By: Rich Pallarino (Twitter:@rpallarino_)
Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams – Jared Goff was the number one overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The native Californian had to relocate just a few hours south in his home state to start his professional playing career. Coming out of college (Cal Berkeley), Goff was drawing comparisons to Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons. Fortunately for Goff’s sake, it was not for the lack of winning games in important situations. Goff started seven games in his rookie season and finished with no wins. His stat-line included five touchdowns, seven interceptions, 1089 yards, and a 54.6% completion percentage. We can all agree that those numbers aren’t great and to average just 155.5 passing yards per game only makes matters worse. Fast forward to 2017. Goff gets a new head coach, Sean McVay, better receiving weapons, and an upgraded offensive line. Let’s start with the now 31 year-old, McVay. Sean came from the Washington Redskins after spending two seasons in Landover, MD as the Redskins offensive coordinator. He turned the offense around and made Kirk Cousins a very rich man by developing him into a top quarterback. Next, the addition of weapons through the draft and a trade.
The Rams did not have a first round selection and therefore made their first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft in the second round and took Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama. Then, 25 picks later, the Rams selected Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington. Both Everett and Kupp join a receiving staff that was pretty horrific last season. Going down the receiver list, you can’t help but notice the former Buffalo Bill, Sammy Watkins. When healthy, Watkins is an elite receiver. He can stretch the field, run underneath routes, and most of importantly, create separation from defensive backs. He will be a very solid player in the LA Rams system if he stays healthy. Finally, the offensive line upgrade. Andrew Whitworth has been one of the league’s best left tackles for years. Whitworth is replacing Greg Robinson on the line and is allowing Goff to feel more relaxed and dissect the defense. The Rams are significantly improved and Goff will definitely reap the benefits of Les Snead’s moves this past offseason. Pick up Goff if he isn’t already taken in your dynasty league.
Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans – Deshaun Watson is a freak of nature at the quarterback position. He has athleticism similar to Cam Newton, but is faster. Watson was taken by Bill O’Brien and the Houston Texans this past offseason in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Texans traded up to get Watson and before the season even started, we all knew it was a matter of time before Watson was named the starting quarterback. During his college days, Watson completed 67.4% of his passes. He threw 90 touchdowns and was intercepted 32 times. His TD-INT ratio was just shy of 3-to-1. Something that no one was discussed too much is the lack of offensive line support given to Watson. It’s clear that the Texans don’t have a great offensive line, but Watson is dealing with it. In just two games, Watson has thrown for 227 yards, one touchdown, one interception, and completed 57.4% of his passes. He also has 83 rushing yards on seven attempts and found pay dirt one time. The first thing to notice about Watson is that he looks to throw first. He progresses through his reads and seems to understand the defense for a rookie quarterback. The Texans have some weapons around him, but can definitely use an upgrade in both their wide receiver and tight-end positions. Like Goff, Watson is probably on a team in your dynasty league, but try and get him for the right price.
Trevor Siemian, QB, Denver Broncos – Trevor Siemian was in contention for the starting quarterback position last season after Brock Osweiler signed with the Houston Texans and Peyton Manning retired. Siemian beat out the Broncos first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Paxton Lynch, for the starting quarterback position. This season, Siemian looks great and is showing signs of locking down the starting quarterback position for some time. The Denver Broncos underwent some changes during the offseason that definitely affected Siemian in a positive way. Denver got Vance Joseph to replace Gary Kubiak as their head coach, signed Jamaal Charles, drafted Garett Bolles to play left tackle, and signed Ronald Leary to play right guard. Vance Joseph was with the Miami Dolphins as their defensive coordinator for one season. Joseph was around a ton of offensive talent in Miami under Adam Gase and that will help Joseph understand what is necessary to build a solid scoring attack. The Jamaal Charles signing was a steal. Charles is 30 years-old and has been injured often throughout his NFL career. This season, Charles doesn’t have to be the workhorse the Chiefs needed him to be. Now, he can sit back and play every third offensive snap.
Early in his career, Bolles has seemed like a solid draft pick, but there’s not enough tape to make a good judgment. Bolles was injured on Sunday in the game against Dallas, but will be back later this season. Ronald Leary spent his first four seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and took his talents to Denver this past offseason. With the additions of both Leary and Bolles, the Broncos are addressing their offensive line problems from last season and as a result, it is showing with Siemian. Trevor has thrown for 450 yards, six touchdowns, two interceptions, and has a completion percentage of 65% in two games this season. It’s unlikely that Siemian is on a roster in your dynasty league, but now is the time to grab him.
Chris Carson, RB, Seattle Seahawks – Chris Carson is a rookie this season and was selected in the seventh round out of Oklahoma State in the 2017 NFL Draft. Carson worked his way to become the top rusher on the depth chart for the Seahawks this week. He ran for 93 yards on 20 attempts this past Sunday against a stingy front four of the San Francisco 49ers. Carson played in nine games last season and 12 games the prior season. There was a clear difference in his production. In 2015, Carson ran for 517 yards on 131 attempts and in 2016, he ran for 559 yards on 82 attempts. It’s a crowded backfield in Seattle, but Pete Carroll always finds a way to have his running backs succeed. Seattle signed Eddie Lacy this past offseason, but the contract seemed more like a Jenny Craig deal and shouldn’t have any impact on Carson. Both Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise are behind Carson, for now, but look to be a little ways away with Carson ahead of them. Add Carson to your dynasty team and start him this week. He will get a ton of touches and should provide value in all leagues for the next few weeks.
Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans – Derrick Henry is in his second year out of Alabama and is currently backing up DeMarco Murray on the Tennessee Titans. It’s highly unlikely that Henry is available in your dynasty league, but if he is, put down what you are doing and go get him. Henry has rushed for 117 yards this season and is averaging 5.9 yards per carry. Last season, Henry had 110 rushing attempts and this season. He already has 20 in just two games. Slowly, but surely, Henry is taking over the starting running back position for the Tennessee Titans.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams – Cooper Kupp was selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft and has made an immediate impact on the field. He has played in two games and scored once on seven receptions. Kupp is averaging 15.6 yards per reception and has averaged six targets per game. During the offseason, after the Rams selected Kupp, Jared Goff had Kupp and his wife live with them until they found a place to settle into. This allowed Goff and Kupp to work closely and establish chemistry immediately. That is a huge bonus for the second year quarterback and the first year wide receiver. What is most impressive about Kupp’s early impact is the amount of first downs in which he has recorded. So far, he has recorded six first downs on just seven receptions. That is the sign of a receiver who moves the ball. Getting more into it, we can also say that Kupp is getting open down the field, creating route separation at a high level, and/or breaking tackles. Regardless, Kupp is productive when he catches the ball and it’s necessary for Goff to feed it to him. Kupp set 15 FBS records while in college and he should take that impressive level of play to your fantasy team.
J.J. Nelson, WR, Arizona Cardinals – J.J. Nelson was selected in the 2015 NFL Draft in the fifth round. Nelson is a receiver that brings a lot to the table. He can stretch the field and is mainly a deep threat, but he is able to come underneath and reel in some receptions. While John Brown and David Johnson are out, nelson is clearly the number two guy in Arizona. Now, while most of us are saying to ourselves, “Nelson isn’t the greatest, why should I pick him up?” It’s simple. Nelson will be making an impact for this year and at least next year. Larry Fitzgerald will be moving on shortly, John Brown can’t stay healthy, and the quarterback play can only improve. Nelson has 10 receptions for 163 yards and two scores this season. Those are very solid numbers for a guy who isn’t widely known throughout the league before Week 1. Grab Nelson if you can, he will help your dynasty team for at least this year and most likely next season.
Evan Engram, TE, New York Giants – Evan Engram was taken by the New York Giants in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. It’s the first time since the Giants selected a tight-end in the first round since the 2002 NFL Draft and that pick was Jeremy Shockey. Engram is a versatile player. It’s really hard to figure out what position he fits best at. On Monday night, Engram recorded his first score of the season while lined up at the fullback position and snuck out for a catch in the end-zone. With only eight receptions on the year, Engram is poised to only improve. Eli Manning is the Giants quarterback for this year and most likely next year. Manning loves big targets and Engram fits into the perfect receiver for Eli.
While Engram is most likely taken in your league, you should do what you can to trade for him. He lines up in multiple positions and will eventually post wide receiver type numbers. It’s most hard to see why Engram will not be productive, as all signs point to greatness for him. At 23 years-old, he already has the respect and trust of a veteran quarterback who has never underutilized a big target. The matchup problem that Engram presents for opposing teams is super scary. On Monday night, Engram was the “Y” receiver on a specific play, while Odell Beckham was the “Z” receiver. Engram ran an out route, while Beckham ran a nine (go) route. The defense was in man coverage and was the play was designed to allow Manning to pick which receiver to throw to, based on where the safety went. Manning saw the safety help the cornerback with Beckham and unloaded the ball to Engram for a nice gain. This is just one example of Engram succeeding with Beckham on the field and the problems he causes for defenses. It’s very hard to cover him one-on-one.
Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles – Zach Ertz was a top tight-end coming into 2017, but his value was definitely underrated in every analysis. Ertz is similar to Engram. He has the hands, speed, and route running ability of a wide receiver, but his body is definitely a tight-end’s build. This season, Ertz has 13 receptions for 190 yards. He has yet to find the end-zone, but his production is among the top in the tight-end category. There’s no doubt in my mind that Ertz is on a fantasy squad in your league, but with a young quarterback and a guy like Ertz, it’s necessary that you go and grab him for your team. He will outlast the other weapons that Carson Wentz has in Philly and will be around for a handful of more years.
Other potential Dynasty risers:
Mitch Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
Chris Thompson, RB, Washington Redskins
Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers
Roger Lewis, WR, New York Giants
Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings
Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons