Dynasty Hot Routes: Camp Battles, Bears TEs and Handcuffs

The mission of this article is to make our in-house experts sizzle and bristle over the hot button issues that face dynasty owners. Our experts make the entire route tree HOT as they address topics from the world of IDP, Devy, Start/sit, Non-PPR, PPR and everything in between. Try not to get burned by all the fiery YAC below! This is Dynasty Hot Routes!

With training camps kicking off who is a player or players locked in a position battle that you will be watching closely?

Emmett Kiernan– The entire Jets passing attack. It is wide open after Quincy Enunwa. I have no faith in Robby Anderson or Charone Peake. They will start off with a leg up because they have the most experience in the system, but I believe Jalin Marshall, Chad Hansen, and Ardarius Stewart are all better receivers than those two. It will be interesting to see those five players battle. Stewart is a self-proclaimed slot receiver who should be a solid #3 wide receiver at some point early in his career. Will he win the primary slot job right away? How long will it take for Hansen or Marshall to win an outside job over the less talented guys in front of them? Will rookie tight end Jordan Leggett’s big game experience help him carve a role early and steal targets from Austin Seferian-Jenkins? It will all be fun to watch.

Joshua Johnson– Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs seem pretty entrenched as starters for the Vikings. That leaves Laquon Treadwell to fight with Michael “never-sober ‘cos of tea” Floyd, Jarius Wright, Rodney Adams, Stacy Coley, Moritz Boehringer and R.J. Shelton. Now I know Treadwell likely has the upper hand for WR3 but nothing is certain and WR4 is always intriguing dynasty roster rounder/lottery ticket. Whoever assumes some return duties will likely have the job locked up for at least for 2017. I like Adams the best, and his versatile upside should endear him on multiple levels.

The Denver TE battle features Virgil Green (most experienced), Jeff Heuerman (intriguing but not a star) and A.J. Derby (a dart throw at this point). Green has the metric advantage with 4.64 40-time, 6.90 three-cone, 23 bench reps, 130-inch broad and 42 vertical. He is a little undersized (6’3″, 249 pounds) but that also makes him a formational chess piece. Heuerman is a bigger player and very solid blocker, yet he was medical exclusion from the combine two years ago because of an ankle issue, and he tore his ACL as a rookie. He may be more valuable as a blocker, but he can produce when targeted. Derby was drafted by New England and traded for by Denver. He is a converted LB to QB to TE who ran a 4.70 40 and a 6.99 three-cone at his pro day. He is a product of the Arkansas system. So he knows how to block run routes. It’s all up in the air!

I am also going to be watching the Jets, Chargers and Raiders LB shuffle closely. Can UDFA Connor Harris emerge for the Jets? Will Darron Lee be able to step into David Harris’s shoes? Who will play MLB for the Chargers? Korey Toomer, Denzell Perryman or Jatavis Brown??? Can Cory James function as a starter at ILB for the Raiders? Will Marquel Lee rise sooner than expected? Will the nameless and seemingly unsexy Tyrell Adams shock Raider Nation and IDP enthusiasts alike?

Brian Hawkes – I will be watching RBs who have a shot at immediate playing time due to suspensions/ injury: Joe Mixon v. Jeremy Hill while Gio Bernard returns to health, Jeremy McNichols v. Jacquizz Rodgers v. Charles Sims while Doug Martin serves his suspension, Danny Woodhead v. Terrance West while Kenneth Dixon serves his suspension. One of these players is sure to emerge and earn early season fantasy victories for your squad – excited to see the battles play out.

John Orr – I play in a lot of TE premium leagues, so that’s a position I tend to pay extra attention to. I will leave the Bears discussion for later. Denver was mentioned already, but I will add a different take. Jake Butt will be a player to keep tabs on in camp. The question is will he be healed up from his ACL injury? TEs who can block add importance to themselves. Add in the ability to play all over the formation I believe he gets on the field more and more as camp and the season unfolds. I will keep tabs on this camp battle.

The Buffalo Bills will have a fun camp battle at LB. I believe Reggie Ragland is the front runner for this one. He is a natural fit for this role. Preston Brown has led the Bills with snaps played the last two years though. He is also a very good fit for MLB. Having a year off to heal, Reggie Ragland will not have much room in camp. This is another fun camp battle I will keep tabs on. If Reggie Ragland can’t control his weight, this will quickly get very interesting.  Looking forward to making the drive to Pittsford, New York, to watch some live action.

One more that piques my interest is the Minnesota Vikings WLB position. This won’t be a major IDP focus for everyone, but when you’re in leagues that require OLBs to be started this takes a little more priority. Emmanuel Lamur and Edmond Robison will lock horns and play it out for starting rights. Lamur offers skills in pass defense as he played safety in college. Capable of playing the run and pass well gives him an advantage over the aggressive and not as capable in coverage Robinson. Watch out for Kentrell Brothers and Ben Gedeon as well, but they will have a rough time jumping to the top spot.

Eric Iannaccone – There are a few position battles I’ll be watching closely this offseason. The first one is the Washington RB battle. Many just assume Perine will emerge as the starter, but that certainly isn’t a given. If Rob Kelley somehow maintains the job, he could be a huge value in drafts. Another battle I’ll be watching closely is the one between the Tennessee WRs. Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker, and Corey Davis are all expected to factor in, but in which order? The target leader from this group will be a valuable fantasy asset this season. Also, will Taywan Taylor do enough to see some time on the field? I’m not really interested in the Titans’ WR4 for fantasy purposes, but he could be a nice hold on your dynasty roster.

Chicago has six viable TEs in camp, who makes the final roster and in what order is the depth chart going to be week one?

Emmett Kiernan– None of them interest me in 2017, to be honest. Adam Shaheen and Mycole Pruitt have the most potential.

Joshua Johnson– Mycole Pruitt has been an unhealthy obsession of mine since the Vikings drafted him. He ran a 4.58 40 at 251 pounds! Also, he has 38-inch vertical, and he has caught 12 of 16 career targets. He has battled some minor injuries, but if he gets a chance to be a move TE, great things could happen. Daniel Brown only weighs 225 pounds, but the former 2015 UDFA out of James Madison can play. In six games (three starts) with Chicago in 2016, he caught 16 of 20 targets. I like his chipped shoulder grit. The 32-year old Zach Miller was a small school QB who converted to TE to have a shot at playing in the pros. Miller might make a fine coach someday, for now, he is a potential cap casualty. Ben Braunecker was a 2016 UDFA. The Harvard grad was a three-year starter and team captain. He has been compared to Kyle “soft hands” Juszczyk. Braunecker still has practice squad eligibility (wink, wink). Adam Shaheen is a big kid with a big heart who has a big challenge ahead of him. Come 2019 or 2020, he could be a big asset. He should likely serve as their TE3. And now for the complete package ladies and gentlemen. I am all about Dion Sims. Formerly of Miami via Sparty, Sims can block with the best of ’em, and his route running, aggression, and accuracy have been steadily rising. He has had to fight for and during every snap of his four years in the NFL. He is primed and ready to be a TE1. You’re welcome Mitch Trubisky, and your safety valve awaits.

Brian Hawkes – Pruitt and Shaheen are intriguing prospects and are worthy of a stash on the back end of your dynasty roster, but neither is likely to contribute much in 2017. Dion Sims signed a decent sized contract this offseason, so he’d be my bet for the most immediate playing time and has potential to be stream worthy this season. Honestly, I’m avoiding most of the Bears offense, including the tight ends, for fantasy purposes.

Eric Iannaccone – I think the final depth chart going into the season will look like this: Dion Sims, Adam Shaheen, Daniel Brown, and maybe MyCole Pruitt. Sims is a strong lock to be the Week 1 starter, given his NFL experience and his blocking ability. Don’t count out Shaheen to make an impact as early as Week 1, though. He has a lot of learning to do, but his athletic ability could be used right off the bat on a situational basis (red zone, maybe?). As good of a run as Zach Miller had there, his latest injury and the flexibility of his contract seem like a combination that will result in him missing the final roster.

John Orr – Zach Miller is an older player on a rebuilding roster, does this leave him on the outside looking in? Dion Sims is a capable blocker and can run through contact. The Bears drafted Adam Shaheen, and I like him as their receiving TE. Will he learn the offense and contribute early on is the question. Last season I was watching Ben Braunecker, and he is another player who can catch and run. Soft hands and can move around the offense. I think Sims starts off the year starting with Shaheen brought in for a specific situational role as a receiving option.

What is your philosophy on handcuffing? Is it only something that should be done with Quarterbacks and Running Backs?

Emmett Kiernan- I only handcuff if it is a situation where the backup would need to start for me if there was an injury. If you have enough depth, there is no need. Pairing players hoping one of the two hits long term (e.g. Martavis Bryant and Juju Smith-Schuster) is fine, but that is a different strategy.

Joshua Johnson– I was actually arrested in my early 20’s. Yeah, it was a whole thing, my mom bailed me out, I paid her back immediately, all charges were eventually dropped after I paid my lawyer two grand! I am also not a freaky freak, so handcuffs have never really been my jive……Wait what?

Oh, that kind of handcuffing, well in superflex or 2QB leagues grabbing your QB’s backup is essential, if the roster size allows. Handcuffing tight ends is possible I guess, but I have never willingly done it. Although my Larry Donnell/Will Tye battery circa 2015 was mooey bueno! Handcuffing WRs seems like a very addictive drug. Once you grab two why not get them all? The term handcuffing was invented with the RB position in mind. I am sure I am not the only one who drafted both Kareem Hunt (10.04) and Spencer Ware (9.09) in a startup and then claimed Charcandrick West. It is just good for business and easier to do as opposed to acquiring four or five WRs from the same team. Even in full-IDP leagues I usually do not have enough roster space to carry multiple DEs, DTs or safeties from the same team? They are likely players with more upside available on the wire. Having a couple of LBs from one team is a far more likely and recommended scenario. Having two 3-4 ILBs from the same defensive unit is likely the most common version of IDP handcuffing.

Brian Hawkes – I will handcuff any player if the backup has potential to be a starter on my fantasy team if/when injury strikes. This typically applies to team situations that lend themselves to successful production. Examples: Cowboys running backs, Titans running backs, Steelers running backs, Saints wide receivers, Packers wide receivers, Chargers wide receivers, etc.

Eric Iannaccone – I really only handcuff in unique situations. As a general idea, I think handcuffing is a waste of a roster spot. If your rosters are 30 players deep, then I don’t have any issue with using a couple of roster spots on handcuffs. Otherwise, on a 25 man roster or fewer, a handcuff player on your roster is limiting the upside potential of your team. JJ Zachariason (of numberFire.com and the LateRoundQB.com) good work explaining this – you should check it out. Like I said though, I will handcuff in unique situations. This season, I’ve drafted both Mike Williams and Tyrell Williams. I like the upside of Williams if he can get on the field, but his injury situation is clouded, and Tyrell can be a starter for me team if he’s starting for the Chargers. I’ve also been grabbing James Connor a lot (both on teams where I have Bell and teams where I don’t) because of his upside if he becomes the starter is huge. He’s great insurance if I have Bell – I’d expect Connor to at least be a weekly high-end RB2, if not RB1. If I don’t have Bell, and he misses games, Connor is a great addition to my group of already healthy RBs. So I’ll handcuff in very high-risk situations (Williams) and very high potential situations (Bell). Otherwise, use the roster spot on someone who isn’t relying on an injury to get you points.

John Orr – I am a big believer in handcuffing my key RBs. I play in mostly very deep roster leagues where you can stash players. In leagues where I own Lesean McCoy, I made sure I acquired Jonathan Williams, Le’veon Bell I grabbed James Connor. The bell cows are the ones I want the second guy on the depth chart. Most of my leagues only require one RB to start so my depth is not as great.  In my two QB leagues, I also go after my starters backups. It’s a cut throat world in two QB. Teams smell blood and will ask a fortune for starters. It’s common to see every rookie QB on taxi squads in these two QB leagues.  In my start two TE leagues, I also try and grab the 2nd TEs on the roster. I have both Sims and Shaheen in that setup. On IDPs, I don’t look at DL as you will always be able to add help off waivers for them. The one position I look at is LB. This is the backbone of our IDP teams. As an example, Kendell Beckwith from Tampa is capable of jumping in at any of the LB positions and would be a player I would grab as a handcuff for Kwon Alexander or Lavonte David.



I am searching for the meaning of every bump on the pigskin. From leather helmets to a league with no point after attempts, I am researching with a wide shovel. -married/father/music fan/Raider Nation baby/deli meat enthusiast/three-cone extremist

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