It’s been said over and over that dynasty fantasy football has some similarities to playing the stock market. Much of the game boils down to buying players at their cheapest, allowing them to mature in value, and then selling them when they are at their peak value. When it comes to this part of the game, timing is everything. Within that part of the game, I find nothing more satisfying than buying players for pennies and turning those meager investments into real hard assets for your long-term squad. For this article, I will highlight one player at each position whom I believe can be had for next to nothing here at the end of the season and who has a chance to see his value increase exponentially after the upcoming free agency. Without further ado, let us dive into this shortlist.
QB: Gardner Minshew
For my money, Gardner Minshew is one of the most interesting quarterbacks in the upcoming free-agent period. The former Washington State star has compiled some nice numbers across his four seasons in the league. He has a 3-1 touchdown to interception ratio. He boasts a QBR above 93% and has shown outstanding Moxy whenever called upon to play. You can see his career numbers below.
As far as free agency goes, Minshew brings some nice traits to the table for quarterback-needy teams. He is young, has adequate arm strength, and surprisingly decent mobility. Minshew will be looking for a situation that would allow him to start and attempt to lock down one of the coveted 32 NFL jobs. A couple of teams look like possibilities. In particular, the Saints and Cardinals.
The New Orleans Saints have been in a dire situation with their salary cap for the past several years. 2023 will be no different as the team currently sits at over 50 million dollars in the negative heading into the offseason.
They will surely clean up some of those numbers by making cuts and shifting money down the road. However, they are too over-mortgaged to lure an established free-agent quarterback within the class. They are also short on draft picks due to moving up in past drafts. The only signal caller on the roster is Jameis Winston, who got injured and lost his job to journeyman Andy Dalton. It’s not a stretch to see the team part with Jameis. Minshew would represent a low-cost option to come in on a potential two-year deal that could work for both sides. Minshew gets the playing time he desperately wants, and New Orleans gets a young quarterback at a cheaper rate.
While the Saints represent an excellent opportunity for Minshew to land a starting job, I think he will be the #1 target for the Arizona Cardinals to bridge the gap until Kyler Murray returns from injury. Minshew comes from the same college system as Kyler Murray. Minshew possesses all the qualities we covered earlier. He would get an extended audition to put on a show for the 2024 free agency.
From a dynasty perspective, Minshew is nearly free. He has spent the last couple of seasons as a backup in Philadelphia behind MVP candidate Jalen Hurts. When doing a search of the Dynasty Nerds Trade Browser, which tracks trades from actual leagues across the Sleeper platform, you find him going for somewhere around a third-round pick, as you can see from the examples below.
At that price, Minshew is a decent player to acquire now before free agency. The upcoming crop of free-agent quarterbacks is not very deep. Some teams will need to address the position, and only a handful of incoming rookies will fill those jobs. There is a decent chance that Minshew gets another shot. Check out a couple of Minshew’s nice throws from his time in Philly, and ask yourself if he deserves another shot.
Gardner Minshew in the first half— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) December 24, 2022
RB: Khalil Herbert
Khalil Herbert is a player who has slowly crept up people’s boards over the last couple of seasons. Selected in the 6th round out of Virginia Tech, the former Hokie has formed an excellent 1-2 punch with starter David Montgomery. In fact, Herbert has outperformed his much more heralded teammate. He has a robust yards-per-carry average and showcased homerun speed, as shown in his stats below.
Since arriving in Chicago, he has slowly forced his way onto the field at the expense of multi-year starter David Montgomery. Herbert has had some struggles in the passing game, particularly blitz pickup. However, he has made up for that fault by hitting big play after big play. You can see a couple of his highlights below.
Khalil Herbert nailing his audition to be the Bears starting RB in 2023.— Alfredo Brown (@ThePretendGM) September 25, 2022
JUSTIN FIELDS TO KHALIL HERBERT FOR A TOUCHDOWN! 🔥— Chicago Sports Zone (@thechisports) October 25, 2022
The main reason Herbert is an excellent stash is that starting running back David Montgomery will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The former Iowa State star posted a cryptic message on his Instagram, indicating that Week 18 was his last ride in Chicago. There is certainly a chance that Montgomery will come back to the Bears, as the team holds the most cap space in the league. David was also a locker room leader and formed a big piece of the #1 rushing attack in the league. It may actually be better for Herbert if Montgomery is brought back to tag team with him in 2023.
Despite being an obvious breakout candidate, Herbert still carries a reasonable price tag. I found him being moved for as little as a second-round draft pick in the Dynasty Nerds Trade Browser. I would be more than willing to pay that price for a player primed for a major bump in touches next season.
The Bears are almost certain to bring in a significant presence in the running back room. Whether or not they bring back Montgomery, another free agent, or a draft pick, they will have to replace Monty. Herbert has certainly done enough to claim a share of a committee at a minimum. That is all you can ask for in today’s NFL. Very few running backs still shoulder workhorse workloads. Do yourself a favor and pick up Herbert where you can, as he is sure to be a strong flex play at a minimum with the upside of a high-end RB2 at a reasonable price.
WR: D.J. Chark
In what appears to be an extremely thin free-agent wide receiver class, D.J. Chark finds himself at or near the top of the heap. The former Jacksonville Jaguars 2nd round pick spent 2022 in Detroit attempting to rehab his value after a disastrous final season in Duval. He was one of the many players Urban Meyer tanked in his lone season in the NFL.
In Detroit, Chark dealt with several nagging injuries that caused him to miss some games. Despite his limited playing sample, he flashed the immense potential that helped him become a 1,000-yard receiver in 2019. In fact, down the stretch in 2022, Chark began to click with quarterback Jared Goff putting up several high-quality games. Like his time in Jacksonville, Chark was a big play waiting to happen. Plays like the ones you see below. Note that he beats All-Pro Corner Darius Slay of the Eagles on the first score.
Jared Goff with a PEARL to DJ Chark for the TD as the Lions (-2.5) take a 14-7 lead over the Vikings in the 2nd quarter 🦁— BetMGM 🦁 (@BetMGM) December 11, 2022
Chark +250 anytime TD ✅pic.twitter.com/GK04EOAjdN
At 6’4, 200 lbs. D.J. Chark is the prototype outside receiver. His 4.34 speed and 40-inch vertical make him a rare athlete at any level. Plenty of teams around the league will be looking for help at the receiving position around the NFL. With such a razor-thin class of free agent receivers available, Chark is positioned to cash in on his talent with a nice contract. This should mean good things for his dynasty outlook.
As with the other players on this list, Chark will come at a discount in your dynasty leagues. When searching in the Dynasty Nerds Trade Browser, you can see him going for as little as a third-round pick.
At such a small price tag, now is the time to jump on Chark before he signs in free agency. He is one of the few available players to have a 1,000-yard season on his resume. He is big, fast, and highly motivated. There is a chance that Detroit will attempt to re-sign him, but with last year’s first-round pick Jameson Williams now healthy, it’s hard to see them investing in the position. Chark is an excellent buy and stash, in my opinion.
TE: Mike Gesicki
Mike Gesicki is one of the most athletic players in the entire NFL. When he came out of Penn State four years ago, he absolutely blew away the NFL combine. Except for Kyle Pitts and Vernon Davis, no tight end has ever put up this type of athletic profile. You can see his insane numbers below.
During his first four seasons in Miami, Mike Gesicki displayed his insane athleticism and progressively got better every season. Then, in 2022, the hiring of Mike McDaniel spelled the end of Mike’s time with the Dolphins. To be sure, he played for the team in 2022 under the franchise tag. However, McDaniel’s system did not use the tight end position and forced Gesicki into an ancillary role within the offense. You can see from his numbers below how he got better every season until last year’s disappearance.
Gesicki heads into unrestricted free agency. He has a nice portfolio to offer a potential suitor as an athletic pass-catching tight end. Gesicki also has the benefit of heading into a free-agent class that is shallow at both wide receiver and tight end. He offers the highest upside of any pass catcher in the free-agent group. He will likely end up as one of the top-paid players at the position on a team that plans to highlight his unique skill set. You can see some of the types of plays he can make below.
#dolphins TE mike gesicki is currently third among all NFL tight ends in receptions (44), fourth in yards (529), and targets (63). gesicki has two touchdowns on the year and has proven time and time again, he is one of the best pass-catching TEs in all of football. #paytheman pic.twitter.com/k9cXnwCrE6— josh houtz (@houtz) November 8, 2021
As with anything in dynasty, it all comes down to price. What is the cost/benefit analysis of acquiring Mike Gesicki for your dynasty rosters? Due to coming off such a poor season, His price has come down significantly. In the Dynasty Nerds Trade Browser, you find multiple trades where he was acquired for as little as a third-round pick.
At this price, why would you not acquire Gesicki for your dynasty team? He offers top-five upside at his position. Gesicki will be heading to a new team that plans to give him a significant role in their offense. He is one of the few players to offer his skill at his price. Do yourself a favor and grab Gesicki before the free-agent hype starts to build.
Dynasty fantasy football is like most aspects of life. Timing is everything. Nothing is better than buying low on a player before his value explodes. This is one of the many ways to build a championship team in your leagues. You have heard Rich, Matt, and Garret make the point multiple times that what looks like an overpay today can look like a bargain tomorrow. These are just a few players I believe have an excellent chance to see a drastic rise in value next season, depending on how free agency and the draft play out.
There are many other players out there in similar situations. Stick to your convictions as an owner. If you like a player or believe his situation will improve, go out and get your guy. Not all of these players will pan out, but they are well worth the gamble at their current price. The offseason is the most important time of the year when it comes to crafting dynasty winners. But then again, you already knew that because you are here at DynastyNerds.com. Until next time, happy scouting and drafting season.
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