Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys
There might be a small crack in the door to acquire Prescott right now. We haven’t seen him on the field since October, and he’ll spend much of the offseason rehabbing his dislocated and fractured ankle. There’s also still the contract question hanging over his head, with Prescott currently scheduled to hit free agency in March.
Dallas isn’t gonna let this guy get away, though. And the ankle injury shouldn’t be a long-term issue. Prescott has already made “great progress” in his rehab and should be a full-go by April.
Without those 2 concerns, he looks like an easy top-7 dynasty QB. Prescott was on a record-setting pace prior to last year’s injury, averaging 423 yards and 2.3 TDs per game. He was sitting 2nd among QBs in fantasy points at that point — after finishing 2nd in 2019 and top 11 in each of his first 3 seasons.
Prescott is smack dab in his prime at 27 and has a trio of young, talented WRs at his disposal. Dallas will have trouble affording both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup beyond 2021. But even 1 of those guys plus CeeDee Lamb is plenty of firepower.
Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals
Dynasty leaguers are growing tired of Mixon, who seems to disappoint every year for 1 reason or another. It was a foot injury in 2020 that ended up costing him the final 10 games.
Mixon was producing before that, though. He averaged 71 rushing yards, 3.5 catches, 23 receiving yards and .67 TDs over the first 6 weeks, ranking 9th among RBs in PPR points. And that was before Joe Burrow really got cooking.
This Bengals offense is on the ascent, with Burrow, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Mixon. They’ll have continuity in scheme with HC Zac Taylor back for his 3rd season in 2021. And hopefully they’ll work to bolster the offensive line this offseason.
Most importantly, Mixon remains a highly talented 24-year-old — younger than guys like Aaron Jones, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara. Remember, too, that he’d missed just 4 total games over his first 3 NFL seasons, so he doesn’t look like a bigger injury risk than your average RB.
With a recent dynasty startup ADP of RB19 on DynastyLeagueFootball.com, Mixon looks undervalued and like a strong buy right now.
Marquise Brown, WR, Ravens
A popular 2020 breakout pick, Brown disappointed for most of the season, finishing just 35th among WRs in PPR points. That might have him available for a discount in your dynasty league. His ADP checked in at WR39 in 6 January dynasty startup mock drafts on Dynasty League Football -- 9 spots below his spot in our WR rankings.
Much of Brown’s underwhelming season can be blamed on QB Lamar Jackson’s 3rd-year regression. His completion rate, yards per attempt and TD rate all declined from 2019 to 2020. Brown accounted for a bigger percentage of Baltimore’s targets, catches, receiving yards and receiving TDs this past year. And he got rolling down the stretch, averaging 4.6 catches, 67 yards and .75 TDs over the final 8 games (including playoffs).
We still have questions about Jackson’s passing skills and Brown’s ability to be his team’s lead receiver. But those are more than baked into that WR39 price. This kid is still just 23 years old; he was a good-looking prospect and a 1st-round pick; and he’s certainly flashed throughout his first 2 NFL seasons.
Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs
Hardman has been overvalued in the dynasty community since he was drafted. And hey, we get it. Fast guy gets drafted by Patrick Mahomes’ team. Sounds fun.
But Hardman has been basically useless in fantasy through his first 2 seasons. He’s finished 62nd among WRs in PPR points in both years and has yet to string together more than 2 straight outings of double-digit points.
But we never should have expected him to make a big impact right out of the gate. Hardman played QB in high school and caught just 60 passes across 3 seasons at Georgia. He arrived in Kansas City as much more of a project than finished product.
Hardman has at least been good when given opportunity, averaging 16.4 yards per catch, 10.7 yards per target and scoring on 15% of his receptions. He ranked 29th in yards per route run among 105 WRs with 35+ targets as a rookie and 55th among 104 last year.
Hardman will be just 23 when he kicks off his 3rd NFL season in 2021. And, most importantly, he’s finally being valued fairly, with a January dynasty ADP of WR54.
There’s still a chance that he becomes a big part of Mahomes’ offense -- especially with Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson set to hit free agency in March.
See if the Hardman owner in your league has grown inpatient and is ready to sell.
Gabriel Davis, WR, Bills
The Chiefs might be the only offense worth investing more heavily in right now than Buffalo’s. Davis looks like a relatively cheap way to get a piece of it.
He looks like a ready-made replacement for John Brown, who might be a cap casualty this offseason and is at least set to hit free agency in 2022. Davis actually beat Brown in yards per catch, yards per target and TD rate this past year -- as a 21-year-old rookie.
Davis was 1 of our favorite sleepers in the 2020 WR class. The 6’2, 216-pounder averaged a gaudy 17.2 yards per catch in his final season at Central Florida, ranking 4th among all draft-eligible WRs in receptions (16) and yards (620) on targets 20+ yards downfield. That big-play ability immediately translated to the pros, with Davis averaging 17.1 yards per catch and making 10 grabs of 20+ yards this past season.
He has a shot to emerge as Josh Allen’s long-term #2 WR and can probably still be had relatively cheaply in dynasty right now.
Irv Smith, TE, Vikings
Smith hasn’t quite stuffed the stat sheet through 2 NFL seasons, posting 36-311-2 and 30-365-5 lines. But a closer look reveals a few reasons to be high on his dynasty value.
Let’s start with that rookie season, which came at 21 years old. Smith’s 79.1 PPR points that season were 5th most in league history by a 21-year-old TE. The 4 guys ahead of him on that list? Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, David Njoku and Tony Gonzalez.
So it was a super promising start.
Smith missed 3 games in 2020 but improved his catches, yards and TDs per game. He ranked just 25th among TEs in PPR points per game. But remember that he was still sharing with Kyle Rudolph for most of the season. With Rudolph out for the final 4 games, though, Smith racked up 15 catches, 183 yards and 3 TDs. Only 3 TEs scored more PPR points over that stretch.
We’ll see whether the Vikings bring Rudolph and his $7.6 million salary back for 2021. They can more easily get out of his contract prior to the 2022 campaign. Regardless, expect Smith’s role to continue to grow this coming season. But you’re really buying Smith for the long-term value of a 22-year-old, former 2nd-round TE who’s shown a ton of potential through 2 seasons.
Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
Did we see the beginning of the end for Wilson this past year? We all know Seattle went away from its pass-first offense over the 2nd half of the season. But Wilson’s play also declined. Check it out:
For perspective, the completion rate and yards per attempt marks over the 2nd half would have ranked 30th and 29th, respectively, among 35 qualifiers on the season. Wilson’s PFF grade ranked 14th out of 32 QBs with 150+ pass attempts over that span.
Wilson just turned 32 in November, so it’s certainly possible that he bounces back and provides owners with a few more high-end seasons. But he’s seemingly being valued as if that’ll definitely be the case. In 6 January dynasty startup mock drafts over on Dynasty League Football, Wilson was picked between QB6 and QB8 in every one.
At that price, getting out now seems like a no-risk move, with the potential to return a nice profit.
James Robinson, RB, Jaguars
Robinson was 1 of the most surprising and impressive players of 2020. Deemed not even worthy of a draft pick by all 32 NFL teams, he ended up tying for 5th with 1,070 rushing yards — despite missing the final 2 games of the season. Robinson scored 7 times on the ground and posted a 49-344-3 receiving line to finish as a top 7 RB across fantasy formats.
But life is hard for a former undrafted free agent RB. Just ask Phillip Lindsay, who’s averaged an impressive 4.8 yards per carry over the past 3 seasons but keeps facing new challengers for the starting job in Denver.
Lindsay, Robinson, Dominic Rhodes and LeGarrette Blount are the only 4 undrafted rookies to rush for over 1,000 yards. Lindsay, Rhodes and Blount have combined for just 2 more 1,000-yard seasons among 17 tries. Blount is the only 1 of the 3 who reached even 225 carries after year 1.
Life is hard for a former undrafted free-agent RB.
It’s also worth noting that Robinson was good-but-not-great in some important individual metrics. He finished 20th among 47 RBs with 100+ carries in Pro Football Focus’ Elusive Rating, which measures a RB’s contributions beyond the blocking he receives. Robinson ranked 16th in PFF’s rushing grades and 25th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
We’re not necessarily projecting Jacksonville to replace Robinson this offseason. But his job is probably less secure than it would be had the Jaguars spent a 2nd-day pick on him. That’s especially true considering the franchise has 6 of the first 97 picks in this spring’s draft — with a new GM and HC. (GM Trent Baalke was at least with the Jags last year, so he has ties to Robinson.)
Robinson certainly isn’t a must-sell. But there’s a decent chance that his dynasty value is as high right now as it’ll ever be.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, free agent
JuJu’s dynasty value still leans heavily on his first 2 NFL seasons. And they were certainly awesome: 58-917-7 as a rookie and 111-1,426-7 in year 2, all playing alongside Antonio Brown.
Or maybe we should say because he played alongside Antonio Brown. With the mercurial WR out of town, Smith-Schuster has disappointed the last 2 seasons. He missed 4 games in 2019 and averaged a career-low 46 yards per game. It was easy to blame the dud on Pittsburgh’s crappy QB play — but JuJu also finished well behind teammates Diontae Johnson and James Washington in yards per route run and Pro Football Focus receiving grade.
QB Ben Roethlisberger’s return in 2020 helped Smith-Schuster bounce back in the box score. He caught 97 balls and scored a career-high 9 TDs. But he averaged just 8.6 yards per catch as a short-range target. And this time he ranked 4th among Steelers WRs in yards per route run, behind Johnson, Washington and rookie Chase Claypool. In fact, only 14 WRs league-wide with 50+ targets last year finished with fewer yards per route run than JuJu.
Smith-Schuster is still just 24 and is a good bet for another handful of useful fantasy seasons. But it’s also a good bet that there’s an owner in your league who still views him as the guy who looked like a future Hall-of-Famer his first 2 seasons. Especially considering he’s about to hit the unknown of free agency, JuJu looks like a prime sell candidate right now.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seahawks
Most dynasty leaguers are astute enough to realize that Lockett’s PPR WR8 finish this past season is misleading. A whopping 40% of his fantasy production came in just 2 games. Lockett scored as a top-30 WR in just 2 of his final 10 outings.
Still, the total fantasy production — and those big games, especially — should still hold some cachet on the trade market. And we count 4 reasons why now might be the time to cash in your Lockett chips:
- He’s not even the best WR on his own team, which creates a potential target problem.
- He’ll be playing in a new offense in 2021, presumably under what will be a run-favoring OC.
- QB Russell Wilson turned 32 in November and was not good over the 2nd half of this past season.
- Lockett is due to hit free agency after the 2021 campaign.
A.J. Dillon, RB, Packers
Few players have caused more internal debate around the Draft Sharks office than this guy. Which probably means his perceived dynasty value varies widely from owner to owner in your league.
Dillon looked like a just-ok prospect to us coming out of Boston College last spring. He averaged a mediocre 5.2 yards per carry across 3 college seasons and totaled just 21 catches.
On the plus side, he ran for 1,589 yards and 14 TDs as a true freshman, reached 1,100 yards and double-digit scores in all 3 years on campus and tested as a 97th percentile athlete at 6’0, 247 pounds.
We didn’t get to see much of Dillon in 2020, playing behind Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. But he averaged 5.3 yards on his 46 attempts and led all 79 RBs with 40+ carries in Pro Football Focus’ Elusive Rating.
The biggest mark in Dillon’s favor, though, is that the Packers spent a 2nd-round pick on him in last year’s draft. They’re clearly high on him, which gives him a good shot at capturing a significant role. And opportunity trumps all at RB.
We’ll get a good idea of just how high Green Bay is on Dillon this offseason. Jones and Williams are both set to hit the free-agent market in March. How the Packers handle that situation and the rest of the backfield will go a long way toward determining how big a role Dillon plays in 2021 and beyond.
Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs
There's only 1 knock against Kelce’s dynasty value: Age. He turned 31 this past October, putting him past typical peak.
But Kelce has shown no signs of slowing down, actually setting career highs in catches (105), yards (1,416), yards per catch (13.5), yards per route run (2.49) and TDs (11) in 2020.
And we’ve seen all-time-great TEs have big seasons well into their 30s. Tony Gonzalez posted a 96-1,058-10 line at age-32 (and topped 850 yards at 36 and 37). Antonio Gates tallied 77-862-4 at 33 and 69-821-12 at 34. Shannon Sharpe went for 800+ yards in his age-32 and age-33 seasons.
There’s no reason Kelce can’t turn in at least a couple more high-end fantasy seasons — and maybe more considering he’s playing with prime Patrick Mahomes. Unless your dynasty team is 3+ years away from contending, Kelce is a strong hold.