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.
Arizona Cardinals - David Johnson, RB
At times David Johnson has been one of the absolute best fantasy assets in the entire NFL. In 2015 as a rookie he had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. In 2016 he was even more impressive, combining for over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns. Johnson was a consensus top pick in leagues going into 2017, but in Week 1 broke his wrist and missed the entire season. Compared to his freshman and sophomore campaigns, last season was considered by many to be a failure. However, many fail to realize he still finished as RB9 in PPR (10 in non-PPR) despite playing in one of the most stagnant offenses and not being used properly by the previous coaching staff. There’s plenty of reason for optimism heading into 2019 with a new quarterback in Kyler Murray and a new offensive-minded coach in Kliff Kingsbury. Publicly, the Cardinals have stated they plan to utilize Johnson heavily, partly due to his immense talent as a runner and receiver, but also to help take some of the pressure off of their rookie quarterback. Expectations were high heading into Week 1, but the Cardinals delivered on their promise. Johnson had 18 rushes for 82 rushing yards and 7 targets, 6 catches, 55 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown. He was a true workhorse in an offense which looks to be much improved from a year ago. Johnson could easily finish better than his RB9 finish from last year and moving forward.
Los Angeles Rams - Todd Gurley, RB
Todd Gurley had one of the single greatest fantasy seasons of a running back ever last year, dominating touches, catching loads of passes, and scoring touchdowns like we haven’t seen since the Shaun Alexander/LaDanian Tomlinson/Priest Holmes days. He rushed for 1251 yards and 17 touchdowns to go with 59 receptions, 580 yards receiving, and 4 touchdowns, in only 14 games. It’s been discussed at nauseam during last year’s playoffs and this offseason, but he missed the final two games with a lingering knee injury sustained much earlier in the season. He was famously replaced in the playoffs by journeyman C.J. Anderson, who filled in almost seamlessly during their run to the Super Bowl. This offseason, much has been made about the injury which has now been dubbed “knee arthritis” and how it would be managed this year and moving forward. Coach Sean McVay has stated while Gurley is “fully healthy”, they will adjust his workload moving forward to better manage the health of his knees. Many speculated specifically how they would manage it, but the writing was on the wall based on their personnel moves since the end of the season. They matched an offer for back-up Malcolm Brown after the Lions signed him as a restricted free agent and then proceeded to trade up in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft and select Darrell Henderson. The Week 1 matchup against Carolina may have outlined how the Rams look to utilize Gurley:
|Weeks 1 and 2||Snaps||Snap %||Rushes||Yards||Touchdowns|
Gurley also added 1 catch for 4 yards, while one of the other running backs had any. If this game was any indication of how Gurley will be used for the rest of the season, we can expect a decline in the total number of touchdowns from a year ago. However, he’s still the starting running back playing the most number of snaps on one of the most prolific offenses in the entire NFL, and still only 25 years old. While he doesn’t project to be as valuable as he was this time last year, he still projects as the MVDA on the Rams heading into 2019.
San Francisco 49ers - George Kittle, TE
Finally! We have our first (and only) tight end on our list of MVDAs. Rarely does a tight end produce as the strongest fantasy performer on a team, and yet that’s exactly what happened in 2018. Kittle set the single-season record for receiving yards for a tight end, which prior to last season had been held by Rob Gronkowski. Kittle finished with 136 targets, 88 catches, 1377 yards, and 5 touchdowns. Compared to other elite tight ends, he was exceptional at turning routine catches into long gains. He led the league in yards after catch with 870, ahead of players like Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Juju Smith-Schuster, and everyone else. It’s not very often you see a 6’4” 247 lb tight end breaking touchdowns of 52 yards, 82 yards, and 85 yards. It’s easy to forget or overlook his athleticism, but he actually tested better than all other tight ends in his draft class, including noted athletic freaks O.J. Howard, David Njoku, and Evan Engram. His 4.52 40-yard dash at his size gives him a 95th-percentile Speed Score and his size affords him a 95th-percentile catch radius, according to PlayerProfile.
While Kittle did amass loads of yards and big plays, he often struggled to score touchdowns as much as would be expected, especially given his large target share (136 targets). While he’s due for some negative regression as it relates to his yardage, he is expected to score more than 5 touchdowns, which may help offset some of this. In addition, 25% of his throws were off target last year, which isn’t completely surprising given he was catching passes from C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens, both of whom are likely career backups. The 49ers offense should look very different than it did last year. They’re getting Marquise Goodwin back from injury, drafted wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, and signed free agent running back Tevin Coleman who projects as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Most importantly though, starter Jimmy Garoppolo is returning from a torn ACL after missing almost the entire year. Still, Kittle stands to be a major focus of the offense after his breakout year and the added weapons should help take some of the defensive attention off of him and make for better one-on-one matchups for the 49ers to exploit.
Seattle Seahawks - Russell Wilson, QB
Russell Wilson has been a top 10 QB every year he’s been in the league and even posted #1 overall quarterback numbers once. In 2017, despite having one of the worst offensive lines in the entire NFL, he led the league in passing touchdowns and was even the leading rusher for the Seahawks. However, things changed dramatically in 2018. While the offensive line improved, with it came a momentous change in the team philosophy. They switched from a pass-heavy offense relying on Russell Wilson to make plays to a run-heavy offense that relied heavily on play-action for the majority of their passes.
|FBO Run-blocking Rank||31st||12th|
|FBO Pass-blocking Rank||25th||30th|
|% Passes||59.4% (13th)||47.6% (32nd)|
This offensive philosophy adjustment, while drastic, was wildly successful for the Seahawks, who were able to slightly improve upon their 9-7 record in 2017 to 10-6 in 2018. Wilson dropped from the #1 overall fantasy quarterback to #8 last year due in large part to these changes. However, there’s reason for optimism moving forward. Last year, Russell Wilson posted a career high in QB Rating (110.9) and tossed a touchdown on an insane 8.2% of his passes. Russell Wilson dealt with hamstring and knee injuries most of last year, which limited his scrambling and rushing abilities and ended up finishing with his fewest rushing attempt total in years, while failing to record a rushing touchdown. His rushing abilities have always helped improve his overall numbers, especially in leagues where passing yards and touchdowns are devalued. He should see more passing attempts this year as teams gameplan against Seattle’s run-heavy offense. This was apparent already in 2019 after Cincinnati stacked the box on first and second down, setting up Seattle with second and 16 or more three times. They had third down and 16 or more yards to go five times. Both were the most such situations in the NFL in Week 1 (https://www.thenewstribune.com/sports/nfl/seattle-seahawks/article234956807.html). As more teams have success shutting down the Seahawks' early-down rushing attack, the more they’ll need to adjust by passing. Cincinnati projects as one of the worst teams in the league this year, and Seattle barely beat them in Week 1 after being outplayed most of the day. Their schedule gets much more competitive as the season wears on and they’ll need to lean on their best player in Wilson when the run fails.