Dynasty Players to Sell Post Free Agency (2020 Fantasy Football)
Free agency has turned the NFL upside-down. Multiple star players have switched franchises, causing some veterans to lose their jobs and others to fill the void. While the offseason has been quite tumultuous, and it’s tough to untangle the ramifications of everything that happened in free agency, now is the perfect opportunity to capitalize on the player movement.
It’s a sellers’ market, so it’s best to get value in return for your overvalued assets before the commotion dissipates. Some veterans are getting an extraordinary amount of hype right now; even though they could be great come next season, they are going to return more value in a trade than what they will provide on your roster next season. Others will perform poorly, and you need to get them off of your roster before they hit rock bottom.
Nonetheless, let’s take a look at several players at each position that I think you need to sell post-free agency.
Tom Brady (TB)
The biggest shock of the free agency period was Tom Brady’s decision to leave New England after 20 years and six Super Bowl victories. Now that he’s in Tampa Bay, many are mesmerized by the potential of a Buccaneers offense with a passer who has thrown fewer interceptions in his last four seasons combined than Jameis Winston threw in 2019. Nonetheless, now is the perfect time to sell Brady.
Brady finished as the QB12 last year, but his ranking was skewed by his performance through the first six weeks of the season. From Week 1 through Week 6, Brady ranked as the QB8, putting up five performances with more than 20 points. From Week 7 on, Brady only put up one performance above 19 points and finished as the QB23 in that span. Brady has historically disappointed towards the end of the year, only putting up four top-twelve performances from Weeks 14-16 over the past five years.
Now, the 42-year-old Brady will need to adapt to a new system, play with different weapons, and face unfamiliar opponents. While Brady may still be great for real football, I doubt he can sustain above-average fantasy production even with more talented weapons. People will likely value Brady as a low QB1 right now, so I’d sell him while the hype is still deafening.
Josh Allen (BUF)
Allen’s stock also grew during free agency. Allen finished as the QB7 last year after an injury-plagued rookie season. Since the Bills acquired Stefon Diggs via trade, many have projected Allen to have a breakout season in 2020 and enter top-five fantasy quarterback territory. Yet I contend that Allen’s projected value will be greater than his actual production.
Last season, Allen was consistent but rarely special. While he managed seven top-12 performances, over half of those finishes were as the QB10; Allen only ranked as a top-five quarterback once. Most of Allen’s top-12 performances were due to his rushing ability, as he managed under 200 passing yards in 38 percent of his outings and never surpassed 270 passing yards. His 20 passing touchdowns ranked 21st among quarterbacks and tied for last among passers who played a full regular season.
While the growing sentiment is that the addition of Diggs will help Allen progress as a passer and improve his fantasy value, I don’t foresee much improvement. Allen ranked 36th in passing attempts per game in 2019 and will maintain his low volume in a run-oriented offense. I believe the Bills franchise passer can still finish as a top-twelve quarterback, but his current value is at its ceiling.
Kenyan Drake (ARI)
Everything has gone right for Drake truthers this offseason. First, Drake was retained by the Cardinals via the transition tag. Next, his main competition, David Johnson, was sent packing to Houston. In return, the Cardinals received DeAndre Hopkins, an outside receiving threat who will take some pressure off of the run game and give Drake lighter boxes. Despite everything going right for Drake, I am willing to sell my shares
Last season, from Week 9 through Week 16, Drake finished as the RB4. However, a large majority of his top-12 performances were on the back of touchdowns. Drake scored seven rushing touchdowns in that span, the third-most of any running back. While he saw a large majority of touches, the Cardinals did not have any healthy backs to spell him during his incredible run. Johnson and Chase Edmonds were consistently hurt, only garnering 24 touches during that span.
While I firmly maintain Drake will command a sizable workload as the starter, I am concerned that he will split more time with his backups in 2020 than he did last year. I also don’t foresee Drake maintaining his touchdown rate, as Hopkins’ arrival will assuredly remove some red-zone looks from the former Dolphin. Drake may be a top-12 running back, but the opportunity to sell him at his inflated price is too good to pass up.
Melvin Gordon (DEN)
This is not a situation in which a player found a better landing spot and should be sold while their value is at its apex. Arguably, Gordon landed in one of the worst destinations, as he will be playing alongside Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman in a crowded Denver backfield. While Gordon is projected to see a greater share of the carries over Lindsay, I would sell him before his value takes a major hit come September.
Gordon didn’t perform well in a timeshare last season. From Weeks 5-16, Gordon finished as the RB15 in PPR. A whopping 27 percent of Gordon’s total points derived from rushing touchdowns, which ranked seventh among running backs with 150 or more carries. He’s been extremely inefficient in his career, averaging under four yards per carry and ten yards per reception in four of his five total seasons.
Now, Gordon must split time with Lindsay and Freeman, who combined for 434 total touches last year. He likely won’t fall out of the top-24 running backs, but his ceiling is limited by participating in this timeshare. At age 27, Gordon is unlikely to see a featured role or an RB1 fantasy finish anytime soon, as only eight running backs in the past four years have managed a top-twelve fantasy finish after entering their sixth year in the NFL. Gordon’s fantasy stock is falling, and it’s time to sell before we reach junk bond status.
T.Y. Hilton (IND)
With Philip Rivers coming to town, the stock of all Indianapolis Colts fantasy players saw a commensurate rise. This is not because Rivers is a great quarterback, but mainly because he will be a remarkable improvement over Jacoby Brissett. Still, selling Hilton while his price is high should pay dividends.
Hilton did not have much opportunity last year, missing six total games and playing under 60 percent of the snaps in his final three contests. Even when he had opportunities, Hilton did not impress. He had a 65.2 percent catch rate and managed 11.1 yards per target, which ranked 40th and 81st respectively among wide receivers. He only managed four games above 10 PPR points, all of which came on the back of touchdowns.
While I expect improvement for Hilton with a higher quality quarterback at the helm, he’s still an aging asset with a WR2 ceiling. After Andrew Luck retired, you could not find a reasonable return for Hilton; now, the window to sell the 30-year old wide receiver has finally cracked open, and I suggest you take advantage of it before his dynasty value drops after next season.
John Brown (BUF)
There isn’t room in Buffalo for more than one high-performing wide receiver, and after the Stefon Diggs trade, Brown is bound to see his production suffer following a career year. In Brown’s first season with the Bills, he became Josh Allen’s favorite receiver. He logged 115 targets, which was nine more than his teammate Cole Beasley and 81 more than the third wideout on the depth chart, Isaiah McKenzie.
Diggs now enters the Buffalo offense as the de facto WR1 and will immediately siphon targets away from Brown and Beasley. Brown already did not show much upside last year despite his consistency and WR15 finish. He scored double-digit PPR points in 13 outings, but he finished as a top-12 wide receiver in three of them. Diggs’ presence will limit Brown’s upside and hamper his weekly performance.
The Bills ranked 24th in pass attempts in 2019, and that volume does not project to change. It’s rare that a 1,000-yard wide receiver could see his stock decrease so rapidly with the addition of a talented compliment, but Diggs’ addition does exactly that. You are better off selling Brown as a WR2 now because it’s difficult to see how he will garner enough volume to perform at that level in 2020.
O.J. Howard (TB)
“Tom Brady loves tight ends.” That was the sentiment I kept hearing over and over this offseason. The growing narrative around Tom Brady and his former Patriots offense was that any decent tight end would succeed with Brady. While Howard may not be the next Rob Gronkowski, he is still being over-hyped.
Over the past four seasons in which Brady played a full 16 games, his reliance on the tight end position has steadily decreased, especially as Gronkowski declined. From 2015 to 2019, the Patriots’ tight end target share dipped from 26.9 percent to 9.3 percent. Last year, Benjamin Watson and Matt LaCosse combined for 43 total targets, which ranked 32nd among teams in terms of tight end targets.
The statistics dictate that Brady doesn’t need to rely on the tight end position to succeed. Combine that with the fact that he will have two extraordinary wide receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin at his disposal, as well as Bruce Arians’ reluctance to utilize the tight end position, and you have a recipe for fantasy disaster. Howard’s stock has risen steadily after his epic collapse last season that saw him drafted as a top-five tight end only to finish as the PPR TE28. Despite the hype, I don’t foresee him getting enough volume or utilization to finish as a top-twelve tight end in 2020.
Austin Hooper (CLE)
Austin Hooper may make more guaranteed money than any other tight end next year, but he certainly won’t see the most production at his position. When Hooper signed his four-year, $42 million deal with the Cleveland Browns, his stock took a slight hit. After finishing as the TE6 in PPR and TE3 in PPG in 2019, many expected a repeat performance from Hooper next season. Now that he is with the Browns, I am recommending a hard sell while he still holds top-10 value.
Hooper will most certainly see fewer targets next season, as he now shares a workload with Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt. He will be joining Kevin Stefanski’s new offense, which preaches a low-volume, efficient passing game. Last year, Stefanski’s Vikings passed the ball only 29 times per game; while his tight ends saw a 24 percent target share, it did not lead to fantasy production. Minnesota’s two tight ends, Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr, split the target share 52-48 and finished as the PPR TE14 and TE33 respectively under Stefanski.
While the contract size may cause people to believe Hooper will see more of a commitment, I doubt that is the case. Hooper should be sold while he is still regarded as a top-tier tight end; otherwise, you could be holding a depreciating asset and miss your opportunity before it’s too late.