As we continue to tour the NFL via our Value Volatility series, I’d invite you to check out the first two installments:
Here is the third part of the eight-part series highlighting three dynasty players from each division who are on the value hot seat leading up to the NFL Draft, complete with actionable pre-NFL Draft dynasty advice (note: for purposes of this article series, assume a 12-team superflex, full PPR scoring format).
Derek Carr, QB OAK
It was Christmas Eve 2016 and Derek Carr took the field against the Colts amidst an All-Pro caliber season. He was poised to surpass the 30 touchdown and 4,000-yard mark for the first time in his three-year career and the Raiders were on the fast track to earning a first round bye in the AFC playoffs. By the end of the day, a broken leg ended his season and just two weeks later, the Raiders were bounced in the Wild Card round of the playoffs by the Houston Texans. Since that day, Carr has posted only 41 touchdowns and 23 interceptions in the next two years with the Raiders, struggling to regain his All-Pro and franchise quarterback form. With the Raiders’ pending move to Las Vegas and reports he and new coach Jon Gruden don’t exactly see eye-to-eye, rumblings have linked the Raiders to a quarterback in this year’s draft. The former 36th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft now faces serious questions about the future of his career as an NFL starter and dynasty owners have followed suit as shown by his QB28 rank in the latest ADP, joining other volatile starters like Andy Dalton, Marcus Mariota and Josh Rosen. If Oakland selects a quarterback early in the draft, Carr is on borrowed time in Oakland and there is no guarantee he doesn’t face an uphill battle to find another starting job (see Blake Bortles and Ryan Tannehill).
The selling price on Carr is much lower than it’s worth cashing out and my recommendation is to buy him at a depressed price and hope he stays above the cut line of NFL starters. He has shown high-level production before and even with a limited number of starting jobs likely to open in 2020, odds are Carr lands at the top of any NFL free agent list. He becomes a sell for a 2020 1st+ if he doesn’t see competition and begins to put up numbers anywhere close to 2016 – he’s shown the ceiling isn’t really that high.
Damien Williams, RB KC
Williams’ value has been on of the hottest topics in dynasty leagues since the Kansas City Chiefs parted ways with Kareem Hunt after week 11 last season. Hunt’s suspension and a subsequent Spencer Ware injury opened the flood gates for Williams to reward dynasty owners with championship-winning production in the 2018 fantasy playoffs. He averaged 25.4 PPR points over a three week stretch during week 14-16 and the former waiver wire resident is now RB23 in the latest DLF ADP. The February addition of Carlos Hyde has caused some to doubt Williams’ viability as a lead back, but his contract extension with Kansas City at the end of the season and his incredible production keeps many believing he’s the lead guy in an incredible situation. The last hurdle may be the NFL Draft and the potential that the Chiefs add another running back to the mix – very similar to Kareem Hunt only a few years back. Hyde is only two years removed from a 299-touch and 59-reception season and could also challenge for the job.
I’m cautiously buying Damien Williams for any pick outside of the first round and immediately selling him for a value in the mid-1st round range. The opportunity could be massive if his situation remains the same, but we can’t forget that in 69 games prior to the last month of 2018, Williams averaged under four PPR points per game and never showed the ability to handle an appreciable amount of touches. The Chiefs will likely draft another running back in 2019, but keep an eye on where that player is picked to determine how to proceed with your Williams shares.
DaeSean Hamilton, WR DEN
Hamilton was hardly involved on the field in 2018 until Demaryius Thomas was traded and a torn Achilles ended Emmanuel Sanders’ season. It was a disappointing beginning for the former fourth round pick beofre thos events and given his age (23 years old as a rookie), dynasty owners wondered if his opportunity would ever arrive. He finally got his chance over the final month of the season, where his 45 targets turned into 30 receptions, 234 yards and two touchdowns. The strong finish to the season and the Broncos addition of Joe Flacco via trade has given dynasty owners some new hope of a success story going into 2019. The team didn’t add any competition in free agency and despite bringing Sanders back, the Achilles injury and his contract situation (same dead cap pre and post-June 1st) leaves him very much a question mark for next year. Unfortunately, the 2019 NFL Draft is absolutely stacked at the wide receiver position with many players like Hamilton, who run primarily out of the slot. Joe Flacco’s history of producing multiple viable dynasty receivers is not encouraging if any other pieces are added to the depth chart, giving a slight pause for Hamilton’s value as of today – his latest ADP at WR58 reflects this hesitation to invest, but this range also represents a group of players with at least a path or a narrative to viability. If Denver brings in competition at wide receiver, Hamilton is fighting to even stay on some shallower dynasty rosters.
Sell Hamilton with a target price of an early second round pick. He’s already 24 years old with an average prospect profile. His odds of becoming a mainstay as a usable receiver are on the wrong side of average and if you can hit the reset button in favor of a younger, more dynamic prospect in a strong wide receiver draft, it may be time to cash out.