If you’ve started the season 3-1 or even 4-0, congratulations! You probably have a pretty strong dynasty roster and haven’t been too badly affected by injuries, holdouts, or suspensions. If you’re a savvy dynasty player (and you are, because you consume content from DFF!), you should be looking to strengthen and add depth to your roster for the playoff push in the coming weeks.
NFL teams have the next man up mentality, and you need to have the same kind of depth for your dynasty rosters if you want to take home championships.
Using strength of schedule, we can identify players who should be able to help you out over the home stretch and into the playoffs. It’s even better if those players are on teams who have started the season worse than .500% and with no improvement in sight. For fantasy purposes, we are a third of the way through the season and can use this opportunity to “help” weaker teams by selling them the allure and promise of shiny new draft picks.
Using Warren Sharp’s fantastic Sharp Football Stats I have identified five teams who have a strong strength of schedule (SOS) against the pass, rush, or both from Weeks 8-16 of the NFL season:
I have chosen a player from each of these teams, who should be available to acquire relatively cheaply, and may e even cheaper to acquire than they were at the start of the season.
The future HOF has struggled in the first few weeks of the season and has dealt with a nagging hamstring injury. Not only that, Sam Bradford was woeful in the first three weeks. Fortunately, Josh Rosen seems to have given the offense at least a small spark, but Fitzgerald has yet to post his usual reliable low-end WR1 to high-end WR2 numbers. He is currently averaging 35 yards per game and has yet to score a touchdown. The general stench around the offense should make him cheap to acquire, and he has a fantastic schedule for the second half of the season. He’s 35 years old, and this could be the last bit of juice that we see from Fitzgerald. Acquire him cheaply, and enjoy it whilst it lasts.
Baldwin had his first catches of the season in Week 4 after returning from an MCL sprain in his right knee and missed the entire preseason with an issue in his left knee which will keep him at “about 80-85%” for the remainder of the season. At 29 years old, and with multiple knee issues, owners might be willing to cut bait at a discounted price. His return should help lift the entire struggling Seattle offense, and Baldwin has the upside to finish the season as a WR2.
His production over the past three seasons speaks for itself, and the company he shares with at least 200 catches, 3,000 receiving yards, and 25 touchdowns is nothing short of elite:
Once he is back on the field, Baldwin’s history tells us that he will produce. Production that should be bolstered by playing against the 5th best passing SOS.
Not all trade targets need to be old men (sorry Larry and Doug), but Crowder was a preseason darling based the expectation that Alex Smith would pepper him with targets. That is yet to eventuate, but I remain confident in Crowder’s talent. His slow start to the season provides a buy-low window as his ADP has dropped from 69 to 81. The Redskins have faced a tough opening three-game slate, with the 29th most difficult SOS through the first four weeks of the season. There is room for this offense to improve, and I like Crowder’s odds of being a part of that.
Funchess is consistently undervalued WR, but he is particularly useful when Greg Olsen is not playing. If you didn’t hear, Olsen suffered another foot injury, re-breaking the one that was surgically repaired last season. He’s trying to return later on in the year, but I wouldn’t bank on it. When Olsen doesn’t play, Funchess produces. Using the RotoViz Game splits app, we can see that over the last three seasons, his fantasy output has doubled without Olsen on the field.
His average of 14.46 ppg would put him inside the top 30 of WRs on a point per game basis through the first four weeks of the season, and he should have no worries maintaining that pace during Weeks 8 – 16 when the Panthers have the 11th best SOS against the pass.
I wrote about Collins in an earlier piece for DFF which you can find here. He hasn’t had the hottest start to the season, and owners may be starting to lose faith. Buck Allen has had one more Redzone carry than him (8-7), but surprisingly Collins has 1 more target inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. Overall, Collins has 55 opportunities (carries + targets) to Allen’s 45, so whilst he is in a timeshare which caps his upside, he sees enough volume to produce low-end RB2 numbers.
If you’re able to work a deal for him, I am still confident in the ability he has shown during the back end of the 2017 season and the start of the 2018 season. The return of cornerback Jimmy Smith should also help bolster their pass defense, and give the Ravens greater opportunities for positive game scripts which should benefit Collins. The Ravens have the second-best SOS against the run in the second half of the season – put yourself in a position to take advantage of this sooner rather than later.
Joe Flacco, Michael Crabtree, and John Brown are all very much in play too during this period and all outside the top 100 in ADP.
You can find me on Twitter @FF_DownUnder and let me know if you’re able to work a deal for any of the guys discussed in this article!