Using Self-Awareness to Assess Your Needs
The definition of “self-awareness” is “conscious knowledge of one’s character, feelings, motives, and desires.”
Every fantasy owner desires for their team to win the championship every year. We prepare intensely all off-season, we add coveted rookie saviors, and we waltz into Week 1 with the intent of destroying whichever one of our friends was so unlucky that they got matched up against us. We rarely even consider a dynasty rebuild prior to the beginning of the NFL Season.
Week 1 arrives, and after a slow first hour, scoring starts to pick up. You can finally justify checking your fantasy score to see how many points Ekeler’s wheel route got you. Next, our brains are overcome with dopamine, and we realize this is only one hour of a 17 week season.
Over the next 4 weeks, we examine our players, the waiver wire, and our overall roster with the confidence that we can still win a championship. Our record may be sitting at 1-3 or 0-4 with only 1 healthy running back, but we still don’t want to give up hope this early in the season. However, this is where the importance of self-awareness comes into play.
In dynasty, we must remember that at times we need to take a step back and look at all of the possible scenarios that could come into play over the next few weeks. Layout your best-case scenario, worst-case scenario, and most likely scenario and see how that affects your thoughts on the current season. Below I will list a few questions that come to my mind when I am trying to self-diagnose my roster’s ability to compete in the current season and beyond.
- Overall starting roster – When I am at my best, do I feel confident in my ability to pick up a win during any given week?
- Overall depth – After setting my lineup each week do I have other reliable starting options at each position?
- Injury concerns – If I were to lose a specific player to injury, could I recover? Typically the running back position is where the majority of teams lose their ability to compete. Am I replacing CMC with a guy who will have a consistent role like Chuba Hubbard or a game script-dependent back like Jeremy McNichols?
When we address our team’s current state, we need to make a decision swiftly. Are we competing this season? If so, what steps need to be taken to address any potential concerns that arose while self-diagnosing? The other option is to give up on the season and start looking at 2022. It’s never easy giving up in Week 4, but if we are aware of our situation, making the decision early on in the year can be beneficial in many ways.
Once I have decided to look towards next season, it’s time to review your roster from a different perspective than we did before. Now we are no longer factoring in this season outside of getting older players who are scoring points off of our team. Our focus is on where player value, role, and the situation will be next season. Switching to this mindset can make subtle differences in decision-making that can ultimately put you in a better situation to compete next year. Instead of rostering a guy like Chester Rogers, go grab a younger player off the waiver wire that you like the talent of.
There are the final 6 players I am actively targeting for my rebuild teams. The list is compiled of players that I believe in the talent of, injured players with value dip, and long-term fliers with inexpensive acquisition costs.
Now that we have used self-awareness to diagnose our roster, let’s jump into the players I would recommend going after for your dynasty rebuild.
6. Kenneth Gainwell
Cue the eye roll? You may be sick of hearing this name since he has been listed in every “buy” article I have written since the NFL Draft, but Kenneth Gainwell was regarded as a top 5 fantasy rookie running back heading into the pre-draft process. His ADP from February – April was rookie RB4, while in May after the draft he slid to RB6, and in startup drafts from June – August he was going around RB8. Due to his 5th round draft capital, fantasy owners tempered their expectations with Gainwell and he became an incredible value. Early on in his rookie year, Gainwell has performed well, especially in the passing game. The Eagles’ passing game is very hot and cold right now which will keep Gainwell’s floor relatively low this season. I believe in the right situation, Gainwell can have a role similar to Detroit Lions’ Running Back D’Andre Swift.
Barring any wild trade, Miles Sanders will be hanging around in Philadelphia for at least 2022, lowering Gainwell’s floor and ceiling. We can still expect to see Gainwell thrive in pass-heavy game scripts and it is possible that his playmaking ability thus far will earn him some more early-down work as well. Gainwell is not a sure thing to ever be a primary running back on an NFL offense, but with his skill set, we just need a certain role. If Gainwell finds a role getting 8-10 carries per game with 4-5 targets per game, then he will make for a perfect addition to your dynasty rebuild.
Trade Ideas: Melvin Gordon, Zack Moss, Brandin Cooks, Damien Harris
5. Irv Smith Jr.
At times the fantasy community can get out of hand on the level of hate for a player following an injury. Back in August of this year, Irv Smith Jr. had an ADP of 111th overall and was 11th at tight end. Last month that dropped to 157th overall and 19th at tight end. Dropping 4 rounds doesn’t seem like too much of an overreaction, but 8 tight ends passing him up in dynasty does. This presents a unique buying opportunity for a talented young tight end. Irv Smith came out of Alabama looking like the next great “joker” or “U” Tight End. Smith wasn’t too involved in Minnesota’s passing attack in his first two seasons. Playing on the field with guys like Diggs, Thielen, Jefferson, and Rudolph didn’t help garner Smith more looks.
Smith’s future still looks promising heading into 2022 and beyond. Smith just turned 23 years old back in August and will suit up for the Minnesota Vikings again next season. Tyler Conklin has taken over the main tight end duties since Smith went down with an injury, and frankly, Conklin has performed well, however he is a free agent next Spring, and even if he ends up re-signing in Minnesota, he likely won’t hurt the playing time of Smith. I love the idea of adding Smith to your dynasty rebuild now before dynasty owners see him on the field again next year.
Trade Ideas: Cordarrelle Patterson, Hunter Henry, Jared Cook, James Connor
4. J.K. Dobbins
J.K. Dobbins averaged 6 yards a carry with the Baltimore Ravens in his rookie season last year. Although Dobbins’ work in the passing game was limited, his efficiency on the ground was incredible. Dobbins went down in the preseason with a torn ACL and won’t be back on the field until 2022. Like most injured players in fantasy, Dobbins dynasty value took an immediate hit. The beauty of adding a high-end talent like Dobbins is you get to enjoy his high-end production next season.
Dobbins will be with the Ravens for at least the next two seasons which should keep his rushing floor high and receiving floor relatively low. Dobbins will still be a useful fantasy running back, as consistent performers are so hard to find at his position. The opportunity to add a 22-year-old talented running back to your dynasty rebuild doesn’t come up very often, so go try and acquire Dobbins while you have the chance.
Trade Ideas: Chris Carson, Tyler Lockett, James Robinson
3. Tee Higgins
It seems like anytime I decide to write words in a football article, Tee Higgins name is included. Between Higgins’ situation and skill-set, he is the WR7 in my personal dynasty rankings (WR16 consensus). Higgins has consistently flashed every attribute that you want to see in a young wide receiver. He is averaging a little over 7 targets a game in his 3 games played this season and has yet to eclipse the 20 point mark for a single week. The big games are on the way for Higgins and a value bump is almost certain over the next 12 months in my opinion.
Higgins will be on his rookie contract for at least the next two seasons. With Joe Burrow looking like one of the next great young NFL quarterbacks and a talented teammate on the other side of the field in Ja’Marr Chase, Higgins is in a prime position to put up huge numbers over the next two seasons. The more defenses start to scheme towards slowing down Chase, the more that Higgins is going to eat. If there was ever a time to go buy Higgins, it’s right now. Soon, it will be too late.
Trade Ideas: Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper, DeAndre Hopkins
2. Travis Etienne
I was excited to see what Travis Etienne was going to do while paired up with Trevor Lawrence in that Jacksonville offense. With the lack of weapons on that offense currently, I can’t help but think about how large Etienne’s roll could have been. Nonetheless, Etienne ended up on Injured Reserve due to a Lisfranc injury creating a rare buying window for a talented young running back.
The Jaguars are having a rough 2021 season so far, and that will likely continue until Week 18 is completed. Given the draft capital that the Jaguars used on Etienne, it is likely he will head into 2022 as their primary running back for this offense. Having played college ball with Jags quarterback, Trevor Lawrence, I am expecting Etienne to have a major role in the offense.
Trade Ideas: Mike Evans, Chris Carson, Miles Sanders
1. Jerry Jeudy
Jerry Jeudy came into the NFL as one of the most polished rookie route runners ever. Jeudy’s ability to create space through elite route-running skills is almost unmatched across the league. In Jeudy’s rookie season, between drops and awful quarterback play, he finished the year with a disappointing catch rate of just 46%. With Teddy Bridgewater coming to Denver this season, most fantasy owners were optimistic that Jeudy would continue to get the high-end target volume as he did in 2020 (113 targets) but with much better efficiency. Before going down with an injury in Week 1, Jeudy had 6 receptions for 72 yards on 7 targets.
It is unknown who will be under center for the Broncos in 2022 and beyond, but if Teddy Bridgewater continues to play well, it’s likely they at least bring him back for another year. Jeudy is my favorite player to buy for your dynasty rebuild due to his age, skillset, and situation. His value seems to be suppressed right now, but it will likely continue to climb back up as he gets closer to stepping on the field again. Go sell your productive older wide receiver to a contender that has Jeudy on his IR. This is the perfect dynasty rebuild trade.
Trade Ideas: Allen Robinson, Keenan Allen, Amari Cooper
Honorable Mention Dynasty Rebuild Players: Darryton Evans, Jaylen Waddle, Rondale Moore, Kylin Hill, Josh Palmer, and Elijah Moore
My Personal Dynasty Rebuild Trades
RotoHeat 48 Superflex
I have two dynasty teams that I am working on rebuilding this season. One of the teams is in the RotoHeat 48 man Superflex league and I knew I was in a rebuild heading into the 2021 NFL Season. Due to this, I put a lot of my high-end young players on my taxi squad before week one. My goal since then was to continue to invest in assets that will increase in value over the next 6-24 months while moving players off of my roster that are aging and scoring points. When doing deals like this it can take time for them to appear as if they are paying off. I am just trying to project future value as accurately as possible.
** My personal ranking based on that format is in parenthesis next to each player
Trade 1 – 8/25/21
I trade: Sony Michel (200)
I receive: 22′ 3rd
Trade 2 – 9/1/21
I trade: Sam Darnold (78) & Tyrod Taylor (200)
I receive: Kene Nwangwu (N/R), 22′ 1st, 22′ 2nd
Trade 3 – 10/5/21
I trade: Mike Williams (71), Antonio Brown (143), Alexander Mattison (139)
I receive: Kadarius Toney (54), 22′ 1st, 22′ 2nd, 22′ 3rd
Trade 4 – 10/9/21
I trade: Marquise Brown (90)
I receive: Terrace Marshall Jr. (85), Marquez Callaway (N/R)
RotoHeat 96 SF TE Premium
This dynasty rebuild came about slightly different than the 48 Superflex I previously mentioned. I was one of those negligent dynasty owners who come into week 1 thinking I am going to start running through teams and contend for the Championship this season without the roster to do so. I have fantastic young assets at Wide Receiver and Tight End but I had zero depth at Quarterback and Running Back after Cam Akers went down. Once week 4 hit and I was relying on Chuba Hubbard to be my RB2 (I don’t own CMC) I knew it was time to make some changes and try to get an early draft pick for next season. My trades helped me acquire a bunch of young assets that I like pairing with a few of the high-end talents left on my roster.
Trade 1 – 10/5/21
I trade: Cooper Kupp (45), Mark Andrews (70), Damien Harris (150)
I receive: Jerry Jeudy (53), Travis Etienne (57), Davis Mills (195), 22′ 1st, 22′ 3.01
Trade 2 – 10/9/21
I trade: Mike Williams (71)
I receive: Kenneth Gainwell (84), Tyler Johnson (180), Darryton Evans (170), Harrison Bryant (183)
For more great Fantasy Football content, subscribe to our website, YouTube Channel, follow us on Twitter, as well as DynastyMattBrown. Be sure to head on over to rookiedraftguide.com for all our rookie player reviews for both 2021 Offensive and Defensive prospect breakdowns. Become a VIP for only $6 to view all eight category rankings, and view the strengths and weaknesses our team has identified for each player.