For the last two weeks, I’ve been focused on some players you can acquire as the winning piece to tip you over the top and win a title. This week I wanted to reverse that and focus on some pieces you could be looking to acquire for some of those retooling or rebuilding teams.
Calvin Ridley, WR JAC
Ridley is a case study that will be fascinating to play out over the next six months. If you go back 12 months ago, in October 2021, Ridley was the WR8 in ADP and a clear second-round pick in startups. Coming off an overall WR5 finish in 2020 with a settled quarterback and a clear and defined role as the target leader on the offense, he was considered a cornerstone of many franchises.
However, since then, some poor play to start last season before a break from football and subsequent suspension meant that he won’t see the field until the start of the 2023 season at the earliest. With that suspension, Ridley has plummeted in value and, in recent months, has settled in as a ninth-to-tenth-round startup pick. The most common valuation I have seen of Ridley is around a second-round pick.
So since the suspension was handed down, Ridley was traded from Atlanta to Jacksonville in one of the most complex NFL trades I have ever seen. The long and the short of it is that Ridley will likely be back in 2023 and the number one target on an improving Jacksonville offense led by Trevor Lawrence. As I write this, Ridley’s current valuation is wild. Yes, when he returns to the field, he will not have played for almost two years and will be 28 years old. However, how many players can you find in the WR50 range with legitimate top-five upside?
If you’re rebuilding for 2023, you should be acquiring picks, but you also need to take some calculated risk to try up the overall roster value you hold. If you can acquire Ridley for a second-round pick and spin him for a profit once he is back on the field and producing, you’re in immediate profit. This situation is very similar to the DeAndre Hopkins situation last summer, where the market overreacted to a suspension, and you can acquire a player at an extreme discount.
Tony Pollard, RB DAL
Pollard is a fascinating player to watch and also to try and value. Entering the NFL as somewhat of a gadget player, he has rounded out his game every year to the point that he is now the complete back capable of carrying the ball between the tackles and is competent in pass protection. Pollard has started taking over the Cowboys backfield and has now put up three consecutive RB1 performances. Pollard has the looks of a potential league winner down the stretch.
Now I’ve said all that, you should be exploring the trade market for him. Pollard is an impending free agent, and despite Dallas’ track record of paying their stars, it is becoming less and less likely that they can retain Pollard with every outstanding performance driving up his potential price.
The uncertainty of Pollard’s home next season makes him a player I’d be selling now. He could land in a dream role and be a workhorse back. However, given the strength of the rookie class and the other free agents’ Pollard could end up in a less desirable home, negatively affecting his dynasty value. The Cowboys are projected to have $2.6m in cap space next year, and while they have several moves they can make to free up cap space, It’s hard to see a world where they are paying Pollard the $10m-plus he will likely command on the open market.
I would ideally target any 2023 first-round pick for Pollard in a trade. Alternatively, if you could pivot off Pollard to one of the injured backs like Javonte Williams or JK Dobbins, it will likely benefit you long-term.
Daniel Jones, QB NYG
Jones is in a similar position to Pollard. He is outproducing what most people expected heading into the season but is a pending free agent who could struggle to find a starting role in the off-season. Despite the Giants’ win/loss record, it is clear that Jones isn’t a long-term franchise quarterback, and Brian Daboll may not want to commit to him long-term. I’m also expecting the Giants to franchise tag Saquon Barkley, meaning they couldn’t even tag Jones and push the decision a year down the road.
If Jones hits free agency, will he convince another team to commit to him long-term? I’m skeptical, and therefore the best-case scenario for Jones is similar to Marcus Mariota or Mitchell Trubisky, where he is a bridge quarterback for a few months to a year before they bring in the longer-term option.
In a superflex league, you can sell Jones, who is currently the QB10 for a decent haul. You may even convince someone to part with a late first to secure another quarterback. This is a risky move, as if Jones is a starter in 2022, his production will likely outweigh the production you can sell him for. However, this is a sell-high opportunity for a player whose value could drop quickly.
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