4 Players to Sell High in Dynasty Leagues (2022 Fantasy Football)
All good things must come to an end. Father Time has but one loss to a middle-aged man from Northern California who kisses his children on the lips and doesn’t eat strawberries. If there was one law to follow in dynasty fantasy football, it would be the one pertaining to diminishing returns. One final exhausted cliche to put a bow on this hopefully useful column on strategic advice for dynasty managers is don’t get caught holding the bag…timing is everything (oops, that was two more).
Just as it is prudent to acquire players in dynasty leagues who are soon to be on the ascent, it is imperative to relinquish the ones whose midnight bell is tolling before their carriage turns to a pumpkin. Sometimes, it seems impossible to make that choice at the right time. Bill Belichick’s modus operandi as a general manager has centered around his propensity to pull the plug on a player a year earlier than anyone else would. More often than not, the most successful head coach in NFL history has smelt like roses in retrospect.
Here are four players for whom I would attempt to acquire assets before their value begins to wane. The appearance of some of these names might cause a reflexive outcry in protest, but don’t mistake this for any indictment on their talents as football players. Sometimes dynasty managers are blinded by the here and now and fail to realize that striking at maximum value is the real mission here. The iron is hot and we must strike.
Seattle began their half-hearted rebuild by trading away its franchise quarterback, which sent the fantasy world into a tizzy. For a while, it was rumored that Aaron Rodgers would be the one grabbing the reins in the Mile High City. When Rodgers signed his extension to stay in Green Bay, followed by the Davante Adams trade to the Raiders, the Broncos were suddenly up the tributary without an oar to steer their canoe.
It seemed the John Elway era was doomed to remain “one quarterback away” in perpetuity until the cringeworthy Mr. Unlimited arrived. The fantasy ramifications are still a topic of feverish debate this summer. Wilson is the best Denver QB since Peyton Manning, but what is there to make of his sudden spike in dynasty value? Even with a horrendous offensive line, Wilson was a nonfactor on the ground as a scrambler in 2021. At 33 years of age, his Konami days are merely a fond memory. His receiving corps in Denver is believed to be strong with the likes of Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton, but I would not offer an opinion that they are better than DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Last season’s QB16 finish might have signaled the descent of Wilson’s dynasty value, had fantasy managers not been distracted by the tantalizing change in scenery. He did put up nine consecutive top-12 QB seasons before 2021. The reality is that the Broncos’ receiving corps needed Wilson more than he needed them. Russ’ ADP reflects the opposite, as he is currently slotted in as the QB9 on the heels of career lows in rushing attempts and passing yards. There is also the issue of the timeliness of Wilson’s fantasy scoring. He has been as predictable as a sunrise with early-season scoring over the past five seasons, along with the inevitable sunset when his production plummets in the second half to doom fantasy managers when they need him the most.
Russell Wilson will be a very good QB for plenty of years into the future. Unfortunately, the return value in a dynasty trade will likely never again be higher than it is right now.
This one stings me the most. Ekeler is one of the most beloved figures in the NFL to fantasy managers. He is a great player ambassador to our game and encourages us to draft him. Any football player who strives to help us win is extremely difficult to trade away, but a part of me knows that it’s unwise to become emotionally attached to a 27-year-old running back in dynasty. When I take a trembling step back, my perspective gains clarity.
The 2021 RB2 scored a staggering 20 touchdowns, nearly twice his career high set in 2019 (11). He is an elite receiving back in a high-octane offense, but the fact remains that he is already defying the odds with this level of production at his age and less-than-ideal size.
The Chargers have also overtly attempted to alleviate Ekeler’s workload thrice now. After his breakout 2019 season, the front office drafted Joshua Kelley from UCLA to reduce the wear and tear on their undrafted diamond in the rough.
When Kelley wasn’t an adequate replacement, especially when Ekeler missed half of the 2020 season with a torn hamstring, the team tried again with the Larry Rountree pick.
Neither Kelley nor Rountree demonstrated satisfactory replacement value last season, while Ekeler took the league by storm alongside young star QB Justin Herbert.
Finally, the real eye-opener was this year’s fourth-round selection of standout RB Isaiah Spiller from Texas A&M. Spiller has a resume and skill set that far surpasses those of Kelley or Rountree and is uniquely equipped to step in as a three-down RB in the event that Ekeler is unavailable.
Handling the RB position in dynasty is downright terrifying. The average shelf life of a ball carrier is akin to an avocado. Some of the best dynasty managers I’ve met and competed with have imparted the wisdom of constantly churning your roster, especially with RBs. Ekeler might be a piece you clutch in a warm embrace on a contending team, but a middling or rebuilding dynasty roster should shop him around to acquire 2023 rookie draft capital along with some younger talent to fortify the future.
As of this moment, the 49ers have yet to come to terms on a lucrative contract extension for their ultra-talented hybrid player. Deebo enjoyed his first fully-healthy professional season in 2021, turning in an unprecedented display of positional dichotomy.
In a nearly perfect split, Samuel averaged nearly nine targets over his first eight games and totaled only six rushing attempts in that span. The second half of the season was when head coach Kyle Shanahan flipped the script and dubbed Deebo as the 49ers’ “wide back”. His targets per game dropped to five, while he was given 53 rushing attempts.
The results were just as impressive, with Deebo’s fantasy production not skipping a beat. The South Carolina alum scored nine touchdowns in the second half of the season, seven of which came on the ground. Why would any rational dynasty manager trade away such a unique player on the heels of a 350-point fantasy season (WR3)? Similar to the concerns of many Bay Area businesses, my issue is with sustainability.
Samuel has already made it known that he does not wish to shoulder a running back’s workload and even requested a trade from the 49ers in the spring. Although he is built like one at 6-foot, 215 pounds, he and his agent are also acutely aware of the physical and financial disadvantages of RBs compared to WRs. Deebo wants WR money and the longer playing window that comes with it. Unfortunately, his head coach is notorious for treating his players like a pizza delivery driver treats his ’76 Datsun. Samuel already has a checkered injury history dating back to his days in the Palmetto State.
The risk of hanging onto a player like Deebo Samuel in dynasty is mostly centered around his heightened injury risk as a featured piece of the Shanahan system that has historically burned through ball carriers at an alarming rate. The trade-off is the kind of upside we saw from Deebo last season, along with Devonta Freeman in Atlanta and Alfred Morris with Robert Griffin III in Washington. Just as quickly as fantasy managers enjoyed league-winning campaigns, they were burned by deteriorating roles and health.
Although it is very possible that Deebo continues his rampage through NFL defenses as a member of the 49ers, he is still the quintessential sell-high candidate. The haul in recent trades in my leagues have nearly all included a 2023 first-round rookie pick and another starting-caliber player. Another team acquiring Deebo in a trade would immediately warrant a drop in his dynasty value, while there is no scenario where his value increases in any significant way.
In all fairness to the Stanford alum, Dalton Schultz has some big shoes to fill as the tight end of the Dallas Cowboys. He is not Jason Witten, no matter how much the notoriously-delusional fanbase tosses that comparison into the ring. Nearly everyone was surprised at his production last season, where he stepped in admirably for an injured Blake Jarwin for the second consecutive year.
He is not as athletic as Jarwin, nor as good of a blocker. He doesn’t run crisp routes or press the seam like Jarwin, but he remained healthy and earned over 100 targets from Dak Prescott in 2021. We can attribute his eight touchdowns to his finishing as the TE3 overall last season, since he only averaged a touch over 10 yards per reception.
The Dallas receiving corps is under renovation entering 2022. Amari Cooper was traded to the Browns for a Juggs machine and a duffel bag full of cash. Michael Gallup is in the midst of his ACL recovery and is likely to return halfway through the 2022 season as the vertical Z threat opposite of X-receiver CeeDee Lamb. Schultz is the long-term third wheel at best, especially if rookie Jalen Tolbert carves out a meaningful role.
There have also been rumblings of the long-awaited expansion of Tony Pollard‘s receiving role. Pollard is the Cowboys’ most dynamic ball carrier and was a standout WR at the University of Memphis. Any specialized play packages that put him in the speed slot role would assuredly cut into Schultz’s piece of the pie.
Schultz is anything but flashy or exciting as a fantasy player, but he is still going as the TE7 in dynasty ADP. Dak’s short-yardage security blanket is a nice, cozy role that puts the mind at ease. The problem is nobody in their right mind expects Schultz to ever exceed his numbers from last season. He has peaked. It was nice, but now is the time to package him up with a solid pick and shoot for guys like Kyle Pitts, Mark Andrews, or George Kittle to contend for a dynasty championship.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Trade Analyzer – which allows you to instantly find out if a trade offer benefits you or your opponent – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.