April ’23 Dynasty Futures Report

April is draft season, but there are still current NFL players that have plenty of value and upside. Dustin Ludke provides two tight ends and two running backs who could end up being a diamond in the rough for your dynasty team. He also looks back at a previous report and provides an update.

The NFL draft is almost here. It’s a time when we get excited about the new crop of players coming into the league and the potential they can have for our dynasty rosters. I still wanted to provide you with some valuable players who could have a pathway to relevancy if their teams don’t invest in their position. Going off last month, I revisit an old report entry and update you on their situation now and how it looks going forward.

These aren’t players you will have to pay much for if anything. They may even be on your waiver wire just waiting for the right owner to come along and add them. If you can get these players either added in on bigger trades for a 4th or 5th-round rookie pick you will be doing great. These players will pay dividends this year or next year and if they don’t show signs of significant improvement you do not have to clog your roster with them because you won’t have much invested into them.  I’ll also give you five players you should hold and the five players you can safely cut.


Peyton Hendershot: TE, Dallas Cowboys


The 2023 Dallas Cowboys offense will have a new look to it. Gone is long-time offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and in comes 12-year vet Brian Schottenheimer. Head coach Mike McCarthy has re-tooled the offense and has said he wants to run it differently than it has in the past. The Cowboys have made shocking moves in the past two off-seasons. They traded away Amari Cooper last year for pennies on the dollar and this year franchise-tagged running back Tony Pollard and released team favorite Ezekiel Elliott. Dak Prescott is still under center and restructured his contract to free up some cap space. He still has CeeDee Lamb to throw the ball too and if Michael Gallup can stay healthy they should have decent weapons on the outside. Gone in free agency is tight end Dalton Schultz. Schultz stayed in the lone star state signing with the Houston Texans. This will open the door for another tight end to step up. Last year Schultz missed two games. When he was playing he also split time with fellow tight ends Jake Ferguson and Peyton Hendershot.

While all three tight ends played significant snaps throughout the season, when and where they got the snaps is telling. Hendershot saw his largest snap counts when Schultz wasn’t in the game. Jake Ferguson played roughly the same number of snaps with only a slight increase when Schultz missed time. It’s a sign that perhaps Ferguson is being used more in a blocking capacity while Hendershot fills more in on the passing side. The passing snaps confirm this assumption. Out of his 307 snaps, Hendershot played 117 of them in passing formation. (38.1%) Fergusson played 480 snaps and only 122 came on passing plays (25.4%). Despite playing considerably more snaps Fergusson ran only 2 more total routes than Hendershot, 114 to 116. With Schottenheimer now as the offensive coordinator, we could see an uptick in tight-end production. While tight ends haven’t done great the past three seasons in Seattle, he was the OC for the Rams when Jared Cook had his great years and before that with Dustin Keller for the Jets. In fact, in Schottenheimer’s 12-year coaching career, only three times has the starting tight end had under 50 receptions on the year and six times they were over 75 targets. The Cowboys did bring in Brandin Cooks but long-term Hendershot could be an option.

Hendershot was a four-year player for the Indiana Hoosiers from 2018 to 2021. He had a decent college career posting a total of 136 receptions for 1479 yards and 14 touchdowns. In each of his last three seasons, he scored four touchdowns in each season. He was a consistent player over his collegiate career and while never had a real break-out season was top two on his team in receptions for two years. He comes in at 6’4” and 254 lbs. He is average size for an NFL tight end but is about the same size as Ferguson. They both only had 3 red zone snaps last year but with Schultz gone, that opens up his 19 snaps for Peyton to step into. When looking at Ferguson’s college numbers at Wisconsin he falls just short of Hendershot. Fergusson posted a career line of 145 receptions, 1618 yards, and 13 touchdowns. While the totals are slightly up except for the touchdowns, Fergussons came in 47 games while Hendershot amassed his in only 42. Neither was playing with top-end play from the quarterback position which capped their upside. The Cowboys could be looking to add a tight end in the draft but Hendershot is the one I will buy now with great upside if they don’t bring in another.


Julius Chestnut: RB, Tennesee Titans


The Tennesee Titans have been a top team in the AFC for the past few years but now seem headed toward a rebuild. Their quarterback Ryan Tannehill might not even be on the team come the start of the 2023 season. Stud running back Derrick Henry turned 29 and has 1916 total touches in his seven-year career. While still dominant he is starting to show the signs of his punishing rushing style. The Titans have spent the past few seasons investing in their offense. In the 2022 draft, they picked six offensive players out of their nine picks and three out of the four they had in the first three rounds. The Titans missed the playoffs last season. They had a chance to get in on the last week but a combination of having their third quarterback on the season starting and a tough team across the field had them coming up short. The Titans have been one of the remaining holdouts of the old-school NFL. They were known as a run-first team and how could you not with Henry in the backfield? They only threw the ball 50.91% of the time in 2022. They promoted Tim Kelly to offensive coordinator after one year as passing game coordinator. It’s a sign that the Titans might be starting to change how they play.

Head coach Mike Vrabel has been there for eight years and you have to expect the lack of super bowls and deep playoff runs to have his seat heating up. The issue is the quarterback position and the passing weapons. Tannehill is getting up there at age 34. They drafted Malik Willis to be his replacement but that experiment doesn’t seem to be working. Wide-out Treylon Burks hasn’t been as good as expected falling behind his fellow rookie classmates. The Titans let veteran Robert Woods leave and sign with the Texans. It leaves a receiving core of Burks, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and Kyle Phillips. Combined they have 107 catches throughout their careers. Tight end Chig Okonkwo showed some flashes and looks to have a break-out 2023 season but a tight end can not carry the whole passing offense. Burks and Okonkwo are great foundational pieces but if they don’t have a competent passer it won’t matter. There is talk that the Titans could draft a quarterback high in the draft. Kelly as offensive coordinator for the Texans guided Davis Mills to a rookie record for passing yards and second in rookie passer rating. Mills also led the NFL in red zone efficiency that year. The Titans will continue to run the ball while they figure out who will be under center.

Back in November, I touted the skills and opportunity of Hasaan Haskins and I still believe he is worth rostering but another is running back on the team that isn’t being talked about enough. Julius Chestnut. The Titans in this draft don’t have a 4th round pick but do have an extra 3rd. If they choose to stay with the picks they have I don’t see them investing in a running back till the 5th or 6th. They have too many other holes to fill. There is a chance they could go complete teardown and trade Henry and scoop up some extra early draft capital and select a rusher in the second or third. Until they do Chestnut has the opportunity to carve out a role.

While Chestnut had a very disappointing rookie season with only nine rushing attempts, he wasn’t involved until late in the season. He does provide kick return upside which will keep him on the team. He was an undrafted free agent signing for the Titans who also drafted Haskins that year in the 4th round. Chestnut was third in voting for the Walton Payton Award in 2022. That award goes to the top offensive player in the Football Championship subdivision. While Chestnut doesn’t have a big school pedigree he has found a way to be on an NFL roster. His college production isn’t great which is why he wasn’t drafted. In his four years at Sacred Heart University, he ran for 3605 yards and 30 touchdowns. He was more productive earlier in his college career than he was later. In his senior season, he ran for 542 yards and 3 touchdowns but that was only in five games. What there is to like is his college career average of 5.8 yards per carry with his season coming in at 6.0. His Sophomore season was only five games as well but he was able to produce 855 yards, 9 touchdowns, and an average of 6.9. He averaged over 100 yards per game. He doesn’t have a huge pass-catching upside. He only had 28 receptions in college for 412 yards but he did have 5 receiving touchdowns. Measuring in at 5’11 228 lbs, he has the prototypical NFL rusher size. He is 22 years old so he still has plenty of longevity left. He isn’t overly fast running a 4.66 40 time, but he is a big back much like Haskins and Henry. It’s clear currently he is a backup but could also easily fill in if needed without the offense needing to change. I recently drafted him in a dynasty start up and I got a lot of “who?” comments. Your league mates might do the same but they will know his name if/when he gets his opportunity. He is the type of player to add to your bench on Sunday mornings when a roster spot opens due to players being declared out. If he shows out you have taken away the top waiver claim. If he doesn’t you can just drop him.


DeeJay Dallas: RB, Seattle Seahawks 


Deejay Dallas was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL draft. He was a 3-year player for the Miami Hurricanes. He entered the draft after his junior season where he had 115 carries in 10 games for 693 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also added 14 receptions for 140 yards and 2 scores. It wasn’t elite-level college production but was also on a team splitting carries with Cam’ron Harris and Travis Homer. It’s a little concerning that Dallas couldn’t hold off Harris in his last college season. It could be because he was a high school quarterback and then came to Miami as a wide receiver so was slower to pick up the position versus a guy who has played it his whole life. He measured in at 5’10” and 217 lbs at the combine. He ran a slower 40 time than you want to expect at 4.58. He then found himself on the Seahawks with his former teammate Homer and behind starter Chris Carson. He has played well in the limited role we have seen him. His yards per carry have gone up each season. In his rookie season he was at 3.18 and this past season it was at 5.31. All while only seeing roughly 35 carries. Dallas doesn’t have the pass-catching skills that would make him a three-down back. He tried to be a receiver when he came to college and had to shift to running back. He is a good pass catcher when given the opportunity. In his three years, he has caught almost 90% of all his targets. He also averages 6.7 yards per reception so he could fill in that role if called upon.

The Seahawks have been struggling to find the next star in their running back lineage. They seemed to have found it when they drafted Kenneth Walker in the 2022 draft. They decided to let former backup Rashaad Penny fly the coop this offseason to Philadelphia and sign with the Eagles. It leaves the door open for Dallas to back up Walker. Dallas had dealt with injuries and missing time but that shouldn’t keep you from rostering him. Walker has dealt with injuries to start the season last year. The Seahawks started to change their offense last season. Besides drafting Walker they traded away Russell Wilson and rolled with Geno Smith under center. Given the wideouts on that team, there was reason to believe that Geno would succeed and he did. They re-signed Geno to a three-year deal this offseason and seem poised to run it back with the core that they have at the skill positions. The Seahawks threw the ball 59.3% of the time last season. As the division looks more and more winnable the Seahawks are poised to take it. They have done a great job playing to Geno’s strengths and minimizing his weakness. As he and Tyler Lockett get older we could see them go back to the run-first mentality they had with Wilson at the helm. Seattle had nine games that were one-score games so the Seahawks had to throw the ball to stay competitive and attempt to win. Dallas is going into the last year of his rookie contract and with a deep draft class the Seahawks could bring in someone but Dallas has the leg up on the backup role. His familiarity with the system is probably why they didn’t bring in a free agent. With his lack of pass-catching work, the guy they do bring in will probably be a more receiving specialist which won’t hurt Dallas’s role. He should be the clear handcuff for Walker this season. What it holds for him past this season remains to be seen. The free agency market for running backs has cooled down but being 25 on the market means he should be able to find a similar role on a new team. If he can show up when given opportunities he will hold value on that new team and your dynasty team.


Brycen Hopkins: TE, Los Angeles Rams


The Los Angeles Rams are in a rough spot roster-wise. They went all in back in 2021 to win a Super Bowl. They traded Jared Goff, two first-round picks, and a third-rounder to acquire veteran passer Matthew Stafford from the Lions. General manager Les Snead’s philosophy of “F them picks” paid off as they were able to hoist the Lombardi trophy and do it at their home stadium. The long-term effects of that trade and mentality are now being felt. The Rams do not have a first-round pick in this year’s draft after not having one last year. They have an aging roster, especially at the skill positions. Stafford will be turning 36 this year and has dealt with injuries that have led to a ton of questions and speculation about him retiring. It appears he is coming back despite the tears from his wife over her concerns for her husband’s health. Star wide receiver Cooper Kupp will be 30 this year which puts him right at the age cliff for his position. They have aging players on defense as well like Aaron Darnold. They have a talented rusher in Cam Akers but he has already suffered an Achilles injury so long-term health is a question. They won a Super Bowl and now two years later looks like they may be starting all over. After this season they have to decide on contracts for Akers, wideout Van Jefferson and tight end Tyler Higbee.

Higbee has been an interesting fantasy option over his seven-year career. He didn’t start making waves until his fourth year when he had 69 receptions for 734 yards and 3 touchdowns. He finished that season as the TE8. The next two years would be letdowns in terms of overall finish and points despite his touchdown numbers going up to 5. In 2022 he finished as the TE6 in PPR due to getting 108 targets, 72 receptions, 620 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Heading to free agency next season at age 31 he should be a sought-after commodity. Behind Higbee is Brycen Hopkins. Hopkins will also be a free agent after this season but would not cost nearly as much as Higbee or other big names like Gerald Everett, T.J. Hockenson, or Evan Engram. Hopkins has played for the Rams and knows the system and could be a cheap option for a team looking to rebuild. The Rams finally have a 1st round pick in the 2024 draft and given how bad they were in 2022 it could end up being a top choice. The Rams do hold a ton of late-round picks and have been successful in pickup role players for their team in those rounds. If they go full rebuild they could look to save at the tight-end position and bring in free agents in other areas to make that rebuild faster. They have not shied away from bringing in talent on the defensive side of the ball or spending in the trenches to protect whoever is under center.

Hopkins was drafted by the Rams in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL draft. He was a four-year player for Purdue and showed some flashes in his time there. In his senior season, He posted 61 receptions 830 yards, and 7 touchdowns in 11 games. This was on a team that rotated through three different quarterbacks and had the likes of David Bell and Rondale Moore also catching passes. Hopkins was second on the team in receptions that season. Only one tight end had a better season that year and that was Harrison Bryant who had 64 receptions, 1004 yards, and 7 touchdowns. Hopkins was not too far off. He went to a team that at the time had two very good tight ends in Higbee and Gerald Everett so he saw only two snaps his rookie season. In the Super Bowl season after Everett was no longer in L.A. Hopkins saw his snaps jump. He ended up playing a total of 59 regular season snaps which was still 34th on the team behind Higbee, Kendall Blanton, and Johnny Mundt. There were encouraging signs that season as we got into the playoffs. During the Super Bowl run while Mundt was hurt Hopkins almost matched his season total with 51 snaps. What’s encouraging to see is that Hopkins is not playing the pass-blocking role. On the whole, in 2021 Hopkins played on only 5 pass-blocking snaps. He played 58 run-blocking snaps which is close to half of his total snaps but in the postseason only played 35.3% of his snaps in run-blocking. That’s half of his 67.8% in the regular season. It’s a clear sign they see him as capable of having that pass-catching ability. That carried through to 2022. Only 44.1% of his snaps are in run blocking. On his passing snaps, he only stayed in and blocked 6 times. That means he was running a route 90.5% of the time. To add to this he only lined up in-line 55.8% of the time while Higbee did so 66.5% of the time. This could be due to Kendal Blanton only playing 4 games and in those games, Hopkins didn’t see the field. Blanton is no longer on the team so the opportunity for Hopkins is high even this year. He didn’t receive a ton of targets last year, only having 11 but his best game was a 3 for 3 day for 57 yards. If he can continue to get reps and consistent quarterback play we could see a jump in production. He is only 6’4” and 245 lbs which sounds tall but in the world of tight ends that’s on the smaller side. Considering Higbee comes in at 6’6” and 255 lbs. Hopkins wasn’t involved in the red zone so needs to start getting worked into those packages to truly see his value rise. He is certainly worth watching the first two weeks of the season or throwing on the end of your deep bench now.


Josh Palmer: WR, Los Angeles Chargers


Below is the Futures Report from December 2021. While things have turned out differently for Josh Palmer the sentiment and outcome were true this past season. Palmer got ample opportunity to play this year. Both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams got injured and missed games. It moved Palmer into the lead receiver role and he performed well in it. He performed well regardless of the situation.


Games Target average Reception Average Yard Average Total Touchdowns
Where Both Missed 2 9 5.5 75 0
When One Missed 7 7.7 5 50.1 1
When Both Played 6 5.3 3.8 43.8 2






Palmer was on the field often for the Chargers and this season looks to be the same. DeAndre Carter is no longer on the team and that opens up his 65 targets. Justin Herbert is still the quarterback. While Williams and Allen are still on the team you can predict they will miss time. Allen is now 30 years old and missed games last year. Williams hasn’t played a full season since 2019. Palmer should see plenty of opportunity. There is talk that running back Austin Ekeler wants a trade and he saw 127 targets last season. Even if he is on the team they may opt to work in other options as he doesn’t project to be there long term. Palmer has this year and next year left on his contract with a cap hit under two million each year. He will be a free agent at the age of 24 turning 25. He will be primed to make a splash if he were to leave the city of angels. If you haven’t bought Palmer yet you should.



Los Angeles is known for its high-powered passing offenses but it could be the Chargers and Justin Herbert who continue this tradition. Herbert is setting passing records it seems every game. He has benefited from having Keenan Allen and Mike Williams catching the ball. Looking forward we will be seeing a change in that wide receiver core. Keenan Allen isn’t going anywhere. I highly doubt they exercise the opt-out after this season. He is signed till the end of the 2024 season. Mike Williams is currently filling the number 2 spot on the roster but he is a free agent at the end of the 2021 season as well as Andre Roberts. Jalen Guyton has come on as of late and is a restricted free agent after this season so there is a chance the Bolts bring him back but would have to match any offer he gets.

Josh Palmer should be in line to take a large leap forward in 2022. He is currently playing the 4th most snaps on the team behind Allen, Williams, and Guyton. He is averaging 31.9% of the team’s snaps through 15 weeks. He has 2 touchdowns on the year which trails Guyton’s 3. If he were to move into the 3 spots as Guyton returns and take over the 2 spots from Williams, Palmer would be in line to see closer to 55% of the team’s snaps. If Guyton were to leave and Palmer was to move into the 2 spot he would be playing on 80% or more of the team’s snaps. He was a 3rd round pick of the Chargers in the 2021 draft and is still young. He didn’t have the greatest college career for Tennesee but his limited NFL production shows that he has what it takes and that the team likes using him. Palmer has a great verticle route break which suits Herbert’s abilities well and can get separation coming out of breaks but at times loses that separation if the ball isn’t delivered quickly, another one of Herbert’s skills.

A wide receiver on a high-powered passing offense with a great quarterback will always be fantasy-relevant. We have seen it for years in Green Bay with the likes of Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown always being talked up as break-out players. The difference is with Josh Palmer is in his first year he has stats that are going to compare to almost all of those players’ best years after a 4-year career. He has a ton of time and room to grow in that offense.




Malik Willis: QB, Tennessee Titans

Very limited playing time. Had pre-draft buzz before low draft capital


Skylar Thompson: QB, Miami Dolphins

played well when needed. Tua has injury concerns


Kyle Phillips: WR, Tennessee Titans

The offense is in flux. no competition ahead of him


Shi Smith: WR, Carolina Panthers

Looked good last year.  A new system means endless possibilities


John Bates: TE, Washington Commanders

6’6” athletic freak who just needs the opportunity. Less competition in front of him




Frank Darby: WR, Atlanta Falcons

Couldn’t make an impact on a team void of receiver talent


Harrison Bryant: TE, Cleveland Browns

Too much competition for targets. 


Kevin Harris: RB, New England Patriots

Team brought in free agents over Harris


Calvin Austin: WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Zero snaps in his rookie season


Jaelon Darden

On his 2nd team. No NFL production.



Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Matthew Pearce / Icon Sportswire

2 responses to “April ’23 Dynasty Futures Report”

  1. Silvija says:

    Hi there,

    I would like to enquire about an opportunity to write a guest post on your site.

    Kind regards,



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