There is no right or wrong way to way to win in dynasty. If the season ends in a championship then every move up to that point can be justified. However, there are strategies which significantly increase your chances at sustained success, and each of these strategies involves maximizing value in different situations. Trading is one of the most important ways of upgrading a roster in dynasty. However, knowing when to hold a player and when to trade a player can be challenging, even for the most diehard owners. The best time to trade a player is when they’re at their maximum value. The next eight articles are going to focus on the Most Valuable Dynasty Asset (MVDA) on each team. For the purposes of the discussion, the values will be based on superflex leagues, where quarterbacks are more important. I’ll take into account consensus rankings as well as average draft position (ADP) data. Identifying these players can help you extract maximum value out of other owners in your league via trades.
Houston Texans - DeAndre Hopkins, WR
DeAndre Hopkins has been a fantasy-relevant wide receiver since entering the league in 2013. His performance during this stretch is even more impressive when you remember who was throwing him the ball during this time: Matt Schaub, Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett, Brian Hoyer, T.J. Yates, Brandon Weeden, Brock Osweiler, and Tom Savage. Schaub is the only quarterback to reach a Pro Bowl (twice), both before Hopkins was ever drafted. In 2017, Hopkins finished as the WR1 and in 2018 he “slipped” to WR2. His ascension to elite status the last two years coincides with the arrival of the Texans’ new quarterback, Deshaun Watson. Last year, Hopkins saw 163 targets, 115 catches, 1572 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Those 163 targets are 118 more than the next-closest Houston wide receiver last year, on a team which finished 5th in passing offense. He just turned 27 and is under contract through 2022, essentially locking him into his current role for the remainder of his prime. Hopkins does have fellow receivers Will Fuller and Keke Coutee both returning from injury, which many believe may cut into his target share and production. However, when looking at the actual games he’s played with and without Fuller and Coutee, he remains consistently productive regardless of who’s on the field. He’s Watson’s favorite target and everyone else is competing for second place.
Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck, QB
Andrew Luck proved many of his doubters wrong just by returning from the shoulder injury which sidelined him for the entire 2017 season. Not only did he start all 16 games last year, but he had one of the best seasons of his entire career. He set career highs in passing attempts (639), completions (430), completion percentage (67.3%), passing yards (4593), and was one touchdown away from tying his career high of 40. While some of last year’s success can be attributed to his health, most should be credited to their offensive line, which made Luck the least-sacked quarterback in the league (2.8%). The Colts upgraded their offensive line by selecting All-Pro rookie guard Quenton Nelson second overall in the NFL Draft, but they also found gems in Mark Glowinski and Braden Smith as well. According to Football Outsiders, the new additions helped raise the offensive line from one of the worst in the league in 2017 (18th in run blocking and 32nd in pass blocking) to one of the very best last year (4th in run blocking and 2nd in pass blocking). This offseason, the Colts added more weapons for Luck: wide receivers Devin Funchess (free agency) and Parris Campbell (draft) and running back Spencer Ware (free agency). One of Luck’s go-to weapons, tight end Jack Doyle, is also fully healthy following a hip injury which nagged him most of last season. This team is poised to build upon its offensive success last year and Luck is at the helm. I expect another big year for the 29 year old quarterback.
Tennessee Titans - Corey Davis, WR / Derrick Henry, RB
We have another discrepancy between ranking and ADP! Right now, most consensus rankings have Corey Davis ahead of Derrick Henry, while Henry is being drafted ahead of Davis is most startups. Davis is only 24 years old and has shown flashes of elite talent. However, his performance last year left much to be desired for many of his owners (112 targets/65 catches/891 yards/4 touchdowns). >100 targets in an offense as the #1 receiving option is usually a key to fantasy success. However, Davis sports a 58% catch rate (in contrast, a true alpha Michael Thomas caught 85% of his passes last year), which prevents him from capitalizing on these targets. Some of the struggles are due in large part to the carousel at quarterback, with Marcus Mariota dealing with bizarre nerve damage in his throwing arm and Blaine Gabbert no better than a career backup. If Mariota can stay healthy and elevate his play, Davis may be the more valuable dynasty asset, which isn’t something I’m willing to bet on. Enter Derrick Henry. Henry is only 25 years old and had one of the most bizarre fantasy seasons in recent memory last year. On the surface his year-long statistics look decent (215 rushes/1059 yards/12 touchdowns), but upon further review, they become even more impressive. After not scoring a touchdown through the first 6 weeks and not eclipsing 58 yards for the first 12 weeks, he exploded through the final four weeks of the season with his four best games of the year (which also coincided with the fantasy playoffs):
|Week||Rushes||Rushing Yards||Rushing TDs||Targets||Catches||Receiving Yards||Receiving TDs|
In the beginning of 2018, he was splitting time (fairly evenly) with newly-signed Dion Lewis. However, the shared workload wasn’t benefiting either runner, as they were both ineffective. It wasn’t until the Titans unleashed Henry as the workhorse back that he exploded! Impressively, he earned 55% of his total yardage and touchdowns in the last month of the season. While he offers almost nothing in the passing game, he’s shown some impressive numbers as the workhorse back for the Titans. The Titans hope to build on Henry’s success from last year in this offense moving forward and build off of his success to close out the year.
Jacksonville Jaguars - Leonard Fournette, RB
Some may be surprised to see Leonard Fournette ranked as the MVDA for the Jaguars. However, we need to peel back some of the recency bias associated with the 24-year-old running back. Yes, he did miss 8 games last year due to injury and he has been banged up at times during his career. Yes, he was suspended in Week 13 after leaving the bench for a fight during a game, which results in part of his guaranteed money being voided from his contract. And yes, was also involved in some off-the-field issues which further muddied his standing with the team. However, he is still only a year removed from his rookie season when he exploded into the NFL with 268 rushes/1040 rushing yards/48 targets/36 receptions/302 receiving yards/10 total touchdowns in only 13 games. According to Next Gen Stats, he was truly impressive in 2017. He was an incredibly efficient runner, averaging 4.01 yards per rush despite facing 8 defenders in the box on 48.51% of plays. After his rookie season, the Jaguars added to their offensive line with guard Andrew Norwell in free agency. However, last year the Jaguars suffered numerous injuries to their line and ended up having to start 12 different players. Left tackle Cam Robinson was lost for the year in Week 2, center Brandon Linder in Week 10, while Andrew Norwell and right tackle Jeremy Parnell dealt with nagging injuries most of the season. Having these players return from injury in 2019 should spell better play from Fournette. In addition, the Jaguars signing Nick Foles in free agency also helps take some pressure off the running game. Foles is a definite upgrade over Blake Bortles, who defenses would often challenge to beat them with his arm, opting instead to sell out to shut down the run. With a competent quarterback starting for the Jaguars, defenses won’t have the luxury of putting 8 men in the box on ~50% of the plays like they have in the past. If he can stay healthy, 2019 should be a bounce-back season for the young running back.