We are a quarter of the way through the 2020 season and it’s time to start thinking ahead. In dynasty football leagues, you have to be actively adapting or you will fall behind. There are always ways to improve your roster, whether it’s via the waiver wire, trades, or having faith in talented players who are currently in unfavorable situations or are just simply underachieving. In this piece, I will touch on 12 players who are either a buy, sell, or hold in the world of dynasty football. Remember, in dynasty you have to continually think two steps ahead to stay ahead and remain competitive year after year. Let’s get into it!
Gardner Minshew: QB, JAX
In his second NFL season, Gardner Minshew is looking to continue to develop and prove that he can succeed as a starting quarterback in the NFL. In his rookie season, Minshew threw for 3,271 yards, earning a 67.4% true completion percentage, 71.6% play-action percentage, and a 87.3 true passer rating, per PlayerProfiler. This was with a just serviceable supporting cast, featuring Marqise Lee, Chris Conley, Dede Westbrook, among others. In 2020, Minshew now has a solid safety option in budding star D.J. Chark, as well as rookie Laviska Shenault Jr, and an ever-improving Keelan Cole who can all help Minshew’s “true” stats become his actual stats. Not to mention undrafted free agent James Robinson giving Minshew a reliable outlet when things go wrong in the pocket. Going forward, all eyes will be on Minshew and his ability to lead an offense to success, making now the time to buy him from an owner if you have a need for a QB, especially in a superflex league. Go buy him before he is regularly regarded as a reliable QB and a strong fantasy asset.
Jalen Reagor: WR, PHI
Jalen Reagor was having a solid start to his NFL career in 2020 before going down with a UCL tear in his thumb, sidelining him for several weeks. As a result, his buy window is wide open. In 39 career collegiate games, Reagor earned 2,248 receiving yards on 148 receptions (15.2 yards/reception) along with 22 receiving touchdowns. Additionally, he earned 324 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, while also using his 4.47 40-yard dash speed and excellent burst to operate as a dangerous punt and kickoff returner. With the Eagles desperately needing a deep threat to help keep defenses on their toes, Reagor represented the perfect type of player for their system. His five receptions for 96 yards through two career NFL games emphasizes that deep threat ability. DeSean Jackson will not be an Eagle forever, same with Alshon Jeffery. In time, Reagor could be one of the premier deep threats in the NFL. Now is the the time to buy and take advantage of a wary owner who is yet to understand Reagor’s ceiling.
Justice Hill: RB, BAL
Lost in all the hoopla of J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards’ career yards per carry, and veteran Mark Ingram is a running back who averaged 5.6 yards per carry over 36 career games for Oklahoma State in Justice Hill. In fact, Hill finished seventh all-time in rushing yards for Oklahoma, only 17 rushing yards behind the one and only Barry Sanders. Hill also earned 49 receptions for 304 yards during his collegiate career. As a player, Hill stands at 5’10”, weighing in at around 198 pounds. He is not a bruiser, but he’s an elusive back who uses his solid vision to beat defenders one-on-one in the open field or around the line of scrimmage. In the open field, he displays deceptive speed and great burst, showcasing the ability to break away for a long gain or touchdown on a regular basis. Furthermore, he displays a solid cutback ability matched with good balance, helping him consistently earn solid gains, and helps to explain his solid career yards per carry mark. He can also pass protect well, which should help him stay on the field in the right NFL team system.
When Hill was drafted by the Ravens in 2019, they already had Mark Ingram as their starter and Gus Edwards in a change-of-pace role, so there was no immediate need for Hill to be on the field. Enter Lamar Jackson’s 1,206 rushing yards and there was simply no place for Hill in an offense that was clicking on all cylinders. Now in 2020, Hill is in an even more unfavorable situation, as Dobbins is primed to take over the lead-back role in time. Despite the unfavorable situation, Hill’s natural talent remains and all it takes is a trade to better a situation for his talents to be put on display for the football world to see. Buy now, for his price may never be cheaper.
Brycen Hopkins: TE, LAR
Brycen Hopkins is one of the more athletic tight ends to come out of the NFL draft in recent years, and the Rams using a 4th round pick to acquire him should speak some towards what they see in his abilities. With Gerald Everett likely to hit free agency in 2021 and the Rams utilizing more 12 personnel sets, this pick appears to be the Rams planning for the future. In his time at Purdue, Hopkins averaged 15.0 yards per reception over four seasons, while hauling in 16 touchdowns and 130 receptions. At 6’4″ and 245 pounds, he has a similar physique to studs like Evan Engram and George Kittle, and he may offer similar long-term upside. Hopkins has struggled as a blocker but that is one of the few things he’ll have to work hard on improving at the NFL level.
As a pass-catcher, Hopkins is very fluid for a tight end, showcasing solid route-running abilities and also the ability to win one-on-one, contested catches. If Everett does indeed leave the team in 2021, it will be Higbee and Hopkins as the top two tight ends, assuming the Rams do not draft another one in the 2021 NFL Draft (or acquire one via free agency). Given Higbee’s solid run blocking abilities and Hopkins’ pass-catching abilities, the two could form a similar tandem to what we see in Philadelphia with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. A lot can change from now until the 2021 draft, but Hopkins is a part of the Rams’ future plans, making now the time to buy before he emerges as a viable fantasy tight end–especially in tight end premium leagues. Go get yourself a share of this future stud today.
Carson Wentz: QB, PHI
Carson Wentz is in a unique situation, and I’m going analyze his present and future value from a subjective point of view. I believe Carson Wentz is fine from a talent perspective, but he struggles to consistently produce elite numbers due to the lack of consistent talent around him, accompanied by the mental hurdle of trying to prove that he can also bring a Super Bowl to Philadelphia. In 40 career games before his injury in December 2018, here were Wentz’s stats:
63.7% completion (923/1448) 70:28 TD:INT (7:4 TD:INT), 144 rushing attempts for 542 yards, 92.5 passer rating, 253.8 passing yards per game, and a 23-17 record.
63.2% completion (485/767), 31:14 TD:INT, 81 rushing attempts for 354 yards, 87.6 passer rating, 248.5 passing yards per game, and a 10-9-1 record.
Similar numbers right? That’s because from a pure talent standpoint, Wentz is not declining, the weapons around him have just been inconsistent. Whether that is due to random flurries of injuries altering the consistency of the offense or because the Eagles simply don’t have enough above average pass-catchers and playmakers, the Eagles have not been consistent offensively for some time now. By the end of the 2019 season, Carson Wentz’s top pass-catchers were UDFA Greg Ward, UDFA Deontay Burnett, 2017 sixth round pick Robert Davis, UDFA Joshua Perkins, Dallas Goedert, 2018 sixth round pick Boston Scott, and Miles Sanders.
The Eagles saw their deficiencies on offense and drafted Jalen Reagor with the 21st overall pick in 2020, with the goal of opening up their offense more. Four games into the season, Reagor is out with a UCL tear in his thumb, Dallas Goedert is out with an ankle injury, Alshon Jeffery is still recovering from a foot injury he sustained in 2019, and DeSean Jackson is again nursing an injury. The Eagles still have some playmakers in Miles Sanders and Zach Ertz, but it is almost impossible to create lasting chemistry in an offense when the personnel cannot consistently stay on the field together year after year. And of course injuries are unpredictable, but when they happen enough they can truly limit what a quarterback can do. Wentz’s weapons have been limited on and off since 2019.
However, as previously mentioned, the talent is still there. He is off to a rather rough start in 2020, but due to COVID, lack of a preseason, new weapons around him, and player injuries doing their thing, there are many factors that could be affecting Wentz’s production. Not to mention the heavy weight on his shoulder to prove that he can bring a Super Bowl to Philadelphia like Foles did. This mental factor, the ever-growing doubt that he will never be able to do what Foles did could very well be eating at him every single time he loses, every time he fails, the doubt could be growing larger, slowly but surely. Now this is a complete assumption on my part but I firmly believe this is in the back of his head every time he takes the field. He wants to prove he can do what Foles did. Thus, sometimes he tries too hard, he overthinks his reads, he misses wide open targets, he’s distracted by the fact that he needs to prove himself. Mental health is one of the factors that the general football world tends to ignore when evaluating a player’s performance. It is easy to forget that these players have feelings, emotions, worries, doubts, and that they are real human beings going through real mental battles behind the curtains.
With all that being said, do NOT jump ship in dynasty leagues or sell him for less than his worth. Wentz has shown he can be a reliable QB1 in the past, and still being 27 years old, Wentz has an entire career still ahead of him to prove his worth. He’s one of the firmer dynasty holds out there. If you can sell him for a viable piece, go for it, but do not give him away for a player who’s overperforming right now, especially in two-QB or superflex leagues. His outlook may not be pretty at the moment, and it may take a move from Philadelphia for him to discover his true fantasy ceiling, but I fully expect Carson Wentz to be a consistent fantasy QB1 again in time. The talent is still very much there. Hold tight.
Mecole Hardman: WR, KC
In his rookie season, the speedster out of the University of Georgia earned 538 receiving yards on just 26 receptions (20 yards/reception) with six touchdowns. As the season progressed, his snap percentage gradually began to decline, as did his slot usage. For whatever reason, Andy Reid limited him as the season went on, and his numbers and targets understandably took a hit. In his first eight career games, he earned 20 of his 26 receptions, 374 of his 538 yards, four of his six touchdowns, and he saw over 50% of offensive snaps in six of eight games. Over the final eight games, he saw over 50% of offensive snaps just once. Now, Hardman was a rookie who had only earned 961 receiving yards on 60 receptions (16.0 yards/reception) over 29 career collegiate games, so much of his draft stock came simply from his elite speed and breakaway ability. Andy Reid knew he drafted a weapon, but a weapon that would take time to fully develop.
Hardman is still polishing up his route running in general, but his vertical routes continue to be his strong suit, as they play best to his natural abilities. Given these natural abilities, there is no limit to how productive Hardman will be in time, which is what ultimately makes him such an enticing dynasty asset. He is not as good as fellow teammate Tyreek Hill just yet, but given their similar physiques and strengths, there is no reason to believe Hardman cannot be as productive as Hill in time. Maybe not on the Chiefs, but Hardman’s talent will play almost anywhere with competent quarterback play. All these reasons point towards Hardman being a strong dynasty hold. This is a player who has yet to surpass 2,000 receiving yards from his collegiate and NFL careers combined, he is nowhere near as productive as he will be in time. Do not sell him because you believe he’ll just be a big play reliant player for the rest of his career. Stand firm and hold this talented wide receiver, you may just look like a genius for doing so one day.
Kerryon Johnson: RB, DET
Saying Johnson has had a frustrating start to his NFL career would be a understatement. In back-to-back seasons, Johnson hurt his knee, abruptly ending his campaign in 2018 and shortening his 2019 season. As a result, we have yet to see what he can do over a full NFL season as a lead back, and we have yet to see if he is even capable of being a lead back for a full season. Unfortunately, that speculation has poured over into 2020 as the Lions drafted D’Andre Swift and signed Adrian Peterson to give the backfield some depth. Nonetheless, Johnson is still very much a talented back. In his senior season at Auburn, Johnson ran for 1,391 rushing yards on 285 attempts (4.8 yards/attempt) while earning a whopping 18 touchdowns. He also chipped in 194 receiving yards on 24 receptions. At 5’11” and 211 lbs, Johnson is very elusive and fast for his size. At the 2018 NFL Combine, he ran a 4.57 40-yard dash which is decent, but he disguises any deficiencies in his speed with terrific burst. Once Johnson uses his patience to find a hole, he takes off and can make multiple guys miss on the run. However, he can be somewhat of a *too* aggressive runner at times, and that could be contributing towards his injury history, as he has suffered several injuries all over his body between his collegiate and NFL careers.
Now fully healthy, and sharing a backfield with Swift and Peterson, it is very important to remember he is still just a 23-year-old running back who has plenty of gas left in the tank if his knees and body can hold up–which at this point is clearly his biggest concern going forward. There is still untapped potential here and that is why he is a dynasty hold for the time being. Swift is likely the back of the future for the Lions and Johnson is an UFA in 2022, though he could find himself on a new team as quickly as this coming offseason. You’re holding the talent and counting on a new team potentially giving Johnson a chance in the near future. It is not a guaranteed bet that he’ll ever see a workhorse role again, but given his situation right now he’s a tough sell, and at the same time, a tough buy due to the aforementioned concerns. Hold Johnson if your dynasty roster can afford to. The upside is you get a free starting running back and upside fantasy RB2 in the near future, at which point his price will soar.
Irv Smith Jr: TE, MIN
A popular breakout candidate coming into the 2020 season, Smith has failed to support such expectations with just six targets and two receptions for 14 yards through four games in his second NFL season. It’s not what any Smith owner wanted to see, but there is no reason to jump ship yet, or even think about doing so. In his career at Alabama, Smith earned 838 receiving yards on 58 receptions, while also hauling in 10 touchdowns. The Vikings then used a second round pick to acquire Smith in 2019, and that alone should speak volumes towards what they see in Smith as a player for long-term. At 6’2″ and 242 lbs, Smith is built like a big-bodied wide receiver, so having him at the tight end position is already a mismatch for poor coverage linebackers. In his rookie season, Smith earned 311 receiving yards and 36 receptions on 47 targets over 14 games. He saw three or more targets in 10 of those 14 games, so they wanted him to get him accustomed to the offense early on, even with Kyle Rudolph still seeing more offensive snaps.
Even with his solid rookie campaign, Smith’s lack of usage in 2020 is bewildering. It’s likely that between the expected dominance from Adam Thielen, the emergence of Justin Jefferson, and the need to feed their $63 million dollar running back in Dalvin Cook, there just hasn’t been a real need for tight end usage. More than that, between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, Vikings tight ends have accumulated a grand total of 1,483 receiving yards, or 46.3 receiving yards per game. To put that into perspective, Travis Kelce earned 1,229 receiving yards just last year (76.8 yards/game). The Vikings, or more specifically Mike Zimmer, do not put a huge emphasis on tight end production and that could be the biggest negative surrounding Smith’s situation right now. Rudolph will presumably be a Viking until 2024, so there is understandable concern about whether or not Smith will be able to earn a featured role before he himself becomes an UFA in 2023.
Ideally, Zimmer will want to see what his young tight end can do with a significant offensive role before then, but there’s no knowing when exactly that will come to fruition. However, what we do know is that Smith is a talented player who will only continue to improve his game. And given his current production in 2020, his fantasy value is dirt cheap. You may have a harder time prying Jimmy Graham off of a league mate’s roster than Irv Smith Jr., and at the same time selling him will get you back very little, if anything. All these reasons point towards Smith being a strong dynasty hold, especially in tight end premium leagues. In time, Smith will have a significant role in an offense, and you will want him on your roster, as his upside will be that of a top 10 tight end. If your roster is deep enough, hold Smith tight and be patient. His path to consistent production is not clear just yet, but his talent is.
Tom Brady: QB, TB
Selling Tom Brady has nothing to do with not believing that his current production will remain strong for the foreseeable future and everything to do with getting solid value back due to his current production and pedigree. So far in 2020 (with last night’s game in hand) Brady is seventh among quarterbacks in fantasy points and has averaged 24.5 fantasy points per game. He’s also second in passing yards with 1,375 and tied for third in touchdowns with 12. With this pace, he’ll likely finish as a top 10 option by season’s end, but you want to sell him before then. In a one-QB league, its unlikely you’ll get huge value back, but if there is a team that is indeed suffering at QB, throw them an offer and test Brady’s market. As good as Brady is and has been, he will not be a QB1 forever. In two-QB or superflex leagues, he’s an even more enticing sell candidate, and it’s likely you’ll be able to get back a solid skills position asset or two for him. Your target roster is a team that’s competing, as a team that is looking towards 2021 won’t find Brady too appealing given his age and the QB options that’ll be available via 2021 rookie drafts. Test Brady’s market today and see what you could possibly get back.
T.Y. Hilton: WR, IND
Hilton has been a productive fantasy option since his rookie season, finishing as a top-25 wide receiver option that season per pro-football-reference. He had five games of 100+ receiving yards, finishing with 861 receiving yards, 50 receptions, and seven touchdowns. That is an incredible debut season and Hilton only got better from there. From 2013-2018, Hilton averaged 1,245 receiving yards, 15.8 yards per reception, 131 targets and six touchdowns per season. In short, he was one of the most consistent WR1s in fantasy football year after year. However, age and health have caught up to him in recent years, and his production is slowly but surely on the decline. As a result, now is the time to sell Hilton before he enters 2021 as a fantasy afterthought. He is still only 31 years old, but you cannot rely on him staying consistently healthy and productive for your fantasy teams anymore. Getting back a 2021 second round pick or even a more productive player such as Robby Anderson or Laviska Shenault Jr. is exactly the type of value you should be looking to get back for Hilton if you can. Don’t sell Hilton for pennies on the dollar, but do actively search for a trade partner as Hilton’s value is decreasing by the day.
Todd Gurley II: RB, LAR
Once one of, if not the most coveted running back asset in fantasy football, Gurley’s days of being an elite asset are over. In 2019, Gurley finished as the RB16 in PPR leagues, RB3 in 2018, RB1 in 2017, RB21 in 2016 and RB5 his rookie season. Since his rookie season, Gurley has never finished outside the top 25 RBs in PPR leagues, speaking volumes towards just how productive and consistent Gurley has been, in real life and in fantasy. However, Gurley is slowing losing that explosiveness that made him so good for so long. Per Gurley himself, he stated in 2019 that he played through a knee injury in 2018 and it’s likely that his knee may never be the same. Per PFF, Gurley’s yards after contact per attempt mark has been below 2.80 since his 2018 season. Yards after contact per attempt helps us better understand running backs who are able to take on contact, but still gain yards on the ground after the fact. It is a good indication of running backs who have good balance, strength, and backs who are just hard to get on the ground. Gurley’s yards after contact per attempt mark was above 2.80 in 2015, 2017, and 2018. This tells us that present time Todd Gurley isn’t breaking as many tackles as he would’ve in the past, a sign that he is just not as effective as he used to be.
Another significant blow to Gurley’s value has been his decreased role in the passing game. Between 2016-2018, Gurley caught 174 receptions on 223 targets for 1,710 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. That’s 58 receptions, 74 targets, and 570 receiving yards per season. He was plenty involved as a passer and it was a big part of what he brought to the field as a whole. From 2019 to present day, he has seen just 50 targets and 36 receptions for 216 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In 2020, he has seen just five targets through four games. Whether this is due to gradual ineffectiveness as a pass-catcher or distrust from his coaches that he can be as effective as a pass-catcher as he was in the past, or both, that part of Gurley’s game is very quickly fading. And as a result, his fantasy value all of a sudden is more dependent on touchdowns than ever before. That is not a recipe for fantasy consistency and after Sunday’s two touchdown performance vs Green Bay, now is the perfect time to sell. Target a young stud like J.K. Dobbins or D’Andre Swift or an established fantasy asset. Sell Gurley based on how he looks right now, doing so should get you back solid value.
Zach Ertz: TE, PHI
Zach Ertz has been of the most reliable fantasy tight ends since 2015, earning at least 74 receptions and 816 receiving yards in each season. His touchdown totals have fluctuated, but he has at least six touchdowns in every season since 2017. At 29 years old (soon-to-be 30) Ertz is in the falling action phase of his memorable career. He is still producing solid numbers, but naturally his athleticism will begin to decline. We aren’t seeing many obvious signs yet, but the even bigger threats to Ertz’s fantasy reliability is the emergence of Dallas Goedert and Ertz’s contract extension talks stalling out for the time being. Ertz will be a free agent after the 2021 season and Goedert is scheduled to be an UFA after 2021.
So the Eagles have a decision to make: extend Ertz or sign Goedert to a long-term deal. Due to the hesitancy to commit in extension talks, it is likely the Eagles do not view Ertz as their long-term option at tight end, that honor goes to Goedert, an equally talented player. In the first game of 2020, Goedert earned 100+ receiving yards for the first time in his career. Goedert averaged 8.2 targets per game over the last six weeks of 2019, and that target share has poured over into 2020, as he averaged 8.5 targets between the first two games of the season. Unfortunately, Goedert fractured his ankle in Week 3 vs CIN, putting an abrupt halt to what was looking like the beginning of a breakout season, even while sharing the field with Ertz. As unfortunate a start it is for Goedert, this situation creates the perfect opportunity to sell Ertz before Goedert returns to the field. Ertz is still valued as a strong TE1, so that is what you should advertise him as in trade discussions. In tight end premium leagues, you should be able to land a high-end skills position player for Ertz, or possibly multiple pieces that will help you in the future. You might even be able to grab Goedert in a deal for Ertz. And while it is very possible, and maybe even likely, that if Ertz leaves Philadelphia, he’ll end up somewhere else, that just makes his future fantasy value even more unpredictable. 2020 is the year to sell Ertz while he’s still valued for his pedigree and anticipated production. Do not sell him for less than you acquired him for, but actively search for a suitor who is willing to pay up. In dynasty, you need to remain two steps ahead or you’ll end up four steps behind.
QB: P.J. Walker, Jalen Hurts
WR: Antonio Gandy-Golden, Denzel Mims
RB: Alexander Mattison, Cam Akers
TE: Hunter Bryant, Cole Kmet
QB: Baker Mayfield, Jared Goff
WR: Courtland Sutton, Preston Williams
RB: Josh Jacobs, Antonio Gibson
TE: Austin Hooper, Mike Gesicki
QB: Matt Ryan, Drew Brees
WR: Julio Jones, Adam Thielen
RB: James Conner, Raheem Mostert