The NFL season is never over. During these playoffs, all 32 teams in the league are devising plans to try to improve themselves. Whether it be by front office movement, free agent signings, trades, or draft strategies, every team is working. As a dynasty fantasy player, you need to be doing the same. Next season starts today, and we can begin by taking a look at some players who are a buy low or sell high candidate.
The first buy low candidate of this offseason for me is Jacksonville Jaguars’ wide receiver Christian Kirk. Kirk shocked the football world by signing as one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the league, while having never had a 1,000-yard season. That changed this season as Kirk finished as the 11th best fantasy wide receiver and had over 1,000 yards. We are beginning to see Trevor Lawrence blossom into an outstanding quarterback, and the Jaguars have taken a step to his aid by acquiring Calvin Ridley from the Atlanta Falcons. Ridley is a phenomenal receiver that will undoubtedly be the lead receiver for the Jaguars. That is exactly why now is the best time to trade for Christian Kirk. Many believe Kirk will be an afterthought to Ridley, but I am here to tell you that’s not true. Ridley is a master route runner and will thrive all over the field. His presence will open things up for Kirk, who was the main focus of opposing defenses all season in 2022.
This season was all about wide receiver pairs who both thrived together. Duos like Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, and Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. I believe Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk will establish themselves as a duo to be reckoned with. In addition to the defensive attention being drawn from Kirk, there’s also always the chance that Ridley remains suspended. Ridley is currently suspended indefinitely and will have to apply for reinstatement in February 2023. Applying for reinstatement does not guarantee he will return to the NFL, and if so, Kirk may be Lawrence’s top receiver once again.
With all eyes on Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, Trey Lance has been pushed aside for now. Currently, on his way to a NFC Conference Championship Game, Purdy is making his case to remain the starter for the San Francisco 49ers next season. The 49ers’ front office and coaching staff will have to make a decision on the futures of both Lance and Purdy, which is why now is a good time to buy low on Lance. Regardless of the outcome of these playoffs, Lance will be an NFL starter next season. He was acquired with far too much draft capital to ride the bench on any team. The Lance owner in your league may be freaking out that they have a lost asset on their team, or they may fear that Lance cannot prosper outside of San Francisco. Lance has immense rushing upside, which will allow him to succeed from a fantasy perspective on any team. Similar to Justin Fields this season, Lance could lead a horrendous offense and will still score points because of his unique skill set. If Lance lives up to the hype, now is easily the cheapest he will ever be, probably for the duration of his career. Regardless as to whether Lance starts for the 49ers or elsewhere, his upside is too immense to miss out on.
The forgotten rookie for the Houston Texans, John Metchie, is a very interesting player this offseason. Metchie tore his ACL while playing for the University of Alabama back in December 2021. Despite tearing his ACL, Metchie was still loved by NFL scouts and was drafted in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Texans. Metchie would then sit out the entire 2022 NFL season after being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, a form of cancer. Now in January 2023, Metchie has made tremendous strides in his recovery from leukemia, and has had substantial time to work on his ACL recovery as well. Although both of his conditions are difficult to overcome, Metchie has worked tirelessly to improve his health this past season and hopes to be ready for the 2023 NFL season. Metchie was drafted to be the complement of Brandin Cooks, who recently made it known that he is displeased with the Texans and may even force his way out via trade. If Cooks were to be traded, Metchie could possibly be the number one receiver on his team next season and will be force-fed targets all year. Additionally, the Texans currently have the second overall pick in April’s draft and are in need of a franchise quarterback. They have the chance to trade up one spot and take Bryce Young, Alabama standout and John Metchie’s college quarterback. There are undoubtedly big “if’s” in play here, but if Metchie can be fully healthy and the Texans draft Bryce Young, Metchie’s value can absolutely skyrocket overnight. Take the chance on Metchie now, before his owner realizes how close these “if’s” are to coming true.
Our final buy low candidate as of now is 32-year-old tight end, Zach Ertz. Ertz was having a fantastic year prior to tearing his ACL, averaging 12.6 fantasy points per game over the first nine games of the season. Had he stayed healthy for all 17 games, Ertz would have finished with 214.2 fantasy points, only 1.2 points shy of the TE2 this season, T.J. Hockenson. Ertz was injured early enough where he will most likely be ready for the start of the 2023 season. The current fantasy tight end market is downright laughable, with no consistent talent outside of the great Travis Kelce. Unless you have Hockenson, Kyle Pitts, Mark Andrews, or George Kittle, you should absolutely take the chance on Ertz. Yes, he is 32 years old and will be 33 a few weeks into next season. Kelce is currently 33 and will be 34 next season, but no one is worried about his age! Ertz will most likely have the smallest price tag of anyone on this list, and should be an easy target for those in need of a tight end.
On to the sell high candidates. It may hurt your heart to see the players on this list, but fantasy championships are grounded on solid evidence and predictions, not gooey feelings. The first player to sell right now is Derrick Henry. “King Henry” has carried fantasy teams for years and has a chance to do so again in 2023, but I’m not willing to take that risk. The idea of selling high is to get rid of players BEFORE they break down and become worthless, not after. Henry is currently 29 years old, and we typically see running backs start to break down around age 27 or 28. Not only is Henry past the age threshold, but he also has an insane number of carries accumulated throughout his career, with 1,750 just in the regular season. Todd Gurley has been irrelevant for the last two seasons, he is younger than Derrick Henry. Le’Veon Bell has been irrelevant for three seasons, he is only one year older than Henry. Melvin Gordon had the wheels fall off this season, he is currently the same age as Henry. “King Henry” has earned his nickname, he is a freak of nature and a true anomaly, but nobody beats father time. To put it simply, you’d rather be a year early to sell Henry than be a year late.
Next on the list is fourth round sweetheart, Dameon Pierce. Pierce stole the show early on this season as he made himself an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate immediately. After being drafted with the 107th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, very few people believed he’d make an impact right away. The porous Texans could barely move the ball all year, although Pierce didn’t care and performed admirably anyway. The problem with Pierce is not his talent or tenacity, it’s his draft capital. Historically, players drafted after the third round tend to be replaced rather quickly in their careers. Just recently, Elijah Mitchell (sixth round) was replaced with Christian McCaffrey after averaging 15 fantasy points per game in 2021. Michael Carter, who was drafted with the 107th pick and the same exact draft pick as Pierce, was believed to have earned the Jets’ backfield after performing well in 2021, he was then replaced by standout Breece Hall the following season. James Robinson was the RB7 in 2020 and was immediately replaced by Travis Etienne in the following offseason. Myles Gaskin was the RB12 on a points per game basis in 2020 and was later replaced by Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson Jr.
Let’s not forget Phillip Lindsay, who was replaced by Melvin Gordon shortly after his success. Pierce is a short yardage power back who does very little in the receiving game. It appears that the Texans could be in the market for a receiving back, someone to take over on third downs when Pierce is less appealing. Most likely, the Texans will draft a receiving back or could potentially draft a replacement back entirely. Pierce should net you at least a first round draft pick, if not more, and I’d take that offer every day of the week.
The next fantasy star to trade away is none other than Keenan Allen. Allen has been electric for years and is tied to one of the bright young stars at the quarterback position, Justin Herbert. But, much like Derrick Henry, father time is knocking on Allen’s doorstep. Allen is currently 30 years old, but will be 31 for the entire 2023 NFL season. Allen was nagged by hamstring injuries all season long before setting ablaze late into the year. Allen is no stranger to hamstring strains, but this season was different. Allen hadn’t missed more than two games in any season since 2016, yet he missed seven games in 2022. As his age continues to climb, soft tissue injuries become more and more likely to happen and are far more difficult to recover from. I believe we saw signs of exactly that by Allen’s extended absence this season.
Another Hall of Fame receiver who recently had similar issues was Julio Jones. Jones has gone from being a Justin Jefferson level player into an empty shell of himself in a very short amount of time. After dominating in 2019, Jones was then the 51st best receiver in 2020 after dealing with hamstring issues at age 31. He has never been the same since. Allen has been dealing with hamstring issues and is now going into his age 31 season. The parallels are too obvious to ignore. In redraft formats he may be worth his draft price, but in dynasty formats, why take the risk?
The final star on our sell list was the PPR RB7 in 2022. Rhamondre Stevenson was the seventh most productive running back in points per reception formats this season, and it may already be time to give up hope of him repeating this performance. Stevenson was a big, slow back coming out of college, but after dropping 15 pounds just before the NFL combine, coach Bill Belichick saw the potential in Stevenson to become a receiving back. Stevenson has lived up to expectations and blown his doubters away with his versatility. He is talented and has great coaching as well as an above average offensive line. The problem with Stevenson’s future is the same entity that has propelled him into fantasy stardom. Belichick is known to shuffle his running back room around constantly, and that reason alone drove many fantasy players (myself included) away from drafting any running back for the Patriots. Stevenson was the RB7 this year, Damien Harris led the backfield and was RB14 in 2021, and James White led the backfield in 2019 and 2018 and finished as the RB18 and RB6 in those seasons.
The Patriots’ backfield will forever be an unpredictable timeshare as long as Belichick is the head coach, and he already stated he is coming back for 2023. With there having been three different lead backs over the past three seasons, it’s hard to see Stevenson remaining with the same role next season. Stevenson was also the benefactor of multiple Harris injuries over the course of the 2022 season. There is always a chance Harris continues to be banged up, but there is also the chance Stevenson is banged up while Harris takes over. Stevenson is currently a 24-year-old running back who just finished as the RB7 in only his second year in the league. That statement alone may convince someone to pay a hefty price for the young talent. Sell now before he is back into the classic Belichick running back rotation!