Welcome to the 2023 season. We’ve survived pre-season and cut-down days, and now we’re mere days away from NFL games that count. But in dynasty, we’re in it for the long haul. That doesn’t mean we can ignore the day-to-day fluctuations. That’s what the Stock Watch is all about. Each week I look at one player whose stock is on the rise and one whose stock is on the decline at each of the key fantasy positions. For this week, I’m looking at the players whose stock swung thanks to the pre-season.
Stock Up: Sam Howell, Washington Commanders
About: Howell saw his draft stock slip as he ended up a Fifth-Round pick. Worse than that, as a rookie, he was merely a third-string option. But after Carson Wentz flamed out and Taylor Heinicke couldn’t get them over the hump, Howell got a chance to start the regular season finale. It was a fine performance but hardly commanding. And yet, it was enough for Ron Rivera to clear out the quarterback room and anoint Howell as the team’s starter in 2023. The pre-season seemingly confirmed that decision. Howell went 28-for-37, passing for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Does that mean he’ll soar in the regular season? No, but he seems to have the confidence of his coaches and a lock on the starting job in Washington.
Stock Down: Trey Lance, Dallas Cowboys
About: Lance went into the 2022 season as the 49ers’ starter. They spent three first-round picks plus to go up and draft him. He lasted a game and a half before an injury ended his season. In the interim, both Jimmy Garoppolo and Seventh-Round selection Brock Purdy looked better. This off-season, the 49ers added Sam Darnold to the mix. When Darnold earned the No. 2 slot, it seemed clear Lance had fallen out of favor with the 49ers. Then, prior to the final pre-season game, he was dealt to the Cowboys, where he’s likely the third-string quarterback again. Is there potential for the future for Lance? Perhaps. But in the short term, his value has dropped to near zero.
Stock Up: Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos
About: Williams came into the season with some questions. Would he be healthy? What would his role be? After the pre-season, it feels like wheels up. Williams is healthy, and the Broncos were confident enough in his ability to carry the load that the team kept only three running backs on the active roster, one being an undrafted free agent. In addition, in the game Williams appeared, it was clear he had a big role in the offense. In a limited number of snaps, Williams rushed three times and caught four passes on five targets. We’ve seen what Sean Payton’s scheme can do for a running back, and Williams looks like a player poised to explode.
Stock Down: Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
About: Ugly. That’s the only way to describe Taylor’s current situation with the Colts. He’s not happy, and the team isn’t budging. Taylor was given permission to seek a trade, but when the Colts didn’t get an offer, they liked by cut-down day, they didn’t trade him, AND they left him on the PUP list. He can’t play for at least the first four weeks—for anyone. Worse yet, it’s unclear if he will be traded before the October deadline or if he’ll even play at all this season. For those who drafted him as an RB1, this is a huge blow, both now and going forward, until it’s all settled.
Stock Up: Garrett Wilson, New York Jets
About: I know, I know, Wilson was already a great receiver. That’s true. But this has more to do with the lofty expectations now that it’s Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. Hard Knocks has historically been a great showcase for young players trying to make a roster. This year, it was pretty much about Rodgers. And one of my biggest takeaways was his belief in and chemistry with Wilson. Wilson finished as WR21 in 2022 despite uneven quarterback play. I’m smelling a WR1 season in 2023.
Stock Down: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks
About: It’s not time to panic about JSN. I suspect he’ll end up with a fine rookie season. But breaking his wrist, having surgery, and missing a chunk of camp won’t help. That, combined with the fact that he’s competing with established veterans in D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in an offense that isn’t incredibly high-octane, was going to limit his opportunities—as a rookie. I suspect Metcalf and Lockett will be the guys in 2022. If that causes someone who took JSN atop their rookie draft to panic, scoop him up. His future is still bright, just perhaps not in 2023.
Stock Up: Darren Waller, New York Giants
About: The Giants need a featured weapon, and Waller needed a fresh start. This, as they say, is a perfect marriage. At least it looked like that on paper. Then we got reports of a great camp. And, finally, when Waller and Daniel Jones took the field in the second preseason game, we saw the tight end with four targets, catching three passes for 30 yards in limited work. The passing game is going to flow through Waller, and as long as he remains healthy, those who roster him should reap some solid TE1 rewards.
Stock Down: Greg Dulcich, Denver Broncos
About: This hurts me a little, but I’ve cooled on Dulcich. He showed flashes as a rookie, and I thought early this off-season he had the makings of being a TE1. He still has that talent, but he’s a TE2 on his own team. You can’t ignore the fact that Adam Trautman, not Dulcich, is currently the Broncos’ starter. I think Dulcich will be fine long-term, but if you were banking on him as your weekly option to start 2023 (and I know I was in a few leagues), it’s probably a good time to make some alternate plans.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.