The fifth week of the NFL Season is in the books, and we’re continuing to see players’ value rise and fall every week. As dynasty players, we’re in it for the long haul. Week-to-week performances shouldn’t change how we see players, but we can start to make a note of trends, looking to get ahead of the curve. That’s what this weekly check-in is all about.
As will be the case throughout the season, I’ll be taking stock of what we’ve learned each week. I’ll be offering one player per position—QB, RB, WR, and TE—who improved their stock and one who saw their stock slip. For those trying to win now and those playing the long game, it’s crucial to pounce at the right time. So, without further ado, here’s Week 3 of the Dynasty Stock Watch.
Stock Up: Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
About: A few weeks ago, it didn’t look great for Fields. While he isn’t lighting the world on fire, we’ve seen things surge in his direction of late. This last week he was named the starter for the Bears, and on Sunday, he won his second straight start, pushing the Bears to 3-2. A best-case scenario for Fields was the Bears being competitive and in the playoff hunt, which seems to be the direction the team is heading. Now, I don’t want to go overboard here. For the season, Fields is completing just 51.4 percent of his passes, has thrown for 458 yards, a TD, and two INTs. He’s also run for 59 yards and a TD on 20 carries. But he’s 2-1 as a starter and making strides, which has to make those who drafted him to feel a bit more confident.
Stock Down: Teddy Bridgewater, Denver Broncos
About: Last off-season Bridgewater was a hot commodity. He signed a lucrative three-year deal with the Carolina Panthers but went just 4-11 as a starter. Carolina was quick to move on, even paying a bulk of his 2021 salary for him to head to Denver. He beat out Drew Lock and took the Broncos to a 3-0 start. But questions remained about whether he could be an excellent long-term answer at quarterback. After two straight losses, with the teeth of the season schedule coming, it’s fair to believe that barring some big explosion, the Broncos will be looking toward the quarterback of the future in the off-season. Now, Bridgewater has performed well. He’s off to a career year start, throwing for 1,180 yards, seven TDs, and just one INT while completing 69.8 percent of his passes. He’s a quality veteran, but he doesn’t look like a franchise guy. In Dynasty, I’m looking to deal him to a contender who needs depth in 2021 because I don’t believe he has a solid future as a franchise leader.
Stock Up: James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars
About: Robinson was a surprise breakout in 2020—an undrafted running back who finished Top 10 and was the lone bright spot on a bad team. This off-season, the Jaguars drafted Travis Etienne, which figured to curb the value for Robinson. But Etienne was lost for the season before things even got going. After a slow start, the Jaguars realized their team is better when they give Robinson the ball. The team might be 0-5 and look awful still, but Robinson is once again cooking. He’s piled up some huge performances and sits as RB10 in PPR scoring through five weeks. Those who held Robinson or got him on a discount this off-season are seeing an incredible return.
Stock Down: Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
About: When Sanders was taken in the 2019 NFL Draft, many were excited about his potential. Through his first two seasons, fans saw potential but didn’t get the consistent breakouts some had hoped to see. Heading into 2021, the hope was Sanders would be a reliable RB2 with upside. Instead, his 2021 usage has been frustrating and uneven through five games. Sanders has carried just 48 times for just 214 yards and seen 16 receptions for 111 yards. Worse yet, he has no touchdowns. In addition, he’s ceded carries and targets to rookie Kenneth Gainwell, who has found the end zone. Sanders is more of an RB3/Flex consideration now, which is certainly not what those who took him in rookie drafts hoped to get. Unless something significant changes, he’ll remain a borderline play with limited upside, which makes him a difficult trade asset as well.
Stock Up: Emmanuel Sanders, Buffalo Bills
About: When Sanders tore his Achilles in 2018, some feared he would be done. He was on the wrong side of 30, facing a long recovery with a fading offense in Denver. Yet, he bounced back strong to start the 2019 season and earned a trade to the San Francisco 49ers, which led to him getting to the Super Bowl. Last season he signed with the New Orleans Saints and became the best receiver on a team that won the NFC South. This off-season, he hit free agency again and ended up in a crowded receiver room in Buffalo. Yet, through five weeks, Sanders again looks like a force. He’s caught 19 passes for 322 yards and four TDs, including two big TD receptions against the Chiefs Sunday night. Sanders is currently WR28 and looks like a force for another contending team. For a 34-year-old pass-catcher, that makes him a valuable commodity.
Stock Down: Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
About: I love Juju and have since he entered the league. From the jump, he was a big contributor to the Steelers. But after a down season in 2019 without Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, some began to question if he was a top receiver or the beneficiary of a significant role in a high-powered offense. In 2020, for a Steelers’ team that finished 12-4, Juju was the top-performing receiver. It didn’t always feel like that, but he led the team in receptions with 97 for 831 and nine TDs. As a free agent, he got a few offers but took less money to come back to Pittsburgh for one more year. This season he’s seen 15 receptions for just 129 yards in a struggling Steelers’ offense. Now, with a shoulder injury likely to keep him out the rest of the year, he’ll enter free agency again in a much different spot. That should give dynasty players pause as they assess his long-term value.
Stock Up: Hunter Henry, New England Patriots
About: The Patriots spent a lot of money this off-season to grab the top two free-agent tight ends on the market. The question was how would they be used and which would be a value? Through five weeks, the Patriots’ pass offense isn’t as robust as hoped, but we see a tight end trend that will dominate this week’s Stock Up and Stock Down. It turns out the TE you want is Hunter Henry. After a slow start, Henry has seen his targets and usage on an uptick the past three weeks, including catching touchdowns in Week 4 and Week 5. He’s caught 20 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns, making him TE7 on the season. He looks to be a player who has developed strong chemistry with young quarterback Mac Jones.
Stock Down: Jonnu Smith, New England Patriots
About: On the flip side, Smith has fizzled thus far. The hope was that when Smith got a chance, he would shine. But so far, he has seen just 23 targets, catching 15 passes for 115 yards. He did grab a touchdown in Week 4 but had just three receptions for 14 yards. While the hope was a consistent Top 12 player at the position, Smith looks like a TD-dependent TE2 at best.
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.