Three Dynasty Fantasy Football Players We Would Rather Sell Than Hold
Last week, we took a look at three players that the RotoExperts crew is higher on than market consensus in dynasty fantasy football but in zero-sum markets, if we think that some players are undervalued then that means others have to be overvalued. As I say that, I feel the need to make it clear that production is not a zero-sum game but the aspect we are interested (dynasty ADP, trades, ect) is. To follow that trend, there is a subset of dynasty fantasy football players who have reached or are near the apex of their career-long fantasy football value.
It is important to note that just because someone is a SELL in dynasty fantasy football does not mean they are no longer a good asset to have or that their career is over. Someone can be a sell candidate in dynasty leagues and still have a year or two left of production. Maybe they have another five years of production left but the won’t ever again produce at the level they are being valued at. There is a lot of nuance to selling players in dynasty, not for the least bit because giving up on someone who turns their game up ANOTHER notch is perhaps the most painful experience one could find in fantasy sports.
Making difficult decisions and winning on them a majority of the time is essentially how we would define being a good dynasty fantasy football player. The following three players are all popular in some circles, less popular than others and have a value that is hard to pin down exactly. These players with a wide array of variance make perfect candidates to sell as you can almost always find a buyer who values the player differently than you do.
Three Dynasty Fantasy Football Sell Candidates
Yes, Derrick Henry just put together one of the most incredible second-half + postseason runs of any player in NFL history, not excluded to just running backs. His rushing yards from Week 10-17 alone would have made him a top-20 rusher in 2019. He was one of the most impressive players overall in the playoffs as he handled over 30 carries in wins against the Patriots and the title-favored Baltimore Ravens. He did everything that his fantasy owners could have wanted from him in 2019 and yet, there is little reason to think that his performance is of the repeatable variety (unless of course Derrick Henry IS the true outlier at the RB position).
Henry’s lack of usage in the passing game is always going to hinder his fantasy value and that is just a fact.
Over the last 10 years, only four running backs have finished as an RB1 (top-12) with 20 or fewer receptions:
* Derrick Henry 2019 (RB5)
* LeGarrette Blount 2016 (RB9)
* Alfred Morris 2012 (RB7)
* Michael Turner 2011 (RB8)
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) January 22, 2020
As our friend from NFL.com illustrates, it is just next-to-impossible to repeat rushing-based performances in fantasy football because running the ball is flat out hard. This was Henry’s first season averaging over five yards per carry. From his comparable seasons, Blount never again was even an RB2, Morris had two more strong seasons before fading to the background and Turner was out of football in 18 months after his RB1 season.
Does this mean Derrick Henry SUCKS? No, of course not. Does it cheapen his accomplishments on the field? It does not. Henry is a sell candidate because huge outlier performances like his are more likely to come back to Earth than they are to repeat. From a real-world level, Henry is going to be a solid, dependable RB2 for your dynasty teams. He is not likely to go the way of Michael Turner (yet) but there is also some big risk that he might leave a team dedicated to feeding him carries for a bigger paycheck somewhere during free agency. If you were able to secure a early-t0-middle first-round rookie pick with a veteran contributor that you would start (think Cooper Kupp or Kenyan Drake), that is a fair offer and in more casual leagues, you are likely to get even better returns than that.
Very similar to Henry but in a much more drastic way, we just do not know what Melvin Gordon is going to be next season. Is he going to return to the Los Angeles Chargers? All indications are that he is not going back to LA. Even if he DID return to the Chargers, it is now being reported that Philip Rivers has moved on from the team and will be elsewhere in 2020. Gordon played about as bad as possible after returning from his holdout with 3.8 yards per carry, only a season after averaging over 5.0 yards per carry.
Gordon is still used in the passing game (55 targets in 12 games and 11 starts) and was able to score nine touchdowns in those 12 games. It is not as if Gordon stopped producing on the field entirely but he was a great illustration of the fragility of the RB position. His team didn’t notice his absence in any way and was frankly, worse with him on the field. Fantasy owners were left wondering when, if ever, he would return to the team. So what you have with Rivers is an asset that is insanely hard to figure out. He never played that well in the NFL but the Chargers always rewarded him with touchdowns and usage in the passing game. Would another team also reward his mediocre play with goalline carries and third-down snaps?
If Melvin signed in Tampa Bay or Kansas City, this advice to sell would look laughably bad. If he signs in Arizona or Houston and ends up in a two-way or three-way timeshare with other running backs who also are adept at catching passes and doesn’t have a monopoly on goalline work then what makes him any different than Carlos Hyde? Over the long run, if you sell players like Gordon who have no measured sample of efficiency and whose own teams have been disinclined to pay them large sums of money, you probably come out on top.
Fair value for Gordon is a lot harder to find than it is for Henry. I might not be willing to give up the 14th overall rookie pick in 2020 for Melvin Gordon. Fantasy Player X who owned Gordon in 2018 when he averaged five yards per carry and scored 14 touchdowns might think he is worth Jonathan Taylor + Mike Williams. Now, that fantasy player is wrong but there are certainly analysts and players out there who by and large, believe that Melvin Gordon is an above-average NFL player and a quality fantasy asset.
Quick, right now, without googling, how old is T.Y Hilton?
I bet you guessed 27 or 28 (which is what I would have assumed). Hilton is actually 30 years old and will turn 31 during the 2020 NFL season. Over the last six months, he lost his franchise quarterback due to retirement and suffered a litany of injuries that limited him only 10 games played with a career-low 45 receptions, 501 yards and five touchdowns. His yards per target of 7.4 was the worst of his career as well. Now, part of this decline in performance was due to QB play and part of it was likely due to playing through injury but the fact remains: Hilton had an age-30 season filled with injuries and now has an uncertain QB situation.
Dynasty League Football’s ADP puts Hilton as the market’s 35th ranked wide receiver and routinely being drafted in the top 100 picks. Hilton is basically the classic sort of guy that teams who constantly try to churn the most amount of value out of players know to avoid. Should you take Hilton in startups? Of course not. Are you going to get super low-ball offers on Hilton? Yeah, you probably will but some of them might be worth taking. The closest comps to Hilton’s 2019 are Miles Austin’s year with Cleveland (73 targets, 568 receiving yards, 12 games played) and Harry Douglas’ last year in Atlanta. These are not names that you want to be attached to in dynasty.
If I owned Hilton in leagues that I cared about, I would make an offer with him in it to every other team in the league with Hilton being valued as a blue-chip player and working from there. Do not offer unfair trash, of course but he has a big enough name that he should be able to get you players you actually want on your roster over the course of the offseason.