Dynasty fantasy football is the closest thing to being an NFL general manager any of us will reach. While the stakes are much lower, the amount of time we spend churning our rosters and trying to stay one step ahead of our league mates is nothing to ignore. Years before I started writing, I subscribed to RotoViz for the thought-provoking and actionable analysis. I made moves before the competition caught up to trends and that’s what I’m trying to convey in this post.
At first glance, this may seem pretty far along the “hot taek” scale but there’s a wealth of information staring us in the face and we’d be remiss to ignore the situation. A young wide receiver attached to an elite quarterback is a great asset in dynasty, but it may be time to move one of the top players at the position.
Be Kind, Rewind
To get the full picture, let’s look back at the 2017 season in Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers fractured his collarbone and missed nine games as the Packers faltered under Brett Hundley and finished 7-9, missing the playoffs. However, Davante Adams emerged as the go-to target with Hundley, leading the team in every receiving category.
With injuries to Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, the Packers were forced to roll out the likes of Michael Clark, Trevor Davis, and Jeff Janis. To address their lack of depth at the position behind Adams, Cobb, and Geronimo Allison, they used three picks in Rounds 4-6 on WRs, selecting J’Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous St. Brown.
In December, Adams signed a four-year, $58 million contract extension with Packers, and we saw the writing on the wall: Nelson’s time in Green Bay was coming to an end. In March, the Packers cut Nelson, a move that saved them over $10 million in cap space. To fill a need at tight end, they signed Jimmy Graham to a three-year, $30 million contract in free agency. With quarterback contracts taking off – Kirk Cousins (three years, $84 million), Jimmy Garoppolo (five years, $137.5 million), and Alex Smith (four years, $94 million) – the Packers also made it a priority to extend Aaron Rodgers. He signed a four-year, $134 million extension in August to become the NFL’s highest-paid player. Both Adams and Rodgers are now locked up for the long term, so what gives?
Clear and Present Danger
Through the first four weeks of the season, production is not the issue. As the clear No. 1 option, Adams slides in at WR17 and leads the team in every major category except receiving yards. His receiving target market share (reTRGMS) of 0.27 is 10th best among all receivers, ahead of big names like Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, and Stefon Diggs. It’s also the highest mark for any Packers WR since Nelson’s 0.28 back in 2014.
Allison, Cobb, and Graham all command a near identical target share, with Allison outproducing his expected fantasy points (reRP) by almost 13 (reFPOE) so far. If you drafted him late, he’s proven to be a nice addition to your lineup.
If we drill down into Adams’ game log from the Weekly Stat Explorer, we see that he’s yet to clear 100 yards or post a WR1 week while scoring a touchdown in three of four games. TD regression is likely, but otherwise Adams has stepped into the lead role and is a reliable near every-week start.
I try to play this game being injury agnostic – buying injured players and embracing the perceived risk. Adams’ three concussions in the last two seasons do give me some pause, but it’s not the main issue I’m focusing on. As the new “cornerstone” of the position group, Adams also finds himself in a situation without much competition for targets. Cobb was the subject of trade rumors in August and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. His time in Green Bay is coming to end as he’s failed to meet expectations after a dominant 2014.
It’s also too early to write-off the rookie receivers, and with both Cobb and Allison unlikely to play this week, there’s a chance for Valdes-Scantling, Moore, or St. Brown to find their way into targets. However, St. Brown and Moore have been inactive with Valdes-Scantling playing primarily as the fourth receiver. Adams had his own growing pains adjusting to the NFL and Aaron Rodgers’ direction, but the draft capital invested in Adams was much higher compared to these Day 3 picks.1
With Cobb gone and if neither rookie can establish himself in the offense, Green Bay is a prime destination for a top rookie WR in 2019. Just glancing at our Devy Rankings, the 2019 WR class has the potential to be very good. N’Keal Harry and A. J. Brown are the headliners with Bryan Edwards, Kelvin Harmon, Jaylen Smith, and D. K. Metcalf in tow. It’s possible we see a complete reverse from 2018 rookie drafts with so many running backs at the top. If you need a WR, 2019 is the class to to get one. With a potential target void opening up, Adams’ command of the target share in Green Bay could be in danger.
Through The Looking Glass
I’m not advocating for an all-out sell if you have Adams. Obviously, it depends on your own team’s situation and roster construction. If you’re contending and Adams is a core piece, you may be better off holding him. However, if you’ve had injuries and need to fill those positions while fighting to stay in the championship hunt, he’s a candidate to move and potentially get multiple pieces back. I was looking at Corey Davis specifically with this example, though that trade may be harder to pull-off after his monster Week 4.
I implore you to read Blair’s article on Age Curves for WRs for an in-depth look on the importance of age and how it translates into the dynasty market. TL;DR – we should be trading players much earlier than previously thought. From both points of view – fantasy points and trade value – holding on to Adams, who turns 26 in a few months, is a losing proposition. Move him now while his value is high and before his target competition increases.
- Green Bay is taking the same approach with their wide receiver group as they did at running back last year, selecting both Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones to fill the void left by Eddie Lacy and James Starks. (back)