As hard as it is to believe, week 6 is already officially underway. The sample size on the season is growing, and here are a few players to watch in the comes weeks to see how their dynasty value is impacted.
Could Rise: Najee Harris, Running Back Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have committed to having a workhorse back with Harris, and he is heavily featured in the offense. He has been on the field for 87% of the offensive snaps so far in 2021. He is being used in the passing game, where he leads the entire team in targets on the season. The volume is everything players hope for in fantasy. The issue people have with Harris for dynasty is his age, but when it comes to running backs having a workhorse running back for even a three or four-year window is a valuable asset. The Steelers’ offense will possibly go through some changes this offseason, so there is some uncertainty, but combining this volume with the idea of a better offensive line is exciting for fantasy purposes.
Could Fall: Brandon Aiyuk, Wide Receiver San Francisco 49ers
After a showing promise as a rookie, there were high expectations for Aiyuk coming into 2021. This has led to Aiyuk being one of the biggest disappointments in fantasy football so far. Deebo Samuel has been the man in this offense, out targetting Aiyuk 52 to 15 through five games and how out-snapped him every game. If this is how the 49ers are going to use Aiyuk, his fantasy value drops significantly. He is currently wide received 83 on the season in PPR formats and is unusable unless something changes over the next few weeks.
Could Rise: Diontae Johnson, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers
The wide receiver picture in Pittsburgh becomes a little clearer now that JuJu Smith-Schuster is done for the season, but Johnson was the top target in this offense even before that. In the four games that Johnson has played, he has a 27% target share and is averaging 9.25 targets a game, which includes a game where he only saw two targets against Denver and the team only attempted 25 passes total, the Steelers were in complete control of the game and leaned on Harris instead of the passing game once they pulled ahead. Johnson will continue to see the targets in this offense and produce for fantasy. The Steelers will have a decision to make on Smith-Schuster in the offseason. Johnson’s play the rest of the season could make letting him walk an easier one for the front office.
Could Fall: AJ Brown, Wide Receiver Tennesee Titans
Things have not been going well for teams with Brown on the roster so far this season. He has dealt with an injury, but the numbers were not what many players wanted to see even before that. Brown is young and talented, but his status as a top-five dynasty wide receiver is on shaky ground, pending the next few weeks. There are positive signs in the numbers to indicate things could turn around. His average depth of target is higher than in previous seasons, and if you remove the game he was injured in, he is averaging the same number of targets per game as he did in 2020. Brown needs to get on the field and re-establish a rapport with Tannehill to keep his value from taking a hit as the season goes along.
Could Rise: Ja’Mar Chase, Wide Receiver Cincinnati
The opposite of AJ Brown, Chase is making the case to claim a spot in the top-five dynasty wide receivers. Chase has looked great - he is heavily involved in the offense with a 24.1% target share and is a big-play threat. Passes targetting Chase have a quarterback rating of 148.5, which means the Bengals would be crazy not to continue to look his way. If Chase keeps this up, his name will be in the conversation for the number one overall wide receiver in dynasty leagues. Burrow and Chase appear to have a real connection and could develop into an exciting fantasy stack as they mature together in the NFL.
Could Fall: Miles Sanders, Running Back Philadelphia Eagles
The usage for Sanders is a concern under Sirianni and the new offense of the Eagles. Sanders has only seen 9.5 rushing attempts per game so far in 2021, which is not enough to produce without receiving a significant target volume. Sanders has been involved in the passing game but combined, and he sees a total of 13.3 opportunities a game. Another concern for Sanders is touchdowns - when playing with Hurts, he is missing out on opportunities to score as the Eagles get closer to the end-zone. Hurts has five rushing touchdowns to zero for Sanders. Hurts has more yardage and only four fewer rushing attempts on the season. Looking at the fantasy statistics, Sanders has only outscored the rookie Gainwell by 1.3 points per game on the season in PPR leagues. Things are trending the wrong way for Sanders through six games.
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