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!
Now that we have seen a two-game sample, are there any position battles still weighing on your brain?
Joshua Johnson – The Rams are having an internal struggle with Cory Littleton vs Mark Barron. With Alec Ogletree holding the fort at the other ILB spot, Barron seemed like the natural choice. However, Littleton was the rumored starter for much of the preseason. Ultimately, Barron started and saw 100% of the snaps in week one. Yet, somehow, Littleton (on just nine snaps) out-tackled Barron 2-to-1 in the opening weekend. Week two somewhat cleared things up, as the percentage was split 96% (Barron) to 4% (Littleton). Barron also dropped 10 tackles, and I definitely breathed a sigh of relief. However, the converted DB Barron is playing a new position this season after playing 4-3 OLB for the last couple of years. Not to mention, the new coaching staff loves the 2016 UDFA Littleton. Barron also has a history of not getting along with others. I am ultra-focused on what Littleton is doing every week because any ILB is IDP viable with enough snaps.
John Hogue – The Seattle running backs: It sure looks like Chris Carson has the lead back role locked up after getting 20 carries in Week 2 and was on the field late in the Seahawks’ come-from-behind win over San Francisco. To put that kind of trust in a rookie is a big statement by head coach Pete Carroll, and it appears to be a signal that Carson is the feature back going forward. But this was a crowded backfield during training camp before Carson was on anybody’s radar. Now we’re supposed to believe that last year’s breakout star C.J. Prosise is strictly a pass-catching, change of pace back? And 2015 breakout star Thomas Rawls is a benchwarmer? And high-profile free agent signing Eddie Lacy won’t even suit up for the Seahawks going forward? It all feels very suspect and maybe even ill-advised to trust. Carson looked great in the preseason, and seems like he is pulling away from those bigger names he just leapfrogged in the last month, but I need more evidence that the position battle has been won. I’m suspicious of a committee approach later in the season.
John Orr – My eyeballs have been focused on the D Henry and D Murray carry split so far. Thought we would see the passing of the torch to Henry early on; he did get more production and touches this past week. I have a few shares of Henry stock and have been waiting for him to take on a larger role. With the hammy issues Murray has been dealing with, perhaps Henry will now own this backfield.
Shaun Laibe – When Corey Coleman broke his hand, landing him on the IR, the job of leading the Cleveland Browns receiving core went up for grabs. Kenny Britt is coming off a 1,000-yard season with the Rams and was expected to step in where Terrelle Pryor left off. Instead, Britt has struggled to get open, often due to his general lack of effort. That leaves the competition between Rashard Higgins, Ricardo Lewis, Kasen Williams, and Sammie Coates. Higgins, aka “Hollywood Higgins,” was just called up from the practice squad and looked like a monster running out of the slot against the Ravens in Week 2. He did not disappoint, catching 7 of 11 targets for 95 yards. Lewis, Williams, and Coates will get plenty of snaps as well, but I do not have faith that any will be able to produce like Hollywood Higgins.
Who’s start to the season is the most “Surprising” Andy Dalton’s, Trevor Siemian’s or Carson Wentz’s?
Joshua Johnson – Siemian has been impressive so far, but we have seen him do this in spots before. This is also not the first two-game stretch where Dalton has come under major scrutiny. Wentz and his new weapons have been shockingly effective. I really expected some kind of sophomore slump to start the season. I certainly did not expect back-to-back 300 performances. He had four total 300 yards games as a rookie, and he didn’t have back-to-back such performances until weeks 12 & 13, which were both losses. In fact, only one of his 300-yard games resulted in a win. Yes, they lost to KC last week, and he does have a pair of INTs on the season, but consider he has been sacked eight times while throwing four total TD passes.
John Hogue – It has to be Siemian. In my opinion, Dalton has been spotty throughout his career, so his struggles are nothing new – he’s just getting them out of the way early (against some very good defenses, by the way). Wentz is simply continuing the evolution that began in his rookie season and taking the next step towards becoming an elite NFL and fantasy quarterback (and now he has some weapons, which always helps, too). On the other hand, Siemian nearly lost the starting job to Paxton Lynch in the preseason. Can you imagine!? And now here he is, on a scorch-the-earth campaign in which he’s thrown for six touchdowns and ran for another in the first two games. The Broncos had no choice but to give Siemian the starting job in 2016, he was just that much better than Mark Sanchez. But since then, GM John Elway has been looking for someone – anyone – to come in and outplay Siemian whether it be Lynch, Brock Osweiler, Tony Romo, Colin Kaepernick, AJ McCarron, or even a pipe dream of a megatrade for Andrew Luck. Yet here he is, still the starting quarterback, and through the first two weeks he is the league MVP. That’s extremely unexpected for a guy the organization desperately wanted to move away from a month ago
John Orr – John (the other one) covered this exceptionally well. My surprise of the three is also Trevor Siemian. I’ve been a believer in Paxton Lynch and wanted him to be the starter, but after a couple weeks, Sieman looks like a starting NFL QB. I was not expecting him to play at such a high level.
Shaun Laibe – To me, the biggest surprise has been Andy Dalton. Typically we get a steady mix of “Good Andy” and “Bad Andy.” So far in 2017, we have seen nothing but “Bad Andy”. When you have weapons like AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, and Gio Bernard, the expectation is a high level of point production. Through two games, the Bengals have scored just 9 points and no touchdowns. This poor play has Bengal teammates buzzing about Colin Kaepernick, and fans clamoring for AJ McCarron. Marvin Lewis needs to win now in order to keep his job, so a change at QB might be coming sooner than we think.
Which struggling rookie RB would you rather own the rest of this season, Christian McCaffrey or Joe Mixon?
Joshua Johnson – I own each one, but thankfully not on the same team. Give me Christian McCaffrey, however, mainly because Carolina is the better team (or at least they are currently perceived to be). Cincy is currently horrendous, and if they keep losing, Mixon will need to protected against permanent damage. That means all goal line and work between the tackles will go to free-agent-to-be Jeremy Hill. You may disagree, but the Bengals must protect their future no matter how bleak their QB situation is right now. Furthermore, their offensive line is tragically B-A-D.
John Hogue – I think Mixon has a better chance to finish as an RB1, but I’ll take McCaffrey because his role is defined and his floor is higher. Mixon was on the field for just 22 snaps in Week 1 (36% of Bengals snaps) compared to 29 for Giovani Bernard (48%) and 10 for Jeremy Hill (16%). Mixon was on the field more in Week 2, but it is clear that he’s going to be bogged down in a committee for the foreseeable future. McCaffrey, on the other hand, was on the field for 70% of the Panthers’ snaps in Week 1 and led the team with 20 touches. He wasn’t as involved in Week 2, but he still managed 12 touches, and he’ll be on the field on passing downs. And now McCaffrey’s role increases even further with the news that tight end Greg Olsen will miss significant time with a broken foot. A majority of Olsen’s targets will be funneled to McCaffrey, giving him even more opportunities to 1) catch the ball, and 2) eat up yards after the catch. Both offenses are struggling early in the season, but I view McCaffery as part of the solution for the Panthers, especially as they find themselves in more passing situations. Meanwhile, Mixon will have a difficult time getting on the field with Jeremy Hill contending for work, but the lack of effectiveness of the offense means Bernard will typically out-snap both Mixon and Hill.
John Orr – I am in the Christian McCaffrey fan club. He didn’t look great on the stat sheet against the Bills but looked explosive in the passing game. He was in on pass downs and looked comfortable and effective. The Bengals are a mess on offense and I expect them to get their swag back at some point, but I want McCaffrey here. I’m in full agreement with John Hogue regarding Mixon’s battle for touches. With the more defined role, I go with McCaffrey.
Shaun Laibe – It looks like I’m the lone soldier on the Joe Mixon bandwagon. Mixon was my #1 ranked player in dynasty rookie drafts, and I’m not about to jump ship just yet. After not scoring a TD through the first two weeks, the Bengals fired Ken Zampese and hired Bill Lazor as offensive coordinator. Everything we thought we knew about the Bengal’s gameplan can now be thrown out the window. Marvin Lewis needs to start racking up some wins if he hopes to keep his job beyond this season. That means more targets for AJ Green in addition to playing his best players. Mixon is far and away the running back on this team. I expect his carries to steadily increase as the season goes on.