News & Analysis

Trade value, Week 15: Dynasty approaches to WRs

Dec 10, 2017; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Dede Westbrook (12) reacts after making a first down against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Our season-long trade value chart is no long pertinent, so we’ve shifted gears and are now focused on dynasty trade strategies. We first looked at dynasty approaches to trading quarterbacks, and then we moved on to running backs. This week’s column takes a look at trading wideouts in dynasty leagues.

We’ll overview some strategies you should keep in mind when a wide receiver is involved in a dynasty league trade.

I’ll also use some real-life examples from the PFF Fantasy dynasty league, which features both current and former staff members.

Dynasty wide receivers: Take advantage of the ‘Year 3 breakout’ myth

As my study during the 2017 offseason showed, young wideouts generally see their true “breakout” season in Year 2 — not Year 3.

Obviously, there are exceptions (Devin Funchess is currently enjoying a Year 3 breakout, as is Nelson Agholor), but the data show that Year 2 is when young wideouts see the biggest improvement year-over-year. They continue to improve going into Year 3, but from a dynasty perspective, their price will have skyrocketed after their big Year 2.

Why does this matter? You can take advantage of the sorta-myth that wideouts don’t break out until Year 3 by buying low on rookie receivers either during or immediately after their rookie seasons. That way they’ll be on your roster during their Year 2 breakout.

Take a million shots

There are about 5-6 wideouts on an NFL team, meaning there are about 175 or so wideouts every year. Hitting big on a Julio Jones or Antonio Brown is obviously the gold standard, but there are plenty of non-All Pros who can still make your dynasty team click for years to come.

Assuming you’re able to secure 3-4 viable weekly starters, depending on how deep your benches are, there’s no reason not to throw a ton of darts at this position. Scour a team’s depth chart. Are they grooming a slot man? Is their quarterback young, and likely to have his training wheels taken off in a year or two? How much of an athletic freak is that team’s No. 6 wideout buried on the depth chart?

The advice: Think like an actual NFL coach. Your dynasty team should have a handful of different types of receivers. The prototypical No. 1. The deep threat. The slot man. The athletic freak who could be the prototypical No. 1. The slot man’s backup. These players can sometimes be extremely cheap to trade for, especially if they are currently buried on the depth chart. It doesn’t take long for them to rise.

The preseason gives you actual clues

Contrary to what you may hear, the preseason actually does matter. Especially for evaluating wideouts from a dynasty perspective.

If you paid attention to preseason football in years past, then Robby Anderson’s breakout season in 2017 would be no surprise. Neither would Dede Westbrook’s rise in recent weeks.

The advice: Before the preseason begins, buy low on players who did well in last year’s preseason, but who might not have done much during the actual season. Odds are good that this player will be a preseason stud again, and their price will become overinflated at this point. You’re just taking a bet on their talent.

Some real-life trades:

Here is a big trade that went down last summer involving a wide receiver in the PFF Fantasy Friends and Family League this year:

This is a blockbuster-type trade. Hopkins was coming off a down year and staring at a 2017 campaign with Tom Savage and a (then-unproven) rookie quarterback at the helm. But Team 2 was betting on his overall talent. Lynch has been decent this year, and Round 1 and Round 2 rookie picks are obviously valuable, but Hopkins is having a league-winning type season, so this seems like a win all around. The bet on talent is paying off, and the price wasn’t too high.

Here’s another trade that took place in the middle of the 2017 season:

This trade is obviously not a blockbuster, and it looks boring on the surface, but I’m including it here because it neatly wraps up some of our talking points from above.

For example, Butler is the exact kind of preseason performer who clearly has untapped potential. He’s not Dallas’ No. 2 right now, but all signs point to him being better than Terrance Williams.

Williams is a totally unproven player, but he’s in his rookie year and he’s on a team with aging and sporadically productive wideouts. His big shot could come in Year 2.

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