We’ve published a few pieces this offseason on how Marques Colston is a value in redraft leagues. But despite being 32 years old, I think Colston actually makes a good dynasty trade target as well.
The reason all this occurred to me is that I was looking through some data and it struck me that as recently as 2012 Colston finished as the wide receiver 12 overall in PPR leagues. That was before the team drafted Kenny Stills. That was also a down year where Jimmy Graham “only” had 982 yards and nine touchdowns.
You might have read somewhere that Stills and Graham combined for 208 targets last season, now up for the taking. But it might make more sense to just cut out the middleman of targets and go straight to fantasy points. Those two players combined for 407.8 PPR points last season. If Brandin Cooks emerges into full-fledged fantasy WR1 then he’ll surely get the largest chunk of that total, but there’s still plenty to go around. If Colston can add 50 points to his 2014 total the result would have been good for a WR15 finish last season.
Stills and Graham combined for 84.1 points in the red zone last season. I mention this because in 2012 Colston scored a whopping 94.6 points in the red zone, but only scored 29.5 points there last season. Josh Hill and Cooks figure to get more red zone work than last season, but neither has the track record of success that Colston does. I don’t think it’s out of the question that Colston, not Hill, is the main beneficiary of Graham’s departure in the red zone this season.
Here is what the Game Splits App says about Colston with Cooks in and out of the lineup:
Colston did score more points without Cooks, but you can see that his targets and yardage were almost identical. The main difference seems to come from TDs. Seeing as Cooks only had four TDs last season and this is a fairly small sample, I think there’s a good chance that’s just noise.
On the other hand, Stills scored 4.13 more points per game when Cooks was out of the lineup last season. Should Cooks get injured again, I would expect Colston to be the main beneficiary now that Stills is gone.
Of course Colston’s opportunity only matters as it relates to his cost. According to the Dynasty Trade Calculator he has a trade value of nine, which is roughly equivalent to that of rookies going in the mid-third of rookie drafts. So I think it’s fair to say his value is roughly equivalent to a third round pick.
A third round pick actually isn’t that valuable. According to Jacob Rickrode’s research, only 15 players drafted in the third round or later in the last five seasons have managed valuable fantasy seasons. I’d rather bet that Colston has a top 24 season at the WR position in the remainder of his career than hope I hit with on a third round pick.
Will someone give up Colston for a third round pick? This is a broad and obvious qualifier, but it depends on the owner. Some will see Colston’s newfound opportunity and want to hold onto him. But then you’ve also got owners who will be bitter about last season or want to trade a 32 year old WR while they still have the chance.
I’d be fine overpaying for Colston as long as the currency is in the form of third round picks or later. If you can trade low-value assets of the future for a potential WR2 this year, I would recommend it.