I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the best part of dynasty fantasy football is finding that player that nobody else is talking about. You feel a connection to the players that you scouted and watched develop on the back end of your roster. These players may not always pan out, but it is so much fun following their career journey. To this end, we at Dynasty Nerds are breaking down the NFL by division to highlight a deep dynasty stash on every NFL team. For this article, I have drawn the NFC North. Without further ado, let us dive into the division and attempt to mine some gold for your dynasty rosters.
Vikings WR: Ihmir Smith-Marsette
The Minnesota Vikings are a fascinating team heading into 2021. The team seems to be attempting to compete now while having an eye towards a future without some of their current top talents. One need look no further than Kellen Mond and the reports of their interest in Justin Fields for evidence of this mindset. The WR room is in a similar place.
Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen have a stranglehold on the top two spots as it sits right now. Their designation as the starters is rightfully earned as they are two of the top options in the entire NFL. However, when you look deeper, Adam Thielen could actually be on borrowed time with his hometown Vikings. Now on the wrong side of 30 with one of the largest contracts on the entire team, it is fair to wonder whether Thielen plays out the deal. Whoever ends up being the long-term Robin to Jefferson’s Batman stands to have a nice role on the team. Enter Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
The talented Smith-Marsette comes to the Vikings as a 2021 fifth round draft pick by way of the University of Iowa. The former Hawkeye was an explosive player during his time in college. Pegged as potentially more of a weapon than a true WR, the youngster seems destined to see the field early despite his late-round draft stock. Much of his early playing time will come as a returner. In a recent interview, the youngster gave his thoughts on his return ability stating.
“I feel as though I was the best player in the draft when it comes to returning the ball… That’s another strong suit of mine. I feel like I’m coming in there, and I’m going to make an immediate impact in the return game and then work my way into the offense.”
When it comes to developing as a WR, Ihmir Smith-Marsette has some advantages. He will have some very talented players in front of him on the depth chart to learn from. As an early career backup, he will also get lots of playing time with potential future starting QB Kellen Mond. This could lead to a nice connection down the road. For my money, Smith-Marsette is an excellent player to stash for the future.
Bears WR: Dazz Newsome
Continuing the WR trend for the NFC North, Dazz Newsome is next. The Chicago Bears are in somewhat of a similar situation to the Vikings when it comes to the offensive side of the ball. Both teams drafted a young QB. Both teams also have a veteran alpha WR on what could be a short contract. Allen Robinson is not as old as Thielen by any means, but he is on a one-year franchise tag. Behind Robinson, there is very little settled other than that second-year speedster Darnell Mooney will run as the WR2 and get an expanded role on the team. Former second-round pick Anthony Miller has failed to live up to expectations and is also on the last year of his deal. Enter Dazz Newsome.
The former North Carolina Tar Heel is a multi-dimensional athlete who succeeds as both a WR and a return man. The 2021 6th round pick seems tailored for the slot position with the Bears. His selection was seen as a shot across the bow of current slot man Anthony Miller. Newsome enjoyed some success at UNC, including a big junior year where he topped 1,000 yards, as you can see below.
Dazz Newsome will also benefit from coming into the league in the same rookie class as franchise QB Justin Fields. This could be a factor moving forward as both players will have a head start with rookie camp. With the Bears set to play Andy Dalton early in the 2021 campaign, Newsome will also get added practice reps with Fields on the second team unit to begin the year. Combine all this added playing time with his intriguing skill set, and you have a nice stash player. It is fair to wonder whether or not Dazz would have gone sooner in the draft were this not one of the deepest slot WR groups in recent draft memory. Either way, you should look to capitalize on this situation and stash Dazz for the future.
Lions RB: Jermar Jefferson
With the Detroit Lions, we will switch up gears a bit. It would be a trendy pick to stash one of the Lions WRs with such an ugly group of players. However, we are playing dynasty and looking for long-term assets. Jermar Jefferson was once looked upon as a dynamic college prospect. He burst onto the Pac12 with an excellent freshman season at Oregon State. Despite this enticing early start, a combination of injuries and covid combined to make it a downhill trend following his freshman breakout.
I can already hear the dynasty owners out there snickering. They are saying this backfield belongs to DeAndre Swift, and that is that. But, as Lee Corso likes to say, ‘Not so fast, my friend.’ New Lions HC Dan Campbell has all but telegraphed that he intends to use multiple RBs in his system. Early indications are that he plans to employ a system similar to the one he came from in New Orleans. Swift will almost certainly play the Alvin Kamara role, making him the RB1 for dynasty purposes and looking at the Saints recent history that still leaves a chunk of meat on the bone.
Jermar Jefferson will be competing with Jamaal Williams for the Big-Back role. The former Packer signed a two-year $6 million contract. When you get down into the details, you find that the Lions can cut him with a minimal penalty next season. Justin Jefferson could have a massive part to play with if Williams plays out the second year of his deal.
If Jefferson somehow manages to land the Big-Back job with the Lions, he will be fantasy-relevant. Despite the obvious presence of Swift in the backfield, there will be room for a second RB to play a meaningful part. After all, Latavius Murray has been a steady flex play each season with the Saints. In games when Kamara has missed time, Murray becomes a must-start. That in and of itself is a reason to stash the talented rookie out of Oregon State. A Swift-Jefferson one-two punch would be a nice pairing for the Lions in the NFC North. Just check out his highlights below and ask yourself if this guy can play in the NFL.
Packers TE: Josiah Deguara
The final Deep Stash player I have for the NFC North is the Packers second-year TE Josiah Deguara. The former Cincinnati Bearcat was actually a third-round pick of the Packers just last season. However, despite this nice draft capital, you hear very little about him. The Packers could be on the precipice of a massive overhaul. With franchise QB Aaron Rodgers holding the team hostage, it’s anyone’s guess how things play out in Green Bay. From a dynasty standpoint, the TE position is also very much up in the air long-term.
Last season’s breakout star Robert Tonyan was merely given a one-year second-round tender following his double-digit TD season. Jace Sternberger, the player many pegged to breakout last year, is currently dealing with a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. As they say, NFL stands for ‘Not For Long.’ There is a legitimate chance that the depth chart in front of Deguara could significantly shift in the next couple of seasons.
Now to be fair, Deguara will be coming back from a significant injury. In October of last year, he tore his ACL. Early indications are that his surgery and rehab are going as planned. This injury makes him that much cheaper to acquire. In reality, he is likely floating around on many free agent lists. Despite the lack of faith in the dynasty community, the Packers coaching staff remains bullish on the talented playmaker. The Green Bay TE coach went as far as comparing the talented sophomore to San Francisco H-back Kyle Juszczyk. Now, this could be coach speak, or it could foreshadow the type of role they eventually envision for Deguara. His college profile suggests that he could hold some position versatility and playmaking upside. You can check out a couple of his college highlights below and imagine what they may have in mind.
Much like the first two players mentioned on this list, Deguara came into the league in the same draft class as his potential future franchise QB. Jordan Love and he were both a part of the same draft class. They also played a significant amount of reps with each other in practice on the second-team unit. This connection could prove to be critical down the line. When Love does get his chance, he will likely look for players he is comfortable with. The TE also happens to be the best friend of a young QB. Do yourself a favor and stash Deguara where you have the room. It could pay dividends down the line.
As I mentioned in the opening, none of these Deep Stash players may pan out. However, that does not mean that you can’t strike gold every now and then. Two years ago, I wrote one of these articles on the NFC East. Two of the players panned out over the next couple of seasons, and two have done nothing. That is the nature of these types of players. Win or lose. This is one of the aspects of dynasty that make it such a uniquely fun game to play. Perhaps these are not ‘your players.’ That is fine. I humbly suggest that you constantly be on the lookout for new cheap talent to churn through on the bottom of your roster. Whether you keep them or trade them for future picks, when you score a high-end player for free, I promise you’ll not soon forget it.
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