With the NFL Draft now months behind us and preseason just around the corner, we are nearing the crescendo of the NFL off-season. As such, the window for making final roster adjustments is drawing to a close, with the obtainment of actionable game information just over the horizon in September. Put another way, it would not be unreasonable to assert player values are less likely to fluctuate over the next couple of months (pending injuries) as compared to when the regular season is in full force.
In that spirit, I’ve selected players to buy, sell and hold for all 32 NFL teams. This miniseries will be broken down by division, with 12 players highlighted per article and 96 overall. In a 12-team league with 20 roster spots (similar to the DLF ADP), that accounts for 40% of the players!
Before we dive in, a few notes and disclaimers:
- Player values were obtained from the combination of the most current ADP (pending the lead time necessary for authorship), and the DLF top 250 rankings;
- The league paradigm is assumed to be PPR and 1QB (players in superflex and/or 2QB leagues would likely have some divergence from those I’ve selected);
- Opinions on players are my own and do not represent all of DLF; and finally,
- Exact player values are always going to be dependent on individual leagues and owners, and may not be consistent with the assertions provided herein.
With that said, let’s continue with the AFC East! Players will be profiled individually, with a tabulated summary of all 12 provided at the article’s conclusion.
Buy: Damien Harris, RB (ADP = 137.8, Rank = 122.9)
Harris has had something of an underrated career. Part of it is likely due to his inability to play a full season, as after a redshirt rookie season he missed a combined 14 contests over the last three years. The other part is that he was sharing the field with talented ball carriers, including Sony Michel (don’t laugh, he was efficient in 2020!) and Rhamondre Stevenson, as well as running quarterback Cam Newton. In a New England offense that spreads the load around amongst their rushers, this wasn’t altogether unsurprising.
Still, when healthy he’s averaged just a hair under 14 opportunities (carries plus targets) per game, is efficient running the ball (4.7 YPC lifetime), and has a nose for the end zone. He’s not a plus receiver but isn’t tragic either, securing 40 receptions over the last three years. At his zenith in 2021, he had over 1,000 total yards and 15 scores in 15 games, finishing as the PPR RB14.
Per the ADP, he’s now being selected as the RB44, despite landing in a better Buffalo offense with little in the way of proven competition. I don’t believe positional cohort James Cook will be able to handle a robust load, and there has been smoke out of Buffalo asserting quarterback Josh Allen may run less this year. Still only 26 years old and with lots of tread left on his tires, he’s a sensible buy, particularly for those punting the position early.
Sell: James Cook, RB (ADP = 88.8, Rank = 81.6)
Given my thoughts on Harris above, this shouldn’t be altogether unsurprising. Cook comes with second-round draft capital, but is on the smaller side at the position at 5’11” and 190 pounds. As evidenced by his rookie season (only 89 carries and 131 total opportunities) the Bills might feel the same way, much as the University of Georgia apparently did.
In my mind, Cooks is going to have to function similarly to someone like Austin Ekeler, or even less heralded players like James White or Danny Woodhead in order to return value as a mid-seventh-round pick. He may also need to receive critical red zone touches, which could be tough with two bulls in the backfield in Harris and Allen. For these reasons, and because I don’t see him functioning as an elite satellite back, I’m out at cost.
Hold: Dawson Knox, TE (ADP = 191.7, Rank = 181.9)
I just don’t see any other options here. At this time last year Knox had an ADP of 117.2, and largely held serve through January, 2023 (ADP = 120.0). Now?
Knox is what he is, which is a decidedly unsexy player at a train wreck of a position. But he’s not tragic, with an average line of 3.2-36.8-0.5 over the past two years, good for just a hair under 10 weekly PPR points. His value fell solely due to the first-round selection of Dalton Kincaid, not due to his own skill level. It’s also important to remember he signed a four-year contract worth $53.6 million ($31 million guaranteed) just last September, and there is nothing but sadness behind Stefon Diggs amongst the Bills’ pass catchers. As the TE23, I’m holding as I’m not expecting a huge Y1 role for Kincaid, and if nothing else Knox knows how to score the ball.
Buy: Tyreek Hill, WR (ADP = 17.3, Rank = 13.4)
It wasn’t supposed to be this easy in 2022. Hill was downgrading from Patrick Mahomes, moving to a tougher division, and sharing a field with rising sophomore Jaylen Waddle. 1,700 yards later, and the veteran pass catcher proved that his talent was the ultimate trump card.
So honestly, I don’t care that he’s 29 years old. I don’t care that there are rumors he may retire after the 2025 season. He’s one of maybe five or six receivers with a legitimate shot to finish as the PPR WR1 this coming season, and he’s going in the second round as the WR11 by ADP. That makes him a buy.
Sell: Devon Achane, RB (ADP = 80.2, Rank = 104.1)
In my AFC East Divisional Outlook article, I labeled Achane as my biggest bust. No reason not to double down now!
Achane is a pint-sized ball carrier who was never trusted to carry the load in college, and the season with his heaviest usage yielded his worst efficiency. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr aren’t flashy, but they’re proven NFL veterans who have a history with coach Mike McDaniel. Mostert quietly almost went for 1,100 total yards last season, and Wilson is still only 26 with a career 4.5 YPC average. And of course there are the omnipresent Dalvin Cook rumors…
I think there’s some rookie fever in play here, as notably Achane’s ADP is two full rounds ahead of DLF’s consensus rank. If I had Achane (I don’t), I’d be selling. RB26 is too rich for my blood.
Hold: Tua Tagovailoa, WR (ADP = 103.7, Rank = 108.0)
We shouldn’t be talking about a 25-year-old quarterback coming off a career year like he’s a 32-year-old running back on his last legs, but here we are. The fact is, Tagovailoa’s recent injury history is scary, especially given his statement that he was seriously contemplating retirement. And despite the fact he’s gained some value since the June ADP, this is likely why he’s fallen over two rounds since December.
Tua was the QB8 by average points in 2022, and is currently going as the QB12 by ADP. He’s throwing to a top-three receiving corps in the NFL, and possibly the absolute fastest. He’s a sensible hold as a player who should easily eclipse his ADP stature if he can stay healthy.
New England Patriots
Buy: Mike Gesicki, TE (ADP = 200.2, Rank = 185.8)
If I’m doubling down on Achane, I’m absolutely doubling down on Gesicki, who I listed as my nominee for most improved player in the AFC East. The fact is, he was miscast in Mike McDaniel’s scheme, which is at best a bit…cavalier…towards the tight end position. Prior to that, he was coming off of two 700+ yard seasons, earning the franchise tag the Dolphins placed on him.
I don’t believe 2022 is nearly indicative of Gesicki’s skill level. A move to the (yes, I actually mean this) friendly confines of Foxboro should do wonders, as offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien knows how to use the position. It’s a downgrade at quarterback, but that hardly matters if the signal-caller isn’t schemed to throw you the ball – and as I saw on Twitter (apologies, I don’t recall the source), if we were willing to give Trevor Lawrence a pass for Urban Meyer, we should absolutely give Mac Jones a pass for the failed (botched) Matt Patricia/Joe Judge experience (woof).
Gesicki has fallen a whopping six rounds in ADP in the past year. He’s not a spring chicken, but will only turn 28 in October. He’s severely undervalued as a TE3 by ADP.
Sell: Kayshon Boutte, WR (ADP = 234.2, Rank = 231.9)
The simple fact is, the last time Boutte did something noteworthy on the positive side of the ledger was his 2021 sophomore season at LSU, which was unfortunately truncated by an ankle injury. Since then he had a down 2022, then showed up at the NFL Combine as small and slow, with a tiny catch radius and poor agility and explosion. Otherwise, it was a decidedly positive experience!
This led to a fall from grace to a sixth-round pick in the NFL Draft, followed by subsequent beat writer rumors that he’s far from a lock to make the team. I’m honestly flabbergasted (great time to break that word out, by the way) he’s being drafted at all. I’d cash out for any draft pick, any year. I said it in my AFC South rendition of this article, but selling low beats selling lower (or in Boutte’s case, likely dropping him to the waiver wire for nothing).
Hold: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR (ADP = 114.0, Rank = 98.1)
Here we have another data point of DLF’s rankers being a bit higher on a player than the ADP mock drafters. In the case of Smith-Schuster, I think it’s sensible as he’s coming off something of a comeback year that resulted in 933 yards and a sterling 9.2 YPT. Sure, this happened with the best quarterback in the NFL slinging him the rock, but the fact is he bounced back.
Is going from Patrick Mahomes to Jones a downgrade? I won’t dignify that with a response. But Jones has the ability to get the ball to his slot receiver, which is where Juju will function. Despite playing 13 seasons in the NFL to date (okay, six), he’s still somehow only 26. The Patriots haven’t been the wisest team in doling out contracts, but Smith-Schuster got $33 million across three years ($16 million guaranteed). Going as a WR5 by ADP, if he stays healthy he’s a near lock to outpace his current draft status.
New York Jets
Buy: Corey Davis, WR (ADP = 239.3, Rank = 188.0)
I think you’re starting to notice a trend here, eh? Once again in Davis we have a player who is valued significantly higher by DLF’s rankers than by our ADP mock drafters. This time of year always seems to reflect a shift towards players with youth on their side, but even given that Davis’ case seems a bit extreme.
Davis hasn’t been a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination since joining the Jets, but he’s been dealing with an absolute bucket of yuck under center. Still, his average line of 3-46.7-0.3 could’ve been worse when you’re grading on a severe curve. I’m not sold by Allen Lazard, or quite frankly anyone after Garrett Wilson – so why not buy into one of the cheapest options with some proven upside?
Sell: Israel Abanikanda, RB (ADP = 148.5, Rank = 226.4)
Ah yes, here’s that trend again! The rookie runner is going a whopping 6.5 rounds higher in the ADP as compared to his average rankings. And once again, I’m going to have to side with the DLF rankers on this one.
Abanikanda had some buzz during the pre-draft process, but the fact is he was a late breakout with okay but not special collegiate production and efficiency. This is probably part of the reason why he fell to the fifth round, and to a team with an established (albeit recovering) ball carrier in Breece Hall. Past Hall, Zonovan Knight and Michael Carter are still kicking around as competent backups, and (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) the Dalvin Cook rumors continue to persist. I’d be looking to trade for someone else in this ADP range, as I just don’t see a path forward for the rookie.
Hold: Aaron Rodgers, QB (ADP = 174.3, Rank = 154.8)
At the risk of sounding redundant, and at the risk of sounding redundant, let’s run this back one more time. The rankers are a bit higher as compared to the ADP, and while it’s only by about two rounds in the late middle of the draft, it does stand as something of a divergence. However, with that said I’m somewhat going against my own prior opinion, as in my AFC East wrap-up I referred to Rodgers as the division’s Least Valuable Player.
And while I still don’t think he’s going to return to his stature as one of the best real-life and fantasy quarterbacks in the game, he’s now coming off the board as the QB23 by ADP. Rebuilders may have an option to sell to QB-deficient teams, but otherwise, it’s hard to imagine the multiple-time league MVP fetching a whole heck of a lot on the trade market. As such, owners might as well hold and attempt to ride the lightning on the off chance Rodgers is able to recapture his previous form.
The tabulated list of the players discussed here is shown below.
|AFC East||Buffalo Bills||Damien Harris||137.8||122.9||James Cook||88.8||81.6||Dawson Knox||191.7||181.9|
|Miami Dolphins||Tyreek Hill||17.3||13.4||Devon Achane||80.2||104.1||Tua Tagovailoa||103.7||108|
|New England Patriots||Mike Gesicki||200.2||185.8||Kayshon Boutte||234.2||231.9||Juju Smith-Schuster||114||98.1|
|New York Jets||Corey Davis||239.3||188||Israel Abanikanda||148.5||226.4||Aaron Rodgers||174.3||154.8|
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