October’s dynasty futures report could be the one that matters the most. Fantasy trade deadlines are fast approaching and making moves now can set you up. This month we look at five players that could be that extra gem next season and maybe even this season if things break right in front of them. These players are probably names you have heard of and at one point post draft had a lot of hype and some are getting some now. They may cost you a little more than the typical deep-cut you are expecting here but a known commodity is always worth more than a 3rd or 4th round draft pick. Certainly, don’t sell the farm or these players but if a contender is looking to upgrade maybe you can get these guys as part of a package for one of your aging producers. All trades are team dependent but knowing who can step up before your league mates always give you the upper hand.
Continuing with the bonus content this year with 5 players who are droppable in dynasty. They just don’t have a clear path to dynasty value. As well as 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. If you have dynasty questions follow me on Twitter (@theDunit13) or subscribe to PL+ and get access to our discord where we discuss everything from redraft football, Dynasty, DFS, and so much more.
Snoop Conner – RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
In the early fifth round of the 2021 draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Snoop Conner. He comes out of Ole Miss, having played for the Rebels for three years. He had a moderate career in college. He rushed for 304 carries and 1530 yards. Those numbers would be great if it was one year’s worth of production, not three, totaling 34 games. He split time with Jerrion Ealy during his career. The splits for them were pretty even. Conner had 304 carries and Ealy had 384. He did average 5.2 yards per carry over his career and Ealy is at 5.8. Conner had 26 touchdowns while Ealy only had 20. Conner is decent pass-catching out of the backfield. He caught 32 passes over his career for only 225 yards. No touchdowns. Overall not great production and probably why he fell to the fifth round. He ran only a 4.59 40 so not overly fast. Watching game film he is a straight-line rusher who picks his hole quick and then puts his head down and will try to bowl over tacklers over trying to avoid them. His pounding style is useful in the NFL in short-yardage and goal-line work. Given the low usage in college, there isn’t a ton of worry about the wear and tear on his body considering his running style.
James Robinson, who has been leading the Jaguar’s backfield in 2022, is heading for free agency. Robinson is 5’9” 219 lbs. Conner is 5’10 222lbs. It would seem that Conner can fill that same role in the offense. Through the first six games of the season, Robinson has 81 carries which account for 49.6% of the teams rushing attempts. Conner will be in a backfield with Travis Etienne who is 5’10” and 215 lbs. What gives Conner a slight advantage is that he was drafted by this regime. Etienne is a holdover from the previous coaching staff. Not to say that Doug Pederson and Pres Taylor don’t want ETN or that he will get benched for Conner but Conner is someone they wanted. It’s not the greatest draft capital for a running back but it wasn’t a need for the team in the draft. Not since 2004 when Pederson was offensive coordinator with the Chiefs and had Jamaal Charles as a running back in his offense has a running back seen more than 180 total carries or gotten more than 40% carry share on the team. It’s a clear sign that the Pederson jaguars will have a very split backfield and Conner should be a part of that going forward.
They have Etienne for the pass-catching work and Conner, like Robinson, now can be a solid rusher. They are building a team around Trevor Lawrence and have a mind toward the future. They will have a bigger contract coming in the future including Lawrence (25), tight end Even Engram (’23), linebacker Josh Allen (’23), and right tackle Jawaan Taylor (’23). They can save money by not re-signing Robinson and sticking with Conner in that role. Conner is a great fit in a backfield that projects to be a committee.
Pierre Strong – RB, New England Patriots
The New England backfield has always been a minefield for fantasy managers. While I wish that were coming to an end It looks as if it will just continue. The good news is we have seen it capable of producing two solid fantasy-relevant running backs. The 2022 season has parred the backfield down to just two relevant players. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. Looking ahead to the 2023 camping there will probably be a shift. Harris is a free agent and the Patriots are notorious for not signing their own free agents and not spending much in free agency either. This would leave Rhamondre as the starter and Pierre Strong as the number two. He has a very similar size to Harris who is 5’11 213 lbs. Strong comes in at 5’11 207 lbs. Compared to Stevenson who is 6’0 230 lbs. Harris will be 25 and hitting free agency which can be a turn-off to teams but he should still get a shot at a starting job. He’s projected to get a contract of around 6.5 million a year. That’s a significant contract for a team that will also be deciding if they want to keep wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, tackle Isaiah Wynn as well as 18 other free agents on the team. It’s possible the Patriots let most of their big names leave and continue to build a youth movement behind Mac Jones or Bailey Zappe and Stevenson. When New England does open its tightly held wallet it is usually on the defensive side of the ball.
Strong was a 4th round draft pick in 2022. He came out of South Dakota State. A very small school in the Missouri valley football conference. He was a four-year player for the Jackrabbits. He played in 48 games and had 631 rushing attempts and 4527 yards. He had three seasons of over 1000 yards. He also amassed 40 rushing touchdowns. He added to that three receiving touchdowns on 62 receptions for 581 yards. He also had SIX passing touchdowns in his college career. This a wrinkle I’m sure Bill Belichick has noted for future gadget plays. Strong is a very fast rusher. His 4.37 40 times at the combine jumped off the page for scouts who weren’t informed of the FCS star. On top of his speed and quickness, he has great vision. He uses that vision and quickness to make cuts and find open holes and areas. The ability to find space will translate well to the NFL where he can be used in multiple ways. He can make guys miss in the open field and use his massive legs to gain yards after contact. He probably needs work in the passing game but something that he can learn from the experienced coaching staff in New England.
Noah Gray – TE, Kansas City Chiefs
Noah Gray was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2021 draft in the fifth round. He came out of Duke after being the team captain for the team his final year in 2020. His College numbers aren’t great. He only posted a career of 105 receptions, 948 yards, and eight touchdowns. To put that in comparison Baltimore rookie Isaiah Likely was second in tight-end production in 2021. He had 59 receptions and 912 yards and 12 touchdowns in one year. So the numbers for Gray don’t jump off the page at you. Probably why he fell to the fifth round. He measures just under 6’4” and 240lbs which is a pretty solid size for an NFL tight end. Compare him to his KC teammate and mentor Travis Kelce who is 6’5” and 250 lbs. His 40 time wasn’t great at 4.62. He’s not the big Physical athlete that will dominate you or the fastest guy who will break open in coverage. What gray does well is the first block. As a tight end who can block and pass catch it allows the team to keep him on the field more. He also works well underneath. he runs very solid routes and makes quick cuts to present an open target to his quarterback. He gets to learn from one of the greatest ever in the game in Kelce and has a quarterback in Patrick Mahomes who favors the tight end.
Being on the Chiefs Gray is behind Travis Kelce. Kelce’s contract is set for now. He doesn’t become a free agent till the 2026 season. So where is the pathway for Gray? It’s not as clear as others on the list. He will need an opportunity to prove himself. Kelce has only missed one game in his career due to injury. The other games he missed were the last week of the season rest games. Kelce just turned 33 a few weeks ago. He has taken a massive amount of hits. He has 1046 receptions over his now 10-year career. It’s a lot of punishment. I’m not one to wish an injury on anyone but it would seem to be an outlier that someone involved hasn’t missed more time. This doesn’t even take into account his snaps blocking which also beat on the body. Kelce could very easily play at a high level for the next 5 years. Gray won’t ever supplant him as the tight-end one in Kansas City. What I do think is possible is the Chiefs playing in more two tight-end sets. We can see that in the past two years they had to tow tight end on the field 27% and 23% of the time. In 2019 when they won the Super Bowl, they played in two tight end sets 33% of the time. It’s not a huge jump but seemed to be a way for them to win. Even so far this season Gray is laying a higher percentage of snaps than most tight-end tows have for this offense. In the previous 3 years, the tight end two has played 26%, 25%, and 38%. This year through six games Gray is playing on 47% of the snaps. All while Kelce is still playing his usual snap share. Gray is currently getting 6% of the team’s targets. While not a huge number it’s a big increase from the usual 1.55 that tight-end twos have seen in previous years. If Gray continues to get on the field it will only be a matter of time before he starts seeing more targets and opportunities. This year KC’s passing offense is very different with the subtraction of Tyreek Hill and the underwhelming performance of Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Tyquan Thornton -WR, New England Patriots
After having Tom Brady for so many years the youth movement continues in New England with the drafting of Tyquan Thornton. The Patriots took him in the 2nd round. It’s only the third time in the past ten years that the Patriots have drafted a pass catcher that high. At Baylor, Thornton didn’t come on till his senior year. He had only nine touchdowns in his first three years and then exploded to ten his senior season. The Baylor offense wasn’t exactly a high passing offense having under 400 total attempts each year that Thornton was there. He was also injured in 2020 which held him to only five games. Thornton helped his draft stock by running a blazing 4.28 40 time at the combine. Its elite level of speed will help him find a role in the NFL. He isn’t the biggest receiver coming in at 6’2′ and 181 lbs. He looks very thin compared to others around him on the field but he uses his speed to separate especially on slant routes. One of the things that Bill Belichick is great at is using players in positions that suit their strengths. He will have to move Thornton around to get him off bigger corners who can muscle him in press coverage. He has a good catch radius but lacks the size to break tackles and get yards after contact. He will rely on his speed to outrun guys either in coverage or in space with the ball in his hands. He could be a Tyreek Hill light. not as good of a pass catcher but a little taller and just as fast. People will be scared off of him due to the hurt that N’Keal Harry inflicted. Given the low number of receivers they have invested draft picks in I trust their scouting department which always seems to go against the norm and it seems to work out.
The patriots need to choose their wide receiver options sooner rather than later. After this season both Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers‘ will be unrestricted free agents. Agholor will have just turned 29 and Meyers’ will be getting close to turning 26. The following offseason a then 31-year-old DeVante Parker and Ty Montgomery as well as 28-year-old Kendrick Bourne seeking contracts. That’s a huge number of targets potentially leaving the team. using the 2021 season that’s 191 targets vacated headed into the 2023 season accounting for 35.45 of the team’s total targets. If they then lose 3 more receivers the following year it would leave nothing but an opportunity for Thornton. Through six games of the 2022 season, Meyers and Agholor account for 30% of the team’s targets. As mentioned above when we talked about Pierre Strong, other players also need contracts and look to be more integral parts of the offense going forward. We have also already seen what the rookie can do on the field. In week six he saw five targets hauling in four of them for a score and 37 yards. It looks as if he has a good relationship with Bailey Zappe. It remains uncertain what the Patriots do at the quarterback position once Mac Jones is fully healthy and ready to return. If Thornton continues to play and sees his snap percent go above the 70% mark his value in trades will soon rise with it.
Sam Howell – QB, Washington Commanders
As the first pick in the 5th round in 2021, coming out of North Carolina, Sam Howell looks like he could be the future of the Washington Commanders. In college Howell was a three-year starter for the North Carolina Tar Heels. He finished his college career with 10283 passing yards and 92 touchdowns and only 23 interceptions. He never had a season with under 3000 yards nor double-digit interceptions. Some will say that is a product of a team that had Michael Carter, Javonte Williams, Dazz Newsome, and Dyami Brown. Nothing could be further from the truth. In his final season at North Carolina after all four of those players were drafted to the NFL, Howell still managed to put up 3056 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. What many forget or don’t even know is that Howell has some juice with his legs. He rushed for 1009 yards, and 17 touchdowns in his collegiate career. Eleven of those touchdowns came in his final year as a junior when he was missing all those playmakers. He had three games of over 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing. The only player to have more than that in their college career? Lamar Jackson. Not saying that Howell is that dynamic of a rusher. He is 6’1′ 218 lbs. He did not run a 40 time at the combine or his pro day so his top-end speed remains somewhat of a mystery. He is similar in size to Jalen Hurts at 6’1” and 223 lbs.
Howell is getting something that most quarterbacks don’t get and that is time to sit on the bench and learn. His college tape did have some things that needed to be worked on such as a predictable and long release. He gets to learn from coach Ron Rivera who made a dual-threat QB in Cam Newton into a league MVP. Currently, Howell is behind Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke. It seems that the Commanders are rolling with Heinicke while Wentz recovers from a broken finger. I think it’s great to see them not rush the rookie along especially if they consider him part of the future plans. After this year Heinicke will be an unrestricted free agent. he will be just shy of 30 and coming off his eight years in the league where he hasn’t been able to win the starting job despite having multiple chances. Wentz will still have two years left on his contract but there is an opt-out clause that would allow the Commanders to move on and save 26 MILLION dollars with ZERO dead cap. Wentz has played well in 2022 but hasn’t led the team to many wins. Sitting at 2-4 and the bottom of their division it’s a tough sell to keep a guy and not save 26 million. It’s debatable that Wentz even gets his job back after this finger injury. If Heinicke plays well and starts winning a game they might just stick with him. If he comes out and lays an egg they could switch to Howell and see what they have in the rookie. heading into what projects to be a good quarterback draft class the Commander’s brass will need to make some choices. There is also the looming snap percentage that if hit turns the pick they sent to the Colts into a second-rounder instead of a third.
5 Cut Candidates
Ian Book- QB, Philadelphia Eagles
Jeremy McNichols- RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Antonio Gandy Goldin- WR, Free Agent
Bryan Edwards- WR, Atlanta Falcons
Larry Rountree- RB, Las Angeles Chargers
5 Hold Candidates
John Metchie- WR, Houston Texans
Adam Trautman- TE, New Orleans Saints
Skyy Moore- WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Chubba Hubbard- RB, Carolina Panthers
Deejay Dallas- RB, Seattle Seahawks
Feature image by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter) / Photography by Fred Kfoury III / Icon Sportswire
I think when you say 2021, it’s meant to be 2022 when referring to many of the players draft years.