As a follow-up to last week’s “8 Players I’m Buying” missive, it’s time to turn the tables and highlight some of those players that scare me enough that I’ll be looking to move them in the weeks leading up to the NFL Draft, if I haven’t already.
Rather than bore you with an overly long introduction, simply read the beginning of the article linked above as it all still applies to the opposite side of the coin. In short, these are players who I feel carry value now beyond what they will by this time next year, for any number of factors. Again, much like the list of players I’m seeking to acquire, the list of players I’m looking to sell can fluctuate wildly week-in, week-out, for any number of reasons. Selling players takes a bit more time, effort and finesse as the prospects of a sold player can change very quickly and it’s never fun to see a player you’ve moved on from lighting it up for a fellow coach. For that reason, I tread more lightly when it comes to moving players out and as much as I’d like to be well ahead of the curve, I’m far more aggressive with acquisition.
Here are eight players I’m leaving in my rear-view mirror:
Marcus Mariota, QB TEN
Age: 25 DLF Rank: QB19
Yet to play a full 16-game season, every week with Mariota at the helm is like a spin on the wheel of mystery fantasy production, if he actually suits up. Combine that with his 11:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio and 2,528 passing yards and you’ll find yourself in a hole in your match-up each week if you’re forced to trot him as your starter. He has his moments but, unfortunately, there are too many (8) ten-point-or-less moments as well. Your QB1 can’t put up single digits in 50% of his games and carry an injury designation nearly as often. The problem with selling Mariota is his value is too low to get much in return but if you play in a 2QB league or your league has owners desperate at the position, it’s time to move on. Mariota is the prototypical running quarterback without the size to do so effectively for a long period of time.
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Kirk Cousins, QB MIN
Age: 30 DLF Rank: QB10
Truth be told, I’ve already purged myself of Cousins in all leagues so I have nothing left to sell. Cousins did finish 2018 as the QB9 in most popular formats but following an extremely productive start to his Minnesota career in 2018, when he averaged nearly 30 fantasy points per game, he quickly fell to a level of under-performance and would only eclipse 30 points once more (week 12) over the remaining games, ending with a four-game stretch averaging an extremely pedestrian 17.5 points. Given the receiving options and running game present, something is amiss. The problem with selling Cousins is that those same offensive weapons provide significant weekly upside and it’s not easy to move on from a quarterback in fantasy unless you have significant depth. In 2QB leagues, Cousins will continue to carry an inflated value and his numbers do pass the eye test. In 2018, he produced 4,298 yards, 30 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions. Selling Cousins here is much more a function of unloading a borderline QB1 player to acquire other upside assets who have greater field potential, as long as you have a more productive, or equal, QB1. Cousin’s contract is for a fully guaranteed $84M over three years and he’s not a free agent until after the 2020 season. The comparisons to Tony Romo and his inability to win the big game are not far off the mark at this juncture. Something is keeping Cousins from consistent production and I don’t want any part of what is coming.
Tevin Coleman, RB ATL
Age: 25 DLF Rank: RB20
Hear me out on this one for a bit before leaping to any conclusions. I feel bad with Coleman as I’ve been touting him as a “buy” based on his free agency status in 2019. Certain to be with a new team come kick-off of the 2019 season, Coleman will compete for every-down duties with his new club and will turn only 26 years of age this April. There is, undoubtedly, upside to Coleman’s production potential. He averaged 4.8 ypc. on 167 totes in 2018, scoring four touchdowns. He also chipped in 32 receptions for 276 yards and another five touchdowns. Those totals are enough to garner significant interest but the real question is whether he’s an every-down player or a role player similar to fellow free agent T.J. Yeldon. As much as I wanted to see a three-down player, watching Coleman in 2018 leads me to believe he’s a part-time player behind a more physical runner. Immediately, Baltimore comes to mind and the Ravens also have the scheme to utilize his pass-catching ability. My short story on Coleman is that his raw numbers aren’t representative of his upside potential in my estimation. For that reason, while I’m not out to move him under just any circumstance, I’m certainly going to float his free agency status, along with his 2018 production, to see if I can generate trade interest for a veteran player in another area of need. If I could move Coleman’s risky-upside for a player such as Chris Godwin, Jarvis Landry or even the flagging Corey Davis, I’m willing to make the move and allow my fellow coach to take the risk.
Royce Freeman, RB DEN
Age: 22 DLF Rank: RB26
While the fantasy fervor was running rampant on Freeman’s Denver Bronco selection during the 2018 NFL Draft, I was steadfast in my belief that he was far more hype than substance. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I see a lot of Oregon Duck football and the player I saw in his final collegiate season didn’t resemble the one I saw in his first two, the decline beginning in his third. He added weight and too often looked like heavy-legged mud-runner, likely due to a heavy workload over his four years at the school, racking up 947 carries and 79 receptions. I saw very little burst, lateral agility or dynamic remaining. To his credit, he did manage a 4.0 ypc. average with five touchdowns playing behind Phillip Lindsay but the runner I saw in his final year at Oregon, now at 238 lbs., still remains. As a rookie, Freeman will still carry significant value. If I can extract that value, I’m moving him for known productivity elsewhere. In the end, I don’t want poor-dynamic part-time backs clogging my roster and I don’t see upside enough to in Freeman to not consider a sale.
David Johnson, RB ARI
Age: 27 DLF Rank: RB9
Johnson hasn’t looked right since returning from his lost 2017 season. Head coach Steve Wilks is out, rookie quarterback Josh Rosen regressed as the year played out and Larry Fitzgerald looks poised to finally hang’em up rather than endure another season of rebuilding with little near-term hope in sight. The offensive line looked like a shell of its former self and Johnson’s 3.6 ypc. career-low average was the result. To his credit, he still amassed 940 yards on 258 carries in addition to 50 receptions and combined for a total of 10 touchdowns. While it is now, perhaps, a year too late, there’s still time to capitalize on his name value be very wary of poachers. There’s another year of big change in store in the desert and it looks to be a long and painful road for the next two years at least. Now 27, if you are able to receive RB1 value for Johnson’s RB2 future, I’d pounce on it. He did finish as the PPR RB9 but I just don’t see much, if any, upside in this production with far more downside risk due to offensive dynamic, or lack of. A sale of Johnson is predicated upon receiving true RB1 value, in the neighborhood of his beginning-of-2018 top-five ranking. He’s signed in Arizona through 2020.
Antonio Brown, WR PIT
Age: 30 DLF Rank: WR7
This is far more a function of age progression and mental state over that of declining potential. It’s about getting great value for a top player now rather than waiting for the inevitable fade which should occur within the next year following his age-31 season. Fresh off a 15 touchdown campaign, his career high, Brown also reeled in triple digit (104) receptions for the sixth season in a row and fell just shy of 1,300 yards. Ben Roethlisberger is not certain to return after a painful finish to 2018 and chemistry between he and Brown appears to be on the ropes. That said, the cap hit the Steelers would incur makes it very unlikely that Brown suits up for another team in 2019 unless he’s willing to restructure his contract with Pittsburgh to facilitate a move. Regardless, Brown’s mental state doesn’t seem well suited to share the field with a rising star in Juju Smith-Schuster and he’s quickly become another diva receiver. This played out in the final games of 2018 ultimately leading to Brown being deactivated prior to kickoff of the Steelers’ last game vs. the Panthers. Competitive teams probably can’t afford to move Brown here, but the time has come to move on while compensation-return remains a very high likelihood.
A.J. Green, WR CIN
Age: 31 DLF Rank: WR15
In another move similar to that of Antonio Brown, I’ve moved on from A.J. Green in all formats as the soon-to-be 31 year-old receiver continues to lose his luster while his DLF ADP (34) has now fallen to a career low and seems to be losing value at break-neck speed. Green has one year left on his contract and is a free agent in 2020. Fresh off a nine-game season, he’s only played a full 16 games in two of his previous five years. Quarterback concerns persist and it is not out of the question the Bengals could decide to move on from the Red Rifle Andy Dalton though it has been reported that he’ll return for at least one more year. For Green, it’s possible an argument could be made for an acquisition on the back of a disappointing season but to do so would mean placing a bet on the belief he’ll play a full season and score double-digit touchdowns in 2019, a feat he has only performed once (2015, 10) over his past five season. This is another marquee-name sale in order to capture value ahead of any further decline. As is the case with Antonio Brown, there’s no need for a fire sale as both players still carry name recognition and production-potential enough to produce well under the right circumstances in 2019.
Courtland Sutton, WR DEN
Age: 23 DLF Rank: WR23
I’m fully aware this is an unpopular call – no different than my value on him as he entered the NFL Draft out of SMU. I watched as much of his college work, in addition to follow-on research, as any receiver in previous years and I came away with a risk-reward profile such that I couldn’t justify a selection in the first round of fantasy drafts. That said, once a player reaches the NFL, anything can happen. But what I’ve seen has supported everything I saw while at SMU. Love his size, hands and he’s not without upside but he must get stronger off the line of scrimmage and his leaping ability is not elite as his size would suggest. His route stems aren’t efficient and he lacks suddenness. At this point in his development, he looks like a poor-man’s Corey Davis, perhaps with as much upside. In either case, his second year will be extremely important as he attempts to live up to his pre-draft hype. On the year, he tallied 42 receptions, 704 yards and four touchdowns. Sutton should carry as much value as he did prior to the beginning of the season and may have even seen a level of inflation considering the Emmanuel Sanders injury.
Hope you enjoyed this listing of players I’m seeking to move if the price-is-right. I’m will now turning my full attention to the 2019 NFL Draft!
You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff