Five Mid-Round Targets In Dynasty Fantasy Football Start-Up Drafts
Most of the dynasty fantasy football content we have been churning out this offseason has been about the incoming rookies and then which veterans are good “buys” or “sells”. Obviously we have dynasty fantasy football rankings for startup drafts but with the actual NFL draft approaching and dynasty start updrafts kicking off across the country, it is time to take a look at targets for building robust dynasty fantasy football teams.
There are loads of strategies you can take into a dynasty startup draft, ranging from going all-in on young players and speculative options to kick the can down the road a few years all the way to targeting every undervalued 30+ year old player and trying to find a championship in year one. We would generally advocate for a more measured process in which you do not focus too heavily on winning in year one (though someone obviously has to in the first year!) and targeting players who have a robust profile that allows them to be an asset over a three-to-five-year time frame.
Using the ADP numbers that come from DLF, I have identified five building-block level players who fit with any dynasty fantasy football startup draft strategy. Regardless of if you want to win in year one or year five, these players are all slightly-to-massively undervalued and will return a positive ROI on average in your startup drafts.
Mid-Round Dynasty Fantasy Football Targets
Simply put: not enough respect gets put on Dak Prescott. The Dallas Cowboys organization doesn’t respect, the fans don’t respect him and it appears that the market doesn’t much either. Dak is one of only two quarterbacks in NFL history to average over 7.5 yards per adjusted attempt, rush for over 1,000 yards and pass for over 10,000 yards in his first five seasons. The only other quarterback to do that? Russell Wilson.
Dak is just now entering into his age 26 season, has never finished outside of the top 12 at his position and has never missed time due to injury. He is either going to get a massive contract from the Cowboys or another organization that values him immensely. There is a good argument for him to be the third-highest drafted quarterback in dynasty leagues and to be a top twenty asset in Superflex leagues. In all dynasty startups that we participate in for 2020, Dak should be our primary target at quarterback heading into the draft.
It doesn’t really take a genius to engineer a player like Mike Williams as a perfect buy low. He was drafted extremely early in the NFL draft with a high college pedigree. After struggling through injuries in his rookie year, he had a slam-dunk efficiency season in 2018 in which he scored 11 touchdowns. Williams then disappointed all of his fantasy owners by scoring only two touchdowns in all of 2019 despite seeing 90 targets. The 2019 Chargers were a total dumpster and some of Williams’ poor results were almost assuredly on him. This is what we know about players of Williams’ archetype though: the touchdown production in the NFL at a young age is a hugely positive indicator.
The Chargers offense should theoretically be a little more friendly for Williams in 2020 but the largest way in which he will be profitable while being drafted in the 80’s (as of March 2020) in startups is if he supplants Keenan Allen as the true top wide receiver for LA. This is not the most likely scenario for this upcoming season but Allen is heading into his age 28-season which is the sort of probabilistic age where you can begin to project a decline in efficiency without being wrong. Williams fits the bill of a guy who can break out with more targets (and might have just run bad in 2019 after running hot in 2018) and I will be betting on that.
We all know the problem with Will Fuller: the man can’t string together healthy games. Injury prone or not, the Texans are a better with with Fuller on the field. They average more yards per play, more yards per pass and they went 8-3 in the 11 games he played, but 2-3 in the five games he missed due to injuries. He knows that durability is his biggest challenge as a player, but outside of that, you can’t really find a blemish on his record. The injuries are allowing for this buying window where Fuller is priced well below what his market value would be if he was coming off a 16 game season.
Fuller’s closest career comp to this point is Demaryius Thomas (both with more than 250 targets, 8.5 yards per target, more than 15 touchdowns before the age of 26) but there are also some Lee Evans and Santana Moss comps that fall close to Fuller’s profile as a young player as well. The reasons why we are still enamored with Fuller should be clear. He is an almost generational athelte at WR with 4.32 speed and still young enough that you can convince yourself the best is still to come. Of everyone in this article, it is fuller that I am most aggressively targeting in dynasty this offseason.
With no other caveats, here is every tight end since 2010 to see more than 120 targets in their first two seasons: Gronk, Jimmy Graham, Mark Andrews, Aaron Hernadez, Kyle Rudolph, Jermaine Gresham, Evan Engram, Dallas Goedert, David Njoku, Mychal Riveria, Zach Ertz, George Kittle, Coby Fleener, Will Tye, Tony Moeaki, Lance Kendricks, Will Tye, Jordan Reed and…..Mike Gesicki. More players on that list than not have had top-five fantasy seasons at tight end. This is a no brainer. Gesicki is primed to be the 1B to DeVante Parker’s 1A in Miami while the team rebuilds with Ryan Fitzpatrick and like Tua Tagovailoia over the next few seasons.
Gesicki is a 99th percentile SPARQ athlete, who has produced at a young age and is now on an ascending offense (we hope). Let us just say that things continue along the path that they did last season for Gesicki in terms of volume. By the halfway point of the 2020 season, Gesicki is going to be a top fifty dynasty player based on positional scarcity and further potential upside. If you buy now, you’re giving yourself a pass on paying premiums later on.
Justice Hill/Darrell Henderson/Damien Harris/Tony Pollard
The range of cost for these guys is around the start of the 11th round of startup drafts currently and goes as late as pick 160 for Damien Harris. While Pollard, Hill, and Henderson are all a little more expensive than you would expect but all of them remain equitable where they are going. For example, would you rather own Devonta Freeman or Justice Hill, regardless of how much they cost in a dynasty draft? While Freeman is clearly on the downturn and might not even start for the Falcons in 2020, Hill has nothing but upside. Granted, that is because he has yet to, you know, do anything as of yet but the projection is not that hard with him as he has the clearest path to playing time in a great offense.
Pollard is a stud athlete who could see himself playing passing downs in the best per play offense in the NFL this upcoming season, Henderson was the highest drafted of this entire group and has the most-injured running back ahead of him and Damien Harris, well, the Patriots drafted him highly. Even if Belichick thinks that he stinks, he is likely to give him playing time this year to see if he needs to be cut just to free up the roster spot. Harris is exceedingly cheap and likely a guy that I will be targeting in this offseason.