By Alex Kurpeski December 10, 2019
Last night, my fantasy season ended abruptly at the hands of Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles (with a little help from my flex receiver Golden Tate, who evidently forgot to bring his hands to Monday night’s contest). Luckily for me and many others who have seen their hard work get flushed down the drain, fantasy football season never ends thanks to a beautiful format known as the dynasty league.
Today, begins 3cosports’s venture into more dynasty-heavy content (even as me and my cohort Angel take on the challenge of final exams). So without further adieu, let’s begin by talking about some buy-low dynasty candidates, who could help you win your leagues next season.
QB Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
We’ve been singing the praises of Murray for this whole season. The rookie signal-caller has been one of the more consistent fantasy quarterbacks, checking in as the QB7 in fantasy overall. Murray has eclipsed the 20 point mark in 7/13 starts thus far, scoring single digits just twice this campaign.
While his dual-threat abilities have yet to be fully utilized, Murray has four rushing touchdowns on the year, looking incredibly explosive when he has taken off on the ground. It appears that the 22 year-old passer is very comfortable in Kliff Kingsbury’s spread attack, as the Cardinals offense has kept the team alive in a lot of contests this season.
With another year of experience in the system (and with his pass-catchers) we expect Murray to be a QB1 candidate in 2020, especially if his team spends some of their estimated 75 million in cap space to bolster the offensive line (and receiving core, maybe). With rising star Christian Kirk and ageless wonder Larry Fitzgerald in the fold, Murray has a chance to be the next Lamar Jackson/Patrick Mahomes to take the league by storm. Likewise, Murray represents a potential QB1 in dynasty formats for the next decade, assuming he maintains his current outputs.
RB Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
Ekeler has been the closest thing to Christian McCaffrey this year besides, well, Christian McCaffrey himself. The long-time handcuff to Melvin Gordon has been incredibly dominant in PPR formats this season, as he is currently on pace for 90 receptions, 1,614 yards from scrimmage, and 14 total touchdowns this season.
The RB3 in PPR formats through 14 weeks, Ekeler could still have another ceiling to hit in 2020, with Melvin Gordon approaching free agency. With Gordon’s 17 touches per-game potentially coming off the board, Ekeler could have a realistic shot at eclipsing McCaffrey’s historic 2019 campaign next season (assuming the team does not bring in another back to absorb Gordon’s touches). For reference, Ekeler is only averaging around 14 touches per game this year, a figure that makes his production that much more impressive. Although Ekeler himself is a restricted free-agent this off-season, the likelihood of the Chargers letting him walk is extraordinarily low considering how valuable he has been.
At just 24 years-old, there’s reason to believe that Ekeler has a lot left in the tank, even after his heavy usage this season. Interestingly enough, Ekeler has been a better version of the “superstar third-down back” archetype than the man who pioneered the role, Alvin Kamara. Buy Ekeler while you still have the chance, you will not regret your decision.
RB David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
I know, I know. With all of the hype surrounding Montgomery this off-season, many expected the Iowa State product to breakout with a monster rookie campaign in 2019. Well, that didn’t happen. Montgomery has just one game with over 100 rushing yards this year, while averaging a mediocre 3.5 yard-per-attempt. Likewise, his work as a receiver has been limited to say the least, with just 23 receptions for 173 yards.
Some of Montgomery’s shortcomings can be attributed to the terrible QB play by Mitchell Trubisky, who’s refusal to run the ball has taken any option plays out of the playbook for Chicago. Moreover, third-down back Tarik Cohen has remained a heavy presence in the team’s backfield, as he has averaged 8.4 touches per-game. So with all these drawbacks, just why should you target Montgomery this off-season?
Well, for starters, Montgomery is a very talented player. He famously set an NCAA record for tackles avoided while playing for the Cyclones, and he has shown that he can be a terror in the open field (that is, when the Bears offensive line can open up holes for him). Maybe it’s a gut-feeling thing, but something tells me that the Bears will need to rely heavily on Montgomery in 2020, with this reliance eventually leading to a breakthrough fantasy season (think Derrick Henry or Leonard Fournette this year for reference). He may not be a very sexy runner, but Montgomery has the goods to be a great running back in this league, and writing him off after one season would be a huge oversight.
RB Darwin Thompson, Kansas City Chiefs
Here’s a guy that you could get dirt-cheap, with the upside to potentially win your league in 2020 and beyond. A lot was made of Thompson during the off-season, as many fantasy experts projected him to become the new lead back for the Chiefs at some point in 2019. Then the team signed Lesean McCoy. For most of this season, Thompson has been radio silent, as the Chiefs have deployed a committee buoyed by McCoy, incumbent starter Damien Williams, and trustworthy Darrel Williams.
Thompson has gotten a decent amount of work in recent weeks, with injuries to both Williams’s. In limited action, the rookie from Utah State has looked very solid, showing off decent chops as a receiving back. But just why should you buy-low on a player with less than 100 career rushing yards?
Well, here’s a scenario for you. The Chiefs cut bait with the injury prone Damien Williams this off-season, while keeping the veteran McCoy around on a team-friendly deal. The team decides not to invest a high draft pick on a running back, leaving Thompson to compete with Darrel Williams and McCoy for touches. As the more explosive back in the offense, Thompson emerges as the lead-back following the pre-season, delivering a very solid RB2 campaign. This scenario can play out similarly if the front office decides to keep Williams (Damien) instead of McCoy.
While there’s no guarantee here, there is a road to success for Thompson, who’s player profile best compares to Packers RB Jamaal Williams (also from Utah State, coincidentally). Even if he carves out a role in the team’s committee approach, Thompson is a player who could be playable in many lineups next season, and he could be had for as-low-as a 4th round pick.
WR Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos
Sutton has been outstanding this season. On pace for 73 catches, 1,156 receiving yards, and 7 receiving touchdowns, Sutton is the unquestioned WR1 for a Broncos team that may have finally found the long-term answer at QB (Dear Drew Lock, don’t make that comment age terribly, please).
Built in the mold of Kenny Golladay and Dez Bryant before him, Sutton is a jump-ball specialist with the ability to rack up yards after the catch. He may never become Mike Evans, but Sutton has a chance to develop into a low-end WR1 for fantasy football. Sutton’s success with multiple quarterbacks (Joe Flacco-Brandon Allen-Drew Lock) is a testament to his playmaking abilities, and his adaptability is an extremely admirable trait for such a young player.
Sutton’s best long-term comparison is Alshon Jeffery, a player who has consistently delivered WR2 seasons with a smorgasbord of quarterbacks. However, if Lock is truly the answer for Denver, his ceiling could be even higher, so why not make the move for Sutton while he’s still relatively cheap?
WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
If there’s one guy who really won me over this season, it would be Deebo Samuel. This guy is just so much fun to watch, and his versatility for the 49ers offense makes him one of the most intriguing players in all of fantasy football. Aside from veteran Emmanuel Sanders, Samuel is the only trustworthy wide receiver on the Niners roster, and at just 23 years-old, there’s no reason to think he won’t improve next season.
Had he not missed a game earlier in the year, Samuel may very well be on pace for a 1,000 yard receiving campaign. But alas, we must settle for an 800(ish) receiving yardage mark from the dynamic young pass-catcher. If Sanders departs this off-season, Samuel has a chance to emerge as the true WR1 for the Niners explosive offense. In this scenario (assuming he stays healthy), there’s no doubt in my mind that young Deebo will surpass 1,000 yards receiving, with a chance to rack up 75-90 catches along the way.
Make the move for this stud rookie receiver while you still can. Deebo is the real deal.
WR Jakobi Meyers, New England Patriots
This one is a bit of a long-shot, but hear me out. Meyers has been the only receiver on the Patriots roster not to be bitten by the injury bug. The converted quarterback has been effective as an undrafted free-agent, as he is currently on pace for 30 receptions and 411 receiving yards despite beginning the season 6th on the depth chart.
Meyers may not be a super exciting player, but his road to success has been paved by many others like him (Julian Edelman, Troy Brown, etc). Receivers that work hard and “do their job” in New England often find success once they have familiarized themselves with the system. If Meyers continues to do what he has done so far, we may be looking at a future fantasy asset.
He may never develop into a WR1, but Meyers is a player with a sneaky-high upside in the long-term, and he, like Darwin Thompson, could be had basically for free.
TE Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
Fant has really come into his own in the second half of this season, with 317 of his 492 receiving yards coming in the last 5 games. The first-rounder from Iowa has looked extremely explosive ever since Joe Flacco’s benching, looking like a real-difference maker for a Denver offense in need of dynamic playmakers.
Assuming Fant finishes this season strong, he could be the next breakout tight end in fantasy football as soon as next year. With rookie Drew Lock under-center (you may recall that Lock loved to throw to his college tight end Albert Owkwuegbunam), Fant could have a Mark Andrews-like season in 2020, using his long-speed and large catch-radius to big up big yardage plays.
TE T.J Hockenson, Detroit Lions
You thought we weren’t gonna mention the Hock? Are you crazy?
Hockenson was the first tight end selected in the top 10 picks of the NFL Draft since Eric Ebron, thanks in-part to his pedigree of learning the position at the University of Iowa (where George Kittle played, never forget) as well as his outstanding athletic profile (similar to Kittle, basically this guy is supposed to be the next George Kittle).
We got a glimpse into Hockenson’s upside almost immediately, as he torched the Cardinals defense for 126 yards and a touchdown in week one. However, the hype surrounding “Hock” soon died down, as he, like many rookie tight ends, struggled to adapt to the NFL level immediately. In 12 games, Hockenson caught 32 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns. However, it’s worth noting that the Lions only had QB Matthew Stafford for 8 of those games.
While his ascension in 2020 may not be on a Kittle-level, Hockenson should improve his numbers easily with another year in the Lions system under his belt. For a player as talented as he is, the sky’s the limit, and he could be a top-10 dynasty tight end throughout the 2020’s. So go grab the Hock while he’s still a crummy rookie.
TE Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys
Blake Jarwin is far from a household name at the tight end position, even as he wraps up his fourth-year in the league. Jason Witten’s understudy has been a quiet, yet effective contributor this season, logging a catch in every contest thus far. A sneakily explosive receiver, Jarwin has a chance to takeover as the unquestioned TE1 for a Cowboys team that could lose Amari Cooper this off-season (assuming Witten trades in his cleats for his television toupee when the season ends).
Jarwin’s breakout was supposed to occur this year, but Witten’s return foiled any chance of that happening. If Witten retires this off-season, Jarwin could very well feast, as the veteran would be vacating around 87 (projected) targets at the position.
The Oklahoma State should be available on most waiver wires at this point in the year, but he should be stashed on your bench for next season, as his development into a startable fantasy asset is about to shine through.