By Jeff Melbostad (@Jeff_DFW)
Welcome back to DFW’s own Dynasty Stock Watch in-season article. Each and every week we cover a number of players who fall into the buy, sell and hold categories based on current values, performance, and player trends. Player values are of the utmost importance to the fantasy football community. Striking on a player when his value is low or high makes all of the difference in the world. These concepts are especially true in dynasty leagues where player values stretch out over a much longer period of time. So while we’ll focus on some immediate news and production remember that in dynasty we can’t overreact. One game (or even a few games) a career does not make, but it does definitely give us an idea of what to expect.
For most of you the season is at an end. Week 16 is by far the most popular end date for leagues so I hope your teams did well. What that means for us dynasty leaguers is that the offseason is upon us and, as such, I’m going to focus on who I think are some great offseason buys, sells and holds this week. This will be the last stock watch article for the 2013 season so focusing on guys you can target in the coming months seems like a good idea to me.
Let’s get after it:
Old RBs – Adrian Peterson MIN, Reggie Bush DET, Arian Foster HOU – The offseason is a time where speculation runs rampant. It’s also the time when youth is overemphasized and players approaching the age cliff lose value in leaps and bounds. The production dip doesn’t always match that loss in “value” as dynasty owners see it. As a result it’s almost always a good idea to target players who owners are likely to be down on and are looking to net value out of before the age bug kills them completely. Reggie Bush and Adrian Peterson will turn 29 this offseason and Arian Foster will turn 28. All three are rapidly approaching the dreaded age 30 and will undoubtedly come with various age or injury discounts. You owe it to yourself to send some offers to the owners in your league and see what that discount may be. If an owner is desperate or in rebuild mode the deal you can get just may surprise you. I expect all three of these guys to produce next year and likely for a couple more years so the risk isn’t that great and the reward very well could be.
Underperforming Stars – Ray Rice RB BAL, Robert Griffin III QB WAS, Dwayne Bowe WR KCC – It seems like a pretty simple concept to go after players who we feel underperformed in 2013 this offseason. Maybe my saying so strikes you as a bit of a “captain obvious” moment, but in my experience I’ve often found that stating the obvious is exactly what many of us (myself included) need. We all know that we should target underperformers but it’s very easy to fall into the trap of ignoring players that are lacking hype, while focusing on the “what have you done for me lately” guys. Luckily for all of us the offseason is not only a time for massive speculation but also for reflection and self-analysis. Finally, after a season that sometimes feels more like work than play we get some time to think about things and do things at our own pace. I don’t need to tell you about the 3 players I listed. Each has proven to us all that they are talented and capable producing at or near the top of their respective positions. For that reason alone you need to make a play at a discounted price. All three guys should bounce back with better results in 2014. They all need help from other positions but that’s what real NFL teams use the offseason for as well so I expect it to happen to an extent for all 3. See what it costs to grab these guys because just one disgruntled owner can make your offseason a good one.
Top 3 Rookie Draft Picks – The focus in all dynasty leagues is about to quickly and decisively switch to the draft. In most of my leagues trading is opening back up now that the championship has been decided and now is the time to make a play for these high picks if you haven’t already. I know some of you will say it’s too risky at this point since the top 3 rookies aren’t even consensus yet. Maybe you (like me) have barely even started your 2014 rookie research yet. Well, I’ll argue that’s exactly WHY you need to make the play right now. Don’t wait for people to make up their minds on the player they like or for the offseason hype train to start up. The closer we get to draft day the more value these picks hold so you should be able to get them more cheaply now than you would in the coming months. The reason I advise targeting the top 3 picks is because those are (roughly) the only picks that have “guaranteed” value in my mind. These picks guarantee you one of the elite talents in the draft and even if it isn’t clear to you or to other owners right now I can safely say that it will be clear in April. See what your owner will demand in January because it will surely be more come March.
Da’Rick Rogers WR IND – This year’s crop of rookies are not the only players who will have hype trains running off the rails this offseason. Young talent primed for breakout seasons are just as good (maybe better) than the unproven draft talent. I happen to think Rogers falls nicely into that category. Da’Rick was pretty highly hyped coming out of college but, much to the chagrin of dynasty leaguers, went undrafted primarily because of character concerns. That fact means he already has fans among the savvier dynasty owners. He had a real nice game in week 14 (a 6/107/2 stat line) and in doing so gave all dynasty owners a taste of what is to come. He also posted 6 targets in each of the next 2 games. Catching passes in a high-octane offense from a top tier QB in Andrew Luck is sure to be a winning recipe for massive offseason value. The hype will build around Rogers with a dinged up WR corps whose lead dog Reggie Wayne turns 36 in November and could be all but done. As a result I wouldn’t advise selling him just yet but watch his value this offseason. I don’t doubt that this spring or summer you’ll be able to land some pretty nice pieces for the young man. If the hype builds quickly enough maybe he can even be used to buy you into the top 3 picks of your draft.
Knowshon Moreno RB DEN – If you’re a dynasty leaguer with Knowshon on your squad then you must move him as soon as humanly possible. He looked like the real deal in this Denver offense there is no doubt about that. Through week 16 Moreno posted 1500+ total yards, 55 receptions and 12 total touchdowns. Those are top-5 numbers from a guy who’s never come close to living up to his top 12 NFL draft pick in 2009. I’ll fully admit I’m no Moreno fan but let’s be honest people. What are the chances that Moreno finally figured this thing out after 5 years in the NFL? In my not-so-humble opinion he’s much more likely to be a product of the system and a stopgap while incumbent RB Montee Ball gets his bearings. Ball got some reasonably decent playing time late this season and the 2nd round draft pick is sure to be the favorite for starting at RB in 2014. Move Moreno while you can for whatever you can and thank me later.
Draft Picks Outside Top 5 – Don’t get me wrong, I love drafting rookies and I love rookie hype, but there are no sure things outside of the top few picks in the draft. As much as we all live and breath rookies in the offseason we need to take a step back and realize that they are massively hyped and often times produce a mere fraction of the value we pay for them. It’s easy to get caught up in your favorite sleeper rookie WR and pick him in the late first round just knowing he’ll break out and you’ll look like a genius, but it isn’t smart. Not smart at all. I’d advise trading your late first or 2nd round draft picks to try and move up into that top 3-5 range wherever possible. Most of the time that won’t work despite your best effort and in those cases I prefer to trade said picks for proven production because in the form of veteran players since they’re far more predictable. Sure you may pull talent out of these picks repeatedly but it’s bound to end at some point. Even the most seasoned NFL scouts have a tough time predicting production in the NFL so set your pride aside and help your team out with proven value rather than “what ifs.”
Justin Blackmon WR JAC – At first glance Blackmon may seem like a risky hold but let’s be honest he’s just as risky a buy or a sell. There’s risk to Blackmon no matter which way you slice it. The guy is an idiot that much is clear. He’s likely one infraction away from never playing the game again if he even gets reinstated to start the 2014 season in the first place. Despite all of that Blackmon is a supremely talented WR and when he gets on the field he reminds us all of that fact. In just 4 games this season Blacky put up 29 catches for 415 yards and 2 touchdowns. I get that he’s a head case and his situation makes his production even more unpredictable but you simply won’t get reasonably decent value if you sell him now. I say keep him on your roster and wait it out. If he starts ripping it up again in 2014 then sell and forget about holding for long. A bonehead like Blackmon is sure to screw up again so if you can get rid of the potato while it’s hot then make sure you do. Just don’t sell this cold potato right now because your ROI will be nearly nothing.
Injured Pass Catchers – Reggie Wayne WR IND, Jeremy Maclin WR PHI, Rob Gronkowski TE NEP – This seems like another obvious point from your favorite captain obvious writer but I’m serious once again. Injuries often times mean value for dynasty leaguers. It’s easy to forget that Reggie Wayne was the hottest WR in the game early on in 2013. It’s easy to forget that Jeremy Maclin put up three straight WR2/3 numbers going into 2013. It’s NOT easy to forget Gronk but there may be concerns about his ability to stay healthy. Don’t get me wrong, each of these guys have their question marks but that’s kind of the point. You don’t get full value for someone that owners are concerned about so why sell? I get if you’re sold Reggie Wayne is on his way out or Gronk is an injury prone mess you want to sell but I’m not sure selling at pennies on the dollar is the right approach. You can get more once these guys heal up and chances are they won’t disappear completely. Wait until that happens if you’re dead set on trading or just enjoy their production when it picks back up again.
Top 3 Draft Picks – Oh wait did I just list the same thing for both the Buy and the Hold category? Sure as s@#% I did! If you don’t own a top 3 pick then you should try to acquire one as I said earlier in the article. On the flip side of that same coin, if you own a top 3 pick DO NOT SELL. Even if you intend to sell the pick at some point, now is most certainly not the time to do so. In my experience pick values increase exponentially as the NFL draft approaches. The inevitable hype of rookies and where they get drafted leads to ridiculously bloated expectations and draft pick values alike. If you like a player keep the pick and make it once you’ve researched enough to know you don’t like that player. If you get a king’s ransom for the pick then feel free to move it as well. I just have a feeling that “king’s ransom” offer won’t come until the last minute so hold and keep your options open.
That’s all I got for you guys. Hope you have a great offseason! These are just a few guys that, in my opinion, you should be looking at this week and deciding what to do with them. Whether you have them on your roster or are thinking about acquiring someone the buy low and sell high philosophy is a powerful one. And one you should always look to take advantage of.
Obviously the final decision on these players (and others) is up to you. If you have thoughts on these guys or opinions that differ I’d love to hear them. Hit us up in the DFW forums or post a comment and I’ll respond in kind. Differing opinions is what makes fantasy football fun after all.