That was rough? Did you survive byepocalypse? Between six teams taking the week off and a myriad of injuries, lineups were a little thin, especially in dynasty leagues. Nevertheless, we learned about some of these players and can begin to moderate our expectations. That’s where this weekly column comes into play.
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: Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
About: Remember during Training Camp when people were worried that Burrow wouldn’t be ready for the season? Yeah, me either… Burrow marched into Baltimore on Sunday and led his team to a 41-17 win. The Bengals are 5-2 and, if the playoffs started today, would be the top seed in the AFC. That’s a pretty terrific climb for a team that was a laughing stock as recently as the 2020 season. Burrow looked solid as a rookie before suffering a terrible injury. While fellow Class of ’20 QB Justin Herbert gets a lot of praise, Burrow is making his case. He’s QB8 through seven weeks and looks like the real deal.
Stock Down: Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers
About: Ugh. We’ve been waiting for Darnold to be worthy of the No. 3 overall pick he was for four seasons. Moving from the Jets to the Panthers was supposed to be it, but it’s not looking good. Darnold was solid through the first three weeks as the team started 3-0. The Panthers are 0-4 since, and Darnold struggled mightily before being benched against the Giants. Darnold is still QB14 on the season—thanks partly to some substantial rushing numbers—but as a passer, he’s struggling. He’s thrown five touchdowns and seven interceptions over that time as the Panthers’ offense has struggled. Is it all on Darnold? No, and even Matt Rhule noted that. Still, with rumors the Panthers are trying to acquire Deshaun Watson swirling, it’s fair to hit the panic button on Darnold’s long-term value.
Stock Up: Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders
About: What a difference coaching can make! Drake made news this off-season, signing a two-year, $11 million deal with the Raiders. That seemed to suggest the team was interested in using his skill to further the offense. Through five weeks, that assumption appeared to be a bust. But after the Raiders made a coaching change, it was suggested that Drake would be a featured part of the attack again. In the two weeks since, he’s seen five receptions, ten carries for 103 yards, and scored three touchdowns. He’s RB6 over the last two weeks, and with Josh Jacobs potentially set to miss time, Drake could see that usage soar even more. Now might be a swell time to sell high.
Stock Down: Trey Sermon, San Francisco 49ers
About: Sermon was a trendy snag in rookie drafts after the 49ers moved up in the Third Round of the 2021 NFL Draft to grab him. They took Elijah Mitchell in the Sixth Round of the same draft. While veteran Raheem Mostert was tracking to be the “starter,” most spent the summer assuming Sermon would be a big part of the 49ers’ success. Mostert was lost for the season in the first week, but it wasn’t Sermon who got the call—it was Mitchell. Sermon has struggled to get time on the depth chart, sitting behind Mitchell and veteran JaMychal Hasty. In fact, in Week 7, Sermon didn’t get a single snap. The rookie has been decent when he’s gotten a chance, rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries. The problem is that he is buried on the depth chart with no clear path to touches. That’s a worrying sign for those that snagged him in the early Second Round of rookie drafts hoping for a weekly lineup option.
Stock Up: Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals
About: Remember when folks questioned the Bengals choosing Chase over left tackle Penei Sewell? How about the concern about Chase’s drops during Training Camp? Those feel a long time ago now as Chase is humming, and the Bengals are tied for first place. Chase balled out against the Ravens, too, catching eight passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. But he’s been a great bet all season, sitting as WR3 through seven games. He looks to be a strong contender for Rookie of the Year and should be a great fantasy option, alongside Burrow, for years to come.
Stock Down: Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
About: Sigh… Ridley is a tough pill to swallow. He was great his first three seasons, including posting a line of 90-1,374-9 last season, with Julio Jones missing much of the season. It seemed like Ridley was poised to soar as THE guy in the Falcons’ passing offense. I even thought he could finish as WR1 in 2021. But it just isn’t happening. So far, Ridley is just WR41. He’s only appeared in five games over seven weeks, and he’s seen 52 targets. But he has just 31 receptions for 281 yards and two TDs. Those aren’t bad numbers, but we’re not seeing the monster performances and explosive plays of the past. His season-long is just 22 yards. At this pace, Ridley will still be a solid start, likely a WR2. But that’s a drop-off from the dominant, top-of-the-position performance and standing dynasty players had hoped to see.
Stock Up: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
About: While Ridley isn’t getting the monster plays, rookie tight end Pitts is starting to take off. Ridley’s loss is Pitts’ gain for fantasy players, who saw him have a second consecutive 100-yard day in Week 7. Pitts was projected to be the kind of player that would change the position. After a bit of a slow start, he’s exploding into that hope and developing a significant play role for a more robust Falcons’ offense. Those are all great signs for a player just six games into a pro career at a position that can often take some time to develop. If someone panicked after those first few weeks, snag Pitts now.
Stock Down: Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
About: Once upon a time, Doyle looked like a player that would become a dominant player at tight end. In 2016, Doyle caught 59 passes for 584 yards and five touchdowns. He followed that up in 2017 with 80 receptions for 690 and four touchdowns. In the four seasons since, injuries and inconsistency have limited his upside. In 2019, Doyle seemed to be an afterthought despite playing in 14 games. He had just 23 receptions for 251 yards. Yet the addition of Carson Wentz—a quarterback who used the tight end well in Philadelphia—led to renewed hope. Through seven games, Doyle has just 11 receptions for 123 yards. It’s not happening in 2021, and it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to happen. If you’re hanging on to Doyle and need that roster spot, no one would blame you for setting him free.
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 a co-host on the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton network.