For those of you who have never had the pleasure of watching the animated Star Wars: Clone Wars TV series, the show introduced a commando squad named Clone Force 99, also known as the “Bad Batch.” Disney+ is now releasing a spin-off series specifically about this group set to release on May 4th.
Each of the five members of the Bad Batch in the upcoming series has unique traits that separate them from other clone troopers. Likewise, certain NFL players may not fit the mold of traditional fantasy football producers but possess distinct skills that could make them league-winners under the right circumstances. Here are five cheap misfits and outliers in dynasty football who still have high fantasy ceilings in 2021.
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Dynasty Football: The Bad Batch
Crosshair – Cam Newton
In the TV series, Crosshair is a clone trooper who has enhanced eyesight that allows him to excel as a marksman. So why is the comp for him Cam Newton? Well…would you believe me if I told you that Player Profiler charted Newton with the fourth-highest deep ball completion percentage in 2020? It’s easy to see why Newton’s deep ball accuracy is overlooked, as he attempted just 26 passes that traveled 20 yards or more in the air, which ranked 31st among quarterbacks last year.
But then again, how many deep passes would you attempt if your top receivers were Jakobi Meyers, Damiere Byrd, N’Keal Harry, and Julian Edelman? Nelson Agholor may not be the best wide receiver, but he was a phenomenal deep threat in 2020, ranking second in yards before the catch per reception with 13.9 YBC/R. Agholor’s addition to the Patriots’ receiving corps could be a shot in the arm for Newton’s passing production. The dynasty community seems to be shunning Newton after a dismal 2020 season, much like the Bad Batch were shunned, making Newton a cheap asset with a top-five fantasy quarterback upside if he can bounce back given his rushing production and surprisingly decent deep ball accuracy.
Wrecker – Carlos Hyde
Wrecker serves as the enforcer for the Bad Batch, enjoys destruction, as his moniker suggests, and is a mountain of a man who possesses incredible strength. Carlos Hyde fits that mold at 6’0, 230 lbs. and as a bruising running back who prefers to go through defenders rather than around them. After a forgettable tenure in San Francisco early in his career, Hyde has since bounced around the league in various backup roles and recently signed with the Jaguars on a two-year, $4.5 million deal.
In Jacksonville, Hyde reunites with Urban Meyer, under whom Hyde flourished at Ohio State. The 30-year-old back is mostly forgotten by dynasty GMs and may even be available on the waiver wire in some leagues despite having rushed for over 1,000 yards as recently as 2019. Of course, James Robinson is the Jaguars’ lead back heading into 2021, but Hyde can be a serviceable flex play with weekly touchdown potential if he commandeers some goal-line work, and he would have RB2 upside if Robinson were to miss any time. Considering his upside, Hyde is worth a stash given that he’s practically free to acquire.
Tech – Tom Brady
In the show, Tech is a brilliant strategist who can devise solutions on the fly to resolve unforeseen complications during missions. At this stage in his career, Tom Brady doesn’t possess the arm strength of Josh Allen, nor does he offer rushing upside like Jalen Hurts, not that he ever did. But Brady remains one of the smartest quarterbacks in the league with his vast experience and ability to read coverages, and he distributed the ball with enough efficiency in 2020 to finish as the no. 7 fantasy quarterback.
In dynasty, Brady’s value has consistently dropped over the last few years as he hit various milestones in age, and he’ll turn 44 years old in August. And yet, he continues to defy Father Time, finding sustained success with his quarterback intellect. Protected by a top-five offensive line and surrounded by a cadre of dangerous receiving weapons, it’s not crazy to think that Brady could improve even further upon his 2020 performance and provide another year or two of elite fantasy production. With many dynasty GMs overly concerned about an impending decline and eventual retirement, Brady can be a cheap acquisition who provides immense value at the quarterback position for contending teams.
Echo – Tyler Johnson
Echo is a late addition to the Bad Batch and is a cyborg who can bypass enemy systems with his cybernetic arm. Like Echo, Tyler Johnson was a late addition to his team as a fifth-round draft pick in 2020 and can bypass defenders by finding soft spots in zone coverage. He didn’t see many snaps as the fourth or fifth option in a crowded receiving corps, but Johnson was PFF’s highest-graded wide receiver in his final college season in 2019 and shouldn’t be forgotten.
With Antonio Brown still a free agent as of this writing, there’s a chance that Johnson’s role could expand as soon as 2021. And even if Brown returns, it will likely be on a cheap one-year contract. Likewise, Chris Godwin is on a one-year franchise tag, Rob Gronkowski is returning on a one-year deal, and O.J. Howard will be a free agent after this coming season as well. There are many paths to playing time for Johnson in 2021 and beyond, and with his skill set, he has the potential to be a consistent chain-mover for the Buccaneers and a budding fantasy contributor for patient dynasty GMs.
Hunter – Zack Moss
The Bad Batch’s team leader, Hunter, has enhanced senses to detect enemies and specializes in close-quarters combat, slicing through enemies with his knife. Zack Moss similarly slices through NFL defenders up close, both evading tackles as well as breaking them. As a rookie in 2020, Moss ranked seventh among running backs in juke rate and fourth in broken tackles per carry despite the Bills’ offensive line ranking fourth-worst in run-blocking win rate.
The primary concern that could limit Moss is volume, as he’ll continue to share the backfield with Devin Singletary and lose out on some valuable touchdown opportunities in the red zone when Josh Allen inevitably runs the ball himself near the goal line. But Moss was Buffalo’s preferred option in the red zone and near the goal line with 28 carries to Singletary’s 20 inside the 20-yard line and 15 carries to Singletary’s eight inside the 10-yard line, and that was with Moss missing three games last year due to a toe sprain. Moss is a serviceable RB3 with his weekly touchdown upside and could be a strong RB2 candidate if Singletary were to miss any time. With many dynasty GMs preferring to avoid the headache of the Bills’ backfield altogether, it’s worth inquiring about Moss at his current depressed value.
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