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Defeating the Dynasty Doldrum: Buy Low

Exploring buying opportunities during the dynasty doldrums.

We’re almost to the time of year that many dynasty owners find the most engaging-- the rookie draft season! It’s the time of year during which free agents land on new teams, we evaluate the incoming rookie class, the NFL teams pick those rookies, and then we select them in fantasy drafts.

However, right before that point there is a time of which every dynasty owner worth their salt should be aware -- what I like to call the Dynasty Doldrums. It’s the time in February after the Super Bowl when owners tend to tune out, when players don’t log into their leagues for weeks on end, and the NFL news cycle slows to a trickle.

It doesn’t have to be that way. For those savvy dynasty owners, this period of inactivity can become a time in which we honestly evaluate every player on our roster and their chances of gaining or losing value in the coming days. Then we begin to aggressively shop those players who are likely to lose value, while making offers for the players we’ve identified as worth acquisition. The purpose of today’s article will be to identify players who are worth buying while their stock is still low or depressed.

QB

Derek Carr, OAK- The expectations were high this year for Carr, and when the team fell to pieces, dynasty owners reacted by dropping his worth from the top six quarterbacks to the fifteen to twenty range. Owners are now hesitant to trust Jon Gruden and his staff to bring Carr back to offensive prominence, but they shouldn’t be. Carr’s newest offensive coordinator (Greg Olson) is someone Carr has worked with before. Olson helped lead Carr to a franchise record rookie season before leaving for Jacksonville and helping completely transform the worst offense in the league into a respectable unit. He then went on to help Jared Goff turn a forgettable rookie season into a promising sophomore campaign. Olson and Gruden’s West Coast offense will encourage Carr to get the ball out of his hands quickly, which Carr has shown he can do very well. It’s reasonable to expect a better year out of Carr, which should bring his value back up.

Action Plan: Carr is usually available for a mid-second round pick in one quarterback formats. In superflex formats, his value has sagged so that you can acquire him at the price of a late first. I’m fine with paying that, but I would probe first to see if the owner you are dealing with will take less.

Mitchell Trubisky, CHI- Sean McVay improved the fortunes of Jared Goff last year. I feel Matt Nagy can do something similar for Mitchell Trubisky. Nagy’s schemes will vastly enhance the offense and Trubisky’s output should also rise. Aditionally, given the circumstances, Trubisky played admirably in 2017 and didn’t look incredibly lost the way many rookies thrust into bad situations do. The fact he is ahead of schedule wih his development also bodes well for his sophmore season.

Action Plan: In one quarterback leagues, you can sometimes buy Trubisky for a mid-to-late second or early third. In superflex formats, it’s tougher to pry Trubisky away for anything less than a late first. However, if he ascends the way I expect him to in year two, he’ll demand far more in the dynasty market by next year.

Teddy Bridgewater, MIN- Minnesota needs a starting quarterback with all three hitting free agency this year, and my gut tells me that they will keep Bridgewater. By all accounts, he’s fully healthy after a lengthy rehab to repair a devastating and nearly career-ending knee injury suffered in 2016. If he does end up staying in Minnesota, Bridgewater will be worth having on your fantasy team, as this offense has much more weaponry than when Bridgewater last sat atop the depth chart. Bridgewater has said he has interest only in being the starter wherever he lands, so even if Minnesota does not retain him, there’s still hope of him being more than a backup.

Action Plan: Bridgewater is virtually free in one quarterback leagues and he’s garnering only a mid-to-late second in superflex formats. I’m buying him up in every format, because I trust the talent. That, and there’s really nowhere for his value to go but up.

RB

Samaje Perine, WAS- Though Perine went as early as the mid-first round in 2017 rookie drafts, his stock has plummeted after his rookie campaign didn’t go as planned due to Washington’s ineffectiveness as a team and Perine battling through multiple injuries before going on injured reserve. The team will add Alex Smith in March, and though he isn’t highly regarded in fantasy circles, I believe he can do enough to keep the offense viable and keep defenses from keying on the running game. Chris Thompson will likely be back to be the change of pace runner in this backfield, which will also help Perine stay fresher throughout the season.

Action Plan: If you can get Perine for a mid-to-late second, I would do so, as I believe his situation will improve and he did enough to earn starter duties in a committee situation going forward.

Peyton Barber, TB- Barber was tabbed as the starter late in a lost season, but did well with his opportunity. With the team basically admitting Doug Martin is not part of the plan going forward, we now wait to see if the Buccaneers will invest significant rookie capital in another runner. My gut tells me we won’t see anyone selected at running back before late day two, as Tampa Bay has glaring needs along the offensive line and at cornerback. If we don’t see competition added early, it will signal the team’s trust in Barber to be at least the main back in a committee and his stock will shoot up significantly.

Action Plan: Right now, Barber is often available in leagues for an early-to-middle third round pick. As this is a very hit-and-miss zone in rookie drafts anyway, I don’t mind spending a pick in this range and waiting to see if the investment pans out.

Devontae Booker, DEN- If the Broncos want in on the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes, it would make sense for them to cut or trade C.J. Anderson and get his 9 million dollars over the next two years off the books. That would leave Booker as the primary back in a situation that is bound to improve with a better signal caller at the helm. Booker would be best suited to be the lead back in a committee with someone like De’Angelo Henderson and this scenario could very well play out with the cap crunch.

Action Plan: Unsurprisingly, Booker’s stock is down after he came in under his total numbers from his rookie year. Remember, he played most of 2016 while Anderson was injured. An early-to-middle third round pick may be enough to pry him away from a disheartened owner.

WR

Allen Robinson, JAX- Robinson will turn 25 during the preseason, and all indications are that he is ready to resume football activity after tearing his ACL in week one of 2017. He’s likely to remain in Jacksonville on the franchise tag. Though the situation seems crowded at this moment, Marquis Lee is also a free agent and unlikely to return. Robinson will probably resume the lead role here in an offense that seems to have found its rhythm.

Action Plan: Robinson is still garnering a mid-first round rookie pick in most leagues, but the talent level combined with the situation makes this a fair price to pay. It’s probably the best discount you will get on Robinson for the next few years.

Donte Moncrief, IND- Though he’s finished out his rookie contract, Moncrief will barely be 25 years old at the outset of the 2018 season. We’ve seen encouraging signs from him over the past two years, in spite of Andrew Luck playing sparingly. Indianapolis is working to re-sign him, and if Andrew Luck can get back under center, Moncrief only stands to gain value.

Action plan: In some leagues, Moncrief is acquirable with as little as a mid-to-late second. I would easily pay this price to get him on my team.  

Paul Richardson, SEA- Richardson finally stayed healthy in 2017 and showcased why some dynasty owners were so entranced by him in the first place. It sounds increasingly as if Seattle has no intent to re-sign Richardson at the price he is reportedly demanding, so there’s a chance that he’ll land in a better situation. As Matt Waldman highlighted on a recent podcast, a dream landing spot for Richardson would be New Orleans, where his deep speed and reliability at the catch point would endear him to Drew Brees.

Action plan: Richardson costs a mid-to-late second in most formats at the moment. If your team can tolerate the risk of Richardson landing back in Seattle or in a less than ideal spot, I feel it’s worth the gamble.

TE

George Kittle, SF- I’m surprised to see that Kittle hasn’t moved further up in the rankings after posting a notable rookie season. He’s currently sitting at tight end number sixteen according to current ADP data. It’s not often that rookie tight ends show what they can do in year one. I also know that Kyle Shanahan’s offenses tend to lean heavily on a receiving tight end. All signs point to Kittle’s value only continuing to increase.

Action Plan: A mid-second round pick should be enough to entice him away from another owner in your single tight end formats. In tight end premium formats, Kittle may demand a late first, but see if you can package other players and picks with a second to get him before you shell out a first rounder.

Adam Shaheen, CHI- A rising offense under Trubisky and Matt Nagy should mean good things for the mismatch tight end. Shaheen didn’t have the year that fellow rookie George Kittle did, but he certainly had moments where he flashed. Trubisky looked for Shaheen often in the red zone in 2017 and that trend should only grow in 2018.

Action Plan: In single tight end formats, Shaheen can be had for a mid-to-late second. In tight end premium leagues, an early second should do the trick.

Cameron Brate, TB- Brate’s stock is down primarily because owners believe that Brate will get away in restricted free agency or that if he does stick around, O.J. Howard will eat into his totals. He’s unlikely to be let go, especially since he is such a trusted target of Jameis Winston on third down and in the red zone. That rapport isn’t just going to go away, which is why I believe that it’s Howard, not Brate, who may not live up to statistical expectations this year. If another team does land him in restricted free agency, they will have to pay up to do it, meaning they will have plans to put Brate to good use.

Action Plan: Brate’s value is very depressed at the moment, which means you may be able to get him for a mid-to-late third in single tight end formats and a late second in tight end premium leagues. This is a solid acquisition if you are in need of a stopgap option.