Out of the fantasy playoffs in your dynasty league? Looking to build for the future? Don’t worry, Christmas is here! Yes, I know Christmas is still a few weeks away, but Christmas has almost become a state of mind as opposed to a holiday that occurs on a specific date, so, we’ve decided to break out our Dynasty Christmas shopping list, as we list players you’ll want to buy, and, if you’re in the gift-giving mood, some players you should sell.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans: Buy-High
Marcus Mariota has truly broken out in his second NFL season, delivering elite fantasy production while displaying the remarkable efficiency that he showed at Oregon. Mariota is ranked No. 1 in the league among quarterbacks in Production Premium (+31.3), Air Yards Per Attempt (5.1), and Fantasy Points Per Dropback (0.57), while putting his elite athleticism on display, ranking No. 3 in the league in rushing yards amongst quarterbacks (318).
Having spent multiple first-round picks on their offensive line over the past 4 years, Tennessee is ranked No. 5 in the NFL in Offensive Line Efficiency (108.3) which should only allow Marcus Mariota to keep rolling in 2016 and beyond. If the Titans can get Mariota an elite receiver in the offseason, watch out.
Paxton Lynch, Denver Broncos: Buy-Low
There is a lot to like about Paxton Lynch if you’re looking to 2017 and beyond. While Lynch hasn’t shown much in limited action in his rookie season, we do know that if he doesn’t succeed, it won’t be for lack of physical tools. An athletic specimen, Lynch registered a 101.7 SPARQ-x Score (81st-percentile), 122.0 Burst Score (88th percentile) and, believe it or not, happens to possess one of the strongest arms in football, registering a Throw Velocity of 59 miles per hour (91st-percentile).
He was also efficient at the college level, posting a College QBR of 77.4 (61st-percentile) while averaging 8.5 Yards Per Attempt (66th-percentile). Most importantly, however, Paxton Lynch was drafted by the Denver Broncos, one of the more respected franchises in the league in terms of developing draft picks. The Broncos are coached by Gary Kubiak, who loves to emphasize the running game and utilizes plenty of play action bootlegs. Lynch’s athleticism makes him a perfect fit for this style of offense, and if the Broncos are able to continue to develop talent around him, he could end up having a more productive NFL career than Jared Goff or Carson Wentz.
Running Back Buys
C.J. Prosise, Seattle Seahawks: Buy-High
C.J. Prosise dealt with a myriad of injuries his rookie season, but all that should do is lower his asking price, so this is the time to make a move. Prosise brings an element to the Seahawks offense that has been missing for a while now, and that is the ability to catch passes out of the backfield. Moving from wide receiver to running back at Notre Dame, Prosise registered a College Target Share of 11.5-percent (81st-percentile) and averaged 6.6 Yards Per Carry (89th-percentile) at the college level.After dealing with a sprained wrist to start the season, C.J. Prosise’s opportunity share was steadily increasing from Weeks 8 and 9 before he finally broke out in Week 10, receiving 17 carries and 7 targets while totaling 153 yards from scrimmage. He was on his way to a big game in Week 11 as well, ripping off a 74-yard touchdown run before suffering a shoulder strain that would end his season. That injury should provide the opportunity you need to acquire Prosise at a bargain and reap the rewards that will come next season.
Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns: Buy-Low
Duke Johnson is another back that can provide value with a low price tag, as he has not exactly broken out yet, but possesses the athletic tools to do so. Johnson flashed plus athleticism at the college level, averaging 6.8 College Yards Per Carry (91st-percentile) with a 14.8-percent College Target Share (94th-percentile), and registered an 11.04 Agility Score (82nd-percentile).
Duke Johnson’s receiving skills have made a smooth transition to the NFL level, as he is currently ranked 3rd in the NFL in targets among running backs (63) and ranks No. 4 in receiving yards (410) and Yards Per Touch (6.8). Sure, Johnson’s current situation is less than ideal, but we simply can’t predict exactly what his situation, or any situation, will look like in 2017 and beyond. However, if the Browns, who own 2 first-round draft picks, can improve their offense at least a little bit, Johnson and your fantasy team will benefit greatly.
Wide Receiver Buys
Malcolm Mitchell, New England Patriots: Buy-High
Malcolm Mitchell is a case where the lack of college production can be deceiving, as he was operating in an abysmal Georgia passing offense. Mitchell is plenty athletic, posting a 4.45 40-Yard-Dash (78th-percentile), 99.6 Height-adjusted Speed Score (HaSS) (66th-percentile), and 125.7 Burst Score (74th-percentile), and has the opportunity to morph into the deep threat that the New England offense has been missing for years.
Over the last three weeks, with the Patriot’s receiving corps missing multiple key players, Malcolm Mitchell received a 16.3-percent Target Share while catching 17 passes for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns. With Rob Gronkowski on injured reserve, now is the time to trade for Mitchell before his price tag becomes too high.
Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers: Buy-Low
Keenan Allen is a player who has been unable to stay healthy through his first 4 years in the NFL, and while he is going to be branded as an injury risk going forward, you may be able to use the label to your advantage.
Across 8 contests in 2015, Keenan Allen averaged a ridiculous 11.1 Targets Per Game, was ridiculously productive, averaging 20.3 Fantasy Points Per Game (No. 6), and will continue to catch passes from Philip Rivers, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Factor in age, talent, and situation for the foreseeable future, the only thing Allen has working against him is the injury factor, and that may be all you need to get him on the cheap. After all, any player in the NFL can be considered an injury risk, it only takes one play.
Cameron Meredith, Chicago Bears: Buy-High
Cameron Meredith is an intriguing dynasty asset, as he is a talented athlete on a team without much competition in terms of playing time or targets in the passing game. Meredith checks many of the athletic boxes we look for, including a 129.8 Burst Score (86th-percentile), 10.83 Agility Score (88th-percentile), a 10.32 Catch Radius (95th-percentile), and SPARQ-X Score (71st-percentile).Alshon Jeffery and Marquess Wilson are both scheduled to become free agents, Chicago will likely have a new quarterback under center in 2017, and at this point any quarterback seems like an improvement over Jay Cutler. You should be able to acquire Cameron Meredith without giving up too much in return, as he is not exactly a household name, but he is a highly athletic receiver who has a clear path to playing time for the rest of the 2016 season and beyond.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears: Buy-Low
Alshon Jeffery was a disappointment this season, as the Chicago Bears ended up as one of the worst offenses in the NFL, and his 4-game suspension killed any chance of him saving his season. However, long-term, things are looking up for Jeffery.
For one, he is scheduled to become a free agent, and could be viewed by NFL teams on the brink of contending as a player who could help push them over the top. Second, Alshon Jeffery, like Cameron Meredith, will likely be receiving an upgrade at quarterback. Third, Jeffery has already produced like a Top-10 fantasy wide receiver on two occasions, and is one of the most athletic receivers in football, posting a 105.4 HaSS (83rd-percentile), 10.88 Agility Score (84th-percentile), and a 10.24 Catch Radius (89th-percentile). Finally, Jeffery has likely produced many disgruntled fantasy owners who just want to get rid of him, so see if you can acquire a former fantasy WR1 who is still in his athletic prime.
Tight End Buys
Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers: Buy-High
Ladarius Green has all the tools to be a Top-5 fantasy tight end, as few tight ends possess this kind of upside when you factor in talent and situational outlook. Green is an athletic freak, posting a 4.53 40-Yard-Dash (96th-percentile), 116.4 HaSS (92nd-percentile), 122.4 Burst Score (72nd-percentile), and a 10.19 Catch Radius (83rd-percentile).Ladarius Green also got the most out of his athleticism at the college level, posting a 34.1-percent College Dominator Rating (92nd-percentile) with 15.0 College Yards Per Reception (74th-percentile). Last year with San Diego, Green looked to be on the verge of a breakout, totaling 26 receptions for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns over the first 6 games of the season. However, Antonio Gates returned from his suspension, and Green was hindered by an ankle sprain for the rest of the season. With San Diego choosing to draft Hunter Henry as Gates’ long-term replacement, Green signed a huge contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and on Sunday finally got a chance to show the fantasy community what he could do, catching 6 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown against the New York Giants. The Steelers didn’t pay Green all that money to not use him, so he has a chance to become a serious producer on one of the most consistently explosive offenses in the NFL.
Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons: Buy-Low
Austin Hooper is another athletic tight end tethered to an elite quarterback in an elite offense. Tight ends typically take a few years to develop, but Hooper has already shown that he is ahead of the curve.With a 101.8 HaSS (66th-percentile), 11.32 Agility Score (79th-percentile) and 10.06 Catch Radius (64th-percentile), Austin Hooper has translated his athleticism to the NFL game, as he is currently ranked 3rd among all tight ends in Production Premium (+42.5) and is ranked 2nd in Fantasy Points Per Target (2.49). Hooper has also earned increased playing time in recent weeks, as he has posted a 74-percent Snap Share over his last 4 games, after seeing only 25-percent of the offensive snaps through his first 5 games. With Matt Ryan producing at an elite level while showing he has plenty of good years left in him, Hooper makes for a solid dynasty acquisition, especially while his price tag is low.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars: Sell-Low
Guess which number is higher, Blake Bortles’ career win total, or his number of career interceptions returned for touchdowns? If you guessed the latter, you’d be correct. I know this is an obvious sell, but it’d be criminal to not include the NFL’s most prolific gift-giver in a Christmas-themed article.
Blake Bortles has not only regressed in almost every major statistical category from last season, but he has actually become less efficient over the course of this season, as he has averaged an abysmal 5.02 Yards Per Attempt over his last 4 games, after averaging 6.55 Yards Per Attempt over the first 8 weeks of the season. See if there are any Jacksonville fans in your league that still have faith.
Running Back Sells
Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks: Sell-High
Thomas Rawls is the perfect example of why fantasy analysts and NFL fans need to pump the brakes when it comes to the excitement of film analysis. Rawls displays only average athleticism, with a 97.7 HaSS (49th-percentile), 118.4 Burst Score (44th-percentile), 11.47 Agility Score (30th-percentile), and 102.9 SPARQ-x Score (16th-percentile), and is a complete non-factor in the passing game.
But he looks dynamic on tape! Look at him running people over! Sure, Thomas Rawls runs with plenty of power, but it’s also caused him to miss 13 games over his first 2 NFL seasons. You can might also argue that Rawls plays for a team with a great defense that loves to run the ball, but as an undrafted free agent, Seattle has no reason to commit to Rawls should a better option emerge. Seattle already has a better option for next year in the aforementioned C.J. Prosise, and who knows, they’ll probably sign Christine Michael again for the 15th time. Don’t believe the undeserved hype.
Wide Receiver Sells
Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers: Sell-Low
Randall Cobb has been overrated for years, and now his overall production is beginning to sink to his talent level. Cobb isn’t anything special athletically, posting a 114.5 Burst Score (15th-percentile), 11.42 Agility Score (21st-percentile), and 9.75 Catch Radius (11th-percentile).
Green Bay has begun to realize that Randall Cobb probably isn’t even the 4th most talented receiver on their roster, as is evidenced by the emergence of Davante Adams, in addition to the fact that Cobb’s target share has sunk to an average of 11.9-percent over the last 5 weeks. With Aaron Rodgers spreading the ball around more than he ever has, Cobb is simply a name at this point.
Tight End Sells
Clive Walford, TE, Oakland Raiders: Sell-Low
Clive Walford is a trendy name when it comes to dynasty football discussion, but we just don’t see it happening. Walford isn’t very athletic, running only a 4.79 40-Yard-Dash (43rd-percentile) while posting a 94.9 HaSS (39th-percentile), 11.89 Agility Score (16th-percentile), 9.94 Catch Radius (38th-percentile), and 102.8 SPARQ-x Score (34th-percentile).
Walford is also splitting playing time with equally unathletic tight end Mychal Rivera, as the Raiders have prioritized Seth Roberts and their staple of running backs in the passing game over their tight ends. Tight ends from the University of Miami have historically produced in the NFL, but Jeremy Shockey, Kellen Winslow Jr., and Jimmy Graham were supreme athletes, and Clive Walford is not.