Dynasty Trade Targets (2019 Fantasy Football)
When discussing dynasty trade targets, one often wants to focus on players with an open buy-low window. As such, I will highlight players on the verge of a breakout season. I have limited this list to just one rookie, as we could dedicate a whole list or podcast to rookie trade targets. Let’s instead examine veterans and post-hype young talent who project to see a value spike not only in dynasty, but in redrafts as well.
Carlos Hyde (RB – KC)
Carlos Hyde is the favorite to win the Chiefs’ starting tailback job. Damien Williams impressed as a spot starter, but that is all he is. Hyde is a proven workhorse who could flourish in an every-down role for Kansas City. It is more likely, however, that he becomes the lead back of a committee with Damien Williams, James Williams, and Darwin Thompson. Although a good system fit, Hyde is sure to lose touches to the more explosive receiving options in Thompson and James Williams.
While Hyde will be forced to win the job in training camp and preseason, he is currently the top early-down talent on the roster. A solid buy-low window still exists, as the majority believe that Damien Williams will starter in Kansas City. Hyde should be good for RB2-level production most weeks, but he can be acquired at the price of an upside depth piece in many leagues. Send out some feelers to see where his owners stand.
Royce Freeman (RB – DEN)
With the Broncos expected to field a competent offense capable of sustaining drives, Royce Freeman is projected to see a major role increase in 2019. Phillip Lindsay was 2018’s ADP MVP, but Freeman could very well see more carries this year. Freeman should come at a deep discount because of Lindsay and provide a solid return versus accrued cost. Lindsay was highly impressive in 2018, especially before contact, where he led the league with 4.42 yards per carry. His concerning after-contact mark of 0.98 ranked 45th in the league. Freeman, on the other hand, managed only 2.72 before contact but made up for it with an impressive 1.28 after contact.
With a new coaching staff in place and Lindsay limited at the start of OTAs, Freeman should be in line for a solid spike from his 34.2 percent snap share. As electric as Lindsay was last season, Freeman will be hard-pressed to completely take hold of the feature back role he was drafted for, save except for Lindsay’s deteriorating play necessitating such a move. This, however, does not mean he cannot be a valuable dynasty commodity as a low-end RB2/high-end RB3 for the next half-decade. Freeman should come at a sharp discount from disillusioned owners who thought they were netting a starter in last year’s rookie drafts. Kick the tires to see if you can land him for an acceptable price.
Derrius Guice (RB – WAS)
Derrius Guice dropped on many dynasty boards after Washington added Bryce Love during the 2019 NFL Draft. Guice has already been dogged with questions regarding his knee and could be on a short leash if Love returns to form by 2020. Remember, Love would have likely been drafted before Guice had he declared for the 2018 NFL Draft.
At the very least, Guice’s long-term workhorse upside has all but evaporated. Right? This is at least what you want to tell rival owners. The truth of the matter is, despite advancements that make ACL injuries not as much of a death blow as they used to be, not all players return to form. This will hold true not only for Guice, but for Love as well.
Guice is an extremely talented back, but the addition of Love signals that he may never get the workhorse role that some had hoped for him. Ranked as highly as an RB1 in the months leading up to the draft, Guice has fallen behind some rookie runners on draft boards. Guice still has RB1 upside. If he is able to ball out this year, he could secure a long-term feature back role regardless of Love’s health. Buy low if Guice’s current owner is in a Love induced panic.
Rashaad Penny (RB – SEA)
Rashaad Penny will receive the opportunity to wrestle the starting job from Chris Carson. However, his current owner may be ready to throw in the towel after watching Carson gallop for 1,151 rushing yards and seemingly take over the backfield. While the Seahawks let Mike Davis walk in free agency, they picked up a superior replacement in Travis Homer. This backfield will continue to be a mess with three starter-ready rushers, but if 2018 taught us anything, it is that Pete Carroll will lean on one as his lead back. First-round draft capital is always going to keep you in the mix, and the explosion Penny showed late last season will help him ascend the depth chart.
Seattle drafted Penny to be the offense’s new Marshawn Lynch, and with Carson dealing with yet another injury, the second-year back should get the tap in OTAs. Penny ranked sixth in the league in breakaway run rate, actually seeing only five fewer 15-yard runs than Carson despite 162 fewer carries. The biggest indication that a change is in the midst? Carson averaged 2.6 yards per carry against stacked boxes; Penny more than doubled that at a 5.8 clip. Try to swing a trade for Penny before reports confirm that he has indeed moved past Carson on the Seahawks’ depth chart.
David Montgomery (RB – CHI)
The lone rookie to make this list, David Montgomery deserves special consideration. Arguably the top dynasty rookie in this class, Montgomery is not being treated like it. While Tarik Cohen may limit his reception upside, he provides long-term stability and certainty in this backfield. Teams like Philadelphia and Oakland could spend early-round picks on ball-carriers in 2020, rendering their 2019 picks to backup or complementary roles. The Bears, however, will likely move forward with their new running back room in 2020 and beyond.
250 carries. That is how many Jordan Howard saw in 2018. A superior runner and receiver, Montgomery will push to assume all of those handoffs in his rookie season. Cohen is not going away, but he is never going to be a workhorse and may max out at about eight carries per game. This will leave 15-17 per game for whoever claims the lead back role in Chicago.
Mike Williams (WR – LAC)
Mike Williams may finally get his chance to shine. However, his dynasty value has not adjusted to properly compensate for his projected increased role and usage. At his best, Williams is a top-15 receiver. Philip Rivers appears to be in extension talks, and this provides some long-term stability as opposed to having to worry year-to-year about whom the Chargers may have under center.
The 24-year-old projects as a high upside WR2 who should finally see the target volume to become a consistent fantasy contributor. He ranked fourth in touchdowns in 2018 despite placing 65th in targets. Williams was third in fantasy points per target and fifth in passer rating when targeted, both indicative of a potential breakout looming. After a disappointing sophomore season, relative to expectations, many owners are down on the talented wideout. Take this opportunity to try to buy low on his upside.
Christian Kirk (WR – ARI)
After an offseason that has seen the Cardinals add four wide receivers and a tight end, Christian Kirk’s fantasy value has taken a hit in some eyes. He remains the second-most talented wideout in Arizona and could top that list by 2020. Kirk would have been the first wideout off of the board in the 2019 class, and he possesses the highest floor of all of the Cardinals’ young receivers.
While his rookie counterparts may eventually pass him in terms of drawing more opposing gameplan attention, Kirk still projects as the receiver with the highest reception upside. He recorded 70 receiving yards per game during a four-game stretch from Weeks 3-6, a time period in which he hauled in five receptions per contest. Kirk should settle in as an explosive slot who leads the team in targets by 2020. Buy low while the opportunity still exists.
Carson Wentz (QB – PHI)
Carson Wentz’s dynasty value is likely at an all-time low. This provides the ultimate buy-low window. Believe it or not, there are those who believe that Nick Foles is the better quarterback and that the Eagles made a mistake by letting him walk. You owe it to your dynasty squad to see if his current owner falls into that category. Wentz is a priority target even if you are squared away at the QB position. Buy low, and then sell high when he re-establishes himself as a top-five QB option in dynasty leagues. While the injury bug has not been kind to Wentz, he is an elite fantasy talent when healthy.
With impact offseason additions like DeSean Jackson, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and Miles Sanders, the Eagles’ offense — with the help of Wentz’s return — is much improved. Arcega-Whiteside is even seeing some offseason work in the slot, music to the ears of those who know he is more talented than Nelson Agholor, and that the slot is the rookie’s quickest path to seeing the field. Despite his down season, Wentz was still third with a 3.1 accuracy rating, seventh with a 74.2 true completion percentage, and ninth with 4.4 air yards per attempt. He rather quietly finished as a QB1 in six of 11 contests and was the QB13 in two others. Buy low now before the window slams shut.
Lamar Jackson (QB – BAL)
Lamar Jackson is poised to make a massive leap in 2019. The Ravens have remade their offense outside of Jackson’s only reliable 2018 target in Willie Snead. They drafted electric receiver Marquise Brown in the first round and also added measurable monster Miles Boykin. Free agency also brought them potential workhorse running back Mark Ingram. They did not stop there, as they added a rookie runner in the starter-ready Justice Hill.
The Ravens also added another big-bodied receiver in the raw but upside-laden Antoine Wesley. Finally, they signed Jackson’s number one receiver from Louisville in Jaylen Smith. With the upgraded weapons and an offensive scheme designed to maximize his strengths, Jackson looks set to explode. Jackson, who finished as a QB1 in five of seven games down the stretch, could realize his top-five QB upside in dynasty leagues as soon as this season.