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Tue Dec 7th 2021

2021 Week Thirteen Review

Week thirteen was pretty exciting from a fantasy perspective and an NFL perspective. NFL standings and playoff projections changed after some teams were upset on Sunday. Some winning streaks continued, and some losing streaks came to an end. It was a fun week of football.

I had a devastating week, personally. My teams finished 2-8. I lost in several leagues that I hoped to lose for a better draft position next year. But I also lost in some key leagues where I was battling for bye weeks and better playoff contention and got knocked out of the playoffs in my biggest money league. Like I say every week, and needed to remember this week; 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 a few of my thoughts on players and situations and their impact on our dynasty teams.

Ten Observations From Week Thirteen

Welcome Back

  • The Cardinals held on to the top seed in the NFC while Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins were injured. Colt McCoy played respectfully and was 2-3 in their absence, even though the offense did not look the same. This week, Murray and Hopkins returned to the starting lineup and quickly dismantled the inferior Bears on a rainy, cold day in Chicago. Hopkins came through for dynasty managers, but only because he scored on their first drive of the game. After that, he only had one more catch. The Cardinals didn't have to pass in the rain. They only threw 15 passes in their route of the Bears. Murray still had an excellent day because, in addition to his two passing touchdowns, he had two on the ground as well. Chicago's four turnovers led to short drives and 33 points with only 257 yards of offense. The weather and game script kept the Arizona offense down from a fantasy perspective. James Conner continues to stay healthy and active, with 22 touches on his 54 snaps. He had a beautiful run after the catch for a touchdown. Conner, Murray, and Hopkins will help dynasty teams in their upcoming playoff runs, but the rest of the Cardinal players are too inconsistent to start with confidence. Chase Edmonds should return this next week, which will cut into Conner's playing time, but he'll continue to score touchdowns. After this season, Edmonds and Conner are free agents, so their dynasty value will change significantly depending on where they go in free agency. It's unlikely that they both will remain in Arizona. During this stretch minus Edmonds, Conner's health and output make me think they'll sign Conner and let Edmonds go elsewhere.

Finding The Enzone

  • Two of my favorite players, one old and one young, found the end zone this week and in recent weeks after several scoreless weeks. Because of his receptions and yards, Keenan Allen has provided a steady floor for dynasty managers, but he had not caught a touchdown pass since week 8. He scored two on Sunday and completed a two-point conversion to his quarterback, Justin Herbert. It was his best fantasy game of the season. Dynasty managers are thankful because his touchdowns carried their teams this week because he only had 34 yards receiving, his worst yardage day of the season. Tee Higgins scored in back-to-back weeks after not scoring since week three. His fantasy points are finally catching up with his targets. He's been due for positive regression for quite some time, which is why I traded DeAndre Hopkins for Tee Higgins two weeks ago. I was happy just to buy back years by doing so, but I also really believe Higgins could outperform Hopkins to end the season. Since my trade, he has. I think he'll keep it up.

Giant Concerns

  • Apart from one breakout game by Kadarius Toney in week five, there's not been a Giant with excellent fantasy game. The Giant weapons, even Saquon Barkley, have seen their dynasty value drop as the 2021 season progresses. Daniel Jones gave some reason for hope early in the season, but he has not ended the season well. Sterling Shepard looked to be a reliable fantasy player in PPR leagues for a few weeks but has since battled injuries like he has his entire career. Kenny Golladay has not done anything to increase his dynasty value, even though I believe he's the most talented receiver on the team. He has the most extended contract among the wide receivers minus Toney in his rookie contract. It looked like the team planned to build around Golladay after he signed a four-year deal with them, but he's only getting 10% of the team's targets. Saquon Barkley got another pass from dynasty managers after he suffered his disgusting ankle injury in week five, but now that he's healthy and back on the field, it's hard to make excuses as to why he only looks like a shell of his former self. He'll have one vintage Barkley-like play per game, but that's about it. Firing Jason Garrett has not helped. They have a Giant problem in New York. 

New Target Hogs

  • Unfortunately for me and my Adam Thielen shares, he injured his ankle in the first quarter and looks like he will miss several weeks with a high-ankle sprain. Fantasy managers remember how painful it was several years ago when Thielen tried to return from an injury late in the season and sunk teams even though he was declared active during fantasy playoff games. The narrow passing distribution on the Vikings is what had Justin Jefferson and Thielen as such valuable starters every week. With Thielen out, who stands to benefit as we approach the fantasy playoffs? If week thirteen is any indication, it's Justin Jefferson and Tyler Conklin. Jefferson tied for his season-high with 14 targets. Conklin had his season-high with nine targets. Jefferson managers could get a slight boost in his production headed into the playoffs, and Conklin becomes a suddenly startable tight end or flex position down the playoff stretch while Thielen is injured. Conklin was the 14th ranked tight end headed into week thirteen, but he's not thought of that way. His solid play this season should cause Irv Smith managers some concern. Conklin has earned a permanent role in the Vikings offense, though he is in a contract year. 

Beast Mode

  • Two of the most athletic and tough tight ends in the league finally went beast mode and carried their teams and dynasty teams to victories by having their best fantasy weeks of the year. George Kittle exploded for 174 yards receiving, two touchdowns, and 35 fantasy points, and Dallas Goedert smashed for 105 yards, two touchdowns, and 25 fantasy points. I guess we got the answer to the question, "Who will pick up the slack in Deebo Samuel's absence?" It was Kittle, not Brandon Aiyuk. We also answered the question, "How good could Goedert be if he has a traditional pocket passer as his quarterback?" The only thing keeping Geodert from moving into the top five dynasty tight ends is his quarterback. Jalen Hurts is keeping Goedert's value down. One game with a Minshew and quarterback, and Goedert has the best game of the year. Kittle is already a top-five dynasty tight end, but he often gets scripted out of games because the 49ers have such a solid running game and players as talented as Kittle. It was fun to see each of these men do what I've known they could do and wish their teams allowed them to do more often.

Hello Win Column

  • I have to talk about the Lions because they finally got a win even though they had to do so on the game's last play. Jared Goff had his best fantasy outing since week one. He struggled with accuracy, but his three touchdown passes carried the day, including his game-winning touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown. If you've followed me over this last year, you know that St. Brown was the player I was higher on than most any analyst. He's started every game this season and leads the wide receivers in targets and receptions but has yet to have a breakout game because the team has been bad, and T.J. Hockenson and DeAndre Swift, the only startable fantasy players on the team, have been so involved in the passing game. St. Brown is on his way to becoming a startable player. His ten-catch, 86-yard, one-touchdown, game-winning day proved what he's capable of doing when the team around him improves, especially at the quarterback position. 

Father Time

  • What Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are doing is absolutely amazing. The two are playing as they did eleven years ago when Gronk was 21 and Brady was 32. Brady has scored 25 or more points in six of his twelve games this season, and Gronk has scored 15 or more points in four out of the seven games he's played this season. They have connected for two touchdowns in a game three times this season, including this Sunday. Brady elevated the production of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, even though fantasy managers wished he would have thrown them a touchdown pass instead of touchdowns to Leonard Fournette and Cameron Brate. At 44 ad 32 years old, Brady and Gronk are third in points per game at their position. Father time can't catch up with these studs.

The End Of An Era

  • This week it was reported (or leaked) that this would be Ben Roethlisberger's final season to play football. After 18th years he plans to hang it up and retire as a Steeler. His play has diminished in recent years, but he has kept relevant the dynasty value of his teammates this year as he has for the many Steelers who have been such incredible dynasty assets over the last 18 years. The Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell years were his best, but he's always made the players around him great for fantasy, even the young players on his team currently. If the reports from last week are accurate, it's time for dynasty managers to take an assessment of the Steeler players on their roster. If Big Ben retires, Mason Rudolph can't hold up the dynasty value of his teammates. We've seen him try, and he cannot. There will likely be several free-agent quarterbacks available after this season or some that are very tradeable. Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, and Deshaun Watson are the best quarterbacks that may come available, and if they're looking for a championship-ready team, I'd argue that Pittsburg is young and ready. Najee Harris and Pat Freiermuth have already broken out in their rookie seasons. Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool are great players to build around, even though they're a few years older. At the season's end, dynasty managers can take a gamble on either side of the coin. They can try to buy Steelers in hopes that they get a great new quarterback, or they can sell their Steelers in fear of a bad quarterback taking over after Ben retires. I'm betting on the former.

Fantasy Killing Coaches

  • There are many things NFL head coaches do to infuriate dynasty managers, two of which took place in the same game on Sunday. Sean McVay reported that Darrell Henderson was active and would play but didn't play him, and Urban Meyer benched James Robinson for an extended time after he fumbled. Both jerk moves kill fantasy teams. Upon the reports, I started Darrell Henderson late Sunday afternoon, as did many dynasty managers. I also took Sony Michel out of one lineup. I started James Robinson and had to watch him sulk on the bench and only get eight carries while the corpse of Carlos Hyde was running ahead of him. At this point in the season when dynasty teams are fighting for playoff spots, it's a big punch in the gut when head coaches do such things.

Serious Slump

  • It's impossible to take Lamar Jackson out of your lineup because he can score 30-40 points on any given week, but the last three weeks, he's not been helping dynasty teams. It hurts to have a player with typically a safe floor because of his rushing ability, and an incredibly high ceiling every week hurt your squad rather than carry it, but that's what has happened the last few weeks for Jackson managers. He's thrown twice as many interceptions (6) to touchdowns (3) in the previous three games. Teams are blitzing him and confusing him with coverages. He's never been the most accurate passer, but he's made it work and found ways to lead his team to scores, but the Ravens have averaged 15 points per game over the last three games that he's led the team. The Ravens were averaging 27 points per game before that. Something is wrong with Jackson at just the wrong time for dynasty managers.

Time To Take Over

  • For the first time, Javonte Williams had the backfield to himself this season after Melvin Gordon was ruled out to injury. As expected, he had his best fantasy game of the season, once given the workload. He touched the ball 29 times on his 60 snaps and produced 102 yards on the ground and 76 and a touchdown in the air. If Gordon remains hampered or if the coaches just decide to drop their committee approach, Williams could be the player that leads teams to dynasty championships this season. If a dynasty team has made it this far with Williams playing roughly 50% of Denver snaps, imagine the boost to their lineups when he plays 80% like he did Sunday night. Congrats to all who get that boost in their lineups headed into the playoffs.

Week Thirteen Waiver Wire

As a reminder, I play in 27 to 30-man roster 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, but if you're in deep dynasty leagues, these are the players I would make bids on this week. I list them in the order that I would prioritize them.

Only a few players interest me this week, and primarily because of injuries to players ahead of them on their rosters.

Laquon Treadwell

  • It's hard to believe that this first-round dynasty rookie bust in the 2016 class has strung together two decent games, but he has. He's had 13 targets, eight receptions, and 115 yards receiving the last two weeks. It's hard to go back to a player that has burned dynasty managers for so long, but I'd be willing to go back to the well this week and take a chance on him just to see if he can keep it up. The Jaguars wide receiver corps has been a mess all season, but that means Treadwell has as good a chance of any as becoming their Trevor Lawrence's top target at the end of the season. He's the first player I'd like to pick up this week.

Mike Boone

  • I'd consider adding Boone this week with a mind toward the future. If Williams takes over the leading role and continues to play well ahead of Melvin Gordon, the Broncos may move on from Gordon next year, making Boone the handcuff to Williams next season. It's a back of the roster move I'd consider making this week, especially if I had an older player that I think is past his prime and not helpful to my team next year.

K.J. Osbourn

  • Adam Thielen is likely to miss a few weeks with his ankle injury. Like I wrote earlier, Justin Jefferson and Tyler Conklin stand the most to gain by his absence, but K.J. Osbourne would be just behind him. I doubt he'd be startable except in the deepest of leagues, but if he were dropped off rosters after being added early in the season when he had such a hot start, I'd consider adding him this week.

John Bates

  • Logan Thomas tore his ACL Sunday, making him unavailable as the Football Team makes a run for the playoffs. Ricky Seals-Jones was a startable tight end when Thomas was sidelined with an injury earlier in the season, but he has missed the last few weeks with an injury of his own. It's possible they were just being cautious with Seals-Jones while Thomas returned as the starter. If so, Seal-Jones would be the player to grab if he's available. If not, John Bates is the next man up, and he has been moderately involved in the offense already. Now he stands to gain more snaps and opportunities in the passing game. 

Week Thirteen 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.

Here are my thoughts on trades that took place in my leagues this week. I hope these trades give you an idea of how other active owners value these players and future picks.

It was an insanely active week of trading in my leagues!

Darnell Mooney <=====> Zach Ertz and Phillip Lindsay

  • This trade was offered to me in a league where my team is in the middle of the pack but fighting for the final playoff spot. The team who offered the trade is ahead of me in the standings and the defending champ, but all three of his tight ends (Darren Waller, Dan Arnold, Adam Trautman) were injured this week, so he needed to pay up a pit to plug someone into his lineup to have a chance at defending his title. I have Dawson Knox and Dallas Goedert on my roster, so I was willing to give up Ertz and Lindsay for this year's WR-1 on the Bears. Mooney's future is bright, and my wide receivers in this league are aging, so I was glad to add him to my team. 

Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel <=====> 2022 2nd round pick

  • This one was a bizarre trade. The team that gave Henderson and Michel will not make the playoffs, so I was looking to add picks, but I think he gave up too much for a second-round pick. It was, however, not the second-round pick of the team he traded with, but another second-round pick that he had from one of the worst teams in the league. Right now, it would be pick 12 in this 10-team league, so at least it's an excellent second-round pick. Still, I think it was too much to pay. If Cam Akers comes back strong from his injury, I guess it could pay off. Even if he does, I believe Darrell Henderson has earned the right to share the backfield next year and may even lead the backfield if Akers does not recover well.

Christian McCaffrey <=====> Elijah Mitchel, Rashod Bateman, 2022 2nd round pick

  • This trade was negotiated between another manager and me when he came for McCaffrey after hearing that McCaffrey would miss the rest of the season. I have one of the top two rosters in this league and am in contention for a bye week even though McCaffrey has not helped me much this year. I also just lost Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown in this league, so I needed some help to stay in the running before hopefully rostering a full squad in the playoffs. If the second-round pick was not included, I think I would have to McCaffrey. As it is now, I have a running back, Elijah Mitchell, that is ascending in my dynasty rankings, one of my favorite rookies in last year's class, Rashod Bateman, and what will likely be pick #12 in the 2022 draft where I can find another wide receiver and hope that he or Bateman become every-week starters for me. The other manager has made some exciting moves to improve his team in the last two weeks. He's given up a first-round pick in 2023 and this second-round pick in 2020 in package deals that netted him, J.K. Dobbins, and Christian McCaffrey. If both return from injury well, he'll have a pretty powerful backfield next year and the seasons to come.

Bryan Edwards <=====> 2023 2nd round pick

  • Bryan Edwards was a second-round pick in most of my 2019 rookie drafts, but he's not lived up to his potential. Many dynasty managers are still holding out hope for Edwards. I have been too, but my hope has faded over the last few weeks when he could not break out with Darren Waller injured and Henry Ruggs off the team. I'd be happy at this point to sell him for a future second-round pick.

The rest of these trades took place in my 14-team All Flex League. It's also my biggest-money league, which explains why teams at the top made such aggressive trades. Teams at the bottom of the league put good players on the block last week, and huge trades took place. Sadly, I am in the middle of the pack and fighting for the final playoff position. I'm glad I did not make any trades because the top teams really improved themselves for their playoff run, and I don't have the firepower to contend anymore.

Amari Cooper <=====> 2022 1st round and 5th round picks

  • I offered this manager a first-round pick for Cooper earlier in the season, but he declined. He offered Cooper to me this week, but I declined after coming to grips that I can't win the championship in this league. He found a taker, though, with one of the top-tier teams, which just got stronger if Cooper can return to 100% in the dynasty playoffs.

James Robinson and Jarvis Landry <=====> Juju Smith-Schuster and a 2023 1st round pick

  • The team that acquired Smith-Schuster and the 2023 pick went into full rebuild mode by trading away almost all of the good players on his team for prospects and draft picks in 2022 and 2023. In a 14-team league, Robinson and Landry are every-week starters to help the other team on their playoff run. Robinson would have to keep his leading role ahead of Travis Etienne next year for him to like this trade long-term, but if this push gives him what he needs to win a championship this year, he'll take it. The only problem is that other competitors made similar moves to make the road to the championship even harder.

Jared Goff, Calvin Ridley, Hunter Henry, and a 2022 1st round pick <=====> Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Aiyuk, and Courtland Sutton

  • The same rebuilding team made this trade. In the last trade, he took a chance on Juju, whose future is unsure as to which team he'll be playing for next season. In this trade, he did the same with Calvin Ridley, whose future is uncertain given his mental health. Now he has 2022, and 2023 first-round picks too. It's a good rebuilding strategy because if these guys hit, those two players and the players he adds to his team with draft picks could give him a solid foundation and quick rebuild. The team that acquired Tannehill, Aiyuk, and Sutton was fighting with me for the final playoff spot and bought themselves a place in the playoffs by making this move. Once again, I'm glad I stayed out of this bidding war. I may need to sell some of my players now instead.

Case Keenum, D.J Chark, Mike Williams, Adam Humphries, Tommy Sweeny,  2022 4th and 5th round picks, 2023 1st and 2nd round picks <=====> Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, Chris Evans, A.J. Green, and Emmanuel Sanders

  • This trade was the final straw made by the same rebuilding team. He sold the Cincinnati backfield and two aging wide receivers to the top team in the league for another pair of wide receivers with uncertain futures and a host of picks with all the trades he made. The top team in the league bought one of the highest-scoring backs, Joe Mixon, for his playoff push this season and has the security of Mixon's backups for the coming years. Green has been very inconsistent this season, and Sanders has cooled off after his hot start. If one of the two could get hot to end the season, he could smoke other teams in the playoffs. He gave up a lot in the future to do it, so it better payoff for him. I think it will.

Deeboo Samuel and a 2022 1st round pick <=====> Nick Chubb, Tim Patrick, and Austin Hooper

  • I much prefer the Deebo and first-round pick side of this trade from a dynasty perspective and for a playoff run. The Deebo manager is in the playoffs but must have worried that Deebo's injury would linger, so he wanted the instant help of Nick Chubb. Deebo has been too good this season to give him away for a playoff run, and besides that, Deebo could come back next week or the week after when the dynasty playoffs start. The rebuilding team got a great deal with this trade.

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