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Breakout Second Half Players – Buy/Hold/Sell

Every season, we see fantasy players have second-half breakouts. What should you do with these four players for the dynasty moving forward!?

My first offseason article talks about the 2023 season. We often don’t get time to break down the breakout players during the season. We have four players who have had great success in the back half of the season, and we need to discuss what we should do with them in fantasy football.

Jordan Love: Packers – QB2 – BUY

First-year starter Jordan Love broke out in fantasy in 2023. In the second half of the season, Love started to shine in fantasy and his overall development. Jordan Love finished as QB2 in fantasy from Weeks 10-17. He was averaging 21.2 fantasy points per game in that span. Love was unleashed in the offense after being QB14 in the first nine games. Love showed the ability to make big plays downfield and threw a ton of deep passes as he ranked second in deep ball attempts. He was able to turn down the interceptions from eight to three. Are we buying this breakout season as we move forward for dynasty? Yes, you should buy into his talent. Love had upside coming out of the NFL draft, but he was another raw prospect. Love sat and learned from the best, and it showed in 2023.

This season, Love dealt with a young, inexperienced wide receiver group in the offense. He also missed multiple receivers throughout the season, especially Christian Watson, who missed eight games this season. Love was also forced to do more with the ball due to an injured/ineffective backfield. Love also missed his starting left tackle for basically most of the season. To add to the impressiveness was who he faced down the stretch of games. Of the nine games, only two teams were in the bottom ten in points per game to quarterbacks. Love played two top-five defenses and finished over 25 fantasy points in both games. As you can see in the tweet below, Love played well against playoff teams in fantasy.

I’d be looking to buy Jordan Love still while you can. I don’t think there is enough excitement in the young quarterback for fantasy or as an NFL quarterback. He will continue to improve the more he plays and a more balanced run game to use more play-action. In the DynastyGM trade browser, I still see Love go for only a first-round pick in Superflex leagues. I’d much rather take on Love and give up on a Bryce Young or a Daniel Jones plus. Love will make some noise, and you want to buy now just in case he does well in the playoffs. Love is an asset worth buying into without giving up the bank still.

James Cook: Bills – RB 7 – SELL

James Cook was a running back who took on a big second half after a mediocre start to the season. In the final eight games, Cook would finish RB7 after going RB19 in the first nine games. I’m not buying Cook’s second-half success. It was apparent early on that the firing of Ken Doresy helped Cook in the offense. He was playing better and seeing more targets in the backfield for a stretch of games. From Weeks 10-15, Cooks was the RB3. He saw 22 targets over five games, the most in any of his five-game stretches. He also saw three receiving touchdowns in that span as well. Another part of his role in the passing game was that he produced 222 yards in the air for himself.

WeeksY/ARu AttYdsTDsFLRecTgRec YdsRec TDs.5 PPR
James Cook’s Week 10 to 14 game logs

In that time, we saw the Bills pass attack drop in production while the run game played well. Despite Cook’s success, I believe the Bills want a bruiser of a running back to be involved in this offense. We saw Cook take a fall in the season’s final three weeks with a combined 166 total yards. Cook is still inefficient in making plays, being outside the top 20 in juke rate and evaded tackles. He also was barely inside the top 20 in breakaway runs of 20-plus yards. Cook has speed to his game, but I don’t think he is a back that can handle a big workload all season. He won’t be used around the goalline with Josh Allen on the field. Cook was 27th in red zone touches this past season. Let’s not forget his struggles this season with fumbles at times.

WeeksY/ARu AttYdsTDsFLRecTgRec YdsRec TDs.5 PPR
Cook’s struggle in the final three weeks.

On the DynastyGM, Cook’s value has been up and down in trades. I believe there is enough love for Cook to get a first-round pick or a young receiver like Drake London. If the Bills give in another running back, they may find someone to get in between the lines and pound the rock more. Cook has some upside, but he hasn’t shown to be consistent enough to be an elite fantasy running back in a dynasty. I’d look to sell off Cook, as 2023 has been his ceiling season.

Brandon Aiyuk: 49ers – WR6 – BUY HIGH

Brandon Aiyuk was one of the most consistent fantasy receivers in football during the second half of the season. He would finish as WR6, as he had double-digit targets in seven of the last eight games. Part of Aiyuk’s consistent success was Brock Purdy’s play, who made significant strides in the second half of the season to give the 49ers an elite offense. Aiyuk was playing well despite Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and, of course, Christian McCaffrey all having elite performances game after game. The biggest thing for Aiyuk was the touchdowns in the second half, as he only had two in the first nine weeks and five in the back half.

Aiyuk continues to get better each season and is now entering his prime WR1 years. He is playing on his fifth-year option, so expect him to dominate looking for that payday. Aiyuk has been playing mixed in with some elite talent around him, but they are aging. Deebo Samuel and CMC hit 28, and George Kittle will be pushing 31. Aiyuk won’t come cheap, but as a contending team, he is worth the investment as a player getting into his best years of fantasy. On the DynastyGM, I’m seeing Aiyuk go for a first and second, Tua Tagovailoa, or Ken Walker. If even in Superflex leagues, Aiyuk is going to be worth the investment. He has the talent to be even better than in 2023 and is part of a team with an elite offense.

David Njoku: Browns – TE1 – HOLD

David Njoku had one of the biggest second halves in fantasy football in 2023. He would be TE1 over Weeks 10-17. In the first nine games, he was TE17 with just two games over ten fantasy points. What caused his second-half breakout? It seems to be the consistent play of veteran Joe Flacco at quarterback. In the five games Njoku played with Joe Flacco, he had 30 receptions, 355 yards, and four touchdowns. That’s an average of six receptions for 71 yards per game. In the first 11 games, he was averaging almost five receptions for 44 yards with just two touchdowns in those games. He nearly doubled his production in those last eight games than in the first eight games.

WeeksY/RRecTgYdsTDs.5 PPR
Njoku’s Game Log all season.

Njoku should be a hold in fantasy. I wouldn’t overly buy him since you will be buying at his highest value in dynasty. You could sell off based on his career season, but what value will you get in return? Would many owners be willing to give up a first-round pick? The answer is probably not. So you hold and hope that good production can still come from him, especially for contending teams. On DynastyGM, Njoku is going for players like Michae Mayer, a second and third round pick, or Pat Freiermuth. He will be 28 years old by the start of 2024. He still managed to do decent with DeShaun Watson when they played together this season. We know Amari Cooper is also getting older, and the Browns don’t have a reliable second receiver in the offense. Njoku should be able to stay great and see at least 75% of his 2023 production in 2024.

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