Dive into Dynasty: Targets to Buy/Sell for Rebuilds

It’s the Fantasy Witching Hour!

It’s hard to believe we have reached Week 11 of the NFL season. This is the time for dynasty teams to either build up their roster for a playoff push or sell off declining assets for future value. This article will detail several players that I would be looking to buy (trade for) or sell (trade away) if your team is out of the 2021 playoff picture. Giving up on the season sucks, but maximizing player value by buying/selling at the right time is pivotal for success in dynasty. It’s the best way to turn around a team that has fallen on tough times and set them up for future success.

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Players to SELL

Aaron Jones

This is not an ideal situation to sell since Jones was recently injured, but a strong contender that has already secured a playoff spot might be willing to buy Aaron Jones now. He’s expected to miss a maximum of two weeks, so he should be back in plenty of time for a fantasy playoff run. While Jones continues to be one of the most talented running backs in the NFL, A.J. Dillon is proving to be a clear upgrade over former Green Bay RB2, Jamaal Williams. Dillon has had double-digit carries in four out of the last seven games. Williams only reached that mark seven total times over his last two seasons in Green Bay, excluding weeks that Aaron Jones missed due to injury.

Aaron Jones has always shared a backfield, so why is this any different? It’s not only about Dillon carving out a more prominent role than what Williams had, but also the types of carries that he’s getting, starting in the red zone.

% OF TEAM RUSH ATTEMPTS INSIDE THE 10-YARD LINE
Year Aaron Jones RB2 (Dillon or Williams)
2021 48% 37%
2020 51% 31%
2019 61% 16%

As you can see, Jones’ role near the goalline has slowly been reduced over the last several seasons, while Dillon is getting more red zone work than Williams did as a Packer. With Dillon getting the backfield to himself for the next 1-2 weeks, it will be an opportunity for him to establish his role even further. You should seek top-10 running back value for Jones and move him now before we see this turn into a near 50/50 split.  

Adam Thielen

I’ll be honest: Adam Thielen was a “fade” for me coming into the season. I expected Justin Jefferson to dominate targets and the improved Minnesota defense to allow for a heavier rushing attack through Dalvin Cook. Bad call! Thielen has picked right up from last season, as he’s currently the WR18 in points per game and tied for the fifth-most TD receptions. Hopefully, you were able to snag him at a good value in redraft leagues, but he’s still a sell candidate for rebuilding dynasty teams.

Despite his solid fantasy production, Thielen is currently on track for a career-low in yards per target and yards per reception. In addition, we aren’t seeing the explosive plays that we often saw from him since Jefferson took on a more prominent deep threat role. Thielen’s longest reception on the season so far has gone for just 35 yards, and he only has one game with over 100 yards receiving.

I’ve been wrong about his touchdowns regressing up until this point, but his current 10.4% TD rate (targets/touchdowns) is insanely high. His career-best was last season at 7.7%. Also, Dalvin Cook is due to turn around his bad luck in finding the endzone. Right now, Cook only has three TDs through Week 10 after averaging 15 scores over the last two seasons. So if positive regression hits for the running back, it will impact Thielen the most.

Players to BUY

Tua Tagovailoa

You have to feel for Tua Tagovailoa this season. The 23-year-old Dolphins Quarterback went from hearing outcries of “Tank for Tua” back in his days at Alabama to dealing with the highly-public pursuit of Deshaun Watson by the franchise that drafted him fifth overall last year. I’m not sure what the future holds for Tua, but regardless of the uniform he’s wearing next year and beyond, I’m going to be all-in on him.

After a forgettable rookie season, the front office made an effort to help their young QB by signing free agent Will Fuller and drafting Tua’s former college teammate, Jaylen Waddle. The problem is that Fuller has only played one full game this season due to injuries, and it’s always tough for a rookie wide receiver to step into an alpha role right away.

Despite the off-the-field distractions and lack of offensive support, Tua has shown improvement in most of the primary passing statistics this season, including yards per attempt, yards per game, TD rate, and QBR. The only downgrade has been his interception rate (up to 2.9% this season from 1.7% in 2020). This seems to be a negative on the surface, but it shows that he is getting more comfortable throwing into tight windows for fantasy purposes. Unfortunately, his conservative play as a rookie significantly lowered his fantasy ceiling.

I haven’t even mentioned the atrocious offensive line in Miami, which is ranked dead last in Pro Football Focus O-line grades. It will be nearly impossible for him to find himself in a worse situation than what he’s experienced over his first two years as a pro. So, now is the time to acquire him before it really starts to click.  

JuJu Smith-Schuster

It seems like forever ago that JuJu Smith-Schuster was considered THE WR1 overall in dynasty after he put up 1,426 yards as a second-year player in 2018. Ever since Antonio Brown left Pittsburgh, it’s been a rocky road for JuJu. He hasn’t accomplished a top-12 finish since 2018 and is now on season-ending IR after five underwhelming games this year. This sounds like a terrible case that I’m making to buy this player but stick with me!

First, let me remind you that JuJu is only 24 years old (he turns 25 next week), even though he has four seasons of NFL experience. He was 22 years old when he had his career year in 2018. Since 2000, only ten other receivers have posted a 1,400+ yard season before the age of 24. Randy Moss, Isaac Bruce, Larry Fitzgerald, and Justin Jefferson headline that list. David Boston and Josh Gordon were the only players in that group that didn’t go on to have multiple pro bowl seasons.

We can also expect 2022 to be the year that JuJu finally leaves Pittsburgh. All signs pointed towards his departure after the 2020 season, but the reduced salary cap prevented him from finding a suitable deal. With fans back in the stands this season, the league-wide cap will return to normal levels and open the free agency market back up. I recall the Chiefs being one of JuJu’s suitors last off-season, which would be an exciting spot for his dynasty value. Try to acquire him while he’s currently been forgotten on IR. He’s probably not going to be the elite WR1 we hoped for after 2018, but I expect solid WR2 production for years to come once he finds a better team situation.