The average investor holds onto their stocks for way too long. They don’t sell and realize their profit before the value dips back down. And the same goes for the average fantasy football player with their sleeper dynasty rookie picks. They grab a guy late in their rookie draft. The player then flashes so their dynasty startup ADP jumps and they climb the fantasy football rankings. And then, before you know it, his value busts and they’re sitting there holding the bag. Now that the 2023 NFL Draft is over and rookie dynasty drafts are underway, we’re going to help you navigate the trade landscape for late-round sleeper picks so that this doesn’t happen to you.
Here’s the general idea. At a certain point in your dynasty rookie draft, you will run out of players that you believe have long-term upside. No one is trading for your pick. But you still need to draft someone. So, what we do is target guys that we think can jump in value early so that we can trick those dynasty trade calculators and move that player right away. The ole “pick and flip”. These are the guys I’m targeting late in drafts or adding off the waiver wire in an attempt to turn around and cash out for profit.
EXAMPLE: Preston Williams
Preston Williams was a prime example. The Dolphins were openly and notoriously tanking in 2019 - as we broke down here. They traded their quarterback and left tackle, they let guys walk, they had the most dead cap of any team but also the least active spending. They were rolling everything to the future. And more importantly for fantasy, they didn’t draft any weapons or sign any veterans because they didn’t WANT to win. They were literally investigated for losing on purpose. That’s why they filled out the roster with whatever was lying around just to get through the year. Like Preston Williams.
To add to the fire, Preston Williams then made a couple of nice catches in preseason which fired up the Twitter hype machine. The season started and they had virtually no one else so Williams was peppered with targets despite his ~50% catch rate. During this span, you could have EASILY taken an undrafted free agent and flipped him for a second or third round pick (some folks were even crazy enough to spend a first). Other owners went the route of our day trader buddies and held onto Williams far too long. Obviously, once the tanking was over and the rebuild started, the Dolphins spent up on guys like Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill and the rest was history.
The reality for the people that held is that they “hit” on a UDFA that they never actually started in their lineup then let his value go to zero before they could realize that gain. The same thing that has happened with hundreds of other players - Robert Foster, Keelan Cole, Travis Fulgham etc. It’s fun when you hit on these incredibly low odds picks but picking these guys is only half the battle - you have to flip them to realize the gain.
Quarterback: Clayton Tune, Arizona Cardinals
Opportunity can come in many forms. We mentioned tanking teams. Here’s another obvious one - injuries. Kyler Murray suffered a serious knee injury last year. He’s expected to miss the start of the season and could miss up to half of it. Even if he misses just one game, that will be enough for us to find out who the backup QB will be. And that backup QB is going to start at least one game in the NFL.
They have some veterans in the running for that gig. Colt McCoy, Jeff Driskel, David Blough. But also in the mix now is fifth round rookie pick Clayton Tune. Why would this new regime, which is clearly doing a bridge year (the Cardinals are nearly dead last in Super Bowl odds), waste their time starting a soon-to-be 37-year-old Colt McCoy at quarterback? If I were them, I’d find out what the young guy can do! And, in your superflex leagues, sometimes seeing a guy throw a couple of touchdown passes is enough for you to turn around and flip that player for a draft pick. Maybe the Kyler Murray owner starts to get a little nervous. The other beautiful part about the Clayton Tune pick is that we WILL get those answers early. Roster spots are valuable in dynasty. If Clayton Tune doesn’t earn that backup job to start the season - good, we got our answer. He’s a “scratch ticket” instead of a long-term “lottery ticket” that clogs up a roster space and may never play. Drop him for the hot waiver add and move on.
Wide Receiver: Justin Shorter, Buffalo Bills
We did a study already on The Truth About Late Round Wide Receivers. And the results were…not good. For every Stefon Diggs, there are a LOT of Robert Fosters. And, as the article points out, most guys like Diggs, Antonio Brown, Pierre Garcon, Tyreek Hill etc. slid for a reason. They shouldn’t have been Day 3 picks based on their ability. Heck, Julian Edelman is top five on that list in terms of fantasy scoring from rounds 4-7 and he wasn’t even a wide receiver in college. So, for me, anytime you can pick a Day 3 wide receiver and flip him for something, you do it. But you knew that because that’s the entire concept of this article.
The Buffalo Bills on the other hand seem convinced they can once again find a Stefon Diggs (even though they didn’t really find Diggs, they traded for him after he broke out). In fact, the Bills don’t have a single wide receiver on the roster that was selected on Day 1 or Day 2 of the NFL Draft. They gave Gabe Davis a shot opposite Stefon Diggs but it wasn’t great. Khalil Shakir profiles as more of a slot guy. Enter Justin Shorter - a 6’3, 224 split end out of Florida. He’ll do battle with those two wide receivers as well as fellow rookie Dalton Kincaid and Dawson Knox. Over the long term, I expect that Kincaid either emerges as a big target or the Bills eventually cave and spend up on another WR opposite Diggs in free agency, the draft, or via trade. But, in the immediate future, Shorter could pop. And maybe you can sell him to someone desperate to get a piece of this Bills offense.
Bonus Pick and Flip: Colton Dowell - The Titans did not address the WR position until the 7th round when they selected Colton Dowell. If he flashes at all, the “local boy” storyline could push his value. Their current starting wide receivers are looking pretty ragged so throw him on your watch list or taxi squad.
Running Back: Sean Tucker, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Some of you might be thinking “hey, I really like Sean Tucker for the long term!”. And that’s fine. But the truth is, NFL evaluators do not. He didn’t get picked. And whether that be because of his talent or because of his medical issues, to me that means he’s not an ideal long-term play. Tyjae Spears has medical issues and he went in the 3rd round. I could be wrong on that of course but part of this strategy is the willingness to be wrong a couple of times for all the times you were right and profited. If you added Keelan Cole, Preston Williams, Philip Lindsay, James Robinson, Gabe Davis, Amon-Ra St. Brown etc. and traded all of them away, you probably got back more than enough that it’s not the end of the world that you moved ARSB. Heck, he might just end up being fancy Tyler Boyd anyway when that rebuild is done so maybe you do still want to cash out.
With Tucker, you already have the benefit of all the “pre-draft hype” pushing his value. If your favorite Twitter analyst liked him before every single team passed on him multiple times in the draft, there are certainly still folks out there clinging to those preconceived notions. And right now Tucker is looking like he has a chance to be in the mix with Rachaad White for some touches. I actually watched a guy in one of my own leagues add Preston Williams off waivers during the summer hype then trade him for a future rookie pick before the season even started. Sean Tucker is the kind of guy that might fall into this category. If you can take an undrafted player and move them for anything based on hype alone, you do it. End of story.
Bonus Pick and Flip: Israel Abanikanda - Here’s another player that got a ton of hype but then he slid in the draft and landed on a team with a premier pass-catching back in Breece Hall. If Hall starts out slow, Izzy could get some work early and his value could jump.
Tight End: Davis Allen, Los Angeles Rams
We considered Sam LaPorta for this one with the Jameson Williams suspension. There is a real possibility that LaPorta is a guy you could take in the second or third round of your rookie draft that could be worth a first very early based on lack of target competition. But here’s the thing - we really like LaPorta. He’s a guy we want to hang on to. If you don’t love him and are just looking for a quick profit though, he’s an option. The guy we are targeting really late in drafts and off waivers is Davis Allen.
We don’t really love Davis Allen long-term because he’s missing a key ingredient - speed. And I don’t mean blazing speed, I mean the bare minimum speed. We want guys in the 4.5 or 4.6 range. A 4.7 forty we can deal with. His 4.84 forty is criminally slow. It’s very difficult to have a high aDot or YAC without a little more juice. What he does offer is size and red zone prowess at 6’6”. He’s the exact kind of guy that could pull a Donald Parham and get everyone excited by catching a random touchdown or two. Allen Robinson got 11 end zone targets last year which was top 10 in the league. He’s gone. With the starting wide receivers set to be Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, and Ben Skowronek, rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua could also be a “pick and flip” (though we kind of like Nacua long-term as well). But Allen to me is the perfect guy to throw on the end of the bench and try to trade if he does anything this year. He’ll also have a second window to trade next year when Tyler Higbee is a 31 year old free agent. Plenty of chances to sell for a re-roll in a future draft on more upside.
Related NFL Links:
- 2023 NFL Draft: First Round Winners and Losers for Fantasy Football
- 2023 NFL Draft: Second and Third Round Winners and Losers for Fantasy Football
- 2023 Fantasy Football: Best Ball Running Back Targets
- Dynasty Fantasy Football: 2023 NFL Rookie Wide Receiver Rankings
- 2023 NFL Draft Top Running Back Prospects: Bijan Robinson Highlights Incoming Rookie RB Class
- 2023 NFL Draft Running Back Prospects: Tank Bigsby Headlines the Rookie RB Sleepers