Anatomy of a Blockbuster Trade: Part 2

Last week I traded Sammy Watkins and the suspended ghost of Doug Martin to 14TeamMocker for Jordan Howard, Tyrell Williams, and two future first round picks.

That’s not precisely true. I’ll get into the nuts and bolts in a moment, but you should reader Mocker’s rationale for the trade. It’s one of the best explanations I’ve read for how trading works in dynasty.

How the Blockbuster Developed

Mocker GivesShawn GivesOutcome
Jordan Howard, Tyrell Williams, 2018 1st, 2019 2ndSammy Watkins, Doug MartinCountered
Howard, Williams, 3.10, 2018 1st, 2019 1stWatkins, 2018 2nd, 2019 2ndCountered
Howard, Williams, 3.10, 2018 1st, 2019 1stWatkins, Martin, 2018 2nd, 2019 2ndCountered
Howard, Williams, 3.10, 3.12, 2018 1st, 2019 1stWatkins, Martin, 2018 3rd, 2019 2ndCountered
Howard, Williams, 3.12, 2018 1st, 2019 1stWatkins, Martin, 2018 3rd, 2019 2ndAccepted

Mocker’s Twitter poll finished somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-to-1 in my favor on this trade, but I have it even. I actually felt the most comfortable with the move before the last counter.

Higher on Watkins Than the Community

Watkins was a monster as a freshman in college, posted elite career market share numbers, heard his name called in the first five reality picks in 2014, and immediately hit my personal threshold for a WR breakout, 200 PPR points or roughly WR2 status. Learn more in Anatomy of a Breakout.

Those types of players are rare and should be grabbed in the first round of dynasty startups. I selected Watkins at 1.11 in our February RotoViz startup mock. As his injuries have created buying opportunities, I’ve been adding him in my real leagues, and I jumped at the chance to select him in our dispersal snake draft.

1Brown, Antonio PIT WRBell, Le'Veon PIT RBCooper, Amari OAK WR 
2Hilton, T.Y. IND WRWatkins, Sammy BUF WR 1.01
3Allen, Keenan LAC WR Cooks, Brandin NOS WRFreeman, Devonta ATL RB
4Tate, Golden DET WRBaldwin, Doug SEA WR1.05
5Doctson, Josh WAS WR Cobb, Randall GBP WRCrowder, Jamison WAS WR
6Fuller, Will HOU WR1.11Kelce, Travis KCC TE 
7Jones, Marvin DET WR2.01Meredith, Cameron CHI WR
8Olsen, Greg CAR TE2.05Brown, John ARI WR
9Walker, Delanie TEN TEGraham, Jimmy SEA TE2.11
10Bennett, Martellus NEP TEBrady, Tom NEP QBNewton, Cam CAR QB 
11Cousins, Kirk WAS QBLee, Marqise JAC WRAbdullah, Ameer DET RB
12Beasley, Cole DAL WR3.01Hooper, Austin ATL TE
13Sharpe, Tajae TEN WR3.05Rawls, Thomas SEA RB
14Manning, Eli NYG QBMartin, Doug TBB RBRoethlisberger, Ben PIT QB
15Bortles, Blake JAC QBSmallwood, Wendell PHI RBThielen, Adam MIN WR
16Lewis, Dion NEP RBAustin, Tavon LAR WRPowell, Bilal NYJ RB
17Williams, Jonathan BUF RBSmith, Torrey SFO WRHurns, Allen JAC WR
18Artis-Payne, Cameron CAR RB4.013.11
19Brate, Cameron TBB TEGaroppolo, Jimmy NEP QBJohnson, Stevie LAC WR
20Miller, Zach CHI TE4.05Louis, Ricardo CLE WR
21Higbee, Tyler LAR TELangford, Jeremy CHI RBEscobar, Gavin DAL TE
224.11Jones, Matt WAS RBInman, Dontrelle LAC WR
23Washington, Dwayne DET RBMiller, Braxton HOU WRWilliams, Terrance DAL WR
24Marshall, Jalin NYJ WRRoberts, Seth OAK WRWilliams, Wendell HOU WR
25Draughn, Shaun SFO RBJackson, Vincent TBB WRPatton, Quinton SFO WR

Why Trade Watkins?

The Dynasty Tradecast team evaluated the trade for their show.

Dan – The two 1st round picks are currently at their lowest value, as they don’t mature for at least a year, which is why this trade is closer than it may appear. Often seeing a 1st-rounder come through in a trade offer, owners tend lose their minds (thanks a lot, 2014), which benefits the seller big-time.

Nathan – The two biggest questions are Howard’s long-term value and the valuation of a time discount. If you are the Howard side, you are waiting at least two seasons to be on the “winning” side of this deal from a production standpoint. In the event that either 1st becomes a top-four pick, this deal looks more attractive for the Howard side, but banking on a bottom-four finish from a team in order for a deal to be successful is risky business, and in most cases, poor process.

Dan and Nathan offer excellent analysis here. I’m going to look at this from a slightly different angle. It’s likely to take several years to win the trade from the perspective of dynasty trade value represented by active players. It shouldn’t take any time to win from a production standpoint.

Aside: The Dynasty Tradecast is awesome. Check them out on RotoViz Radio.

Winning in Year One

Howard is currently being selected at No. 16 overall according to our Best Ball ADP. Watkins lasts to No. 28. Best ball leagues have different mechanics than redrafts, so it’s wise to check another source as well. According to Fantasy Football Calculator ADP, Howard flies off the board in the first round (11 overall) and Watkins slides into the fourth (43).

You can probably guess from my writing about the WR position versus the RB position that I don’t agree with these valuations, but they do reflect the greater value ascribed to Howard, even after we adjust to more sane levels.

I used the RotoViz Screener to create relatively simple projections for 2017 PPR points based on 2016 results, age, and draft position. Jordan Howard projects to 14.6 points per game, Tyrell Williams to 11.5, and Watkins only 10.9.

Now you can and should disagree with these projections. The computer doesn’t realize Watkins was playing through injury or consider the relatively unproven nature of Howard and Williams. You can also disagree with the point totals implied by redraft ADP. I disagree with them. But in this case, I can be skeptical that Howard and Williams will really be this much more valuable than Watkins in Year 1 and still end up with quite a few more points. In a format with nine starters, six of which are of the Flex variety, total points are very important.

As Long As You Understand Picks Are Consistently Overvalued … They’ll Buy A Lot

We have plenty of reason to believe that the picks are overvalued. Jacob Rickrode has written persuasively on this topic. Jason Lewis penned an adjacent and must-read series a year ago about exploiting the age premium.

But as long as the picks are consistently overvalued, then their buying power should remain constant. Because picks are open-ended, they are easier to trade than players. When making a deal with a fellow owner, you often have to overpay for the very reasons that Mocker elocuted. The opposite is the case with picks. Everyone loves a pick because that pick can eventually represent “their guy.”

Jordan Howard … Superstar?

I almost always sell any RB who has a good season …

The Dynasty Zero RB Theory In One Graph


… but occasionally I will meet an even more motivated seller.

Howard’s draft status suggests the NFL was skeptical about his prospects, but we also have overwhelming evidence at this point that they were wrong.

Howard was an elite producer in college from an age-adjusted perspective. Last year I was concerned that Howard wasn’t very athletic, which is crucial, and simultaneously overvalued due to size, which is not. It turns out that I was probably wrong about his athleticism.

According to NextGen Stats, Howard ran the second fastest on-field time of any RB in 2016 at 22.03 mph. Only the blazing Tevin Coleman was faster. Tyreek Hill posted 13 of the 200 fastest times, but only his two fastest bested Howard. The Bears rookie had three of the fastest 200.1

Howard also surprisingly ranked No. 25 in rookie RB targets since 2000. He only caught 28 of his 50 targets and posted -6.8 receiving fantasy points over expectation (reFPOE), but his usage was encouraging. Le’Veon Bell, LaDainian Tomlinson, Chris Johnson, and LeSean McCoy are among the runners with worse reFPOE numbers as rookies.

In Howard we have an athletic back who has outperformed age-based expectation for four consecutive seasons. Locked into serious opportunity in a hybrid role, he’s a dark horse to lead 2017 RBs in total points.

A Win-Win

This blockbuster allowed Mocker to accomplish his roster construction objectives and allows me to as well. I bring on points in 2017, diversify risk, and create the potential for a future super-lineup by stockpiling first-round picks.

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  1. There are plenty of reasons to maintain skepticism about these results. Due to the way the numbers are collected, we may simply be looking at RB opportunity. The more carries you get, the greater the chance that you’ll break a long run at some point and thus have a chance to get up to full speed in the open field.  (back)
By Shawn Siegele | @ff_contrarian | Archive

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