With Week 10 of the 2021 NFL season in the books, dynasty leagues are quickly approaching trade deadlines and it’s imperative that teams make moves. If you take one thing away from these pieces, let it be this: do not exist in the middle of your dynasty league standings. Managers of legitimate contenders (think top 3-4 team depending on your league size) who are playoff locks should look to secure shorter-term assets with depressed values that can help you this year and next (think Adam Thielen). For rebuilding teams with their eyes on the future, move older assets that contenders see value in (think Leonard Fournette) or assets with uncertain futures (such as Cordarrelle Patterson).
If you are a fringe playoff contender who is a piece or two away, I’m here to prevent you from cashing in your assets for players such as Fournette & Patterson. While fantasy managers know how unpredictable the playoffs can be and just want to have a chance to dance, trading away youth and rookie picks for a shot at a playoff spot and a likely first-round exit is poor managing. This strategy will relegate you to dynasty purgatory as you’ll be constantly chasing your tail and lacking youth for years to come.
Now, let’s take a look at a rookie running back that sliced up Cleveland in Week Ten and a sophomore wide receiver that has been a significant letdown this year.
RB Rhamondre Stevenson, New England Patriots
Drafted in the fourth round out of Oklahoma, Stevenson was a ho-hum running back that found himself as a speculative & unexciting pick in the third round of rookie drafts. As part of a crowded Patriots backfield notorious for rotating primary backs throughout the season, Stevenson found himself a healthy scratch in three of New England’s first four games. He received just 25 carries and six targets in the first four games he was active. However, starting running back Damien Harris suffered a concussion in Week 9 and Stevenson drew his first start in Week 10. He rumbled for 100 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries while hauling in four passes for 14 yards against a solid Cleveland Browns defense.
While Stevenson’s Week 10 was impressive and played a key role in New England’s rout of Cleveland, his workload was clearly a function of Harris’ injury. He still registered just a 55% snap share and was a beneficiary of New England running the ball on 57% of snaps compared to a 43% rush rate headed into Week 10. Harris is also under contract through 2022 and will almost certainly remain the lead back when healthy. Running back Brandon Bolden has taken over the primary pass-catching role in the backfield after James White’s season-ending injury in Week Three; Bolden has more targets than Stevenson & Harris combined.
If I was a rebuilding team aiming to compete in 2023, Stevenson is a player I’d be willing to pay a second-round rookie pick for. For a team competing this season, it makes the most sense to capitalize on the aura rookie running backs have. Moving Stevenson for a higher-scoring, shorter-term asset such as Brandin Cooks or Leonard Fournette is a pragmatic move that puts you closer to a championship this season.
WR Laviska Shenault, Jacksonville Jaguars
The overhaul of Jacksonville’s offense with a new starting quarterback, running back, head coach, and offensive coordinator was supposed to be a blessing for fantasy prospects in Duval. However, the Jaguars offense led by quarterback Trevor Lawrence has sputtered to 31st among all teams in points per game and 24th in passing yards per game (despite ranking 11th in passing attempts per game).
Shenault has struggled to produce on a consistent basis despite a season-ending injury to fellow wideout D.J. Chark in Week 4. He has just 35 receptions for 358 scoreless yards and another 30 yards on the ground. Shenault’s statistical ineptitude led to him reeling in three catches for 15 yards, further cementing that he isn’t playable in all but the deepest formats. His struggles are particularly problematic for dynasty managers that bought into his four-game streak to end the 2020 season. In his last four games, he had at least five receptions and 40 yards but that production hasn’t carried over into 2021.
Shenault’s issues are emblematic of a Jacksonville passing offense that is dead last in yards per attempt while Lawrence ranks 32nd in CPOE. Wide receiver Jamal Agnew has also taken over a significant role for the Jaguars and has outscored Shenault in half-PPR leagues this season. Agnew is the WR33 in half-PPR points per game since Week 5, outscoring notable names such as Brandin Cooks, Terry McLaurin, and D.J. Moore.
Shenault’s dynasty value is currently at rock-bottom, and for contending teams he makes sense to move as part of a package to upgrade. For rebuilding teams, it’s worth taking a chance on Shenault as his production and Jacksonville’s offense can’t be much worse. I would be willing to swap a younger receiver such as Donovan Peoples-Jones or Amon-Ra St. Brown for Shenault, and would even give up a late rookie second-round pick for a package of Shenault & a young ancillary piece (such as Donald Parham or Quez Watkins).