Welcome to Week 7 of the 2021 NFL season. Dynasty fans, we’re gaining new pieces of information every week. Injuries reveal hidden gems, like Cleveland Browns running back D’Ernest Johnson during Thursday night’s game against the Broncos. Unfortunately, more games also reveal the ineptitude of some franchises--like Denver’s insistence on using Melvin Gordon so frequently over the clearly-more-talented rookie Javonte Williams.
This week’s piece of dynasty advice is to show more patience during trade negotiations. In my youth, I would react swiftly and harshly when I received bad trade offers—taking them as a personal slight or an insult to my intelligence. In the end, what worked for me was always waiting a few hours to counter-offer a trade. At least in appearance, it would seem as though I did my due diligence to more thoughtfully consider my opponent’s offer. I also would take the extra step when sending offers to try to find teams lacking at my position of strength. If I had a running back to offer, I looked for the teams with the most glaring holes at that position. For those who play in many dynasty leagues, this extra step of thoughtfulness is much more difficult to maintain long-term as you plow through your weekly hasty rituals of setting waiver wire blind bids or setting lineups with 15 tabs open in your browser. As Otis Redding would say, try a little tenderness.
Let’s ring the dynasty stock watch opening bell:
QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
There’s something that you can only glean from watching the games. That’s not to say I watch every snap from every game, but I at least try to catch the long-form highlight clips on YouTube if I don’t watch a game. One of the things that really struck me about Tagovailoa is how elusive he is within the pocket while also being able to stand and deliver. This may not be news to you, but something appeared to click for the southpaw signal-caller in the Dolphins’ Week 6 loss to the Jaguars.
I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that after Tagovailoa put out that good tape, the trade rumors once again began to swirl. Despite Miami’s glaring lack of offensive firepower, Tags passed for 329 yards and two scores with one INT. He consistently hit tight ends Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe on intermediate routes. He kept his best playmaker, WR Jaylen Waddle, active and got him the ball around the goal line, where his former Alabama teammate delivered with two touchdowns. Even Mack Hollins had some nice grabs early on. How can we make such big decisions from one game when Tagovailoa seemingly gets hurt every other week? Well, injuries are of course a factor in any fantasy decision, but we have to assume to some degree that the injuries will regress to the mean. Eventually, luck will break his way for a couple seasons and he won’t always be hurt. If the injury concerns are too much for your tastebuds, then disregard. If you can stomach it, follow the recommendations below.
I’m offering a 2022 mid-first and second in superflex and a 2022 early second in one QB leagues to test the waters.
RB Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
Speaking of injuries, I look at them differently when we’re talking about talent in the rarefied air of the game’s elite. Let’s take a quick look back to 2019, when CMC compiled 403 touches. The year before that, he had 326 touches. Now, McCaffrey is still a young man, even for a running back. He won’t turn 26 until next June. The former Stanford Cardinal stud even looked like his old self with 59 touches for 324 combined yards and a touchdown over the Panthers first two games this season. But it’s very simple for me, I want off before the fall and I’m happy to wait for the right deal à la the Philadelphia 76ers waiting for the right deal for Ben Simmons, if you’re following that NBA drama.
Look, McCaffrey still has years left. I understand trading one of the top dynasty players isn’t an easy decision. You’ve got to find the best deals for your squad. There’s no denying he’s still arguably one of the top picks in dynasty. He isn’t even out for the rest of the season; he should be back around Week 9. But like I said, you don’t have to trade him immediately or even until after the season is over. His trade value could recuperate the little he’s lost in getting hurt again by playing like his old self. Here’s my olive branch: If someone is willing to overpay current value (3-plus future early- to mid-first-rounders, preferably across the next two years), I’m getting out now and trusting my own ability to evaluate rookie talent. It would also help if I felt I had at least one promising RB1 already in place like Jonathan Taylor or D’Andre Swift. Right now, I’d rank CMC as the fourth-most valuable dynasty RB (Najee Harris, Taylor and Swift ahead of him). Point there, he’s not untouchable. I’m trying to add some nuance here. If your next best back is Josh Jacobs, then sure, trading away McCaffrey is foolish. If you’ve got another stud, this is the year to walk away.
Win-Now: HOLD (until after playoffs)
WR Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals
I may be reading the tea leaves too closely, but I feel Higgins’ value has taken a firm hit more than once this year. The whole world is so enamored with Ja’Marr Chase, and rightly so, that the talent and youth of Higgins (turns 23 in January) is overlooked. We have to take the long view here. We have to assume the Bengals will improve the offense around Joe Burrow, particularly the offensive line, in the foreseeable future.
A more reliable, chain-moving offense produces more consistently, converts more third downs, gains more yards and scores more touchdowns. Is Cincinnati there yet? They’re closer than we think in the very competitive AFC North.
Higgins has missed two games, and he’s looked a little underwhelming the last two weeks. Are the wheels falling off? No, but I’m going to make the assumption that fantasy managers who have him are wringing their hands a bit, especially if they’re trying to make a championship run. The injury that held him out wasn’t his knees, ankles or feet. It was his shoulder. At worst, he’ll play through it, have offseason surgery and be back to his old self next year.
Our ideal situation is a trigger-happy manager who believes Boyd is the new No. 2 in this offense and believes the good days are in the rearview with Higgins. I firmly believe that is not the case because the former Clemson standout already proved last year that he’s head and (injured) shoulders above Boyd in every way. Giddy up! I’d start trade negotiations with a 2022 mid-first, and I’d even be willing to add a 2023 second, but you shouldn’t go higher than that. It’d be helpful if Higgins has another couple stinker games.
WR Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
We’re really seeing the perfect confluence of events to tank Aiyuk’s dynasty value. An enigmatic start where he was a healthy scratch in Week 1. There’s also his uneven start to the season in recent weeks. The team has had to endure a change at QB between rookie Trey Lance and the perpetually underwhelming Jimmy Garoppolo, who is set to play this week. The “genius” shine divined upon Kyle Shanahan has worn off a bit since the team’s 2019 Super Bowl run. There’s just not a whole lot going right for the 49ers. It’s reflected in Aiyuk’s trade value. It’s almost too on-the-nose how buy-low this situation is and any team manager that has endured these rocky two months is probably now willing to wait it out. We need to make it worth his while. If he’s in a rebuild, he’s going to wisely sit on him. I would start with a late 2022 first and third and see how far apart you are. If you feel that price is too high, how dare you. In a rebuild, I’d be willing to add an overachieving veteran like Emmanuel Sanders to a win-now club. Try to find a way to appeal to what his or her team needs.
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