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.
Baltimore Ravens - Lamar Jackson, QB
The Ravens somehow made the playoffs in 2018 despite starting 4-5. The main reason they went 6-1 to end the season is because coach John Harbaugh elected to start rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson over incumbent veteran Joe Flacco and revamp the entire offense. In the face of conventional wisdom which favors high-powered passing attacks, Harbaugh doubled-down on the run. Jackson, who excelled as a runner in college, took over an offense which promptly led the league in rushing attempts (547), was 2nd in rushing yards (2441), 2nd in yards/game (152.6), and 3rd in touchdowns (19). Excluding the playoff matchup against the Chargers, Jackson averaged 79.42 rushing yards/game as a starter to go along with 4 touchdowns in his ten regular season starts. For all his strengths as a runner, Jackson struggled as a passer. In all of his starts (excluding the playoff matchup against the Chargers) he never threw the ball more than 25 times and his highest completion total was 14. His highest passing total was 204 yards. After the Ravens lost to the Chargers in the playoffs, they tried to address some of their offensive limitations. In free agency they signed running back Mark Ingram, who projects as an upgrade over Alex Collins, Gus Bradley, and Kenneth Dixon. In the NFL Draft, they selected the speedy wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown in the first round and the athletic freak Miles Boykin in the third round, as well as the track-star running back Justice Hill in the fourth round. Adding all of this speed across the offense prevents the defense from putting eight defenders in the box. It should bode well for improved rushing - and hopefully passing - numbers in Jackson’s second year as a starter.
Cincinnati Bengals - Joe Mixon, RB
I’m of the belief the Bengals will be picking in the top ten of next year’s draft. However, they still have quite a few fantasy-relevant players on their team. They’ve got a pair of wide receivers in A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd who are both very good when healthy but who are limited by their quarterback Andy Dalton. Their best player and most valuable dynasty asset is undoubtedly third-year running back Joe Mixon. After a modest rookie year splitting time with Gio Bernard, he exploded last year (237 carries, 1168 yards rushing, 8 touchdowns, 55 targets, 43 catches, 1 touchdown). He was banged up for a few games, but when he played he was a true workhorse. The Bengals were a below average offensive line unit, ranking 22nd according to Football Outsiders based on adjusted line yards, which factors in how well the offensive line blocks for the running back. They selected arguably the best offensive lineman in the draft, Jonah Williams, who should help improve the overall offensive line play. If he stays healthy, he has the potential to elevate into one of the stud dynasty running backs.
Cleveland Browns - Odell Beckham Jr., WR
Odell Beckham Jr. entered the league by storm. In 12 games in 2014 he finished with 130 targets/91 catches/1305 yards/12 touchdowns. Over the next four seasons, he turned into one of the NFL’s biggest superstars. While he’s set multiple NFL records in his career, the most impressive aspect to his success has been his ability to overcome the mediocre (to straight up bad) play from his quarterback, Eli Manning. From 2015-2017, the Giants’ splits with and without Beckham are alarming (via Graham Barfield):
Now consider Beckham was just traded from the Giants to the Browns where he’ll be getting an upgrade at quarterback in Baker Mayfield. He’ll also be in a high-powered offense which features running backs Nick Chubb/Kareem Hunt/Duke Johnson, wide receivers Jarvis Landry/Antonio Callaway, and tight end David Njoku. All of these weapons should allow for better matchups for Beckham, which suggests a possible improvement from what he experienced in New York.
Pittsburgh Steelers - JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR
It’s hard to believe JuJu Smith-Schuster is only 22 years-old. He’s spent the last 2 seasons being an incredibly-productive secondary option in the passing game behind stud-wide receiver Antonio Brown. Smith-Schuster already has the most yards in NFL history of any player before their 22nd birthday (1,783). Let’s look at the rest of the stats:
With Brown now in Oakland, 168 targets are seemingly up for grabs. It’s unlikely Smith-Schuster will receive all of them, but he should see slightly more than the 166 he did in 2018. Whatever is left over will be dispersed to some of their other pass catchers in Donte Moncrief, Vance McDonald, James Washington, Ryan Switzer, and Diontae Johnson. If Smith-Schuster can improve upon his touchdown total of 7, he could vault himself into stud wide receiver status. Brown is forfeiting 23 red zone targets from last year, which led the NFL. Even if Smith-Schuster doesn’t receive all of them, he’s still primed for an increased touchdown total.