Mon Nov 16th 2020
2020 Week Ten Review
New Roles and Surprises
We were treated to an exciting week ten in the NFL with several blow-up weeks from proven stars and surprising weeks from new up-and-coming players. Scoring was pretty balanced, leaving many games up in the air, depending on the game Monday night when Minnesota and Chicago play.
I had a pretty good week, personally. My teams should finish 6-2 this week if Thielen can net me 10 PPR points. As I like to remind myself, win or lose, it's a joy to watch football all weekend and cheer on all of my dynasty teams.
After following all of the games this week, here are my thoughts on what we learned after week ten and its impact on our dynasty teams.
Week Ten Observations
- Ronald Jones has been in and out of Bruce Arians' doghouse all season. The same has been true of dynasty managers, most of whom benched Ro-Jo on the week that he has the best game of his career. His 98-yard touchdown run was a 16-20 point play depending on scoring systems. My GroupMe started dinging with notifications of all the upset owners who had started Leonard Fournette instead of Ro-Jo this week. I could relate because I benched Ro-Jo too. What's worse, I played against two teams that had the nerve to start him this week. After his fumble on their first possession, I thought, "Well, he's done for the day." Instead, Arians sticks with him, and his 98-yard run turned into a 19 point play in a league that gives bonus points to running backs at 100 yards rushing. As a dynasty manager, I don't mind losing to great teams and players, but it's incredibly frustrating to have an unexpected player threaten to cost you a win. Thankfully, it looks like I will still find a way to win those two games in large part due to a "Hail-Murray" to DeAndre Hopkins - a player I'd expect to win a game for me.
- Two top-five rookies are moving in very different directions. Jonathan Taylor simply cannot be trusted any longer in starting line-ups. The coaching staff reiterated their trust in him this week, but they did not show it on Thursday night when Nyheim Hines got more than double Taylor's snaps (39 to 17) and scored two touchdowns. Taylor has much higher draft capital, college production, and size, but Hines looks way faster and more decisive on the football field. If I can see it, the coaches see it. If the Colts want to remain in the playoff hunt, as they did by beating Tennessee on Thursday, they need to make Taylor sit and learn from Hines. I believe they will. D'Andre Swift, on the other hand, is beginning to look like last year's Miles Sanders, who took the reins as the lead back in Philadelphia the back third of the 2019 season and became a top ten dynasty running back in 2020. Swift appears poised to do the same. He had 71% of the snaps this week and was the best player on the offense on Sunday. Swift's Alvin Kamara-like comparisons in the draft season were apt on Sunday when he received the second-most targets in the passing game. He had five catches for 69 yards and a touchdown in addition to 16 carries for 81 yards on the ground. 5.1 yards-per-carry is solid, and 13.6 yards per reception for a running back is incredible. The tide has turned in Detroit, and Swift is living up to expectations. While dynasty managers still have hope for Taylor, I plan to offer Taylor in trades for Swift this week. This week is the last week anyone would consider making that trade. It may even be too late.
New WR-3s On The Radar
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling (MVS) is getting one or two deep shots per game. Three of his four touchdowns have been more than 45 yards, including a 78-yard bomb on Sunday. He'd have even more deep catches and touchdowns if he didn't have so many drops, but Rodgers keeps trusting him every week. When setting a line-up this week, I almost put MVS in over Jimmy Graham since Jacksonville's defense is so bad against the pass. I decided not to, and no regret it. MVS is in the running to start as a WR-3 if he continues to get these deep shots from his incredibly accurate quarterback, especially in a game where you suspect you need a boom or bust player to outscore a formidable opponent. Josh Reynolds has quietly out-targeted Robert Woods in each of the last three games and Cooper Kupp in two of the previous three games. He's also been their more consistent downfield target. He's averaged more than 10 points per game the last four weeks, making him a WR-3 with a safe floor. I loved Reynolds as an incoming rookie in 2017 and always hoped he could become a starter in LA. Over the last four weeks, he's been a more consistent play than Kupp or Woods, but I've not been willing to start him above them. Another manager started Reynolds against me this week, and now I need Adam Thielen to outperform Reynolds' 13 points on Monday night to win my game. I need to consider starting Reynolds over Woods in the three leagues where they are both on my roster.
Welcome Back and Get Vultured
- While it was a joy to welcome back Nick Chubb and Miles Sanders to our fantasy line-ups, they also left a lot of meat on the bone that left their dynasty managers disappointed. His previous injury did not hinder Chubb, nor did the coaches hold back on his touches. He had 19 carries on the day, averaging 6.6 yards-per-carry for 126 yards. Kareem Hunt also had 19 carries for 104 yards. The Browns running game wore down the Texans, and Chubb had a wonderfully patient and tough red-zone touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Then, in a painful play for fantasy managers, Chubb had a breakaway run of 59 yards to win the Browns game while costing fantasy managers six points. Chubb did what Todd Gurley did not do a few weeks ago and gave himself up at the one yard-line to ice away the game with two Baker Mayfield kneel-downs. Chubb was his own touchdown vulture. On his return to action, Mile Sanders had two other touchdown vultures that made his game look far worse on paper than it did on the field. Boston Scott had a 56-yard touchdown run, which can happen from time to time, but Corey Clement coming in to steal a touchdown after a Sanders led the team down the field to the five yard-line was unacceptable for dynasty managers. Clement touched the ball once in the game on that touchdown-vulture play. Scott only touched the ball four times in the game, yet he stole a touchdown on one of them. As a result, Sanders finished the day with only 12.5 fantasy points, but his 15 carries and two receptions showed he was healthy and in the lead-back role. He, like Chubb, is ready to carry his dynasty teams into the playoffs. Hopefully, given the length of their injuries, it's not too late. In two of the three leagues where I manage them, it may be. At least they're dynasty leagues, and I have a stable future with them - two of my favorite players in the league.
Step Right Up
- I wrote last week about how my favorite waiver wire pick of the week was Salvon Ahmed. I was able to get Ahmed in three of my leagues too. Miami had no fear in putting Matt Breida and Jordan Howard to the side to let their undrafted free agent carry the load. Ahmed touched the ball 22 times for 90 yards and a touchdown in his very first NFL start. He looked confident and capable of being a starter in the NFL. Myles Gaskin has to miss two more games (three weeks when you include the bye week) since he is on IR, Matt Breida is still fighting a hamstring injury, and the coaching staff does not trust Jordan Howard. Ahmed really could be the steal of the dynasty waiver wire this year. Fantasy managers will be quicker to put Ahmed in their line-up than they were with Gaskin this year. Miami has proven that whichever back wins the starting role has a sneaky safe floor for fantasy teams.
Week Ten Injuries
- Brees injured his ribs on a hard sack that drew a personal foul penalty. He played a few more plays afterward but did not play in the second half of the game. Jameis Winston was able to step in a preserve the win, but he did not move the offense apart from scoring on short drives after 49er turnovers. If Brees' injury causes him to miss time, I think the offense will take a significant step back. Brees has lost a step this year but can still dink and dunk enough to give his players plenty of catches and scoring opportunities. I guess we'll see if Winston goes back to his high ADOT passing ways or can play within the Saints' offense system. As a Winston owner in several leagues (yes, I held onto him this whole time), I'm eager to see if he can change or if the offense will change to fit Winston's ways. I think the offense could change next year, but midseason, it seems unlikely. I'm worried about all of my Kamara shares as we head toward the fantasy playoffs if Brees misses time.
- Bridgewater injured his knee late in the game but thankfully, reports state that it is not a severe injury. Still, he may miss a few games. P.J. Walker came in to take the last meaningless snaps in a blowout loss to Tampa Bay. If he has to step in for Bridgewater for a few weeks, I believe the offense will suffer. This news is not good news for D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson managers as the fantasy playoffs near. Hopefully, Bridgewater will be back sooner than later. Christian McCaffrey will miss a few more games too, and Mike Davis looks wasted after his great start of the season filling in for McCaffrey. Without McCaffrey and Bridgewater, Carolina's offense will be hurting.
- Brown had a great game before injuring his ankle. The severity of the injury is unknown, but he did not play the rest of the game. When he's healthy, he's a plug-and-play wide receiver two or three. His injuries this season, however, have haunted him. Gabriel Davis had looked great a few times this year, but he has also looked like a struggling rookie at times. The player that this hurts the most is Josh Allen, who's worst four games of the season came while Brown was injured. The Bills have a bye week this week, so hopefully, that gives Brown time to recover and come back for week 12 and the fantasy playoffs. If not, dynasty managers of Brown and Allen will be disappointed.
Week Ten Waiver Wire
As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster leagues (true dynasty leagues), so the players I list here are for deep leagues only. If you play in shallower leagues, there are certainly better players than these to pick up off the waiver wire.
This week is a pretty terrible week on the waiver wire, so I can only offer three bottom-of-the-roster options.
- Walker was a standout player in the shortened XFL season, which led to him signing with Carolina as a free agent this year. He's very unproven and does not have the draft capital of Teddy Bridgewater, so I am not convinced that he can become an NFL starter, but I'd be willing to take a chance this week to see what he can do. He's the only player I'm interested in this week. He's likely already rostered in superflex leagues, but in one-quarterback leagues, he'd be my first waiver wire addition this week, just to see what he can do if Bridgewater is unable to play.
- Grant played well, starting in place of Preston Williams this week. He caught four passes for 43 yards and a touchdown. He has the second-most snaps behind Devante Parker and should continue to be the WR-2 in Miami while Williams recovers from his injury. He's already on rosters in most of my leagues, but I did see that he is available in a few leagues. Miami has a bye week next week, giving him possibly two weeks left to start before Williams is eligible to come off of IR, so I would not try to pick up Grant unless I had a very fringe player that I'd rather drop.
- Collins, back from the fantasy grave, was the leading running back for Seattle on Sunday. He even scored a touchdown. That said, Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde are likely to return next week from their injuries, causing Collins to get demoted back to the practice squad, I'd assume. If I were desperate at running back or had Carson or Hyde on my roster, I'd consider Collins, but it would have to be a pretty unique situation to make me interested in picking him up.
Week Ten Trades
Trades are hard to grade in a vacuum since scoring systems are different in each league, and every team has a diverse roster construction. That's why I write about trades made in my leagues and give context for why the dynasty owners made the trades. I grade the trade, but in the context of what each team was attempting to accomplish with the trade.
It was another slow week of trading in my leagues, but these four trades took place.
Julio Jones <-----> Greg Ward, David Moore, and a 2022 1st round pick
- This trade took place in my 10-team half PPR league. The manager that traded away Julio did so because he's rebuilding, but I think he could have held out for more than what he received in this trade. I would have held out for a first-round pick and a younger prospect that has yet to break out, like a first or second-year player that has not had an opportunity to prove himself yet. We've seen enough of Greg Ward and David Moore to know that they are buried on their depth charts and don't have any upside. When grading the trade, I like the Julio side of this trade. As a manager in this league, I'm not too fond of this trade because I am in the first place, and the team that acquired Julio is in second place and is now far more capable of beating my team.
Sterling Shepard <-----> 2021 3rd round pick and 2022 2nd round pick
- This trade took place in my 12-team, weighted PPR, superflex, tight-end premium league. This trade was offered to me by a rebuilding team and had four first-round picks and five second-round picks in 2021. I am in fourth place in this league, one game behind the second-place team. Shepard has led the team in targets since returning from his injury, getting 8-10 targets per game. I'm not too thrilled with Daniel Jones' play, but I needed another leading target on my roster and imagine he will be in my starting line-up every week as I make my playoff run. I felt Shepard was worth and third-round pick and a future second-round pick. His injury history does concern me long-term, but I like that he's under contract with the Giants through 2023. I believe he will continue to be Jones' number one target for years to come.
Alex Smith <-----> 2021 2nd round pick
- This trade took place in my 12-team, weighted PPR, superflex, tight-end premium league. The price of what I believe will be a one-year rental quarterback is a second-round pick in a superflex league if a team only has one starting quarterback. Alex Smith was named the starter last week after Washington lost Kyle Allen for the season after his ankle injury. Washington is a good bet to be in the market for a quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft, so I believe this will be Smith's last opportunity to start for a team. That's why the manager that sold Smith could only get a second-round pick back in the trade even in a superflex league. The team that traded for Smith now has two starting quarterbacks, but he needs to string a couple of wins in a row together to get into the playoffs. I don't think Smith will help his team make the playoffs this year, and he lost this trade if he does not get in.
Mike Gesicki <----> Two 3rd round 2021 picks
- This trade took place in my 12-team half PPR league. Both teams were 4-5 and fighting for the 6th playoff spot. The team that traded Gesicki had Mark Andrews and Jonnu Smith, so he was willing to depart with Gesicki. The team that traded for Gesicki only had Harrison Bryant and Ross Dwelly, so they needed tight end help. Third-round picks rarely result in dynasty starters, but if a team has three third-round picks (two in this trade plus his own), the odds increase for one of them becoming a dynasty starter. Gesicki has yet to his second-round NFL draft pick in 2018 but has had a few breakout games and has a new quarterback in Tua Tagaovailoa, so there is hope for his future. I think I'd rather have the two (now three) third-round picks to see if I could land a player of greater value, especially if I already had Andrews and Smith on my roster. I doubt Gesicki will become a top-tier tight end in the future, let alone a player who can push this team into the last playoff spot.
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