There is no offseason in dynasty football. In fact, the lull between the Super Bowl and the upcoming NFL Draft is the perfect time to improve your roster by trading for under-valued players and parting with declining assets.
Before you can maximize your return on investment, it is important to know which players to sell high on and which players make savvy trade targets.
Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers) – A ton of dynasty insiders are recommending now is the ideal time so “sell” McCaffrey after another injury-marred season. If you’re a fantasy manager with a contending roster, take advantage of the potential market. Despite the shortened season, McCaffrey still looked like one of the best backs in the league, ranking 2nd in yards per route run and 5th with 18.2 PPR points per game. Winning championships comes with an acceptable amount of risk-reward. If your roster is an elite RB away from seriously contending, see if you can sell a first in this underwhelming rookie class and acquire a player with true difference-making ability.
Khalil Herbert (Chicago Bears) – Although stuck behind incumbent starter David Montgomery, Herbert performed well in a featured role last season. When Montgomery was sidelined from Weeks 5-8, Herbert averaged 97 scrimmage yards per game with a pair of contests producing north 0f 18 PPR points. The sixth-round rookie also outperformed Montgomery in several advanced metrics.
Montgomery is also in the final year of his rookie contract, meaning he’s set to enter free agency after the 2022 season. While Montgomery is still the back to target in 2022 redraft leagues, it’s not inconceivable that the new regime will let Montgomery walk if they feel Herbert, who is younger, cheaper, and looked quite promising in 2021, can be an effective option. That makes Herbert an intriguing dynasty buy who can probably be acquired as a trade throw-in.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) – With Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones set to enter unrestricted free agency, Vaughn is currently the only running back under contract in Tampa Bay. Upon Tom Brady’s retirement, we may see the Bucs choose to go full rebuild. That would mean little to no money spent on a position like running back, which would give Vaughn a legitimate shot at entering camp as the starter. Although a bust through his first two seasons, Vaughn did produce 13-plus PPR points and score a touchdown in three of Tampa’s final four games when finally given double-digit touches. He also posted an impressive 89.1 Elusive Rating at PFF- 14th among all running backs.
Eno Benjamin (Arizona Cardinals) – Like the Buccaneers, Arizona’s top two running backs are currently unrestricted free agents. That leaves Benjamin as the only running back on the roster. The 2020 seventh-rounder only got 40 touches last season but looked decent in Week 18 when thrust into action. He also showed promise as a pass-catcher, where he was graded out at 83.3 by Pro Football Focus, the No. 5 receiving grade among all running backs. Benjamin is also probably widely available on the waiver wire, making him the ideal no-risk acquisition.
Cordarrelle Patterson (Atlanta Falcons) – After a mostly middling career as a wideout, Atlanta unlocked the secret to Patterson’s first-round pedigree by moving him almost full-time into the backfield. That resulted in a career-best season out of Patterson, who accumulated 1,166 scrimmage yards and 11 TDs. But now 31 and set to enter free agency, there is no guarantee that Patterson will continue to be utilized in such a prominent role, particularly if he signs with a new team. Further, Patterson ranked just 46th in juke rate and breakaway rate while ranking 5th in fantasy points per opportunity. Those aren’t sustainable figures and paint the picture of a “one-hit wonder” type of performance.
Aaron Jones (Green Bay Packers) – Jones just restructured his contract so he’ll be back in Green Bay for at least one more season, but he doesn’t even look like the best back on the team. That honor goes to A.J. Dillon, who began to take over a bigger share of the touches in the second half of last season. Dillon averaged 14.6 PPR points per game in Green Bay’s final nine contests and was given the third-highest rushing grade overall by PFF. Dillon also had more red-zone rushing yards (112) and touchdowns (5) than Jones (92,4). At 6-feet at 247 pounds, that’s a role Dillon should continue to be featured in. With the status of QB Aaron Rodgers also up in the air, now is a good time to see what Jones can bring in return.
Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints) – Mired with the worst salary cap situation in the league, breaking in a new coach, and missing a legitimate quarterback, the Saints could be in for a precipitous fall. While that alone is a poor situation for a starting running back, Kamara also could be facing severe consequences for a battery charge incurred at the Pro Bowl. This could include a rather length suspension even if the case is settled before the summer. There’s just an awful lot of risk involved with Kamara right now and if you can get anywhere near his value to a desperate league-mate, it might be a good time to move on from a potential headache.