This article is part of our Dynasty Watch series.
The following is a list of players who I think dynasty owners should seriously consider cashing out on right now. The urgency to move and the necessary returns differ in each case, but the common thread between them all is that I think you can get more for them now than you will a couple months into the 2020 season.
Listed in descending order of trade urgency:
Russell Gage, WR, Atlanta
Gage is a leading candidate to compete for slot snaps this year in Atlanta, and that projection understandably makes him a sleeper interest to some fantasy owners. If you currently own Gage, I recommend finding any such person in your league and taking whatever you can get from them.
Gage (6-0, 182) has never shown wide receiver skill. He for some reason casts some sort of inexplicable allure over some coaches, who believe he has some untapped upside as an open-field runner, but even the evidence of that is minimal and he otherwise has no supplementary skill traits as a receiver. He was an end-around specialist at LSU, and with the Falcons he's been a drain on the offense to this point. Even Gage's athletic upside is a mirage – his 4.42 pro day 40 qualifying as 'fast' in general but not meaningfully so on a skinny frame. Whatever the case, Gage's production in the NFL has been awful, his 84 targets on 587 snaps yielding just 55 receptions for 509 yards and one touchdown (65.6 percent catch rate, 6.1 YPT). As a senior at LSU Gage was similarly ineffective, catching 21 receptions for 285 yards and three touchdowns on 40 targets (52.5 percent catch rate, 7.1 YPT).
I see at least two better slot prospects on the Falcons roster right now. One is Olamide Zaccheaus, the other is Jalen McCleskey. I also think there's a strong chance that Calvin Ridley gets boosted slot usage. I'm not convinced that Gage is on the Atlanta roster come October, let alone the starting lineup. Even if you can't get much for Gage, I'd take it anyway.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, New Orleans
Sanders is a somewhat obvious 'sell' in the same way any other aging veteran is, but I think he's a trap even for 2020 fantasy value. Some are hopeful for a renaissance year from Sanders as he joins up with the prestigious Saints offense, and for some current owners that could create an opportunity to capitalize.
As much as the Saints offense remains prestigious, it (A) is far from what it used to be and (B) only has so much theoretical space for Sanders. At 33 years old, Sanders was likely limited to the intermediate and underneath routes to start with, and this downward pressure is only compounded by Drew Brees' increasing dependence on underneath passes. While Sean Payton doubtlessly has a vision in mind for Sanders this year, I think it's reasonable to question that vision given the resulting imbalance in the Saints offense by replacing Ted Ginn with Sanders. Ginn might not be good, and Sanders is clearly more skilled at Wide Receiver Stuff, but without Ginn the primary downfield threat in the Saints offense is now Jared Cook. Bad or not, Ginn's speed made the safeties think twice about creeping up. The Saints offense established its peak with Devery Henderson forcing the safeties back, and with players like Ginn, Robert Meachem, and Kenny Stills providing that element after him. Replacing that vertical speed with a lateral threat like Sanders could make the going tougher on everyone.
Sanders was efficient last year (68.0 percent catch rate, 9.0 YPT), but his impact was more situational than in his prime, his target-per-snap figure at 0.113 after posting 0.15 over 2017 and 2018. This is unlikely to improve in New Orleans, where he will be a clear third in line behind Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara for usage. Between that detail and my concerns about safeties sitting on the underneath routes, I think Sanders will get hit with declining usage and declining efficiency both in 2020. Rather than a 68-percent catch rate at 9.0 yards per target, I'd sooner expect something like a 70 percent catch rate at 7.0 yards per target. Rather than providing sneaky WR3 fantasy value in an infallible offense, I think Sanders is more likely to finish the year with something like 55 catches for 650 yards and four touchdowns. If you can get something better than that for him, I'd take the deal.
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
Jackson is an excellent person in real life and a useful rotational back in the NFL, but I'm deeply skeptical of the idea that he can earn more than a part-time role in the Chargers offense. Some people have the understandable hope that Jackson might emerge as more than that given his big workload at Northwestern and his explosive production to this point, though, so if I were a Jackson owner I would try to exploit that sentiment right now. I expect Jackson to more or less lose the competition between himself and rookie fourth-round pick Joshua Kelley for snaps behind Austin Ekeler.
Jackson (6-0, 199) is skinny and lanky by running back standards, which undermines the value of his athleticism otherwise. Jackson is legitimately quick (10.88 agility score) and explosive (38.5-inch vertical), but he gets a penalty for the density adjustment and likely has average at best size-adjusted speed (4.52 40). Consider how Kelley, by contrast, is more densely built at 5-foot-11, 212 pounds with a faster 4.49-second 40-yard dash. Kelley can get from Point A to Point B faster, and he does so with more natural anchor than Jackson, which is a meaningful detail when we talk about running in traffic.
Neither Jackson nor Kelley can compete with Ekeler for passing functions. Beyond that, though, Jackson projects worse for pure rushing tasks than Kelley. If so, this would seem to functionally render Jackson the RB3 for the Chargers, even if there's some enduring fondness for him generally among the team. But there's another problem: Jackson is a vocal anti-capitalist activist whose worldview puts him at high risk for blacklisting. NFL owners and coaches hate Colin Kaepernick for what he said, and Jackson outflanks Kaepernick to the left. It hasn't come up much as a media subject yet, but it eventually will, and even the people who make token acknowledgments of Kaepernick's causes will tut tut and wag their fingers at Jackson for being 'divisive' and 'extreme.' Someone with Jackson's worldview has no ally in the industry – the right wing will demonize him, and the center will look away instead of defending him.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay
Now 31 years old and away from the game for a year, Gronkowski's return to the field provides a novel and dramatic storyline for the Buccaneers, and the reunited Gronkowski-Tom Brady connection brings with it the assumption of immediate dominance. Even though Gronkowski drew only 72 targets on 839 snaps the last time he played, catching 47 receptions for 682 yards in 13 games, some fantasy football observers suggested that he go as high as sixth among tight ends in 2020. If any such person is in your league, I recommend checking what they're willing to pay you for Gronkowski.
If Gronkowski struggled to draw more than 72 targets on his last 839 snaps, what do we suppose will happen when he's competing for targets alongside Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard instead of Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Chris Hogan? Do we figure that this transition will be made any easier by Brady being 43 years old, or Gronk two years older himself? Perhaps the time off will have been helpful to Gronkowski somehow, but he's always struggled with durability and his back especially will always be a concern. Pertinently for dynasty purposes, there's no evidence that Gronk is willing to play without Brady, whose career is on life support at his current age.
Of course, Gronk will be useful in some sense or another in 2020. There's no urgency to replace him in your starting lineup – there just might be someone in your league willing to overpay you for the rights. There are at least 18 tight ends I would rather own in dynasty, so I'd move him for a long-term currency if I had the chance.
Hunter Renfrow, WR, Las Vegas
Renfrow has shown he's a solid slot receiver in the NFL, and for 2020 at least he should remain a consistent contributor in the Raiders offense. I think last year or this year will go down as his best season with the Raiders, however, and I also think there's a sizable contingent of folks who misunderstand his nature and overrate his talent level.
I wrote about Renfrow extensively and detailed my concerns in this article series about the second-year wideouts (click here to read), so you can find some of the more tedious details in that breakdown. For this article I'll expedite things a bit: the basic problem for Renfrow is that the Raiders quarterbacks are a long-term question, and the Raiders wide receivers are a long-term certainty to pose obstacles to Renfrow's share of the offense.
I'm not even talking about Henry Ruggs, who should actually make Renfrow more effective as safeties place more priority on Ruggs' downfield speed than Renfrow's underneath punctuality. I'm talking about the duo of rookie third-round picks, Bryan Edwards and Lynn Bowden. The problem they pose isn't just the general issue of competing talent, it's more specifically that both Edwards and Bowden are uniquely good prospects for the same functions as Renfrow. Edwards' route running and wide receiver skills generally were among the best in the class, and a big reason why he was able to match the production of Deebo Samuel when the two played at South Carolina, even though Samuel is nearly three years older than Edwards. Even if he's lined up outside rather than in the slot, Edwards tends to draw targets at a similar field depth – underneath and intermediate – and Edwards' prospect profile implies he will be better at this at some point than Renfrow.
I know Bowden was called a running back upon his selection, but I just can't take it seriously. Bowden isn't a running back, he's a damn receiver. Probably a slot receiver, more specifically. The Randall Cobb comparisons couldn't possibly be more obvious, right down to the school and quarterback dabbling. Besides, it's not as if the road to running back snaps is any more plausible than at receiver given the presence of first-round pick Josh Jacobs and the re-signing of passing down specialist Jalen Richard.
I imagine that Renfrow's strongest proponents hope for an upside similar to Cooper Kupp, but Renfrow has no history of standout production and is therefore much more likely to be the next Adam Humphries or some such thing. Humphries was able to hold off Chris Godwin a bit in Tampa Bay, but in that case as in most others, talent eventually won out. If someone in your league values Renfrow as a long-term piece, I would be curious to find out just how much they're willing to pay.
DeVante Parker, WR, Miami
Parker is a really good player, and as such there's no urgency to move him. His fantasy utility is subject to secondary details, however, and they might never be as much in his favor as they were last year. I think there's a good chance that a number of Parker owners might be better served by moving him if there's a high enough bidder.
Parker kicked ass in 2019, finally breaking out with volume after previously only teasing per-target efficiency in his prior four years. A few since-expired conditions brought forth this shift, though. One is that the 2019 Dolphins defense was positively horrible and forced the Dolphins offense into constant catch-up scripts, which will likely no longer be the case after the team added all of Byron Jones, Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson, Emmanuel Ogbah, Noah Igbinoghene, Raekwon Davis, and Brandon Jones this offseason. The second is that Preston Williams is back after tearing his ACL in Week 9. All four of Parker's 100-yard games and five of his nine touchdowns occurred in the eight games Williams didn't play, and Williams drew targets at a higher rate than Parker before the injury (0.15 targets per snap to 0.14, and 2.04 air yards per snap to 1.9). The third condition is that the Dolphins run game was likely the worst in the league with Kalen Ballage in the lead runner role, and that too will no longer be the case with Jordan Howard and Matt Breida in town.
It's also probably pertinent to note that 2019 was the first time Parker played all 16 games in his five-season career. So he played more than ever before, with a uniquely bad defense forcing catch-up scripts, on a team that couldn't run the ball, in an offense where the main target competition got hurt. That was the best-case scenario for him.
Parker's baseline should get an eventual boost when rookie Tua Tagovailoa can take the starting quarterback job from Ryan Fitzpatrick, but that will likely take longer to materialize than the regression of the previously mentioned conditions.