By: Andrew Metcalfe (@drewmet_FF)
Is it Time to Rebuild?
We are nearly halfway through the 2021 Fantasy Football regular season (I can’t believe it either!), so now is the time to take a hard look at your Dynasty roster. If you are one or two pieces away from making a push for the title, then go for it! But some of us are forced to give up hope for our teams this season, meaning it’s time for the infamous “Rebuild”.
Going into a Dynasty “rebuild” entails trading off older players for youth and future rookie picks. This also leads to your team performing worse for the remainder of the season and ensures that you secure an early rookie draft position, giving you a better chance to draft high quality rookies that could turn things around for your squad. Below, I’ll discuss a few options that you should consider if you are filing it in for 2021. These players likely won’t do much for you this season, but have major potential for future production and won’t cost you much, if anything, today.
Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears TE
Everyone wants a member of the “Big 3” Tight Ends for fantasy (Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, George Kittle) and there has been plenty of hype around up-and-comers like Noah Fant and TJ Hockenson. Eventually, the top of the TE landscape is going to shift due to guys getting older. One young tight end that doesn’t get talked about enough is Cole Kmet.
Kmet was a second-round rookie pick by the Chicago Bears last season. He was the only tight end drafted within the first two rounds and has the highest NFL.COM prospect grade of the class (a film grade assigned to each incoming rookie that has a solid track record in predicting success). Sitting behind Jimmy Graham for most of his rookie season, Kmet came on strong towards the end of the year with six targets or more in 4 out of the last 5 games.
Coming into 2021, most were surprised that the team kept Jimmy Graham and his $7 million 2021 cap hit on the roster. It caused some concern that he would hold Kmet back for another year, but Cole has operated as the teams’ lead TE every week so far. In the last four weeks, he’s played 80%+ of snaps and been a focal point on the offense along with Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney. His lack of fantasy production is due to the struggles of the offense, as a whole.
Through six weeks, Chicago has scored the third-fewest points on the season and is bottom five in third-point conversion percentage. While I don’t expect them to become an offensive juggernaut this year, they should end up as a near-average offense once David Montgomery returns and Justin Fields gets more acquainted with the system. Kmet has a 16.6% target share on the season, which is the tenth highest among tight ends. If he can maintain that while the offense improves, he will find himself in the TE1 conversation sooner than later.
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles RB
Each of the top three running backs from the 2019 class (David Montgomery, Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs) have had roller coaster starts to their careers. They’ve seen highs and lows in fantasy value over their first 2+ seasons, but Miles Sanders is the biggest question mark right now.
The Eagles released running backs Jordan Howard and Kerryon Johnson shortly before the season, which helped clear a path for Sanders to see a boost in touches. With only Boston Scott and fifth-round rookie Kenneth Gainwell to compete with, I thought Sanders would be a huge value in drafts. Instead, it turns out that new head coach Nick Sirianni is not a fan of running the ball. The Eagles are bottom four in rush attempts per game this season and Sanders has seen double-digit carries only once since Week 2.
Sanders still looks like the dynamic runner that we know him to be with the fifth-most breakaway runs (15+ yards), eleventh-most yards created per touch (credit: PlayerProfiler), and a healthy 4.7 yards per carry on the season. He has also been targeted often as a receiver, as his 23 targets rank eleventh among all running backs. The problem is a lack of balance on offense. This is something that must be fixed or Sirianni won’t last long. Sanders is still young enough at 24 years old, that a rebuilding team can acquire him while his value is at an all-time low and wait for his situation to improve. Whether that’s a change in philosophy, coach, or team once he becomes a free agent after the 2022 season. Better days are ahead for Miles Sanders.
Quintez Cephus, Detroit Lions WR
This one is more of a “deep stash” player since he’s probably on waivers in your league, but Quintez Cephus is someone we shouldn’t forget about. It was devastating to see his second year cut short when he broke his collarbone in Week 5, sending him to season-ending IR. I’m sure that many fantasy managers were quick to drop him and move on, but a rebuilding team should consider picking him up and holding him.
No one wanted anything to do with the Lions’ wide receiver group, heading into the season. There was some buzz around their rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown, but the overall stench of a Jared Goff-led Detroit offense turned many folks off completely. Six weeks into the season, the doubts have been justified as Goff has looked awful over the last few games. Cephus was one of the few bright spots on the team and began to emerge as a legit receiving option for Goff. He saw 13 targets in the first two weeks and put up 83 yards against the Bears in his last full game which was in Week 4.
We can’t say for sure that Cephus was on his way to a breakout, but he sure looked the part of the Detroit WR#1 for most of the season. Currently rostered in just 10-percent of Sleeper leagues, there is a good chance you can pick up Cephus off waivers and stash him in an IR spot. His collarbone isn’t anything to worry about long-term and he will likely be 100% healthy for the start of camp in 2022.