With only one game left in the NFL season, most everyone has had their fill of Fantasy Football until next summer. Not you, loyal keeper/dynasty football owner. You are planning for next season, getting ready for your rookie draft and preparing to make offseason trade offers. It can be tougher to complete keeper/dynasty trades in February when no one really wants to think about next season just yet. Plus, the NFL’s official start to the 2015 season is more than a month away. It is still worth shopping around and seeing if you can pick up potential breakout players before the hype train starts rolling. While the media has focused in on the Patriots ball person, let’s turn our attention to inflating and deflating dynasty values.
Matthew Stafford, Lions QB
If you have owned Stafford in the past, there is a good chance you would agree that he is one of most frustrating players to roster. He had his lowest yardage total in the past four years, but his 4,257 yards was still good for ninth best in the NLF. His physical talent is at or near the top of the entire league, but his decision-making and ever-changing arm slot continue to deliver inconsistent results. While Calvin Johnson is approaching 30 years old, Golden Tate gives him a reliable second option, and Eric Ebron has the upside to make a leap in his second season. Theo Riddick could make Reggie Bush expendable this offseason, but the Lions receiving game would not miss a beat. Stafford will start the season at age 27, the same as Ryan Tannehill and only one year older than Andrew Luck. There is still Top 5 Dynasty value here and a little bit of consistency will go a long way.
Latavius Murray, Raiders RB
With little to play for all season and an offense that struggled to make big plays, the Raiders kept second year RB Murray under wraps until November (for what reason we may never know). He has the size and speed to be a difference maker and that is exactly what he showed during the season’s final two months. Murray rushed for 424 yards and two TDs on 82 carries, while adding 17 receptions for another 143 yards. His breakthrough performance came on just four carries against the Chiefs in Week 12 where he ran for 112 yards and two TDs before a concussion ended his night prematurely. With Darren McFadden a free agent and Maurice Jones-Drew at the end of the road, the backfield could be all-Latavius all the time. The hype has already started and could reach massive levels over the summer, but the talent is legit. Murray is an ideal RB2 that could end up inside the Top 10 next year
Duron Carter, WR Expected To Sign with the Colts
After going undrafted and failing to impress during two tryouts shortly thereafter, Carter took his potential to the CFL during the summer of 2013. Cris Carter’s son has proceeded to tear up the league in two seasons, making a name for himself as a legitimate NFL prospect. While he has an intriguing 6’4” frame, he is barely 200 lbs. and could get jammed coming off the line of scrimmage on Sundays. Carter is a playmaker that can evolve into a starter within a couple seasons if his game continues to develop. He can officially sign a contract on February 10, and it appears he has chosen the Colts over the Vikings. While the landing spot is premium because of Andrew Luck, he faces stiff competition for targets in the form of T.Y. Hilton and breakout candidate Donte Moncrief, not to mention Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Depending on your dynasty league’s rules, Carter is either eligible for the rookie draft or already scooped up by another owner. His upside and pedigree is certainly worthy of a roster spot at this point.
Luke Willson, Seahawks TE
When you are a 6’5”, 250 lb. TE, no one is expecting you to have 4.51 wheels to go along with that physique. An athletic specimen, Willson has the raw ability of a TE1, but will he get the consistent targets to cash in on that potential? That question is likely the only thing keeping his dynasty price tag down. Willson has loads of untapped Fantasy potential and could end up 2015’s Travis Kelce, who emerged as the Chiefs best receiving option in a conservative offense. A strong finish to the season on Sunday could close the buying window. If you can grab him in your dynasty league, do so now before his value starts to rise even further.
Nick Foles, Eagles QB
After a 29 TD, 2 INT breakout in 2013, Foles had the look of an emerging QB1 as the leader of the Eagles offense. An up and down start was followed by an injury that limited the third year QB to just eight games played. Mark Sanchez stepped in and was arguably just as impressive moving the football. The real Foles is likely somewhere in between 2013 and 2014, but he might not have that opportunity to show that in Philadelphia. Trade rumors are flying and it would stand to reason that numerous teams would be interested in his services if the Eagles did officially put him on the block. Given the drop in his stock, Foles makes for an interesting buy candidate this offseason. He is likely to face competition wherever he plays, though, and is no sure bet to start 16 games next year. In 2QB and deeper dynasty leagues, his potential should not be overlooked.
Trent Richardson, Colts RB
It would not be a complete shock if Richardson does not play another down in the NFL. Most likely, though, he will be cut by the Colts this summer and latch on somewhere else for one more chance. The highly-touted back has been an utter disappointment in the NFL, failing to top 3.6 yards per carry in any of his three seasons. He was overtaken by Daniel Herron towards the end of the season and failed to see action during the playoffs. He runs with the explosiveness of constipation and has given the Colts no reason to keep him rostered for the last year of his contract. His dynasty value is close to non-existent at this point. Sell for anything you can get.
Josh Gordon, Browns WR
When you take a chance on a player with character issues you have to know what you are getting yourself into. Welcome to the rollercoaster that is Gordon ownership. He lit up the entire league at the tender age of 22, leading all WRs in Fantasy points scored despite being suspended for the first two games. A failed drug test in the offseason led to another suspension, this time for 10 games. He remained a strong buy because of obvious WR1 upside, but the risk of yet another suspension loomed. It did not take long for yet another transgression from the talented wideout. He recently failed another drug test for alcohol use, which he was prohibited from taking after his July DUI arrest. Now he faces a potential yearlong suspension and his value is sinking. The crazy part is Gordon will be just 25 years old at the start of the 2016 season, but you will need to be patient.
Vernon Davis, 49ers TE
As a follow-up to one of his most productive seasons, Davis dropped an absolute dud on Fantasy owners in 2014. He managed just 26 catches for 245 yards and two TDs all season. He did not score a TD after Week 1, which represented a season high in yards (44), receptions (4) and TDs (2). The stats represented his worst season as a pro and a turnaround is not guaranteed. While it did not appear that the 31-year-old TE had fallen off physically, he was just not the same player that owners had been accustomed to. He enters the final year of his contract this season and certainly needs a rebound to justify one last solid contract. That makes him a buy low candidate, right? To an extent, but expectations should be kept in check for the 31-year-old TE. I would let someone else take this risk.