Players to Consider Trading before NFL Draft

Updated: April 27th 2021

One of the key concepts in fantasy is risk evaluation and, when possible, reduction of risk within proper player valuations.  Specifically the article explores players with questionable future prospects because of team draft capital, questionable consensus view on players, and other uncertain depth charts.  Below the reader finds a number of examples of players for which I am exploring trading away before the NFL draft begins.  Price points vary in all leagues so be sure to check out your own league mates to see where they stand.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Any list of potential trade targets must start with James Robinson.  Many still consider him a top-10 fantasy back moving forward.  He performed admirably for an undrafted free agent with a good 4.5 yards per attempt.  He only ranked as PFF’s RB30, however.  His top-10 snap percentage at running back was also significantly influenced by a rebuilding Jaguars team who released Leonard Fournette preseason while the rest of the RB core succumbed to injury/illness. The second year player almost certainly sees significant reduction in snaps and touches going forward. The Jags also have a new coaching staff with their own views and schemes who may not value Robinson.  While the first pick in this year’s draft will almost certainly be Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville also possesses four picks from 25 to 65 this year and two more notable picks at the top of 3rd and 4th rounds.  This is prime territory for Jacksonville to possibly add running backs if they feel the need.

D.J. Chark is a more under the radar trade candidate.  He should certainly benefit from Lawrence under center for 2021.  The same draft arguments, however, can be applied to Chark where Jacksonville is in good position to potentially help Lawrence with wide receivers.  Chark is in the last year of his rookie contract, and the Jaguars may not deem him valuable enough to extend.  A good 2021 potentially boosts his price tag out of the Jaguars’ price range, particularly after signing Marvin Jones in free agency.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins similarly own significant draft capital with four top-50 picks and six total in the first three rounds.  A couple of key differences exist in that Miami likely won’t use their top pick on a quarterback and they own significant additional future picks (1sts in 2022/2023, 3rd in 2022) thanks to the San Francisco move-up to 3rd overall.  Ja’marr Chase and Kyle Pitts are firmly in play at 6 and one of the remaining high picks could easily be a top running back from this class.

Mike Gesicki, DeVante Parker, and Myles Gaskin all are players I would consider moving on before it is too late.  Gesicki and Gaskin are in danger of being replaced as early as this year depending on the draft with Gesicki in the final year of his rookie deal.  Miami can move on from Parker’s contract as early as next season with limited cap consequences.  Each of the players is at risk to be replaced in future years with the Dolphins haul of picks even if the players avoid that fate this season.  You might not find the market you like for someone like Gaskin in your league but now is the time to mitigate potential downside of these players.

Cincinnati Bengals

Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are key receivers in an up and coming offense led by second year quarterback Joe Burrow so what’s not to like?   The Bengals’ number five pick in the NFL draft likely comes between the top tackle on their board or Pitts/Chase.  If Cincinnati takes Chase, both could see their perceived values take a hit.  While Boyd seems continuously undervalued, Higgins in particular seems to have room to fall.  Higgins already lands as the WR15 in FantasyPros consensus dynasty rankings and naturally many have him higher.  There’s not a lot of room to move significantly higher in the short term and a lot of room to fall.  While neither receiver is a must-sell by any means, both could see their trade value take a hit on draft night.

Other Starting Running Backs

Arizona is currently left with Chase Edmunds at the head of the running back depth chart after Kenyan Drake moved on free agency and the addition of James Conner.  The talk of Edmunds as a “bell-cow” by head coach Kliff Kinsbury pushed him up many fantasy-gamers boards.  The signing of Conner to a minimal contract did not sway many who believe in Edmunds that he will be the feature back.  Edmunds remains a player likely utilized in committee and should be valued as such.

Antonio Gibson Washington is without a ton of needs on a team with a stout defense that significantly upgraded the passing game with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Curtis Samuel at wide receiver.   Investing heavily in a running back may seem bad but with only Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber, and Lamar Miller on the roster it can’t be completely discounted.  Gibson is currently viewed, on the whole, as one of the top young running backs with the chance to take on a significant workload increase.  J.D. McKissic had a higher snap percentage than Gibson last season.  Samuel also showed off his skills as a running back last season, as he did in college, which could limit Gibson’s touches more if Samuel gets significant rushing touches as he did in Carolina.  There’s a good chance Gibson doesn’t see the workload going forward necessary to justify his current valuation.

Mike Davis landed with Atlanta in free agency at less than $3 million per year for 2 seasons as the presumptive starter.  The depth chart currently looks like his for the taking.  That could easily change through the draft (although the Falcons have a ton of needs) or what’s left of the free agents.  I tend to move away from older running backs with minimal commitments from the team.  On the other hand, Davis could be a very cheap lottery ticket at running back as a hold or acquisition in the right leagues.


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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