Dynasty Football Advice
Here we are approaching the point where we will be a quarter of the way through the season. As key players go down to injuries, backups become short-term starters. Players like Kyle Allen and Teddy Bridgewater are causing fantasy GM’s to spend their FAAB money to replace franchise players like Cam Newton and Drew Brees. Add Wayne Gallman to the list of players people will be blind-bidding for after news of Saquon Barkley’s injury have confirmed he will be out for 4-8 weeks. The players I will cover here are players who might not have you win over the next few weeks, but rather players you are watching or stashing for the future. Players you are going to take a chance on so you can set yourself up to be in a position to have a leg up on the competition. Let’s start the list off with an eye toward the future.
As I mentioned, Kyle Allen is the backup for right now, but ever since the 2019 NFL Draft I have been waiting to see where the notable quarterbacks fall to. There always seems to be an overlooked guy who goes on day two or three that surprises us a couple of years down the road. My eye fell on Will Grier when he went to the Carolina Panthers for more than one reason. First, Grier was a work in progress coming out of college with a bit of a gunslinger in him that got him in trouble sometimes trying to force balls into double coverage. Quarterbacks who want to throw the ball deep for the big play are usually applauded as long as they also know how to work the middle of the field, taking what the defense gives them. Learning to be patient and waiting for the perfect time to go for the deep play is what makes quarterbacks have long NFL careers. Second, Grier has the tools to make an NFL team use a roster spot on him, but what he needs is for an NFL team to take the time to develop him in a system that fits him. Having the Panthers draft him means he has time because Cam Newton will remain their starter for years to come. That gives Grier a window of time to accept his role and develop an understanding of what makes a successful NFL quarterback, learning your weaknesses and playing toward your strengths. Grier was always better in college when he got into a rhythm and could hit his receivers on the run taking small chunks out of the defense by using the middle of the field. When he overextended himself and tried to do too much the defenses were there waiting to make him pay with a huge sack or a turnover. Every depth chart you check out will have Grier firmly entrenched as the QB3, so you have time to decide whether to pull the trigger or not. He might even need to go to another team to be relevant, but Newton’s injuries are starting to take their toll more and more so I am going to pay attention to any action Grier gets.
Jeff Wilson Jr
This one isn’t so much of a wait-and-see deep-dive kind of player, but more of a dive deep on the depth chart for a desperate type of pick up. Even with injuries to the San Francisco backfield, the name Jeff Wilson isn’t even on some online depth charts. The ones you can find him on have him listed as the fourth running back. The noticeable thing is that head coach Kyle Shanahan has said more than once to the media that Wilson is the team’s goal-line back. Usually, I would say that is more coachspeak hiding the fact that they just need a bigger back for inside the 5-yard line, but his usage the past two weeks is starting to build the case that there is the beginning of a trend. Wilson has revived the dreaded term “TD Vulture” by getting the call inside the red zone and cashing in four times in the past two weeks. He has had touchdown runs of 1, 4, 4 and 2 yards while only racking up 52 yards on 18 carries in those same two games. In case you were wondering, he has zero receptions in the same two games. In my mind that cements his status as a player who is carving out his role on the team in a very specific way. It makes him touchdown dependant but the trend is starting to form that he is going to get the short-yardage work, especially in the end zone. He will probably have a severe reduction in value once Tevin Coleman returns and he is set to return soon. The 49ers have their bye week in week 4 so Wilson might be nearing the end of his window of being fantasy relevant. Watch the health Coleman and the rest of the San Francisco backfield because any setbacks or a second injury to anyone above Wilson and he could regain his thievery around the goal line. If you can’t grab him for your dynasty team, keep him in mind to cash in for your DFS teams.
Here is a speedy back whose career is starting at a slow pace. The coaches see his talent and are bringing him along slowly. He also started the year buried on the depth chart behind Kerryon Johnson, C.J. Anderson, and Zach Zenner. When he was drafted people said he had a similar skill set to someone already on the roster in Theo Riddick, but Riddick’s bigger salary made him expendable. Zenner and Anderson also proved to be not long for the roster because of their straight-ahead plodding style of running. Detroit can get that from Kerryon with an added elusiveness factor that those two bigger backs don’t bring to the field on Sundays. What has helped Ty Johnson move up the depth chart and allowed the Lions to release the veteran players in front of him is his potential and his valued skill set. Detroit’s coaching staff knew what they had in the veteran backs because they had established their game over the past several years in the NFL. Ty Johnson is showing each practice and each game why the Lions drafted him at the end of the 2019 draft instead of letting him go to UDFA status and risk losing him. He was reported as running the 40-yard dash in the 4.35-4.41 range which is rare speed and something coaches covet. Although he has not had a lot of touches yet, 13 in three games, he has already cemented his role as the 3rd down back as a rookie and he is only a quarter of the way through his rookie season. The coaches are letting him develop on the field showing more trust in him more by giving him more responsibility on game day. Now is the time to take a serious look at adding Ty Johnson to your must stash list because if you wait you will find yourself just like the veteran running backs who were cut to make room for Johnson, out of luck.
Taysom Hill’s name might be a little more commonly known outside of Louisianna because of Drew Brees’s recent injury that required thumb surgery, but I include myself in the small amount of dynasty GM’s who have held him on some of my deeper dynasty rosters. Why you might ask? Several reasons that point to him staying on New Orleans’s roster for the past several years as more than just coincidence. As backup quarterbacks become available in free agency and younger developmental projects come out of the draft, the Saints have stuck with their decision to keep the older option (he’s currently 29) out of BYU. His career passing attempts (7) are dwarfed by his rushing attempts (40) which makes it even more perplexing as to why they might keep him as a backup. Brees isn’t getting any younger which makes it more likely the team would decide to grab a suitable back up to develop over the next couple of years and still they always seem to have Hill on their roster throughout the season. It makes me think, what do the coaches see that isn’t apparent to us in the general public? That is when I realize that I don’t need to know what they see or why they keep Hill on the roster. It’s the sole fact that head coach Sean Payton sees something in Hill that matters. I trust coach Payton and his theories on making successful NFL offenses. If he sees a place for Hill on the NOLA’s roster after limited snaps in NFL regular season games, then who am I to disagree? Another interesting factor is that New Orleans just signed Payton to a 5-year contract extension which means he can keep running the team as he sees fit. Payton has been quoted as saying he sees a little Steve Young in Hill’s game. For those not old enough to remember, Young played on a terrible Tampa Bay Buccaneer team before waiting for his turn after Joe Montana’s dominance with the 49ers. It worked out well for Young so if Sean Payton thinks Hill is even a third of Steve Young then I will hang onto my shares of him for at least another year.