I’m sure most of you have seen a roach motel in a movie. For example, the “iconic” scene in the cinematic thriller Problem Child 2 where Junior releases his roaches upon his adoptive father’s girlfriend. While we all want to simply give our dynasty roaches to our league mates, getting out of a roach motel, or off your roster, is not that easy. The actual design of a roach motel is to allow roaches easy entrance but nearly impossible to leave.
Ryan McDowell has done a great job highlighting roster cloggers at the end of each season. Those players, however, are defined by Ryan to have little to no trade value. That means the option to drop them is real. In this case, however, I want to look at players where it is easy to invest into them but extremely difficult to move on from. Since they have value, dropping them is not an option. Trading them is the best outcome but current or future risks sour a fair trade market.
Those risks could be as simple as an elite prospect who has failed to produce early. Maybe it is a series of injuries limiting production. There are also factors outside of the player’s control like changes in personnel either on the field or in the coach’s seat. Whatever the case, owners have gotten caught up in players without realizing the risk of offloading them if things fail to work out next year.
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Todd Gurley, RB LAR
Why it’s easy to get pulled in: Gurley is a former top ten pick, an elite running back prospect, and a great athlete. He started off strong his rookie season after returning from a college knee injury. 2016 showed that Gurley can be a factor in the passing game and maintain a strong workload. The team is investing in the offense, adding linemen and what some think is their franchise quarterback in Jared Goff. The ADP price has been dropping as well, now approaching early second round status after hovering in the mid-first all last off-season.
Why it could be hard to let go: The talent is there, but does the offense turn things around? Goff struggled and the offensive line remains a sieve. Add in the negative game script of a team that trailed on 56% of its offensive plays and things start to look grim. We all love talent but it is only insulated by age for so long before seeing market confidence waver. The ADP drop is a clear sign that is has already begun. The market still provides returns of multiple first round picks for top 12-24 assets, but another season like 2016 could bring on what optimists call a buyer’s market (read: cheap offers) and pessimists deem a realistic price point.
Donte Moncrief, WR IND
Why it’s easy to get pulled in: Moncrief plays for a top passing offense and fits the definition most people envision with an elite wide receiver build. Despite missing seven games in 2016, he led the team in receiving touchdowns and has been a strong scoring option his entire career. Still just 23 (he will turn 24 in August), Moncrief has 2.5 years of healthy NFL experience and has relegated former first round pick Phillip Dorsett to a secondary role in the passing game.
Why it could be hard to let go: Moncrief’s seasonal career highs include 64 receptions, 733 yards, and seven touchdowns. Those numbers look pedestrian when seeing ADP compatriots Stefon Diggs and Jarvis Landry; two players with significantly more troubling offenses. Add in target share questions with T.Y. Hilton, the aforementioned Dorsett, and whoever mans the tight end position and suddenly Moncrief’s place in the hierarchy is shaky. Entering his fourth season, Moncrief’s upside is starting to fade and look more like Rueben Randle, another receiver who was a young player with potential on a good offense. If 2017 becomes another season of middling results, we could see the floor bottom out quickly.
Injury Reservations for two
Keenan Allen, WR LAC
Why it’s easy to get pulled in: Allen is a case study in how seductive full season projections can be. In two of four seasons, he has paced for over 1000 receiving yards and Allen’s rookie year is the only season where he averaged less than five receptions per game. Clearly, he is Philip Rivers’ top option, which is great considering the Chargers have been a top 10 pass offense in each of the last four years. His ADP has also dropped roughly half a round since the start of the season to the end of the second and Allen is still a few months shy from his 25th birthday.
Why it could be hard to let go: Even if you don’t believe that Allen’s injuries are linked, the dreaded “injury prone” label is likely already affixed to him by some league mates. The per game numbers look great, but considering he has only made it to week 15 once in his career, Allen has been a letdown for contending teams. The emergence of Tyrell Williams certainly can’t help and Melvin Gordon had the look of a high scoring running back before his own injury issues took hold. Keenan Allen is already a fragile asset (pun intended) and could be one injury away from a value freefall among dynasty owners.
Rob Gronkowski, TE NE
Why it’s easy to get pulled in: Quite simply, Gronkowski is a generational talent. In his five seasons playing at least 11 games, Gronkowski has tight end PPR finishes of: 5th, 1st, 2nd, 1st and 1st. He also plays with a quarterback by the name of Tom Brady. He is nearly 28 years old and is already third all-time at the position for touchdowns scored while also averaging over 10 yards per game more than Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates. Over the last three months, Gronk has fallen from late first round ADP consideration to now being a late second round option, a more palatable price point for risk averse owners like myself.
Why it could be hard to let go: Injuries have plagued Gronkowski since he entered the league. He mentioned considering retirement after college and again after some of his more recent injuries. In particular, Gronk has had upwards of five forearm surgeries and another four on his back since entering the NFL. On the field, Brady is not getting any younger and new addition Brandin Cooks is surely going to command a larger market share than non-Julian Edelman running mates in the past.
Alshon Jeffery, WR PHI
Why it’s easy to get pulled in: Jeffery is one of 8 receivers to have at least 800 receiving yards in each of the last four years. It’s more impressive considering the Bears have not had a quarterback last an entire season uninjured during that timeframe, including such luminaries as Jimmy Clausen and Matt Barkley. He has prototypical size and has been a target monster when healthy. Now, he gets Carson Wentz, a young quarterback who became just the second rookie signal caller to surpass 600 attempts in his inaugural season. At 27, Jeffery went from flirting with first round ADP to now being firmly planted in the mid to late second, fair value considering his skill set and point in his career.
Why it could be hard to let go: Wentz had the overall volume but he spread the ball around, inexplicably giving Nelson Agholor 69 targets in 2016. Add in the logjam behind Jeffrey with holdovers Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz along with fellow signee Torrey Smith and it is hard to expect similar target volume for Jeffrey as Chicago. Also, the risk of another suspension remains along with health concerns. Usage remains a huge question mark and could be what makes him difficult to extricate from your fantasy team.
Carlos Hyde, RB SF
Why it’s easy to get pulled in: Hyde has shown improvements in many areas. He just missed his first 1000 yard rushing season despite being out three full games in 2016 and had more receptions (27) than his first two years combined (23). He now gets Kyle Shanahan as his head coach, someone who has engineered six top 10 offenses in nine seasons as an offensive coordinator. In three of those instances, the rushing offense finished top five. Hyde has no competition in the backfield and is clearly the most talented offensive option on this team.
Why it could be hard to let go: Hyde has kept a similar ADP for his career, but has not yet had the production to match. While Shanahan has proven to be good for running backs, Chip Kelly was no slouch. In four years, Kelly managed three seasons of top 10 team rushing production. The other concern is around Hyde’s health. He has yet to play all 16 games in a season and while his injuries have been unrelated, Hyde’s style of play seems to be detrimental to consistent health. This is a make or break season for the 25 year old running back.
I am not advocating that you shouldn’t invest in these players. Instead, understand that these investments could be difficult to offload if things don’t break their way in 2017. And if you don’t churn your roster, especially high value assets, then you will be the roach stuck in your team’s roach motel.