Workin’ the Wire for Week 17 (2018): Deep Dynasty Edition

30 Dec 2017 - 4:06pm | Roto Coach | Updated: 30 Dec 2017 - 4:14pm
Workin’ the Wire for Week 17 (2018): Deep Dynasty Edition

With the 2017 season all but in the books, owners in dynasty formats have a few more days to make moves that could set them up for 2018. Just imagine if you’d stashed away Case Keenum or Alex Collins last offseason. Granted, those would have been deep league additions, but that’s what we’re talking about here. I’m obviously not advising that you revamp your whole roster ahead of the offseason, but I do advocate adding at least one or two lottery ticket type players before the year is out. After all, are you really that excited to hang onto guys like Matt Forte or Eric Decker in the hopes that they can bounce back and squeeze out just one more marginal fantasy season? In my mind it’s a lot more fun to roll the dice on a long-term prospect that could ultimately be a contributor for years to come. Below are some some players that I believe are worth a long look and a potential stash in deep dynasty formats ahead of 2018.

Quarterbacks

Kyle Sloter-Minnesota Vikings: It probably seems like ages ago at this point, but think back to the summer, when an undrafted rookie free agent out of Northern Colorado led the NFL’s preseason with 125.4 passer rating, going 31 of 43 for 413 yards and 3 touchdowns. Sloter’s eye opening stretch came as a Denver Bronco, but with the team in desperate need of “NFL-ready” (and I use that term loosely) signal callers, the Broncos opted to hang onto Brock Osweiler along with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, and try to sneak Sloter onto the practice squad. It didn’t even come close to happening, as a bidding war broke out for Sloter and he ultimately wound up in Minnesota as the third string quarterback. But what’s important to note here are the lengths the Vikings have gone to protect the rookie quarterback this season. Upon Teddy Bridgewater’s activation from injured reserve last month, Minnesota’s roster adjustments were designed specifically not to expose Sloter to waivers. Rumor also has it that the club fielded plenty of trade offers as well, but chose to sit pat. That should give you an idea of how much the Vikings appear to think of the young quarterback’s future. A plus athlete who switched between receiver and quarterback after transferring from Southern Miss to NCU, Sloter had just one full season as a college quarterback under his belt coming into the league. Case Keenum has clearly earned the starter’s role with his play this year, but how long can he keep it up? We don’t yet know what Bridgewater’s future holds post-injury, and Sam Bradford will be a free agent this offseason. You can certainly see a path to playing time for Sloter down the line if he can continue to develop.

Chad Kelly-Denver Broncos: While I didn’t mention him with respect to Kyle Sloter’s short stay in Denver, Kelly was undoubtedly a factor in the Broncos letting him walk. The off-the-field issues of Kelly have been well documented, as the 2017 NFL Draft’s “Mr. Irrelevant” was thrown out of Clemson and landed at the now Netflix famous East Mississippi Community College, where he led the team to a 12-0 season and an NJCAA National Championship. He then finished out his college career at Ole Miss, where he starred in his first season, totaling 31 passing and 10 rushing scores, while becoming the first quarterback in school history to beat LSU, Auburn, and Alabama in the same season. Unfortunately, his senior season was cut short by an ACL tear and that, combined with spring wrist surgery prompted the Broncos to stash him on IR for the 2017 season. Kelly is the consummate gun slinger, and drew plenty of early career Jay Cutler comparisons in the pre-draft process. With that in mind it’s not surprising that John Elway took a flyer on the kid. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s Jim Kelly’s nephew and there’s certainly a connection between Kelly and Elway. By all accounts Chad Kelly has kept his head down and worked hard since arriving in Denver, which could indicate that he recognizes the opportunity ahead of him and should be ready to compete in 2018. After all, he’s watching the same Broncos team we all are every week so he knows there’s a path to playing time for a capable quarterback in Denver.

Cardale Jones-Los Angeles Chargers: Jones is probably more of a long-term lottery ticket after Philip Rivers’ impressive 2017 campaign. Still, he was considered a very talented but extremely raw prospect coming out of Ohio State. And always seemed like the odd man out as a rookie in Buffalo, playing under a coaching regime that was basically just trying not to get fired (they did). Ahead of the preseason the Bills shipped him off to Los Angeles, which is important because head coach Anthony Lynn was the offensive coordinator in Buffalo when Jones was drafted. The fact that he made it a priority to go get the kid after one season of working with him should peak our interest. Jones never really got a shot with Bills, but there’s likely to be one down the line for the Chargers with Rivers turning 37 next season.

Running Back

Joe Williams-San Francisco 49ers: Remember Peter King’s Sports Illustrated story from inside the 49ers draft room? The one where Kyle Shanahan was adamant about taking a troubled running back out of Utah on Day 3? Yes, that Joe Williams struggled early on in San Francisco’s training camp with ball security issues, and then an ankle injury landed him on injured reserve before San Francisco could break camp. The addition of Jimmy Garoppolo has been a revelation for this team, but the backfield for 2018 is as up in the air as any position. Carlos Hyde is almost certainly gone via free agency, and rookie Matt Breida showed little when given an opportunity this season. The fact that ball security issues plagued him coming out of college and then continued in the preseason is concerning, but that’s also something we’ve seen talented backs correct en route to long and successful NFL careers. It’s tough to know if Williams can be one one of those guys just yet, but if he can get it straightened out he has a real chance to compete for primary ball carrier duties in 2018.

Chris Carson-Seattle Seahawks: While Mike Davis is being used as the primary back in Seattle’s offense to close out the season, even Pete Carroll can’t believe that he’s the future of the Seahawks running game. Though he’s a solid inside runner with some three down ability, he can’t make guys miss. And running backs without that ability, or the strength to break tackles, have struggled for years to run behind Seattle’s offensive line. Carson showed early on this season that he could be effective as the primary back in this offense, leapfrogging Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls for the Seahawks rushing downs work. Carroll raved about the kid coming out of camp, and then he all but forced his way onto the field. Unfortunately, a broken leg ended his season just as he was getting going, although there’s an outside shot he returns for the playoffs. Regardless, Carson figures to be firmly in the mix of what will likely be a crowded backfield depth chart when camp opens in 2018.

Wide Receiver

Ryan Switzer-Dallas Cowboys: When Dallas took the prolific slot man and All-ACC receiver out of UNC in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, many thought Switzer had a chance to unseat Cole Beasley before the Cowboys even broke camp. But despite a strong showing at OTAs, Switzer struggled in the preseason, battling injuries and ultimately falling behind. So far his biggest impact has come in the return game, but all signs point to an expanded role in 2018. Sans Ezekiel Elliott Dallas really struggled to move the football this season, and the aforementioned Beasley is under contract for just one more year. The Cowboys need to find difference makers in the passing game in order to help Dak Prescott, who, after a marvelous rookie campaign, has been inconsistent throughout his second NFL season. As solid a performer as Beasley has been over the course of his career, Switzer is the far more electric player with the potential to be a real difference maker for a team that has seen Dez Bryant’s play drop off precipitously and now lacks any real explosive playmakers outside of Elliott.

ArDarius Stewart-New York Jets: A third round pick in the spring, Stewart looked to be stepping into an ideal situation for a rebuilding Jets team. But clearly the coaching staff didn’t think he was ready to contribute in year one, prompting the addition of Jermaine Kearse and Jeremy Kerley just ahead of the season. With those receivers in the mix, 2017 playing time was always going to be sparse for Stewart. With Robby Anderson emerging as the Jets number one wideout and Kearse turning in a career year, the Jets seem somewhat set in their top two receivers for 2018. But with another year under his belt, Stewart should start to contribute more heavily and the hope is that ultimately he unseats Kearse, who no one views as a long term answer, as he’s both heading into his age 28 season and has just one more year remaining on his contract. A good size and speed prospect, Stewart was always going to need some work in the route running department, as Alabama largely tried to get him the ball in space and let him work, rather than targeting him downfield. If he can continue to develop over the offseason he has a chance to be fantasy relevant in 2018, and almost certainly beyond. Of course, all of this assumes the Jets are able to find a competent signal caller to lead their team.

Happy 2018!

 
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