02 Aug RBs to Sell Now in Dynasty
The most successful dynasty managers know how to leverage current player values into exponential future gains. The best way to do this is to trade away players while they are at their peak worth, for assets (players/picks) that you expect to return even higher production in the future. This is easier said than done, since we never really know for sure when a player has peaked until it’s too late, and they are on the decline. You will have your misses with trades that backfire, but over time, if you can master strategically buying and selling players, your dynasty team will thrive for years to come. Here are three examples of players that I view as prime candidates to sell now before they experience a dip in value this upcoming season.
RBs to Sell Now in Dynasty
The start to Kareem Hunt’s career has been quite a roller coaster ride. He emerged as a star his rookie season in Kansas City, rushing for over 1,300 yards with an additional 455 yards as a receiver. His second season was going just as good, if not even better, but it all came to an abrupt halt when a disturbing video was released showing him in an altercation with a woman. We all know the story of him being released, suspended, and picked up by Cleveland. Once he served his eight-game suspension, he ended up forming one of the better running back tandems in the NFL alongside Nick Chubb. Last year, he finished as the RB10, but that is highly misleading for what his actual production was. Don’t get me wrong, Hunt was a solid contributor to fantasy teams. Anyone that rostered him though didn’t feel like they had a Top 10 running back. That’s because in points per game he was the RB21. Sure, that’s not too shabby, but he wasn’t a major force for your fantasy team like his RB10 finish would suggest. Hunt is often touted as the best handcuff in fantasy, but in the four games that Chubb went down, he only performed as the RB22 in points per game during that stretch. The perceived upside with him is a complete façade.
Hunt also had a ridiculously high touchdown catch rate, scoring five times through the air on 51 targets. That’s nearly one-tenth of his targets going for touchdowns, which is in the range of the elite wide receivers, and extremely rare for a running back. Expect that to come crashing back to Earth in 2021. Additionally, Chubb was a looming free agent for 2022, but just resigned with Cleveland on a massive three year deal. Hunt still has some dynasty appeal, if in nothing more than name value alone, and that #1 Handcuff status. Pair that with his RB10 finish last season to try and sell Hunt for a nice haul. I’d be looking for a future 1st round rookie pick from a strong team that’s looking to build RB depth for a playoff run, or a young player coming off of a down year that could bounce back, like Jerry Jeudy or JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Myles Gaskin wasn’t on too many folks’ radar going into 2020. He ended up being one of the best waiver wire pickups of the season, after he stole the Miami Dolphins starting running back job from Jordan Howard and finished as a Top 30 fantasy RB. His exclamation point on the season came in week 16, which is most fantasy leagues’ Championship week. In a primetime matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders, Gaskin gashed them for 169 total yards with two touchdowns, and helped many managers attain bragging rights for the year as the fantasy league champ. Despite numerous rumors about Miami going after a big name free agent running back this off-season, or drafting a high-profile rookie, he dodged any major competition and is headed into 2021 atop the Dolphins’ depth chart.
There are a lot of Gaskin managers excited about getting another year out of him as a starter, especially since most merely picked him up off waivers. He scored double-digit fantasy points in all of his 2020 games played, except for one, and does not have any real competition in the backfield. So what’s not to like? For me, it’s his inefficiencies as a runner. His 1.22 yards created per touch ranked 31st among running backs, and his 4.0 true yards per carry (removes runs of 10+ yards to better gauge the consistency of an RB) ranked 49th (credit: PlayerProfiler). It’s not like big plays were a major part of his game anyway, as he only had three runs that went for 15+ yards. Gaskin is a subpar athlete, and his road to fantasy relevance was purely based on volume, which brings me to my next issue.
I mentioned how underwhelming Gaskin was as a runner, but he was one of the better receiving backs in the league last season. He saw a healthy 4.7 targets per game, and his 9.5 yards per reception led all running backs. Based on the Dolphins’ off-season moves, I don’t see him getting close to the same receiving volume in 2021. Miami signed Will Fuller to a one-year deal, and spent the 2021 sixth overall draft pick on wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, reuniting him with his former college quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. This looks like a team ready to air it out to the receivers more in order to take this offense to new levels. Even if Gaskin can retain the leading backfield role, I envision a disappointing fantasy season if he loses the target volume he had in 2020. If you can get a 2nd round rookie pick and/or young up-and-coming receiver like Laviska Shenault or Michael Pittman Jr. in a trade, I’d be looking to sell Gaskin now.
The track record for running backs that haven’t secured a lead role by their third season is not good. Mike Davis couldn’t work his way to the top of any depth chart until his sixth year in the league, and that was only due to an injury to Christian McCaffrey. He filled in nicely for CMC, leading the league in broken tackle rate and finishing as the RB12. That audition for other teams as a starter in Carolina showed the Atlanta Falcons enough to sign him to a two-year deal this past winter. Like the Dolphins, most people expected Atlanta to draft a running back in the early rounds, but they did not. Davis should be headed for a ton of volume once again with a lack of competition in the backfield, but I don’t expect him to make much of a fantasy impact.
I mentioned before how rare it is for running backs to breakout after not producing in their first three years, and I don’t believe Davis will be an exception. Going into 2021, he only had one out of five career seasons with over 70 carries and 240 yards. His longest career run went for a whopping 37 yards. While he can break a lot of tackles, he’s not quick or fast enough to run away from the defenders once he does. There is very little chance for him to break away for big runs which is what leads to monster fantasy performances. Even in his career-best 2020 season, his production was only due to volume. He saw the fifth-most targets among running backs, and was Top 10 in RedZone rushes – which is unlikely to happen in Atlanta because the team doesn’t rely on running backs as much as Carolina does. Davis’ 3.89 yards per carry and 4.5 yards per touch (48th best RB) in 2020 was uninspiring and won’t do much for your fantasy matchup if he isn’t getting 25+ touches per game.
People might see the two-year deal as a signal of commitment to Davis beyond 2021 from the team, but the Falcons have an easy out before the second year. They can cut him after this season and shave his $3.2 million cap number for 2022, with a dead cap hit of just $750k. I fully expect it to play out this way, as most of these two-year RB deals do. While I’m not confident in Qadree Ollison, or undrafted rookie Javian Hawkins to steal the job away from Davis, I envision a scenario where the Falcons are in the middle of a losing season and they start to work in the younger guys so they can see what they potentially have for the future. Find an RB needy team in your league and try to move him for a young prospect that hasn’t flashed yet, like Bryan Edwards or Zack Moss. I’d even take a future second for Davis, especially if your team is not a contender for 2021.
A hardcore St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, Andrew found a passion for football via the St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf”. He works in IT sales during the day, but much of his free time is spent obsessing over his Dynasty teams.