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Dynasty Fantasy Football: Biggest Risers In Value From Wild Card Weekend

Ted takes a look at the biggest winners in Dynasty fantasy football value from the first week of the NFL playoffs.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 10: Puka Nacua #17 of the Los Angeles Rams celebrates a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field on September 10, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

With the end of the NFL regular season (actually with the end of Week 17, unless your league is crazy enough to continue into Week 18) comes the end of the fantasy football season. Even though the most important real-life football of the year has yet to be played, fantasy banners have already been hung. Toilet bowls have been flushed.

However, while playing in the playoffs doesn’t score fantasy points, playoff performances can have a huge impact on the perception and, in turn, Dynasty values of players. In fact, despite not counting at all for fantasy purposes, an individual playoff game will have much more impact on a player’s stock than a random Sunday afternoon game in October. The combination of recency bias, every game being in prime time (or at least the only one airing at a given time), and, frankly, the overblown narratives that come with playoff success or lack thereof mean a single performance can drastically alter a player’s Dynasty stock. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the players who rose their stocks the most on Wild Card Weekend.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Wild Card Weekend Risers 

Puka Nacua

Yes, the Rams lost, but Nacua finished his already record-breaking rookie season with a bang, catching nine of 10 targets for 181 yards and a touchdown. In his playoff debut, the fifth-rounder out of BYU showcased the same route-running ability, contested catch skills, and explosiveness with the ball in his hands that made him the most productive rookie receiver of all time. Doing all this on Sunday night in what was pretty much the only close game of the weekend was surely a massive boost to his already high fantasy stock.

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However, even with his value at a new peak, I’m still buying on Puka. After all, I just told you he was the most productive rookie receiver of all time, yet he is still “just” the Dynasty WR5 according to everyone’s favorite Dynasty rankings, KeepTradeCut (KTC has its problems, but it’s a very good tool for gauging the general market). Don’t get me wrong, there are some reasons for slight concern with Nacua. For one, his numbers were much better when Cooper Kupp was off the field: 19.0 Half-PPR points per game on 13.0 targets per game compared to just 13.2 points on 8.4 targets with the veteran. For another, Matthew Stafford (soon to be 36 years old) has a history of helping his WRs produce elite numbers — remember Kenny Golladay?

Those issues, combined with the fact that Puka was a relatively unheralded prospect, are enough that it’s reasonable not to anoint Puka as a top-tier Dynasty WR just yet … but he’s close. After all, Nacua is not Golladay: He posted an elite 90.1 PFF offense grade this season. Not only is that well clear of Golladay’s career-high mark (81.6), it’s better than those of Ja’Marr Chase (85.3) and Garrett Wilson (82.7). Puka is the real deal, and I’m happy to trade for him at anything less than truly elite prices.

Jordan Love

This one is obvious. After a roller-coaster of a season, Jordan Love has been on fire recently, and dropping 272 yards and three TDs on the Cowboys on Sunday has cemented him as one of the most valuable assets in all of Dynasty.  

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Just like Nacua, Love’s stock is now at an all-time high. However, unlike with Nacua, I’m not still actively looking to trade for the third-year QB. This isn’t to say I think he’s going to regress or that you should rush to move him if he is already on your roster. But I think Love’s hot streak (and the Packers’ corresponding win streak, which has had a lot more impact on his fantasy market value than it should) has brought his value a bit high for what he actually is. Love is currently ranked as the Dynasty QB9; every player above him either has multiple truly game-changing fantasy seasons (22+ points per game) under their belt, is a 21 or 22-year-old rookie, or is Joe Burrow (who is arguably overrated in his own right, but that’s another conversation). Love, meanwhile, averaged “just” 19.4 fantasy points per game this season, and while it was his first season as a starter, it was the 25-year-old’s third year in the league, which does matter.

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Love looks set up to be a fantasy QB1 for the next decade, but I’m not convinced he has a league-winning ceiling. He doesn’t add much value with his legs (he averaged just 14.5 yards per game on the ground this season), which is becoming more and more essential for top-tier fantasy production with the rise of two-high safety coverages. For what it’s worth, Love is not necessarily alone in this bucket: Similar arguments could be made against fellow Wild Card standout C.J. Stroud, who has risen all the way to rank as the Dynasty QB3 despite averaging just 18.7 points per game … but I’m willing to give Stroud a bit more benefit of the doubt as a rookie who just turned 22. When it comes to Love, I’d rank him as more of a “hold” than anything else, as he seems set to be the third straight franchise QB to take the reigns in Green Bay, but might not ever be a game-changing fantasy option.

Nico Collins

Where Nacua is a sensation at the WR position and Love is a third-year breakout, Collins is both. The 2021 third-rounder finished outside the top 70 fantasy WRs in each of his first two seasons but exploded this season to the tune of a WR6 per-game finish in Half-PPR. However, Collins’ Dynasty value was capped for much of the season by the fact that he wasn’t the only breakout WR on his team, as Tank Dell also posted incredible numbers. In fact, as recently as January 10 (after the regular season but before the Texans’ Wild Card game), the rookie ranked as the WR14 to Collins’ WR17 on KTC.

Unfortunately, Dell has been out since early in Week 13 with a broken fibula, opening the door for Collins to change the narrative. And he did just that with his performance against the Browns, as he caught six of seven targets for 96 yards and a touchdown against the league’s number-one defense. According to KTC, he is now the clear WR1 in Houston, ranking as the Dynasty WR11 compared to WR19 for Dell.

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Seeing this, my first instinct was to label Collins a sell candidate. There’s a very easy argument to be made for it: Collins is benefitting from playoff hype labeling him and Stroud the next elite WR/QB duo, but he’s not even guaranteed to be Stroud’s top target when Dell returns next year.

However, I don’t think things are quite that simple. For one, Collins’ numbers don’t look that different when Dell is around. In seven healthy games where Dell played less than 50% of snaps, Collins averaged 16.3 Half-PPR points on 8.3 targets per game. When Dell did play over half of the Texans’ snaps, Nico averaged 15.5 points on 7.4 targets per game. Obviously, his numbers without Dell are better, but not by that much. More importantly, Collins is 24 years old (soon to be 25), tied to an elite young quarterback, and playing like a top-tier wide receiver, no matter how you slice it. If you like to judge players based on underlying stats, he was second to only Tyreek Hill in yards per route run with a blistering 3.17. If you prefer film, he ranked third to only Hill and Brandon Aiyuk with an incredible 91.3 PFF offense grade. Yes, the return of Dell may cut into his volume, but I simply am not going to recommend moving away from a receiver like that in Dynasty … especially one who isn’t ranked in the top 10 at the position. He’s a strong hold, if not a sneaky “buy-high” candidate. 

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