Dynasty Fantasy Football Mailbag: Austin Ekeler, Jameis Winston, rookie backs and selling Julio Jones
Heath Cummings answers your Dynasty and keeper questions in his February mailbag.
Early in February I released my first Austin Ekeler and rookie draft picks., which predictably led to some questions. Thankfully it's still February and XFL Fantasy hasn't completely taken over my life. So I've got a little time to answer your questions. Let's start with a question that combines two of the most asked-about topics;
It makes perfect sense that people are asking about Ekeler's long-term value. It's also frustrating because we don't even know his short-term value until we see what the team does in free agency and the NFL Draft. What we do know is that Ekeler has been one of the most efficient backs in the NFL since his rookie season. With the Chargers' other needs, I have a hard time believing they'll spend big on a running back. Assuming they don't, the 25-year-old is a top-12 back and the most valuable piece in this deal.
As for the value of rookie picks, it sure seems like they're more valuable this year than in year's past. What you have to decide is if the consensus is right, or if their perceived value is greater than the actual value. We'll know more in May, but right now I lean towards the former.
As for this trade specifically, the Ekeler side is worth 26.2 on the trade chart and the T.Y. Hilton side is worth 25.9. While that is close, you have to be very careful with trades where the number of assets is this different. If you're getting four players/picks for two and you're giving up the best player in the deal, you should not accept an "even" trade.
This brings up an interesting question about the uncertainty of rookie picks. Would you rather have three shots at finding a No. 2 running back or swing big to try to get the best? Somewhere in the middle this year. The trade chart says 1.7 and 2.7 should be enough to trade up into the top three and snag one of the top three running backs. I haven't decided who my top back is, but I'd feel pretty good about getting D'Andre Swift, Jonathan Taylor or Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
As we get closer to the draft it may turn out that one of these guys (or your personal favorite) is falling outside the top six picks by standard ADP. That will make it tempting to stand pat, but just remember that rookie ADP means very little inside one individual draft. Go get your guy.
Finally, there's a decent chance you can't get a top-three pick for 1.7 and 2.7. If you legitimately believe you're a contender with a No. 2 back, I'd offer 1.7 and 2.1.
Jameis Winston sits at No. 12 in my updated quarterback rankings, and I agree with Kyle that seems too low. The odds are he's higher than that in a couple of months, and a multi-year deal in Tampa could vault him as high as No. 6. But there's also a risk that a month from now he's looking for a job while Philip Rivers or Tom Brady is the quarterback for the Buccaneers. Winston isn't likely to find a landing spot with anything close to his current weaponry or offensive system. He's one of the few players in the NFL you could legitimately call a "buy low" and "sell high".
The easy way to answer this question is to say I'm trying to acquire several sophomore receivers who may have disappointed in 2019. That includes N'Keal Harry, Parris Campbell and Hakeem Butler. Butler, especially, should be close to free after missing his rookie year.
As far as the breakouts, it depends on what level you're taking about. Terry McLaurin, A.J. Brown and DK Metcalf all have top-12 upside as soon as 2020. Mecole Hardman could make an enormous leap if Sammy Watkins is cut, and Diontae Johnson could thrive with JuJu Smith-Schuster drawing coverage. There's no shortage of breakout candidates in this class, and I'd like as many of them as possible.
Listen, Ekeler is certainly the player who could lose the most value in the next month. But it's not like Derrick Henry is currently safe. He wants to be the highest paid running back in the NFL. With the way the Le'Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and David Johnson contracts look, it's hard to imagine a team making that happen. Does that mean a franchise tag? Does that mean a holdout?
I currently have Henry one spot ahead of Ekeler, but the public values Henry much more favorably. For that reason, he's the guy I'd shop.
Brees didn't retire. But it's worth noting that I don't really believe Michael Thomas is quarterback-dependent. It's not like prior Saints No. 1s were earning a 30% target rate or catching 80% of their targets. Thomas is the No. 1 Dynasty receiver, and it's not particularly close.
I prefer to value keepers at the round they were drafted with a one-round penalty per year. In other words, a third-round pick in 2019 would cost a third-round pick in 2020, a Round 2 pick in 2021, and a Round 1 pick in 2022. Traded players can be kept at the same cost. Waiver wire additions can be kept for a last-round pick.
Starting with two keepers is a fine way to break everyone in, but I'd increase the number of keepers at least one every subsequent year. Eventually you'll transition to a full Dynasty, which is the natural conclusion anyway. I do not believe you should be able to trade future draft picks until you're keeping at least half of your roster reach year.
Julio Jones was probably lower than expected at No. 56 overall, but this will be his age 31 season and the history for elite receivers at his age isn't fantastic. In theory, that means you should sell him if the consensus still has him as a top-12 Dynasty receiver. And maybe in a different circumstance, I'd deal him.
But you've won the only two seasons of your Dynasty league. You have a team that looks like it will be a competitor in 2020. I'm not making my team worse in 2020 to play for the future in a situation like this. Flags fly forever, and you're the only guy with a flag right now. Don't let off the gas.
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