Off-Season Buy and Sell

Karl Safchick

We at DLF regret to inform you the fantasy football season is over. This is the time of year dynasty fanatics thrive. While the fantasy amateur is watching daytime talk shows, doing chores or whatever lame people do, you’re reading articles such as this to further your knowledge on the sport of football and the game of dynasty.

One of the most obvious, but greatly misunderstood, aspects of fantasy football (especially in dynasty) is buying low and selling high. Everyone in theory would love to sell a player at their peak, and hypothetically, sell them for a player who will skyrocket in value. Executing this strategy is easier said than done, even for the most seasoned dynasty vets. All NFL players carry inherent risk. Whether a player is “injury prone,” in the league’s drug program or just a raw talent, no player is completely void of risk. Assessing the value of a dynasty asset, which is simply the math equation reward divided by risk, is a process we go through hundreds of times a day when searching for trade targets. In the following article, I will not attempt to give you an exact way to assess risk and reward, but I will give you my opinions on which players are worth selling or buying.

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David Johnson – Johnson is a size/speed freak. According to playerprofiler, the Arizona Cardinals young running back places in the 88th percentile in size adjusted speed score and in the 96th percentile in burst score. It probably sounds like I’m trying to make the case for Johnson to be a buy.

I’m not.

Back in September, I considered Johnson one of the best “buys” in dynasty. At that point he was coming off the board at 82 overall (RB31). If you treat your dynasty team as a stock portfolio (there are obvious differences, but it’s an apt analogy), and bought Johnson at this low price, you could sell now for a huge profit. In our most recent set of mocks Johnson is the RB3. There were drafts in which Sammy Watkins, Alshon Jeffery, Brandin Cooks and Keenan Allen were drafted after Johnson. If there’s any more evidence needed to sell Johnson at his peak value, it’d be you could possibly get the most efficient wide receiver in fantasy football (Watkins) for a sophomore running back drafted late in the 3rd round in the NFL draft, who rushed for only 581 yards in his rookie year and will be entering his age 25 season.

Cam Newton – “Sell the likely NFL MVP and possible Superbowl winning quarterback, Karl? Are you nuts?” Well, yes I am, but not because I think you should sell a quarterback. How about this, random internet commenter in my head – sell all your quarterbacks!

Newton scored the second most fantasy points by a quarterback since 2011 (Peyton Manning, 2013). He’s been a great story, and his demise is not something I’m attempting to predict. In fact, Cam Newton is my dynasty QB1. The quarterback position in fantasy is still overvalued relative to the other positions. In one QB leagues, you’re better off “streaming” the position. I know streaming isn’t possible in the traditional sense in dynasty, but you can use late round picks on quarterbacks and play their best matchups. In one league, I combined Phillip Rivers, Teddy Bridgewater and Kirk Cousins. In the DLF Staff League, I accidentally stocked up on quarterbacks. Through a series of trades and late-round draft picks, I managed Jameis Winston, Joe Flacco, Blake Bortles and Cousins. When you can play the matchups with cheaper quarterbacks, and use the same capital (according to January ADP) on TY Hilton, Tyler Eifert, Devante Parker or TJ Yeldon, I believe it’s a no-brainer.


Dion Lewis – Bill Belichick hates your fantasy football team (actually, he probably hates everything, but your fantasy team is the thing he despises the most). Lewis tore his ACL in November which was his second major left leg injury in three years. After being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles, Lewis was traded to the Cleveland Browns, cut, signed by the Indianapolis Colts, released, then signed by the New England Patriots. By now you’re scrolling up to make sure you’re still in the “buy” section of this column. I assure you, you’re in the right place.

Through week eight, Lewis was one of only four running backs (Devonta Freeman, Jamaal Charles and Le’Veon Bell) to score more than 100 fantasy points while averaging 18 or more ppr points per game. According to Pro Football Focus, Lewis forced 43 missed tackles on 85 touches, recording a 165.2 elusive rating (the previous high was 106.9). Go ahead and read the last sentence again, I’ll wait. The PFF elusive rating was essentially invented to be a 0-100 scale. It essentially broke when a player recorded a 106.9 rating, but when Lewis joined the Patriots, the elusive rating was treated like the fax machine in Office Space. I have Lewis ranked as the dynasty RB6, while his ADP is RB22. Go trade for him and put on “Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta.” (Editor’s note: Warning explicit content)

Phillip Dorsett – If you follow me on Twitter (@KarlSafchick), listen to the DLF Dynasty Podcast or have seen my Dorsett shrine in my bedroom, having Dorsett on my “buy” list isn’t surprising to you. If you only read my articles (nerds), I’ll give you a brief description of my opinion on Dorsett.

If Dorsett isn’t the fastest wide receiver in the league (4.33 40 yard dash), he’s close. The agility and short area quickness Dorsett displays is elite. This equates to big plays on the football field. In his senior year with the Miami Hurricanes, Dorsett caught 36 passes for 871 yards and 10 touchdowns. In other words, for every 3.6 catches, Dorsett recorded 72.4 yards and a touchdown. In 2014 as a senior, Dorsett caught passes from something called Brad Kaaya. He doesn’t have to catch those passes now, as he’ll be paired with Andrew Luck for the foreseeable future. You may wonder what the presence of Hilton and Donte Moncrief will mean for Dorsett’s opportunity. You may want to direct those concerns to the team who drafted Dorsett 29th overall. He was drafted higher than any Colts wide receiver since 1996 (Marvin Harrison).

Finding the perfect formula to determine risk versus reward is a task we’ll certainly never perfect. We can, though, try to better understand it. The players I listed as “buys” carry little risk compared to their price, while I believe their upside has not nearly been reached. The players I listed as “sells” are near their peak in price, so their value likely will only decrease.
Who are some of your favorite buys and sells? Let me know in the comment section.