Welcome to Pope’s Pick 6. Twice a week I’ll be bringing you a quick look at my fantasy football thoughts in quick-hit form. Today: Players who are more valuable in dynasty than redraft right now.

 

When it comes to player value, we always have to take in consideration the format, like scoring system. This is also the case when it comes to the league format, as some players are significantly more valuable in redraft opposed to dynasty, and vice versa. With this in mind, here is a list of six players who have a higher value in dynasty fantasy football as opposed to redraft formats entering this season. 

Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos 

As a rookie, Javonte Williams saw an almost perfect 50/50 split in touches will Melvin Gordon, as Gordon had 231 touches compared to Williams’ 246 (they each had exactly 203 carries). With this, Williams produced 1,219 scrimmage yards and 7 touchdowns, en route to an RB17 finish with 204.9 PPR points. Using FTN’s elusive rate tool, we can see he was tied for fourth in the NFL with 62 forced missed tackles and earned an 81.2 elusive rate, third among running backs with at least 200 attempts in 2021. All impressive marks for a rookie, leaving many people clamoring for him to have a solo role in 2022. Those hopes took a hit when the team brought Gordon back for at least one more season. Although he is 29 years old, Gordon still looked impressive last season, producing 919 yards on the ground and creating 23 runs of 10-plus yards. 

Maybe Williams gets a greater share of the touches this year, but it’s still likely something close to an even split, meaning the second-year Williams will have a tough path to producing the high-end fantasy numbers many envision for him, and we might not see those until Williams can get something more like a solo role. If and when he does, Williams’ value would skyrocket — he produced 29 PPR points in the game Gordon missed last season. Williams will have fantasy value in 2022, but as a dynasty asset he has even more. 

DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks 

DK Metcalf 2022 Fantasy Football Pope's Pick 6 More Valuable in Dynasty

DK Metcalf has developed into one of the most productive fantasy assets in the league, finishing as high as the WR7 in PPR scoring (2020). He’s reached 900 receiving yards in all three of his NFL seasons (including 1,303 in 2020) and has double-digit touchdowns each of the last two years. However, all these impressive marks were achieved with Russell Wilson at quarterback, and that’s not the case anymore. The Seahawks will either have Geno Smith or Drew Lock under center this season (it’ll be Smith to start), and both are a significant downgrade from Wilson. In four games with Smith at the helm in 2021, Metcalf did post a respectable 19.63 PPR points per week, but that was on the back of 5 touchdowns in those games. That’s an unsustainable pace, especially on an offense that is likely to take a step back in efficiency this year. As a result, Metcalf’s stats will suffer. 

For the first time in his career, Metcalf could struggle to top 900 receiving yards. If so, he would need a career-high in touchdowns to find significant fantasy success. With the Seahawks in a rebuild, it wouldn’t be a big surprise if they use their early first-round pick in 2023 to address the need for a franchise quarterback. That would help get Metcalf’s numbers back to the baseline we’re used to, meaning his long-term value is higher than what it is for redraft. 

 

Amari Cooper, WR, Cleveland Browns

After finishing under 1,000 yards for the first time since 2017, Amari Cooper fell victim to the business end of the NFL as he was traded to the Browns to create cap space in Dallas. On the surface, this seems like a great landing spot, as the Browns had a glaring need for a top wide receiver. But with Deshaun Watson suspended for the first 11 games of the season, and with Jacoby Brissett the starter in the interim, Cooper is in the worst quarterback situation of his career. That means Cooper likely struggles to eclipse 1,000 yards again in 2022 and sees a regression in the career-high eight touchdowns he scored last year. 

On the flip side, Cooper should have a full season with Watson in 2023, and that could bring him back to top-tier fantasy production—Watson has produced a top-12 receiver in every full season he has played. He’s 28 now, but Cooper could have multiple quality seasons left in him, making him a solid piece to add in dynasty.

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers 

Brandon Aiyuk 2022 Fantasy Football Pope's Pick 6 More Valuable in Dynasty

Brandon Aiyuk is coming off a roller coaster of a sophomore season where he only saw 84 targets, 12 fewer than his rookie season. However, he posted a 826 receiving yards (78 more than 2020) and tied his 2020 mark with 5 receiving touchdowns (though he scored twice on the ground as a rookie and didn’t do so in 2021). For the second year in a row, a significant portion of this production came in the second half of the season, as he only saw 16 targets in the team's first six games of 2021. Although he is only behind Deebo Samuel on the wide receiver depth chart, he finished third in market share at 17% behind both Samuel (24%) and tight end George Kittle (19%) – that likely continues into 2022.

This season, the 49ers are transitioning to an offense led by second-year quarterback Trey Lance, which will likely result in plenty of ups and downs. Lance entered the league with enormous upside but also has concerns about accuracy and overall refinement in the passing game. These issues were evident in his limited opportunity last season, as he only completed 57% of his passes. Assuming that continues as he finds his footing as an NFL starter, Aiyuk may struggle to produce high-end fantasy numbers this season. Once Lance puts it together, though, Aiyuk should be able to be a big-time fantasy contributor.

Trey McBride, TE, Arizona Cardinals

After a senior year where he caught 90 balls and produced 1,121 yards and one touchdown at Colorado State, Trey McBride was selected as the top tight end in the 2022 NFL Draft (55th overall). McBride brings a great size and athleticism combination to the position, standing 6-foot-4, 246 pounds and running a 4.54-second 40 at his pro day. With all the tools to become a top fantasy producer, fantasy players loved seeing him land on a pass-heavy team in Arizona. On the flip side, he is stuck behind still-productive Zach Ertz. Ertz produced 763 yards and 5 touchdowns last year on his way to a TE5 finish in PPR. That came on 112 targets, 81 of which came as a Cardinal and accounted for 14% of the team's targets in 2021 (third on the team). 

McBride is unlikely to see enough work to make him fantasy relevant this year unless there is an injury. Ertz proved last season that he still has plenty of juice left in his legs even at the age of 31, making McBride's path that much harder moving forward. On the flip side, this has also caused a dip in McBride's value making him a great player to target in dynasty.

Joshua Palmer, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Locked in as the third wide receiver on the Chargers roster, Joshua Palmer is just waiting for an opportunity. Last season, he produced 353 yards and 4 touchdowns on only 49 targets. This offseason and preseason, he has looked even more impressive. As a result, many managers are clamoring for more from Palmer, but it is unlikely it comes this year. Being behind both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, there are limited opportunities to go around. Additionally, Austin Ekeler sees a significant portion of the target share — 14% in 2021 according to the FTN Market Share tool. Those three stars accounted for 56% of all the targets in 2021, while Palmer only saw a 7% target share. 

This trend likely continues in 2022. He may see a slight increase but not enough to make him fantasy relevant. But with Keenan Allen on the wrong side of 30, it is only a matter of time before his role decreases, either intentionally or because his production drops off. This will be the route for Palmer to carve out a larger role. That makes him a player to target in dynasty formats.