If you play a lot of fantasy football – multiple leagues or many years – chances are you have at least one dynasty team experience. And if you don’t, perhaps it is time to get into one! For me it is the equivalent of playing poker at a casino versus blackjack. Everyone plays blackjack, but in the end it is just a gamble, whereas poker involves more skill and strategy.
Isaiah Crowell (RB) Cleveland Browns: Last year Crowell had a big fantasy year which was due to four games rushing over 100 yards (including the final regular season game against the Pittsburg Steelers where he rushed 19 times for 157 yards), as well as seven rushing TDs and 40 receptions. The one concerning aspect, which is what actually lends me to believe that he will have an even bigger year in 2017, is the fact that over the first eight games he scored five of his seven rushing TDs, and the remaining two occurred in the same game against the Los Angeles Chargers (formerly San Diego) in the second last game of the season. In addition the uncertainty over the quarterback position should see the Browns continue to try and rush the ball. If Cody Kessler (expected starter) can stretch the field with plays to Kenny Britt or Corey Coleman then the pressure on the running game will be somewhat alleviated allowing even more room and opportunity for Crowell. Finally the fact that he compiled 26 of his 40 receptions in the second half of the season last year suggests that Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson figured out ways to get his young running back involved, or perhaps it was just that he was a convenient outlet as other downfield options were covered, in either case receptions by the running back in PPR leagues is a great thing. Expect his touchdowns to increase this season and as a result he should be poised for another good fantasy year.
Carlos Hyde (RB) San Francisco 49ers: Hyde appears to be the starter going into camp, however as discussed by ASLs Brian Murphy, the early narrative out of the 49ers headquarters is high praise for their 4th round draft pick Joe Williams, while the feedback on Hyde is “lukewarm”. Hyde is coming off a reasonably strong 2016, statistically speaking. The only reason that he didn’t finish with better looking numbers last year was that he missed three games with injury, and he didn’t manage a single rushing TD after week 5, having compiled six in the first 5 weeks. He did manage to add three receiving TDs in the second half of the season but most of the other numbers were relatively consistent when looking at first half vs second half of the season with the exception of yards per rush which actually increased from 3.9 yards to 5.2 yards. Many fans will remember this and factor in that given the lack of strong quarterback play, there will be a wealth of opportunity for Hyde, although it should be noted many savvy owners will realize that there is some uncertainty around his role this year due to the reports from the 49ers. That being said, I think Hyde is a great sell now candidate.
Julius Thomas (TE) Miami Dolphins: A few years ago Thomas was a highly sought after free agent and was attracted by a big pay day to Jacksonville, where it looked like the prolific passing game would take this fantasy break out to an even higher stratosphere. Injuries and some inconsistent play, by both Blake Bortles and Thomas meant that potential didn’t eventuate in Jacksonville, and last year was a very poor year for Thomas which ultimately led to his being traded to the Miami Dolphins. The main reason I like him as a buy candidate in dynasty leagues, is that I think you could probably get him relatively cheaply, especially if your rookie draft hasn’t occurred yet. In Miami he will be reunited with Adam Gase, and he will be supported by a strong running game with Jay Ajayi rushing well last year which in theory should crowd the box enabling some TE sticks and other short routes for easy completions, especially in the red zone. I think Thomas will establish himself as a real threat in the redzone, and because of the other threats (namely Ajayi and Jarvis Landry) he should be in favorable matchups in the redzone which should enable him to prosper in the endzone. That combined with larger reception numbers should put him back in the fantasy mix at TE, and if he can be acquired cheaply, as I suspect, then he should be a fantasy asset this year.
Matt Ryan (QB) Atlanta Falcons: Ryan had an impressive 2016 passing for just under 5,000 yards (4,944), 38 TDs and just 7 interceptions, which yielded him the 3rd highest fantasy points in standard leagues. So why sell? What has changed? He still has Julio Jones (1,409 and 6 TDs), and Devonta Freeman (1,079 yards and 11 TDs) as well as a host of other talented players. He did lose his offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan who headed to San Francisco to become their Head Coach, and 2016 was an incredible year for him … which would be hard to repeat. The reality is that Ryan is a very good quarterback, has been for years. If you are in a dynasty league where you are a strong competitor then keeping Ryan makes sense … unless you can flip him for a solid quarterback and something else – perhaps an Eli Manning and a 2nd round pick, or better still a Marcus Mariota and a 3rd or 4th round pick. If you are in rebuild, perhaps you try and sell Ryan for a 1st, a 2nd and QB in the Ryan Tannehill or Joe Flacco range.
Daniel Brown is a sports fanatic. Growing up in Australia, he followed English Premier League soccer, NFL, NBA and many other sports. Since relocating to the US over 12 years ago, Daniel has been heavily involved in fantasy football including Dynasty Leagues, Re-draft and Daily Fantasy. The NFL Draft and Fantasy Football are his passion and devotion. You can follow Daniel on Twitter @brownsnake76 for sports comments and general musings, or hit him up with your fantasy questions! When not talking, writing or researching fantasy sports, he comes up with t-shirt designs, check out some offerings here