A common theme among players I sell in the offseason, particularly high-end players, is increased uncertainty. Surrounding situation plays such a large part of statistical production that I am always wary of players moving from high efficiency, high volume environments. Not all change is bad (as detailed in my buys), but upper-echelon players rarely move to a better environment when changing teams. We also must remember that contracts will dictate whether a person is a sell in RSO leagues. For example, a young player on a full market-value contract may well be a sell for me whereas that same player on a low-cost rookie deal may be virtually untradeable.
Gordon won my mid-season comeback player award this season but is a player who I will likely try to move in the offseason. His abysmal offensive line play limited his rushing average to 3.9 YPA but he was solid performer in yards after contact. Almost all of San Diego’s offensive skill position players have been injured at some point (including passing down specialist Danny Woodhead, Gordon’s backup Branden Oliver, and primary receiver Keenan Allen all being placed on injured reserve) leading to an enormous increase in Gordon’s touches this season. Gordon’s days as a feature back could be over as much of the additional touches he received this season probably moves to other players next season and beyond. I would move him to any owner who pays high end bellcow back capital.
Lacy quietly produced quite nicely this year when given the chance averaging a robust 5.1 YPA for Green Bay. He also was among the league’s best backs at breaking tackles and getting extra yards before injuries ended his season. The problem for Lacy is that Green Bay reduced his role even when he was arguably the most effective player on the field. The bruiser from Alabama managed only 15 touches per game and was virtually eliminated completely from the passing game. The prospects for Lacy do not appear particularly bright. Lacy is a free agent this offseason in a year that is estimated to have one of the deepest draft classes at running back in recent memory. His most plausible role is as a two-down specialist at his next spot in a location that will almost certainly be worse than Green Bay.
Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery joins Lacy as another high-profile free agent this offseason. Jeffery will be the top receiver available for many teams looking for help at the position. He has incredible hands plus superior size and body control that give him the ability to make catches that few in the NFL can. The question is where does he land in free agency? Wherever he does land, the location will likely not be as good as it was in Chicago. While Jay Cutler may have many issues as a quarterback, he always provided a lot of opportunity to Jeffery. The former South Caroline star averaged 9.5 targets per game from 2013-2015 with Cutler primarily at the helm. Many of the teams in need of wide receiver help have, at best, questionable quarterback play in situations not conducive to fantasy production. Better to let another fantasy owner in your league carry that uncertainty heading into 2017.
Dez Bryant was one of the most consistently dominant receivers in the NFL with Tony Romo at quarterback. Dez amassed 88-93 receptions, 1,233-1,382 receiving yards, and 12-16 touchdowns in each season from 2012-2014. Times have changed in Dallas. Romo ceded starting duties to rookie Dak Prescott who has performed beyond all expectations this season leading the Cowboys to an 11-2 start. Dallas has not been a high volume passing offense for some time but they have truly embraced the run-first mentality this year with only Miami and Buffalo throwing the ball less. The result for Bryant’s fantasy production is not optimal as he is on pace for fantasy numbers far below the Romo era. Dallas seems perfectly content running the ball frequently (to great effect) and nothing suggests they will change anytime soon. Dez just signed a 5-year deal in 2015 and is likely locked into Dallas for the foreseeable future with a young quarterback for whom we have limited information. Bryant is still among the best receivers in the game but surrounding circumstances dictate he can no longer be trusted as the surefire fantasy WR1 he once was.
The Gus Bradley era is quickly coming to an end and with it so is Blake Bortles’ time as starting quarterback. The third-year starter has been nothing short of a disaster since the day he took reign of the Jacksonville offense. He has not managed better than 23rd in QBR or passer rating in any season nor has he completed 59% of his passes. Worse yet, Bortles has not shown any meaningful improvement as a passer over the years. Bortles may get another shot in the last year of his rookie contract but quarterbacks who show this level of incompetency over their first three seasons rarely become long-term starters. Despite his poor play, Bortles put up QB1 numbers in fantasy leagues this season and in 2015. This occurred primarily due to extreme volume (6th in 2015 and 3rd so far in 2016) generated from Jacksonville falling behind in so many games. Use Bortles’ fantasy numbers to sell him while he still has a job in Jacksonville.
The former Saint made a comeback very few analysts predicted returning from a devastating patellar injury that offensive skill position players rarely come back from. Graham soared to the current TE3 this season in a down year for the tight end position where he averages only 12.5 PPG in PPR leagues. While Graham remains a fluid athletic with great ball skills, he clearly lost a lot of the explosiveness that made him special in New Orleans. It is possible he regains some of the burst after further recovery this offseason but I will not be betting on it for a 30 year old. Graham is still a quality option at the position but not a game changer like he once was. Consider selling to any owner who considers him a top end option.
Bio: Bernard Faller has degrees in engineering and economics. He currently lives in Las Vegas and enjoys athletics, poker, and fantasy football in his free time. Send your questions and comments (both good and bad) on Twitter @BernardFaller1.
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