied aging to an incredible extent, the most like-able player in the NFL cannot play forever and will eventually have to hang up his cleats in the near future. When that eventually does happen, Johnson could be thrust into a promising number two position on the depth chart of what could turn into one of the most pass heavy offenses in the entire league. With Kliff Kingsbury’s air raid attack being led by one of the most exciting and unique quarterback prospects in recent memory, anything is possible. KeeSean Johnson is currently ranked 119 in TJ Gaines’ official wide receiver rankings.
Mark Andrews (BAL): In a previous article, TJ Gaines chose to highlight Mike Gesicki (MIA), Ian Thomas (CAR), Dallas Goedert (PHI), and Mo Alie-Cox (IND) as tight ends to look out for in the 2019 season and beyond as they are all either currently in favorable situations or one injury away from being pushed into fantasy stardom. However, one name that Gaines did not mention and who I am personally going to be targeting is Baltimore’s Mark Andrews. Gaines currently has Andrews ranked as his number 23 tight end which is incredible value for what is usually the shallowest position in fantasy. Although Andrews was drafted two rounds after fellow tight end Hayden Hurst, he quickly moved past Hurst on the depth chart as he demonstrated his impressive big playmaking ability. Andrews final rookie stat line was an impressive 34-552-3 not to mention the fact that he experienced a quarterback change midway through the year. With “elite” Joe Flacco throwing to him, Andrews only exceeded 40-yards receiving twice in the first nine games for the Ravens. Once Lamar Jackson took the reins, Andrews managed to break that threshold four more times in the season’s final seven games. All of the reports surrounding Andrews out of camp have been overwhelmingly positive as he has made strides both in his route running and physicality as a large over-the-middle target for his young quarterback. Couple those personal improvements with the fact that the Ravens have perhaps the weakest receiver corps in the NFL, and Andrews’ fantasy outlook is ticking upward.