Dynasty league mailbag: Rebuild targets, future draft picks, Kenneth Walker’s trade value and more

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Note: This originally ran as a live Q&A; the answers and advice were so great, we decided to turn it into a column. Enjoy!

What picks in the upcoming rookie drafts (2023, 2024, 2025) should I be looking to acquire? -Mendy C.

That’s a bit open ended there and the easy answer is “as high as you can get.”  But all kidding aside, this is really dependent on whether you are competitive now or in full rebuild. I never like to suggest trading away production now for draft picks beyond the next year (2024 & 2025). There’s always time to flip players for draft assets but, at the same time, you need veteran production to make a run in the playoffs. Don’t try to do it all with only draft picks. Draft player bust ratio starts ramping up at 1.03 depending on the depth of the class. As a general rule, if you’re rebuilding look to acquire at least two first rounders to maximize your trade-up potential should you need to move up to secure a coveted player.

Where do you have Javonte Williams for dynasty post knee? -Zak H.

I don’t hold an ACL against younger running backs like I would a veteran. Williams is still only 22 and next year Melvin Gordon will be out of the picture and, as long as Williams has no setbacks in his recovery, he should be back and at nearly full health by week six of 2023 or so. It’s a good buy-low opportunity in my mind and I have dropped his ranking to my RB8.

What do you think of Gabe Davis long-term? Is he a good boom-or-bust WR3 to keep around, or should teams be trying to trade him after his next good game? And for what kind of value? – Erik K

I’m still a big fan of Davis’ game though I do expect him to remain inconsistent in that offense. He’s extremely young (23) for playing in his third year, possesses great size, and has a long runway to even greater production. His current DLF trade value is pegged in the middle of the first-round and I don’t think that’s far off. When surveying the 2023 draft I see solid potential to the middle of the first round and then a lot of risk. This is where a player like Davis can be valuable. If I’m a competitive team looking for receiver depth, I’d be more than willing to trade a projected back-third first-round 2023 pick in return for Davis.

I’m rebuilding, but hoping to compete next year. What players on other teams should I look to acquire as I sell off veterans? Injured RBs (Breece Hall, Javonte Williams)? Underperforming young receivers (London, Burks, Pitts)?

When rebuilding I’m always wanting to maximize my return by looking for good young assets who may be losing value, the key is not to over pay. To than end, I like players with sell-side catalysts who have a real opportunity to bounce back:  Breece Hall (ACL), Javonte Williams (ACL), Elijah Moore (role), Alexander Mattison (2023 FA), Kahlil Herbert (role), Jerry Jeudy, Kyle Pitts, Terrace Marshall and maybe even out-of-favor players such as Josh Jacobs, D’Andre Swift and David Montgomery. Some lower price acquisitions such as Kadarius Toney, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Zamir White, Eno Benjamin and Jakobi Meyers have real upside with attached value.

Is there any reason to keep Cam Akers at this point? I held him with the possibility of a trade away from LA but since that didn’t happen, does he have any value going forward? -Alex P

This is really a function of how deep your league is. I think it’s too early to give up on Akers. Many believe his issues are related to his Achilles which I don’t think is the case. He was very productive in the post season for the Rams in 2021, just a few months out from his injury. When looking at the Rams, they are getting no performance from any player outside of Cooper Kupp. If you roster more than 22 players, I think Akers can be rostered for another year while we see the situation play out. That said, I want nothing to do with Sean McVay running backs.

How do leagues handle a team tanking in dynasty? -Brian G.

There’s a big difference between “tanking” and “strategic distribution.” Tanking involves a coach not playing his/her best roster each week for the purpose of obtaining a higher draft pick. This cannot be tolerated and needs to be handled quickly and directly including potential penalty. The commissioner should serve as the watchdog when tanking is suspected. However, strategic distribution of players to obtain draft picks is perfectly legal and a worthwhile. As I always say:  Be the best or be the worst, don’t be mediocre. Trading away productive older talent in return for younger players and draft selection assets is a viable, and suggested, strategy.

Is DJ Moore a sell high? Should I be looking to get a 2023 or 2024 1st for him? -Jon T.

Moore continues to be a popular trade target as we enter 2022 mid-season. I’ve routinely seen him being swapped for back-third projected 2023 first-round draft selections. His current DLF Trade Analyzer value pegs his value as a 2023 middle-first draft pick and, in my view, that’s on the high side. I prefer acquire him in return for the 1.09, give or take.

1 QB non SF 8 team league PPR 2 WR 2 flex spots. Someone offered Jackson and 2023 2nd round pick for AJB. Currently have Cousins as QB and Kupp, Lamb, Higgins, Gabe Davis, M Williams and G Wilson as other WR picks. -Thomas B.

In a 1QB league, that would be too light in my opinion but it’s a good starting offer. Jackson could carry late-first draft pick value, even in a single-quarterback format but if I’m trading away one of the top receivers in dynasty, who is still only 25, I’m looking for something much higher than a late-first in return, even with the second-round compensation thrown in.

What do I do with Michael Carter? What’s his worth with long term? -Tae S.

 As we all know, Carter’s value was torpedoed when the Jets selected Breece Hall. I still believe Carter has value but not nearly what it was prior to Hall’s selection. His current value sits as a mid-second 2023 draft selection and that’s about right in my book. He’s best as a handcuff to Hall but he remains young, has shown he has borderline carry-the-load potential and while I wouldn’t acquire him to be a weekly starting asset, I’d acquire and hold for his next contract and as a bye-week fill-in as needed beyond 2022. He has good value for the remainder of 2022.

Jahmyr Gibbs plus what would be a fair trade for Kenneth Walker III? -Brooke M. 

Ah, a good ol’ devy league trade. I believe Gibbs is going to carry too much premium prior to the 2023 NFL Draft due to unknown drafted situation. Players like Gibbs, especially in the current-day NFL which has seen the value of the position plummet in recent years, are doomed to be a risk-on bet until we hear his name called. The real question is how your trade partner sees Gibbs vs. Walker. I’d start with an offer of Gibbs and a 2023 2nd though I would expect that to be declined. You’re going to likely need Gibbs + a 2023 first to start the conversation.

Is Michael Pittman worth pursuing & what would be fair compensation to give up being that his value has plummeted this year? -Ron H.

Checking the DLF trade analyzer, Pittman is still carrying a top-third 2023 rookie draft pick value though is dropping. I’m not comfortable paying that high a price and would be more inclined to move him for a draft pick in the 1.07 range given his age, size and role. I suspect he’ll be better in the future when the Colts address their quarterback situation. For that reason, he’s too risk-on for me to acquire at his current value.

Dynasty .5 PPR non-SF league, year 2 or the league, top contender. I haven’t seen/read much on strategy as a contender – how “all in” should I go? Traded Tee for Kelce and Mixon + a first for CMC to add to Chase, Diggs, Chubb, Lenny, Jameson (fingers crossed), Kyler. With Chase out i may have to use my last 1st rounder remaining on another flex piece. It’s an early to mid 2024 first – thinking about flipping for Cooper. Thoughts on if this is too aggressive? -William F.

You will get a different answer for each coach you ask this to as it’s highly dependent on style. Once you reach the playoffs, anything can happen and usually does. For that reason, I don’t like sell many of my future picks to load up even more production. I much prefer to allow what has gotten me to the playoffs to continue to work while spot-addressing areas of deficit. Looking at your team, as long as you are competitive and playoff bound, I’d rather sit on my hands, keep my future draft picks, and wait for Chase to return just in time for the playoff run. While Cooper is a good asset, I have a hard time seeing him being the difference in a championship run.

I’d like to acquire Lamar in Superflex from a tanking team; I’ll be building the package around Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence + what = Lamar? -Tanner P.

That will be very coach dependent. When competitive, I like to move my draft picks as they project to late in each round. Start there and see how your trade target responds before adding further compensation.

Two questions. First, who is someone that was highly touted entering the league, but has underperformed so far, but you still believe will be a star? Second, next years draft, am I better off with 2 third rounders, or should I move for one second rounder (is this a deep draft or too heavy)? -Ryan G.

At receiver is DeVonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy and, given his recent trade, Kadarius Toney is very intriguing. The second part of your question depends on how far up you could move. I love using my second-round rookie selections for developmental quarterback talent and that usually requires a pick somewhere around 2.03 in a 12-team league. If you can get into the 2.03 – 2.05 range, I’d do it but I don’t see that being enough. Generally speaking, if I’m going to move two third-round picks, I want to get into the top-half of the second-round.

How many draft picks is too many draft picks? I’m rebuilding, with 0 1st, 4 2nd, 4 3rd this year and 2 1st 2 2nd 1 3rd next year. Should I be looking to use some of that draft capital to go for a proven commodity or try and cast a wide net with all those picks. -Kellen S.

I love to have as many draft picks as possible when rebuilding BUT with a significant footnote. I will seek to flip draft picks for productive young players whenever possible and allow other coaches to take the risk with drafting. I just completed a trade which netted two first round picks, currently the 1.01 and 1.04 while I also have my own first, probably 1.03. I’m also looking to acquire one more mid-to-late first. I will take offers on all of them but would like consider trading the 1.04 and the later first. The key here is to seek moving pick assets just prior to the NFL Draft when hype and excitement is at its highest. I’m a “known vs. unknown” coach and I strongly favor well known young talent over unknown.

Traded away two projected late firsts and a late second next year for a top 4 pick. I still have another first. Do u think that was too much? One of the firsts and the 2nd i traded is looking like it could be the last pick of the 1st and 2nd rounds. -Andrew C.

Trading for projected picks is always tricky and I’ve seen some crazy things happen which leaves coaches unhappy. That said, while it’s a little rich in my book, it’s not out of the question, especially if you’re targeting a particular player. It’s not uncommon to have three or four first-tier rookie players in the draft and if that occurs in 2023, I’d prefer to have the higher tier player and lesser draft picks. It also puts you in range of being able to offer the other first to move up from 1.04 to the 1.01 if desired.

What would your strategy be for a 12 team PPR non-SF league at the QB position? I have Dak Prescott and Trey Lance which I feel like is good enough but I still don’t feel great about it. How would you value non-premium positions on a rebuilding team? -Hunter L.

My strategy is to always have a top 6-8 quarterback and an upside developmental prospect like Lance. Then, I like to have a solid veteran QB2 to rotate in as needed. I would not go overboard at QB with what you currently have but would seek to add a veteran for a  third-round rookie pick. A veteran such as Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins, Matt Stafford, etc. helps anchor your production while you build out below.

Would you still build around guys like J.K. Dobbins/Swift with their injury history this early in their careers? -Steve J.

The key word here is “build around.” And unfortunately I have to say no. Injury history is extremely difficult to forecast and while I believe Dobbins and Swift are superior running back talents and should have a long career ahead, it doesn’t mean I trust them enough to make them cornerstone pieces at this point. If I’m rebuilding, I would prefer to have a more solid RB1 in front of them if at all possible. Or, better yet, let other coaches draft them ahead of me while I look to receiver instead.

12 team, superflex league with Josh Allen, Tom Brady and Rodgers… I am slim at running back. Record is about to be 3-7, what should I trade Allen for – in terms of future picks next year? A guy offered me a potential draft pick, with either Dameon Pierce, Jamar Chase or etteine all of which could be a keeper. But only one of them. -Christopher C.

Funny you mention this trade as I have a superflex team exactly in the same boat as you and now with the same record. I had Josh Allen and Zach Wilson. I received interest in Allen and ended up trading him for the projected 1.01, 1.04, Miles Sanders, Juju Smith-Schuster and Terrace Marshall. It was more than I thought I could get. So there’s your measuring stick though the other coach VERY badly wanted Allen and overpaid for him. I think Allen is worth two high first-round picks and another player like Sanders or Smith-Schuster.

3 keeper PPR league. Who would you keep? Hopkins. AJ Brown. Walker III. Chubb. Chase. -Trevor P.

In order, my choice would be Chase, Brown and Walker. Hate not keeping Chubb but I’ve seen enough with Walker to really like his potential and his youth is hard to pass up here.

What’s a decent return or trade target on trading away 4NET in 1/2 ppr? -Kevin H.

Given his current production, you’ll be hard pressed to get anything other than a high second-round pick in return. I would target players like Gabriel Davis, DeVonta Smith, David Montgomery, Alexander Mattison, Khalil Herbert, etc.

Value for Hockenson in draft picks? I have Dolcich and Likely at TE in 2QB, PPR. -Ron A.

I think you should be shooting for a 2023 bottom-third first-round selection for Hockenson. He’s already proven he can be productive in Minnesota, he’s still young and he’s a premium tight end.

In a Dynasty Superflex league, how should I be structuring my QB room? More specifically, how many young dart throws should I have to back up a pair of viable weekly starts? Adam N. 

Everyone has their own style but in superflex formats I’ve found that the best way to be competitive is to have two top-14 quarterbacks if at all possible. This usually equates to a young top-eight name plus a veteran (Cousins, Stafford, Carr, etc.) and then I like to add a developmental starter/rookie behind those two as well as a fading starter who is young but struggling, but potentially with a new situation ahead. Names such as Daniel Jones, Baker Mayfield, Geno Smith, etc. The fourth QB name can be more of a dart-throw. In new superflex leagues, I was selecting a lot of Jones and Mayfield.

Keep 4 standard league: Herbert, Ceedee, Walker, Mixon, D Pierce -Damon M.

In a standard scoring league, I’ll keep all three of the running backs and then probably Herbert depending on how many quarterbacks are being kept. I just don’t see Lamb as such a difference making receiver at this point to warrant keeping him over a top option like Herbert.

Is it a bad idea to move Kenneth Walker plus some and acquire Ceedee and DJ Moore. I own what most likely will be two of the top three picks, so hoping Bijan and Gibbs on a rebuilding team but have a chance to compete next year? -Jesse D.

I can’t say it’s a “bad” idea but I can’t say it’s something I’d do either, especially with Moore as one of the pieces. The issue is that you never know where rookie running backs will fall. Take a look what happened recently with the monster 2020 running back draft with Edwards-Helaire, Taylor, Swift, Dobbins and Akers. Now mix in 2021’s Najee Harris and Javonte Williams. How many of those backs would you be excited to have as cornerstone pieces on your team? In your case, you have Walker on a run-first team who is showing huge value. I don’t trade that away so quickly. I’d much rather hold Walker, pair him with Robinson and then look to trade that remaining pick for a proven upside receiver like Higgins, Lamb, Waddle, etc.

Pitts manager, I acquired Waller before his injury to replace Pitts in my lineup and Dulcich has been outplaying both of them. Is it really feasible to ride the rookie ROS? Or do I pivot back to Waller as soon as he’s healthy? -Matthew B.

At tight end, I ride whoever is producing and don’t get caught up in hype or expectation. I allow Twitter to do that and then I swoop in with my objectivity hat on and snipe value. Same thing when I’m choosing who to start/sit. I don’t worry about the “he has to have a big game soon” talk, especially at TE. For me it’s a “what have you done for me lately” affair and if a player is producing routinely, he’s in for me.

Better value for 2023: Zeke, Pollard or Cordarelle Patterson? -Matthew E.

 At this point, it has to be Pollard. Patterson may or may not be back with Atlanta next year and the same goes for Zeke who looks much slower than he once was. Pollard has fresher legs and showed it but that should score him a bigger workload in ’23 and I’ll take him over the other two as a building block.

This off-season (after I hopefully repeat) what should I reasonably ask for to trade Austin Ekeler in a 2 QB 4 keeper 12 team league? My keepers would be Murray Lawrence Brown (and Ekeler): maybe Shultz or Rhamondre are other keeper options : for either or players draft picks? Or just “run” with him again? -Joshua K.

I don’t think you have to be in a hurry to trade him if you are competitive and happen to repeat. You can always float him for offers but when I find a top back who is producing and leading me to championships, I don’t feel the need to sell him off my team for compensation to get younger. Sure, it would be nice to have both but when it comes down to it I’ll take the role and production I’ve seen and trust. Take a look at how many must-start running backs are in fantasy right now and when you find them on your team, hold onto them with a death grip. I know many others would much rather sell aging assets, but I want the production more than risk in a pick. Now, if you can swap him for similar weekly production in a younger player, I’m all ears.

Best first guess at the top 10 picks (in any order) of the 2024 rookie draft (1-QB league)? I assume Trey Henderson, Will Shipley, Braelon Allen, Brock Bowers and Marvin Harrison will be half of them. Any guesses on the rest? -Tony M.

I try not to worry too much about the depth two years out because it’s all so fluid. The names you mentioned are solid in the top half of the first round in dynasty drafts. I especially like Henderson, Harrison Jr. and Caleb Williams. Names I’d add to your list would be Caleb Williams (who you didn’t mention), Raheim Sanders, Emeka Egbuka, Brock Bowers and maybe Xavier Worthy.

(Top photo: Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)