News & Analysis

Week 15 Dynasty Risers and Fallers: Eagles' Jalen Hurts is the real deal

Dec 13, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (2) receives a snapped ball against the New Orleans Saints during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Dynasty fantasy football players often view the regular season as a time for their hard work in the offseason to finally pay off. The 16 weeks of meaningful football from September to December are simply the proving grounds for their trades of aging veterans, draft pick swaps and sneaky additions of training camp standouts. There are still plenty of edges to exploit in the regular season, though.

Here are the biggest dynasty risers and fallers ahead of Week 15 and whether you should buy or sell the changing values.

Riser: QB Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles

Quarterback is largely a replaceable position in leagues that don’t allow you to start multiple of them or don’t change their scoring output. And even then, their importance is often overstated. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t value in finding a long-term answer at quarterback in dynasty leagues. Hurts is that answer.

The Eagles' rookie signal-caller didn’t throw the ball particularly well in his first start but that hardly matters from a fantasy angle. What was most important was his rushing ability and volume, as he notched 18 carries for 104 yards. It was the fifth-most rushing attempts for a quarterback since 2000 and one of just 42 games that saw a passer top the century mark on the ground in that time span.

He managed those feats in his first start. It’s a small sample, but his college data suggests he should be one of the best running quarterbacks in the league. Removing yards lost on sacks, Hurts ran for 1,444 yards in his final season at Oklahoma. That ranked first among quarterbacks after removing Lynn Bowden Jr., who did not exclusively play quarterback in his senior season. There was over a 250-yard gap between Hurts and the next highest rushing total from a passer.

He affirmed his athletic prowess with a 4.59-second 40-yard dash at the combine. The only pitfall to lasting value from Hurts will be if he bottoms out as a passer. His passing grade was the second-worst among quarterbacks in Week 14. However, that was just one game, and his college tape showed a player who wasn’t prone to making back-breaking mistakes.

He logged just one turnover-worthy play on 36 dropbacks last week. Hurts essentially needs to hold onto the starting job to be locked into QB1 numbers because of his rushing ability alone. Potential improvements as a passer give him a sky-high upside.

Faller: WR Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Godwin has played in five games with Antonio Brown, and the results have been less than stunning. He has averaged 5.2 receptions for 61.6 receiving yards in those contests, and the opportunity split between Tampa Bay’s receivers is concerning for Godwin.

Player Air Share Target Share
Mike Evans 29% 21%
Antonio Brown 20% 19%
Chris Godwin 19% 19%

Targets plus air yards are the bread and butter of any fantasy player’s output, and Godwin has been quietly passed or matched in those metrics by Brown. The linchpin for Godwin returning to some semblance of his 2019 glory will be what his team looks like in 2021 and whether he sticks in Tampa Bay.

Tom Brady is under contract next year and is currently PFF’s fifth-highest graded passer. If he wants to keep playing for what looks to be a perenially playoff team, he still has the skills and the monetary incentive. All signs point to him sticking around for at least another year. Brown is not under contract next year, but Brady lobbied for him to join the Bucs this season and other teams reportedly had little interest in him.

Tampa Bay is in the middle of the pack in terms of projected cap space for next year and has the least dead money tied down. Given that the market was initially barren for Brown, it seems more likely than not that he also returns. The last puzzle piece will be what Godwin does. He is also a free agent at the end of this year and will command significantly more money than Brown. If the Bucs choose to keep him over Brown, Godwin would get a massive bump in dynasty value. If they don’t, Godwin backers run the risk of him finding an even worse situation than he’s currently in.

The range of outcomes is wide, including a bevy of negative outcomes for his dynasty stock.

Riser: RB Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts

It took him the majority of his rookie season, but Taylor is finally breaking out in the way that most dynasty players thought he would from Week 1 when they took him with the first or second overall pick in rookie drafts.

He’s averaging 18.3 carries for 110.3 yards to go along with three receptions for 27.7 yards. Jordan Wilkins has all but vanished in recent weeks, leaving Taylor to dominate the rushing volume for Indianapolis. He topped 2,000 yards from scrimmage in all three of his seasons at Wisconsin and came into the NFL with second-round draft capital.

Now, he’s beginning to dominate to close out the season. Despite the slow start, Taylor should be viewed as a top-five dynasty running back if he closes out the year hot.

Faller: Denver Broncos Pass-Catchers

The Broncos are teetering dangerously on the edge of having Drew Lock as their starting quarterback to open the 2021 season. Denver is not technically eliminated from the playoffs yet, but the team has been functionally eliminated for some time. That means the Broncos' current No. 13 draft slot is likely close enough to accurate to make educated guesses on what they will do.

There have been 14 quarterbacks taken in the Nos. 10-20 range since 2000. That’s fewer than one per season, but with the Broncos potentially seeing a need at the position, they’re one of the best bets to be a slight outlier in that area of the draft this year. Even if they do get a quarterback, only two of those 14 passers started at least 15 games as rookies. Lock ranks 24th in yards per attempt and passing yards per game this season. His 60.4 passing grade is 34th among quarterbacks (min. 100 dropbacks).

Being stuck with him for another season on a team that will already have a spread-out target share is a massive indictment on the dynasty value of all Broncos pass-catchers.

Riser: TE David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

Njoku hardly holds any value in leagues that don’t prop up tight ends, but he did record his highest snap -total and snap share of the season last week with Austin Hooper out. He earned four targets and ran 30 routes, only three fewer than rookie Harrison Bryant. Tight end is a position that requires an infamous length of time for players to break out, and Njoku was once an exciting first-round prospect.

After requesting a trade this season, he’ll certainly land somewhere other than Cleveland in free agency. He’s worth throwing into trades as a small piece who could produce in the right spot next year.

Faller: WR John Brown, Buffalo Bills

Brown has now missed three consecutive games with an ankle injury and is expected to be out for Week 15. In his most recent string of absences, Gabriel Davis has scored three times and is posting 55.3 yards per game. The Bills can save over $8 million by releasing Brown after this season, and his 68.8 receiving grade ranks 64th among wideouts (min. 30 targets). He runs a modest risk of not being attached to Josh Allen next year.

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