By: Jay Pounds (@JayPoundsNFL)
The NFL Hall of Fame Game is less than one month away and at last we will have football again. As we start inching closer towards the actual NFL season, I wanted to switch things up a bit and do something geared towards covering all the Dynasty Owner relevant players from a rebuilding standpoint. Each week, I will break down the players of each division down into three separate categories that you hear quite often in the fantasy community, which is buy, sell, and hold. I will also give you a brief explanation on why each player is in the category you will find them in. I did intentionally leave some players off of the list because they are just too far away from helping your roster at this point, so I see them as basically wasting one of your precious roster spots. When buying, selling, or holding players in a rebuild you want to look for certain things such as age, production, contract, contract length, and the overall situation the player is in.
Before we get too far into things let’s talk about what each category is, so you have a better understanding of things. The players in the buy category are almost always going to be young, on a good contract, or rookies. You will also need to factor in things like draft capital, path to playing time, and talent when buying as well. You will want to hold numerous players during your rebuild and usually that is because many players in the league are waiting their turn, or may be in a bad situation, thus hurting their trade value. When is it time to sell in Dynasty Owner? It is a question that I will never have an exact answer to but the way I maneuver around it is to trade them a year or two early if I am just entering a rebuilding situation. It gets to be trickier if the rebuild is not lightning fast. I am sure most of you already know this, but every single rebuild is going to be different, which is why I want to give Dynasty Owners a much broader look into what you should be doing with your players moving forward. I am going to cut the intros for this series of articles short because they may get a little lengthy and I never want to bore any of our great Dynasty Owners. All players listed are in no particular order.
- Chase Claypool – 3 years, $1,654,156
Mr. Chase Claypool exploded on the scene in 2020 as a rookie and I look for that to continue into 2021. He came into the league as a raw prospect, and I’ve heard that’s because of the lack of football camps in Canada. If this has any truth Claypool may have an unlimited ceiling in the NFL. The concerns for the offense Claypool plays in are big time to most owners, lowering his cost some. The Steelers offensive line is a huge question mark, not to mention the aging quarterback situation.
- Diontae Johnson – 2 years, $1,070,241
The target monster Dionte Johnson is another buy in the Pittsburgh offense. In 2020, Johnson soaked up 88 receptions for just 924 yards. During his time in the league Johnson has improved each year and I expect more of the same in 2021. Like Chase Claypool, Johnson has similar concerns on the offense he plays with in Pittsburgh, but talent wins out here. If you’re a rebuilding owner and trust the Steelers’ organization, Johnson is a must buy.
- Najee Harris – 4 years, $3,261,862
I know, I know, I always say if you’re going into a rebuild don’t buy running backs, but I am biased on this one with him being a Steeler. Hey at least I can admit it! In the NFL, running backs are most valuable coming into the league, especially as 1st round pick. The Steelers want to get back to Steeler football and Harris is the perfect guy for the job.
- Pat Freiermuth – 4 years, $1,507,045
If Kyle Pitts wasn’t a rookie in the NFL draft the same time as Pat Freiermuth, Freiermuth may have went in the late 1st round of fantasy rookie drafts, but the Pitts hype killed any type of Freiermuth hope. Freiermuth is an extremely solid tight end who has the tools to excel in the passing game. I see Freiermuth as a Heath Miller type tight end in the NFL.
- Donavon Peoples-Jones – 3 years, $870,402
In my opinion, Donavon Peoples-Jones is the prototypical buy candidate for rebuilding owners. What I mean by this is that he flashed big time potential during his rookie season yet instead of his team giving him a larger role and letting Higgins walk, they buried Peoples-Jones. The Browns brought back Hollywood Higgins, as well as drafted the guy we will talk about next.
- Anthony Schwartz – 4 years, $1,215,755
The Browns selected Schwartz with the 91st pick in the 3rd round of the NFL draft. Schwartz was a 3rd round pick in Dynasty Owner rookie drafts (ADP 30.9) and will likely be very cheap to acquire if you are looking to add him to your roster. I know track speed gets thrown around in the NFL a lot, but Schwartz is a guy with just that.
- Harrison Bryant – 3 years, $1,016,007
At this point you should be able to get Harrison Bryant for next to nothing. The Browns for some reason have yet to deal David Njoku and it will likely affect any shot that Bryant had at a somewhat relevant fantasy season. If I read it correctly, the Browns have several outs in Hooper’s contract meaning Bryant could be the team’s TE1 after this season.
- Rashod Bateman – 4 years, $3,149,853
Another rookie on the buy list is late 1st round NFL draft pick Rashod Bateman. Bateman landed where everyone expected him to go in the pre-draft process, yet he was a fade after the draft. If I am a rebuilding owner and a player with 1stt round draft capital is seeing hate in the community, I am going to be all over him 9 times out of 10. If Lamar Jackson takes a step forward in the passing game, Bateman will be a steal.
- J.K. Dobbins – 3 years, $1,432,359
I put J.K. Dobbins on the buy list because Baltimore used him lightly last season and are not likely to overwork him in 2021 either. The Gus Edwards re-signing was very frustrating for many Dobbins owners but at the end of the day, this move could give his career extra longevity. After all, Dobbins is on one of the best rushing offenses in football.
- Mark Andrews – 1 year, $863,290
I talked about Mark Andrews as a buy for contenders last week and he is one of the rare players I would encourage rebuilding owners to buy as well. Andrews is going to get a new contract next season but as a rebuilding owner you should have plenty of space because you have cap flexibility. As we saw in 2020, the tight end position was a wasteland, so secure a top level one when you can. Andrews is still young and playing on a rookie deal, so he should still have plenty of production left when it’s time for you to compete.
- Trace McSorley – 2 years, $670,172
Trace McSorley as a buy may be the strangest thing you hear all off-season but hear me out. Lamar Jackson is a rushing quarterback who sees a ton of contact week in and week out, yet he’s stayed very healthy. At some point the injury bug will hit Jackson for an extended stretch and a rebuilding owner with McSorley may as well be holding a gold mine at that point.
- Ja’Marr Chase – 4 years, $7,547,410
Ja’Marr Chase, like Kyle Pitts is another generational talent coming into the NFL, only he’s an actual wide receiver while Pitts is disguised as one. Chase and Joe Burrow will reunite on the football field once again and all they did the last time they played together was shatter every record known to college football. As the Dynasty Nerds always say, “An overpay today will be a underpay tomorrow”.
- Tee Higgins – 3 years, $2,171,696
In 2020, Tee Higgins had an excellent rookie season with 67 catches, 908 yards, and 6 touchdowns, despite Joe Burrow missing significant time. Although Higgins excelled last season you should be able to get him cheaper than you think with the Bengals drafting Chase this off-season.
- Chris Evans – 4 years, $913,222
Over the past what seems like 40 years we have seen Giovani Bernard be a productive role player in the Bengals’ backfield. Fast-forward and Bernard is no longer with the organization many thought he would retire from, leaving his spot wide open for whoever wants it the most. The Bengals have come out and said they want Joe Mixon on the field 80% of the time but I just don’t see that happening. The Bengals do have Samaje Perine, but I think talent wins out easily here. Buy Evans before he has a great camp and preseason.
- Joe Burrow – 3 years, $9,047,534
I will probably say this a million more times, productive rookie quarterbacks are gold in Dynasty Owner. Joe Burrow was having a solid statistical season in 2020 before he went down with a season ending knee injury, which will help lower his value in a trade. If you are going to target Burrow, I highly recommend doing it before he’s back balling out.
- James Washington – 1 year, $1,125,336
In his time in the NFL, James Washington has flashed potential of being a low level WR2, but the Steelers rarely miss on the receivers they draft, and it has left Washington on the outside looking in. With only one year remaining on his deal, he is definitely worth holding onto to see how things play out as he will net next to nothing in a trade.
- Kalen Ballage – 1 year, $920,000
In my own opinion, Kalen Ballage is an absolute sell to the owner with Najee Harris. You may be wondering why he’s not in the sell category if that’s how I view him. While that is fair criticism, I have personally tried to trade Ballage twice and both owners view Snell as the backup to Harris over Ballage. I have seen rumors that Snell Is a cut candidate leaving Ballage as the clear next man up. If you have Ballage sit on him and trade him when his role is more clear.
- Mason Rudolph – 1 year, $980,472
I completely agree with what Steve Van Tassell said in his article about how Mason Rudolph is worth holding onto in 2021 (https://dynastyowner.com/2021/07/dynasty-owner-qb-tiers/). Rudolph is in an offense he should know inside and out by now and he may even be the better choice at quarterback on the roster by the end of 2021. Big Ben declined immensely at the end of last season, if it happens again and Rudolph can hold off Haskins, he will have solid trade value.
- Dwayne Haskins – 1 year, $850,000
As we are doing with Mason Rudolph, we’re doing the same with Dwayne Haskins. Haskins is a former first round pick out of Ohio State and has loads of talent that has yet to translate in the NFL. If Haskins learns how to be a real professional in Pittsburgh, he could finally show everyone why the Football Team drafted him with the 15th overall pick in the 2019 NFL draft.
- Rashard Higgins – 1 year, $2,377,500
I’m not too sure anyone had a more disappointing off season than the two fringe starting receivers in Cleveland. Rashard Higgins, like Donovan Peoples-Jones seemingly got shafted this offseason when the Browns brought him back yet drafted another receiver (Anthony Schwartz) in the 3rd round of the NFL draft. The way the offense looked after OBJ went down, I thought it was a possibility Cleveland would trade him opening up roles for both Higgins and Peoples-Jones. At this point hold Higgins and hope he goes elsewhere next year.
- David Njoku – 1 year, $6,013,000
The David Njoku experiment is here for another possible year in Cleveland. It seems Njoku has been wanting out of Cleveland since being drafted and I can’t say I disagree with it; with the way he has been used and the number of changes he’s dealt with in the coaching staff and front office. He’s also watched the team that drafted him in the 1st round sign another player at his position to a record setting deal at the time in Austin Hooper. Njoku is worth a hold at least until we see him fail with another franchise.
- Odell Beckham Jr. – 3 years, $18,000,000
Odell Beckham Jr. is still a phenomenal NFL talent but in my opinion, he is not a phenomenal Dynasty Owner talent. If you are a rebuilding owner and you can find someone to take on OBJ’s contract for anything of value in return I probably would. While it is possible OBJ returns to form and raises his value, so I will say if you still have him at this point then hold him for the rest of the season. If he ends up having another frustrating season you can use an Amnesty Provision on him at any point.
- Austin Hooper – 3 years, $10,500,000
Austin Hooper underwhelmed significantly in 2020, only producing 46 catches, 435 yards, and 4 touchdowns. That’s certainly not what the Browns were expecting when they signed him. While you may be able to get a little something out of Hooper now, I would prefer going the patient route, waiting to see how he performs. If Hooper starts to perform, I will ship him out to a contender in a heartbeat.
- Marquise Brown – 2 years, $2,946,835
Oh, how quickly things change in the NFL. Going into 2020 Marquise “Hollywood” Brown was one of the hotter names to breakout for the year, I don’t think I need to remind you he underwhelmed quite a bit. In 2020 Brown had only 58 catches, 769 yards, but was able to turn it into 8 touchdowns. Brown is in a run heavy offense that just loaded up with pass catchers this off-season and is worth nothing more than a hold at this point. Brown does have the talent and skills to succeed at this level, it just may not happen in Baltimore like originally planned.
- Justice Hill – 2 years, $815,414
At some point we will either stop hearing the name Justice Hill or he will blow up into something somewhat useful for Dynasty Owners. I know some may see this as an interesting call holding Hill but with the way the Ravens run their offense, we could see Hill on the field this season. It’s no secret the Ravens will be using both Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins often this season, which means if one suffers an injury at some point, Hill will be the next man up. I don’t think Hill will see the amount of carries Edwards or Dobbins would, but we will at least see what he is made of at that point.
- Auden Tate – 1 year, $570,000
Up next we have the Bengals 2020 training camp M.V.P. Auden Tate. Tate had a good amount of hype heading into last season and did absolutely nothing with it. After all the hype surrounding Tate possibly getting in the way of Tee Higgins getting on the field, he had a worse season than fellow teammate Mike Thomas, and I’m not talking about the Saints player. I would hold Tate at this point but wouldn’t blame you at all for dropping him with someone who has more upside.
- Drew Sample – 2 years, $1,376,574
I remember last season when C.J. Uzomah went down and when he did I for some reason fell in love with Sample picking him up everywhere I could. A year later and I still like Sample as a prospect but don’t have any shares of him now. It seemed Burrow did not target the tight end position much last season and I’m unsure if it’s something that will continue to happen into the future. In 2020, Sample had decent numbers during his first real playing time with 40 catches, 349 yards, and he was able to add a touchdown.
- Brandon Allen – 1 year, $1,500,000
Brandon Allen is another quarterback Steve Van Tassell raised great points about in his most recent article about QB tiers. Joe Burrow was injured later in the season in 2020 and while he should be back for Week 1, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Bengals were to play it safe and give him an extra couple of weeks. If that happens and you already have Allen on your roster, you will earn a free draft pick from a quarterback needy team.
- Samaje Perine – 2 years, $1,650,000
As you read earlier in the article, I have Chris Evans as a buy, which can only mean Perine is a hold or sell. I don’t have Perine listed as a sell at the moment because Chris Evans is a rookie. If we have learned anything in the NFL, it’s that late round picks are very risky. Heck all picks are risky. If the other RBs flame out in Cincinnati, you will have some value in Perine to use for a trade. We have also seen that Mixon has some availability concerns which raises the value of whoever his backup is at the start of the year.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster – 1 year, $8,000,00
I mentioned JuJu Smith-Schuster in last week’s article as a player a contending team should buy for cheap. We have come full circle to you the fresh rebuilding owner now selling JuJu for cheap (Ish). Do not sell yourself short, JuJu is still a good talent. I heard reports that JuJu turned down a deal with the Chiefs and Ravens to resign with the Steelers for one year and “reset the market in 2022”. JuJu’s words not mine. Whichever way you spin it, Devin Bush hates this guy!
- Eric Ebron – 1 year, $6,000,000
By measures of the 2020 tight end landscape, Eric Ebron had a pretty good season with 56 catches for 558 yards, and 5 touchdowns. It could be argued that Ebron could be viewed as a hold at just 28 years old but as hyped as he has been in years past, I think it is safe to say we know what Eric Ebron is by now. If you can find a contending owner who will give you draft capital or promising young talent for a boost at tight end, I would take it.
- Ben Roethlisberger – 1 year, $14,000,000
As dead as everyone thinks Ben Roethlisberger is, he can fetch draft picks in a trade because of his salary. Big Ben did fade at the end of last season, but has had all off-season to recover and should finally have some type of run game again. If you can find a contending owner in need of a second QB for this year’s championship run, I highly suggest getting a deal done. One year of Big Ben or ten potential years of a player yet to be named.
- Benny Snell – 2 years, $805,517
As I mentioned earlier Benny Snell has been named as a potential cut candidate. If this turns out to be true, he will lose all value barring some type of miracle signing because of injury. I also mentioned earlier that some owners still view Snell as a handcuff to Harris. If I were you, I would be sending Snell offers out to the Harris’ owner A.S.A.P.!
- Jarvis Landry – 2 years, $15,100,000
Jarvis Landry like Odell Beckham Jr. Is still a great talent in the NFL. The only difference between the two is that Landry had a solid season in 2020. Some may look at him being under 1,000 yards and not want him but if Baker takes a step forward, Landry will see a boost enabling you to move him at that point. Landry has been one of the most consistent receivers in football for many years. Use that to your advantage in trade talks.
- Nick Chubb – 1 year, $1,845,774
I know it’s crazy to have Nick Chubb in the sell category. I will admit I feel gross every time I tell you guys to sell players like Chubb, Dalvin Cook, or Derrick Henry, but it really is the smart move going into a rebuild. Chubb is Beast Mode 2.0 and a great running back, but he is heading towards his second contract. As vital as Chubb is to the Browns, they will surely pay him so trade Chubb soon before owners start worrying about his next contract. Besides, what contending owner wouldn’t want to pay up for a season of Nick Chubb?
- Kareem Hunt – 2 years, $6,000,000
I will keep this one short and sweet because everything I talked about with Nick Chubb applies to Kareem Hunt, aside from the Beast Mode 2.0 part. The one thing I will say is if for some reason the Browns don’t bring Chubb back, you will get a full season of Hunt starting in a great rushing offense for $6,000,000.
- Baker Mayfield – 1 year, $8,170,745
I know this one will upset some of the Baker Mayfield truthers out there, but it needs to be said. I have Baker on the sell list because he is due to get a new contract this coming off season and I just don’t see him being able to carry a franchise the way someone making $30,000,000 plus a year should. At the moment Mayfield has a top tier offensive line, a stout defense, stud receivers, and a top 3 running game week in and week out and has yet to post eye popping numbers in a season, though he was efficient last year. I’m not saying Baker is Joe Flacco but look how much Flacco’s deal hurt the Ravens at the time. If he’s going to live up to a big contract extension then 3,500 yards just won’t cut it.
- Sammy Watkins – 1 year, $5,000,000
I think Sammy Watkins has been a sell for rebuilding owners for the last four years now. I’m not sure what you’ll be able to get for Watkins in a trade, but I know something is better than nothing. At $5,000,000, I wouldn’t blame you for holding Watkins but at this stage of his career I’m taking anything I can get for him.
- Gus Edwards – 1 year, $3,384,000
In one of the more surprising moves this offseason the Baltimore Ravens brought Gus Edwards back despite the presence of one J.K. Dobbins. As rough as the running back position looks right now, I would think you will get good value in return for Edwards. If the Ravens run the ball less with Lamar Jackson, Dobbins and Edwards could see a boost in work.
- Lamar Jackson – 1 year, $2,367,912
Again, it feels gross to say sell Lamar Jackson, but he is about to get a massive new contract next season. Unless you have planned for Jackson’s new deal in the $40,000,000 range, you should trade him while you still can get maximum value for him. I can see scenarios where you can hold Lamar and get away with it but be careful, it’s a dangerous game.
- Tyler Boyd – 3 years, $10,750,000
While Tyler Boyd can be argued to be a hold, I would suggest moving him now. If you can find an owner high on Boyd, or an owner who thinks the Bengals will throw the ball 700 times, which is highly possible, then move Boyd to them. At Boyd’s salary and length, I’m just looking to move him before Chase blows up.
- Joe Mixon – 4 years, $12,000,000
Yes, saying trade Joe Mixon feels gross but nowhere near Nick Chubb gross. Mixon has seen plenty of hype over the years and has had two very good seasons during his career, but he is on his second deal, and he is expensive. You can hold Mixon as well but as thin as running back is I would trade him now to avoid him potentially winning a week for you.
There you have it Dynasty Owners. Every fantasy relevant player in the AFC North, along with what to do with them on your roster. If there is a specific division, you would like to see me cover next week feel free to let me know on Twitter. Please remember to check out the YouTube video as well. As always don’t forget to check out Matt’s articles and videos which release on Mondays and Steve’s articles and videos which release on Wednesdays. As always good luck on your 2021 Chase for the Ring!