Sell High Options for the Off-Season

Austan Kas


When I have a player who I feel is over-performing, I become obsessed with cashing in and dealing him for a better asset.

It’s not healthy.

Having a sell-high option on my roster becomes a burden. Sometimes, like with Justin Forsett in 2014, it comes back to bite me when the player keeps producing for the rest of the season. However, more often than not, you can reshape and improve your roster if you take advantage of instances where your players are being overvalued.

About a month ago, I put together a list of buy-low options. In the brief time since then, the value of one of those players, Colin Kaepernick, has changed with the San Francisco 49ers’ hiring of Head Coach Chip Kelly. Obviously, I had no idea Kelly was going to San Francisco, but it’s a good reminder to jump on these windows while they’re open because a player’s value can change quickly.

I mentioned this in my buy-low article, but my dynasty trading motto is “buy at funerals and sell at birthdays.” With that in mind, here are two players at each position who I feel are being overvalued right now. If you own one of them, this off-season presents you with an opportunity to make a move. By no means are these players doomed to fail in the future; rather, they are players who I feel won’t perform as well as they just did in 2015, or players whose value is so high right now, it’s worth dangling them out there and seeing what they can net you in a trade.

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Blake Bortles, QB, JAX

First of all, I don’t place much value the quarterback position in one-quarterback leagues. With the depth of production at the position, streaming and playing matchups is my preferred route. If you find someone who does value the position, they may be interested in Bortles, because he just had a superb sophomore campaign. Finishing as the QB3, Bortles threw for 4,428 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Bortles also led the league with 18 picks, and he benefited from playing from behind quite a bit, Jacksonville scored the sixth most fourth-quarter points in the league and passed 65.02 percent of the time, which was the second most in the NFL. As the Jaguars keep improving, it will likely hurt Bortles’ fantasy value as they won’t find themselves playing catch-up quite as often. With the young pieces Jacksonville has put around him, Bortles looks like he could be a serviceable option for the next few seasons, but I think he will be hard-pressed to put together fantasy numbers better than his 2015 totals.

Carson Palmer, QB, ARI

In his age 36 season, Palmer had the best year of his career in 2015. Flanked by a superb supporting cast, it’s certainly possible he could put up similar numbers in 2016, but he can’t have too many years left. Plus, Palmer has never been a pillar of health. This last year was just the second time in the past five seasons he played all 16 games. Palmer’s age may prevent you from getting much of a return, but a quarterback-needy team may be willing to overpay. In two-quarterback leagues, you should be able to get something valuable for this past season’s QB5.

Running backs

Todd Gurley, RB, LA

I may take a little heat for this, but hear me out. As we know, there have been very few running backs who are consistently great and have avoided serious injuries over the long haul (Matt Forte comes to mind). Gurley certainly looks like he has the talent to be a star, if he can stay healthy. At the risk of being redundant, that’s a big if.

Anytime you have a running back who is valued as a top 10 overall asset (he’s No. 7 in our Top 100 rankings), I think you have to see if you can deal him for one of the elite wide receivers — Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Allen Robinson, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham or Amari Cooper. I’d sleep much easier knowing I had one of those receivers, no matter how good Gurley can be. With Gurley’s current darling status, you may even be able to ship him off and get a WR2 and a good running back in return. Again, I’m not saying you have to deal him, but his value is so incredibly high, you may be able to turn him into a couple very good pieces. It’s worth exploring.

Latavius Murray, RB, OAK

Murray finished 2015, his first full season as Oakland’s lead back, with 266 carries for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns. There’s too many sixes in his final stat line for him to have any good luck in the future. Joking aside, this was a year where if a running back started all 16 games, he would have had to do pretty terribly to finish outside of the top 15 running backs. Murray played in every game and finished as RB11 in PPR leagues. He was fairly inefficient, though, as he finished tied for 32nd in yards per carry at 4.0 and averaged just 66 yards per game. Murray was a solid receiving weapon, catching 41-of-53 targets for 232 yards.

I think his age (25), RB11 finish this past season and the general good vibes surrounding Oakland’s improving offense have inflated his value. It’s tough to get a gauge on exactly what his value is, though. In our running back rankings, two writers have him as a top-10 back while three others place him outside the top 20. I’m betting someone in your league values him as a top-10 running back.

Wide Receivers

Stefon Diggs, WR, MIN

Diggs burst onto the scene with a monster three-game stretch, totaling 19 receptions for 332 yards and two scores from week 6 to week 8. After that, he had just one week of 13 or more points in PPR leagues. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged a meager 3.25 catches and 36.6 yards per game. Yikes. Looking back, the ideal time to sell Diggs may have been mid-season, when he was making a name for himself.

Aside from his second-half slide, there’s the not-so-small matter of Diggs’ quarterback. I don’t think Teddy Bridgewater is very good, and I don’t see him making a jump any time soon. Either Bridgewater’s inability to take shots down field or Minnesota’s refusal to let him to do is going to limit Diggs’ chances for big plays. His three-game eruption coupled with poor production from this year’s rookie wideouts has made Diggs an overvalued asset.

Eric Decker, WR, NYJ

Decker is ranked as WR28 in our receiver rankings. That’s in the neighborhood of Dorial Green-Beckham, Kevin White, Breshad Perriman and Donte Moncrief, all of whom I’d much prefer over Decker, who is entering his age 29 season in 2016. Working in Decker’s favor is he doesn’t win with speed or freakish athletic ability, so he will likely age well.

What is unlikely is Decker repeating his touchdown total. Decker has proven to be a viable red-zone monster in his career, catching a touchdown on 8.03 percent of his targets. That number jumped to an unsustainable 10.91 percent in 2015 as he scored 12 times on 131 targets. Decker likely just had the best fantasy season of his career, making this off-season the perfect time to cash in.

Tight ends

Tyler Eifert, TE, CIN

Speaking of fluky touchdown totals. Eifert finished the year with 52 grabs for 625 yards and 13 touchdowns. He got just about all of his value from his trips to the end zone, scoring every four receptions. Just over 17 percent of his targets went for touchdowns, which is utterly astounding. It’s going to be nearly impossible for Eifert to sustain those touchdown numbers. Rob Gronkowski, the NFL career leader among active players in target-to-touchdown ratio, has scored a touchdown on 11.53 percent of his targets. What Eifert did in 2015 is mind-boggling. When a player’s fantasy numbers are propped up by touchdowns (think: Mike Evans’ rookie year), it usually has a way of evening out.

Also, Eifert has the injury history of a 35-year-old running back. He just completed his third season, and he’s only played in 29 of a possible 48 games. Eifert basically missed all of 2014 with a gruesome elbow injury, and he struggled with serious head and neck injuries in 2015, missing three games. Like the next player on the list, I think Eifert’s injuries will keep him from fully delivering on his potential over the next few seasons, even if you want to overlook the impending touchdown regression

Jordan Reed, TE, WAS

Almost everything I just said about Eifert’s injury history applies to Reed. When he’s healthy, there is no denying Reed’s ability. He was a star this year, becoming the Redskins’ top weapon in the passing game. Reed has suffered five known concussions since his college days, including one this year which caused him to miss two games. With his history of head injuries, Reed is always going to be a hit away from a multi-week absence. If he could stay healthy, there’s no reason he won’t be an elite producer at a thin position, but I’m not going to bet on his health. The time to buy Reed and Eifert was 12 months ago, and now is the time to sell.