The Art of the Rebuild: Part 1 (Selling Off Assets)

By Alex McCarthy
Alex McCarthy If you’re anything like me, your 2017 dynasty season hasn’t gone exactly as planned. I lost my WR2 and WR3 (Julian Edelman and Cam Meredith) to injury before the season even started and watched for the first few weeks as my WR1 and WR4 (Julio Jones and Sammy Watkins) both struggled (as they are wont to do) with consistency. A few lucky wins allowed me to delude myself into believing I might still have a playoff squad, but after a Week 5 drubbing I could see the writing on the wall and decided to be the first team in my league to sell out for next year.

While no one likes to acknowledge that their season has gone down the toilet, there is much to be gained from being the first team to throw in the towel. If your league determines draft order for non-playoff teams by potential points (as I feel all leagues should), you get an automatic head start in the race to the bottom (which this year will in all likelihood be the Sprint for Saquon). To help you win that race and increase the value of your team in doing so, I have broken down my rebuild strategies into two parts- who to buy and who to sell. In Part 1 we will be discussing who to sell, as well as why I advise doing so. To view Part 2 of this article (who to buy), click here.

Players with only 1-2 productive seasons left: If you don’t feel you can compete this year (or possibly next), it goes without saying that you’re going to want to sell off players who will be retired by the time you feel you can compete. There are a lot of productive veterans that can be sold for a profit to contending teams, my favorites of which I’ve listed below.

Larry Fitzgerald: Fitz is still lighting it up as the overall WR4 in PPR at the ripe old age of thirty-four, but he is highly unlikely to help a currently rebuilding team compete in the future; he could potentially fetch as high as a projected late first from a WR-needy contender so if you’re lucky enough to have him, shop around

Jordy Nelson: The shine is off the apple a bit with Rodgers out for at least eight weeks, but he could be back by week 14 meaning that Nelson could be his old self for the fantasy playoffs; see if you can convince another owner of that and get a projected late first if possible

Pierre Garcon: Garcon was a great buy-low coming into the season and is currently paying off with a quiet WR19 performance thus far, making him a great sell as a WR2 rental to a competitor in need

Michael Crabtree: Crabtree is the youngest WR on this list (he just turned thirty), but if you’re looking at a two-year rebuild he is a great sell right now as he is currently averaging a TD per game and is unlikely to maintain that pace (meaning he belongs in my next category as well)

LeSean McCoy: McCoy might be a bit of a hard sell right now since he hasn’t been scoring, but the high-volume rushing attack of the Bills means he will always be a high-end RB2 at best (and his trade value should increase if he scores this week)

DeMarco Murray: Like McCoy, Murray could be a bit of a hard sell at the moment and it may be worth waiting for his next big game to move him, but his talent and historical production should fetch a good price from a competitor regardless

Frank Gore: I am well aware that including Gore on this list means he will probably play until the the NFL is shut down by lawsuits in thirty years, but generally speaking thirty-four year old RBs don’t have much left in the tank; shop him around to RB-needy teams for the best offer

LeGarrette Blount: Blount hasn’t been getting as much usage as hoped but has played well when given the opportunity, and like Gore represents a solid RB2 option to one of what is sure to be any number of RB-desperate teams down the stretch

Delanie Walker: Though only TE9 at the moment, Walker is still the target Mariota trusts most and is due for some TD regression soon as he has yet to score this year; once he notches that first endzone trip he could be in demand from teams in need of a TE upgrade

Tom Brady: As with Gore, I realize that including Brady on this list is tempting fate and after you trade him he will have two more MVP seasons… but still, the man is on the wrong side of forty; an otherwise stacked team with QB needs could be convinced to overpay, so test the market and see what you can get

Players performing at an unsustainable level: This (admittedly somewhat subjective) category consists of players who are performing well, but whose performance has been dependent on factors that are either volatile (like touchdowns) or impermanent (like an injury to a more talented teammate at the same position). You’re going to want to get rid of players like this before they have the opportunity to regress to the mean, so I would be selling off the following players as quickly as possible.

Chris Hogan: Hogan has excelled in the absence of the entire rest of the Patriots WR corps, but his WR9 overall performance says more about Tom Brady and a lack of other options than it does about his talent; sell him before his more talented teammates regain their health and he returns to his usual WR3/4 numbers

Will Fuller: Despite being WR5 in PPG so far (he has played three games), Fuller also has five touchdowns on only eight receptions… like last year, his small hands and lack of route variation will catch up to him and owners will end up wishing they sold high now

Jermaine Kearse: Despite some inconsistency, a big two TD week and a few other big plays has Kearse currently sitting at WR23 overall; he plays Cleveland this week which should give him a great opportunity to up his value one last time before you sell

Chris Thompson: The rise of Chris Thompson has had a lot to do with the lack of chemistry between Kirk Cousins and his WRs, but as that potentially (looking at you, Josh Doctson) he could lose some of the receiving volume that has fueled his unsustainable performance up to now; see if you can find someone who views him as a legitimate long-term RB2 and sell while his stock is high

Cameron Brate: Brate has been the guy to own in fantasy thus far among Bucs tight ends, but the presence of the developing OJ Howard looms large; see if you can sell Brate and his 4 TDs now while he is at peak value

Middle-tier RBs: If you look at the fantasy scoring results for the past decade or so, you’ll notice quickly that the “middle tier” running backs (those ranked positionally between 13-26) are constantly in flux and rarely feature the same names more than two years in a row. This tells us that, generally speaking, it is unwise to depend on any but the truly elite RBs to maintain their performance in the long-term future. If you are in a rebuild, this means that you are going to either want to package those sorts of players for a stud or sell them for picks or players that have elite potential. Some noted “middle-tier” running backs who have performed well recently and could fetch a good price are listed below.

Carlos Hyde: Hyde has had a very strong season so far as RB6, but the presence of Matt Breida and his propensity for injury mean I don’t see him maintaining these sorts of numbers over any long period of time; try and sell him as a low-end RB1 based on talent and current production, but even if you can only get RB2 prices he is not a player I would carry into a rebuild

Lamar Miller: Miller has been an extremely consistent RB2 this season and should be valued as such, but he is getting up there in years for an RB and has never been particularly resilient (not to mention that D’Onta Foreman has looked good in relief); if you can find someone to give you true RB2 value, take it walking away

Mark Ingram: In addition to the usual struggles with volume (thank you Sean Payton), Ingram also now has to worry about the rise of young Alvin Kamara; sell now on the strength of a big day against the Lions, as Ingram could be seeing a loss of volume and consequently value in the near future

C.J. Anderson: He is trending down at the moment, but Anderson has shown enough that many owners still view him as a solid RB2 and will pay accordingly; do your best to make this happen, as I don’t trust that CJ will be able to maintain his value in the long term

James White: All I really need to say about White is that while he’s a talented football player, he is also a Patriots RB and god knows who Belichick will have at that position in a year (let alone two); sell while his value is in a good place

Now you know who on your squad you should be looking to get rid of, but who should you be trying to trade them for? Find out in Part 2 of The Art of the Rebuild, where we discuss what players can help return you to fantasy glory.