StrategyJuly 4, 2011

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Dynasty Dynamos: Planning for the Future

By R.J. White

As any fantasy football addict can tell you, dynasty leagues bring an exciting new spin on your run-of-the-mill re-draft competitions. In the latter, leagues can be won and lost week-to-week on the FA wire, and the team that grabs the right FA at the right time can parlay a hot late-season streak into a fantasy title. But in dynasty leagues, especially those with larger rosters, those championship heroes often find spots on fantasy rosters well before their value fully matures. The team that was smart enough to sign Arian Foster to a long-term dynasty contract after his big Week 17 in 2009 was treated to the best player of 2010. Likewise, the owner that immediately gambled on Michael Vick at the end of his prison sentence eventually enjoyed a magical fantasy season last year.

Who highlights the next crop of Dynasty Dynamos ready to take the fantasy world by storm? I’m about to give you a few of my off-the-radar guys that I think could be contributing to fantasy teams within the next few years. For simplicity’s sake, I’m not going to pick rookies (we’ll have more on the 2011 class in an upcoming article), nor will I throw out names like Jordy Nelson, Kevin Kolb or Tim Tebow, players that are more often than not selected in re-draft leagues. The following players stand a great chance of being available to grab in your dynasty leagues right now.

QB Brian Hoyer, New England – Tom Terrific isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and the Patriots gambled on Ryan Mallett in this year’s draft as a potential replacement. However, Matt Cassel was once an unknown Patriot QB with zero fantasy value, until a Week 1 injury ruined Brady’s season. Now Cassel is a starter with a very nice contract and generally considered a top-20 fantasy QB, even in run-heavy Kansas City. Hoyer, 25, has drawn rave reviews as Brady’s backup and could eventually go that route as well. He’s been solid in spot duty and in the pre-season, enough so that a team may be hoping they can find the next Matt Schaub if they instill him as the starter.

QB Matt Flynn, Green Bay – Like Hoyer, Flynn is a backup to a pretty good starting quarterback and has no shot at unseating him as the starter. Unlike Hoyer, the LSU product has had the chance to shine in extensive action; in fact, his big start came against Hoyer’s Patriots in Week 15 of last season. All he did in New England was complete 24 of 37 passes for 251 yards and three TDs, throwing just one pick. He looked so good, in fact, that calling him a top-30 NFL quarterback may not be a stretch at all. A team like Arizona, Seattle or Miami could make the Packers an offer they can’t refuse should they miss out on Kevin Kolb in trade talks. Flynn, who loves Green Bay but is a free agent after this year, would presumably welcome the opportunity to be an NFL starter. Depending on his landing spot, he could be a great one.

Other Potential Dynasty Dynamo QBs: Caleb Hanie, Chicago; Josh Johnson, Tampa Bay.

RB Rashad Jennings, Jacksonville – A seventh-round pick out of Liberty in 2009, Jennings understandably didn’t cause much fantasy buzz coming into Jacksonville, especially with perennial first-round pick Maurice Jones-Drew locked in as the starter after Fred Taylor left. In his rookie season, Jennings managed to earn 39 carries, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt. With Jones-Drew more banged up in 2010, Jennings saw more of an opportunity to contribute, averaging 5.4 yards per carry in his 84 rushing attempts while catching 26 passes. He received the highest number of carries in 2010 in his last two games, first coming up short against Washington (32 yards on 15 carries) before turning in a nice effort against the Texans (108 yards and a TD on 22 carries). He’s a must-own dynasty handcuff for MJD owners lest an opportunistic competitor grab him and reap the reward should Jones-Drew struggle to stay healthy after knee surgery.

RB Tashard Choice, Dallas – The Dallas backfield is one in flux, with Felix Jones looking nothing like a feature back, Marion Barber looking near the end of the line and rookie DeMarco Murray exceptionally injury prone. Choice seems to have fallen out of favor in Dallas, yet he’s managed to average 4.8 yards per carry in 222 career carries over the span of three seasons, totaling 1,064 rushing yards, 426 receiving yards, 53 receptions and eight touchdowns. At 26 years old with only a full season’s complement of work under his belt, Choice could be appealing to a running-back needy team like Miami or Washington, or as the eventual successor to an aging lead back in a place like St. Louis or Cincinnati. He’s definitely performed well enough to earn at least a spot in a committee attack should he be cut.

Other Potential Dynasty Dynamo RBs: Mike Goodson, Carolina; Chris Ivory, New Orleans; Javon Ringer, Tennessee.

WR Emmanuel Sanders, Pittsburgh – Long a team centered around a bruising rushing attack, the Steelers have moved to a pass-happy offense over the last decade. Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace … the list of quality fantasy receivers in Pittsburgh seems to keep consistently growing. Now Ward has gotten a bit long in the tooth, so it’s time to find the next great Steeler receiver ready to follow in some pretty big footsteps. Pittsburgh Steeler beat writers have been calling for a Sanders breakout all off-season, with good reason. He battles for the ball while it’s in the air and does some great work after he catches it. He showed this especially in the second half of the season, recording 24 of his 28 catches in the final eight games of 2010. That stretch included a nice seven-catch, 78-yard effort against a very good Jet defense.

WR Jordan Shipley, Cincinnati – A team with one high-maintenance receiver rarely has enough balls to keep one player happy, so imagine what the Bengals went through employing both Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens last year. Still, Shipley managed to catch 52 passes in his rookie season, good for 600 yards and three TDs. With T.Ocho likely cancelled in Cincinnati for good, there will be plenty more targets to dole out. The lion’s share should eventually go to rookie A.J. Green, but Shipley stood out as a potential key part of the passing offense last year, most notably with a six-catch, 131-yard game the first game back from a concussion. I wouldn’t be surprised to see passing-centric Jay Gruden make a three-wide formation his base set to keep Shipley’s talent on the field as much as possible.

Other Potential Dynasty Dynamo WRs: Anthony Armstrong, Washington; Earl Bennett, Chicago; Plaxico Burress, Free Agent; Julian Edelman, New England; Jason Hill, Jacksonville; Golden Tate, Seattle.

TE Jared Cook, Tennessee – While the Titans were busy franchising Bo Scaife, underwhelming TE extraordinaire and buddy to quarterback Vince Young, they had a young dynamo playing sparingly in the form of Cook. A sleeper coming out of the 2009 NFL Draft, Cook finally got the chance to prove his worth at the end of last season, catching 12 passes for 154 yards in the Titans’ final two games. He managed at least three receptions and 40 yards in five of the team’s last six games of the season. With Scaife expected not to return, Cook looks like he’ll be on the field quite a bit in 2011, which could lead to even better per-game numbers should he develop a rapport with rookie Jake Locker.

TE James Casey, Houston – The Texans signed Owen Daniels to an extension back in March before the lockout had taken effect, locking up one of the best fantasy tight ends in the game for the next four years. While it was great news for Daniels’ fantasy value, it meant Casey would be stuck on the bench for the foreseeable future. Everyone that’s seem him practice or play feels he has the talent to eventually be one the league’s top receiving tight ends, but unfortunately, that may not happen as a Texan. He’ll be a FA after 2012, so fantasy owners will have to remain patient for a guy that could have a huge payoff. Plenty of teams have started to feature the tight end more in the passing offense, and it’s certainly possible a team comes knocking with a mid-round pick in hopes of landing another receiving threat. I would love to eventually see him take over the starting job with a team like the Ravens, Giants or Falcons.

Other Potential Dynasty Dynamo TEs: Fred Davis, Washington; Ed Dickson, Baltimore; Jacob Tamme, Indianapolis.

R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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