Diving Into The Deep End
By Matt Kelley
It is without a doubt startup dynasty season amongst the fantasy community. The NFL looks like a go from the standpoint of COVID-19, clearing most of the uncertainty about forging into a fresh dynasty league.
Everyone generally knows about the players inside of the top 100 picks, but in a dynasty format where starting lineups and rosters are likely to be much deeper, you have to know where to look for rising stars, values, and opportunity. Here we’ll take a look at some guys going outside of the top 100 in ADP (we’ll assume 12 teams, single QB, PPR settings).
Jamison Crowder, Pick 109 Overall:
Crowder spent the first four seasons of his NFL career in Washington. In the first three, he compiled 280 targets, 192 receptions, and 12 touchdowns. All of this production came with Kirk Cousins as quarterback. We’ll forgo Crowder’s last season in Washington, as he only played in nine games, and the QB situation was in flux (Alex Smith, Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy, and even a Mark Sanchez appearance).
Last season, his first season as a New York Jet, Crowder had a career high 122 targets in 12 games started. Crowder saw at least eight targets in 50% of his games. He became a consistent target for Sam Darnold, who took a pretty decent step forward in his own right, despite a bad offensive line and dealing with Mononucleosis a few weeks into the season.
Crowder will be in the starting lineup out of the gate this season and will be a PPR machine. You can snag Crowder as a WR4 or WR5 in some cases and feel great about plugging him in as a flex option or during your bye weeks.
Boston Scott, Pick 134 Overall:
Regardless if you’re a Miles Sanders truther or not, you should know the name Boston Scott. Scott came into the Philadelphia Eagles lineup out of necessity last season. However, over the last month of the season, Scott saw an uptick in his opportunity and showed he’s got some chops to contribute to this team.
Scott saw 24 targets to Sanders’ 22 over the last four games (Sanders did injure his knee week 17). I don’t necessarily expect Scott to see that split over the entirety of the season, but there is a possibility Scott sees low-end double digit touches each week.
The Eagles didn’t bring in another RB over the offseason, so Scott is second in line to Sanders for touches. It also isn’t likely that Sanders will be on the field for 90% of snaps all season.
Scott evaded 26 tackles in limited action last season, so he’s shifty enough to make guys miss and create space for himself. Scott can provide weekly upside in your flex spot and should be handcuffed for anyone drafting Miles Sanders.
Drew Lock, Pick 166 Overall:
Finding a long term QB has been quite the quest for the Denver Broncos. Have they found that in Drew Lock? Well, maybe.
Lock started from week 13 on and led the Broncos to a 4-1 record over that stretch. He averaged a mere 204 passing yards per game, which was largely propped up by a 309 yard performance against the Houston Texans. He was also on pace to rush for 200 plus yards which aren’t Lamar Jackson numbers, but it doesn’t hurt.
To be fantasy relevant in single QB leagues, Lock has to take a pretty big step forward. Luckily for him, the Broncos tried to surround him with better options for the 2020 season. They acquired Melvin Gordon in free agency, drafted WR’s Jerry Jeudy (who is projected to contribute immediately) and KJ Hamler. Both Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant are ready to prove they’re top options at their respective positions.
The truth is, Lock is still facing an uphill battle. Gordon will need to acclimate to the offense, while the rookie pair of WR’s will need to acclimate themselves to NFL competition. Expect a bumpy start while the team finds chemistry and works through a tough first five weeks of the schedule (TEN, @PIT, TB, @NYJ, @NE). Greener pastures are ahead, though, as the season wears on into the fall. Lock will have an opportunity to finish as a high-end QB2 if his surrounding cast develops with him.
Damien Harris, Pick 199 Overall:
I know 2020 is weird when I’m advocating for a Patriots RB. The Pats are notorious for going with a RBBC (running back by committee) approach...and by RBBC approach I mean good luck predicting who is going to get the most usage on a weekly basis. I don’t expect that to change in 2020, but with that said there’s opportunity to be had in this backfield.
Damien Harris was selected in the third round of the 2019 draft and saw a total of four...FOUR...carries all season. Why? Well, I don’t have a good reason for you. The Patriots featured James White, Sony Michel, and Rex Burkhead last season, all of whom are still projected to be with the Patriots this season.
So why Harris now?
Well, he’s being taken very late, and there is a chance...albeit small...he starts the season as the lead back. Sony Michel, who saw the bulk of carries for New England last season, had offseason foot surgery and has had a number of lower body injuries dating all the way back to highschool. Given his most recent foot procedure was in May, there’s a chance he lands on the PUP when camp starts.
With the NFL announcing limited camp and most likely no pre season, it’ll be difficult to evaluate Harris’ chances to start, and we know better than to just listen to head coach Bill Belichick. Harris produced in his time at Alabama, and he’s definitely fresh considering his very limited usage last season. At this range of a draft, it’s worth the shot to see if Harris comes out with a more significant workload this season as this backfield is pretty wide open.
Tyrod Taylor, Pick 248 Overall:
It’s pretty hard to find a starting QB this late, but insert Tyrod Taylor and you’ve got one...at least for a bit. Taylor is going to enter the 2020 season as the starting QB for the Los Angeles Chargers ahead of first round pick Justin Herbert. The Chargers are unlikely to rush Herbert for playing time due to the lack of camps, preseason, and offensive line problems.
Taylor last started games for the Cleveland Browns, but his most meaningful stint as a starter was in Buffalo for the Bills from 2015-2017. What’s great about Taylor is he’s unlikely to throw himself out of the starting role. While he isn’t the yardage monster that Philip Rivers was, he doesn't turn the ball over. Taylor had six or fewer interceptions in each of his three seasons in Buffalo.
Where Taylor really provides value though, is on the ground. Taylor rushed for 568 yards in 2015, 580 yards in 2016, and 427 yards in 2016. I’ll take that all day long from a QB. Especially one that is being drafted as the 30th QB off the board or later.
Will he start all season? Well, no promises there, but the Chargers open their season with some fantasy friendly match-ups (@CIN, KC, CAR, @TB, @NO, NYJ, @MIA). You could easily get seven or eight games out of a QB or have an alternate to turn to from injury. If the Chargers stay in the playoff hunt you could conceivably get a full season from Taylor.