Dynasty buys and sells
Continuing the playoff-centric version of the dynasty stock watch, we look at four players from this past weekend’s Conference Championship games whose dynasty stock will be trending one way or the other. The dynasty off-season is almost here, and there’s still time to evaluate these players.
Cam Newton – QB – Carolina Panthers – My hypothesis when I first started evaluating Cam Newton was that his dynasty value surely couldn’t be higher. He had just turned in a season of career-highs in passing touchdowns (35) and a career-low in interceptions (10) after leading the Panthers to their best record ever at 15-1. Surely, things couldn’t get any better for Newton, and it should have been the time to cash in.
But the more I looked at his other stats, passing yards, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, nothing was out of the ordinary. Sure, they were excellent stats, but Newton didn’t set a career-high in any of those categories. His 3,837 passing yards this season were just his third-highest total of his career, as were his 636 rushing yards. Even his ten rushing touchdowns were just the second-highest total of his career, well behind the career-high of 14 he had his rookie year. His 2015 season was excellent but hardly an anomaly. All of that without Kelvin Benjamin who had 1,000 receiving yards last year as a rookie.
Perhaps his most redeeming quality is his age. At 26, he’s the second youngest of the top 12 fantasy quarterbacks this season. If Cam’s your dynasty quarterback, you can feel secure that you have a QB1 for the foreseeable future, which is not something every team can say.
John Brown – WR – Arizona Cardinals – It may surprise you to learn that Brown, maybe not even the second-most recognizable receiver on his own team, actually had the production of a WR2 in 2015.
The third-round pick in the 2014 draft was second on the team this season with 65 catches and 1,003 yards to go along with seven touchdowns. He was a top-25 fantasy wide receiver in either PPR or non-PPR formats and was PFF’s 24th-ranked receiver. Even better was his WR rating ranking of 11th (fellow Arizona receiver Fitzgerald was third).
He also has long-term appeal, especially in the likely event he stays in Arizona. He’ll be on his team-friendly rookie deal for at least two more years. Compared to the two receivers ahead of him on the Cardinals depth chart, he’s not nearly as old as Larry Fitzgerald (32) and doesn’t make nearly as much money as Michael Floyd ($7 million this year). Carson Palmer may be nearing the end of his productive career, but his age, cost and production makes Brown an exceptional bargain. He’s an ideal WR3 or FLEX for your dynasty roster and the lack of name recognition could make it easier for him to be had.
Brock Osweiler – QB – Denver Broncos – For those who anticipate a smooth transition of the Denver offense to Brock Osweiler at the conclusion of the 2016 season, it’s time to tap the brakes. Sure it’s possible, even probable, that Osweiler opens the season as the starting quarterback in Denver, but if his production this season is any indication, he won’t be the starter for long.
On the surface, Osweiler’s numbers looked decent in the nine games he played this season. Acting as the starter for half the season, Osweiler completed 61.8% of his passes and a 7.2 yards-per-attempt, both respectable for a starting quarterback. He also had a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio (10:6) and only lost one fumble on the season. By those numbers, it would appear Osweiler can succeed.
But if you dig deeper, Osweiler was a below-average quarterback. He completed only a quarter of his deep passes (over 20 yards), or about half of what league leader Ben Roethlisberger did. He also finished 17th in PFF’s accuracy percentage, which measures a quarterback’s actual accuracy after factoring in drops, throw aways, spikes, etc.
Danny Amendola – WR – New England Patriots – After a ton of promise that never materialized in New England, it may be time to finally, mercifully, cut bait on Amendola as a dynasty piece.
Amendola is one of a few players who is probably better known by reputation and projection than any actual production. After four uneventful and injury-riddled seasons in St. Louis, Amendola was famously signed by the Patriots in 2013 as the heir apparent to Wes Welker in the slot receiver role. But after an injury in his first game as a Patriot, New England deferred to fellow slot receiver specialist Julian Edelman and never looked back. The role and production that were meant for Amendola since then have all funneled to Edelman, who has been the leading Patriots receiver besides Gronk.
As for Amendola, he has yet to accumulate 1,500 receiving yards in his entire three-year career in New England. He did bounce back slightly this season while filling in for Edelman, totaling 65 catches for 648 yards. But the modest production probably won’t be enough to keep Amendola around.
Edelman was able to return from injury before the end of the Patriots playoff run and should be back to his full-time role next year. Rob Gronkowski will have a place in New England since he can walk. But the rest of the receiving corps need an overhaul and that will probably start with Amendola. With a cap number that’s higher than Gronkowski and Edelman, and with the Patriots able to save nearly $4 million by cutting him, Amendola is a liability. It would be a major upset for Amendola to stay in New England, but even if he did, he would still take a back seat to Edelman. If Amendola moves on, he won’t find a better situation suited for a possession slot receiver. His value has officially maxed out.