Dynasty Stock Watch - June
It’s the last month of the offseason before NFL training camp opens and hype trains all over the country start rolling. There’s still time to identify interesting opportunities on the dynasty landscape, some obvious and some not so much. Let’s take a look at those you should buy or sell.
Carlos Hyde – RB – San Francisco 49ers – With the departure of veteran Frank Gore to Indianapolis via free agency, all eyes are on Carlos Hyde. And while he will probably be the starter when the season opens, fantasy players should be careful to not assume Hyde will immediately match Gore’s prolific production. He may not even be given the opportunity.
Last year in the 49ers offense, Gore racked up over 250 carries and out-carried Hyde 3:1. It would be ideal for Hyde to replicate that ratio over newly signed Reggie Bush, but that remains to be seen. For starters, there’s Bush, clearly brought in to be the third-down/passing back in an offense that might be trailing a few more games than in previous seasons. There’s also the return of a healthy Kendall Hunter, still only 26, to spell either Hyde or Bush. It may not seem like much, but consider the 49ers signed Hunter to a one-year contract extension late in 2014 while recovering from a torn ACL, and it’s obvious they want him around. Couple that with the fact that the 49ers added running back Mike Davis in the fourth round of this year’s draft, and you have the makings of a very crowded depth chart of players the 49ers obviously want to see involved.
Additionally, there’s a revamped offensive line that will attempt to replace two of the top run blockers in the game last season. Out are guard Mike Iupati (the second-best run-blocking guard according to PFF’s grading) and tackle Anthony Davis (the 13th-best run-blocking tackle according to PFF); in are a combination of veterans (Erik Pears – the 76th-best guard overall last year, according to PFF) and rookies (Brandon Thomas and Marcus Martin).
Taking all of these moves into account, it almost looks like San Francisco is going to throw everything they can at the wall and see what sticks, which should give Hyde owners an uneasy feeling.
Jimmy Graham – TE – Seattle Seahawks – Jimmy Graham’s position on the sell side is not so much an indictment of Graham’s skill or ability, but his situation. In fact, he’s still considered the second-best tight end in many dynasty rankings thanks to that talent. I just don’t think that will last.
For starters, the obvious shift in offensive scheme will be a huge detriment to Graham owners. He goes from a Saints team that passed 659 times last year, good for second in the league, to Seattle, who passed a whopping 454 times, dead last in the league. If you extrapolate Graham’s numbers specifically, he was targeted 125 times or 18.9 percent of the time. Using that same percentage and applying it to Seattle’s pass attempts, you’re looking at just 86 targets on the season, or just over five a game. Yikes.
Now, Graham’s arrival could usher in a new offensive era for Seattle and coach Pete Carroll, but after ranking ninth in yards per game last year, with no discernible loss of personnel, this move seems more supplemental than anything significant. Seattle will still be the run-pounding offense that has served them so well in recent years and has led to two straight Super Bowl appearances. If anything, Graham can be the cherry on top. The same can be said of your dynasty team.
Doug Martin – RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Few running backs have taken the fantasy world by storm like Doug Martin did in 2012. Martin had one of the best seasons for any rookie running back in history, racking up over 1,900 total yards and 12 touchdowns. In dynasty leagues, Martin was viewed as the top player in most rankings, thanks to that stellar rookie year and his age.
However, his sophomore season didn’t get off to the best start before it abruptly ended after six games. After gaining a little over 500 yards in just six games, Martin tore his labrum in his left shoulder and was shelved for the season. Unfortunately, his 2014 season wasn’t much better, as Martin battled ankle and knee injuries while playing just 11 games. His injuries, combined with the new coaching staff’s lack of faith in Martin, led to approximately the same total yards in almost twice as many games. It was a rough two-year stretch for Martin. If there were ever a time to snatch him up, it’s now.
Martin has the most talent surrounding him that he’s ever had, which should draw more attention away from him on the field. Receiver Mike Evans, drafted seventh overall last year, appears to be a stud, and quarterback Jameis Winston, drafted first overall, should provide Martin with a competent signal caller for the foreseeable future, if it all goes according to plan.
Besides the influx of talent surrounding him on the offensive side, Martin is having his best offseason since his stellar rookie season. He may finally be healthy enough to start looking like a quality running back again. One thing’s for certain: He’ll never be traded for a cheaper price.
Eddie Royal – WR – Chicago Bears – Eddie Royal may not be the new receiver most Bears fans will be watching for, but he may well be the more productive one, at least initially.
Signed away from San Diego in the offseason, Royal will fill a long vacant role as slot receiver for the Bears. Royal is coming off his best season in over five years, turning in a 62/778/7 line in his age-28 season. He re-teams with quarterback Jay Cutler, who was the quarterback during the best season of Royal’s career in 2008, when Royal caught 91 passes for 980 yards.
The age is a concern, especially in dynasty formats, but the Bears felt confident enough to give the 29-year-old $10 million guaranteed. Additionally, the offense will be helmed by new offensive coordinator Adam Gase who, while in Denver last season, called for the pass on 59 percent of his plays, similar to San Diego’s 60 percent. Royal is off to a great start this offseason, which will keep his stock rising. Grab him while you can.