Three Overvalued Startup Dynasty Players


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Three Overvalued Startup Dynasty Players

Sometimes, dynasty fantasy football feels like a high-stakes game of hot potato. You'll get burned if you’re holding onto the wrong asset when the music stops. Just ask anyone who drafted Michael Thomas in the first round of their 2020 startup draft. That catastrophe was unavoidable, but in many cases, there are indicators that a player will not live up to their cost.

Today, we’ll examine three dynasty assets who could lose significant value in 2024. I’ll explain why it’s time to move on from these players and offer some trade options based on current startup ADP.

ADP courtesy of DynastyDataLab

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, SEA

Startup ADP: 5.11 (WR23)

A year ago, Smith-Njigba was the clear WR1 in the 2023 rookie class. As a sophomore at Ohio State, Smith-Njigba outproduced future first-rounders Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave, leading the team by a wide margin with over 1,600 receiving yards. His yards per route run (YPRR) of 4.01 was the 2nd-highest by a Power 5 WR since at least 2017.

Despite lofty expectations, Smith-Njigba had a forgettable rookie campaign, recording 93 targets, 63 receptions, 628 yards, and 4 TDs in 17 games. His 63.9 PFF grade (65th) and 1.39 YPRR (61st) are even more concerning. When a rookie WR is that inefficient, he rarely develops into a highly productive fantasy asset.

This list of comparable rookie seasons does not inspire confidence. Out of 22 qualifying receivers, only 1-2 could be described as non-busts: Michael Pittman and Courtland Sutton.

The common excuse for Smith-Njigba’s poor production is target competitio — that he couldn’t be expected to produce while playing across from D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. But that target competition isn’t going anywhere, with Metcalf and Lockett set to remain in Seattle for 2024.

Smith-Njigba no longer has any value insulation. If he disappoints again in 2024, the Njig will officially be up. His dynasty value will crater, and he’ll be buried alongside Rashod Bateman, Jalen Reagor, and all the other WRs who, once upon a time, were sure to bounce back in year two.

I feel much better investing my capital elsewhere. I have fewer questions about WRs like Tee Higgins, Zay Flowers, and Rashee Rice, who are being drafted just ahead of Smith-Njigba in startups. I’d even prefer Jayden Reed or George Pickens, who are being drafted later.

D’Andre Swift, RB, CHI

Startup ADP: 8.10 (RB17)

Swift was a free agent for about five minutes before signing a 3-year, $24 million contract with the Chicago Bears. He’ll almost certainly be paired with Caleb Williams and given every opportunity to succeed in a lead role. But that doesn’t mean everything is sunshine and rainbows for the former second-round pick.

Swift owes much of his rushing success to the Eages’ dominant offensive line. In 2023, Philadelphia’s line ranked 1st in Rushing Matchup Grade (2.30) and 2nd in yards before contact per attempt (2.17). Meanwhile, Swift ranked 43rd among RBs with at least 50 carries in missed tackles forced per attempt (0.17) and 53rd in yards after contact per attempt (2.38). It’s easy to point to season-long counting stats and say that Swift finally broke out as a rusher, but the truth is that he made the least of a great situation.

Swift’s new competition in Chicago cannot be written off either. Khalil Herbert has been one of the league’s most explosive runners over the past couple of seasons, while Roschon Johnson should compete for third downs. Even goal-line work is not a foregone conclusion for Swift, who converted just 29% of his carries inside the five-yard line last year (5th-worst).

A final concern for Swift is the poor track record of RBs who change teams. RBs switching teams in Year 5 average 2.5 fewer FPG than those who don't.

I would be looking to cash Swift out for late 2024 firsts (an attainable price, according to FantasyCalc’s trade database) or pick up additional assets by tiering down to RBs like Brian Robinson or David Montgomery.

Baker Mayfield, QB, TB

Startup ADP: 7.07, QB19

Following his bounce-back 2023 season, Mayfield signed a 3-year, $100 million contract to remain with the Buccaneers. The team could, in theory, move on from Mayfield in 2025, but barring any massive regression, we can expect similar production for at least the next two seasons. I do have concerns about the departure of offensive coordinator Dave Canales and the team’s TD production being more balanced between passing and rushing in 2024, but let’s put those aside.

My real issue with Mayfield’s price is that his fantasy points are easily replaced. He scored 16.8 FPG in 2023 (17th). Joshua Dobbs also scored 16.8. Jake Browning scored 16.6. Sam Howell scored 16.3. Geno Smith, who is currently being drafted three full rounds after Mayfield, scored 15.8. Oh, and I should mention that Smith scored 18.5 FPG the year prior when the aforementioned Canales was his quarterbacks coach. Coincidence? I think not.

Mayfield is being valued at his ceiling because his fantasy production is “safe.” But does that matter when comparable production can be found at a significant discount? Put another way, would you rather pay Baker’s market value right now (roughly equivalent to the rookie 1.10) or spend your FAAB budget on the Jake Browning/Joshua Dobbs equivalent in each of the next three seasons?

That seems like a pretty easy choice to me, and it doesn’t even account for the possibility that your cheaply-acquired QB becomes a multi-year starter – exactly what we just saw from Mayfield!

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t be paying a premium for replaceable production. Foregoing players with legitimate scoring upside, like Davante Adams or George Kittle, to chase perceived safety in a superflex dynasty league is a losing strategy.

Paul is an English teacher with a degree in creative writing. He brings a logical approach to dynasty fantasy football, using positional value and market trends to build winning rosters. He also creates dynasty content as a podcaster and YouTuber.

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