Dynasty Stock Watch - February
The NFL offseason is about to kick into high gear with the Combine, free agency, and the NFL Draft. However, for dynasty players there is no offseason. Let’s see who you would be wise to move and acquire before it’s too late.
Julius Thomas – TE – Denver Broncos – After being the recipient of 24 of Peyton Manning’s touchdown throws over the last two seasons, Julius Thomas ventures into free agency with an uncertain future.
Thomas came out of nowhere two years ago after just one reception combined in 2011 and 2012, and he made an immediate impact as the starter. That year, he caught 65 balls for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. This season, his receptions and yards declined, but he repeated his 12-touchdown performance. He was a top five tight end both seasons, but one has to wonder how much of that success was the result of Manning.
Denver may want to bring Thomas back, but they have other important players to sign, too, such as star receiver Demaryius Thomas. There are a few pass-friendly teams that could use a tight end, such as Green Bay, but if Julius Thomas signs anywhere else, he could see a significant decline in targets. Sell him while he’s still affiliated with Denver.
Derek Carr – QB – Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr was the first rookie quarterback to start in 2014, and he had a solid rookie season by traditional numbers. He finished with over 3,000 yards and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 21 to 12. Meanwhile, he’ll just be 24 years old when the next season starts, so many fantasy owners will expect a sophomore breakout.
Many of Carr’s efficiency statistics paint a worse picture. For example, he threw for just 5.5 yards per attempt and still completed just 58 percent of his passes. In contrast, fellow rookie Teddy Bridgewater finished with a 64 percent completion percentage. Of course, Carr didn’t have elite talent around him in Oakland, so those numbers are not completely his fault. Still, the Raiders do not have many prospects for improvements at the skill positions unless they spend their No. 4 draft pick on one of the elite receivers in the class like Amari Cooper or Kevin White. Given their many other needs, that’s a difficult thing to count on. The smart play is to sell Carr now.
Teddy Bridgewater – QB – Minnesota Vikings – In comparison to Carr, Bridgewater was the clear winner in 2014, and his season stacks up favorably to historic rookie performances, as well. He ended the season with the seventh-highest quarterback rating ever for a rookie despite not having a 1,000-yard rusher or receiver, not to mention the distraction of the Adrian Peterson case. He even threw in three 300-yard games throughout the year for good measure.
Meanwhile, Bridgewater has a clearer path to improvement in his second season. The continuity in his coaching staff with Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner should help him develop. He also benefits from an improving weapon at receiver in Charles Johnson, who Turner called his “best receiver,” not to mention the possible return of Peterson.
Still “only” ranked 16th in Pro Football Focus’ dynasty rankings, Bridgewater has the makings of a QB1 and is still only 22. I think he could be slightly forgotten with this year’s rookie class of quarterbacks and could be acquired for a good value.
Justin Blackmon – WR – Jacksonville Jaguars – It hasn’t been pretty for Justin Blackmon owners in recent seasons. After a fast start in 2013, Blackmon was suspended indefinitely after multiple drug charges. That suspension has turned into 24 games and has resulted in Blackmon falling completely off the NFL and fantasy radar.
All is not lost, however, as the offseason news has been positive in Jacksonville. Blackmon has stayed out of trouble and even completed a drug rehab program assigned to him after his last arrest. It seems likely that Blackmon could return to the team in 2015.
Still only 25, Blackmon remains a first-round talent, which he showed flashes of during his ill-fated 2013 season. He averaged over 100 yards per game before his suspension that yera. He would be a clear starter in an inexperienced receiving corps and a huge asset to second-year quarterback Blake Bortles. Everything is trending up with Blackmon, so take a flyer before someone else does.