Dynasty Fantasy Football: Targets Acquired

Josh Brickner

Standing still is the fastest way of moving backward in a rapidly changing dynasty landscape. The best dynasty teams are the most active in looking for ways to add value to their dynasty rosters, as part of a continuous process.

The Dynasty Targets Acquired series focuses on making dynasty buys to improve your roster, heading towards one of two key destinations – contending to win a dynasty title in 2023 or rebuilding for a dynasty title challenge in 2024. Each article in the series will highlight a dynasty buy for both contenders and rebuilders – with trade ideas based on the DLF Trade Analyzer: Pivot Up, Same Tier or Pivot Down.

Buying as a contender is all about winning the title now, whilst leaving the window open to compete again year after year. Buying as a rebuilder is all about making the right trades to maximize roster value next season and become a contender for a dynasty championship.

TIME CONTEXT AND STRATEGY

 After seven months of anticipation, there’s nothing better than the inaugural weekend of the NFL football season. The countless hours of research, Twitter X threads, and prognostication led us to a mostly frustrating weekend of underperformers and season-ending injuries. The latter instances could give those middling dynasty teams a violent shove off the fence into rebuilder status.

While we did get some answers to our burning fantasy questions about usage rates, team strengths/weaknesses, etc.; it’s vital to not overreact to the week one results. Some of what we saw in our first meaningful games will move the dynasty valuation needle a little bit, but nothing outside of the aforementioned injuries are absolute.

CONTENDER BUY – Tee Higgins, WR CIN

Those rostering Higgins and/or Drake London did not anticipate the zero-point fantasy performances each put forth in week one. These two members of the ‘Top 15 Dynasty Receiver Goose Egg Club’ are not created equally as far as projecting their rest-of-season outlook.

The Falcons receiver only had one target on 18 passing attempts highlighting his team’s run-first philosophy. Higgins, on the other hand, had eight targets and 151 air yards. A rainy Sunday in Cleveland combined with rust from Joe Burrow led to the opening weekend flop which looks to be more of a fluke than anything else. Expect the third-year wideout to return to the form which saw him finish as a WR2 (WR24, WR19) in each of the past two seasons. In fact, the Death Valley product followed up a lackluster 2-27 2022 opening performance with an impressive three-game run (6-71-1; 5-93; 7-124-1).

At 24 years old, Higgins should be coveted by contending squads as his future in Cincinnati is uncertain. As much as it’s fun to project the Bengal receiver in a new destination as the alpha wide receiver (Kansas City, anyone?), the grass is not always greener in terms of fantasy impact in these free agency situations. This is a good negotiating chip to use in prying Higgins away from the rebuilding team in your league.

PIVOT UP

Pivot Up – acquiring a higher-valued asset in exchange for multiple lower-valued assets.

  • 2024 first-round pick and Quentin Johnston = Tee Higgins

Yes, a first-round pick in the next rookie draft is the Holy Grail to some dynasty managers. Yet, as May’s NFL Draft approaches these selections lose their luster. Remember when everyone was excited for the 2022 rookie class? Me too. The point: if your end goal is to win a championship this season, Higgins will help make that a reality more than either a mid-late first-rounder or Quentin Johnston. Luckily, both are valuable pieces to a rebuilding team.

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SAME TIER

Same Tier – acquiring an asset in the same tier of valuation, in a straight-up swap deal.

  • Jaxon Smith-Njigba = Tee Higgins

While Smith-Njigba has top-five upside, this ceiling isn’t likely to be reached until next season or 2025. Right now, he may have some boom weeks but is likely to be stuck behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in the pecking order for the next 16 games. Additionally, there’s a chance Geno Smith’s 2022 season was more of an aberration than a career turning point. Higgins has a clearly defined role (seven targets per game in 2022) with a top-five quarterback leading one of the most potent offenses in football. Higgins has league-winning upside as we get into the fantasy playoffs.

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PIVOT DOWN

Pivot Down – acquiring multiple lower-valued assets in exchange for a higher-valued asset.

  • Bryce Young = Tee Higgins and Jimmy Garoppolo (Superflex)

As a team competing for the fantasy championship, a rookie quarterback on a team starting from scratch will be nothing more than a bye-week replacement in your two-quarterback league. Find a rebuilding squad and trade them the number one overall selection for an established player of Higgins’ pedigree. We’re early enough in the season where Young’s perceived value is enough to make a deal no matter his on-the-field growing pains. As a bonus, you can target a seasoned veteran like Jimmy G as a throw-in to ensure a sturdy QB3 or low-end QB2 in a superflex league.

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REBUILDER BUY – Josh Downs, WR IND

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So… You decided to give it one last shot this season. Your good (not great) dynasty roster with Aaron Rodgers, JK Dobbins, Cooper Kupp, Garrett Wilson, etc. needed a few things to break right to make a run to the ‘Ship. Like a house of cards, the foundation finished its collapse on Monday night. My deepest condolences if this scenario exactly describes your dynasty life right now. While your situation may not be this bleak, it might be time to admit to yourself it’s time to play for next season.

Josh Downs is a perfect buy-low, under-the-radar player who can pay huge dividends to your roster in the next several months. From a pre-draft ADP high of 85 overall; the Indianapolis rookie has not only seen his value fall nearly four rounds, but his current DLF ranking of 130.13 (WR59) is behind Colts’ receiver room colleague Alec Pierce (125.5; WR55).

One would believe the franchise would not spend significant draft capital on the North Carolina product if they were completely sold on Pierce. It’s only one week, but Downs both out-targeted (7-3) and out-produced (3-30, 1-5) his teammate despite playing nine fewer snaps.

It’s not hard to see the Colts envision Downs becoming the player they hoped Parris Campbell to become. As both Anthony Richardson and his rookie receiver develop together under this new coaching regime in the next few months, we could see Downs’ value spike towards the end of the season. Producing a significant windfall for those dynasty managers who got in on the ground floor.

PIVOT UP

Pivot Up – acquiring a higher-valued asset in exchange for multiple lower-valued assets.

  • Jamaal Williams and Hunter Henry = Josh Downs

Ladies and gentlemen, your current fantasy football TE1… Hunter Henry?! In the current wasteland of fantasy football tight ends, the Patriot veteran can be a valuable piece to a contending squad. While Williams had a rough opening weekend (7.2 FP) against the Titans stout run defense, he’s got three more weeks of a similar 20-touch workload.  These two one-year rental pieces should be enough to pry Downs away from the dynasty degenerate with his eye on the title.

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SAME TIER

Same Tier – acquiring an asset in the same tier of valuation, in a straight-up swap deal.

  • Jakobi Meyers = Josh Downs

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Had Meyers not taken a brutal hit at the end of a game where he was dominating (9-81-2), this trade would be smash-accepted by any contending squad. Yet, trying to deal a player who’s currently in concussion protocol could prevent some challenges. There is no denying that, when on the field, the Raiders intend to get a strong return on the three-year $33 million investment they made on the former Patriot. Meyers is the type of safe-floor WR3 usually found on championship rosters. This is the definition of a win-win trade for both sides.

PIVOT DOWN

Pivot Down – acquiring multiple lower-valued assets in exchange for a higher-valued asset.

If you are rebuilding and have Alexander Mattison rostered, reach out to the JK Dobbins manager ASAP. After two poor performances, the clock is ticking to cash out on Mattison, as rookie Ty Chandler’s role in the offense is sure to grow moving forward.

Cedric Tillman is the ideal buy-low target for a dynasty roster looking towards the future. After a targetless 11 offensive snaps in week one, expect the Browns to bring along the rookie wideout slowly as the year progresses. He’s in line for a significant role in the aerial attack next season with Donovan Peoples-Jones likely to depart in free agency.

The short-sighted among us may argue this is not a strong enough return for the leader of a backfield, but it beats the alternative of being stuck with a diminishing-value running back on your non-competitive roster.

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SUMMARY

If you haven’t taken stock of the competitive nature of your dynasty squad, the time is now! The fastest way to purgatory in your dynasty league is by not being proactive. It may take a few more weeks of confirmation to determine the direction of your franchise. Look through the rosters in your league and find an opponent who wants what you’re offering and vice versa.

josh brickner
Dynasty Fantasy Football: Targets Acquired