Tue Feb 1st 2022
10 Players I'm Holding Out Hope For
One of the things I like to do this time of year is speculate on players whose dynasty value is uncertain or at a volatile point in time. These mainly include younger players who have yet to produce many fantasy points but were thought to be excellent prospects in their rookie class. They also include players who have had spikes of fantasy production early in their career but have seen their dynasty value fall since that time. These are the players that dynasty managers have to make decisions about. They have to answer the questions, "Am I holding out hope?" or "Am I losing hope?"
At this time of the offseason, I like to decide which players I am holding out hope for and which players I am losing hope in. Once I've decided, I make trade offers for these types of players. I offer the ones I am losing hope in for the players I am holding out hope for. Since such players' dynasty values are so uncertain, it's not hard to find a manager who still has hope in a player I have lost hope in or vice versa.
Last week, I wrote about ten players I am losing hope in. This article presents ten players I am holding out hope for.
- Jones's first three years have been a roller coaster ride with high peaks and terrible valleys. He started 37 NFL games and scored 30 or more fantasy points in seven of them and 15 or fewer fantasy points in 18. He's been a complete bust in almost 50% of his starts. It seemed like he was turning a corner in his third year last season. He started last season on fire, averaging 26.5 fantasy points per game with a total of six touchdowns and one interception in his first four games. In his next seven games before going in IR for the rest of the season, he averaged 12 fantasy points per game with a total of six touchdowns and six interceptions. Jones's dynasty value is at an all-time low, but he's still a player I am eager to buy in superflex leagues. I am still holding out hope for several reasons. The Giants can't afford to draft another quarterback and will continue to build the team around Jones this offseason as they did last season by adding Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney. They hired Brian Dabol last week, the OC behind Josh Allen's improvement. He's a first time head coach, but I'm certain he'll be better for Jones than Pat Shurmer and Joe Judge were. Saquon Barkley has been injured for more than half of Jones's starts. It's no wonder that Jones's best fantasy season was his rookie season when Barkley was healthy. Jones is sneaky productive in the running game, too. He has a total of 1000 yards rushing in his first three seasons, which puts in the running quarterbacks class. He's had big fantasy games, so I know he's capable of producing. I think he can limit his mistakes and make the offense more productive with better coaching and better teammates. I would rather have Jones than the quarterbacks I mentioned last week, Carson Wentz and Baker Mayfield.
- Tua has not lived up to his NFL draft capital nor his dynasty rookie-draft capital, but I believe he will. He finished last season as the 26th highest scoring quarterback, but he did miss five games with injuries. His 16 points per game average put him among players we don't want as starters in our superflex leagues. Jarod Goff, Ben Roethlisberger, Teddy Bridgewater, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Taylor Heinicke averaged more points per game than Tua last season. I believe he's a much better player than what he's shown in his first 21 starts of his career. That's four more games than one NFL season, so I consider him more of a second-year player than a third-year player next season. The Dolphins fired their defensive-minded coach, Brian Flores, and will undoubtedly bring in an offensive-minded coach this offseason. Tua and Jaylen Waddle developed a great connection throughout the season, and DeVante Parker was a reliable target when he was healthy. Miami's defense is their strength, so I believe the Dolphins will add offensive weapons in the draft, though their highest draft picks are #26 and #50 since they traded their first-round pick last year to get Jaylen Waddle. Tua was a top recruit to Alabama and lived up to expectations. He was a first-round pick by the Dolphins and will meet expectations in the NFL too. His dynasty value will not catch up to those Justin Herbert or Joe Burrow, who were also in his rookie class, but he'll become a reliable starter in one-quarterback leagues.
- Barkley's dynasty value is still relatively high, but it is the lowest in his career. It's hard to believe that a can't-miss prospect who scored 340 points in his rookie season has only scored 368 combined fantasy points over the next three years. Barkley gets a pass by most dynasty managers since he missed almost an entire season in 2020 with a torn ACL and suffered a freak ankle injury this season. However, this season, Barkley was outplayed by Devontae Booker even when he was healthy. They looked and played so similar that it was hard to know which one was on the field. That's why Barkley's dynasty value is at an all-time low right now, which is where I'd hope to buy him. Barkley is 29 years old and in the final year of his contract, so he has much to prove. The Giants have every reason to feed him the ball next season to protect Daniel Jones and determine if he'll be with the team in 2023. As stated above, I believe the Giants will be better coached next year, and the entire offense will improve, giving Barkley far more opportunities to score touchdowns. I don't think Barkley is injury-prone. If anything, he's saved some wear and tear by missing so many games the last two years. During that time, other running backs have replaced him in the first tier of dynasty rankings, but I still see Barkley as a second-tier running back that will once again become a productive every-week starter in dynasty lineups. I have him ranked ahead of other running backs that I believe other managers like more than Barkley, such as Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Antonio Gibson, Josh Jacobs, and Aaron Jones.
Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy
- Sutton had a very mediocre season coming off his lost season in 2019. He was Teddy Bridgewater's most targeted wide receiver through week six, but after that point, his targets dropped off. Jerry Jeudy returned to the lineup in week 8, and the ball began to get spread around more, and Sutton did not catch a touchdown pass the rest of the season. Jeudy followed up his poor rookie season with an even worse second year without scoring a single touchdown in the ten games he played. Sutton and Jeudy's dynasty value is at a low point right now, but I believe there is reason to think they will bounce back. The Broncos were a run-first and defense-first team the last two seasons under Vic Fangio. Last season they were 26th in the number of plays called, 23rd in pass plays called, and 23rd in scoring offense. Those stats will change under their new head coach, Nathaniel Hackett. The Broncos need a new starting quarterback and will be active in the trading and free-agent markets. It's even possible that Hackett could be instrumental in bringing Aaron Rodgers to Denver. Any upgrade at the quarterback position will help Sutton and Jeudy bounce back and send their dynasty value on the rise. I'd try to buy them now before they get a new quarterback and their price goes up.
- Brown was one of my mid-round sleepers in the last rookie class. I had him ranked much higher than other analysts, so I routinely drafted him in the third round of rookie drafts. He had a very unproductive rookie season, but I'm still confident in his ability to break out next season. What encourages me most is that Brown was in the starting lineup from game one. You just would not know it, given his 12-catch season. Brown earned a starting role and was second on the team in wide receiver snaps until he was injured earlier in the season. DeAndre Carter played well in Brown's role and held off Brown for the remainder of the season even after Brown was healthy. The Football Team's season was over by that time, and there was no need to run Brown out there. Carter is a free agent, so the role is Brown's to take next season, and I believe he will. The Football Team (or whatever they decide to call themselves next season) will likely have a better quarterback next season, too. Brown is a player I'd love to buy, but I already have him on most of my teams.
- Palmer was my other favorite mid-round rookie that I drafted a lot last year. He didn't have as quiet of a season as Brown, but he did not explode onto the scene either. He only had 33 catches for 353 yards, but he added four touchdown grabs. Mike Williams's wild start to the season was a massive surprise to me, but by the end of the season, he was inconsistent from a fantasy perspective like I expected. I believed all along that the Chargers drafted Palmer to replace Williams, who just played the last year of his contract. If I'm right and the Chargers do not re-sign Williams, Palmer will pop next year for sure. Williams is an unrestricted free agent, while Jalen Guyton, Palmer's other competition, is a restricted free agent. I believe Palmer is a perfect fit to become the WR-2 in LA behind Keenan Allen, and I think the Chargers do, too, based on his third-round draft capital. I'm willing to bet on it and add Palmer to my teams before free agency. I'll be pretty disappointed if Williams re-signs with the Chargers, but I'm willing to take that risk as I did in rookie drafts last year.
- After Urban Meyer's ridiculous coaching job, every player on the Jaguars should get a pass from dynasty managers. It was impossible to evaluate players last season because the team was such a trainwreck under Meyer. He even made Trevor Lawrence look terrible. Every players' dynasty value should be on pause for this team, but some managers may not realize it. If I could find a manager low on Shenault, I'd look to trade for him. His lack of improvement in his second season brought his dynasty value to a low point. This year Shenault had almost the exact same stat-line as his rookie season, except he had no touchdowns compared to five his first year. That will change next year. Any coach the Jaguars hire will be better for Trevor Lawrence and the offense than Meyer was, and the new coach will build his team around his most important player, Lawrence. Shenault was second in the team in wide receiver targets and snaps last season, behind Marvin Jones. Jones will continue to get more snaps than Shenault next season because he's the X receiver, but I could see Shenault become the team's leading target next season, even as the Z receiver. Shenault is the receiver that will be with the team long-term, so he's the one that needs to build chemistry with Lawrence for the team to improve. Shenault will be the prototypical third-year breakout player next season.
- Bateman's rookie season was decent, but he did not do enough to stand out, so some dynasty managers may have less hope in him than I do. I'm glad he's a bit under the radar currently and hope to buy him before he becomes the Raven's leading receiver next season. Mark Andrews will continue to be the team's leading target and red-zone target, but I fully expect Bateman to surpass Marquise Brown next season as their most fantasy-relevant wide receiver. The Ravens did lean on the pass more last season, and I believe they will continue to do so. They were just 21st in passing percentage in the league with 56%, but they led the league by far in the number of plays run, which is why they were 9th in the league in pass attempts. These trends combined with a healthy Lamar Jackson and J.K. Dobbins make me want a piece of this offense, and Rashod Bateman is the hidden gem that will break out with the team next season.
- Engram had the worst year of his career last season and is about to enter free agency after his fifth season in New York. His best fantasy year was his rookie year in 2017 when he outplayed fellow highly-rated rookies, O.J. Howard and David Njoku. Engram is the only tight end in that class that I still believe can make a fantasy impact and would like to have on my rosters. He's only 27 years old, which is young for a tight end. He'll be one of the top-paid tight ends this year in free agency, even though there are a lot of talented tight ends available this year. Engram struggles with drops and is not the best blocker, but he's a matchup problem when used appropriately. After five years in the NFL, GM's and coaches know what he can and cannot do. He's best used as a move tight end, and the team that pays him in free agency will use him like that in the passing game. I'm excited to see where he goes in free agency and would look to buy him now before he lands on his new team.
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