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The Top 10 Players You Should Trade Away When Rebuilding

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By: Jay Pounds (@JayPoundsNFLL)

Well now that the 2020 NFL season is finally in the books it’s time for owners to start looking at the future of their roster, instead of the present. My 10-year-old son just finished his first real dynasty experience and the questions he asks me from time to time are quite comical. He was able to make the playoffs in his first year and for the most part his future looks bright, I say for the most part because he drafted Drew Brees in a super flex format and as we all know Brees is likely going to retire. The first question he asked me going into the offseason was why in the world did I draft Drew Brees, or in a more realistic version… Why did you let me draft Drew Brees’ dad? I laughed and told him it’s because you already had L. Jackson, Hill, Kittle, and Metcalf, but even after that he still didn’t fully grasp the why of it all.

I then broke it down in ways he could understand and told him with what your core was projected to do in 2020, Brees was the pick you made in hopes of winning a championship. I bring this little story up because he will be starting Dynasty Owner this season and am sure he will run into a similar situation again, only this time he should fully understand the choice he is making. What’s left for him to try and decide this off season is if he is willing to trade future draft capital to replace Brees with a quality quarterback that has a bright future, does he try to get lucky in free agency in hopes to capitalize on injury or bad player, or does he run the year with just Jackson and play for a higher draft pick (I feel his team is too good for this option).

I have also been trying to explain to him that even though his team looks great right now that making the wrong move this offseason could really hurt his future and even send him into a rebuild. These are the types of situations that make or break most fantasy owner’s seasons and must be handled correctly to stay competitive. My best advice to him or any other owner in this situation is, if you feel you have good enough receivers and backs to not have a 1st round pick for a year or two then make a trade but do not overspend simply because you need a quarterback.

Before we get into the article, I want to touch on one more interesting thing about my son and his team which is how much different he would approach this offseason if he would have drafted a player like Julio Jones instead of Metcalf. If he drafted Julio over Metcalf my advice to him would be to trade everyone listed except for Kittle, and possibly Jackson, though I feel trading Jackson could net the resources to revamp the entire quarterback position. I bring this up because something so small as changing one player with similar production can completely change your way of thinking for the future, meaning everyone’s rebuild is different. That being said if you have read these articles and just don’t feel I’ve hit the topic you need to hear about feel free to contact me on Twitter.

In today’s article I will be breaking down the top 10 players I would trade in a rebuild. This list will go in order with number 1 being who I think will net the most value in a trade while number 10 would bring the least amount of value in a trade. I will also take a deep dive into these players’ 2020 performance’s, salaries, and why a rebuilding owner should trade these players. I will not be listing what I feel each player’s true trade value is, because every owner values players and picks differently. One thing to remember is that these are players rebuilding owners should look to trade, if you are competing for a championship these may be players to help your team. I am sure these are players most wouldn’t even consider trading but in a rebuild you must think differently.

Players to Trade

1. Lamar Jackson- 2 years ($2,367,912), $5,921(DD/PT), 400 fantasy points scored.

I have a feeling most will probably laugh and not take trading Jackson with serious thought. While you may be right there are multiple reasons I have him number 1 on this list. If you were to trade Jackson tomorrow you will receive a massive haul in return and while trading Jackson seems silly it’s much deeper than just, what you’ll get in terms of value for him in return. Jackson had a down year this season, especially in the fantasy world and while he holds massive upside because of his legs they also scare me the most too. Jackson is in line to get a shiny new deal and while that means long term security it also doesn’t ease my future concerns with Jackson.

In 2020 defenses certainly didn’t have an answer for Jackson but they were able to contain him for the most part, especially through the air, and while he is still young the amount of rushing, I feel he’s going to have to handle year in and year out may break his body down quick, fast, and in a hurry…. Just look at Cam Newton. When I break down Lamar Jackson for a team that is rebuilding, I truly think trading him before he signs his new deal is the smart thing to do. The deal Jackson signs should be somewhere near Mahomes territory, and I can only imagine how tough it is going to be to build around a deal like that.

I do not want anyone to take this as me not endorsing Jackson because I would love to have him on any of my teams, I just feel that the risks of Jackson getting injured, taking another step back passing, his new deal that’s coming, and what he can net in a trade that the smart play is to try and move him. If you want to get creative, try to deal Jackson for a Herbert or Burrow plus depending on the owner.

2. Alvin Kamara- 5 years ($15,000,000), $2,539 (DD/PT), 380 fantasy points scored.

You will notice a trend as we move down this list with running backs and 2nd contracts. The most recent memory of Kamara that stands out in owner’s heads is the 6-touchdown performance Kamara put up during championship week and I feel it’s something you should exploit if you own Kamara and are entering a rebuild.

The 2 things I have just mentioned above is exactly why Kamara owners should be looking to deal. The first major red flag is the number of running backs we have seen fail in very recent memory when playing on their 2nd contract. In the NFL running backs generally fall off after their rookie deals and while it’s not always the case it’s not something I don’t like betting against. I am sure many will question this with the fact that Kamara still has some highly productive years ahead of him, and while those people are right, they are only right from certain points of view.

If you have a team that isn’t going to be competitive why keep a talent like Kamara who will more than likely be much more unproductive when your team is ready to win. The 2nd reason is the 6td performance stuck in owner’s head’s which will likely drive up the value. Another reason I would insist on trading Kamara is the fact that Drew Brees is likely going to retire, and the fact Kamara has been somewhat touchdown dependent averaging 14.5 touchdowns per season, something we could see bounce back to reality with a new look offense, especially if that offense stars Taysom Hill.

3. Derrick Henry- 4 year ($12,500,000), $27,922(DD/PT), 368 fantasy points scored.

Yes, the back-to-back rushing champ is 3rd on this list. Derrick Henry has easily been the fiercest, most bruising, abusing, and old school running back we have seen in a long time, and that is exactly why I recommend owners trade him. Running backs like Henry take a ton of abuse and rarely ever leave the field, they’re just too important to be on the sidelines. Which makes him one of my top trade candidates for rebuilding owners.

As mentioned with Kamara Henry is now going into a new contract, which means he has some mileage on his body. In 2020 Henry had a monstrous 2027 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. When you hear Henry’s name you still think of prime Derrick Henry and one of the best backs in the league and is exactly why you should be using that to your advantage to trade him. If there is a running back in the NFL that could buck this trend, we have seen in recent years its Henry but is that a risk you’ll have to be willing to take.

If you have Henry, he will more than likely be a shell of what we know now when it comes time for your team to compete for titles. I also want to touch on the fact that Henry lost his offensive coordinator this off season to the Falcons head coaching job and it’s not something anyone should overlook. Arthur Smith is one of the game’s best up and coming offensive minds and if that causes Tannehill to falter it will affect Henry, and while Tannehill playing bad certainly isn’t the end of Henry it would put a damper on his outlook.

4. Dalvin Cook- 5 year ($12,600,000), $4,502 (DD/PT), 353 fantasy points scored.

Another expensive running back heading into their second deal, another trade candidate. Dalvin Cook was magnificent in 2020 finishing with 1918 total yards and 17 touchdowns. As I mentioned with Henry fantasy owners are very high on Cook and any contending team would be thrilled to have him on their roster so use it to your advantage and make them pay a little extra. Cook has had a somewhat rough injury history missing 2 games in 2020 and it should definitely be taken into consideration here as a rebuilding owner.

The combination of injury history, a 2nd contract, and the salary you will pay him as a rebuilding owner is all I need to hear to put him 4th on this list. You can also use Cook’s deal as a positive outlook to the owner you’re offering him to by preaching security and the fact the Vikings must believe he can stay healthy to pay him what they did. Cool should net a significant haul if traded.

5. Ezekiel Elliot- 5 year ($15,000,000), $67,659 (DD/PT), 222 fantasy points scored.

As much as I hate putting him on this list as a die-hard Ohio State fan, I just have too. If you were a Zeke owner in 2020 you were highly disappointed and probably would have had a tough time trading him if you tried. All of that said Zeke played well until Prescott went down and had a big game late in the year, he also played behind a horrible offensive line compared to what he has grown accustomed to.

When Prescott went down the entire Cowboys offense struggled mightily, and Zeke just never got anything going. I feel trading Zeke now and getting some value and salary relief while you still can is the smart play. Use Prescott coming back as a conversation starter in any Zeke trade. This may be one of the trades mentioned in an earlier article where you trade Zeke and take a bad contract plus your value in return.

6. Tom Brady- 1 year ($25,000,000), $54,981 (DD/PT), 455 fantasy points scored

The amount of crap I talk about Brady he just had to be on this list. Terrific Tom just finished the most unprecedented season we have ever seen. At 43 Brady tossed the pigskin for 4633 yards and 40 touchdowns, in just his first season in Tampa Bay. Brady should only get better next season as he played some of his best ball as the year went on, and that’s exactly what you should be selling to anyone that will buy.

A what should be a top 5-10 quarterback next season for $25 million is what you’re hoping other owners see and, in some cases, you may have to open their eyes a bit because some may only look at 43 years old. Brady could be the perfect quarterback for someone’s championship run which should net solid value. As I’ve mentioned before cheaper quarterbacks in the top 10 don’t grow on trees use that to your advantage in a league where bench points matter.

7. Melvin Gordon- 1 year ($8,000,000), $40,323 (DD/PT), 198 fantasy points scored.

When I sat down to really think about this list, I just kept coming back to Gordon feeling that he should be lower, but then I just kept thinking about how gross the running back position was in 2020 and that thought won. In my personal opinion if I am rebuilding and have a running back that’s starting to age, I’m trading them before the season while memories of owners desperately looking for production at the running back spot are still fresh, Gordon fits right into that category.

Gordon just missed the 1,000-yard mark finishing with 986 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns while sharing carries with Phillip Lindsey, which should bring back good value from contending owners. When trading Gordon try and sell how bad Lindsey was in the 2nd half of the 2020 season before getting hurt and the fact that Lindsay is an inept receiver while Gordon excels catching the ball, all of that combined should lead to a larger Gordon role in 2021. Gordon also finally improved in a category he has typically struggled in at a solid 4.6 yards per carry which can only help in trade talks.

8. Tyler Lockett- 1 year ($10,250,000), $37,879 (DD/PT) 271 fantasy points scored.

Can you find anyone who was more inconsistent than Tyler Lockett in 2020? While that statement has some truth Lockett still posted solid numbers most weeks finishing as the wide receiver 8 in Dynasty Owner in 2020. On the season Lockett broke the 1,000-yard mark and had 10 touchdowns. When trying to trade Lockett, keep the opposite owner focused on the big performances, as well as overall season stats, and try to place the blame of the downs on an inconsistent Seattle offense instead of rough Lockett weeks.

The news of Chris Carson being unlikely to resign with Seattle bodes well for the passing attack and Locket’s outlook. The Seahawks future has dimmed quite a bit in recent weeks with the frustrated Wilson finally voicing his opinion which will certainly hurt the value of Lockett. The best bet in this scenario is to wait out some of the drama with Russ and then trade Lockett.

9. Brandin Cooks- 3 years ($16,200,000), $69,828 (DD/PT), 232 fantasy points scored.

I honestly feel horrible for Cooks, the guy finally seems to have found a home and now the quarterback wants to leave town, thus leaving his future outlook in potential shambles. If Watson was a sure thing to come back, Cooks may not even be on this list, but the reality is Watson does not want anything to do with the Texans.

At 27 years old it is possible to justify keeping a player like Cooks who could have his best days ahead of him, if he has a quarterback. The best bet on trading Cooks would be to find an owner who either doesn’t mind if Watson leaves, or one that doesn’t think Watson will leave town. Cooks finished with solid numbers in 2020 with 1150 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns, despite struggling badly until O’Brien was fired. Cook’s outlook is way too uncertain to not trade him at this point, that is unless you like to gamble.

10. Adam Thielen- 4 years ($16,050,000), $63,189 (DD/PT), 254 fantasy points scored.

Last but not least we have Adam Theilen of the Minnesota Vikings. At 30 years old it may be a little too late to get great trade value in return for Thielen, but you should still be able to get something of value. This will be a trade where you will have to take a bad contract to send Thielen out because of his age and salary other owners will be wary… oh yea and a kid named Jefferson doesn’t help. Thielen was extremely touchdown dependent in 2020 to the point he would have been unstart-able a lot of weeks if it weren’t for his massive touchdown total. Thielen finished the year with 925 yards receiving and a whopping 14 touchdowns in 15 games. When trying to trade Thielen focus solely on his 14 touchdowns and the amount of goal line targets he gets in this offense.


As you can tell there are so many different ways you can rebuild a roster. When rebuilding the best ways to expedite your process are usually the outside of the box ones like trading Lamar Jackson, or Alvin Kamara when no one else expects you too. If you really sit back and think about it, if your roster is weak in several spots why not trade someone who will net you multiple 1st round picks and/or players. I look forward to hearing the differing opinions on these 10 players. As always good luck on your 2021 Chase for the Ring!

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