In my opinion, there are two types of teams in Dynasty Fantasy Football: the win-now team and the rebuilding team. Yes, arguments can be made for the middling teams as well, but if you are one of those teams, you should probably just blow it up and go into a full on rebuild. There’s nothing worse than coming in 4th in a dynasty league. No prizes, your draft pick sucks (you get the point). This article is going to focus on potential acquisitions that could provide a lot of value for a team in win-now mode. I will also be producing a subsequent article to help those teams that focusing on a rebuild.
There are an infinite number of modifications one can make to their fantasy league and one cannot cover every scenario based on special scoring, additional roster spots, etc. So, for the purposes of these articles, assume I’m talking about a PPR format with standard scoring from there. However, one exception is for quarterbacks. If you are a win now team in a 1QB league, generally QB isn’t a huge hole you need to fill as there should be at least one serviceable option available to you. So, for the QB section, assume I am referring to a league that utilizes a Superflex position. Alright, let’s get to it.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
Stafford is 32-years-old, and coming off another back injury. Also, there have been rumors that he is on the trade block and/or that the Lions may draft his successor with the 3rd overall pick in the 2020 draft. Couple that with the fact that the Lions are still trying to be a run first offense and you get a recipe for a bargain QB!
To me, the back is the biggest issue here. He played through a back injury in 2018, had one of his worst statistical seasons, and then landed on IR with another back injury in 2019. Reports are surfacing that he is fully healed from last season’s injury and should be a full go for 2020. That is enough for me to take a shot on a guy who was basically a lights out top-6 QB through Week 9 while he was healthy last season.
The other issues regarding Stafford don’t bother me much. Could the Lions take Stafford’s replacement at the 3? Sure. However, they could also be generating a trade market for the 3rd pick as well. As far as the Lions wanting to be a run first team, the old saying goes, “you can want in one hand . . .” The point is, if you are a bad team (and I fully expect the Lions to be bad again), you are going to be playing catch up, which means a lot of throwing. In my very best John Madden voice, “the more opportunities you have to throw, the more opportunities you have to score more QB fantasy points.”
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Roethlisberger is 38-years-old and coming off an elbow injury. This is the epitome of a win now acquisition. Big Ben could be entering his last season, maybe two if you’re lucky. His age and injury history alone should be enough to significantly drive down his value. Add in the fact that there’s no more Antonio Brown and the retirement of Ramon Foster, you should be able to get Big Ben for a very reasonable price.
Could he be a shell of his former self? Yup. Could the Steelers offense take a back seat to their stout defense to win games? Of course. But, the last time he played a full season (2018), he was the QB3. You could do worse than that kind of upside as your Superflex or, in the ideal situation, your 3rd option and you can play matchups (most notably home v. road Ben). Big Ben could be a full-on bust, but with what I expect you can get him at, he’s worth the risk.
Cam Newton, Free Agent
Newton is 30-years-old and coming off foot and shoulder injuries. Are you starting to notice a theme with the QBs here? This recommendation has the highest probability to fail, but also has the highest upside. Being that he’s the youngest of those listed, if Cam lands in the right situation and all is right with his health, you could have an absolute steal on your hands (for this season and beyond).
That being said, not many teams are searching for a starting QB this year. Add in the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are zero teams searching for a QB, with a significant injury history, that they are not given the opportunity to rigorously evaluate. Combine the above uncertainty of this year with the fact that he burned most fantasy owners last year (myself included), and you should be able to acquire him in a trade for the player equivalent of a ham sandwich.
Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons
Personally, I don’t know what to think of Gurley. His 2019 season was incredibly frustrating, yet he still finished as the RB14! I guess it’s all relative, when you’re used to him putting up an average of 377.5 points the previous two seasons and you only get 219 out of him in 2019, I can understand the disappointment.
Here’s the thing, he’s only 25 and he proved last year he can be a solid RB with limited usage. He will never be the Gurley of old, but after last year, you’re not paying for the Gurley of old. Most likely, the Gurley owner is sour on the back and willing to trade him for less than FMV.
The Falcons didn’t give him $5.5 million to not make him a big part of the offense. Devonta Freeman was not good last year. Yet, he still finished as the RB20 in PPR leagues because he had 59 catches (albeit for 410 yards). Gurley fell off a cliff last year in receptions (31), if he can get anywhere near the 60 catch range that an older, more broke down Freeman accomplished, he should easily post another top 20 season.
LeVeon Bell, NY Jets
It’s hard to see it getting much worse for LeVeon Bell than it did in 2019. I mean, who would have thought that combining a bad offensive line with a patient runner, who waits for holes to develop, would be a recipe for disaster?! This power couple netted an impressive 3.22 yards per carry and 4 total touchdowns last season. Oh, and for the s*it show cherry on top, Adam Gase was and still is the head coach.
That’s the bad news; the good news? Short of injury or an extreme reduction in usage, we have probably seen Bell at his floor. And do you know what his floor was, even with the doomsday observations up top? 1250 total yards, 4 touchdowns and 311 total touches (66 receptions); good for RB16 in PPR.
The Jets have taken steps in free agency to fix their offensive line and hopefully they continue to address it via the draft. They let, arguably, their best wide receiver depart in free agency and did very little to replace him, only signing Breshad Perriman. Even if the Jets use a 1st rounder in the NFL draft on a top tier receiver, I’d put money on Bell being the focal point of this offense once again in 2020. 300 or so total touches alone would be enough for me to target Bell as my RB2 (borderline RB1). The fact that he will catch 50+ passes and it’s almost statistically impossible to repeat his 4-touchdown performance with that much usage again is just a bonus! I’m targeting Bell in all my leagues.
Duke Johnson, Houston Texans & DeAndre Washington, KC Chiefs
These are total dart throws that I can hopefully look back on and pat myself on the back for. The only thing I can say about both of these guys is they could have a path to workhorse playing time if the RB ahead of them (who most likely will) gets hurt. They both play for good to exceptional offenses, are good pass catchers and one is a college friend of Patrick Mahomes.
There are also plenty arguments against these guys (which we don’t need to get into), that’s why they are dart throws. You can get them for next to nothing or, in some smaller leagues, they could be on the waiver wire. I will become more intrigued with Washington as the offseason rolls on. If the Chiefs don’t address running back in the draft or they take another late round guy, I’m going to be pretty excited about Washington.
Keenan Allen, LA Chargers
I feel like year after year Keenan Allen is undervalued and gets a bad rap. Early in his career he had a couple of fluke injuries that derailed his season however, he has played 16 games each of the last 3 seasons. Since 2017, Allen has averaged 101 receptions, for 1,262 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Basically, Allen has been one of the most consistent receivers in the league for 3 straight years. Yes, Rivers is gone but, at this point, do we know for sure that whoever replaces him is going to be worse? I’m not sold on it. Allen is obviously going to be the highest priced player on this list, but I feel like you’re going to get a good to great wide receiver at less than fair value who will help your receiver core for the next few years.
Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
Edelman played 16 games in 2019 for the first time since 2016. That netted him 100 receptions, over 1,100 yards and 8 touchdowns, on his way to being the WR7 in PPR leagues. Basically, anytime Edelman can make it through a full season, you’re looking at 90-100 receptions and at least 1,000 yards. But therein lies the problem, he’s only played 3 full seasons since 2013. Couple that with the fact that he’ll be 34 this year and his check down king of a QB has relocated to Tampa, and you can understand why people have reservations.
But here’s the deal, he’s still on the Patriots. Do you think they are going to rely less on their most proven receiver with the QB that’s replacing the G.O.A.T? I’d be willing to bet his usage stays comparable to last year with the chance to go up. Is there a better than average chance that he doesn’t play the full season or that he drops off a cliff because of his age? Sure. But that risk is factored into why I feel you could get him from a team for relatively cheap.
Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
Marvin Jones was the WR14 in PPR formats last season in the 8 games where Matt Stafford was at QB. If you double his first half numbers to account for a full season, you’re looking at a top 10 WR.
Jones is now 30 years old and is entering the last year of his contract. I’m sure in the back of his mind, he’s thinking about playing well enough to get one more multi-year deal before he retires. I feel like you could get him at a pretty nice discount seeing as how most owners will remember the 2nd half of last season (David Blough, Jeff Driskel and his own injury issues) rather than the 1st half where he played really well.
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
Philip Rivers has been making his living off of receiving tight ends for his entire career. Jack Doyle has proven in the past that he can be a decent TE for your team, especially if he’s the primary player. He just signed an extension and the Colts let Eric Ebron walk, so there is virtually no competition for targets.
Additionally, outside of TY Hilton, there isn’t a whole lot of proven pass catchers on this roster. Combining all these details, I think Doyle is a low risk TE that should easily outperform his TE15 finish from last year. If this offense improves under Philip Rivers, which I expect that it will, I wouldn’t be surprised if Doyle was a top 8-10 TE at the end of next season.
Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers
I debated on whether or not to add Eric Ebron in this section. I ultimately decided against it even though I’m sure there will be plenty of people saying he could be a sleeper this year. At the end of the day he’s burned me too many times. Plus, I’ve been excited about Pittsburgh TEs in the past and have been consistently let down. Could Ebron catch 10 touchdowns and that be enough to make him a top 10 tight end? Sure. Could Ebron also drop more passes than he catches? Also, yes (well that’s an exaggeration, but you get my point).
All of the players mentioned above should be able to be had at a relatively reasonable price versus what their value should be. They should all be able to help your team immediately and, some may be able to help in the coming seasons.
If you are a win-now team, I would personally value draft picks a little less than someone who is rebuilding and, as such, I would be looking to trade picks and not players in order to acquire these guys. Now, am I telling you to trade the 1.01 for Jack Doyle? Absolutely not. However, I’m not opposed to giving up late firsts or early seconds to acquire vets that are going to help me win this year. Obviously, Keenan Allen would cost more than that, and I would be willing to give up a pick in the 1.05 range (and a young player if needed) in order to acquire him.
The whole point of fantasy football is to win the ‘ship. If you’re on the cusp of glory, go all in and bring that title home!