In dynasty fantasy football, there is no offseason. Once the football ends we turn to rookie scouting, mock drafts, free agency, and non-stop trading. An interesting dynamic is the shift of perception that happens during the “non-football season” however. Many of us tend to focus on youth, future picks, and sexy rosters during the summer months. Once the football begins, proven producers, veterans over 30, and weekly starters start regaining their value. This leads to some amazing values dynasty owners can jump on during the “offseason”.
I recently setup a live auction startup draft, which I believe is the truest barometer for determining a players worth. I wanted to share some of the best bargains from each “round” that were bought in this draft that are excellent trade targets for us all to try and acquire before the season starts. The need to know parameters of this start up are: 12 man league - $300 auction budget – 30 roster spots – Superflex PPR.
Here are the 15 best buys of 2018:
1. David Johnson $48 (1.12 equivalent)
It was a surprise to see DJ slip like this. Johnson is one year removed from the best fantasy football season we’ve seen since LaDanion Tomlinson. He is a true league winner who has less career carries than Ezekiel Elliot. This was the steal of the top 12 highest paid players by far.
2. Le’Veon Bell - $42 (2.07 equivalent)
The uncertainty surrounding Bell’s future with the Steelers and the absorbent amount of touches he’s racking up must have kept owners from clicking the bid button on this stud. He might be the top overall scorer this season, and is a smoking deal at this cost. Not knowing his future beyond 2018 has many cautious on paying for Bell, but I’ve seen him had for reasonable prices all offseason.
3. Leonard Fournette - $36 (3.03 equivalent)
Most of the 3rd round players were bid up to an expected amount, but I believe Fournette out of all of them will exceed his value. Kamara, Mixon, Hunt, and Cook were all paid more than Fournette, and you can argue he deserves to be right at the top with them. Losing weight and training hard leads me to believe Fournette will healthier and even more dominant in 2018.
4. Andrew Luck - $30 (4.04 equivalent)
At 10% of budget, getting Andrew Luck in a superflex at this price may be the cheapest he’ll be in his career. Once the world sees him throw a ball week one, the mystery and disappointment surrounding last season will quickly disappear. Luck was a 1st round startup pick in SF not long ago, and I predict he’ll return to that status soon.
5. Zach Ertz - $25 (5.06 equivalent)
Even though this isn’t a tight end premium format, this is a smoking deal for a guy who is basically Carson Wentz’s favorite wide receiver. He’s an edge at a position that is dying for more talent. I’d bet Ertz vs. the field in PPR points in 2018.
6. Derrick Henry - $20 (6.11 equivalent)
Derrick Henry is going to remind everyone this season what a physical freak he is. An archaic coaching staff, which was fired after the 2017 season, had Henry learning behind Demarco Murray for two years, and his time has finally come. Dion Lewis will be part of the equation, but double digit touchdowns and 1,200+ yards are in Henry’s wheelhouse this season. Make no mistake; the Titans will ride their bell cow.
7. Philip Rivers – $16 (7.09 equivalent)
Rivers has been underrated his whole career, both in the NFL and in fantasy. If the Chargers find a way to not suffer their typical 19 ACL tears this offseason and a kicker who can hit a 35 yarder, they will be truly special this year. I love Philips value in superflex formats, he’s a QB1 you can get for low QB2 prices.
8. Marvin Jones – $16 (8.04 equivalent)
Finishing as the WR12 last season, Marvin and Stafford showed a special connection. Those paying attention noticed Marvin take that “next step” to becoming a top tier deep threat in the NFL. It’s incredible how cheap you can still get Marvin Jones, I’d recommend getting out some offers for him before he has another great season and everyone catches on.
9. Michael Crabtree - $11 (9.12 equivalent)
After outscoring Amari Cooper for 3 consecutive seasons, Crabtree is now the WR1 for the Baltimore Ravens. Ever since Anquan Boldin left, the Ravens have desperately missed a possession receiver in their offense. Crabtree is a guy you can aquire for some low end rookie picks, and is a lock for some high floor production for any contending team.
10. O.J. Howard - $10 (10.05 equivalent)
If it wasn’t for Evan Engram doing things we’ve never seen from a rookie tight end, we’d all have noticed just how special O.J. Howard is going to be in this league. Go and get this guy on your team if he is not already. Cameron Brate signed an extention to keep him in Tampa for his career, but he will be moved to the TE2 spot for them by 2019. Tight ends historically take 3-4 years to break out, save for a couple unicorns like Engram and Gronk. Howard’s special profile is worth waiting for.
11. Randall Cobb - $6 (11.12 equivalent)
Aaron Rodgers has supported multiple high producing receivers throughout his career. No doubt Davante Adams is the top dog, but Randall Cobb is a guy Rodgers trusts and has made countless important catches in his career. This is going to be a true bounce back season, and Cobb won’t be had for so cheap next season.
12. Allen Hurns - $6 (12.02 equivalent)
The Cowboys WR’s are #nothot. Hurns has a solid chance to lead the Cowboys in targets this season, and could be a super sneaky pick up for only $6. With the departure of Dez and Witten, Dak’s two top targets are gone. It’ll be interesting to see who steps up, and I think Hurns has a shot to be that guy.
13. Emmanuel Sanders - $3 (13.12 equivalent)
Case Keenum is a massive upgrade for the Broncos WRs. Both DT and Sanders are going to return to the glory they had just a few years ago. For $3 Sanders is going to deliver WR2 weeks on a regular basis and be a huge profit. This was my personal favorite steal of the entire draft.
14. James Conner - $3 (14.06 equivalent)
Another $3 here can buy you a stash player who might become a league winner. If Le’Veon Bell gets hurt, James Conner becomes an auto-start player every week. Remember a few years ago when DeAngelo Williams won people leagues? The Steelers are a running back factory. If Bell walks as a free agent, Conner’s value will skyrocket.
15. John Ross - $2 (15.12 equivalent)
If you don't produce as a rookie, your career is apparently over. A top 10 NFL draft pick from a year ago can be had for nearly free in every league. Do I expect Ross to ever be a set-and-forget player in your lineup? No. I do however expect him to actually play this season and when he starts burning defenses for touchdowns you'll be able to sell for a massive profit. Go get him quickly.
Those are the players in each of the first 15 rounds that I believe possess the greatest value at their current cost. Whether it is solid production from a player like Michael Crabtree, or the promise of a huge uptick in value from a player like James Connor, these are the types of players I would be targeting in all my leagues. Go talk some some offers and see if you can get some on your team. Happy hunting!