December’s Dynasty Future report is here. We are into the fantasy playoffs, so you most likely can’t trade right now, but that doesn’t mean you stop learning and setting yourself up for the future. Some of these names might end up costing you a little more than the names you normally see here, but they are still players with meat on the bone in terms of future value and what they can be. I also started writing this a few weeks ago, so players have just blossomed earlier than I expected.
Continuing with the bonus content this year are five players who are droppable in dynasty. They just don’t have a clear path to dynasty value. I’ll also mention five players who are dynasty holds. They still have value, but it’s a wait-and-see how things shake out this year before we make any future moves for them. You were once high on them, but it might be longer than you were expecting for them to produce.
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Chig Okonkwo – TE, Tennessee Titans
The Titans have a youth movement happening. It looks like this will be the last season for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, as they attempted to draft his replacement in Malik Willis. They also got younger at wide receiver after trading away A.J. Brown and drafting Treylon Burks. Under the radar in the draft the Titans, in the 4th round, drafted their tight end of the future in Chigoziem Okonkwo. The super buy-low time may have already passed us by, but his value can still increase in a tight-end landscape that is often void after the top three guys. Austin Hooper and Geoff Swaim are both free agents at the end of the season and will be 28 and 29 respectively. Keeping a rookie tight end as your starter can pay off considering all the other needs the Titans will have in free agency. They have a massive list of players hitting the market, including two starters on the offensive line Nate Davis and Dennis Daley, both backup centers. On the defensive side, they have linebacker David Long and edge rusher DeMarcus Walker. In 2024 they have other big names due for contract including star running back Derrick Henry and defensive star Jeffery Simmons. They will have to find room in the budget somewhere and tight end could be one of those spots. It will be a new general manager controlling this roster, so I would put no one on the safe list, but reports are they fired the former GM because they were unhappy with the roster he had constructed.
It’s pronounced (chig-zem OH-konk-woe). He prefers to go by just Chig now. Okonkwo was a 4th round pick for the Titans and was the 6th tight end off the board. He is just under 6’3” and 238 lbs., which isn’t huge for a tight end. He is still developing in the position as he only had 29 games in college. He missed all of the 2020 season with a medical issue after playing only 8 games the previous two years. In his final year, he played all 13 games for the Maryland Terrapins, accumulating 52 receptions, 447 yards, and 5 touchdowns. While those numbers don’t jump off the screen, he was second on his team in receptions and accounted for 15.3% of the team’s total receptions. You can also compare that to Isaiah Likely, who had 59 receptions, and Greg Dulcich, who had 42. Okonkwo will have to continue to develop as a tight end. His limited experience is not helped by his smaller size, which limits his blocking ability. He will have to play more of the hybrid style that we are seeing from tight ends now. More lining up outside and less inline. He does have a great after-the-catch ability. We have already seen it this season. He has three receptions over 40 yards, with most of those yards coming after the catch. When he gets moving, he has the size of a running back and good vision. He isn’t overly fast running 4.52 40 times but with his size, it’s not expected or needed. He has also spent time practicing with the second team, which gives him a leg up on developing chemistry with the heir-apparent QB Malik Willis. We also know that tight ends are a rookie’s best friend, often being the safety valve when pressure comes. That could play well for Okonkwo next season.
Malik Davis – RB, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys have been employing a two-running back rushing attack this season with Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliot. They are both having productive years
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They are both seeing plenty of opportunities and making the best of them both in yardage and touchdowns. They are benefiting from playing behind a solid offensive line that could get better with Tyron Smith returning in 2023. Who possibly won’t be returning is Tony Pollard. He is set to become a free agent after this season, and is having a career year that will probably lead to him getting paid in the offseason. Currently, Spotrac.com has him estimated to get a contract worth close to 7.8 million, which would be in the same range as starters like Leonard Fournette, James Conner, and Austin Ekeler. If the Cowboys were to sign Pollard to a contract in that range, they would have over 17 million a year tied up in their running backs between Pollard and Elliot. The cap hit would be somewhere north of 24 million. Pollard will be 26 at the time he signs. Behind Pollard is rookie Malik Davis, who could be poised to step into that role. The Cowboys do have some tough decisions to make, as they also are looking at starting TE Dalton Schultz and center Connor McGovern hitting free agency as well. With one of the lowest teams in terms of available cap space, the front office will have to get creative with the contract or let some players leave to field what should be a Super Bowl contending team.
Davis is 5’11” 202lbs., compared to Pollard who is 6’0” 209 lbs. Davis was an undrafted rookie coming out of Florida but impressed scouts at his pro day with his vertical jump and SPARQ rating. He did not show very well in his 40 times, with an unofficial number of 4.57. He was a 5 year player for the Gators. He played in a total of 45 games in his college career and amassed 1470 yards, 8 touchdowns, and added 70 receptions for 726 yards and 2 touchdowns. It’s a rather low-scoring volume, which is probably why he fell in drafts, but was also behind Dameon Pierce for most of his career there. It’s the pass-catching work that will be needed if Pollard were to be in another city come September. Davis averaged 9.4 yards per reception his senior year after averaging 12.2 his junior year. He has great vision and excellent hands and uses patience to set up blocks and allow himself more space to make up for his lack of top-end speed. This is the first year that Dallas has run a true two-back set, so they could revert back to Zeke being the main back in 2023, but given his age and the amount of wear he has had it would behoove the Cowboys to limit his touches for the next few years. If they do that, Davis could be the main handcuff and possibly find stand-alone value if he inherits the Pollard role going forward. We have already seen Davis get some work this season averaging 4.48 yards per carry on limited work of 23 carries.
John Metchie – WR, Houston Texans
It was shocking news when John Metchie was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia only two months after being selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft by the Houston Texans. The Texans have been in deep need of a star wide receiver since trading away DeAndre Hopkins before the 2020 season. Hopkins was coming off two seasons of over 1000 yards and 100 receptions. Since then, Brandin Cooks has been the leading receiver and while having over 1000 yards the following two seasons he has failed to have over 100 receptions. The Texans went from two seasons of double-digit wins to two seasons of not having more than four. Metchie would be the second receiver drafted by the post-Hopkins Texans and would slot across the field from 2021 third-rounder Nico Collins. All reports are that Metchie will make a full recovery and return to the team probably in the off-season. The Texans will be continuing to revamp the offense this off-season. Brandin Cooks had been unhappy and wanted out at the trade deadline, but the Texans did not fulfill his request. Fellow receivers Chris Moore and Phillip Dorsett are set to be free agents. The Texans will have to make a hard choice at what to do behind center, either sticking with Davis Mills or acquiring a new starter either via draft or free agency. The running back position seems locked in with Damien Pierce having a stellar rookie season.
Metchie was a second-round pick coming out of Alabama where he was a three-year player. When it comes to wide receivers, most experts like the ones who come out early. He is 22 years old, so there is plenty of years to grow and hone his craft. He stands at 5’11” and 187 lbs, so he will have to bulk up to compete with physical corners in the NFL. He is a great route runner and played in a pro-style offense at Alabama, so the learning curve should be easier for him. He is a great foil for his receiving counterpart Collins who is 6’4” and 215 lbs. Metchie had 14 career college touchdowns, all of them coming in his last two years. In his final year, he posted over 1000 yards and just under 100 receptions. This was on a team that also had a star running back Brian Robinson and a star wide receiver Jameson Williams. Metchie is a well-traveled individual born in in Taiwan, living in Ghana and then Canada before going to Alabama. He showed good quickness on the field, and even though he did not run a 40 at either the combine or pro day he is expected to be in the 4.5 range. The film showed him using his route running to gain a step on defenders and then pulling away. He gets open and presents a solid target for his quarterback. He will have to develop some of his finer skills in his routes like coming out of breaks and not tipping his hand to defenders. He could become a needed and sure-handed receiver for whoever is leading the Texans’ offense in 2023. His cost might be higher than it should be, because he is probably in most people’s IR spots or their taxi squad as he was ruled out for the season early on. As trades open back up owners will be living off recency bias and the hype of a new draft class and looking to make roster room. People will assume that a receiver from a low-end offense might not be worth much, but we have seen that even the Texans can support a viable fantasy flex if not a week-to-week WR3.
Bailey Zappe – QB, New England Patriots
This may seem like an odd name here. Bailey Zappe has a second-year quarterback in front of him on the Patriots in Mac Jones, and while Zappe played well in his relief of Jones, the Patriots went back to Jones when he was fully healthy. One of my key focal points for this article is laying out the pathway for a player to get to significant playing time, and that is even harder when it comes to the quarterback position, as usually, only one plays at a time for a team. The Patriots seem to be set on Mac Jones being their future. Jones has played in 28 games so far in his career and has amassed 29 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. He has only averaged 214 yards per game. It’s not the type of stats that jump off the page at you. He is by no means a high-end quarterback. What does that mean for the future? There have been some reports that Mac Jones has lost the locker room and that some of the team prefers Zappe. The Patriots could be headed for a true quarterback controversy next off-season. The Patriots have a strong history of building up quarterback value and then trading one away. Think about Jimmy Garrapollo, Jacoby Brissett, Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Mallett, and Matt Cassell. The Patriots could find themselves answering the phone a lot come the spring from teams looking for a new signal caller. It’s a hot market with possibly a third of the league looking for a new man under center or at least an heir apparent. There are also a large number of Bellichick proteges coaching in the league who want to build the dynasty that the Patriots once had.
Zappe is 23 while Jones is 24, so either could be a viable option for a team looking to add someone who has slightly more experience than an incoming rookie and has had at least a year under the tutelage of Bill Bellichick. Zappe has already shown his NFL ability. In his 4 games as a pro, he has five touchdowns and only three interceptions. He averaged 248 yards in his two full games as a starter. Even if you factor in all of his passing, he still averages 195 yards per game. In college, Zappe went to small Houston Baptist Univesity before transferring to Western Kentucky for his senior year. In that senior year, Zappe was electric. He threw for an NCAA single-season record 5967 yards and 62 touchdowns. Just for reference, in his three years at Alabama, Mac Jones threw for 56 touchdowns. Joe Burrow had 60 touchdowns in his senior year at LSU. It’s astounding production that can’t just be overlooked. The fact that it was only one year and at a smaller conference is what hurt his draft stock. He doesn’t overly impress anyone with measurable stats. He is only six feet tall and 215 lbs. He might lack the arm strength to make the massive throws that we have come to love in the NFL, but he is very accurate with his deep balls and can adjust to throwing away from coverage. He is a solid quarterback from a mechanics standpoint and would need a system around him that is built to his strengths. That system could be in New England and they ship out Jones or it could be elsewhere if the Pats decide to stay with Jones. Even if both remain in New England Zappe still has value in a dynasty, especially in two QB leagues. He has the same skill set as Jones so if he does have to come in he won’t have to learn or the team won’t have to change to fit him. Jones isn’t known as a real mobile passer so will probably be taking more sacks than escaping them with the scramble adding the extra risk of injury.
Demetric Felton – RB, Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns have employed a two-running back system since acquiring Kareem Hunt back in 2019. It’s clear that Nick Chubb is the lead rusher for the Browns and that he will continue to be the focal point of the rushing attack. The Browns however are upping their passing game. They made the blockbuster trade for franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson. They paid pennies on the dollar for Amari Cooper. They re-signed David Njoku and still have drafted guys like Donovan Peoples-Jones. In 2021 the Browns only threw the ball 53% of the time. That trend continued until Watson returned. In his second game back, Watson threw the ball on 64% of the team’s snaps. It could be a sign of things to come. What has made the running back duo so impactful was that they were involved in the passing game, especially Kareem Hunt. After this season, Kareem Hunt may not be in a Browns jersey. He will be 27 years old and coming off his sixth year in the league. The Browns have a ton of free agents including starters in T Jack Conklin and DT Taven Bryan as well as 14 other players. The Browns need to trim some fat and could do that at the running back position. This could open up room for Demetric Felton. Most of you are going to say what about D’Ernest Johnson. Well, he will also be a free agent with Hunt. He is also going to be 26 years old. The Browns need to get younger at running back. Chubb is also 26. Felton hasn’t played much this year but in the past few games has filled in at wide receiver and is actually listed as a wide receiver on the team depth chart so he could end up with dual eligibility next season.
Felton played both running back and wide receiver during his time at UCLA. He was a four-year player before getting drafted in the sixth round by the Browns in the 2021 draft. He stands at only 5’9 and 189 lbs., so he won’t be a punishing rusher, but that is what Chubb is there for. He is a classic pass-catching back build. He didn’t have to pass protect much in college which could be a knock against him at the next level. In his time at UCLA he ended his career with 15 total touchdowns and over 2000 total years. In his senior year, he had 5 rushing touchdowns and three receiving. it was his first year as the main rusher for the Bruins having played backup to Joshua Kelley the years prior. The move to more rushing hindered his pass-catching. The previous year he only had 86 rushing attempts but had 55 receptions. He can slot into the Hunt role. It’s a role where Hunt saw 55 targets back in 2019 and is on pace for 46 this season. Felton had an abysmal showing at the combine and pro day running a 4.58 40. It was a shocker because he has shown that he plays at a much faster speed. He has really good hands and then uses his running back vision to make moves after the catch. He will have to be used out of the backfield or in the bubble screen to get the ball in his hands and let him make moves. He had limited route tree experience because he split his time between running back and receiver, but heading into his third year he has learned that role more. If the Browns continue to turn into a modern high-powered NFL offense Felton could be the Nyhiem Hines role on that offense.
5 Cut Candidates
Tyler Goodson- RB- GB
Released and then resigned to the practice squad. The team does not roster a 3rd RB.
Jake Funk- RB- IND
on the practice squad of his second team
on his second team in two years and on their practice squad
just signed to his 3rd team this year
Only played over 20% of snaps once this season.
5 Hold Candidates
Sam Ehlinger- QB-IND
Played well when needed. new coach/system next year. possible retiring QB in front of him
Quez Watkins- WR- PHI
3rd an option on the team. turning into a passing team
Zach Moss- RB- IND
Can be the pass-catching back. New coaching/system next year
Jake Ferguson- TE DAL
Playing well and D. Schultz is heading toward FA
Joshua Kelley- RB LAC
Still, the handcuff, is under contract for another year.
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire