When making trades in dynasty fantasy football, getting the best player in the deal often yields the best results. This will lead to a W for the receiving party more often than not. There are some unique opportunities where you can take advantage of this notion and pull off a trade that elevates your roster, even if you are not receiving who consensus says is the best player in the trade. I introduce to you, tier down trading.
The premise of a tier-down trade is very simple. You identify a player on your roster who you would like to move and target a player valued slightly less by the community. This player may be further down in the same tier or even a tier below your player. Because you are trading the “best player in the deal,” you should receive a juicy sweetener in return. There is a premium for receiving the most valued asset, and your trading partner will pay a premium for that. The trick is to move a player the community values higher than you do; for a player the community values less than you do. Ideally, that allows you to win the swap long-term and get the sweetener added to boot.
Here are five tier-down trades you can make today to elevate your dynasty fantasy football team.
Javonte Williams (RB13 Nerds ADP) for J.K. Dobbins+ (RB17)
This might be spicy, but Williams is one of the more obvious dynasty sells for me. I think a lot of the allure comes from his 2021 preseason and a few highlight clips where he trucks a defender. His 17-game average is a painfully pedestrian line of 202-896-3. Many will point to the eye test, which sounds like fool’s gold to me. Another assumption about Williams is that he has been efficient with his touches, but the efficiency metrics are disappointing too. Managers are investing far too much in a running back who has never been a workhorse, has been remarkably average with his touches thus far, and is staring at a down-year post-injury in 2023.
Enter Dobbins, who has a greater chance of producing an RB1 season. I am all in on the 24-year-old now that he is healthy. Data from his injury shows a significant production dip in Year 1, followed by a major jump in Year 2. This is your opportunity to secure a share before his price skyrockets. Dobbins faces very little competition for touches, and the Ravens should have an upgraded offense after parting ways with OC Greg Roman. You might be able to turn Williams into Dobbins plus a rookie second or equivalent player. That is a slam dunk.
Top-5 RB Breakaway Run Rate (min 80 carries)— PlayerProfiler (@rotounderworld) May 13, 2023
🥇 James Cook – 12.1%
🥈 Breece Hall – 11.3%
🥉 J.K. Dobbins – 10.9%
4️⃣ Tony Pollard – 8.8%
5️⃣ D'Andre Swift – 8.1% pic.twitter.com/4m4aygzabZ
George Pickens (WR29) for Terry McLaurin+ (WR32)
The community is split on Pickens right now, so you must find the truther in your league. I find myself on the “sell” side of that debate. The ball skills are good, and I like Pickens’ ability to win contested situations, but the separation skills and release leave much to be desired. From a fantasy standpoint, he is terribly inefficient and volume-dependent. I see Pickens as a major unknown and a risky bet in general.
McLaurin continues to be one of the most underrated receivers in the game. While his stats have not reflected it due to some horrendous quarterback play, he has the elite traits I am willing to bet on. McLaurin has top-tier separation and contested-catch skills while still only 27 years old. The Washington quarterback situation remains a question mark, with Sam Howell and Jacoby Brissett gunning for the job. In Howell’s only start in 2022, he targeted McLaurin six times and connected for three receptions, 74 yards, and a touchdown. Brissett was quite serviceable last season for Cleveland and might be the consistent, safe option. I have more optimism than most about the quarterback play for the Commanders. I love the idea of moving Pickens for McLaurin plus a rookie third or equivalent player.
Terry McLaurin: 42 contested catches the last two seasons— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) April 15, 2023
First in the NFL 💪 pic.twitter.com/nmrlJLc9n5
Christian Watson (WR18) for Treylon Burks+ (WR23)
The community is starting to catch on that Watson might be a sell. We have seen his value begin to dip, but WR18 off the board in startups is still wild. Dynasty managers are taking him over Michael Pittman, Jordan Addison, DJ Moore, and a handful of others who are hard to justify. The Packers have spent the offseason acquiring pass catchers, adding to a room with Romeo Doubs, who I prefer at cost. Jayden Reed is the type of player who can come in and challenge Watson for targets on Day 1. So much of Watson’s value came from a relatively short span of production in 2022 and touchdown efficiency that is sure to regress. That, coupled with the team adding depth to the position, makes Watson a pretty clear sell.
Burks is the perfect player to target if you are moving Watson and want a receiver back. He was an elite prospect coming out of college and had a better rookie season than the surface line (33-444-1) indicates. Burks had a 21.3% target rate, which is the same as Ja’Marr Chase and A.J. Brown as rookies. He also averaged 1.75 yards per route run and a 1.9% touchdown rate, suggesting that positive regression is coming. I would feel great about flipping Watson for Burks plus a rookie 3rd or equivalent.
Treylon Burks with an UNREAL catch 😳 pic.twitter.com/hPr426xOMH— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) December 4, 2022
DeVonta Smith (WR14) for Brandon Aiyuk++ (WR28)
Not long ago, I entered my 2021 rookie drafts with a yellow sticky note that said, “DeVonta, no matter what.” I have long been a fan of Smith and love the talent. I struggle with him being valued as a top-15 dynasty receiver and sometimes going ahead of guys like Tee Higgins and DK Metcalf. Smith is coming off a huge season, but much of his success came after Dallas Goedert’s injury. I also see Philadelphia running even more in 2023. We have never seen Smith’s value this high, and in general, I think it is an excellent process to cash out on the appreciated asset for a complete receiver.
There are a few receivers I would target if I were moving Smith. Aiyuk plus a secondary impact piece is a great option, but so is someone like Drake London+ or Treylon Burks++. Aiyuk might be my favorite buy in dynasty right now. He has legitimate WR1 upside and has proven to be bad QB-proof. The 25-year-old is coming off a top-15 season at the position, in which he caught 78 of 114 targets for 1,015 yards and eight touchdowns. He has reliable hands and continues to show what kind of true weapon he is on a premier offense. Aiyuk is one of the best receivers in the game, with a WR28 price tag on him. Take advantage by moving Smith for Aiyuk plus a James Cook type or future early second.
Brandon Aiyuk running routes pic.twitter.com/CiDVnlyc89— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) March 10, 2023
Derek Carr (QB23) for Desmond Ridder++ (QB33)
This is more about Ridder and less about the aging quarterback you would have to move for him. I absolutely love Ridder at his cost right now. If you have someone like Carr, Stafford, or Garopolo as your QB3 and could move him for Ridder plus an Elijah Moore type, do it. I understand the concerns with Ridder, which mainly stem from the offense that he is playing in. I do not expect him to have much of an opportunity to run that offense in a way we would like to see for fantasy.
Here is my best case for Ridder, though. We are looking at a guy valued outside of the top-32 at the quarterback position. He will be starting all season for what could be a very efficient offense. I believe Ridder himself is going to be very efficient. Top-tier weapons surround him, and this offense should produce scoring opportunities. He will give you some action on the ground and be serviceable through the air. There is a realistic path to him producing QB2 numbers that look something like 3000-20-6 with a few scores on the ground. That is a valuable quarterback in fantasy who is probably your QB3/4 but producing well above that level.
The other thing to consider with the Falcons is they are an improved team playing in a lousy NFC South. They will likely play themselves out of the Caleb Williams/Drake Maye sweepstakes. At least for now, Ridder’s job is secure. Nobody is challenging him for the starting role this season. The Falcons seem to be committed to finding out what they have with Ridder, and I think Arthur Smith is content with that caliber of quarterback running the offense if he can prove to be efficient. Ridder had one of the highest on-target rates in the NFL last season at 75.5%. At his price tag, this feels like a no-brainer.
Big boy throw from Desmond Ridder here. He has looked great. In college he appeared overwhelmed at times by the pass rush. It was a significant concern of mine. Love seeing this. pic.twitter.com/tFJZ3C5VEJ— Justin Hulsey 🏴☠️ (@FF_Hulsey) August 29, 2022
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