Two years ago I created a dynasty league with some friends that I grew up playing fantasy football with. After making some big trades for the guys that I believed in, I quickly realized that dynasty is far and away my favorite format of fantasy football.
Since then, I have joined three more dynasty leagues – two startups and took over for one orphan. Each of these teams have a variety of differences – contending with young guys and veterans simultaneously, a veteran heavy contending team, a very young, loaded team that’s a year or two away from truly contending, and a rebuilding team that is filled to the brim with assets.
Each league provides me unlimited opportunities to target different levels of players and follow different strategies that I believe in. There’s just something about acquiring a player at a discounted rate that makes you feel good. It could be a bonafide, unanimous stud or an under the radar third-round prospect.
Regardless, the complex, ever-changing strategy and endless negotiation is what makes dynasty so fun for me. In a number of ways, winning a trade in dynasty is superior to other formats.
But the question that routinely comes up – mostly from my wife, semi-jokingly – when is it enough? At what point are you in too many leagues?
For me, I think I’m good. I’m chillin’ at four leagues (when talking dynasty), which seems to be plenty to chew on. But I will say, without hesitation, that number will likely climb, but until then, I rest.
There are folks on my timeline that I compete against in a couple of these leagues that house anywhere between 60, 70, or even upwards of 80 teams! It’s honestly insane. It’s admirable. It’s impressive. But it’s wildly insane, to me.
It’s fun to try and build these teams differently. It’s fun to look at the fantasy landscape and try different builds. However, I still find myself chasing after the same couple of players and trying to obtain my perceived values and upcoming breakouts.
One of my biggest offseason dynasty targets has been CeeDee Lamb.
I’ll be honest, it feels weird to say. No matter if you’re high or low on Lamb, he’s essentially a consensus top 5 dynasty wide receiver – and that’s being cautious. So duh, of course he’s a target? Blue chip, high-end players are targets for everyone.
However, the reason I have acquired him in 100% of my dynasty leagues is because I think he’s legitimately the safest “breakout” call of any player across any position in fantasy football. Lamb is, certainly, the lowest hanging fruit when it comes to breakout picks, but there just isn’t a multiverse that exists without this guy in the top 10 if he’s healthy.
For as much hype that there seems to be around CeeDee Lamb, he also has yet to, ya know, actually breakout! Last season, Lamb was only the WR18 in total points and WR24 in points per game. He has some room to grow!
In recent years, there have been a collection of outstanding rookie receivers that have illustrated the college-to-pro jump being easier than the once storied belief that it’s the most difficult position to adjust to in the NFL. But for each Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase, there are a few receivers, like Lamb, who are a little ways behind on the path of greatness. With a steady dose of improvement his first two seasons, CeeDee Lamb is on the cusp of joining the table of elite playmakers, if you will.
Most receiving yards in season 1 and 2 by a player over the last decade.
While Lamb has some ground to make up before truly being in a conversation with the leagues best receivers, like Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams, or even the aforementioned Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase, his talent is clear as day.
So… how good is he now, and how good can he become?
It goes without saying that the departure of Amari Cooper leaves a gigantic opportunity for Lamb to take advantage of. Over the last two seasons, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb are back-to-back at 20th and 21st in terms of total targets.
Total Receiving Targets from 2020-2021.
Amari Cooper: 31 games, 234 targets (7.5/game), 1,979 yards, 13 TDs
CeeDee Lamb: 32 games, 231 targets (7.2/game), 2,037 yards, 11 TDs
2021 Cooper: 15 games, 104 targets, 865 yards, 8 TDs
2021 Lamb: 16 games, 120 targets, 1,102 yards, 6 TDs
Lamb’s opportunity was good before, but not great. While neither Cooper or Lamb (in his first two seasons) have shown that they’re a true alpha capable of commanding 140+ targets, playing together has certainly lowered the ceiling of the other. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to identify this is what makes Lamb so interesting, as he’s the lone receiver with a strong promising return in Dallas for 2022 and beyond.
If CeeDee were to absorb even 30% of Cooper’s vacated targets, and keep his statistical averages through his first two seasons, here’s what we’re looking at, approximately:
151 targets, 101 receptions, 1,404 yards, 14 touchdowns, 274.5 fantasy points (half-PPR)
It’s rare that a receiver of Lamb’s talent has the opportunity to completely hog the passing game in an established offense that’s connected to a strong, veteran quarterback. We’re accustomed to seeing these young budding stars paired with bad quarterback play (think Diontae Johnson, Terry McLaurin, AJ Brown, etc.), or be being paired with an established receiver (think Jefferson/Thielen, Chase/Higgins, Godwin/Evans, etc.) that limits their upside.
After marinating in Dallas for a couple of seasons, Lamb is the lone stud in the stable and is presented with a legitimate chance to finish 2022 as the overall WR1 because of his situation and rich talent.
Through the first 10 weeks of last year, Lamb was tied as the sixth overall wide receiver (half-PPR), which was ahead of cornerstone roster pillars like Justin Jefferson, DK Metcalf, Stefon Diggs, or even underrated stars like Chris Godwin and Keenan Allen who are habitually in the top-12 group.
Before falling off some, and eventually finishing as the WR18 overall and WR24 in points per game, Lamb showed that he has the upside to be special.
As pointed out by Harmon, Lamb has the ability to win all across the field, as he was above average in all except one of his charted routes. Dallas is likely going to move him around the field to be a focal point for them and to help find the pressure points of opposing defenses.
With Cooper gone, not only does it present more total targets for Lamb to take with him moving forward, but he’s going to be receiving more targets as the primary read.
According to rotowire.com, Cooper was playing about 43.5% of his snaps in the slot. With a large vacancy there, it’s very possible we see Lamb see an uptick in his slot alignment (41.3%), which could lead to more targets and after the catch chances for a guy who ranked 17th in YAC and 4th in juke rate at his position.
When we factor in Michael Gallup’s injury, and Jalen Tolbert being asked to be a big piece of the offense as a rookie, it isn’t unrealistic to think Lamb could be near the top of the league in targets and yards, especially with the heavy lifting he’s going to be doing early on in the season. He’s going to be asked to align in different spots, motion into actions, and provide success for his team more than ever before.
With this type of opportunity and volume incoming, at 23-years-old, while also being connected to Dak Prescott, it’s hard to imagine a more intriguing situation. For whatever reason, Lamb isn’t being looked at as this impossible to get, blue chip asset by the entire fantasy community. At least not in my leagues!
Maybe it’s a hot take, but I fully believe he will soon be mentioned in the same tier as Jefferson and Chase, rather than a notch below them when it comes to fantasy football. If possible, go get him in your dynasty leagues, and you should certainly consider taking him in your redraft leagues this year, too.