If you’re still alive, your lineup is what it is; it’s time to push all of your chips to the middle and hope for the best. As for everyone else? And for that matter the bench space left on the title contenders, for dynasty players it’s time to speculate on guys for 2017. Now, if you haven’t already dug through the bottom of the barrel, earmark this for next year – do this at the beginning of December; not now. Your pickings are likely slim at this point, but they’re much more plentiful closer to Thanksgiving. Below are a few players at each position to consider for that late season dart throw.
Plan A – Tom Savage, Houston. Could the Texans acquire someone like Tony Romo in the offseason? Sure, but given their record they will almost certainly not be acquiring a ready-made quarterback via the draft. Between that and Brock Osweiler being predictably terrible, Savage makes for a very interesting late season gamble. He’s starting Week 16 and another performance like last week and he may be the lead guy the rest of the way, which could include some action in January.
Plan B – Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay. Jimmy Garoppolo is a popular name being thrown around quarterback circles, but he is still under New England control for another year; Glennon’s a free agent. It’s been a while since he’s been on the quarterback map, last starting a game in 2014. That said, the quarterback market appears rather bleak this year for those in need. The most interesting ones ‘available’ are under contract and the market appears cool on the incoming rookie class. Odds are Glennon will get a shot and it’s not like he was bad when given a chance before – 59% comp%, 30:15 TD:INT ratio. Give him a coach with a history of developing quarterbacks and his stock will start to trend up.
Plan A – Cameron Artis-Payne, Carolina. He’s spent a large portion of this season inactive, but in his one game cameo with Jonathan Stewart on the shelf he put up 85 yards and scored twice. With Stewart headed towards the wrong side of 30, an opportunity may still be there for Artis-Payne. It’s clear the Panthers like Mike Tolbert in a complementary role, but with Fozzy Whittaker an unrestricted free agent, an offseason of inactivity at the position may open up that window of opportunity.
Plan B – Andre Ellington, Arizona. The emergence of David Johnson phased Ellington out of the offense, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t replicate his first two seasons in the league (1,000+ yards, a handful of touchdowns, and a focal point in the pass game) in a different environment.
Plan A – Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota. It’s clear his future is not with the Vikings, but he showed enough when given the opportunity this year that he still has the ability to be a starting receiver on the right team. Is there one out there? And will they use him properly? Who knows, but that’s why he’s just 23% owned on MFL in December. He never learned the intricacies of the position in Minnesota, but he showed this year that his raw skills have not diminished. Sometimes all a player needs to thrive is a change of scenery.
Plan B – Braxton Miller, Houston. There are some parallels here to the player listed under plan A. He also did what Terrelle Pryor should have done a half decade sooner – switched positions. It wasn’t a great debut for Miller, but to be fair, no one really expected it either. This was only his second season spent as a wide receiver after all. Will Fuller is the deep threat, but he’s limited beyond that. The Texans are still searching for that third wheel in the passing game to complement DeAndre Hopkins and Miller has the raw tools to be that guy. We’ll see if a full offseason in an NFL program can develop them.
This is not a deep position. Once you get deep enough into the TE2’s it’s full of a bunch of veterans like Vernon Davis and Dwayne Allen that play enough to start this year, but aren’t good enough for you to want to rely on in the future. There’s a big pile of athletes below this that have opportunities to create more playing time for themselves, but in all likelihood it won’t be to start 2017. My strategy? Ensure a starter and a competent veteran backup then fill all remaining bench spots with these guys then defer decision making about what to do with them until later. In order:
At this point in the season you are not likely to uncover many current depth chart casualties that are just waiting for their opportunity. There are a few possibilities like Vince Williams waiting to see if Pittsburgh moves on from Lawrence Timmons. Or Derrick Kindred in Cleveland wondering if his spot will be taken by one of the seemingly dozens of draft picks the team possesses, but the real gold in this batch is trying to uncover the 2016 Khalil Mack. A forgotten IDP player his first two years who was reclassified to a DE during the offseason and has emerged to produce numbers comparable to J.J. Watt. Now, we don’t expect anyone from this list to put up numbers resembling Mack, but they could quickly emerge from being an after thought at LB to a stud DE.
Chandler Jones – Former DE, soon to be free agent’s home is unknown, which could lead to some IDP-goodness.
Vic Beasley – The most likely candidate to follow the Mack path as he lined up more as a DE than LB this year, which makes his reclass this past offseason from DE to LB all the more head scratching.
Jadeveon Clowney – Not as likely to be reclassified as Beasley, but with Watt down he was asked to play more DE than LB and responded with his best season to date. Even if Watt does return, there’s a good bet Clowney remains on the line rather than being moved back to LB.
Alright, that’s all for this year. It’s been fun and I’ll be back again soon enough, but for now…bring home the trophy this week!