February 26, 2021

Time Skew

Play Fantasy Football Smarter not harder

Dynasty series: off-season storylines to watch

5 min read
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It’s a brand new year! And yet it still feels very much the same…so let’s look forward to the 2021 dynasty season.

If you’re a dynasty fantasy football player, the offseason is on the verge of swinging into full force as trading re-opens and people get scouting for the rookie draft. As you start to make decisions that have repercussions for your 2021 roster and beyond, it’s important to keep an eye on some key offseason storylines that could impact player value.

Keep an eye on Time Skew for more fantasy content just like this buy/sell report for dynasty players.

So let’s get started on the series. First up:

The Steelers QB situation

What an ending for the Steelers. After going 11-0, the team capitulated down the stretch, culminating in an embarrassing loss to Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs. But was Big Ben Roethlisberger the issue with the dysfunctional Steelers?

Ben finished the season as the QB13 in most superflex leagues with standard scoring. His season totals (3803/33/10) put him in the top half of starting QB’s despite only playing 15 games and he racked up over 500 yards and four TD’s in the loss to the Browns. His 47 completions in the post-season match up is the most ever in an NFL game – not bad for a 38-year old with a surgically repaired elbow.

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Is the grass greener?

If Ben decides to return next year the Steelers cap situation doesn’t look good – taking a cap hit of over $41 million. If he retires or they cut him, there would still be $22 million in dead cap but they would save around $19 million. Dynasty owners need to pay close attention to his decision because it affects the players Pittsburgh can resign and the dynasty value of your Steelers players. If we use the 2019 version of the Steelers as an example of life without Ben, the situation for those that have Steelers offensive players rostered is a mixed bag.

Player2019 (rank/yards/TD’s)2020
James Conner#33/464/4*#27/721/6
JuJu Smith-Schuster#65/552/3**#17/831/9
James Washington#55/735/3#79/392/5
Diontae Johnson#41/680/5#21/923/5
Chase ClaypoolN/A#23/873/9
Eric EbronN/A#14/558/5
*only played 10 games/**only played 11 games
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It’s fairly obvious that the emergence of Chase Claypool severely hampered what could have been a breakout season for James Washington, but the important point to note is that Pittsburgh had three receivers in the top 25.

The Steelers ranked a clear #1 in pass attempts with an anemic and misused running game not helping, pushing the WR totals higher. Can Ben sustain this pace if he returns? It seems unlikely that Tomlin and the front office will allow Randy Fitchner to continue calling ineffective game plans and allowing Roethlisberger to throw 50 times a game to offset it.

JuJu on the out out?

This doesn’t even take into consideration the expected departure of JuJu Smith-Schuster. At the very least, it’s plausible that JuJu will move on in 2021 despite recording 21 TD’s and 3726 yards in his four seasons in the Steel City. Per Spotrac, JuJu could command up to $15 million annually on the open market. With young pieces in place (and yet to be paid), it seems unlikely the Steelers can give him that money. There are enough articles floating around about the Steelers cap situation, but to put it mildly – change is coming to a large chunk of the roster in 2021.

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That’s a lot to digest, so here’s a quick table to show you some dynasty stock reports in various situations:

On the edge of your seat

The best advice I can give is to sit on your Steelers players until Ben makes a decision or contracts start being signed. However, if you decide to make big early moves, then target players like Conner and Johnson, as both have dropping (excuse the pun) stocks despite being young dynamic players. Johnson had a solid season and is a target hog, but will worry potential managers with his knack for putting the ball on the ground.

Conner was perceived to have had a poor season overall, but in reality, he had four poor games. Two of these came directly after a two-week COVID layoff. Taking out that four-week stretch, Conner averaged 13.5 fantasy points a game. That’s RB1 territory for your team and you can take advantage of the bad feeling around the Steelers offensive players to get him cheap. If he remains with the Steelers, the opportunity should be there to succeed, as Randy Fitchner is confirmed to be departing as the OC.

If you’re in the market for roster builders, then James Washington is an excellent roster stash. He seems to pop up in key moments and will be in line for more snaps if JuJu departs. Ebron is a top-20 TE regardless of quarterback situation at this point, making him a low risk, high reward trade candidate in 12-14 team leagues.

So, what now?

By all accounts, the 31-year old all-pro center for the Steelers, Maurkice Pouncey, is close to calling it a career, which should impact whether Ben returns once more:

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And so once more, Steelers fans head into an off-season not quite knowing what the future holds at the QB position. But there are moves to be made and bargains to be had with this Steelers team in dynasty land.

Be sure to vote on the poll on Time Skew to determine what storyline I’ll be looking at next.

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