News & Analysis

Week 8 Dynasty Risers and Fallers: JuJu Smith-Schuster isn't a goner yet

Dynasty fantasy football players often view the NFL 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.

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

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Riser: WR D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers

Moore has struggled to follow up his 2019 breakout campaign this year … or that has at least been the perception of his 2020 season. In reality, Moore is within 1 yard per game of his 2019 pace and has three scores. He had four scores in 15 games last year. He’s also posting a higher yards per target (10.5) mark and a higher yard per route run (2.25) figure than he did last year.

The only noticeable difference is that he’s catching 1.7 fewer balls per game because of Robby Anderson‘s ascendance. The Panthers have used Moore as a deep threat and Anderson as the lower depth of target chain-mover. Moore’s 12.2-yard average depth of target, meanwhile, is a career-high. 

Moore was a phenomenal college prospect, and the new regime in Carolina is using him in a different but still valuable role. Don’t let Anderson’s role skew Moore's perception. He’s a 23-year-old receiver who was the WR9 in PPR points per game among receivers before Week 8. He’s worth considering as a top-five dynasty receiver.

Faller: WR Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

Beckham is a faller after tearing his ACL, and while he won't play again this year, he should be fine for the start of the 2021 season. The problem is that he will once again be locked in with Baker Mayfield as his quarterback. Barring Cleveland trading Beckham, his 2021 cap hit is guaranteed in case of injury. He will still be recovering at the beginning of the 2021 league year, so his $12.971 million guaranteed will is all but official already.

Sep 17, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) runs with the ball during the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium. Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In 2019, Mayfield earned a 72.7% adjusted completion rate from a clean pocket. That mark ranked 41st (min. 100 attempts) in the league. He’s at 21st in the NFL through seven weeks in 2020 with a 77.9% adjusted completion rate. This season, Cleveland is running on 49.3% of its plays, the second-highest rate in the league. In 2021, Beckham will return to an inefficient passing offense that prefers to win on the ground. If someone wants to buy low on Beckham in the hopes of a 2021 rebound, let them take that risk.

Riser: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers

Smith-Schuster was a reasonable pick as the No. 1 dynasty receiver coming off of a 1,426-yard season at 22 years old. In the following year and a half, he has compiled 831 yards across 18 games. The 2020 season appeared to be his final campaign as a notable fantasy asset — until last week.

He was targeted 14 times and caught nine balls for 85 yards. All three marks were highs for Smith-Schuster dating back to Week 7 of 2019. The question is now what we can expect from Smith-Schuster coming off a promising game.

Diontae Johnson is averaging 12.7 targets per game in contests he is able to play at least half of the Steelers’ snaps. Chase Claypool has played at least 50 offensive snaps in every game since Week 3 and is backed by top-50 pick draft capital. There were rumors in the offseason that Smith-Schuster, an impending free agent, would not be extended by the Steelers. With increased competition for targets if he stays and the downside of landing on a bad team if he walks, Smith-Schuster is simply a hold for his backers right now.

Faller: RB Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills

The Bills drafted Zack Moss in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and he appears set to render Singletary useless for fantasy purposes going forward. 

  • Singletary without Moss (per game): 14 carries, 50.7 yards, .3 touchdowns
  • Singletary with Moss: nine carries, 36.8 yards, 0 touchdowns

He’s also averaging 1.3 red-zone carries per game with Moss in the lineup versus two with him out. Moss has a slightly higher offensive grade than Singletary and set a career-high in snap share last week. Singletary’s value is dropping, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a buy-low. He’s worth shopping at a discount if it gets you away from a player who could have no value by the end of the season.

Riser: WR Travis Fulgham, Philadelphia Eagles

Fulgham’s 82.6 receiving grade ranks No. 9 (min. 25 targets) among wideouts, and his 2.51 yards per route run is No. 7. The Eagles are getting Jalen Reagor back in the next two weeks, but he’ll be the only competition for Fulgham in Philadelphia. He has a 25% target share and a 31% target share in the games he has been active. Fulgham is playing like a star receiver and getting the requisite volume. He’s a risky proposition but will cost most dynasty players less to acquire than receivers who are producing a fraction of his fantasy points.

Faller: RB Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams

Akers returned from a rib injury in Week 5 and received nine carries, many of which came at the end of a blowout versus Washington. Since then, he’s recorded four snaps and zero touches.

Malcolm Brown’s pass-blocking grade is eighth out of the 27 backs with at least 20 snaps in that job. He also leads the backfield with 19 targets. Darrell Henderson’s 85.1 rushing grade is the highest among backs with 50 carries. Akers’ upside is being one of three backs in a rotation, and his downside is being irrelevant for the rest of his rookie season.

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