5 dynasty options to consider selling on before the draft
There's not much time left before the NFL draft, but savvy fantasy owners can still use that window. Dan Schneier suggests 5 names to sell.
5 dynasty options to consider selling on before the draft
The 2017 NFL Draft is less than a week away, and it might be your last chance to take advantage of the hidden value. Now is the second-best time of the year to buy and sell in your dynasty leagues.
If you’ve been tracking free agency, team needs, and past draft tendencies, you can take advantage of situations that are about to change for every individual fantasy position. If you haven’t, don’t fret, because we’ve got your covered.
Below, we’ll take a look at five players whose dynasty value is likely to drastically change following the conclusion of the draft. Now is the time to sell before the depth chart around these players gets a lot more crowded and their trade value suddenly bottoms out.
Rob Kelley, RB, Washington Redskins
For starters, Kelley signed as an undrafted free agent, and despite outplaying former mid-round draft pick Matt Jones by leaps and bounds in the preseason, the Redskins didn’t turn to him until Week 8. Kelley flashed at times, but despite playing in such a favorable situation (we’ll get to that below), he averaged just 4.2 yards per carry. Kelley topped 100 yards rushing in just one game in 2016 and averaged just 46.6 yards rushing per game over the final six games of the season.
The Redskins have done an excellent job building a supporting cast around Kirk Cousins that also fits head coach Jay Gruden’s scheme to a tee. With Terrelle Pryor and Jordan Reed on board, and young receivers like Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, and even Ryan Grant in the mix, Cousins already has most of what he needs to succeed.
But the Redskins haven’t quite figured out the running game since Gruden arrived, despite the fact that they’ve made multiple attempts to build it up. The hiring of OL coach Bill Callahan coupled with investments in the offensive line (Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff) have rendered a favorable situation for running backs, but the Redskins don’t seem like they’re settle with Kelley as the lead back.
Earlier this offseason, Gruden hinted that the team is looking for an upgrade at running back.
“When you get a great one, it makes a team different,” Gruden said, via ESPN. “And it takes a team from a pretender to an immediate contender. We’re all looking for that.”
The Redskins will have plenty of opportunities to find that difference-making No. 1 running back in a 2017 class that is arguably the most talented at the top and deepest in the last decade when it comes to the ball-carriers. In both the recent three-round mock draft by PFF’s Steve Palazzolo and the full staff’s seven-round mock from last week, Washington is mocked to grab (arguably) the most talented and (most likely) the most elusive running back in the draft at No. 17 overall — Dalvin Cook.
If the Redskins grab Cook or a mid-round prospect like Kareem Hunt, Kelley’s value will take a massive hit. Right now, you can leverage our advanced stats in trade talks. Kelley finished with a much better elusive rating than you might expect, and although it didn’t necessarily always lead to fantasy success, it’s a good bargaining chip in trade talks right now.
Ladarius Green, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
Green was signed before the 2016 season because he’s a perfect fit for Todd Haley’s scheme. With the threat of a vertical option down the seam at tight end, the Steelers offense has no weaknesses. In the first season of his four-year, $20 million contract, the 26-year-old appeared in just six regular-season games after missing the first nine weeks on the PUP list. His season ended in Week 15 when he suffered a concussion. Green has a lengthy history of concussions, and although he has vowed to return in 2017, it’s difficult to take his word given how long concussions kept him out in the past.
When on the field, Green was something of a difference-maker for the Steelers offense. He averaged 16.9 yards per catch and opened up different areas of the field for the offense. Green’s impact while healthy sparked some speculation that the Steelers will look to draft a top tight end in one of the strongest rookie tight end classes to come out in several years. Although Ben Roethlisberger has denied reports that he lobbied the team to draft a tight end, that doesn’t mean they won’t take one anyway.
O.J. Howard ran a 4.51 40-yard dash at 251 pounds. David Njoku had a 37-inch vertical jump and the ability to run the seam with 4.64 speed. Evan Engram, who might be the best fit for the Steelers to run the seam in the middle of the field, ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at 234 pounds. Adam Shaheen, Bucky Hodges, and Jordan Leggett didn’t quite reach the freakish levels of the three prospects just mentioned, but they also project as potential difference maker tight ends at the NFL level.
If the Steelers decide to select anyone from the loaded tight end class, it would mean a massive dropoff for Green’s value. In addition to potentially adding competition at the position, the Steelers will likely return red-zone threat Martavis Bryant to the offense. This is just another piece of bad news for Green. Sell now.
Kevin White, WR, Chicago Bears
White entered the NFL in 2015 with a ton of hype — a Terrell Owens-esque body with more straight-line speed. People signed up immediately. White’s small sample size at the collegiate level was easily thrown away for his immense upside. The two seasons since have been terrible to White owners who used one of the first three or four picks in their dynasty drafts on him. White missed his entire rookie season with a shin injury, and then played just four games in 2016 before a leg injury knocked him out.
Then, when it looked like things couldn’t get worse, White’s dynasty value took a substantial spike when Alshon Jeffery walked in free agency. Hope springs eternal in the fantasy world and aggressive owners are always looking for opportunities to buy low on talent. Take this opportunity to sell now.
Even after returning in 2016, White looked like a different player than the one we saw at West Virginia in 2014. His burst and explosion was gone. White averaged just 9.8 yards per catch, under 50 yards receiving per game, and he didn’t score a touchdown. In 2014, he finished with seven touchdowns of 20-plus yards — the most in his class. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound athlete we watched blaze a 4.35 40-yard dash with a 36.5-inch vertical at the combine in 2014 was not the same player on tape in 2016 and consecutive major lower body injuries leave at least a spark of doubt that he can ever return to that level.
The Bears have shown a tendency to invest through the trenches under general manager Ryan Pace (see their first two picks in 2016), but even he can’t deny that the roster is lacking weapons for new quarterback Mike Glennon. With a strong core in place on the offensive line and Jordan Howard at running back, the Bears will likely invest a Day 1 or 2 draft pick at wide receiver or tight end. Don’t get caught with White on your dynasty roster after that happens.
Duke Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns
At one point not too long ago, Johnson was untouchable in dynasty leagues. If you approached a Johnson owner about a trade, you might hear a long-winded rant about how he showed off three-down capabilities at Miami and about how Browns head coach Hue Jackson would unleash him. Then, Johnson played a second-fiddle/change-of-pace role behind Isaiah Crowell in 2016. Despite the fact that Johnson finished with an elite elusive rating on a per-touch basis, the Browns handed him just 73 carries in 2016. There was no specifically designed role to get Johnson very involved as a receiver either.
The arrival of Jackson turned out to be a bad thing for Johnson. In 2015, Johnson played in an offensive scheme that afforded him 70 targets and often aligned him in the slot and with different personnel groupings designed to get him involved as a receiver. That role is not likely to come back around in Jackson’s offense in 2017.
Johnson is not an ideal fit for this offense, but there are certainly several prospects in every round of the NFL draft who are great fits for the Browns. Johnson’s role is already not very prominent, and if the Browns add more competition with a similar skill set to Johnson, he could see a massive dropoff in dynasty value.
Johnson still carries a major name brand in dynasty leagues. People see an elusive and explosive running back with potential three-down capabilities. We’re not saying Johnson isn’t exactly that. What we are saying is that we’ve seen that profile before and we’ve seen it ultimately fizzle out in dynasty leagues. Don’t get caught holding Johnson and waiting out his rookie contract before you see any return on your investment.
Frank Gore, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Gore keeps on chugging along, and the 33-year-old back is one of the most underappreciated players overall in dynasty leagues. Having said that, Gore’s past two seasons have been highly dependent on touchdowns. For the first time in his career, Gore averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry in 2015, and then he did it again last season.
Gore has 15 touchdowns over the past two seasons. Putting aside the reality that touchdowns are the most likely statistic to regress in fantasy football, there is certainly concern that the Colts could add more talent to the backfield. In late March, after free agency had hit the final wave, head coach Chuck Pagano wasn’t exactly candid when he referred to adding a young running back as “paramount” for the Colts, via Kevin Bowen.
Gore has never been the most elusive running back in the NFL, but in 2016, he saw his elusive rating plummet. Of all running backs who saw at least 25 percent of their team’s carries, Gore finished 52nd of 53 running backs in elusive rating. He forced just 15 missed tackles on 263 carries. For comparison’s sake, Jay Ajayi led the league by forcing 58 missed tackles on 260 carries. Ajayi was a fifth-round draft pick in 2015 and the 2017 running back class is more loaded on the back end. Gore’s days with dynasty value are coming to an abrupt end.