Welcome to the 2022 Dynasty Football Week 8 Stock Watch article.
One single week in the NFL is often the definition of overreaction theater, much less the week-to-week game of fantasy. Each player has data from which we draw conclusions. We are forced to use that information to make decisions moving forward. And we are especially vulnerable in the first few weeks since we have had no game action for eight months.
We tend to evaluate each week's fantasy performances thinking about the short term. What does the data tell us about what to expect for a defined period of time, or for the rest of the season? But we can also draw conclusions from a longer-term Dynasty perspective.
Who saw their stock rise based on usage or opportunity in Week 7? Who saw it fall due to their own performance or lack of usage? Let’s dive in and find out.
2022 Dynasty Football Week 8 Stock Watch
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Travis Etienne's rise to a potential top ten running back moved faster than Urban Meyer trying to pick up a co-ed. After completely dominating the snaps on Sunday (80%), James Robinson was traded to the running-back needy New York Jets after they lost rookie Breece Hall to an ACL tear.
Something must have been going on behind the scenes here to see this swift of a changing of the running back guard. Robinson was seeing almost 60% of the snaps as recently as Week 3, and had an even split with Etienne in Week 6. But no matter the circumstances that led to Robinson's departure, Etienne now assumes a full-blow bell-cow role. And he is about to trample over his opponents in real life and in fantasy football.
Etienne already ranks first among running backs in yards per touch (6.9). That stat is fueled by his 10.8 yards per reception (third overall) and 10.3% breakaway run rate (10th overall). Now with 75%-80% of the snaps coming his way weekly, only injury can stop the former first round pick from finishing with first round value for the rest of the season.
Eno Benjamin was the first player on our Dynasty Stash List from this last offseason, and he is now getting to show why with the rib injury to James Connor. Connor will surely be back stealing snaps and goal-line touches in the next week or two, but for a long-term dynasty perspective, Benjamin is showing he can withstand the rigors of being a more full-time back.
In his last two games, Benjamin has rushed for 129 yards over 27 carries and scored one touchdown. He also caught seven of eight targets for another 49 receiving yards. That's 24.8 PPR points for two weeks, which is excellent for a third-string backup who was available to everyone on the redraft waiver wire at the beginning of the year.
In addition to his speed and explosiveness, Benjamin's best asset has been his pass-catching ability. He ranks 15th among backs in both targets and receiving yards despite playing less than 40% of the snaps for the first four weeks of the season. Even when Connor comes back, Benjamin will have value, but he is earning himself a contract right now with just one and a half years to go until free agency.
Michael Carter catches the bad end of the "equal and opposite reaction" part of the James Robinson trade to the New York Jets. For about 24 hours, it looked like Carter would assume a bell-cow role again for the Jets, and fantasy managers were salivating at him on all their waiver wires. But now the best case scenario is a messy time share with Robinson that threatens to devalue them both.
Carter, of course, was already being phased out in place of Breece Hall. His snap share dropped from 60% in Weeks 1 and 2 to just under 50% in Weeks 4-6. His rush attempts plummeted to just six in Week 6 before assuming the full-time role after Hall left with injury in Week 7. Carter was still seeing a few targets every week while the Hall ascension was unfolding, so maybe that will be his primary role in the offense now: a change of pace back who gets a few targets on obvious passing downs.
But for now, we can just be thankful that this trade didn't come down on Wednesday after we all blew our respective FAAB dollars on a guy destined to still be a backup.
Take a look at Diontae Johnson's typical under-the-hood stats and you would think there isn't really any problem. He has more than 10 targets in five of seven games. His aDOT is a career-high 10.3 yards. His drop percentage is a career low 3% (remember the Diontae Johnson drops narrative?). He is a top-15 wide receiver with a 27.1% target share as well. All is good, right?
Not so fast my friend.
Johnson hasn't scored yet this season, which is an issue in fantasy, but we think that should normally regress. The problem is Johnson would actually need to get red zone targets to score. His five targets inside the 20 yard line rank 33rd among all wide receivers. When we filter more to inside the 10-yard line, we see that Johnson only has one target in that area, where he is tied for 56th among receivers.
Johnson's catch rate has plummeted to 56% this year on the back of some truly terrible quarterback play from Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett. Despite a career-high in aDOT, he has a career-low in yards per reception.
Plus, George Pickens is becoming the favorite target for Kenny Pickett since the quarterback change. Pickens has caught nine of 12 targets the last two weeks for 88 yards and a score. Despite playing far fewer snaps, Pickens has just two fewer red zone targets.
The quarterback swap may not be the only thing changing in this offense for 2022. Diontae Johnson will still have his days, but George Pickens is evolving into the WR1.
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