Dynasty Stock Market: I ‘Member
This article is a reflection on a series from last winter and spring called Dynasty Stock Market.
The long, dark night is nigh.
The leaves have fallen, frost covers the fields, and the fantasy football season has come to its merciful conclusion.
It is officially: winter.
Last year at this time, I began a new series of articles entitled “Dynasty Stock Market”. Meant to help navigate the wild price fluctuations that the beginning of the offseason brings, they focused on the macro environment surrounding the major events of the winter, and also highlighted specific players whose prices appeared exploitable.
These were the players that the pieces focused on, with each month below serving as a hyperlink to the referenced article:
- January – Charles Sims, Matt Jones, Martellus Bennett, Brian Quick, and Kenny Stills
- February – Marvin Jones and Kendall Wright
- March – Isaiah Crowell and Ryan Mathews
- April – Bilal Powell and Shane Vereen
- January – Thomas Rawls, Mike Evans, Jarvis Landry, Donte Moncrief, and Chris Ivory
- February – Jordy Nelson and Mark Ingram
- March – Martavis Bryant (post-suspension) and Dion Lewis
- April – Giovani Bernard, Jerick McKinnon, Theo Riddick, and Danny Woodhead
(About selling Evans… yeah, actually, you know what? Don’t do that.)
CHARLES SIMS – After losing most of the season on injured reserve, Sims’ value has remained stagnant, at best.
Nothing since January has helped: Doug Martin got a monster 5-year, $36M contract in March, then dominated the Tampa backfield touches and snaps, including owning the goal line. Additionally, Jacquizz Rodgers looked every bit capable of filling both Martin and Sims’ roles when the Atlanta castoff was called upon.
Even when Martin was inactive the final two games of the season, it was Rodgers who led in touches and snaps, with Sims actually being placed on injured reserve prior to Week 17. Dirk Koetter said he doesn’t know if Sims will need surgery in the offseason, as he finishes out the last year on his rookie deal. He turns 27 years old in September.
That being said, I still believe for all the same reasons as a year ago that Sims could be a three-down-back workhorse if given the opportunity. Everything Ben Gretch said in the spring holds true, and Sims remains an attractive, now-even-cheaper, Zero RB-style target, especially in best-ball-scoring leagues.
With Martin’s future so unclear due to a suspension that will keep him out the first three weeks next season, acquire both Tampa backs, and free agent Rodgers, but don’t break the bank.
MATT JONES – Yikes.
Maybe there is a threshold where talent and athleticism actually do trump opportunity.
Aaron Butler tried to tell me all year that Jones would not be the plodder-by-volume fantasy scorer that I was projecting. I’m stupid, he’s smart, I was wrong, he was right. He’s the best, I’m the worst. He’s very good-looking, I’m not attractive.
If Jones makes it to the rookie draft without getting dropped in most every league, I’d be surprised. At this moment he’s probably not as valuable as Keith Marshall, who is also near-worthless without some kind of positive news.
Sell Rob Kelley if the price is decent, and expect the Redskins to draft or acquire their 2017 starting running back through free agency.
MARTELLUS BENNETT – While he didn’t get a starter’s gig, the landing spot in Foxboro was thought to give Bennett an opportunity to function as a receiver in two tight end sets similar to the way Aaron Hernandez did before, well… you know.
The role also had the additional built-in value of monster beneficiary in the (not so unlikely) event of a Rob Gronkowski injury.
Welp. Maybe Chicago was onto something when they benched him toward the end of last year, then traded him to New England for two Gatorades.
Like Jones, there was a long period, some time in the last year, where he and Bennett’s value was tangibly, materially, significantly higher. Hopefully, if you bought into either, you sold when the selling was good.
It’s important to think of all players and picks in dynasty as liquid assets that can, and often need to be, unloaded in a contrarian way that captures market enthusiasm.
Douche touched on that concept in his recommendation to unload Tyler Lockett when his value was peaking and, more broadly, why cashing out when you’ve turned a huge profit is often overlooked. (If you currently hold Tyreek Hill, read that article very closely.)
BRIAN QUICK – I meant Kenny Britt!
Both Quick and Britt were left for dead last offseason, but they were also both impending free agents that were still fairly young, and had a history of providing reasons for optimism to occasionally spike in the dynasty marketplace.
With Jeff Fisher gone, Quick should see a rise in value whether he stays in Los Angeles or not, though it will not be close to the explosion that Britt’s stock has seen, and will continue to see, through his free agency courting.
Hopefully both will find new homes where they are starters, and their vacancy provides a nice opportunity for Pharoh Cooper.
KENNY STILLS – Outscoring DeVante Parker (who was valued in dynasty as worth his weight in gold) through an abundance of spectacular, long touchdowns, Stills set himself up for a nice payday this offseason.
A best-ball boon to those who held on, and still yet to reach the age range where wide receivers can be expected to peak (he turns 25 in April), he now has a ton of experience, and has proved successful in a non-Drew Brees offense.
Stills is a fantastic asset to hold or acquire.
MARVIN JONES – Remember when he had eight thousand fantasy points Week 2, and you traded him straight up for Antonio Brown? Please, for the love of everything, Anquan Boldin just retire.
KENDALL WRIGHT – Maybe I was a year early. Or wrong entirely.
Either way, Wright should get the kind of eyebrow-raising deal that Mohamed Sanu and Travis Benjamin got last year, in a fairly weak free agent class of wide receivers. When he does, you can get some of your investment back; or, hold him until next season when he sets the league on fire.
(Oh, you thought I was giving up? Not in this life. Additionally, Mike Mularkey
can fucking choke clearly mismanaged him.)
ISAIAH CROWELL – With two top-seven fantasy performances in the first four weeks, Crowell flashed why he was undervalued last offseason, particularly in juxtaposition to teammate Duke Johnson.
Unfortunately, that ceiling wasn’t seen again all year, as Cleveland’s dumpster fire franchise consistently wrought the oft-feared, heinous negative game flow. Not only was the ceiling not reached thereafter, but the crater-like, week-losing low floor appeared several times. (Though he was RB10 in Week 16, if you managed to get there despite him.)
Now a free agent, hopefully Crowell will get a starter’s gig on a team that can win two professional football games in the same season. If he does, expect a dramatic rise in dynasty value, as both his fantasy and real life appeal has considerably spiked.1
Which free agent running back would you want your IRL team to sign to a 3 year contract?
— 14TeamMocker (@14TeamMocker) January 2, 2017
RYAN MATHEWS – Similar to Crowell, if you bought into Mathews before the draft, you had ample opportunity to turn a profit when neither Cleveland nor Philadelphia invested any real draft capital at the position.
Whether it was health, Philadelphia’s plethora of running backs, their offense’s slow pace and low output, or Mathews just succumbing to Father Time, he was a very unreliable and often disastrous fantasy play.
While he maintained his historical extraordinary efficiency, he only played 287 snaps on the season, fewer than Wendell Smallwood, Kenjon Barner, and Byron Marshall combined, and not even 60 percent as many as Darren Sproles.
Ryan Mathews, fantasy points per snap rankings:
— Daniel Kelley (@danieltkelley) December 29, 2016
While he has one year left on his contract, he is a rapidly depreciating fantasy asset. If the Eagles don’t draft their Week 1 starting running back or make a significant acquisition through free agency, that would probably be the time to sell Mathews to the highest bidder.
BILAL POWELL, SHANE VEREEN, GIOVANI BERNARD, DANNY WOODHEAD, JERICK MCKINNON, AND THEO RIDDICK –
I lumped together all six receiving backs, both the two I recommended buying, and the four I recommended selling. This is to highlight that my point was not about any one of these players, but more about the strategy of targeting the cheapest of this particular archetype.
Antifragility, or more specifically in this instance the ability to both withstand and profit from chaos (randomness), heavily relies on the concept of arbitrage. These six players had seemingly very similar setups headed into the season, yet they had wildly different prices.
- Bernard and Woodhead truly looked to be getting the workloads that their most optimistic projections would have entailed, but both succumbed to early season-ending ACL tears.
- McKinnon never got that opportunity, despite the one event actually happening that people were positive would provide it.2
- Riddick had all of that happen, with Ameer Abdullah getting injured, receiving a very bullish workload, and also battling injury all season.
- Powell was a monster beneficiary when Matt Forte got injured, while Vereen just got injured.
The prices you had to pay for Bernard, Woodhead, McKinnon, and Riddick were reliant on their best-case scenarios playing out. Paying those prices implied you were absolutely positive that’s what would happen. Meanwhile, the prices on Powell and Vereen were so low that if their worst-case scenarios played out, it wasn’t very detrimental, and if their best-case scenarios played out, it could win leagues.
Don’t pay like you can predict the future. Target assets that have seemingly similar values, but wildly different prices.
THOMAS RAWLS – The Seattle backfield was one of the weirder situations from January, 2016 through January, 2017 that I can ever remember.
You could have conceivably bought and sold both Rawls and Christine Michael several times over, flipping both for huge profits at different points in that window, depending on the news of the day.
Rawls was abysmal down the stretch, and if you overpaid to (re-)acquire him before or after the day Michael got released, I’m sorry.
If he’s cheap, there’s no reason not to stash him in hope of a revival, but the man you want from that backfield is probably C.J. Prosise.
MIKE EVANS – Nevermind. My bad.
JARVIS LANDRY – After a year firmly as a high-end WR2, and still only 24 years old, it will be interesting to see where Landry’s value goes in the coming months.
Whether or not Stills gets re-signed may affect it, but the clamoring hoards of Leonte Carroo supporters will step in immediately to fill the vacuum of arguing that Landry’s less-thought-of teammate is actually better than he is.
The detractors will once again have his efficiency to point to, but it improved, going from sixth in targets and 11th in fantasy points in 2015 to 16th in targets and 13th in fantasy points in 2016.
There will also be the argument that Miami got much better in the second half of the season, and will continue to improve in Adam Gase’s second year. Landry, however, didn’t score much differently depending on if the team won or lost, making up for the drop in targets with an increase in touchdowns.
With three top-30 seasons out of three in the league, and two top-13 seasons in a row, if Landry’s owner is looking to move on for a reasonable price, now may not be the worst time to invest.
DONTE MONCRIEF – While Eric Decker may not be ready for the start of next season, don’t despair! There’s a new wide receiver who will reliably score at least 10, but no more than 15, fantasy points every single game.
The high floor/low ceiling reasoning wasn’t why I suggested selling Moncrief – T.Y.
motherfucking Hilton was.
Hilton’s still not going anywhere, and Moncrief is almost assuredly still overvalued in your league.
CHRIS IVORY – Tough to call this one a good or bad call, as he did get the opportunity in Jacksonville I said he probably wouldn’t, but did nothing with it that helped anyone who held him through the season.
The future for Ivory looks bleak, and the Jaguars might eat his contract before you can get your dynasty investment back. Keep bailing while the bailing is sort of still good.
JORDY NELSON – After Week 7, Nelson was the WR30. From Week 8 through the end of the season, he was the WR1, and the fourth highest-scoring player overall.
If you paid top dollar for him, or regretted not selling him when his value was apexing this offseason, hopefully you at least won your league with him.
And hopefully you get top dollar back this offseason, before his Brandon Marshall-esque dive off the age cliff.
MARK INGRAM – Ingram had a wildly inconsistent year, with a gaudy five weeks as an RB1, coupled with five weeks where he scored fewer than nine fantasy points.
After getting benched for Tim Hightower against Seattle Week 8, a lot of people benched him for his 30-point performance against San Francisco Week 9, leading to the utmost frustration in leagues where you set a lineup.
It will be interesting to see if what I speculated about a year ago comes to fruition, which is whether or not New Orleans keeps him for the last year of his rookie contract. He is a very risky asset to hold through free agency, as his price will likely imply a starter’s gig that I’m still not positive he’s getting, whether it’s in New Orleans or somewhere else.
This represents another example of a maxim I emphasized throughout this series. Don’t pay for things that rely on a best-case scenario returning your investment; again, this can be called “antifragility,” or “avoiding fragility.”
MARTAVIS BRYANT AND DION LEWIS – Go re-acquire them for less than they cost eight months ago, after withering away for a year on someone’s bench who finished below you in the standings.