Dynasty Offseason Trading: Art of the Throw-In

Pat Thorman gives you several trade throw-in candidates whose value may spike as the offseason develops.

| 3 years ago

Pat Thorman gives you several trade throw-in candidates whose value may spike as the offseason develops.

Dynasty Offseason Trading: Art of the Throw-In

AnthonyMcCoyReceiving a two-for-one trade offer is something like unwrapping a pair of socks on Christmas. Feigned appreciation and masked disappointment are requirements of polite society, all while thoughts of wasted opportunity cost gnaw upon roiled intestines. On the rare occasion when such an offering actually is useful, acceptance still necessitates jettisoning functional, if a bit frayed, socks from the back of an already full drawer.

Okay, perhaps the experience is not quite so dramatic for many fantasy players. Yet most are loath to agree to terms that obviously have them handing over the most valuable chip, and rare is the leaguemate who enjoys engaging in trade talks opened with a “Dear Donkey” salutation. Best to avoid potential hard feelings and not construct such offers in the first place.

Instead, mask these “quantity for quality” based intentions by evening out the player count. Many leaguemates have cannon fodder precariously hanging off the bottom of their rosters, and in most cases they are teams toward the bottom of the standings. Relieve them of their torment and request the most barely rosterable player as part of the trade.

This can create the illusion of gaining value for an asset that was likely going to be axed anyway. The number of players changing teams in the trade becomes squared. The marginal player in question can now be viewed as an open roster spot, which is an asset in and of itself. Nobody feels duped, and the best player in the swap is acquired. While this may not be a foolproof tactic, rest assured that 60 percent of the time it works every time.

In dynasty leagues, trading dynamics are altered in the offseason. This creates an opportunity for a longer term approach. Deals that are not even, in terms of the number of players changing hands, are more prevalent due to the frequent inclusion of draft picks. Once a deal is struck, extra roster spots need not be filled quite as urgently as during in-season play. This makes the identity of the “throw-in” something that should be more carefully considered.

Finding the right mix of deeply hidden value and an outward appearance of utter uselessness is indeed a quandary sunk in a quagmire. Yet attempting to identify roster placeholders with potential to morph into assets as the offseason unfolds is worthwhile. The downside is they are dropped after a few months and a two-for-one trade was executed with no hard feelings.

Here are several trade throw-in candidates whose value may spike as the offseason develops:

Shaun Hill (FA – QB)  How can a 34-year-old quarterback who has completed 12 passes since 2010 possibly help your dynasty team? If he again winds up as someone’s backup, he cannot and will be easy to cut. But Hill has quietly spent the better part of his career as one of, if not the best, backup quarterbacks in the NFL. It is now or never if he wants to compete for a starting role, and signing in a city like Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, or Minnesota, may just allow for it.

Hill started 10 games in 2010 with Detroit, and during those weeks he was the sixth-highest-scoring fantasy quarterback. He graded as PFF’s 13th-best signal caller (+9.3) despite not getting a full season’s worth of snaps to elevate that cumulative figure. His 76.1 Accuracy Percentage placed him fifth in the NFL, and he was second in that category while under pressure (70.1%).

In 2007 with the 5-11 San Francisco 49ers, Hill started twice for what was the league’s worst scoring offense. He completed 68.4 percent of his passes (Tom Brady’s 68.9 percent led the NFL), threw five touchdowns to one interception, and led the Niners to two of their five wins. He led three game winning drives the next year while piloting San Francisco (7-9) to five wins during the eight starts he made. He compiled a 62.8 completion percentage (12th in NFL) and threw 13 of their 21 total touchdown passes. Eventually the forced elevation of first overall pick Alex Smith hastened his departure and dissension into relative obscurity … where he remains, despite arguably being the best free agent passer available.

Mike Glennon (TB – QB) The subject of a closer examination a few weeks ago, the 24-year-old Glennon was thrust into an abominable situation as a rookie and acquitted himself fairly well. From suspect coaching to injuries and performance issues among his supporting cast, the rookie faced an uphill climb against a fierce run of defensive opponents. All of those negatives will be more favorable for the sophomore quarterback in 2014. With talk of the Buccaneers perhaps drafting another passer high in the draft, something that is less likely than has been reported, Glennon’s price tag should reflect a rare bargain for a young player in dynasty leagues.

Matt Schaub (FA – QB) The Texans’ deposed franchise passer graded out as PFF’s 38th overall quarterback in 2013. His replacement, Case Keenum, fared little better (33rd) while taking snaps and rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic that was Houston’s offense. Throwing Schaub over the side might be rash, especially when it is hastened by the lingering taste of a record-setting “pick six” barrage that cannot be placed entirely at his feet. He faced pressure 41.8 percent of the time, which was the sixth most among passers who took at least 25 percent of their teams’ drop backs (Keenum ranked second).

INT % (Rank)








3.9% (34th)

2.2% (9th)

2.1% (6th)

2.1% (9th)

2.6% (13th)

2.6% (17th)

In major contrast to his 2013 results, Schaub averaged a 9.6 ranking in PFF’s overall quarterback grade during his previous five seasons, with a low of 13th place and a high of seventh (twice). That average ranking moves up to ninth when looking at PFF’s QBR metric, which takes drops, throwaways, spikes, and receiver yards after catch into account. We often talk about how quarterbacks get too much credit and blame for their team’s results. Schaub’s reputation has taken an outsized hit due to a team-wide implosion in Houston, a resulting spike in his interception percentage that smells like an outlier (above), and a string of fluky plays that tend to look especially bad when Sportscenter replays them on an endless loop. Do not be surprised at the amount of attention he gets on the free agent market this offseason once the Texans cut him.

Chris Polk (PHI – RB) With stud lead back LeSean McCoy turning 26 years old and handling more than 300 touches per season (306.5) over the last four years, expect Chip Kelly to ease off the throttle just a bit in 2014. The natural inclination is to expect more involvement for Bryce Brown, but what if Brown is not McCoy’s direct backup in training camp? For the second offseason in a row there are whispers that Brown’s tendency to bounce runs to the outside makes him a poor fit for Kelly’s scheme. The 24-year-old Polk, however, embraced his limited role by gaining 54 yards on seven between-the-tackles runs, averaging 7.7 per carry and adding 40 yards after initial contact.

To properly sell outside zone runs, on one of which Polk scored a 38 yard touchdown, keeping the defense honest with their inside counterpart is crucial. The fact that Brown’s tendencies telegraph where he is headed goes a long way toward explaining his disappointing season. In an extremely small sample, Polk excelled. His insane 1.22 fantasy points per opportunity (PPO) will obviously regress with more touches, as will his 8.9 yards per carry average. A 7.18 yards after contact per attempt (Yco/Att) figure, which was the best of any back with at least 15 combined runs and receptions, fueled an otherworldly 191.5 elusive rating. Over a significant number of touches all of these averages will fall, including his third place (no minimum attempts) 67.3 Breakaway Percent figure. Yet they hint at the potential for more production than the unheralded Polk has been credited with possessing, or than has been priced into his current market value.

Michael Cox (NYG – RB) The Giants’ roster might actually have more holes on it than that of their MetLife Stadium roommates. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the backfield, yet it strains credulity to suggest they will invest a high pick on a running back considering their many needs on both sides of the ball, and having recently done just that when they sunk a first rounder into David Wilson two drafts ago. Their cap room ranks in the middle of the league, but they have the most unrestricted free agents (23). As it stands now, and things will certainly evolve, Cox is the only healthy halfback on their roster who touched the ball last season.

They will probably get another season of free agent Andre Brown, and Wilson may make a surprising recovery, but the 24-year-old Cox is still a chip worth holding onto as things shake out. Head coach Tom Coughlin gave him some run in 2013 and had nice things to say after the season: “He found his niche on kickoff returns and did a solid job for us. He had a role for us this season and he has the potential to build on it for the future.” Cox looked good during the 2013 preseason, and prompted Matthew Freedman to pique our interest with this rotoViz piece. If he is not a free agent in your dynasty league, he will still make for a savvy throw-in as part of a larger deal.

Lance Dunbar (DAL – RB) Anyone who saw Dunbar on Thanksgiving, which pretty much included the entire country, was treated to a peek at why most close observers of the Cowboys had their money on him as DeMarco Murray’s backup, instead of fifth round rookie Joseph Randle. Dunbar ripped off 82 yards on just 12 carries, forced four missed tackles, and averaged 5.9 yards after contact per attempt. He also showed off perhaps his most usable asset for Dallas in 2014 when he caught a 12-yard pass. Scott Linehan loves throwing to his running backs, and the Cowboys figure to be snapping it more often than they did during 2013. Dunbar will almost certainly see more playing time, even if Murray manages to make it through a full season for the first time in his career.

Nate Burleson (DET – WR) All pizza-induced car wreck jokes aside, well, actually there is nothing too exciting about the 32-year-old Burleson in that case. However, from a fantasy point of view, he has not been entirely without value. In fact, during the three weeks before he broke his arm, in addition to the game during which he returned, he was the 19th highest scoring wideout in PPR leagues. After that point his snap percentages fell from the low 90s into the mid 70s, due in part to him being overworked in his first game back from injury and other game-specific factors. With a new coaching regime in Detroit, as well as questions about his contract and potential competition for receiving snaps, Burleson’s value has cratered.

The Lions currently have one of the worst cap situations in the league at more than $5 million over the limit and only 23 players under contract. The free agent receivers list is lacking, to be kind. The expectation is that Detroit will use an early pick on a wideout to complement Calvin Johnson. Burleson predominantly plays from the slot (65.1% of 2013 snaps), so that does not appreciably affect his standing on the depth chart – especially with Ryan Broyles’ Achilles tear added to his list of injury woes. Burleson has already said he is willing to take a pay cut from his $5.5 million price tag so he can stay in Detroit. With new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi set to implement the Saints’ offense, which leans heavily on slot receivers, Burleson is worth holding onto at least until the Lions’ roster takes shape.

Receiver is a tough position for adding youth in dynasty leagues, which makes sense because they typically have longer career arcs than do running backs, and lineup requirements necessitate starting multiple pass catchers. Some interesting names, depending on how their owner views them, include Jerrel Jernigan, Stedman Bailey, and Kenny Stills. None of the Giants, Rams, and Saints are in great cap shape either due to how much room they have, other roster needs, or a combination of both. It is unlikely that any of the three teams will bring in receivers that will keep Jernigan, Bailey, and Stills off the field.

Jernigan came on like gangbusters at the end of 2013, and despite the fact that he was aided by facing weak slot cornerbacks, he is a strong bet to figure heavily in the Giants plans as they address more urgent roster needs this offseason. Bailey also improved steadily down the stretch, going from not seeing the field much at all in the middle of the season, to seeing his snap percentage numbers climb from the teens into the low 70s by Week 17. He is one of the few Rams’ receivers that trended up in December. Stills, who led all pass catchers in wide receiver rating (139.3), may be hard to pry from an owner who knows that his profile is due to rise even more in 2014. However, the boom-or-bust nature of his game, and a relatively quiet second half of 2013 that included just two receptions per game and one total touchdown from Week 11 on, may present an opportunity to procure the young burner. All three are worth a try.

David Ausberry (OAK – TE) It has been out of sight, out of mind, for this Oakland tight end. Not too long ago, about six months to be exact, Ausberry was seen as a worthwhile dice roll late in drafts. An August shoulder injury prematurely ended his season, and the Raiders’ quarterbacks scatter-armed their tight end targets primarily in the direction of the relatively unexciting Mychal Rivera. It will be nearly impossible for Oakland to not get a better passer behind center in 2014, and the 6’4” former wideout should begin to creep back onto fantasy owners’ radars in the coming months. His 4.48 speed and strong pass catching skills will not be diminished by a shoulder injury, and he enters a contract year with much to prove. He will be worth holding onto at least for as long as it takes to see who the Raiders’ quarterback will be, and how Ausberry’s standing on the depth chart is affected by offseason transactions.

Anthony McCoy (FA – TE) The free agent tight end probably will not be back in Seattle, and that is a boon to his fantasy value. The run-first Seahawks do not have much cap room, will be asking Zach Miller to restructure, and have Luke Willson waiting in the wings. McCoy is working his way back from a partially torn Achilles’ suffered last May. Prior to that, the impressive 6’5” athletic pass catcher was generating some buzz based on him making the most of his opportunities in 2012. In fact, his points per opportunity of 0.51 in PPR leagues was second only to Rob Gronkowski among fellow tight ends who saw at least 25 percent of their teams’ snaps. His 78 percent receptions per target average ranked third, and was further legitimized by an 11.2 average depth of target (aDOT) that was sixth deepest at his position and hinted at his downfield playmaking ability. There are a number of teams with tight end situations that would transform him into an attractive sleeper, not the least of which are Atlanta, Green Bay, and New England. McCoy represents a dynasty league throw-in that can help get an owner out in front of that potential buzz.

Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman

Pat Thorman is a lead writer for PFF Fantasy and a Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner.

Comments are closed.