Finally, training camps and preseason football are underway. After many long, painful months, dynasty league owners are finally getting a chance to see their teams and players take to the field. Over the coming few weeks, teams will reveal their depth charts ahead of the NFL regular season, and all of our off-season sleepers and deep dives will have defined roles on their respective clubs. Of course, not all of these players that we have fallen in love with over the spring and summer months will necessarily be given quality spots on their respective teams. Some will fall victim to the dreaded roster cuts, others will become salary cap casualties, or be passed over on the depth chart due to a poor preseason showing. While a few may end up fortunate enough to be stashed on a taxi squad, the reality is not every player you drafted or stashed is destined for fantasy production. It’s essentially a numbers game, as there are only 32 teams and only a certain number of fantasy-viable roles available on offense. In this article, I’m going to look at six players who seem destined to be after-thoughts on their teams, and thus could benefit from a fresh start or change of scenery, in hopes of revitalizing their fantasy value. I’ll even speculate as to ideal landing spot scenarios for each of these players for you to envision and get your hopes up!
I’ll kick things off with one who’s disappointment hits pretty close to home, Minnesota wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell’s struggles are well known around the dynasty football community. Originally selected by the Vikings with the 23rd overall selection of the 2016 NFL draft, he was highly coveted in rookie drafts ,ranking as the rookie 1.02 and 26th player selected overall in the August 2016 ADP data at DLF. Three very discouraging seasons later - coupled with the emergence of stud receiving duo Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs - has Treadwell languishing in dynasty and NFL purgatory. After having his fifth-year contract option (thankfully) declined, he is scheduled to become a free agent at season’s end, assuming he even remains on the team that long. Things have gotten so bad for the 6’2 215lb 24 year old that he wasn’t even ranked in the latest ADP which covers nearly 300 players. According to the latest reports from camp, UDFA Chad Beebe has actually overtaken Treadwell on the depth chart. Simply put, Laquon Treadwell’s value to the Vikings could not be any lower. Though he has shown some minor improvements in each of his past three seasons, he simply has not done enough to merit a role in this offense. I very much doubt Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman can get anything other than a conditional late-round pick for him at this point, though I suspect with his draft pedigree, he would be scooped up as a flier by another organization if cut loose or waived prior to the season beginning. A well-established mature team with a winning culture and receiver depth question marks like the Patriots would make a lot of sense as a potential landing spot. New England has done a fairly good job on these reclamation projects in recent years, with players such as Philip Dorsett and former Viking Cordarelle Patterson. Could coach Bill Belichek work his magic and breathe some life into Treadwell’s fledgling career?
Did you know Ito Smith’s real name is ‘Romarius’? I certainly didn’t until I began researching this article. One thing I do know about the 2018 fourth round Atlanta Falcon running back is that he has not taken advantage of multiple tremendous opportunities presented to him. Last season, starting running back Devonta Freeman was lost for the year following Week 5 surgery, leaving Tevin Coleman and little else on the depth chart at the position. Smith hardly wowed in the de-facto number two role, managing a meager 315 yards on 90 rushing attempts and four touchdowns. He did add 27 receptions for an additional 152 yards, but the numbers weren’t what fantasy owners - not to mention the Falcons coaching staff - were hoping for. Freeman has returned healthy for the 2019 offseason program but Coleman departed via free agency, leaving Smith to battle with power-back Brian Hill and incoming fifth-round rookie Qadree Ollison for the secondary running back role on the depth chart. According to training camp reports, as well as based on a review of the Falcons’ preseason action to date, Smith has struggled to separate from his competition while Hill has actually impressed coaches and pundits thus far. Ollison seems ticketed for the “big back” or short-yardage specialist of the group, meaning the “Tevin Coleman” role is still up for grabs. The longer Smith struggles to pull ahead in his battle with Hill and company, however, the more likely it becomes he will struggle to find meaningful fantasy relevance this season. The Falcons are certainly a “win now” type of team, so there is even the possibility they trade for or sign a veteran complement to solidify the backfield behind Freeman (more of this later in the article), rendering Smith nearly irrelevant in fantasy circles.
A change of scenery could help put the 23 year old’s career back on track in a hurry if the right situation presented itself. Landing with a run-focused offense like the division rival Carolina Panthers, to spell some of the workload from stud back Christian McCaffrey would certainly be interesting. Recent reports have circulated that the Panthers are seeking to lessen CMC's load this coming season, and an all-purpose capable back like Smith may be able to take on that type of role. The issue here would be if Ito Smith couldn’t take this role in Atlanta, does he have enough talent to take a similar role in Carolina?
Josh Reynolds has shown flashes of potential at the NFL level over the past two seasons, teasing dynasty owners with glimpses of what could be. Selected in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, the Los Angeles Rams’ receiver depth chart is simply too crowded for the 6’3 196 lb 24 year old to make a consistent impact. Over 32 games, Reynolds sports career totals of 40 receptions, 506 yards, and 6 touchdowns. The Rams return the same offensive weapons that helped them win the NFC last season before ultimately losing in the Super Bowl to New England. Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and a now healthy Cooper Kupp are all set in their respective roles on the depth chart, while tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett are also around to draw targets. Even running backs Todd Gurley and incoming rookie Darrell Henderson have proven or are rumored to be capable pass-catching options. Simply put, even if an unfortunate injury were to occur elsewhere, the Rams’ incredible depth of talent leaves little room for Reynolds to find a path to fantasy relevance. Entering the third year of his rookie contract, he does remain under affordable team control through 2020, though nearly all of the other receiving weapons are also locked up long-term. Perhaps an injury happens at a less-deep position on the Super Bowl contending Rams? Suddenly they find themselves scrambling to fill a roster spot during the early stages of the season. Could a receiver-needy team come to the rescue offering to trade depth at a defensive position for a player like Reynolds? I know the Cincinnati Bengals could certainly use some receiver depth with starting wideout A.J. Green likely to miss games, leaving them with little depth beyond Tyler Boyd. Remember, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor was with Reynolds and the Rams the past two seasons, even serving as the wide receivers coach Reynolds’ rookie year. A new coaching staff facing a potential rebuild could use a player of Josh Reynolds’ proven talent, while a frugal ownership group may be enticed by the low salary for another two seasons.
Ask anyone who knows me who the first player they think of as “my guy” when it comes to football and they will immediately tell you about my original bold “flag” player and 2017 offseason man-crush, Paul Perkins (Editor’s Note: I tried to talk him out of it). I spent a good amount of time leading the Paul Perkins hype-train that offseason only to be immediately crushed and disappointed when he inevitably fell flat on his face. The Giants moved on the following season, selecting super-stud Saquon Barkley, Perkins was waived and reverted to injured reserve, and was quickly forgotten. Seeing as my closest friends and associates are jerks, they take great joy in constantly reminded of how wrong I was about Perkins. I was understandably shocked to hear that Perkins was not only still in the league, but has a legitimate shot at winning the number two running back role in New York behind Barkley after a strong preseason and training camp. The victim in this situation is unfortunately former 2017 fourth-round pick Wayne Gallman. Through two seasons in the league, Gallman has managed a respectable though unspectacular 162 rushing attempts, 652 yards, and 1 rushing touchdown, as well as 48 receptions for an additional 282 yards and a receiving score. Those 48 receptions, combined with his 4.0 yards per carry average are not flashy by any means, but good enough to show he is a capable change of pace running back at the professional level. At 6’0 216lbs, the 24 year old certainly seems to have the build to take on the pounding demanded by playing the position, though a recent foot injury which may cause him to miss valuable practice reps coupled with reports of being hampered by drops put his future on the roster in jeopardy. Should Gallman not survive final cuts, I feel a great fit/opportunity would be with the suddenly-loaded Cleveland Browns. Due to the recent trade of Duke Johnson to the Texans, and with Kareem Hunt’s eight game suspension looming, what better landing spot could there be for the versatile runner? Gallman would have an eight game opportunity to show he belongs on the roster and to carve out a role for himself even when Hunt returns, while also not posing a realistic threat to incumbent starter Nick Chubb’s workload.
It shames me to admit that I can’t even name more than four receivers on my own favorite team, the Minnesota Vikings, yet I can name multiple depth receivers on their bitter rival Green Bay Packers. Standing 6’3 and weighing 205 lbs, J’Mon Moore was a dynasty depth player with upside just one short year ago when he was being selected in the early third round of rookie drafts and 78th overall amongst wide receivers. Drafted in the fourth round, 133rd overall by Green Bay in 2018, Moore’s path to playing time was pretty obvious. He simply had to outperform an at-that-point unspectacular Geronimo Allison while holding off fellow inbound rookies Marquez Valdes-Scantling (fifth round), Equanimeous St-Brown (sixth) and Jake Kumerow (undrafted). If he could do that, he would seemingly be the secondary receiver behind uber-talented Davante Adams, catching passes from future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Dynasty owners were salivating at the possibility of getting a potential goldmine with a late rookie pick. Unfortunately for Moore and dynasty owners alike, things just never seemed to materialize that way. Allison went on to have a career-best season, while all three other rookies passed Moore on the depth chart with ease, each showing flashes of potential and pro-ready ability. Meanwhile, Moore was limited to 12 games catching a measly 2 passes for 15 scoreless yards. While the Packers haven’t added any new bodies to the receiver room via the draft or free agency this offseason, they did add a pair of undrafted free agents in Darrius Shepherd and Malik Taylor, while former Jacksonville practice squad member Allen Lazard is also still on the roster. Unless Moore shines in the remaining preseason games, he is in very real danger of being cut. Should this happen, there are a number of teams who could take a dart through on adding affordable depth to their receiver corps. A young, upcoming team such as the Baltimore Ravens could make a lot of sense as a landing spot. Second-year quarterback Lamar Jackson could use all the weapons he can get if he hopes to establish himself as a legitimate passing threat, though thus far it seems free agent talent has been reluctant to sign with the run-heavy Ravens squad. Baltimore instead addressed it’s lack of receiver depth through the draft, adding unproven rookies Marquise Brown and Myles Boykin. There is certainly opportunity for J’Mon Moore to join this team and earn a role in the offense.