This column is all about the NFL Draft even though the draft is not here yet. The NFL Draft is the last significant event where player values will change drastically and instantly based on what teams do. Obviously, players will get hurt, position battles will be won and lost, and guys will shine or flop in the preseason, but none of those things are guaranteed. The Draft is a certainty. You know there are top prospects. You know they will be drafted. You know the incumbent players will be impacted. Between now and the NFL Draft, you have one last window of opportunity to get out in front of a significant value changer.
Many, if not all of the players on this list will be players potentially negatively impacted by who their teams draft. That’s not to say you should definitely sell all of them on the belief their teams will draft replacements/competition. It’s merely to point out that these guys have legitimate value now that you know, in theory, you can get something for, whereas in a week’s time, they may be worth significantly less. Even for players unlikely to be affected by the draft, once April 29 comes, player valuation becomes more concrete. That is why your window to make moves is now.
Here are some players that may be worth selling for value now as they may not be worth as much a short time from now.
Jerick McKinnon (RB – SF)
Let me start out by stating that I love Jerick McKinnon. I actually own him in a keeper league and I’m trying to figure out a way to keep him within the budget prescribed – I don’t want to trade him. However, I acknowledge the value in doing so. McKinnon’s value will never be higher than it is right now. He may very well be an RB1 this season and finally realize the potential we all saw when he graded out as the most athletic running back in NFL history. Right now, he’s the clear feature back on the 49ers. After the draft, that may still be the case. If it is, that means his situation has remained unchanged; his value will be what it is now. If the 49ers draft more of a power RB like a Royce Freeman, Rashaad Penny, or Bo Scarbrough, it doesn’t cripple McKinnon’s value, but it certainly lowers it a bit. The hype will reel back a little and he will be viewed as more of an RB2, PPR guy, than the potential three-down workhorse. Again, I am not saying to go out of your way to get rid of McKinnon. I am merely advising to test the waters and see if anything bites.
Alex Collins (RB – BAL)
Here’s the thing with Alex Collins – he was never the intentional starter. It kind of happened by accident. But it worked. Collins certainly performed quite well last year, posting strong efficiency metrics. He also performed significantly above his athleticism. He’s not the first RB with a weak athletic profile to succeed and he won’t be the last, but I have a hard time believing he’s the long-term answer. He’s still just 23 years old so it’s possible, but I anticipate the Ravens spending a third or fourth round pick on a running back. In this year’s draft, that player will have a chance to make an immediate impact. The Ravens also still have Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon roaming around. Collins is currently being valued as a solid RB2. There are too many scenarios that lead to him having lesser or literally no value (if things really go wrong).
Jordan Howard (RB – CHI)
Do whatever it takes to get rid of Jordan Howard. He’s not a bad player; not at all. But look at what the Bears have done this offseason. They’ve acquired Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel, an offensive-minded head coach, and openly spoken about utilizing Tarik Cohen more. This is going to be a much more pass-oriented offense and Howard cannot catch passes. He is a two down grinder that will be very touchdown dependent. This is less draft related and more team philosophy related. I don’t think the fantasy community yet realizes how problematic the paradigm shift will be for Howard.
Doug Baldwin (WR – SEA)
I was so high on Doug Baldwin last year that his underwhelming season could make this seem like I am putting him here out of spite. The actual reasons are more legitimate. Baldwin has only been a WR we’ve cared about for three seasons so you might think he has his whole career in front of him. In actuality, he will be 30 years old this season. Add in the fact that he was largely inefficient last year with 237 fewer yards than the year before despite just nine fewer targets and he saw his catch rate decline significantly from 75.2% to 64.7% and we have a player that might already be on the downslope of his career. Russell Wilson did not seem to have much interest in feeding the ball to Baldwin as Baldwin saw more than six targets in a game just seven times all season. While Baldwin’s target count is by no means bad, it’s more than the perception of Baldwin is more as a true WR1 when he’s just not. Baldwin will be fine for fantasy this year and probably next year as well, but his perceived value has surpassed his actual value.
Jimmy Graham (TE – GB)
No, I am not about to go on a diatribe that centers around Aaron Rodgers not using his TEs. That’s just bad analysis because Rodgers has never had a TE like Jimmy Graham. The reason Graham is a sell high is that his value is way overinflated. This is a lateral move, at best. What exactly do fantasy owners think is going to happen? Graham is suddenly going to travel back in time to when he didn’t tear his patellar tendon and actually was capable of moving laterally? Jimmy Graham cannot move anymore. He lumbers. His value last year stemmed entirely from his red zone dominance. That very well may continue with Rodgers, but how much higher can he go from the 24 red zone targets he saw last season? I really think his 2017 performance is his 2018 ceiling, but the perception is that his ceiling is Gronk/Kelce levels. It’s not the case.