Right now, most of the conversation within fantasy football is with regards to redraft formats. After all, this is the crunch time before drafts, and with preseason games starting, draft boards are starting to both formulate and change. However, not everyone participates in redraft leagues! Today, let us continue to shift gears by focusing our attention on dynasty leagues.
While this part of the season isn’t as busy for dynasty players, our application of a player’s outlook for this season alone can really be useful in those formats. If you anticipate a player performing worse than his market expectations, now would be the time to acquire him before his value decreases.
This exercises helps both contending teams and rebuilding teams. If you’re a contender, these players can be used to acquire players who may help you more this season. Meanwhile, rebuilding teams obviously benefit from selling assets at their highest price point to get the best return possible. Succeeding in dynasty leagues requires a lot of the similar qualities of investing in stocks; buy them at their lowest point, sell them at their highest. Today, we’ll focus on the latter part of that process. These are players that you should be looking to sell high on. Take advantage of the opportunity now, before it’s too late!
All Stats via Pro Football Focus.
Running Backs Relying On Elite Rushing Efficiency
These two players may very well be the top-two “runners of the football” in the NFL. However, in fantasy football, it’s very hard to be a consistent PPR fantasy asset if you don’t produce as a receiver. This causes you the rely on elite rushing efficiency numbers, and if that goes away, something common as situations change or skills diminish, the value of the player decreases significant. This is the theme with both of these players.
Right now, I’d be looking to sell high on Derrick Henry, regardless of team status, more than any other player in dynasty formats. For starters, 27-years-old is the age where running backs start to decline. Not only has Henry reached that point of his career, but he’s also had 782 rush attempts over the past two seasons, eliminating the previous excitement of “fresh tires” with a limited workload earlier in his career. As someone who has vastly achieved his expected fantasy points totals in back-to-back seasons, he’s relied on averaged over 5 yards/attempt and 33 combined touchdowns. Yet, the change in his production has stemmed from an increase in yards before contact, and if Tennessee’s offensive line doesn’t continue to perform at an elite level (4th in PFF run-block grade), I’d be on the lookout for worse numbers. As for the touchdowns, it’s silly to expect someone to continue to accumulate them consistently at the outlier rate that Henry has, which would also to his actual numbers aligning more with the expected numbers.
If Henry produced as a receiver, this wouldn’t be an issue. Yet, he’s averaged just 176 receiving yards over the past two seasons and simply comes off the fields in obvious passing situations. If he doesn’t continue to post the absurd numbers he’s had on early downs, that naturally means more time off the field, while the offense could also change direction slightly without former offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. I get that he’s the likely favorite to lead the league in carries, but without the receiving production, the volume doesn’t equal the high floor you may think. With a decline in his efficiency numbers and touchdown rate expected, I’d sell high while he’s still considered a top-5 running back in redraft formats; contenders will value his services greatly.
Nick Chubb is two years younger than Henry, but doesn’t have the same workload. His receiving prowess is also very limited, while he averaged just 13 expected fantasy points last season, ranking 27th amongst running backs. Expecting him to averaged 5.6 yards/rush attempt again would be asking a lot of him, based on the instability of the statistic; it’s proven to be more reliant on the offensive line and defensive box counts than just how good the running back is. The Browns currently field an elite offensive line, but that could change at any time if injuries persist; interior offensive lineman Wyatt Teller also needs a new contract extension soon and JC Tretter is also now 30-years-old. There’s a reason touches correlate so well with a running back’s PPR finish, after all. With Chubb signing a three-year extension with Cleveland, I’d expect him to continue to have a similar role to last year, which is not ideal for fantasy purposes. With how much risk there is in this type of profile, I’d want to sell him coming off of his best season before things potentially go sideways.
Veterans Coming Off Of Superb Seasons
If you rostered either of these players last year, you were likely ecstatic to see them finish amongst the top players at their position. Nevertheless, it is unlikely they duplicate that production; if a contender covets them, don’t be afraid to trade them.
Trade the reigning MVP? Yep, that’s exactly what I am recommending you do with Aaron Rodgers. In fact, I believe the Packers quarterback could be a potential “bust” in redraft formats this year:
“Sure, Rodgers benefitted from being in his second year with head coach Matt LeFleur, one of the better play-callers in the NFL, but expecting him to once again produce at such a premium level would be asking a lot of him, especially given how he was seen heading into 2020. Meanwhile, the touchdown luck also isn’t likely to maintain; no quarterback overachieved his expected fantasy points (24.5 PPG vs 19.2 ppg) more than he did. In fact, his expected fantasy points would have placed him as the 10th-best quarterback last year, which is a reasonable expectation moving forward.”
Rodgers last season posted significantly better numbers in each of the following statistics: PFF grade, yards/attempt, completion%, big-time-throw rate, and touchdown rate. Projecting future success isn’t just about taking one year of data, and when you factor in his previous numbers, it’s clear that he’s likely being valued closer to his ceiling than his mean expectation. Considering he is 37-years-old and likely will be on a different team next year, there really isn’t another time where you’ll be able to trade him for valuable assets.
The same is likely true for Adam Thielen. The Vikings receiver ranked 10th in points per game last year, but a lot of that was contingent on the 14 touchdowns he scored. What went under the radar, was his lackluster yards/route run (1.86) total compared to previous healthy seasons, in addition to worse production after the catch. 31-years-old heading into the 2021 season, it’s likely we continue to see a decrease in his overall numbers, while it’s worth noting that Justin Jefferson continued to eat into his targets as the season progressed. Combine that with the lack of overall passing volume with the Vikings offense, and it’s clear that Thielen’s fantasy production is likely to take a decent hit this season. Should that happen, you’ll not only be disappointed by that production, but also miss out on the chance to flip him to a contending team for players who can help you for more than just this season. As someone who hates the feeling of disappointment more than almost any other, trust me when I say you don’t want to express that feeling!
Young Players Without Clear Roles For Next Year
In dynasty formats, we have to worry much more about the quality of every player, in addition to their perception. With fantasy value driven greatly by the role each player is put in, it is imperative that they continue to receive the opportunity they need to shine. However, with these two players being day-two draft picks, I wouldn’t count on them being starters at their position for next season.
In redraft formats, I’m a major fan of drafting Jalen Hurts if he continues to not be seen as a top-ten fantasy quarterback. Sure, his passing metrics (57.5 PFF passing grade, 4.6% turnover-worthy play, 65.1% adjusted completion rate) aren’t ideal, but that didn’t stop him from producing at an elite level in terms of fantasy numbers. Why? Well, because rushing quarterbacks remain the ultimate cheat code in fantasy football! Unfortunately, this only saves Hurts for redraft leagues. The Eagles are already rumored to be interesting in trading for Deshaun Watson, and they could have as many as three first-round picks in next year’s draft. That doesn’t speak well to Hurts, a former second-round pick, who might not have the passing skillset nor the draft capital investment to continue to be seen as a starting quarterback for future seasons.
I have less concerns about the quality of player that Darrell Henderson is, given his elite college data and his success (79.2 PFF rushing grade) last season in the NFL. With Cam Akers hurt, the expectation is that he’ll be the main back in a very friendly fantasy situation, causing him to be drafted as a top-20 running back. However, what happens after Akers comes back? There clearly isn’t complete faith in Henderson given that they drafted Akers a year after drafting him, while his role faded as the season went on. Sure, he’ll get his chance to shine now, but if he doesn’t perform to a high level, he might be back to a limited role once again. With the range of outcomes here being a bit concerning, it might be tempting to trade him now for a player with a much higher floor moving forward.
These players are intriguing based on their age and skills as rushers. That being said, there’s a chance that their playing time is significantly lower in subsequent seasons. There’s a way for both of those things to be true. The best way to handle this? Draft them in redraft formats, sell them in dynasty leagues. Then, you have the winning formula altogether!
Young WRs That May Struggle To Meet The Hype
Both of these wide receivers have youth and clear athleticism on their side. Simply for “real life” value, they are quality players who are likely to eclipse $10 million per year with their first free-agent contract. For fantasy purposes, though, both have limitations that may lead to them being overvalued.
At the moment, DJ Chark Jr. is seen as the Jaguars’ top receiver in both redraft and dynasty formats, but I’m not sure that is the case. Over the first three seasons of his career, he’s only averaged 1.49 yards/route run, despite being peppered with 7.36 targets/game over the past two seasons. Now, however, he faces more competition with Laviska Shenault Jr. and Marvin Jones Jr. filling out Jacksonville’s receiver trio, while new head coach Urban Meyer has already expressed some disappointment in the young receiver’s overall physicality. Add in that he has been slowed down by an injury, and there’s a real chance that he becomes the third option of an inefficient passing attack. Sure, Justin, but we’re playing dynasty here. Well, about that. As a pending free agent, that could hurt his role with his future offense; the perception of his skillset would be lower and the investment his future team would need to make to bring him in would be less. In other words, there’s a clear domino effect that could take place here and significantly suppress Chark’s value. Compared to some of the other receivers in his age range, he definitely stands out as the one to sell high on.
In Kyle Shanahan’s offense, Deebo Samuel is a great fit with his ability to make plays after the catch. That being said, his fantasy ceiling is certainly limited. The 25-year-old averaged just 11 expected fantasy points per game last year, in addition to just 10 in 2019. The reason behind this? An average depth of target of just 5.6 yards during that span. Samuel makes up for this with absurd efficiency (9.8 YAC/REC) after the catch, but his margin for error is minimal and he’s reliant on enough targets. However, with Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle likely to earn higher target shares for a run-heavy offense, that volume won’t be there. I’d also be worried about his fit with Trey Lance, who is certainly going to have a much higher average depth of target than Jimmy Garoppolo. There are a lot of moving parts here for a player still under contract for multiple seasons, and while he’s still seen as a top-30 receiver in dynasty formats, it seems like a logical idea to trade him now before there is any sort of dip in his market value. Hey, you can still enjoy watching one of the most exciting playmakers with the ball in his hands! It just doesn’t need to prevent you from supplementing your fantasy roster with more valuable assets.
Last Year’s Breakout Tight Ends
Tight end is a position where overall fantasy production tends to fluctuate greatly from one season to the next. This leads to breakout players at the position, which is exactly what these two players were last year- they finished as top-5 PPR tight ends. However, both relied on something that is unlikely to hold this season, meaning that the time is now to sell them at their highest price point.
Logan Thomas is a very fun story as a converted quarterback as the fourth-best tight end in PPR fantasy points last year. Still, there are some warning signs here. The 30-year-old, despite his overall production, averaged just 1.1 yards/route run, instead of relying on sheer volume with 609 routes run and 105 targets. Yet, I wouldn’t expect either of those things to continue with Washington expected to be an improved team and more target competition present. He’ll still be targeted enough out of the slot to be a top-ten tight end for this season, but he’s also 30-years-old and isn’t guaranteed the same opportunity in the future. In dynasty, you generally want to covet players who aren’t extremely reliant on a favorable situation, and that appears to be the case with Thomas.
Also, in dynasty, you don’t want to bank on a player continuing to post an absurd touchdown rate. Last season, Robert Tonyan had more touchdowns (11) than incomplete passes thrown his way (7). There is simply almost no way that remains the case moving forward. His 0% drop rate, 89.7% catch rate, and 0.2 touchdowns/target are all very likely to regress in harsh fashion, pushing closer to his expected fantasy points rank (16th) than his PPR finish (3rd). As with Thomas, if a contender sees him as a clear solution to their tight end woes, take advantage of that chance to sell extremely high on him!
In order to build a sustainable winner dynasty leagues, it’s important to look at the trade market similar to the stock market; buy players at their lowest point, sell them at their highest. Now is your opportunity to trade these players while their value is at its highest point. If not, you could miss your chance! You’ll always hold fond memories of their past contributions, but do you know what keeps that good feeling intact? The contributions of the new players you acquired from selling high on these players! All relationships come to an end eventually, right? Sell high on these players before it’s too late and the eventual trade is much less rewarding!
Photos by Jeffrey Brown & Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire | Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter @ IG)