Each week, Footballguys staff members will share the big movers in their respective Dynasty Rankings. Since the contributors will rotate, please check in weekly. The focus of this article will be on the “why” more than the movement itself. Dynasty Rankings are fluid and we hope that sharing the rationale will help you in your quest to create dynasties with all your teams. The diversity of rankings will result in a variety of opinions weekly.
Baker Mayfield - Mayfield is a dynasty quarterback who has things going in the right direction, both in terms of his play and the supporting cast that’s around him. Having a stud running back like Nick Chubb to lean on bodes well for Mayfield, who will not have as much pressure solely on his shoulders early in his career as some other signal callers. He has worked his way into the top fifteen options at the position.
Nick Mullens - As this is written before the Monday Night football game, all I have to go on is Nick Mullens debut performance against a substandard Raiders team. Mullens was cool, calm, composed and well prepared. He also earnt the trust of the coaching staff, who preferred him to C.J. Beathard against the Giants. If he is available in dynasty leagues and you have the roster space, add him. Gunslinging quarterbacks are good for fantasy football and sure the odds are against him, but after one start he looked better than 90% of rookies after their first start.
Derek Carr - I’m not sure if Derek Carr is playing with freedom under Jon Gruden. This looks like a poor match and it remains to be seen whether their partnership continues into 2019 and beyond. If Carr is there for the long haul, then he needs help. Castoffs and has-beens are no way to help your franchise guy and for the immediate future, Carr is unusable in almost any league. An average of one touchdown a game wouldn’t have cut it 20 years ago, let alone in the modern age. He is still worth holding onto in case he moves to a team that knows how to use him in the offseason.
Mitchell Trubisky - I wrote about Trubisky two weeks ago but want to mention him again as he continues to see his value move up. Trubisky has now put up monster 30+ point fantasy performances in four of his last six games. Trubisky is 24-years old but still relatively inexperienced after starting for just one season in college and 12 games as a rookie. In just his second NFL season, he is the fantasy QB5 at the midway point. It is still early but we could look back on the 2017 quarterback class with Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes II II, and Deshaun Watson as historically great.
Ben Roethlisberger - Of all the 30-something veteran quarterbacks, none is hotter than Roethlisberger in terms of putting up fantasy points. He currently ranks as QB4 and should remain a top-5 option for the rest of the season. Roethlisberger also shows no signs of slowing down and has one of the best supporting casts in the NFL. Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster are a devastating 1-2 punch at wide receiver. Roethlisberger is clearly ahead of other veterans like Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady.
Russell Wilson - Wilson seemingly slides a spot or two each time I update my quarterback rankings. He was the fantasy QB1 last season in large part due to the complete lack of a running game in Seattle, which forced Wilson to shoulder the entire offensive load. It was a losing formula. The Seahawks fully committed to improving the running game in the offseason, signing offensive linemen who are better as run blockers and investing a first-rounder in a running back. The coaching staff also has been steadfast in sticking to a run-heavy approach in calling the games. The commitment to the run is paying off and we are starting to see a winning formula emerge (close losses to the Rams aside). The result of all this — Russell Wilson ranks 26th in the league in pass attempts and isn’t a very good weekly option for fantasy. It is hard to see that changing any time soon if the improved run-game leads to more wins than the Wilson-centric offense of 2017.
Nick Chubb - For once it looks like the Browns knew what they had with a rookie. Carlos Hyde was doing a solid job, but he was only keeping the seat warm until they felt it time to unleash the Nick Chubb. Unleash him they have, with at least 18 carries in his last four games and an average of one touchdown over that time. His yards per rush total is 5.2 since he became the starter and he even caught three passes against the Falcons. This is an RB1 moving forward and if there is any way you can get your hands on him, do so.
Jordan Howard - As usually happens in the NFL, when a new coaching staff arrives the countdown is on for the old roster. Jordan Howard looked great in his first two seasons in the NFL but has looked more like a back that befits his original fifth-round draft slot this year. With a very friendly cap deal heading into the 2019 season, he may remain with the Bears for one more season but may be looking for a new home if Chicago can identify a runner that suits their scheme better. The countdown accelerates as soon as the Bears identify a replacement. That doubt in his future means that he should be moved if you can get a good price for him now or you’ll need to prepare your roster for the inevitable drop in production.
Aaron Jones - The Green Bay coaching staff are not stupid and they probably know more about the player than any of us, but what has plainly been obvious since last season is clear in the box score now. Aaron Jones is a much better back than Jamaal Williams. Jones remains a risky start until it is crystal clear that the coaching staff are fully on board, but with at least 12 carries in his last three games and a ridiculous yards per rush of 7.49 yards in that time, Jones has to skyrocket up rankings and confirm the outlook many of us had of the Packers run game.
Elijah McGuire - With Bilal Powell on injured reserve, there is a short half-season window for Elijah McGuire to make a name for himself moving forward. He isn’t there yet, but if he is available and you have space he is a good speculative selection. The Jets look like they may be about to undergo a coaching and roster overhaul after this season, depending on how Sam Darnold looks in the latter half of this year, so his usage may be a short-term flex option or a good reserve back in future years.
Derrick Henry - For anyone who managed to take Derrick Henry when he came out of college, the wait has been long for him to seize the starting role in Tennessee. That day, unfortunately, may never happen. Dion Lewis is seeing significantly more rushing attempts as well as dominating as a receiver out of the backfield. Henry has got anyone starting him out of jail in the last three weeks with touchdowns, but that will be a short-term success story. Long term, he doesn’t look like a franchise back and unless a team is willing to feed him the ball, he is hardly helping a fantasy roster.
James Conner - Conner has been an every-week mention from me in terms of upwards dynasty movement. He just has to be included because his dynasty value continues to sky-rocket. With his play, he continues to cement himself as the long-term starter in the fantastic Steelers offense. Plus, Le’Veon Bell continues to make mind-numbingly awful career choices. If Bell doesn’t show up on Tuesday, we can lock Conner is a high-end RB1 for the fantasy playoffs this year.
Nick Chubb - The rookie running back class (outside of Saquon Barkley) got off to a rough start across the board. We are seeing the value of a lot of these guys start to bounce back as they start to show why they were such highly touted prospects. None more so than Chubb who has taken full advantage of the Carlos Hyde trade to make a big impact on an improving young Cleveland offense. Chubb looks like a franchise back moving forward. The two big questions still to be resolved in terms of Chubb’s value are his role in the passing game and the overall effectiveness of the Browns offense. Since the Hyde trade, Chubb has averaged 2.3 targets per game. Not awful but it is impossible to consider him alongside the elite fantasy running backs in PPR leagues if Duke Johnson Jr gets most of the passing work. As far as the overall Browns offense, we are seeing some good signs but it remains to be seen if the front office can continue to add pieces (especially at wide receiver and left tackle) and make a good offensive coaching hire.
Leonard Fournette - Fournette had been out of sight and out of mind for a long time. Sunday was a good reminder of what he can do when healthy. He put up 109 total yards, 5 catches, and 2 touchdowns. The buy-low window is closing quickly. Fournette has a solid fantasy schedule down the stretch and should provide a big boost to those who were able to remain in their playoff races without Fournette.
Dion Lewis - Lewis’ stock continues to rise, especially for contending teams, as he becomes the lead back and focal point of a Titans offense that finally seems to be clicking despite its serial personnel losses over the year. If a team out of contention has him on the roster and I am in the mix, I might offer my 2019 second to secure his services.
Jarvis Landry - Landry is a faller for the second straight update. Even with the Browns young offense showing real potential over the last two weeks, Landry has been a non-factor. On the season, he has been incredibly inefficient, catching just 53.8% of his targets and averaging just 10.5 yards per catch. He was only being kept aloft as a viable fantasy option by the huge number of targets he was seeing. That is starting to change. Landry saw his targets decrease for the fourth consecutive week, getting just five looks in Week 10. His dynasty value feels like it is in free fall, especially as young receivers like Kenny Golladay, Courtland Sutton, Anthony Miller, and Calvin Ridley are generating hype and moving up the ranks.
Anthony Miller - Miller was the darling of Bears’ training camp but it didn’t lead to anything in the way of fantasy production early in the year. Despite playing through a shoulder injury, we are starting to see why Miller generated so much preseason hype. He had a breakout 5-122-1 performance against the Lions in Week 10 and has seen 6+ targets in each of the last four games. With Mitch Trubisky emerging as a fantasy force, Miller has a bright future and should be ranked right alongside the other top rookie receivers.
Brandin Cooks - Cooks has been consistently good, putting up three straight seasons of at least 65 catches and 1,082. However, it felt like maybe he had plateaued a bit as a solid fantasy WR2. The Rams’ three-headed monster at wide receiver (and touchdown hog Todd Gurley) seemed to limit his upside further. However, we are seeing that the Rams offense can actually support multiple WR1s. Both Robert Woods (WR8) and Brandin Cooks (WR9) rank in the top-10 this season. Cooks has been especially hot of late, with 16 catches for 214 yards and 1 touchdown over the last two weeks. The season-ending injury to Cooper Kupp further boosts Cooks’ stock. He will be a high-end weekly option for the rest of the season and has a long, bright future at just 25-years old.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling - Valdes-Scantling may have been the most overlooked rookie of the three that the Packers drafted in this class, but he has emerged to become the #2 option in an Aaron Rodgers’ lead passing attack. Unless someone is offering you what projects to be a middle-round or high first-round pick in 2019, fantasy general managers should hold tight.
Maurice Harris - Injuries at the wide receiver position in Washington have opened up an opportunity for Maurice Harris, the third year man who spent most of his first two seasons on the practice squad. He looks to be ready to contribute as a second or third receiver for the team and as was demonstrated against the Falcons more than that sometimes. With Josh Doctson hardly convincing as the leading man, Harris is a more secure option for the conservative Alex Smith and as such should be pushing for WR3 numbers if or until Jamison Crowder returns.
Zay Jones - Zay Jones hasn’t developed as fast as the Buffalo Bills would like, but with Matt Barkley under center, he put together a career day with eight catches, 93 yards, and a touchdown. He has had at least three catches in his last seven games and outperformed the higher profile, Kelvin Benjamin. It remains to be seen if Jones continues his improvement with the rotating situation at quarterback, but amazingly he has been consistent with four different quarterbacks in five weeks. If the situation stabilizes, Jones could be a big improver heading into fantasy playoffs and beyond.
Mike Williams - After starting the season with such promise, recording two 81 yard games and three touchdowns in his first three weeks, Mike Williams has performed a disappearing act since, with seven catches in six weeks, including a zero catch effort against the Raiders. He is being outplayed by former 1000 yard receiver, Tyrell Williams and the lack of playing time isn’t going to help his confidence. It is too early to cut bait on Mike Williams yet, but the warning signs are everywhere.
Marquez Valdez-Scantling - Fifth-rounder Marquez Valdez-Scantling was one of three receivers drafted by the Packers earlier in the year and by far looks the readiest and most promising. The continued absence of Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb, have allowed the rookie to seize his chance to play with Aaron Rodgers. With Cobb almost certain to be moved on after the season, a starting job on this offense is there for the taking and with further improvement, Valdez-Scantling could easily ascend into a future long-term fantasy starter.
Josh Reynolds - The seemingly serious injury to Cooper Kupp opens up the door to last year's fourth-round pick, Josh Reynolds. Reynolds has looked able in his limited participation in this offense so far and with explosive weapons all around him could be primed for a massive uptick in fantasy production. If it is a torn ACL for Kupp, then Reynolds will get opportunities beyond this season as well. Reynolds has good size and speed, with the only concerning knock being his slender frame. Reynolds won’t be an every week starter, but with the right matchup and further improvement possible is a good investment.
Michael Gallup - There is no doubt that Michael Gallup looks and plays like a rookie, but the signs are clearly there that he could be special. He reminds me of how Kenny Golladay played last year when the talent was undoubtedly on display, but the information was not fully loaded. Gallup will need help from good coaching and an offense around him that gives him opportunities, but if he is on another fantasy roster and that manager is wavering, grab him in whatever way you can.
Vance McDonald - McDonald has finally been able to string together a series of games in which he has been healthy. He has been simply dominant in a year where good tight ends are hard to come by. With Pittsburgh’s offense rolling, there is a strong possibility McDonald can finish the year in the top five among the position, making him an interesting consideration to acquire via trade if your team is contending, but you need a little help with that particular spot on your roster.
Ricky Seals-Jones - In a somewhat barren year for tight end production, players like Ricky Seals-Jones are getting seriously looked at for production from desperate managers. Seals-Jones is a second-year undrafted free agent who burst onto the scene with three touchdowns in his first two games last year. Production has dried up since then, but he seems to be attracting the attention of rookie quarterback Josh Rosen in the last few weeks. If he is a free agent, he needs to be added if you are struggling at the position.
Austin Hooper - Austin Hooper is rapidly escalating from borderline starter to must start every week. Over the last five weeks, he has had two nine catch games and a double-figure one as well. Add in a couple of touchdowns and his ascent into the elite is almost complete. The Falcons have many targets, so he will put in some so-so weeks as well, but when the Falcons feel they can utilize his strengths, he will dominate.
Zach Ertz - I’ve moved Ertz up to TE1. His season is flying under the radar a bit. If he keeps playing at a high level, he could end up having one of the greatest tight end seasons off all time. At his current pace, Ertz would finish the season with 133 catches for 1,403 yards.
Austin Hooper - Hooper was my favorite breakout candidate this offseason, and we are starting to see him emerge as a legitimate weekly TE1. In fact, Hooper ranks as the TE7 over halfway through the season. Plus, he just turned 24-years old in October. With tight ends notoriously late developing, we don’t yet know how much upside Hooper truly possesses.