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Dynasty Players to Trade Before NFL Free Agency (2021 Fantasy Football)

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
Feb 25, 2021

 
The 2021 NFL free agency frenzy unofficially begins on March 15 when the “legal negotiation window” officially opens. This is when teams and players can legally enter contract negotiations. It’s also when many deals are leaked before the official start of free agency on March 17.

NFL free agency seems to get more exciting each year, and this year will be no exception. We could have an unprecedented amount of movement at the quarterback position, along with some big-name running backs and wide receivers hitting the open market.

Like NFL general managers, dynasty fantasy football owners need to be proactive leading up to free agency. With a few weeks before deals start getting done, here are some players I’d trade away in dynasty leagues.

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Aaron Jones (RB)
I really like Aaron Jones as a player. He was someone I backed in 2020 despite everyone calling for a ton of touchdown regression, and he rewarded me with a top 5 finish.

However, Jones has most likely played his last snap as a Packer. And barring a surprise signing with Kansas City or Tampa Bay, it’s hard to envision Jones’ situation getting better in his new home. Lining up alongside Aaron Rodgers is always an advantage. And Jones benefitted from being in Matt LaFleur’s system, even when he relied on an annoying committee approach.

Jones is the best tailback hitting the open market, and there are a bunch of teams who could pursue him. Our own Mike Tagliere predicted Jones would land with the New York Jets, and we just saw what signing with Gang Green did to Le’Veon Bell’s career.

I always try to sell my assets at their highest points when making a trade. At just 26 years old, I don’t think Aaron Jones is falling off a cliff. I just have a hunch he’s hit his peak as a fantasy performer. Coming off back-t0-back superb seasons, I don’t think his trade value will be any higher.

James Conner (RB)
Conner’s path to the NFL is incredible. However, I think we’ve seen the last of him as a viable starting running back in fantasy.

Conner is a pure power back who is best suited as the early-down guy in a timeshare. His production has tailed off significantly since he rushed for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2018.  I doubt he’ll return to Pittsburgh and have a hard time seeing him as a bell-cow running back anywhere else.

While I’m bearish on Conner’s long-term outlook, there could be an owner in your league willing to bet on a rebound. Pittsburgh’s offense was completely one-dimensional last season. And you could argue Conner’s statistical decline was more a consequence of Pittsburgh’s regression along the offensive line.

I’m just not buying it, however, which is why Conner is on this list.

Kenyan Drake (RB)
I faded Kenyan Drake throughout all of last summer as a second-round pick, and I’m fading him again here. Drake wasn’t horrible in 2020, finishing as the RB14 in half-PPR formats, but he didn’t live up to his draft billing.

Now, Drake’s long-term fantasy value is in flux. His best free agency outcome is probably staying in Arizona, where he’ll most likely see the most volume. But it’s hard to get excited about him if he lands anywhere else.

Drake can produce in the right circumstances, but that’s not what I want as my RB2. You should be able to get a decent return for him in a trade with someone who still believes.

Todd Gurley (RB) 
This is painful to say, as I’ve always been a fan of Todd Gurley. At just 26 years old, Gurley’s best years are clearly behind him. The knee issues that have plagued him throughout his career have caught up to him, and he just wasn’t the same guy in his first season with Atlanta.

Maybe leaving Sean McVay’s system for whatever Dirk Koetter is calling offense these days played a role in Gurley’s disappointing 2020 season. But the burst and breakaway speed that made Gurley great just wasn’t there.

Someone will take a flier on Gurley just like Atlanta did last year. Try to find the owner in your league who thinks there’s a glimmer of hope that Gurley can return to form next season.

Will Fuller (WR)
I’ve never been a fan of Will Fuller. There’s no denying his speed and explosiveness. He set career highs in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. But availability tends to be Fuller’s worst ability, as he’s missed at least two games every season.

Quite frankly, I just don’t trust Fuller. Someone will pay him big money this season, which will vault him into being drafted as a top 25 receiver. And I just don’t think he’ll live up to the hype.

The Green Bay Packers appear to be the favorites to land Fuller. And yes, that could be awesome. But how much of an upgrade is Aaron Rodgers from Deshaun Watson? I’d take advantage of the excitement surrounding Fuller and flip him for assets now before he gets hurt boarding the plane to his new team.

T.Y. Hilton (WR)
This one’s a no-brainer. Hilton’s 31 years old and will likely be re-signed by the Colts. That’s fine. But Hilton’s best days are behind him. However, he could have some trade value to a team looking for additional depth at receiver. Hilton finished the season strong, ranking as the WR13 during Weeks 10-16. You could also argue his quarterback situation got an upgrade with Carson Wentz reuniting with Frank Reich in Indianapolis.

There’s enough optimism surrounding Hilton to garner some value in a trade.

Hunter Henry (TE)
It’s sad for me to admit, but Henry never took the leap we thought he would. Injuries might have robbed us of the next great tight end. And after another disappointing season, I think it’s time to cut bait.

Henry finished as the TE13 in 2020. He set a career-high in receptions but hovered around the same pedestrian yardage and touchdown totals. He’s not someone I’m banking on as my starting tight end anymore.

However, potential is a hard thing to give up on. And I bet there’s an owner in your league willing to take the shot on Henry reaching that ceiling. It helps that many expect him to re-sign with the Chargers, which means he’ll get to catch passes from rising quarterback Justin Herbert.

Perhaps Herbert and some injury luck are all Henry needs to be a top 10 tight end. I’m not buying it, but I bet there’s someone in your league who would.

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato

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