Most people are probably familiar with the game “Shag/Marry/Kill” and its various iterations, but if you’re not… well, Google it. But for the discussion of dynasty fantasy football, this game will be called “Keep/Trade/Cut.”
The rules are simple:
- Among a group of three (or more) NFL players, determine which one you would keep on your dynasty roster, which you would trade, and which you would cut.
- The catch is, within each group of players, you MUST keep at least one, trade at least one, and cut at least one.
The intention of this exercise is to challenge how you value certain players by comparing them to other similar players. The game is no fun if you pick obvious choices, but it is a good way to compare what variables and player traits you value most as a fantasy franchise owner.
With that in mind, this article is part of a series in which I will play Keep/Trade/Cut, from a dynasty fantasy football perspective, with players who (1) play the same position and (2) currently play for the same NFL team. In this edition, I will examine position groups in the AFC North.
- Bengals – Tight Ends (Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, CJ Uzomah)
Keep: CJ Uzomah
Trade: Tyler Eifert
Cut: Tyler Kroft
Interestingly, all three of these players will be unrestricted free agents this coming offseason. While Eifert is clearly the class of this group in terms of talent, his injury concerns have been well-documented. And while Kroft was presumed to be the backup entering this season, Uzomah has out-produced him, even prior to Kroft’s season-ending injury in week 5. My guess is that the Bengals will re-sign Uzomah and perhaps Kroft, but not the perpetually-hobbled Eifert. I will try to sell another owner on the upside of superior talent and a probable new opportunity for Eifert, and attempt to trade him. Since I think Uzomah will be the week 1 starter for Cincinnati in 2019, I’ll keep him at his current modest value and respectable production, over the riskier and less-athletic Kroft.
- Browns – Wide Receivers (Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, Rashard Higgins)
Keep: Jarvis Landry
Trade: Antonio Callaway
Cut: Rashard Higgins
While I do believe the Browns will add another receiver this offseason, I still think Jarvis Landry will retain the most value amongst this group entering into next season. Through week 13, Landry has more receptions (66) than Callaway has targets (64), and while Landry hasn’t been nearly as efficient as in years past (70.2% catch rate with the Dolphins, 55.0% catch rate with the Browns), I just can’t argue with that kind of volume. Moreover, Landry’s efficiency is bound to increase as Baker Mayfield develops and as their chemistry improves. Between Callaway and Higgins, I’ll trade Callaway only because I think I can get more for him than I can for Higgins, who through week 13 has just about as many targets (35) as Callaway has receptions (33). Yes, I know Higgins missed a couple games, but it is still a strangely consistent distribution of targets for one team!
- Ravens – Running Backs (Gus Edwards, Alex Collins, Javorius Allen, Ty Montgomery, Kenneth Dixon)
Keep: Alex Collins, Kenneth Dixon
Trade: Gus Edwards
Cut: Javorius Allen, Ty Montgomery
What a mess. Let’s start with the obvious – I’m going to cut Allen and Montgomery because I don’t believe they hold any long-term value outside of a desperation start. If you’re starting either one of those guys to start your season in 2019, then you might as well start prepping for the 2020 draft. With Edwards, I will admit I want to keep him if I can, for now. But let’s consider this logically – we have seen Edwards be productive in a small, three-game sample size, in a strange offense designed to help Lamar Jackson. Edwards’s recent success may be less attributable to his own skill (there is a reason he went undrafted), and more attributable to defenses worrying about Jackson’s big-play ability. Not only will NFL coaches adjust to the Jackson-led offense sooner than later, but Joe Flacco may also return sooner than later. Will Edwards be as effective a runner in a more prototypical offense, lining up behind Joe Flacco? Plus there are rumors that Harbaugh, and probably the rest of his staff, will be let go in the offseason, so we have no idea what the offensive scheme will look like next year, or with which QB. All this to say, I probably picked up Edwards off waivers for next to nothing, so why not try to sell high while his stock is potentially the highest it will ever be? Meanwhile, I will keep Collins and Dixon, but for different reasons. Dixon is under contract with the Ravens for next season and, while I would like to trade him, I’m assuming I wouldn’t get much for him, given his injury history and lack of production. But the Ravens have given him repeated opportunities, so I’m guessing the talent has to be there, and he is still only 24 years old. Collins, on the other hand, is a restricted free agent, so he may or may not be in Baltimore next season. I would also like to trade Collins if possible, but his value is low right now given Edwards’s recent mini-breakout. I’d rather keep him with the hope that he either earns the job back in Baltimore or gets an opportunity elsewhere. Keep in mind, we have seen Collins have sustained success before and is also only 24 years old.
- Ravens – Wide Receivers (John Brown, Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, Jordan Lasley)
Keep: Jordan Lasley
Trade: John Brown, Michael Crabtree
Cut: Willie Snead
What another mess. I’ll just admit at the onset that I’m not a big fan of any of these guys on my dynasty roster. The easiest call for me among this group is keeping Lasley. He has done next to nothing in his rookie season, but he was a fairly productive player at UCLA and he is only 22 years old. For his potential alone, I will keep Lasley. Speaking of production (or lack thereof), I will use their modest numbers to try to get what I can for both Brown and Crabtree. The Ravens could feasibly cut Crabtree this offseason, and he is on the wrong side of 30 anyway. Brown has shown flashes this season, flirting with WR2 numbers, so I will keep him if I don’t get a reasonable return via trade. But Brown is sneakily-old (28 years old), and has struggled with health and consistency throughout his career. For those reasons, I would prefer to trade him while he still holds some value. Snead is, at best, a third receiver on a run-heavy offense without a reliable QB, so he can be cut guilt-free.
- Ravens – Tight Ends (Nick Boyle, Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst, Maxx Williams)
Keep: Mark Andrews
Trade: Hayden Hurst
Cut: Nick Boyle, Maxx Williams
What a third mess. The Ravens have been a good team for this exercise! Once again, I don’t really want any of these guys. I think even in the best-case scenario, at least two of these tight ends are vulturing targets from one another in a low-volume passing attack. Boyle (25 years old) and Williams (24 years old) are both still young for tight ends, and both are set to become unrestricted free agents this offseason, so there is still a chance for either of them to develop into a viable option somewhere down the road. But I’m not going to bet on it. The Ravens wouldn’t have drafted two tight ends in 2018 if they had seen any long-term potential in either player. For that reason, I will cut Boyle and Williams. As far as those rookies go, I think it’s an easy choice. Andrews is bigger (6’-5”, 256 lbs), younger (22 years old), and just as athletic as Hurst (6’-4”, 245 lbs, 25 years old). He has also been much more productive than Hurst, despite being drafted two rounds later (Hurst 1st round, Andrews 3rd round). I will use Hurst’s 1st round pedigree to try to trade him, and I will keep Andrews.
- Steelers – Wide Receivers (Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington)
Keep: JuJu Smith-Schuster
Trade: Antonio Brown
Cut: James Washington
Finally… not a mess! Look, I understand that no one is trying to get rid of any of these players, and neither am I. I’ll keep each of them, if possible. But this is the type of challenge for which this exercise is useful. There is no way in hell I’m letting go of Smith-Schuster. The dude is an absolute stud and he’s only 22 years old! Speaking of studs, the only reason I’m trading Brown is that he is 30 years old, and because I can probably still get a haul for him. I would rather get rid of him a year too early, while his value is still sky-high (especially for a contending team), rather than a year too late, even though I believe his game will age well. Washington is just the odd man out. He too is only 22 years old, and still has time to develop into a good receiver, but he just isn’t as talented or as valuable as Brown or Smith-Schuster.
Stay tuned for future installments of the Dynasty Keep/Trade/Cut series!