Dynasty Trade Targets: Pre-2023 NFL Draft
The wait is almost over!
The 2023 NFL Draft is just days away. With the excitement of the incoming rookie class comes renewed enthusiasm and activity in many dynasty fantasy football leagues.
But before you get too excited about the rookies, take a step back and get a feel for the veteran landscape.
We've put together a list of players to consider as dynasty trade targets to buy, sell, or potentially hold onto ahead of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Let's jump in and get the discussion rolling.
Pro tip: Take a look at our dynasty rankings to get a feel for where we have some of these players ranked.
Dynasty Trade Target: Drake London, WR, Falcons
Dynasty managers looking to upgrade at WR will have their pick of a few talented incoming rookies from the 2023 NFL Draft class.
USC’s Jordan Addison, TCU’s Quentin Johnston, and Boston College’s Zay Flowers are all expected to be mid-to-late first-round rookie picks.
Each player could be a difference maker, though they’re all unproven and carry some risk(s).
But what if I told you that you could trade that first-round rookie pick as part of a package deal for a talented guy we’ve already seen put up numbers in the NFL?
Allow me to reintroduce you to Drake London, currently ranked as KeepTradeCut’s WR11 and valued well within the ballpark of a 2023 rookie pick in the middle of Round 1.
London concluded his rookie season with 72 catches, 866 receiving yards, and four TDs as part of a Falcons offense that ranked just 23rd in Pro Football Focus' team passing grade.
He finished tenth in PFF receiving grade among all WRs in 2022 (min. 50 targets) despite ranking 53rd in passer rating when targeted last year (87.1).
It’s fair to say QBs Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder did London few favors. But he still found a way to produce at an elite level. In fact, London got better as the 2022 season unfolded.
As Jared Smola noted in 105 Things I Learned Doing 2023 Fantasy Football Projections, London spiked across the board in targets per game, target share, and PPR fantasy points per game, among other categories:
|Weeks 1-8||weeks 9-18|
|Targets Per Game||6.1||7.6|
|Receptions Per Game||3.8||4.7|
|Yards Per Game||43.3||57.8|
|Yards Per Target||7.06||7.65|
|Yards Per Route Run||1.90||2.19|
|PPR Points Per Game||9.6||11.8|
Tip: Check out more of Jared's findings to get an early edge in your leagues today.
If that’s not enough to sway you, London turns just 22 this July.
He’s only a few months older than Addison, Johnston, and Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Heck, London is actually nearly a full year younger than Zay Flowers!
Do yourself a favor, take some of the guesswork out of building your dynasty roster into a contender, and look to make a deal for London.
Dynasty Trade Target: Marquise Brown, WR, Cardinals
This may sound like a bit of an odd call on the surface, but hear me out:
Brown is a former NFL first-round draft pick that the Cardinals went out of their way to acquire last season.
The franchise sent a first-rounder of its own to reunite him with his former college QB, Kyler Murray, and that connection paid dividends early in 2022.
While teammate WR DeAndre Hopkins was suspended, Brown served as the Cardinals’ de facto WR1 and ranked fourth in targets (61), seventh in receiving yards (485), and 18th in target share (26%) among all WRs through Week 6.
Did I mention that Brown was the WR8 in PPR points per game (18.3) during that time, too?
His production fell apart in the latter half of the season, between Hopkins’ return and a foot injury that landed Brown on IR in October.
Not long after that, Murray tore his ACL. There's a chance the rehab extends into the 2023 season.
We’re talking about a small sample size of elite production. Still, Brown is only entering his age-26 season, and Hopkins looks likelier to be traded out of Arizona by the day.
Uncertainty Lowers the Price
It might take a while for Murray and the Cardinals to get back on track. There's also a chance he's ready for the start of the season. Overall, consider buying the price dip here.
Brown is currently priced as WR28 on KeepTradeCut and WR32 in DLF’s latest dynasty superflex ADP.
Should Hopkins get dealt and Murray return to form sooner than later, buying in on Brown now could pay off immediately.
Dynasty Trade Target: Jelani Woods, TE, Colts
Let’s go rapid-fire on this one:
Woods is a Herculean athlete who registered a perfect 10.00 Relative Athletic Score at the NFL Combine last offseason.
He received third-round capital in the 2022 NFL Draft.
And then he turned in an encouraging debut season.
Among seven rookie TEs with 30+ targets last year, Woods’ 1.51 yards per route run ranked second.
Even better, he ranked sixth in yards per route among all 22 rookie TEs with 30+ targets over the last five seasons.
Get Ahead of Potential QB Pick
We anticipate the Colts adding a QB early in the draft. So why not invest in the passing game now, before enthusiasm builds?
The potential snag in this call is that TE Mo Alie-Cox inked a 3-year/$18m extension last offseason, which may complicate matters.
Still, Woods is KeepTradeCut’s TE26 and DLF’s TE23 in their latest superflex ADP.
That’s a reasonably low investment cost for a phenomenal athlete who showed flashes as a rookie.
SELL Nick Chubb, RB, Browns
Chubb is coming off a RB7 finish in PPR points per game in 2022, and former teammate Kareem Hunt remains unsigned as of this writing.
This Browns backfield is basically Chubb’s alone, assuming the team doesn’t add a significant contributor.
Currently valued as the RB15 on KeepTradeCut and RB12 in DLF’s latest superflex ADP, he’s an excellent value for a contending team looking to shore up a title run.
Sounds good, right?
Are the Browns in for a Big Shift?
Sure, but if you’re not gunning for a championship in 2023, you should cash out on Chubb immediately.
He turns 28 in December, but age is only one of the concerns here. The Browns’ offense might look a bit different moving forward.
We’ve alluded to the possibility that the Browns could lean more toward the pass in 2023 and beyond. Some underlying metrics suggest it might even be wise for HC Kevin Stefanski to put the ball in the hands of QB Deshaun Watson more.
Weirdly enough, the Browns ranked 24th in pass rate with and without Watson in the lineup in 2022. However, that could be a function of Stefanski wanting to avoid tinkering too much with the offense once Watson returned in Week 13.
But consider this for a moment: the Browns’ offense ranked fourth in rushing EPA/play through Week 12 in 2022. With Watson in the lineup from Week 13 on, they dropped to 14th in this metric.
EPA Says Pass the Ball More
In plain terms, Expected Points Added (EPA) measures how likely a team is to score on a given possession relative to several factors, including where they are on the field, how much time is on the clock, etc.
The higher the number, the more effective a team’s play calling and execution.
Watson's return made Chubb -- and the entire Browns' rushing attack -- significantly worse.
But considering Watson spent nearly two full seasons away from football and that 2022 was his first season with the Browns, it's hard to measure how much of that was a fluke.
So let's focus more on Chubb's individual performance from last year.
Regression on the Horizon?
Chubb did take a step backward last year, registering a career-low 3.48 yards after contact per attempt, down from 4.24 and 4.00 the previous two years.
Last season also saw him post a 97.2 PFF Elusive Rating, a mark much lower than his 2021 (107.7) and 2020 (126.6) numbers.
By definition, the PFF Elusive Rating "distills the success and impact of a runner with the ball independently of the blocking in front of him by looking at how hard he was to bring down."
For Chubb, known as one of the best "pure rushers" in the NFL, performing worse in this area is alarming.
Rushing Decline Would Hit Hard
This is especially bad news for Chubb, whose value relies heavily on rushing production. Since opening 2019 as the starter, Chubb ranks fourth in carries (1,018). But he ranks just 35th among RBs in receptions over that span.
It's possible Chubb could see greater passing-game involvement without Hunt, but the Browns have been reluctant to trust him in this facet. He's never received more than 50 targets in a season. And there's been some slight buzz around second-year RB Jerome Ford this offseason. Plus the NFL Draft could yield further backfield depth.
It’s probably best to move on from Chubb now -- for a good return -- unless you’re damn sure you can bring home the trophy in 2023.
SELL Davante Adams, WR, Raiders
Adams recorded his fifth consecutive 100-catch season in 2022 despite being part of a Raiders' offense that ranked 19th in PFF passing grade.
We anticipate Adams will once again receive a massive target share in 2023, especially with TE Darren Waller now on the Giants.
So why sell Adams in dynasty? To start, there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Raiders' offense.
After letting longtime QB Derek Carr go earlier this offseason, the team signed veteran QB Jimmy Garoppolo. This is a strange fit for HC Josh McDaniels' offense, which made a habit of pushing the ball downfield in 2022.
Last season, Carr registered a 9.7 average depth of target (aDOT). This stands in stark contrast to Garoppolo's career 7.5 aDOT. We can't trust Jimmy G to air it out down the field to Adams.
Adams registered a career-high 12.8 aDOT in 2022, gaining significant fantasy value from his downfield work.
Back to the Old Adams?
Garoppolo has finished outside of the top 20 QBs (min. 10 attempts) in PFF passing grade on throws of 20+ yards in three of the past five seasons.
His highest finish within this stretch? 16th in 2022. That's higher than Carr's No. 32 finish. But that doesn't make Garoppolo good on deep balls.
So maybe Adams runs shorter routes in 2023? Possible. His 2022 aDOT went at least 2.6 yards longer than any of his previous three seasons.
But the Raiders signed WR Jakobi Meyers in free agency, who isn't a deep-ball specialist. And they return Hunter Renfrow as the No. 3 WR. So who's running deep if not Adams?
Tough to Bet on High Efficiency
Adams ran shorter routes in Green Bay. But he also thrived on high catch rates -- over 72% his final two season -- and high TD rates.
Adams caught 10 more TDs than any other wideout over the past three years. Over 2020-21, he sported the fifth highest catch rate among 32 wideouts with 200+ targets.
But now he doesn't have Aaron Rodgers. He doesn't have his college QB.
So we have to trust Adams and a new QB to deliver a high catch rate, a high TD rate, or both.
Can it happen? Sure. But if there's a slip, then it's going to be a lot tougher to sell Adams a year from now.
He’s currently valued as the WR17 on KeepTradeCut and in DLF’s latest superflex ADP and could still fetch a good return before he gets any older in a murky team situation.
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HOLD Rachaad White, RB, Buccaneers
White is a classic example of “glass half-empty” vs. “glass half-full."
It’s no secret that the Bucs’ offensive line was horrible in 2022, ranking 25th in PFF’s run blocking grade.
This franchise presented its RBs with a nightmare situation last year, but it’s incumbent upon a great player to overcome his situation and produce, right?
White Has More to Prove
Well, let’s just say White didn’t meet the challenge. He ranked 57th in PFF run grade, 64th in yards after contact (2.33), and 62nd in elusive rating among all RBs (min. 50 carries) last season.
Dynasty managers might see that and say, “YUCK!”
But look at how teammate Leonard Fournette performed in these exact circumstances:
- 52nd in PFF run grading
- 65th in yards after contact (2.31)
- 63rd in elusive rating (31.7)
For those keeping score at home, both Fournette and White were awful, yet Fournette finished 2022 as the RB13 in PPR points per game (14.1) to White’s RB48 (8.2). Why? Because Fournette received 83 more touches than White last season.
Receiving Adds Value
To White’s credit, he performed well as a pass catcher, logging 56 targets and ranking 13th in PFF receiving grade among RBs (min. 50 targets) last season.
My colleague Matt Schauf noted this facet in White’s prospect evaluation last year.
With Fournette gone, there’s a case to be made that White could blossom into a greater fantasy asset, assuming increased volume. Even if his performance remains limited, volume is king in fantasy.
Potential Offensive Issues
That said, the flaws in this argument are stark.
QB Tom Brady is retired, and the data from 2022 we’re leaning on is somewhat flawed.
Moreover, the Bucs have hosted Texas RBs Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson, and Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs on official NFL Draft team visits throughout the offseason.
Any of those players being added would cause White’s fantasy value to sink.
Even so, White figures to have some sort of role in the Bucs’ offense in 2023. The question then becomes, how good do you think he is?
Take all of this into consideration and make a gut call.
HOLD Tyler Allgeier, RB, Falcons
At the time of this writing, FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Falcons as the favorite to draft Texas RB Bijan Robinson at +250 odds.
Given Robinson’s prospect profile, it makes sense that HC Arthur Smith would love to have him.
But as we discussed earlier, the Falcons have plenty of needs on offense, and even more on defense.
The Falcons ranked 27th in PFF defensive grade and 31st in pass-rush grade last year.
What if They Don't Take Bijan?
If Vegas odds are wrong and Robinson doesn’t land in Atlanta, Allgeier stands to gain value.
He ranked sixth in PFF rush grading, seventh in elusive rating (88.7), and eighth in yards after contact per attempt (3.58) as a rookie behind a Falcons’ offensive line that ranked first in PFF run blocking.
If the team sticks with QB Desmond Ridder for 2023, that might help Allgeier’s case even more.
Allgeier ranked seventh in carries per game (18.7), second in rushing yards per game (99.3), and sixth in PPR points per game (17.7) from Week 14 to Week 17 with Ridder under center.
Wait and see what happens with the Falcons this weekend. But if they don’t draft a RB early, Allgeier could be a strong value in dynasty leagues.
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