Five Dynasty Questions Keeping Me Up At Night – Part 2
1. Can we trust Devonta Freeman?
The Falcons under Dan Quinn are a tricky team to figure out. Are they really the team that raced to a 28-3 lead in the Superbowl, had the league’s MVP at Quarterback and produced an electric offence that seemed to be setting them up for long term success until they inexplicably collapsed in Houston? Or are they a 7-9 team that couldn’t overcome key injuries last season and needed three meaningless wins to end the season to regain respectability?
One of the keys to answering that question will revolve around the return of running back Devonta Freeman and whether it can spark a revival in the team’s running attack. Before missing most of last season through injury Freeman had been a durable and highly productive offensive weapon.
Over 1000 all purpose yards in each of the last three seasons that started more than 2 games speaks to Freeman’s ability and with the departure of Tevin Coleman he figures to get a heavy workload in 2019. If opportunity is the key the fantasy success Freeman is a must own running back.
The risk is clearly around his health. Freeman featured in only two games after suffering knee and groin injuries and his style doesn’t bode well for avoiding further issues as his career goes on. It was a relative surprise that the Falcons didn’t invest more at running back over the offseason leaving only Ito Smith, Kenjon Barner, Brian Hill and rookie Qadree Ollison to fight it out for back-up snaps.
2. Is this the year for Mike Williams to break out?
Chargers Wide Receiver Mike Williams remains a favourite with lots of dynasty owners. The number 7 pick in the 2017 draft remains highly talented but despite a significant improvement in his second season he remains stuck in the limbo as a productive, but unspectacular receiving option.
Two season into his career Williams has managed to record only 54 catches for 759 yards, nothing like the production his draft stock demands. His fantasy production was significantly improved by scoring ten touchdowns but it’s difficult to believe he’ll be able to replicate a return of a touchdown every four catches.
So Williams figures to remain a decent flex option. He could even become an even more popular red zone target for Philip Rivers as Antonio Gates finally hangs them up and namesake Tyrell Williams heads for Oakland but if he doesn’t become a bigger producer in the other 80 yards then a breakout is unlikely.
The dangers are pretty clear. While Keenan Allen remains in LA he’ll be the team’s number one receiver and Rivers first choice target. For Williams to reach his potential the team will need to support two thousand yard receivers.
On top of the Allen factor the team are also have Hunter Henry back after a season out giving Rivers and alternative red zone option and Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler seem destined to continue to soak up check down targets.
So there is a path but it feels like a narrow one. Similar to Chris Godwin in Tampa it feels like Williams may always be a useful WR3 who never quite lives up to the potential.
3. Is Devin Singletary a future RB1 in Buffalo?
There is no player harder to figure out right now in rookie drafts than the Buffalo Bill’s third round pick Devin Singletary. Look at I’m in a certain way and a path exists for him to be a starting running back by the start of next season and a lead back for years to come. Squint slightly in the opposite direction and he’ll never be more than a depth option destined for irrelevance.
Singletary’s college production was outstanding. In three seasons at Florida Atlantic he carried the ball 714 times for 4287 yards and never had a year with less than a thousand yards.His contributions in the passing game were limited but he showed flashes in his freshman year that he’s capable in that area as well.
The case for Singletary is compelling. The team used the 74th overall pick on the back. The running back room is filled with veterans. LeSean McCoy will be 31 by the time the season starts, he has a $9m cap hit this season and will be an unrestricted free agent next year. McCoy is positively youthful compared to his 36 year old back up Frank Gore who is surely reaching the end of the road. The team also added TJ Yeldon but his contract contains little dead money so while he’s signed a two year deal there is no guarantee he even makes the roster this year.
On the other hand Singletary has major detractors. He’s undersized and his combine performance begs questions over his top end explosiveness. The level of competition he faced in Conference USA is another major question mark – Singletary will need to be able to navigate a significant step up in the calibre of opposition he will face at the next level.
4. Is there a Jags Receiver who’s worth owning?
The old adage about Quarterbacks is that if you’ve got more than one Quarterback you don’t have any. If you apply it Jaguars receivers then if you’ve got four downfield speed receivers you might not haven’t got any.
The Jags should see an upgrade in Quarterback play with Blake Bortles gone and Nick Foles taking over under centre. With Jon DeFilipo taking over as Offensive Co-ordinator and significant doubts over Leonard Fournette the team are likely to take a lot more shots down the field.
So opportunity will likely exist, the real challenge is who will step up to take it, if anyone. Marqise Lee ss back from injury and figures to do well as a chain moving, short game target and since the rest of the receiving core are fighting it out to be the team’s lead deep threat, he’ll be a worthwhile PPR add.
Amongst the deep threat guys Dede Westbrook seems like the leading contender out of the gate. The former Heisman Trophy finalist doubled his production in his second season in the league catching 66 balls for 717 yards and 5 touchdowns. If he can continue to grow as a receiver he will be well placed to make a huge leap in his third year.
Westbrook will, however, face competition. There was a time in 2017 that Keelan Cole looked on track to establish himself as the Jags leading pass catcher but his production reduced significantly in 2018 and in the second half of the season he only seen 21 total targets. Early indications out of OTAs suggest Cole is looking good as he attempts to get back to his rookie season production.
On top of Cole the team also have DJ Chark, last years 2nd round draft selection who contributed next to nothing in his rookie season. The former LSU Tiger has speed to burn but may find himself boxed out in a receiver room filled with similar skill sets.
To complicate things further the team signed free agent receiver Chris Conley, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs to a two year, $4.8m deal. Conley brings experience but is, in essence, another down field receiver.
It’s a mess of receivers but if you land the right one you could hit gold at a fairly reasonable price. For now, I’d put my money on Westbrook.
5. What the hell do we do with Todd Gurley?
The bad news about Todd Gurley has just kept coming over the past six months. As his season fizzled out speculation ran wild over just what was wrong with the star running back. In the end the diagnosis pointed back to an already known but little acknowledged issue – after an ACL tear in college Gurley had developed arthritis in his knee.
Gurley had, until the end of last season been remarkably durable. Despite entering the league with injury questions no player has carried the ball more than him since 2015. That durability now appears to be a major weakness and Jay Glazer reported this week that the team have major concerns over how much of a load the 5th year veteran can carry. Couple with the fact that team traded up in the 3rd round to grab explosive Memphis runner Darrell Henderson means Gurley’s stock is falling fast.
So what to make of it? Medical experts are lining up to tell us that Gurley’s best days are likely behind him. The risk factor is suddenly huge, his ADP has dropped from 1 in November to 10 today. His ranking seems to be holding up in most places but in start up dynasty he’s consistently falling into the 2nd round. It’s tough to argue with the logic – no matter what happens next his long term prognosis is badly impacted.
On the flip side Gurley is still one of the most effective fantasy assets you can own. He is undergoing treatment and will have a full offseason of rest and medical attention. The Henderson addition may turn out to be a short term boost as they can split the load and potentially prolong his effectiveness.
My advice right now is not to panic, don’t sell low and see how things look in September but I’d couple that with preaching vigilance. You’re going to have to play the odds and even though it may not be immediate, the day that you’ll want to sell one of best players the league is coming a lot sooner than anyone would have guessed last autumn.