By: Corey Hietpas
Dynasty leagues are now approaching the inevitable “panic because of rookies” stage in the offseason. I admit it’s hard not to worry about veteran players’ roles in their offenses with exciting rookies joining teams, but we know that most of these rookies will not pan out. Knowing this, do not fall victim to this panic stage. Instead, why not take advantage of the discount on established veteran players that have an incoming rookie joining their team? To help you do this, I have compiled a list of my 4 favorite buy-low targets for dynasty leagues right now, one for each major position.
- Tee Higgins, WR Cincinnati Bengals
- Higgins had himself an amazing rookie year as he collected 67 receptions, 908 receiving yards, and 6 TDs from 108 targets. That was good enough for WR28 in PPR leagues. As a rookie, that is crazy good, and also keep in mind Joe Burrow was injured during their week 11 matchup and didn’t play the rest of the season. Higgins would definitely have finished as a mid-WR2 or better if Burrow played the whole season. Another reason Higgins’s rookie year doesn’t get as much love as it should is due to Justin Jefferson and Ceedee Lamb also having insane rookie years. Any other year and Higgins would have been touted just as much as those other two were in 2020. Fast forward to today, the Bengals opted to draft Ja’Marr Chase over OL help, and the dynasty world is ready to leave Higgins for dead. I say that is 100% the wrong choice. Yes, Ja’Marr Chase will command plenty of targets, but the Bengals are a pass-heavy team and likely to be playing from behind as their young core continues to develop. Now, add Joe Burrow, hopefully, staying healthy for the full season and a better offensive line, and you’ll get more sustained drives and TD opportunities for the offense. Oh, Higgins will also have a full season and pre-season, which he didn’t get last year, with the team, and he has an invaluable established connection with Burrow. I’d be very surprised if Higgins didn’t surpass his targets, receptions, and yards from 2020. My trade suggestion would be to offer a late 2021 1st or 2 2nd round rookie picks for Higgins. I would be perfectly fine going as high as a mid 1st round pick in 1 QB leagues depending on your team needs.
- James Robinson, RB Jacksonville Jaguars
- What a ride for James Robinson in 2020. From an undrafted rookie to a 1,000-yard rusher. Robinson’s 2020 season was historic, and the Jaguars decided to reward him by drafting a replacement with the 25th pick just a few days ago. This was a well-known potential outcome as NFL teams continue to weigh draft capital way too much when making roster decisions. Robinson showed he is one of the better runners in the league, but because he was undrafted, the team acts as if they have no real ties to him. We see this all the time, and it is an inefficient process if you ask me. Anyway, with the addition of Etienne, a lot of dynasty players with James Robinson on their roster are way down on him and happy to get any return they can for him. I say jump on this discount for Robinson. It would be foolish to expect another 1,000 rushing yard season, but Robinson is still a really good RB who could be traded at any second. Even if he isn’t traded, he is still going to get his fair share of carries due to Etienne being more talented in the receiving game versus running between the tackles. Even Urban Meyer said he expected a split between Robinson and Carlos Hyde with Etienne being the 3rd-down back. I don’t fully believe that the Jaguars will only use Etienne as a 3rd-down back, but this bodes well for Robinson getting opportunities. Hyde is a mediocre talent and Robinson will beat him out for most of the early-down carries. As for a trade offer, I’d offer a mid or late 2021 2nd round rookie pick and feel really good about the trade if it were accepted.
- Hayden Hurst, TE Atlanta Falcons
- With Arthur Smith’s love of 2-TE sets, the Falcons wisely decided they needed TE help. As a result, Atlanta drafted Kyle Pitts at 4 overall in the 2021 draft and immediately upgraded the position in a major way. Pitts is considered to be the best TE prospects in NFL history, and that is for good reason. While Pitts steps in as the TE1 for Atlanta day one, Hayden Hurst will still get plenty of reps and opportunities for targets in Arthur Smith’s offense. Hurst finished 2020 with a career-best of 56 receptions, 571 receiving yards, and 6 TDs on his way to a TE9 finish in PPR leagues. No, this is not an overwhelming stat line, but it is very solid for a TE in fantasy. I do not expect this good of a season from Hurst now that Pitts is there, but Hurst could still provide TE2 fantasy value in a high-powered Falcons offense. Another recent development is that the Falcons opted to not pick up Hurst’s fifth-year option, meaning he will be a free agent after 2021. I think this is a very good thing for Hurst as I believe he has shown enough to be considered a starting TE by NFL teams. I view it as very likely that Hurst gets picked up to be the starter for a new team in 2022, leading to a large rise in value. If you can stomach a less than stellar outlook for 2021, I suggest sending an offer of an early 2021 3rd round rookie pick for Hurst and reaping the rewards later. Dynasty is a long-term game after all.
- Jimmy Garoppolo, QB San Francisco 49ers
- Seeing the obvious need for a QB upgrade, the 49ers elected to draft Trey Lance with the 3rd overall pick in the 2021 draft. I think this was a great choice for them. Garoppolo hasn’t “shined” while there, but he could still be a good veteran mentor for a young, raw prospect, which Lance is. While this means that Garoppolo is out of a starting job very soon, I see value to be had in a trade for him. No, he is not an elite talent, but he is a solid top 20 option for an NFL team looking for a bridge option or an upgrade over their current situation. There are still plenty of NFL teams that need a better QB, and I believe that Garoppolo will end up on one of those teams via trade shortly. For fantasy, trading for Garoppolo is a lot more enticing in a Superflex league as he is a very solid QB2, but he still has value as a fill-in for bye weeks or injuries in a 1 QB league. I would be comfortable sending a late 2021 3rd round pick in 1 QB leagues and a late 2021 2nd round rookie pick in Superflex leagues.
The draft creates many of these “buy low” opportunities in dynasty leagues. These four happen to be a few of my favorite players to target right now, but I’m always looking for these opportunities. I suggest not falling victim to panicking and selling your vets low because of rookie fever, and instead, benefiting from other league-mates falling into this trap. Happy trade hunting!