With the Super Bowl matchups set, we’ll turn our attention to the teams that just missed out. And by just missed out, I mean made it to their conference championship game and got routed. Yes, the pantry is stocked for both the Packers and Steelers in terms of dynasty talent. There are even a few prospects that could make an impact in future seasons.
Green Bay Packers
The Trick Is To Keep Breathing By Garbage
“I won’t be the one who’s going to let you down. Maybe you’ll get what you want this time around (the trick is to keep breathing).”
- Aaron Rodgers (QB)- The Packers obviously have plenty of intriguing talent but it all starts at the top with Rodgers. He is still the premier dynasty QB in the game and at just 33 years old, has plenty of elite years left. He got out of the gate a little slow this season and speculation kicked in about why the Packers offense was struggling. Looking back, that was probably a great window of opportunity to buy low on Rodgers. That is all in the past now, though, as threw for 40 TDs, the second-most in a season over his career. He basically willed the Packers into the playoffs on the strength of his right arm.
- Davante Adams (WR) – Adams’ stock has been up and down over the past couple years. He was decent as a rookie but hype reached defcon levels after Nelson tore his ACL in the summer of 2015. Unfortunately, Adams got worse despite a major opportunity to show his worth. Adams struggled with concentration issues, routes and drops. 2016 has shown us a brand new Adams, one that was a really good receiver. He made clutch receptions and was a force in the red zone, as his college scouting reports suggested. Adams looks like the new James Jones and that is not a bad thing. At 24 years old and playing with Rodgers, Adams’ stock has soared. There is risk that he won’t be able to maintain his leap forward, but the ensuing production is worth the risk. He’s a Top 20 WR for 2017 and beyond.
- Randall Cobb (WR) – Not unlike Adams, Cobb’s value has been on a rollercoaster as well. A dynamic complement to Nelson, Cobb was seen as a rock solid WR2 up until 2015. With Nelson’s injury, many (myself included) thought Cobb would achieve WR1 status with massive target share and huge production to match. That did not happen, not even close. The entire offense missed Nelson’s field-stretching presence, but perhaps none more so than Cobb. This past season did not get much better, as Cobb was banged up, inconsistent and took a backseat to Adams. He showed up in the playoffs after Nelson hurt his ribs, offering a glimmer of hope for the future. At 27 years old in August, Cobb is still in the Top 25 receiver conversation, but no longer a slam dunk. He might have better luck rehabbing his value in another city.
- Jordy Nelson (WR)- Green Bay’s receiving corps is perhaps the most talented group in the league and Nelson is clearly at the forefront. He is merely a short-term WR1 thanks to his birthdate (32 years old in May) and that might make him more affordable in long-term leagues. When a receiver of his stature gets over 30 years old, you are often times better off hanging onto him in dynasty leagues because you won’t get the value you should. The risk, of course, is that he could fall off a cliff like Andre Johnson did a few years ago, and you might not see the edge before it’s too late.
Stash Material: Ty Montgomery emerged as a legitimate rushing weapon for the Packers and it is not a gimmick. He will stay at the position and should be an interesting RB2 with upside. How much upside depends on usage and who else he is competing with for touches. He is not going to be a workhorse and his running style leaves him open to big hits at times, but there’s real potential here. Eddie Lacy is a free agent and could be back with the team. Lacy has looked sluggish over the last two seasons and should be nothing more than a committee back at this point. He could surprise us all by getting back into shape, but how long will that last? Don’t buy 27-year-old running back with conditioning issues in long-term formats unless the cost is dirt cheap. Christine Michael is basically the Jared Cook of the running back position. So much potential, so little results. Well, at least he looks better than James Starks, who should be on your waiver wire. Aaron Ripkowski is more than a cool sounding name, but not that much more that you’d actually want to roster him.
Even with Montgomery making the permanent switch to RB, there are plenty of prospect WRs in Green Bay. The people’s champ, Jeff Janis, has always had the athleticism and speed to intrigue dynasty owners. Rookie Geronimo Allison came up big in a few spots late in the season and offers instant appeal if Cobb were to be moved or cut. Trevor Davis has the potential to be a nice downfield playmaker in an offense that could use more speed. Owners should not give up on him after an uneventful rookie season.
Jared Cook is a free agent and Rodgers wants him back. The catch he made to set up the game-winning field goal against the Cowboys is an example of his upside. The drops in the NFC championship game are examples of what to expect most of the time. Cook is the biggest Fantasy tease going. Richard Rodgers could see an uptick in value if Cook leaves, but he is waiver wire fodder for the most part. In two-QB formats, backup Brett Hundley is at least an intriguing name to watch.
Dang! By Mac Miller featuring Anderson.Paak
“I can’t keep on losing you. Over complications. Gone too soon. Wait, we was just hangin’. I guess I need to hold onto, dang. The people that know me best. The key that I won’t forget, too soon. I can’t keep on losing you.”
- Antonio Brown (WR) – Brown paved the way for the small receiver renaissance. Before Brown, any receiver under six feet tall would be compared to Steve Smith, because he was the most dominant receiver his size in a long time. Brown might just be the best (if not one of) receiver in the game right now. Despite a major dip in production from an historic 2015, he still finished with over 100 receptions and more than 1,200 yards for the fourth straight year. He has also shown a propensity for the end zone, with 46 TDs in that span as well. He turns 29 in July and is a free agent after this upcoming season. It would be a major upset if he leaves Pittsburgh, but there have been rumors about it. Either way, Brown is a Top 10 WR for dynasty purposes and in many rankings, he would be Top 5 (just not mine). In PPR formats, his consistency is king.
- Le’Veon Bell (RB)- If only Bell could stay healthy. He is the best all-around RB in the game and an absolute monster in PPR formats. He has played a full season only once, though, and that is a very concerning part of his ownership. He is scheduled to become a free agent in March, but much like Brown, it would be a shock if he leaves Pittsburgh for another team. If you own him in dynasty, you are going to want to pay attention to who his handcuff is at all times. DeAngelo Williams will be 34 years old this offseason and is also due to hit free agency.
- Martavis Bryant (WR) – Remember him? Bryant is an absolute difference-maker when on the field, but you simply cannot count on him. A series of failed or missed drug tests have found him suspended for the entire 2016 season and even if reinstated, another violation could get him banned for life. There were even rumors about him possibly retiring. He is on par with Josh Gordon in terms of talent, risk and knuckleheadedness. Bryant is a hold if you own him already and only worth gambling on if his price is on the clearance rack. Hopefully he can get it together.
- Ben Roethlisberger (QB) – Retirement whispers make Roethlisberger an interesting case in dynasty formats. Even if it remains unlikely that he calls it quits, you certainly don’t want to take a chance on acquiring him unless it is at a discount. Perhaps he plays out the rest of his contract and walks away after 2019. Roethlisberger’s home/road splits the past few years have been sharp and very noticeable. It is great to keep in mind for DFS, but when he is your every week starter in a seasonal or long-term league, it can be frustrating. With a number of young QBs emerging, Roethlisberger is fighting to stay inside the Top 10 despite strong overall production. If I owned him, I would make sure I had a quality backup that is capable of stepping in as a starter. Jameis Winston comes to mind as a perfect example of such a player.
Stash Material: Ladarius Green has dealt with a serious ankle injury and concussion issues since signing with the Steelers last spring. When healthy, he has potential to be a Top 5 TE. He is also a candidate for release thanks to his injury concerns. Jesse James is a decent backup, but nothing more than that. The receivers outside of Brown and Bryant are interesting.
Markus Wheaton has underwhelmed during his tenure in Pittsburgh and he should find himself on a different roster in 2017. Don’t expect much of an uptick in value even if he lands in a decent spot. Eli Rogers is a solid slot prospect, but one lacking a huge statistical ceiling. Still, with Brown a free agent after 2017, Rogers could find himself in an expanded role sooner rather than later. He’s a hold in dynasty formats. Sammie Coates has game-breaking speed, but ball skills can be questionable at times and his hands are suspect at best. He had a great run early in the season and was looking to fill the Martavis role, but injured his fingers and never got back involved in the offense. He still has intriguing talent, but be prepared to be frustrated.
Karlos Williams came into the league with a burst, scoring 9 TDs as a rookie and looking like a permanent fixture in the Bills offseason plans. 2016 did not go so well, though. Williams reported to work out of shape and was subsequently suspended twice for PEDs. He was then cut by the Bills and landed on the Steelers practice squad. He is eligible to return in Week 2 and with DeAngelo Williams and Le’Veon Bell free agents, Williams has a real shot to stick as a handcuff if he can get right. Fitzgerald Toussaint and Gus Johnson are small hurdles if Williams is on his game.