Fantasy Football Day Trader: Offseason Dynasty Edition
Welcome to the Fantasy Football Day Trader, where the writers at The Fantasy Footballers team up to present our favorite players to invest in as well as those to fade. Fantasy football is a lot like the stock market, and this article series is meant to assist you with your investment portfolio. We’re here to present our fantasy opinions for your consideration, and I can tell you firsthand that we preach what we praise. This article series will present fantasy players that we’re looking to move and the price tag that we think is fair. You should always try to assess your trade partner’s valuation of players before jumping to a price tag that you assume is fair. If you’re new to fantasy or if you’d like a refresher on general trade strategy, we have an evergreen article from last year to help: The Art of the Fantasy Football Trade.
Fantasy Football Day Trader: Offseason Dynasty Edition
The 2020 NFL season just ended last month, yet a lot has changed in the league. NFL free agency is upon us. NFL teams are molding their rosters, which is giving us a preview of the 2021 season. Some teams are rebuilding like the Lions. Others are going all in for the 2021 season, like the Rams. If you play dynasty fantasy football, you should be making moves now too – and that means looking at potential trades with league-mates. Dynasty fantasy football never sleeps. The early offseason (now) is the riskiest time to make dynasty moves because a lot can change with the draft and preseason. However, this is also the time of the year that you and your league-mates have the least amount of information. That means there is a potential edge to gain. Greater risk = greater opportunity for a big improvement to your team (and also greater chance to screw up your team… but don’t be a Debbie Downer). Plus, trading is just fun. There, I said it. I love trading. It’s my favorite part of fantasy football…outside of the draft, of course. Alright, let’s get it- our writers’ favorite investments and fades in dynasty fantasy football.
NOTE: Last edit on 3/22/2021, before the 2021 draft.
Investments (Trade For)
Deebo Samuel (Jeff Greenwood – @TheFantasyEng)
Deebo is the forgotten man in San Francisco. He blew up at the end of his 2019 rookie season, scoring 12+ fantasy points in seven of his final eight regular-season games. Fast forward to 2020…he missed nine games to injury and Brandon Aiyuk burst onto the scene. Now he’s being ranked as a back-end WR3 / WR4 by most. Don’t forget that Deebo is a yards after the catch (YAC) master. In fact, he led all players in 2020 in yards after the catch per reception with 12.1 YACPR. He’s a stud when he’s on the field and he gets the ball. In his two-year NFL career, Deebo has averaged 12.4 fantasy points per game when he sees 4+ targets. Deebo has a ton of upside and can be acquired on the cheap. And can you imagine Deebo if the 49ers get a quarterback upgrade?
Price Tag: High-end WR3 | Risk Rating: 4 (medium-high)
Mark Andrews (Jeff Greenwood – @TheFantasyEng)
The tight end position is very thin in fantasy football. In real-life football, tight ends block and catch passes. Some elite NFL tight ends are used more for blocking than catching passes…but for fantasy football purposes, only the pass-catching matters. Enter Mark Andrews, Lamar Jackson’s favorite red-zone target. Fantasy managers were disappointed in 2020 because he was not in the elite tier like Kelce and Waller despite being drafted in the early rounds. However, he still had 7 games with 10+ fantasy points, and that’s really hard to find in a fantasy tight end. He was a better fantasy player than your league-mates remember. Even in a limited passing offense like Baltimore, Andrews has cemented himself as one of Lamar’s favorite weapons. And he’s only 25! Mark Andrews is a plug-and-play fantasy player, and that’s rare at the tight end position. I am buying the dip in Mark Andrews’ dynasty value, and you should too. We just saw his floor in 2020, and I think better days are ahead.
Price Tag: Back-end WR2/RB2 | Risk Rating: 2 (medium-low)
James Robinson (Ryan Weisse – @TheFantasyFive)
You may need to wait a bit to make a move on JRob but I think a buy-low window will open. The addition of Carlos Hyde may not sound like much but he is a decent RB and the coaching staff knows him. My theory is that he is going to make 2021 rough for JRob managers. However, Hyde is also 31 years old and this team should be far better in 2022. That is when Robinson, who turns just 23 this year, will shine. There will be more carries, so any competition will matter less, and there should more opportunities to score. If the current JRob manager is teetering, now is the time to attack. If he’s not, wait till about one month into the season. Robinson is unlikely to see his 85% carry share repeated and his manager might be fearing the worst. You don’t play dynasty for one year, get him when the value is low, and laugh all the way to a #FootClanTitle in 2022.
Price Tag: Established RB2 and a mid-round draft pick | Risk Rating: 3 (medium)
Tarik Cohen (Aaron Larson – @aalarson)
It’s easy to forget about Cohen after David Montgomery caught fire down the home stretch of 2020 to finish as the RB4 on the season. At the same time, nobody is forecasting Montgomery to be an RB1 in 2021. Yet somehow, there hasn’t been any buzz for Cohen so far this offseason. He isn’t a running back that will be doing his damage on the ground, but Cohen averaged 97.5 targets and 75 receptions from 2018-2019 before tearing his ACL early in 2020. The Bears gave Cohen a big contract headed into his 2020 season and his injury happened early enough to allow for a full recovery for the 25-year-old running back by the time the season kicks off. Cohen has legitimate RB2 potential catching passes from Andy Dalton in 2021 and should be a valuable fantasy asset for several years to come.
Price Tag: WR3 or Risky TE | Risk Rating: 2 (medium-low)
A.J. Dillon (Aaron Larson – @aalarson)
Dillon’s value torpedoed as soon as Aaron Jones’ contract was announced, making this the perfect time to acquire the young bruising running back. With Jamaal Williams gone to Detroit Dillon is, at worst, high-value insurance back to Aaron Jones. Still, he could push double-digit touches/game and profiles as a goalline back alongside Jones in a high-scoring offense. Forecasting even further ahead, let’s not forget that fantasy stud Derrick Henry, who Dillon is often compared to, didn’t top 200 carries until his third season in the NFL. Getting Dillon for a song right now could pay huge benefits in future seasons.
Price Tag: WR3 + future 3rd round rookie pick | Risk Rating: 3 (medium)
D.J. Moore (Marvin Elequin – @FF_MarvinE)
D.J. Moore is primed to have the best season of his short NFL career in 2021. We know that he had a slightly disappointing year in 2020. With Curtis Samuel taking on an expanded role, and Robby Anderson siphoning a significant target share, Moore would only rank as the WR27 in PPR points per game (14.1). Part of this is because of his new role in Joe Brady’s offense, setting a career-high in air yards per target with 13.1. Despite being targeted further downfield, Moore ranked as the WR8 in unrealized air yards (757) and only the WR77 in catchable target rate (73.7%). But despite the uneven season, Moore would still lead this offense in receiving yards (1,193) and yards per route run (2.27). Heading into 2021, Samuel will no longer be a Panther, freeing up 9.2 opportunities and 7.7 targets per game. And while Carolina did commit to signing David Moore, I expect Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore to be the 1A and 1B for this rising Panthers offense. We have also seen several reports that Carolina is looking to upgrade at quarterback, as evidenced by their interest in trading for Matthew Stafford earlier this off-season. If they do land an upgrade at QB, either through the trade market or the draft, expect D.J. Moore’s dynasty value to soar. So before that happens, trade for him now before he entrenches himself as a dynasty WR1 this upcoming season.
Price Tag: High-End WR2, Low-End WR1 | Risk Rating: 1 (low)
Chris Carson (Peter Chung – @FF_Hypeman)
When news broke on Friday that Seattle re-signed bruising RB Chris Carson to a two-year contract with a voidable third-year option worth up to $24.625 million, his dynasty value was immediately boosted into the low-RB2 tier amidst the likes of other questionable backs like Kareem Hunt and Kenyan Drake. But even with his higher cost, Carson is still a huge value as the key piece in a prolific, run-first offense. Head coach Pete Carroll has been on-record declaring that he wants to focus more on the run game after their offense faltered in the second half of the 2020 season. Carroll clearly loves Carson, and how could you not? He’s a human wrecking ball that bulldozes his way through the gridiron with reckless abandon. While everyone else in the league plays Madden, he’s playing NFL Blitz. The man seeks contact more than Jodie Foster. It might not be the best for his health or career longevity, but he’s consistently productive whenever he’s on the field. Despite missing four games last season, he still finished as the RB17 in half PPR and averaged 14.1 PPG (RB12; min. five games played). He’s also underrated as a receiver, averaging 7.8 yards per reception (RB11) and 1.5 yards per route run (RB10). And he’s only 26! Unless the Seahawks sign or draft someone else, then Carson has the lead role secured as Carlos Hyde is now a Jag while Rashaad Penny was always a JAG. Invest in Carson and enjoy having a fringe RB1 for a low-end RB2 price.
Price Tag: Low RB2, High WR2 | Risk Rating: 3 (medium risk)
Fades (Trade Away)
Cam Akers (Jeff Greenwood – @TheFantasyEng)
Unpopular opinion: Cam Akers is overrated. He’s currently ranked as the consensus RB8 in FantasyPros dynasty rankings. I think he should be viewed as an RB2. He had seven regular-season games last season with 10+ touches. His fantasy output in those games: 4.8, 5.9, 3.8, 15.9, 20.4, 6.7, & 8.6 fantasy points. Akers also only faced one top-12 fantasy defense in those games!!!!
The Rams spread the ball around last season:
- LAR red zone rush attempts in 2020: D Henderson (31), C Akers (31).
- LAR rush attempts inside 5-yard line: D Henderson (9), C Akers (8), M Brown (7).
- Akers had 156 total opportunities (carries + targets), two more than Henderson. And Henderson finished with 27% more fantasy points!
Now Stafford is coming in, which should lead to an improvement in the passing game. Stafford targeted RB’s 105 times last season. By comparison, Goff only targeted RB’s 50 times and Akers was third in market share. He’s flashed a few times, including incredible performances in the playoffs against the Packers (who gave up the 6th most fantasy points per game to opposing RB last season) and the Seahawks (18th). He deserves credit for these great games, but we have to remember the regular season too. Cam Akers is a solid running back, but his production did not separate him from the pack. Henderson will be back and Brown may be gone. I think Akers will be the primary ball carrier and be a valuable fantasy piece moving forward, but the hype is too much when you consider others ranked behind him.
Price Tag: Mid RB1 | Risk Rating: 5 (high)
Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith (Ryan Weisse – @TheFantasyFive)
Strike while the iron is hot. It’s an old phrase but there is a reason we still use it. The market is torn right now on the value of these two New England tight ends but one growing sentiment is “We’re back to the Rob Gronkowski / Aaron Hernandez scheme”. While in theory this sounds great, both were top-5 TEs for this team many years ago, in practice…not so much. In 2011, Gronk and Hernandez were targetted 237 times and scored 25 total TDs. Last year, the Patriots targetted the TE just 34 times and Cam Newton threw eight TDs on the entire season. It’s already hard enough for most teams to give us on viable fantasy TE, two is out of the question. Trade them.
Price Tag: Attack TE needy teams for whatever you can get | Risk Rating: 1 (low)
Irv Smith (Aaron Larson – @aalarson)
Top-tier tight ends always come at a premium in fantasy football and any young player at the position will inevitably get hyped up. Now that Kyle Rudolph is out of town, Smith is the new hotness. While the young tight end certainly has the potential to become a top-five tight end, so do another handful of young tight ends in the league. Not to mention, there really wasn’t much separation (26 fantasy points) between TE5 and TE14 in 2020. Smith finished 2020 strong, but so did his tight end teammate Tyler Conklin. They had nearly identical numbers over the final four games of the season, shown in the table below.
Smith is, at best, the fourth offensive option in Minnesota behind Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen. I’m all about trading Smith to a fantasy manager chasing tight end upside for a well-known fantasy commodity.
Price Tag: WR2 + future rookie pick | Risk Rating: 3 (medium)
Melvin Gordon (Marvin Elequin – @FF_MarvinE)
It was recently reported that the Broncos rescinded Philip Lindsay’s tender, making him an unrestricted free agent. And with Mike Boone being the only addition to this Broncos backfield, all signs point to Melvin Gordon taking on a slightly expanded role as the unquestioned lead RB for this offense. While he might have another solid season for dynasty managers, now might be the perfect time to move on from Gordon before he hits the inevitable age-cliff for running backs. Last season, Gordon was extremely volume-dependent, receiving the 11th most opportunities (259) and running the 10th most routes (270) among all running backs. However, from an efficiency standpoint, he was much less impressive. This past season, Gordon averaged only 4.6 yards per touch (RB41), while ranking RB28 in yards created per touch (1.28). Furthermore, Gordon is expected to be an unrestricted free agent in 2022, further clouding his dynasty outlook. Turning 28 this April, I believe this is the perfect time to trade Gordon as he is still perceived as a high-volume RB that can help a contender win a championship. And while that may be true for 2021, I would much rather trade Gordon one year early than be one year late with his inevitable decline in value.
Price Tag: Mid-to-low RB2 | Risk Rating: 3 (medium)
Bonus – Final Thoughts
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! What trades have you made so far this offseason? What trades are you considering? Who are your favorite trade targets and players to fade?
Contact us on Twitter and let us know your thoughts (usernames in parenthesis, above)! Good luck.