You should always be looking to improve your roster in dynasty, here we identify some rookies to buy now- before they become hard to get.
When it comes to acquiring players in dynasty, there are the obvious targets we’d all like to trade for. The top guys, however, aren’t easy to trade for.
J’marr Chase? Sure, I’d love to buy him. Kyle Pitts? Definitely. Najee Harris? Absolutely. Even players from the 2021 rookie class like Jalen Waddle, Rondale Moore, Elijah Moore, and Javonte Williams. All of these guys represent, at this point in time, the potential for elite fantasy production.
The problem is the cost. You will be lucky to trade for any of the aforementioned players without giving up a crazy amount of future draft capital. Either that or a seasoned player who is much more of a ‘sure thing’ when it comes to fantasy production in 2021. Fantasy managers, despite the cost, still give up their draft futures and current stars to buy the allure of ‘potential’.
I myself, before Cam Akers had ever played a down in the NFL, gave up two future 1st, a future 3rd, and Devin Singletary to acquire the Los Angeles Rams RB prospect. In hindsight, this wasn’t an awful deal if, (and that’s a big if) Akers does what we all expect him to do in Sean McVay’s offense in 2021. However, this was a big gamble, and more often than not this sort of gamble does not pay off.
Despite this, there are still players you can target that don’t currently have that high price tag. Below are two players who represent reasonable trade targets that have the potential to be high-priced assets in the future.
Nico Collins (WR, HOU)
The Texans seem to be a team that everyone wants to steer clear of this year and because of this Collins is flying under the radar. Ahead of Collins in the WR room is really only Brandin Cooks. The other WR’s that make up the corps are Andre Roberts (formerly of Buffalo), Randal Cobb, Keke Coutee, and Isaiah Coulter, none of whom present the upside and raw ability that Collins does.
Because of his previous production, experience and speed, Cooks projects as the X receiver. However, Cooks has had a few injuries, including a few big concussions. He put up 81 catches for 1150 yards and 6 TD’s in 2020, but that was with Deshaun Watson. Without going into the details of that situation, it’s highly unlikely he starts the season as the Texans QB.
Tyrod Taylor currently projects to be the starter week one. I think fantasy fans have seen enough of Taylor to know what type of QB he is. A big body, large wingspan guy, contested catch guy like Collins could benefit greatly from this situation.
At 6’4”, 215lbs, a 96 percentile wingspan, and 89th percentile speed score, Collins has, on paper, what it takes to be the number one guy in Houston. He came into draft season overlooked due to opting out of the 2020 season at Michigan because of Covid. He also posted average numbers in the 2019 season with 37 catches for 729 yards and 7 TD’s.
Collins also suffered because of the system he was in. Jim Harbaugh has simply failed to develop a QB since arriving in Ann Arbour. Fielding mostly game-manager types, his system has relied heavily on dominating at the line of scrimmage with superior athletes and running the ball a ton. You only need to look at their recent results against the other elite competition in the BIG10 (namely Ohio State) to see how that fared for him and the skill position players in his offense. Collins was definitely a victim of his situation.
The most obvious thing that jumps out to me on Collins’ film is his ability to bring in contested catches. He consistently maintains physicality after the catch to secure the ball or get extra yards.
He uses his athletic attributes extremely well. There’s a stand-out play against Ohio State where he is running a fade route to the left corner of the end zone. The ball is thrown slightly inaccurately by Patterson, to begin with. Collins creates a few yards of separation mid-way through the route stem with a stutter-step that turns the DB around. He uses his strength to beat away the DB’s hands, then demonstrates elite body control to get his hips and shoulders facing towards the ball whilst high-pointing the catch. There’s a high chance this play would’ve been called for pass interference if Collins didn’t bring in the ball, but his strength in the catch is too much for the DB. This play shows all the strengths of his game that could earn him a decent target share right from week 1.
His current rookie draft ADP is 3.06 according to Fantasy Football Calculator (https://fantasyfootballcalculator.com/adp/rookie). How owners value players in leagues fluctuates wildly. If the Collins owner is a contender, offering what is considered a safe floor player that has a history of consistent production could be a successful approach.
Roster construction also plays a huge part in both sides of a trade. Look at the deficiencies on the team that has Collins and target them. The owner likely drafted him in the 3rd round of the rookie draft and with the situation being what it is in Houston, he’s unlikely to carry a high price tag.
WR from Tennessee, drafted by the LA Chargers in the 3rd round
Everyone who isn’t a college football fanatic said “who?” when the Chargers took Palmer in the 3rd round of the 2021 NFL draft. There were still plenty of receivers available who were unanimously higher on fantasy analysts’ draft boards.
In LA the one thing Palmer won’t have to suffer with is poor QB play. Justin Herbert’s rookie campaign was impressive, earning him Offensive Rookie of the Year. In 15 games Herbert completed 67% of his passes, threw for 4336 yards, 31 TD’s, and only ten INT’s. Ahead of Palmer in the WR room is Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and he stands to benefit by learning from both.
Allen is one of the best route technicians in the league and Williams is athletically similar to Palmer, with similar game strengths. Williams has had some big injuries and has barely lived up to his first-round selection. Whilst the Chargers picked up his 5th-year option, we could see Williams hit the free-agent market after the 2021 season. If he is marred by injury yet again, or fails to produce good numbers in what will likely be a pass-heavy offence, Palmer could step into that number two role in 2022.
At 6’1” 210lbs with an 81st percentile wingspan and 4.57 speed, his metrics don’t leap off the page. He, like Collins, came into the draft season relatively unknown due to factors outside of his control. Palmer never broke 500 receiving yards in a single season and suffered from what can only be described as woeful passing from QB Jarret Guarantano. Not only was he a victim of poor QB play, but he was also a victim of his coaching staff. Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt was fired at the end of the season due to a whole host of recruiting violations including money being handed out in Mcdonald’s bags. He regularly trashed his team in press conferences throughout the year and it was clear that his team had mentally checked out. The Vols lost seven of their last eight games down the stretch.
His tape however, is still impressive. Whilst there isn’t a ream of circus catches, there are a lot of plays where Palmer shows great adjustment to bring in the ball off a poor pass. On numerous plays he adjusts on the fly, using great body control and awareness to get under the flight of the ball. Palmer bailed out his QB regularly by coming off his route path to get back to the ball. His awareness stands out too. He always knows where the sideline is and consistently picks on the weaknesses of the opposing DB.
A play against the Georgia Bulldogs stands out in his film. Guarantano under-throws a pass meant for the corner of the end zone dramatically. Palmer tracks the ball well and adjusts his route, stepping off the gas and moving to the inside of the DB. He leaps early, allowing him to get his body position right. Palmer then catches the ball over his right shoulder five yards out from the end zone and walks in for an easy TD as the DB loses the sight of the ball. This play shows great awareness and an ability to react well in unforeseen circumstance.
Depending on where you look Palmer’s ADP in rookie drafts ranges from the early 3rd round to the mid 4th round. His trade price isn’t going to be high and unless the owner has poured over his tape, it’s unlikely they will see the upside being suggested here. Begin by throwing a 3rd round 2022 pick out there and see how the owner reacts.
It’s incredibly hard to project how owners value players but if we go by what we know: he was not a highly ranked prospect, he doesn’t have a history of elite production and his athletic profile isn’t jaw-dropping, then it’s a reasonable assumption that his trade price will be cheap.
Both Collins and Palmer represent relatively cheap high-upside options. In dynasty, going after these types of players can generate a huge competitive advantage down the line. If they don’t amount to anything, the sunk cost is little enough to not hurt your team in the future. If they become fantasy-relevant you have plug-and-play starters or trade capital to make moves.
Image Credit: Isaiah Hole – USA Today Sports