Sell Cousins and Hill in dynasty
Let’s change things up with Wild Card weekend now in the books, by evaluating players who could make a big difference in dynasty leagues next year. I took one player from each game to dissect and evaluate their dynasty value heading into the offseason.
Kirk Cousins – QB – Washington Redskins – The long, strange road of Kirk Cousins’ season has been eventful, even dramatic. From early-season turmoil over who would start at quarterback, to the late-season run that propelled the Redskins into the playoffs, it’s been entertaining to say the least.
From a fantasy perspective, Cousins was a QB1 on the season. He was 10th in passing yards (4,166) and actually first in completion percentage (69.8%). On the surface, Cousins was productive. He is a free agent, but it’s unlikely Washington lets him go after making the playoffs, so he’ll have another year of experience in the same system with the same personnel.
But should we expect Cousins to get even better? What about maintaining his current production? All of his multiple-passing touchdown games came against teams that finished 8-8 or worse, and there were only five such games. In fact, the Redskins played the 16th-easiest schedule and played the fewest teams with eight wins or more (6). That road is sure to get tougher next year as the Redskins will take on the schedule of a division winner. It would be an upset if Cousins improved on his numbers this year against tougher opponents next year.
Cousins is a fringe QB1 in dynasty leagues and no different than a half-dozen other quarterbacks. If you can get good value at other positions for him, you should do it.
Jeremy Hill – RB – Cincinnati Bengals – Jeremy Hill had so much promise heading into the season. An easy top-10 dynasty running back at just 22 years-old, there was no reason to think Hill would have dropped off a cliff like he did, even before his disastrous fumble in the Wild Card round against the Steelers.
His rookie year was simply outstanding. He gained 1,124 yards on just 222 carries, for a 5.1 yards-per-carry (YPC) average, to go along with nine rushing touchdowns. With a good, young offense around him, he seemed primed for many more seasons of similar productivity.
But then the wheels fell off. After a whole season of averaging five-plus YPC, he completed just two games with such an average. He actually had the same number of carries (223), but over 300 fewer yards, for a 794-yard total (3.6 YPC). He also failed to register any 100-yard games this season after five last season. To say it was a disappointing season would be an understatement.
But perhaps Hill’s performance shouldn’t have been much of a surprise. Last season, he ranked just 36th in PFF rankings among 57 qualifying running backs, despite good rushing numbers. He wasn’t far off from that ranking this season, checking in at 45th
Going forward, it’s a concern that Hill is so young, part of an ascending offense, and was used at the same rate as last year, yet still declined. I would be looking to move Hill and cash in on that solid rookie season before it’s too late.
Spencer Ware – RB – Kansas City Chiefs – If anyone could come back from a second ACL injury in their career, it would be Jamaal Charles. But it doesn’t hurt to have an insurance policy. Enter Spencer Ware.
When Charles went down in Week 5 with a torn ACL, it was second-year back Charcandrick West who was given first crack at taking over running back duties. West has had a decent season running the ball, with 160 carries for 634 yards, and a 4.0 yards-per-carry average. He has also been more effective in the pass game, with 20 catches for 214 yards and a nice 10.0 yards-per-reception average. If you’re looking for a back who has produced more like Charles in the ground game, it would be West.
However, working with West, Ware has rushed for 403 yards on just 72 carries, for a solid 5.6 yards-per-carry average. Additionally, he’s scored two more touchdowns than West, despite carrying it less than half as many times. Furthermore, Ware has a +6.1 rating, good for a top-20 ranking, while West has a -1.9 PFF grade on more than 500 snaps.
There’s a small sample to glean from the Chiefs’ playoff run about what Andy Reid might be thinking regarding their running game. Ware out-touched West 16-9 and gained 67 total yards and a touchdown, compared to West’s 35 yards and 0 touchdowns. Sunday’s divisional game will be another audition for both backs.
Charles recently turned 29, and the Chiefs would be wise to inject youth into the position. My money is on Ware.
Tyler Lockett – WR – Seattle Seahawks – If you thought Amari Cooper, Devante Parker, or even Stefon Diggs were the top-rated rookie receivers according to PFF, you’d be wrong. That honor would go to Lockett, who edged out Diggs +6.8 to +6.5.
You’d be forgiven if you had your doubts about Lockett through Week 6 of this season, as he failed to post more than 60 receiving yards in any game, or even score a touchdown. He then broke out in Week 7 with five catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Since then, he hasn’t looked back. He ended his rookie year with 51 catches, good for second on the team, for 664 yards and six touchdowns — all while technically starting only half of the season. And for leagues that count return yardage and/or touchdowns, Lockett’s value was even higher.
With a season of experience under his belt at just 23, next year could be even bigger for Lockett. He should be a major part of the offensive to start the season, unlike in his rookie year, and continue to post positive marks.