Dynasty Fantasy Football: Targets Acquired

Andrew Francesconi

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 three 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

We’re nearly halfway through the fantasy football regular season and by now you know whether or not your team is a contender or a pretender. Bye weeks have begun, injuries are piling up, and it’s time to take a good long look in the mirror and decide whether or not your team can actually win a title in 2023.

No matter which category your team falls into, there are plenty of trades that can be made to improve your roster which is the beauty of dynasty. Below, I’m going to highlight one player a contending team should look into buying and one player a rebuilding team should try and acquire.

Contender Buy – Austin Ekeler, RB LAC

It’s not exactly breaking news to say that having Austin Ekeler on your fantasy team gives you a better chance to win a fantasy football championship than not having Ekeler on your squad. I’m also not a fan of plainly obvious fantasy football advice because I think there’s a lot of it on the internet these days.

However, I think Ekeler’s first two months of the season presents a very interesting and unique situation for dynasty leagues. I’m sure there are many teams who came into the year with Ekeler as their cornerstone piece and championship aspirations. Ekeler’s three-week injury absence, an early bye week, and a disappointing game against the Cowboys on Monday Night Football might have managers reevaluating whether or not they can truly make a run.

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I think every contending team, or team looking to push themselves over the edge with one big trade, should be inquiring about the availability of Austin Ekeler in their league. There are obvious, long-term concerns about his age and his pending free agency, but he has clear, season-winning upside on the right roster.

Pivot Up

Acquiring a higher-valued asset in exchange for multiple lower-valued assets

A team that can’t win and is centered around Austin Ekeler is one that needs to get young in a hurry and is willing to roll the dice on two young players who have stumbled a bit out of the gate in the 2023 season. If you have a plethora of WR talent and can upgrade from Dameon Pierce to Ekeler I’d do it in a heartbeat to get your team one step closer to actually contending for a title.

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Same Tier

Acquiring an asset in the same tier of valuation, in a straight-up swap deal

If you’re trying to compete this season you simply don’t have time to let Smith-Njigba develop and find his footing in this Seattle offense. JSN has failed to reach double-digit fantasy points in a single game this season and has yet to finish better than WR45. He’s still competing with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett for targets and the Seahawks seem content pounding the ball with Kenneth Walker.

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While I’m still bullish on Smith-Njigba’s future, it’s hard to pass on a difference-maker like Ekeler if your goal is to win in 2023.

Pivot Down

Acquiring multiple lower-valued assets in exchange for a higher-valued asset

Similar to the rationale with Smith-Njigba, if you’re looking to compete in 2023 you can’t wait to see if the Lions will ever give Jahmyr Gibbs consistent touches. Alabama refused to use Gibbs as an every-down running back and now Detroit is refusing to do the same. Maybe it’s time to admit maybe Gibbs is only meant to be a change-of-pace back, but that’s for another day.

Regardless, you probably selected Gibbs with the 1.06 in rookie drafts which means your team wasn’t terrible last year. A few breakouts and now you’re looking to compete but your biggest weak spot is at RB. You can move Gibbs for Ekeler while also picking up a second underrated back in Isiah Pacheco.

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Pacheco is currently the RB13 in total PPR points so far this season thanks to his huge uptick in receiving usage. Last year he caught only 13 passes during the entire regular season and he already has 17 through the first six weeks of 2023. At his current usage, he is a sure-fire RB2 and if he sees just a marginal increase in rushing TD production he could sneak into low-end RB1 discussion.

Rebuilder Buy – Rashee Rice, WR KC

If you’re rebuilding it’s easy for me to sit here and say you just try and acquire Bijan Robinson, CJ Stroud, or De’Von Achane. However, those don’t feel like realistic trade targets for this point in the season and I really don’t think anyone with Achane is looking to sell low after a minor injury.

Instead, I want to target a young player who’s shown an immense amount of promise early in his career and that’s Rashee Rice. For years people in the fantasy community of been overly enthusiastic about young WRs going to Kansas City because of the promise of being attached to the best quarterback in football: Patrick Mahomes. It seems like Rice might be the guy we’ve been waiting for.

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Rice has earned double-digit fantasy points in 4/6 games so far this season and has seen his snap share increase weekly. So far this season, Rice has earned a target on nearly 36% of his routes which leads all players in the NFL with at least 20 targets and he’s 5th in the NFL in YAC/reception with 7.0 yards coming after the catch.

The final feather in Rice’s cap that convinces me he should be a buy for any rebuilding team is a recent article by Aaron Schatz who is the founder of the famous DVOA metric. This offseason he released a metric called Route DVOA that measures receiver quality on a per-route basis. Rice finds himself in pretty good company atop this list through the first five weeks of the season.

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Courtesy of Aaron Scatz Route DVOA.

Pivot Up

Acquiring a higher-valued asset in exchange for multiple lower-valued assets

You went into the year not planning to compete and now all of a sudden Curtis Samuel and Zack Moss are producing startable fantasy weeks; now it’s time to sell. Neither Samuel nor Moss or part of your long-term vision and I believe much of their production right now is a bit fluky. But as injuries pile up and bye weeks start to make things more difficult, a contender would love to have both of these veterans fill out their team.

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Same Tier

Acquiring an asset in the same tier of valuation, in a straight-up swap deal

If you’ve had Michael Thomas since he’s entered the league you’ve gone through the good, the bad, and the ugly with the former Ohio State Buckeye. Thomas went from setting the NFL single-season reception record in 2019 to only playing in 10 games over the next three seasons. Just when you thought it was time to cut ties with Thomas for good he’s shown a little bit of a spark, and potential value, to make a contending team more interested in his high floor than Rice’s future ceiling.

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Pivot Down

Acquiring multiple lower-valued assets in exchange for a higher-valued asset

Just like Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins has treated dynasty managers very well over the last decade but age, and Tennessee Titan QB play, will diminish a WR’s value real quick. Hopkins does still hold a little name-brand appeal and a contender that wants to solidify their flex spot may be willing to part with these two inconsistent youngsters. But as a rebuilding team, we aren’t looking to compete and Jaylen Warren and Rice are two excellent young pieces to stash for 2024 and beyond.

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Analyze a trade in our Dynasty Trade Analyzer!
andrew francesconi