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Dynasty Breakout players to Watch for on Each Team- NFC North Edition

@DarthDbacks is mining for roster gold on both sides of the ball in the
NFC North.

Irv Smith Jr. (SI)

It’s Fantasy Football season once more! Though, if you’re in dynasty leagues, then it’s year-round for you. For example, right now, you’re trying to make trades/waiver claims and get your team ready for the season. This is the prime trading season to get guys you’re high on for a lower price!

So, what guys should you acquire? And for how much? Who should you sell or hold? Well, I’m here to help you with that issue. This is the seventh article in a series of articles that will cover all 32 teams in the NFL. I honestly can’t believe that we are at #7 already.

I’ll recommend one main breakout player from each division, along with a player to get from every team. I’ll explain why I chose them, offer my predictions, and discuss what I’d trade them for. This is applicable for any league as well since I’ll be potentially including IDP players too. Let’s look at the cold tight end filled NFC North next.

Irv Smith Jr. Dynasty Minnesota Vikings
Star Tribune

Minnesota Vikings: Irv Smith Jr. 

The great Irv Smith Jr show is here. The longtime Viking Kyle Rudolph is no longer with the team. The tight end position is open for business, and Irv’s here to take it over. Irv’s in his third season with the Vikings after being selected in the 2nd round of the 2019 draft. That’s not to say that Irv hasn’t been making plays since being selected.

Irv had a fine season last year despite being the TE2 on the team. He had 30 receptions for 365 yards and 5 touchdowns. That’s good enough for 12.2 yards per reception. Irv did that in 13 games, 7 starts, and only playing 50% of the offensive snaps. Imagine when he plays a lot more snaps this year.

At just 6’2″ tall, Irv’s short for a tight end, which has led to him struggling with blocking in the past. However, that’s about to change. Irv attended Tight End University this past off-season along with dozens of other tight ends in the NFL. While there, he learned how to be a better all-around tight end. The skills he learned are already paying off.

Why Irv will break out in Dynasty this year

There are many reasons Irv is ready to break out. The first being that he will play a lot more. The Vikings are a run-first team. To that end, Irv has improved his run-blocking to get more playing time. Plus, he’s the TE1 on the team right now. More playing time is always good for more fantasy points. 

Secondly, Irv’s got everything you want out of a receiving tight end. He can run, catch, route run, and maul his way for extra yards. He just needs to consistently put it all together every play. Irv’s entering the third year of his career, which is the year most tight ends break out.

Irv Smith Jr. looks like the best player in training camp and the most improved from everything I have seen. He’s catching everything, as seen in this tweet below.

Finally, Irv Smith Jr. got a chance for an extended audition in the final weeks of last season after Rudolph got hurt. According to FootballGuys, if we stretched out those final weeks to a whole season, his stat-line would look like this: 60/80 recs/targets, 732 yards, 12 TD’s. and 9.2 yards per target. That’s an impressive line for a TE. That would for sure get into the top-12.

Irv’s price in Dynasty

Irv’s got great speed for a tight end, good hands, and run’s clean routes. He’s a bloodhound in the red zone, where he is constantly getting open. In the TE desolate district, Irv is a good bet to make the top-12 TE in fantasy this year.

Yet, he is still widely available and cheap. This is because people are hesitant to believe in a TE that hasn’t proved an entire season’s worth of production. Plus, they say that because he’s in a run-first offense, no way he’s good enough. They’re wrong.

This is the last chance you will have to trade for Irv or get him at a cheap price. In dynasty start-ups, he’s going around the 9/10th rounds. That’s extreme value to be able to wait on your TE and gobble up other positions first. If you are in a tight-end premium league, then he’s going around the 8/9th rounds.

In fact, I just got him in the 9th round in a start-up TEP draft. That’s INSANE. Kelce went early 2nd. I was able to wait on TE and fill my roster with other studs. If you’re trading for Irv as a contender in regular PPR, he’s worth a mid-2nd. I’d try with just my late-2nd before I bump my offer up to a mid-2nd. Say you’re rebuilding, hold onto Irv as his price is going to rise significantly.

If you’re in a TEP league, he’s worth an early-2nd, maybe late 1st, depending on how large the premium is. If I’m a contender and need a TE to complete my team, I’d gladly pay that price to push all-in. When you’re rebuilding, look to acquire a late first for him. I would still hold him unless I got that first. Tight ends are rare commodities, after all.

Tracy Walker Dynasty IDP Detroit Lions
Via SportsNet

Detroit Lions: Tracy “Sky” Walker

Yes, this pick is rather conflicting. Tracy broke out back in 2019 in a big way. Then, 2020 happened, and he struggled a lot due to injuries and bad coaching decisions. In case you forgot, his coach was Matt Patricia. Bad is an understatement. Now, he’s set to re-break out in a huge way.

Drafted in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Walker barely played his rookie year but come 2019, he was on the field a lot.

Tracy debuted as a big IDP player in a big way in 2019, giving consistent points week-in and week-out. He garnered 103 tackles in only 13 games played during the 19′ season. That’s really good for a safety position. He also had 14 impact plays, 8 pass breakups, and 6 tackles for loss. That’s a lot of bonus points for your team. Walker made a significant impact in 2019 because he was healthy, and the coach played him.

Then 2020 happened. Walker was dealing with a season-long injury he was playing through. To add to that issue, his coach routinely didn’t play him as much as he should. Walker only started seven games and didn’t get consistent playing. Despite all that, he still finished second on the team in tackles. Also, he had 9 Impact Plays for IDP, 5 tackles for loss, 4 pass deflections.

By the way, Walker finished first on the 2020 Lions in solo tackles. Walker was also playing Strong Safety in 2020, which is not his best position. He is best at the Free Safety spot, which is where he will be playing this year. Just watch this amazing interception by Walker.

Why Walker will breakout this year in IDP Dynasty

As mentioned above, Tracy is moving to his best position, Free Safety. This allows him to see the field and move around. He can adjust to the play easier and not be required to be in the box as much. Plus, PFF has named Tracy the Lions Comeback Player for this year. 

Walker is healthy, has a new coaching staff that is competent and is ready to tackle this new season. Despite all these changes, some doubt his ability. That’s why he will break out this year. He’s about to show all the doubters that the real Walker never left.

Tracy Walker’s Dynasty Price

The great IDP expert (and Dynasty Nerds writer) Jordan Rains made Tracy Walker his #1 IDP player to buy this off-season. His excellent article showcases that Walker didn’t drop off in play or IDP points from 2019 to 2020. Walker’s also the Nerds #15 ranked DB. 

Additionally, Walker will provide you top-24 DB numbers every week. His reliability is something you need on your team so you can take shots on high-risk, high-reward players. In IDP/Mixed drafts, you can draft Walker in the mid-to-late rounds. Not a bad price to pay for an elite player.

His trade value in Mixed-IDP is a 3rd round rookie pick for contenders. If you’re a win-now team, you offer your 4th-rounder first, though. Try to get him cheap. He will give you a weekly start and forget player for your DB position. Plus, he’s win-now and doesn’t need to develop still.

If you’re rebuilding, you might be able to squeeze a late-2nd out of the contending team. If you can, that’s great. Otherwise, just wait a few weeks, and his price is going to rise. This is Walker’s bottom-barrel price. Don’t wait until he reaches the ceiling price.

Cole Kmet Dynasty Chicago Bears
Via the Athletic

Chicago Bears: Cole Kmet the Frog

No, Cole is not a Muppet. At least, I don’t think he is. However, he is going to be a good TE. I know Jimmy Graham is still there. I know he will steal red zone touches from Kmet. That doesn’t scare me one bit, though. Jimmy is 34 and in the final year of his contract. His playing time is winding down. He won’t be on the field unless it’s a play scripted for him or it’s in the red zone.

Coach Nagy said recently that Kmet’s role would increase this year. After all, Kmet is supposed to play the Kelce role in Nagy’s offense. That means a lot of attention will be on Kmet in the offense. In case you missed it, the Bears have competent QBs on the roster now. Andy Dalton is a fine bridge QB until the team decides Fields is ready. Both are accurate and will target Kmet. 

Sticky hands are one of Cole’s best attributes. In fact, according to PlayerProfiler, he had a True Catch Rate of 93.3%, good enough for 4th among all TEs in the NFL. Plus, Kmet ranked 9th among all TE in target separation. Both of those stats are a great tease of his future play. 

If you need more to believe in Kmet, look at the final six weeks of the 2020 NFL season. His snap share compared to Jimmy Grahams over those six weeks was 87% to 45.5%. That should continue to be the case this year as Graham will only be in there for the red zone and big third downs.

Cole Kmet’s price in Dynasty

Cole “Hayley’s” Kmet is an absolute steal in Superflex PPR drafts right now. He’s even more of a steal in tight end-premium PPR scoring. In Superflex drafts, his ADP is in the 13th round on Sleeper! He can easily be your TE1 or give you a potential 2nd TE1 on your team. Once again, punting on TE can work. You can wait until the 10-11th rounds to get a young, talented, and high-upside TE in TEP scoring. Kmet will be balling on the field, and you’re going to regret not drafting him. 

As for his trade price in dynasty, he’s not worth enough. In TEP PPR scoring, he’s worth a late first. That’s right. He is worth that because he’s young, talented, and in the TE cesspool. It’s hard to get a weekly top-12 TE. In the PPR Superflex scoring, he’s worth a mid-2nd right now. Both of these prices are the lowest they will be for Kmet for a long time. Go get yourself a frog named Kmet and watch him make leaping catches while he helps you make the playoffs.

From Sports Illustrated

Green Bay Packers: Rashan Gary “the Snail”

Rashan Gary is set for the third-year breakout that happens for many players. He will be one of the next big things in IDP this year after teasing what he could do last year. A first-round in 2019 out of Michigan. Gary mostly sat in 2019 as the Packers had signed two big-name edge rushers during free agency, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith.

The duo combined for big numbers in 2019, including 25.5 sacks. They guaranteed that 2019 was going to be a learning year for Gary rather than a playing year.

That was actually a good thing, as Gary wasn’t a polished rookie. Giving him a year to get his skills fine-tuned was a blessing in disguise. In 2020, Gary played only 44% of defensive snaps. Yet, he still managed to pile up the stats. His stats for 2020 were 35 tackles (19 solos), 5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 11 QB hits, and 1 fumble recovery. That’s really good for such limited playing time. Just watch this play before for evidence.

Gary played 350+ fewer snaps than Preston Smith last year. Preston struggled a lot, as evidenced by their pressures. Gary had 46 to Preston’s 29. Rashan will likely be the starter opposite Za’Darius. Of course, that is when Za’Darius comes back from his injury. No matter what, besides injury, Gary will be starting. Gary won’t be given time to adjust or get his feet wet. Preston’s going to be pushing him constantly. That’s going to increase Rashan’s drive and motivation. With more playing time, a healthy entrance to the season, competition, and an easier coaching play scheme, Rashan Gary’s breakout season is incoming.

Rashan Gary’s tiny price in Dynasty

Rashan Gary is worth next to nothing right now. In IDP-only drafts, he is going in the final rounds. That’s CHEAP. He could be a long-term solution for your DL position. Getting that in the final rounds is huge. It allows you to fill your more important spots like LB and high-end DB. Likewise, in Mixed-IDP, he’s going in the last two rounds or available as a free agent. To get a potential game-changing IDP and real-life edge rusher for that low of a price is bewildering. He’s worth that lottery ticket that most likely becomes a weekly player for you. Once again, it allows you to fill out your roster completely, such as QB, WR, LB, and RB.

Rashan’s trade value is bottom-market. Assuming you have a 5-round rookie draft, he is worth a 4th or so in IDP-Only leagues. I’d pay that all day long for a week-winning player like Gary. In Mixed-IDP, he’s easily worth a 5th round rookie pick. Go get him if you’re win-now or rebuilding. Rashan Gary is the type of player you want on your team, no matter what.

I am always on Twitter at @DarthDbacks and in the largest Fantasy Football Chat on Discord under the same username. I hope this season goes excellent for you, and I’m happy to help on Twitter or Discord anytime! Also, happy to discuss Star Wars, Marvel, Baseball, movies, or writing with you.

As always, May the Force be with You…

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