Last season I felt pretty good about some of the roster moves I managed to make in the first half of the league year. Little moves like shipping off Marcus Mariota and Eddie Lacy for DeShaun Watson and Jamaal Williams in a dynasty league. Now, if you can remember the week 8 game between Houston and Seattle and can recollect anything that DeShaun Watson had accomplished to that point, then you can understand the smile I had.
That match up brings me to my reason for writing this article. You see, during that game there was another player that was quietly building his case for an exciting upcoming off season. That was the unknown quantity of Seattle wide receiver Paul Richardson. Week 8 proved to be a bargaining chip for him as he managed a stat line of 6 catches on 7 targets for 105 yards and 2 TDs which saw him burst into fantasy relevance and team owners flocking to the free agency the following week to grab him.
I managed to stake my claim with the future in the forefront of my mind. With a consistent and stable floor throughout the rest of the season I knew that the impending free agency period would all but guarantee his ticket to a shiny new contract. Probably in a new uniform too because the price tag would likely render Seattle unlikely to want to match his demands.
So fast forward to the off season and on to the first day of legal tampering and the anticipated kickoff of the free agency period. Wide receivers and players of all positions change teams at a rapid fire pace and we, as dynasty and redraft players, try to anticipate which move will pay off for us in the way of sleepers, busts and so forth. So, how do we figure out guys like Paul Richardson? For my answer I’ll focus on two ideas, to help you determine who to buy and who to sell.
I give you two reasons to buy as well as sell on the inverse ideas; guaranteed money (gtd), and opportunity. You might think guaranteed money is opportunity but I think differently. For example, if wide receiver ‘A’ is gtd $10 million, but is signed to a team with established starters at the X and Z positions, he receives the money but little opportunity. To begin we look at guaranteed money shoveled to these free agent wide receivers, according to http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/free-agents/wide-receiver/:
• Sammy Watkins 3 Years, Chiefs – Gtd $30m of which $30m is gtd at signing.
• Allen Robinson 3 Years, Bears – Gtd $25.2m of which $18m is gtd at signing.
• Paul Richardson 5 Years, Redskins – Gtd $16.5m of which $12.5m is gtd at signing.
• Michael Crabtree 3 Years, Ravens – Gtd $13m of which $8m is gtd st signing
• Jordy Nelson 2 Years, Raiders – Gtd $13m of which $6.4m is gtd at signing
There are two names who immediately jump out to me as buy candidates for dynasty football. Allen Robinson and Michael Crabtree are signed and are destined to be the pre-draft number one options in their respective offenses. They have zero competition at the position, so ‘opportunity’ isn’t a question and are the safest of the five I listed- in my opinion. Allen Robinson, one year removed from a torn ACL, proved to be a capable main threat in with the numbers he produced in 2015 for the Jacksonville Jaguars. That year he dominated and produced 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 TD’s. Although not nearly as gaudy, 2016 still saw him produce solid production with Blake Bortles and company. He received a ton of money for a short 3 years, and Chicago expects him to be their shiny new number one receiver. Aside from an unforeseen injury, I would expect too see it too.
Michael Crabtree stumbled through a tumultuous 2017. Not for lack of effort on his part as his passion dictated when displayed in the boxing match with Bronco’s DB Aqib Talib, but rather production regression. In 2016 Michael was a force and had a knack for big games with an 89 rec, 1,003 yard and 8 TD stat line, whereas he tumbled with an overall down Raiders team and ended with 58/618/8 in 2017 and became touchdown dependent. He now dons the black, purple, and metallic gold of Baltimore and looks to return to form with former Superbowl MVP Joe Flacco to lean on.
There’s no question regarding Sammy Watkins’ raw talent and potential. Now added to a young and exciting offense in Kansas featuring Pat Mahomes, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, this could figure to become an offensive juggernaut in the AFC West. However, although the talent is there for Mahomes (proud owner here), it unfortunately comes with uncertainty and question marks without any significant NFL tape to study to determine how the receivers will benefit. The other thing with Sammy is the question of health. He wasn’t necessarily the featured guy within the LA Rams attack as he was intended to be, so we still have yet to see what a full year with a decent QB can produce fantasy wise. This is an exciting scenario, with opportunity in what figures to be an explosive air raid, but to what size share will Sammy get and will it parlay into real top tier fantasy relevance? Buyer Beware.
Aging veterans aren’t always interesting options, but given the overall excitement in Oakland and the fact that Derek Carr is the QB, Jordy Nelson seems like a buy for me. The one thing I know is the Raiders are going to use him, because they just paid him. He will be a good counterpart to Amari Cooper. If you are in a win now situation with your dynasty roster, or trying to think of a sneaky bye week filler in redraft, I suggest trying to get him, maybe even on the low end before he actually starts production in the infamous black and silver.
Lastly, my article opener, Paul Richardson. The nay sayers will immediately point to Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed and suggest there are too many mouths to feed. The thing to remember here is this; Alex Smith is new to the Redskins. Paul Richardson is new to the DC area. Who did Alex have in Kansas City? Tyreek Hill. What did Hill do this past season with Smith? How about 75 rec, 1,183 yards and 7 TD’s which saw him break into the top 10 among wide receivers in the league. So we know Alex Smith can produce. Can Paul Richardson put up those kind of Hill numbers? Its entirely possible, and remember Seattle thought so, as he was a 2nd round draft pick in 2014. What about opportunities? 2018 will be Crowder’s final year of the 4 Year $2.8m contract he signed in 2015. He’s going to want to get paid come the end of the season. Will Washington fork another hefty bill for two players of similar styles of play? Not likely and I can see Richardson as a replacement for the services of Crowder. They brought him in to take over the WR2 role opposite Doctson, whom they hope and pray will produce in 2018 and be the speed/deep ball threat on the other side of the field.
By Joshua Deisinger