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Let’s Make a Deal: Get ready for off season trading

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 12: New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson (17) warms up during pre-season game between the New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles on August 12, 2022 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

At this point in the season, trading is likely halted in your league. Are you powering through the playoffs or looking to next year? As a change of pace this week, I want to highlight some buy and sell candidates to act on when trading resumes in your league. Below are three positional arbitrages to attempt if you have these players. A value-above-replacement “Reserve” system derives player value. The system values a “start 9” non-SF 12-team league, along with each starter’s backup for a total of the top 216 (18*12) players. See my previous article on how to value players to further understand this system. The below summaries show the new value in dollars, the change in value in dollars, and the % change in value for each player. All scoring discussions will utilize the full-point PPR format. Note that rankings become available each Friday.

WR: Buy Higgins and Sell Watson

Watson is the 26th receiver in PPG and the 25th dynasty-ranked wide receiver. This is a significant 19-spot jump over his initial 44th dynasty wide receiver ranking coming into the year. He has 8 touchdowns (one rushing) on the season, all coming in the last five weeks. Watson currently has 7 of 29 catches for touchdowns which is beyond unsustainable. There will certainly be touchdown regression in his future. He had a career-high 110 yards in Week 12 and has yet to see double-digit targets. This emphasizes his big play ability or potential regression in yards as well. His snap share shot up to the low-90s of late, indicating that he is now a clear cog in the offense.

On the other side, you have Higgins, the 20th receiver in PPG and the 9th dynasty-ranked wide receiver. This is a drop of three spots over his initial 6th dynasty wide receiver ranking coming into the year. However, Higgins’ per-game stats are misleading. He had to come out of three games with less than a quarter of the snaps. If we back out the points scored on those three days and recalculate his PPG, he lands at 11th in PPG ahead of Lamb and Waddle. Both of these players are significantly higher at KTC, indicating potential mispricing.

KTC Pricing

KTC has the move up from Watson to Higgins at an early second. I believe that the early second round pick is highly overrated, as noted in “Don’t get caught in the middle – Why Rookie Second Round Picks Are Overrated”. This is a great opportunity to sell high on a rookie wide receiver that is drawing eerily similar stat comparisons to Chase Claypool’s rookie season. Higgins has already shown his upside on limited touchdowns. He is likely to score at a higher rate than Watson when touchdown regression is factored in.

RB: Buy Williams and Sell Walker

Walker is the 17th running back in PPG and the second dynasty-ranked running back. This is a massive 15-spot jump over his initial 17th dynasty running back ranking coming into the year. His PPG shoots up to 5th when we remove the games he played but didn’t start or was injured in. However, in those eight games, we see 9 touchdowns. There is likely some regression from there next year.

Additionally, the Seahawks have limited his role in the passing game. This was and remains a ceiling concern coming out of college. However, he was targeted 8 times in Week 10 and 5 times in a Week 15 performance. The upside may be there to expand his role in the passing game, which could boost his value further.

On the other side, Javonte missed nearly the entire year with an ACL and LCL tear. He now sits as the 12th dynasty-ranked running back, dropping eight spots from his fourth-place rank coming into the year. Javonte found himself in a dead-even timeshare with Gordon last year. Prior to his injury, he seemed to be trending to take over the job this year. However, the Broncos’ offense completely fell apart after his injury. The Broncos cut Gordon. They installed a merry-go-round of backs. And finally, they signed 32-year-old running back Murray to take over the lead-back role. With this backfield in shambles, Javonte is likely returning to one of the more exciting opportunities for a young running back. He also has a huge broken tackle rate, one of the more important metrics in differentiating backs.

KTC Pricing

While I love Walker, the idea of selling high is too tempting. The top of the position bounces around each year, and opportunity drives most of the value at this position. Just look at JT’s season outside of the injuries. KTC puts the delta between the two players at a late first-round rookie pick. To slide back to what is, in my estimation, a comparable player in many metrics, who is the same age and is also in a juicy situation next year, would be tough to pass up.

QB: Buy Watson and Sell Allen

It seems sacrilege to say to anyone Josh Allen is a sell candidate. The guy can win you weeks by himself, and I completely agree. The issue is the quarterback position has a ton of depth, and the floor at QB12 has steadily increased over the last 10-15 years. The added value of a top-tier quarterback is therefore shrinking. Players don’t typically repeat year in and year out at the very top. Mahomes has finished first once and has averaged about a third or fourth-place finish. Brees had back-to-back QB1 seasons way back in 2011 and 2012. But even his prime stretch run saw variation, where he averaged about a third or fourth finish in any given year. However, Rodgers went back-to-back as QB1 in 2009 and 2010 and followed that up with two years in a row of QB2.

Allen is the third quarterback in PPG and the first dynasty-ranked quarterback. Allen finds himself in very rarified air with a possibility to repeat as QB1 three years in a row. With the injury to Hurts, only Mahomes is left as a threat barring an injury to himself. However, Allen puts himself in more situations than most quarterbacks to get hurt to obtain those massive point totals. He seemingly seeks contact on his runs which is insane for any other quarterback. While I love the player, the position doesn’t seem to support such a lofty price unless you are in a very shallow league.

Watson missed all last year seeking a trade and most of this year with a suspension stemming from legal troubles. He now sits as the ninth dynasty-ranked quarterback, moving up one spot from his 10th-place rank coming into the year. Watson is currently 33rd in PPG at the position after a slow start. He has 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and a high of 276 passing yards. This is a far cry from the 2020 Watson, that threw 33 touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and passed for over 4800 yards (300+ per game). However, it’s still very early in his comeback. He has strong receivers around him and aging RBs that will be relied on less moving forward. Watson finished 5th from 2018 through 2020, which isn’t far from what Allen is achieving in PPG (about 1.5 in 2020).

KTC Pricing

While I can’t emphasize enough how much I love Allen, the idea of selling high is once again too tempting. As previously discussed, the top of the position just doesn’t derive as much value as it once did. The predictability of top performers has also fallen in recent years. Hurts will likely finish 1st in PPG after finishing 9th last year. Geno Smith had to fight off Lock to even start and now finds himself in 7th in PPG. KTC recommends that dropping down from Allen to Watson should yield an additional mid-1st, 2nd, and 3rd-round rookie pick. That’s an entire year worth of picks! The potential to have the fifth-best quarterback in the league next year and an entire year of picks to build around should overtake the value of Allen, as crazy as that may sound.

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