New Reality No.113: Early-Season Dynasty Trading - Footballguys

Navigating the ever-changing landscape of dynasty fantasy football

The opening week of the NFL season presented the first data points in months. Dynasty GMs are left with a variety of avenues to navigate player value including:

  • What was a trend and what was an outlier from Week 1?
  • Assessing your roster strengths and weaknesses going forward
  • The fertile ground of early-season waiver wire players
  • Are trades needed for the dynasty roster?
  • Finally, setting the Week 2 lineup

The highest leverage aspects of the Dynasty GM's action plan this week are how they will assess potential roster weaknesses and navigating the trade market.

The Sell List

The easier list and action plan are players to sell as the marketplace is the rest of the league, where buying a player is a market of you (the buyer) working a deal with one specific GM about a specific player.

For Peterson, there is a good likelihood Week 1 was his best game of the season in PPR scoring. Peterson uncharacteristically added receiving production, including a long catch-and-run in the final seconds. Also, Washington's game script was perfect for Peterson to see strong volume in the comfortable win. Peterson is 'found money' in the sense he was likely a free pickup or hold over the offseason until he signed. Considering the nature of chasing running back volume and production in-season, shoot for a Round 1 rookie pick in return for Peterson, even if adding to Peterson to get the deal done. Target owners with injuries or holdouts or uncertainty at the position who would welcome Peterson into their weekly lineup.

Ajay's final stat line created confidence, while the pathway to his production was concerning. Ajayi saw few snaps in the first half as Darren Sproles and Corey Clement were the main rotation. Ajayi was the 'closer' for the Eagles offense and happened upon two second-half touchdowns on his tepid snaps. Without passing game involvement and being game script-dependent added to his management-infused usage with his knee state, Ajayi has more name cache than substance to his profile.

Wilkins enjoyed the 1A role in Week 1 with the overarching caveat Marlon Mack (injury) and Robert Turbin (suspension) were out of the lineup. Still, Wilkins was severely limited by the passing game domination of Nyheim Hines where Wilkins will need high volume and/or a short-range touchdown to emerge with a decent fantasy day. Marlon Mack is on track to return and Turbin will not be far behind him. Wilkins presentation as the lead back will be short-lived and any chance to extract a future Round 2 pick (even giving a Round 3 selection) is growing dim.

While all the talk leading up to the season was Carson's stranglehold on the lead job in Seattle, Carson was in a near 50-50 snap battle with Round 1 rookie Rashaad Penny. This is despite Penny being slowed by injury and putting on 15+ pounds which did not look like a positive. Penny will get every tiebreaker for opportunity and Carson's main appeal was at least a few weeks of dominant snap/touch share while Penny was either out or a clear RB2 in the pecking order. It appears Carson will not even have that window, already down to a weak flex consideration with handcuff-type only appeal soon. At most, Carson could haul a Round 2 pick or a depth wide receiver in the marketplace.

The former Round 1 pick vaulted up with a solid Week 1 game. The Patriots wide receivers are a weak spot at least until Julian Edelman returns, plus Chris Hogan was a notable underperformer with 1-5-0 on five targets. While Dorsett could remain on the radar post-Edelman re-entry to the offense, his window is short to consider as a WR3/4 for lineup decisions. This week is critical to explore the market on Dorsett who can be a key upgrade tool at another position to use in a two-for-one deal or upgrade rookie picks. One, in particular, I was able to execute was Phillip Dorsett and Dallas Goedert for Jordan Reed.

One of the market share kings in Week 1 was Enunwa with 45% of team targets. However, he was used in almost a wide receiver-tight end hybrid manner. Plus, Terrelle Pryor looms as an upside candidate on the depth chart, who sparsely played in the preseason due to his injury recovery, yet had 3-49-0 on three targets in Week 1. Also, Jermaine Kearse is set to return to the lineup. In short, the depth chart is ambiguous and about to get more cluttered. Enunwa had an ideal opportunity in Week 1 and the result was 6.3 yards-per-target. For Enunwa, a future Round 2 pick or using as an upgrade chip is optimal.

While Doyle enjoyed a snap edge over Eric Ebron, it is clear which offers more seam-stretching and receiving upside in the wide receiver-starved Indianapolis passing game. Doyle was the dominant TE1 for the Colts last year (75% of positional targets) and it is already down to 63% in Week 1. Doyle is also a lumbering athlete without much upside beyond short-range volume or point-blank end zone targets. Doyle has yet to average 10 yards-per-reception in any single season of his career, spanning 180+ receptions to-date. Doyle carries a Round 2/3 valuation in stock formats.

The Buy List

Stafford is a long-term fantasy producer with seven straight seasons of 4,200+ passing yards and four seasons of at least 29 touchdowns. Stafford's abysmal Week 1 with notably four interceptions marks an interception rate more than triple his career mark. The small sample size is important for overreacting to NFL veterans. The Lions offense has arguably its best set of weapons in years with three quality receivers and Kerryon Johnson and Theo Riddick in the backfield. Plus, the schedule is optimistic over the next month.

  • Backup Running Backs

Dynasty GMs chase opportunity in-season and No.2 running backs can be the best investments for future weeks. They are an injury away from a prominent role for a fraction of the cost. The most affordable No.2 backs who stand to inherit a strong workload with a single injury include:

These are the lowest cost primary backup running backs on the market. They are ideal to either pick up from the waiver wire or include as final pieces of already constructed trades.

Cooper's down 2017 season after two promising ones at 21-22 years old sent his dynasty market into uncertainty. Week 1 did not help matters with a single catch and Oakland's passing game (outside of Jared Cook and mop-up duty with Jalen Richard) looking lost. However, Cooper's long-term profile is that of an elite metric prospect with elite draft pedigree and phenom production at a young age in the NFL. If we have seen Cooper's fantasy best, he will be one of the biggest metric disappointments of all time. Bet on the rebound, whether this week, month, or next year as the market has started to turn into a strong buyer's dynamic. Recent trades include Lamar Miller for Cooper, 3rd and even T.J. Yeldon, Geronimo Allison, Ben Watson for Cooper. Explore the market this week.
Reed has been the lone tight end in recent years to challenge, or at times surpass, the great Rob Gronkowski over stretches of seasons. In fact, Reed at 0.60 touchdowns-per-game is only tight end other than Gronkowski to eclipse 0.50 TD/G with more than 25 games played. The biggest hurdle for Reed has been health and all reports leading up to Week 1 was this has been Reed's healthiest stretch in years. Washington has little at wide receiver to challenge Reed for 1A work and In Week 1 Washington's passing game centered around Reed and Thompson. With rampant uncertainty at tight end (injuries to Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker, question marks with Jack Doyle, Charles Clay, and even how the passing pie will be dispersed for Travis Kelce, Evan Engram, and David Njoku). In short, Reed is poised to be more valuable by his own production and weekly floor as well as the surrounding projected TE1 options. Recent trades include Reed for Nelson Agholor and other Round 2 equivalency.