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Seller’s Market

Back when I was a kid (which falls somewhere in between the time when kids walked uphill both ways in the snow to school and the current times when every five-year-old has a smart phone), my friends and I used to take countless trips up the card shop. No, we are not talking a Hallmark store filled with greeting cards, I mean the good stuff – baseball cards.

The store was just some little hole-in-the-wall shop named SBL Cards—I have absolutely no clue what the “SBL” stood for, it wasn’t important to me as a kid and it really doesn’t bother me now. It sold cards of all types, but it specialized in baseball cards, and that was fine because that was all my friends and I would make the trip up there to get.

We would OOOH and AHHH at all of the pricey rookie cards the owner had locked up on display – names like Mickey Mantle, Bob Gibson, Willie Mays, among others. The problem was that, with our petty lawn-mowing incomes, we were never going to afford one of those display cards, so we would just buy as many packs of cards as we could and hope one of them would turn out to contain some new star’s rookie card. This strategy almost always failed, but, occasionally, we would get lucky and get some young stud’s rookie card and be convinced it would make us rich the far-off day we decided to sell it.

This very scenario happened to me the day I found myself opening a fresh pack of cards to find a Nomar Garciaparra rookie card staring me back in the face. Now, I was never a big Red Sox fan, but I was definitely a Yankee hater, so seeing Garciaparra lead his Sox against the dreaded Yankees really made me a Nomar fan at the very least. Plus, with the massive numbers he was putting up the first few years of his career, my childhood-self thought he would be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame and this card would make me tons of money when that day came.

One of my friends at the time apparently thought the same thing about Garciaparra because he offered me $20 for the rookie card. Twenty bucks may not sound like much, but, to a young kid, that is pretty much on par with winning the lottery. I was so sure in the young shortstop, however, that I didn’t even think twice before dismissing the offer; after all, this card was going to make me rich one day.

Reality, unfortunately, had other plans. Garciaparra had a few more quality seasons, but as far as an elite big leaguer, he was more or less a flash in the pan. Garciaparra will not be a Hall-of-Famer, the card will not make me rich and, in the end, passing on that deal cost me about $16 when you look at what the card is worth today. Moral of the story: get value while you can. The same can be applied to fantasy football and especially in dynasty leagues.

Obviously, if this is the year for your team to make a title run, you may not want to sell off some of your veteran talent. However, if you don’t think this is your year, here is a list of big name, high-value players I would seriously consider shopping around this year. Remember, it is better to sell off a big-name talent one year too soon as opposed to one year too late.

Tom Brady, QB NE
Age: 35

Over his 13 years of NFL experience, Brady has truly been one of the greatest signal callers to ever play the game. However, there is one opponent even Brady can’t beat – time (and the New York Giants apparently). You can almost pencil Brady in at the beginning of the year for 16 games played and over 500 pass attempts—even a couple years of over 600—but, at some point, all the wear and tear has to catch up to him. Sure, there have been a few quarterbacks who have maintained success into their 40s, but you cannot bank your team’s future on that fact. Couple that with New England’s newfound commitment to running the ball and the fact that Brady’s on pace to experience an increased sack total for the fourth consecutive season and you can see why selling Brady now is the safer choice for the long run.

Wes Welker, WR NE
Age: 31

Let’s stick with the Patriots for now and focus on Welker. As mentioned with Brady, New England’s commitment to the run is taking away some yardage from those involved in the passing game. Not to mention that, in the past two years, the Patriots have really focused on the tight ends when throwing the ball. With Aaron Hernandez out for the time being, this may change, but the recent signing of Kellen Winslow seems to indicate that Pats want to keep working the ball to their tight ends. Aside from all this, there is still the issue that Welker seems to be getting “phased out” of the offense this season. Belichick says it’s not an issue, Brady says he looks to Welker just as much as ever, but the fact remains that through two weeks of the season, Welker was on the field for about 71% of the snaps (a number that would probably be lower had Hernandez not gotten hurt last week) compared to 89% of the snaps last season. I, by no means, think Welker is no longer a productive fantasy option, but I do feel like his window is closing. He had a solid game last night, so now may be the time to pull the trigger.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB JAX
Age: 27

Twenty-seven may not seem that old, but 30 seems to be the invisible wall for running backs – not too many backs have sustained success beyond that age. With that in mind, consider the amount of punishment that Jones-Drew has taken over his seven years in the league. He has already carried that ball over 1,500 times, caught nearly 300 passes and played a considerable amount in the return game. When you add all that up, that’s a lot of hits for one body to take in seven seasons. Sooner rather than later, age, injury or just sheer exhaustion will have to catch up to him and severely hurt his fantasy value, so I think he is another commodity you have to sell now while his value is high.

Chris Johnson, RB TEN
Age: 26

You know that Will Ferrell movie, Semi-Pro? In the film, a basketball team trades away one of its players for a washing machine— that might be the kind of deal you have to make for Johnson. Over the past two seasons, Johnson has struggled to eclipse both 1,000 yards rushing and the 4.0 yards per carry mark. He had made me a believer going into this year that he was back in CJ2K shape and that it would be a return to glory, but, so far, he is averaging a dismal 1.4 yards per carry and currently isn’t even on pace to break 250 rushing yards, let alone 2,000. Johnson is just 26 years old and is only in his fifth year in the league, so if you think he can turn it around, you can make a case for holding on to him, but, personally, I have lost faith and I’m trying to sell him for whatever reasonable offer I can get.

Greg Jennings, WR GB
Age: 29

Jennings is another one of those players approaching that dreadful age of 30, and, in general, that is a red flag. On the plus side, he has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball, so big games are definitely still possible. On the down side, Rodgers really spreads the ball around, and with weapons like Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb emerging, you know he is going to find a way to get them the ball more and more. Jennings failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving last year for the first time since 2007, and he has missed more games in the 2011 and the young 2012 season than he had in the previous four seasons combined. As with most of these players I have mentioned, I believe Jennings has some productivity left in him, but in order to maximize your return on him, you could to try to trade him soon.

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captainzach1
9 years ago

Back when dlf had an article about wrs and what age they had their best season quite a few of them were in that age 30 range, so not sure why you’d call that a red flag. Too much emphasis is placed on age. Also the time has passed to sell Chris Johnson. Remember just like baseball cards somebody has got to want to buy, who honestly wants to buy CJ?

Cyrus Miller
Reply to  captainzach1
9 years ago

Interestingly, on one of my best dynasty teams I have Tom Brady and just traded for Chris Johnson and Greg Jennings. Kind of a crazy trade, I definitely didn’t do it because I believe in Chris Johnson, but I think he will be better next year.

I think he will be incrementally better this year with Britt back and Locker looking good, but have you seen his opponents? I won’t be starting him for a single week until after week 10 or so, and I have weak RB’s.

For those counting, I traded Bradford, Ingram and Vernon Davis for Locker, Johnson, Jennings and a 2nd. I prefer Locker to Bradford, I am frustrated with Ingram and since I have Jimmy Graham, Davis was a luxury.

On the plus side, I think that a WR gets better as he gets close to 30, so I am not concerned with Jenning’s age. Chris Johnson, on the other hand, plays a position where 30 is horrible, and he just turned 27. I am relieved, however, as I had thought he was turning 28 yesterday, but it was only 27.

captainzach1
9 years ago

Also why sell on MJD. As Herman Edwards would say “you play to win the game”. He’s 3 years from 30, why sell an elite RB because he’s 27all and 3I years from 30?

StevieMo
9 years ago

Corey’s premise is that if your team is struggling and it’s time to look to the future, these guys can still (mostly) bring value and you can start to rebuild.

The other point that stands out: Better to sell a year too soon than a year too late. That’s how Bill Walsh did it.

I agree with Corey. I told the guy in our league to trade Shaun Alexander right after his monster year and I was so convinced I was right, I wrote an article for FantasyIndex.com telling everyone to trade him for max value “now.” While almost everyone ripped me for suggesting such a stupid idea, you could have gotten such a bounty for him at the time, you’d be ensuring your team’s effectiveness for many years to come. I think our league’s owner was offered 3 starters and a bunch of future #1 picks for Alexander, who got the big contract and was never the same player again. (All Alexander cared about after he got the mega-contract was not getting hurt).

If you’re in the hunt, keep most of these guys. If you’re 0-3 and going nowhere, Corey’s probably right to start the rebuild.

Matt Caldwell
Reply to  StevieMo
9 years ago

totally agree. I traded Peterson in the offseason for 2 early #1 picks and JStew. This allowed me to draft Trich and Martin. I then swapped JStew for Steve Johnson. I call it a big win even though I know AP’s production would still be good this year

9 years ago

My washing machine at home broke last week and now my twice-worn clothes are starting to smell a little funky. I would definitely trade Chris Johnson for a functional washing machine!

Jason Sandhage
9 years ago

This guy can write a good story. I’ll give him that. But I only wish I was reading a fantasy baseball story every time instead of a football piece.

Jamie Battaglia
9 years ago

I was offered Donald Brown, Nate Washington and Jared Cook for Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer. Is that the best I can get for him at this point?

JBlake
Reply to  Jamie Battaglia
9 years ago

If I owned Chris Johnson, I think I would be one of the stubborn owners who would never sell low and hope he comes back. That said, Donald Brown is nothing to sneeze at; he’s gotten double-digit points 2 of 3 weeks so far and should be a solid RB2. If you like Cook, I’d say take the deal.

kendall
9 years ago

I panicked last night and made a dumb trade.

My 10ppr team 3 player keeper league. (1-2) so far

QB Cam-keeper
WR Harvin
RB JCharles-Keeper
TE Pitta
Flex DMartin
Flex BMarshall-Keeper
Flex Torrey Smith
K Akers
D DWashington
D SWeatherspoon
D Laurinaitis

Bench
LHankerson
Celek
Ridley
BLaFell
Andre Brown
Hernandez
PHillis
Ben Tate
Tashard Choice

I just traded Smith, Ridley and Brown for RMatthews and RMoss. I tried to over compensate for Matthews before sell Brown before Bradshaw come back. I should have asked for KBritt+ instead of Moss (which i will drop)

JBlake
Reply to  kendall
9 years ago

I don’t think it’s a dumb trade. Based on how he was used in week 3, Ridley will not startable moving forward. And you cashed in on Andre Brown. So you basically traded Torrey Smith for Mathews, which is a good deal if you believe in Mathews.

Matthew M
9 years ago

What should I expect to get for Cassel or Cutler in a 16 team IDP league? I’m currently 0-3, but have 3 QBs in Cassel, Cutler, and Ponder. Ponder I’m not selling at all, but would love to get some picks for Cassel or Cutler. Just want to be reasonable in my demands.

JBlake
Reply to  Matthew M
9 years ago

You’d be selling low on Cutler and can probably get more for Cassel at this point if someone views him as a QB1 upgrade. If so, you could reasonably ask for a late 1st/early 2nd but probably settle for any 2nd. Or ask for a prospect in that range from this year’s draft–like Ryan Broyles before he debuts.

Target the Freeman owner before Freeman has his bounce-back game against my Redskins.

Matthew M
Reply to  JBlake
9 years ago

Hmmm, awesome advice, thanks! The only guy talking with me so far is the Stafford owner, because he has no other QBs on his roster who are starting. He had offered me a 2nd rounder for Cutler, but I’d rather trade Cassel. He also offered Andrew Hawkins for Ponder, but there is no universe I’d consider that offer. There are a couple of teams in similar situations, so I just don’t want to bite on the first offer.

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