The NFL off-season is fun for dynasty owners, isn’t it? I can’t remember a more exciting time leading up to NFL free-agency than this, the 2018 off-season. As news has been breaking, I’ve been keeping tabs, and have narrowed it down to two landing spots I absolutely love. The two are Kirk Cousins and Jerick McKinnon.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
How can you not love this landing spot? Since becoming a full-time starter in 2015, Cousins has been one of the most efficient passers in the league, completing more than 67% of his passes. In that time he threw 81 TDs and only 36 INTs. And he did that without a great receiving corps.
Sure, along the way Desean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, Jordan Reed, and Chris Thompson have all flashed here and there, but even at their best in any one season, they paled in comparison to what Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, and Jerick McKinnon did last year. His new primary targets (Top 3 pass-catchers) caught a higher percentage of targets, accounted for nearly 20% more receiving yards, and produced 8 more touchdowns than Crowder, Vernon Davis, Ryan Grant, and Thompson did in Washington last year. This doesn’t even account for what a healthy Dalvin Cook could bring to the table in 2019.
|2017 Top 3 Receivers||Tgt||Rec||Ctch%||Yds||TD|
|Thielen, Diggs, Rudolph||318||212||67%||2657||20|
|Crowder, Davis, Grant||237||154||65%||2010||10|
We’ve established Cousins will finally have the weapons around him he’s been lacking since he entered the league with Washington. So why else do I love this move? Well, let me tell you about his new and improved offensive line. He’ll be leaving an offensive line in Washington that ranked 24th in pass protection in 2017, with an adjusted sack rate of 7.1%, and moving to Minnesota whose offensive line ranked sixth in pass protection and bolsters an adjusted sack rate of 4.4%.
Do you think a competent rushing game could help take the pressure off Cousins? I do. Minnesota was seventh in the league in 2017, averaging 122.3 rushing yards per game. Let us not forget, Minnesota did that after losing Dalvin Cook, who started the year averaging 4.8 yards per carry and averaging nearly 90 yards per game before tearing his ACL in week 4 against the Detroit Lions. What did Washington do to take some heat off of Cousins last year? They finished 28th, averaging just 90.5 rushing yards per game.
No matter which angle you choose, Kirk Cousins is set up for success in 2018. With this recent news, I’ve got him currently sitting as my QB-8 in dynasty. Whether or not he breaks into the conversation of top 5 of Dynasty QBs is entirely up to him. Either way, for me, he’s a buy.
Jerick McKinnon, San Franciso 49ers
For those of you that are new to Dynasty, Jerick McKinnon burst onto the scene at the 2014 NFL Combine. He went to Georgia Southern, starting five games at Quarterback, and four at Running Back. Scouts knew he was a good athlete, was a jack of all trades but expected him to go late in the draft or join a team as an undrafted free agent.
So what did McKinnon do? He showed up and showed out. He put on an NFL Combine show for the ages, testing in the 90+ percentile across the board. The Minnesota Vikings drafted him with the 32nd pick in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft, to back up an aged 29 Adrian Peterson. Remember him? I think you know the rest, but being thrust into action with AP suspended, as a rookie, he rushed for over 500 yards on 113 carries and caught 27 balls in a limited role.
This early production and his legendary combine performance have helped McKinnon gather a bit of a cult following, and if you ask anyone of his followers, they’ll tell you “he just needs his shot, he needs an opportunity”. Well, he’s getting that in San Francisco.
San Francisco desperately wants a back that is heavily involved, and productive, in the passing game. They fed more than 10 targets per game to their Running Backs, which translated into a very inefficient 113 catches for 845 yards. The Carlos Hyde experiment hasn’t worked out as he dropped almost everything that came his way. Well, not really, he caught some of his targets. He dropped 16% of his catchable targets in 2017, which for those of you keeping score at home, is really, really bad. They even tried to get Kyle Juszczyk and Matt Breida involved. But again, that failed miserably as Breida dropped a higher percentage of his targets (17%) than Hyde.
|SF RB Total||166||113||68%||845||7.5||2|
In steps Jerick McKinnon. He’s exactly what Kyle Shanahan is looking for. He’s thicker than Matt Breida, leaner and more versatile than Carlos Hyde, and blows them each away in athleticism, on each of their best days. Oh, and did I mention, McKinnon can catch. He only dropped 3% of his catchable targets and had an overall catch rate of 75%. That’s higher than some of the league’s most premier pass-catching Running Backs- Christian McCaffrey, Todd Gurley, Chris Thompson, and Theo Riddick. He’s not in the 80% catch range like Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, and Lev Bell, but he’s pretty darn good at catching the football.
It remains to be seen what type of role he’ll have in San Francisco. He’s never seen more than 159 carries in a season and only seen 20 or more carries in a game one time in his career. Last year, beyond week 4 (after the Dalvin Cook injury), he saw 12-16 carries 7 times. That seems to be his sweet spot. He does boast a stocky frame, carrying a BMI of 31, so he could weather more touches if given the opportunity. Will he get that opportunity, or will San Francisco bring in a back for early-down work? Only time will tell. I currently have him as my RB-18 in dynasty, but if he sees ~200 carries and 80-100 targets, he certainly has top 10 RB upside. Buy him while you still can.