Dynasty Stashes: Players to grab with an eye towards 2014
Fantasy football seasons are winding down, and if you’re anything like me you are not ready to give up the weekly enjoyment that comes from setting lineups, talking trades with leaguemates and scouring the waiver wire for potential hidden gems. If this describes you, you probably play dynasty fantasy football or you’re ready to join a dynasty league.
One of the first things on my dynasty off-season to-do list each year is to drop my kicker, defense and any veterans or short-term injury replacements that have no dynasty value. Once I’ve done this, I’ve cleared room to take a flier on some players who could see an increase in dynasty value over the off-season.
Here are a few players that I will be searching for on my waiver wire to stash on my dynasty rosters.
Brian Hoyer (CLE) - Hoyer had plenty of doubters when he took over as the Browns starting quarterback in Week 3 this season, but he quickly quieted them with two performances placing him among the top starters of that week. Unfortunately, Hoyer suffered a season ending injury in Week 5. It’s been clear that his replacements, some combination of Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, are not the answer. Don’t be surprised to see Hoyer get another shot at the starting gig, even if the Browns do draft a rookie quarterback.
Brock Osweiler (DEN) - Osweiler has played sparingly this season since starter Peyton Manning rarely leaves the field, but as Manning nears the end of his fifteenth season, the Broncos have to begin planning for the future. Osweiler was drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft and is the presumed top candidate to take over the prolific offense once Manning calls it a career. While there are no indications that will happen anytime soon, stashing a high upside player like Osweiler is a great insurance policy.
Dion Lewis (CLE) - Another Cleveland Brown whose season ended far too soon was running back Lewis. Though he has done little on the field in his first two seasons, Lewis looked great in pre-season action before breaking his leg. With Trent Richardson now gone, the Browns running game struggled all season. It is very likely that the team will bring in competition at the position, but a healthy Lewis should have a role on gameday.
Ahmad Bradshaw (FA) - Bradshaw looked solid this season as the starter for his new team the Indianapolis Colts until his season-ending neck injury. Bradshaw had trouble finding work last off-season, but once he did, he quickly gained value in all fantasy league formats. Don’t be surprised to see the same thing happen in 2014 if he can find a team to take a chance on him.
Latavius Murray (OAK) - One of the most hyped rookies of the 2013 pre-season was the late round pick of the Oakland Raiders, Murray. Once the players took the field though, nothing went right for the former Central Florida running back. He dealt with criticism from head coach Dennis Allen on top of injuries. Though the ankle injury he was dealing with did not seem severe, he was ultimately placed on the injured reserve list. What we’ve seen from the Raiders shows us they are desperate for playmakers, especially at the running back position. Darren McFadden is likely on his way out of town. Rashad Jennings has been solid, but is not the future at the position and will be a free agent following the season. Expect Murray to get his second chance at extended playing time.
Jonathan Franklin (GB) - Another player who flashed oh so briefly was the rookie running back for the Packers, Franklin. There was a time before dynasty rookie drafts that Franklin was being considered as the top overall rookie pick. The landing spot for him, and for fellow rookie back Eddie Lacy hurt both of their values. Like Murray, Franklin struggled in off-season and pre-season action, struggling to even get on the field. With Lacy and James Starks hurt, he got his chance and impressed, rushing for over 100 yards and a score in Week 3. Soon though, Lacy and Starks were back and Franklin himself was injured and out for the season. It’s been a rookie season to forget for Franklin, and Lacy has a stranglehold on the starting job, but Green Bay has always been willing to use multiple backs when they had the option. If Franklin can show improvement during his first full off-season, expect his role and his dynasty value to increase.
Dennis Johnson (HOU) - With Texans starting running back Arian Foster out for the year, undrafted rookie Johnson has served as a solid backup to new starter Ben Tate. Heading into the off-season, there is much uncertainty surrounding the running back position. Tate is a free agent and is expected to leave the team, while Foster has been dealing with multiple injuries of late that leaves everyone involved questioning his future. Could the undersized Dennis Johnson be the answer? It’s a long shot, but we’ve seen the Texans turn unknowns into All Pros before.
Knile Davis (KC) - One of the most explosive rookie running backs is Davis, formerly of Arkansas, who has played behind one of the best backs in the league in Jamaal Charles. There is clearly no threat of Davis stealing touches from Charles, but with well over 300 total touches already this season, rostering his backup is a wise move. We’ve seen with players like Foster and Ray Rice how quickly a first round running back can lose value.
Mike James (TB) - Rookie running back James took over for the injured Doug Martin in Tampa Bay and immediately impressed, with some even saying that he outplayed Martin. James had his best game against one of the league’s top defenses in Seattle and was on his way to yet another great game against the Dolphins when he suffered a broken left ankle. Since he has been out, another backup runner, Bobby Rainey has also been playing well. Expect James and Rainey to battle in 2014 to be the top reserve behind Martin. As we’ve learned this year, any backup running back can have value and play well in a pinch.
Marlon Brown (BAL) - Who are the top five scoring rookie wide receivers? You probably expect to see names like Keenan Allen and Tavon Austin on the list, but what about Marlon Brown? The Ravens wideout has over 400 receiving yards and leads the team with six touchdowns. After Torrey Smith, there was a clear gap following the departure of Anquan Boldin last off-season. Brown has filled that gap and there’s no reason to expect him to lose that job in 2014.
Junior Hemingway (KC) - After failing to record a catch in his rookie year of 2012, the Chiefs’ Hemingway is earning more and more playing time in his second season. Hemingway’s numbers are still very modest (8 receptions for 80 yards on the season) but with Dwayne Bowe starting to show his age, a young wide receiver in this offense can be intriguing.
Quinton Patton (SF) - After playing sparingly early in the season, rookie wide receiver Patton fell further down the depth chart after suffering a broken foot a month into the season. This season has ended up being somewhat of a redshirt year for the rookie, but expect things to change next year.
Stedman Bailey (STL) - Rams rookie wide receiver Bailey is one of several young wideouts St. Louis has drafted in recent years. After failing to get on the field much early in the season, Bailey’s role has grown of late. In the past three games, he’s averaging nearly 40 yards per game and has seen a season high four targets in each of the last three weeks. With quarterback Sam Bradford due back in 2014, it’s easy to see that Bailey should continue to improve.
Kenny Stills (NO) - Each season it seems the New Orleans offense includes one wide receiver that specializes as a deep threat. This year, that player is rookie wide receiver Stills, who averages nearly 19 yards per catch and has found the end zone four times on only 29 receptions. While Stills has been inconsistent this season, which can be expected from a rookie, there is hope for his role to expand in 2014. Both starting wide receivers Marques Colston and Lance Moore are over thirty years old and both have struggled this season, compared to prior years. Expect the Saints to turn to Stills for an increased role in the passing game as the veterans continue to fade.
Ryan Griffin (HOU) - It has been long expected that Owen Daniels’ time as the Texans starting tight end could be coming to a close, and many assumed Garrett Graham would step in as the starter. While that still might be the case, Graham could have competition from rookie Griffin, who recently drew his first start and responded with a 6 catch for 62 yard effort. Considering their aging offense, the Texans would be wise to groom a player like Griffin and get him involved from the start.
Travis Kelce (KC) - Kelce was high on many rookie draft lists last off-season with the assumption that he could step in immediately as the Chiefs starting tight end. Instead, he got hurt and missed the entire season. While starter Anthony Fasano played well, he has no fantasy upside and has dealt with injuries of his own this year. Kelce won’t be handed the job, as he’ll compete with Fasano and Sean McGrath, but based on what we’ve read and seen during draft season, Kelce has the highest upside of the group and is the only one with fantasy value.
Luke Willson (SEA) - Another player emerging late in the season is Seahawks tight end Willson, who had a career high three catches for 70 yards and a score in Week 14 against the rival 49ers. Zach Miller is the starter in Seattle, but has basically been a non-factor in the fantasy game since he signed with the team. It seems like head coach Pete Carroll is already willing to use Willson differently than he has in the past with Miller. Willson has the upside to become the next young tight end climbing the rankings, as we saw with players like Jordan Cameron and Julius Thomas last year.
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