If you play dynasty fantasy football, your work is never done.
Unlike seasonal fantasy football leagues, dynasty leagues require effort and commitment from managers throughout the year. Whether it’s preparing for the NFL Draft or looking for ways to improve your team via trade, the more you put into your team the more you can expect to get out of it.
With the dust settled from the NFL Draft, now is the time to start exploring some trade options in your league. Here are my favourite players to target right now.
WR D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
At first glance, it may not seem like D.J. Moore’s 2020 season was all that different from his 2019 campaign. In both years, Moore finished with 1,215 yards from scrimmage, over 1,150 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Looking a little deeper, however, there are a lot of things that changed for the 2018 first-round pick under head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady.
For starters, the addition of Robby Anderson surprisingly turned Moore into a downfield threat. His 18.08 yards-per-reception ranked eighth amongst all wide receivers, and he was just one of two players (Justin Jefferson being the other) in the top-20 of the stat to haul in more than 60 receptions. Naturally, the increased distance in his receptions and targets led to a lower catch rate, as Moore’s 55.9-percent mark served as the lowest of his career. Moore also spent an increased amount of time in the slot, as his 22.7-percent slot mark was up from his 15.5-percent total from 2019. He earned excellent grades from Pro Football Focus for his work in the middle of the field.
Taking over under centre for the Carolina Panthers is Sam Darnold, who has struggled mightily since being selected third-overall in 2018. Leaving the tumultuous New York Jets and head coach Adam Gase behind, however, may be what the once highly-touted quarterback needs to put his career back on track. In 2020, Darnold targeted the middle of the field 142 times, more than any other part of the field. Pairing Moore, who’s demonstrated he can win anywhere on the field, but especially between the numbers, with a QB like Darnold ,who prefers to chuck it down the centre of the field, could be a great development for both. Additionally, Carolina’s 200 vacated targets from the 2020 season are the fourth-most of any team in the league. At just 24-years-old, I’m willing to wager that Moore can take his game to another level.
WR Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
Injuries marred what could have been an excellent sophomore season for Deebo Samuel. The 2019 second-round pick recorded a catch in just six games last season, but in four of those contests, he eclipsed 60 receiving yards.
When healthy, Samuel was the NFL’s best in creating yards after the catch. His 12.3 yards after catch (YAC) per reception and 4.4 average YAC above expectation ranked first in both categories. These strong numbers have a lot to do with his deployment, as Samuel saw 21 of his 43 targets come behind the line of scrimmage.
With rookie QB Trey Lance looking to take over for the San Francisco 49ers, Samuel’s ability to get open quickly on short routes at the line of scrimmage could be a major asset for someone who’s new to reading NFL defenses.
WR D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars’ passing attack at large will receive a massive boost in 2021 with the addition of highly-touted QB prospect and first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence. It’s apparent that the Clemson star will be a massive upgrade over the likes of Gardner Minshew II, Mike Glennon and Jake Luton, meaning that for the first time in his career, D.J. Chark Jr. will have a league average or better QB at his disposal.
In 2020, Minshew II was PFF’s 26th-ranked QB, a grading scale that does a much better job of contextualizing his performance than his 95.9 passer rating. He owned a 6.9 yards-per-attempt mark which tied for 23rd, demonstrating how inefficient he was as a passer. The shift to Lawrence, one of the most talented QB prospects of all-time, should have fantasy manager salivating over the potential this offense now possesses.
Despite inconsistent play in the pocket, Chark has totalled 1,714 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns over the past two seasons. At 6-foot-3, 199 lbs, he has excellent size which he combines with elite 4.34-second, 40-yard dash speed. Although Jacksonville signed 31-year-old Marvin Jones this off-season, the passing-game tree remains relatively bare considering the absence of a receiving tight end on the roster. Entering his fourth year, it wouldn’t be shocking in the least to see Chark truly breakout in the NFL.
WR Denzel Mims, New York Jets
A hamstring injury and a concussion took a lot of the shine off of Denzel Mims’ rookie season, a year that ended with him catching 23 passes for 357 yards and 0 touchdowns through nine games. Entering his second season with the New York Jets, a lot has changed. The team has a new QB under centre in second-overall pick Zach Wilson new head coach in Robert Saleh, and a new offensive coordinator in Mike LaFleur.
While a lot of the offense’s execution lies solely in the hands of Wilson, it’s certainly worth examining what changes LaFleur will bring to the unit. Prior to joining the Jets, LaFleur was the passing-game coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers. In 2020, the 49ers led all NFL teams with 139 passing plays called while lined up in 21 personnel (two running backs, one tight end) with two wide receivers on the field. In fact, just 61% of the 49ers’ passing plays were called with three wide receivers or more on the field, one of the lowest totals in the league. Given Mims’ profile as a prototypical “X” receiver with his 6-foot-3, 207 lbs frame, he’ll likely see the field in two wideout sets even with the additions of Corey Davis and Elijah Moore this offseason, with the latter likely seeing most of his snaps out of the slot.
What specifically has me excited about Mims is that in addition to his size, he possesses elite 4.38-second, 40-yard dash speed. Hopefully entering the 2021 season with a full bill of health, Mims should be able to make more noise in his sophomore campaign.
WR Bryan Edwards, Las Vegas Raiders
Similarly to Mims, Bryan Edwards underwhelmed during his rookie season. Through 12 games, the 2020 third-round pick recorded just 11 receptions, 193 yards and one touchdown. Like Mims, Edwards also dealt with injuries (foot and ankle) during his rookie season, ailments that hopefully will not plague the 22-year-old in his sophomore season.
The main reason I’m actively trying to acquire Edwards in dynasty is because of the lack of talent in the Las Vegas Raiders’ wide receiver room. The team let its most productive WR, Nelson Agholor, walk this offseason while only bringing in 31-year-old John Brown to replace him. At 6-foot-3, 212 lbs, Edwards is really the only wide receiver on the team that features prototypical “X” receiver size, as Brown and Henry Ruggs both profile more as deep threat, field-stretching receivers.
Of course, Darren Waller will likely once again pace the offense in receiving production, but expect the Las Vegas Raiders to lean more heavily on its wideouts this season. In 2020, the Raiders’ 237 wide receiver targets were the second fewest in the NFL. That number should increase and it could be Edwards who benefits.
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