Yesterday, I explained why just one playoff performance can have an outsized effect on a player’s Dynasty fantasy football value and went over the three biggest winners from Wild Card Weekend. Today, we look at the other side of that coin: players who hurt their stocks with dud performances on the biggest stage of the year. It’s not all bad news. Some of these players are actually good candidates to target in trades while their stock is down … but some may just be worth moving on from now. Let’s take a look!
Dynasty Fantasy Football Wild Card Weekend Fallers
You might be wondering, is it even possible to lose value while throwing for over 400 yards and three touchdowns? But if you were on Twitter after the Cowboys’ loss to the Packers on Sunday, it was very clear that that was the case for Dak Prescott. There were plenty of questions raised as to whether Prescott (an MVP candidate for a good chunk of this season) was the right choice at quarterback for the Cowboys going forward. And while it is diluted, narratives like this do have an impact on a player’s fantasy value, especially at the quarterback position. Dak’s value on KeepTradeCut (which I will be referencing throughout this article as a useful gauge of the Dynasty market) has consistently declined every day since the Cowboys’ loss. Yesterday’s news that the much-maligned Mike McCarthy would remain the Cowboys’ head coach certainly won’t stop his slide.
But let’s take a step back for a second. Prescott was the fantasy QB3 this season, as well as the QB4 in points per game. With the exception of last year, he has averaged over 20 fantasy points in each of the last five seasons, including a QB2 finish in 2020. He is 30 years old — concerning for any other position, but only middle-aged for a quarterback. His favorite target and one of the best young receivers in the league, CeeDee Lamb, is going nowhere, nor is his safety valve tight end Jake Ferguson. And no, he’s not going to lose his job as the Cowboys’ franchise quarterback. If you can get Prescott at a discount due to all the bad news surrounding Dallas’ early playoff exit, do it.
I can’t not include a top-24 Dynasty WR (again, according to KTC, don’t shoot the messenger) who dropped a big fat goose egg in their playoff debut in this list of fallers. However, unlike with Prescott, I’m not convinced that the market is reacting enough to Reed’s bad outing. His value has fallen by a hair, but he was the WR24 on KTC before Sunday … and he is still the WR24. In my mind, this makes him a candidate to “sell low” even coming off a rough week.
The problem with Reed for me is that I think his bad outing last week was indicative of a bigger problem with his long-term fantasy prospects. Against the Cowboys, he ran a route on just 52% of Jordan Love’s dropbacks. The reason why is simple: The Packers are loaded with young receiving talent. Each of Romeo Doubs (76% route participation), Dontayvion Wicks (62%), Christian Watson (38% in his return from injury), and Bo Melton (33%) saw real usage in their playoff game … not to mention not one but two talented rookie receiving tight ends in Tucker Kraft and Luke Musgrave. Even if we discount Melton, that is still SIX receivers who are either rookies or sophomores and will be Packers for the foreseeable future.
And Reed is by no means guaranteed a lead role among that group. During his rookie season, he ran 74.9% of his routes out of the slot. The only players with at least 50 targets to run from the slot more often were Tyler Boyd, Josh Downs, and Wan’Dale Robinson. While running from the slot sometimes can actually be good for a player’s fantasy value, being in the slot this often is bad, for one simple reason: It usually means you come off the field in two-WR sets. This problem applies to all of the names I just mentioned, and Reed is no exception. Even with Watson missing a large chunk of time and Wicks and especially Melton not emerging until late in the season, Reed averaged just a 63% route participation rate this season. With the Packers’ very crowded WR room, it’s hard to see that changing, and it’s very hard to produce consistent fantasy numbers if you’re off the field on over a third of your team’s plays (even this season, a lot of Reed’s production came on the back of a very high 13% TD rate and two rushing TDs on just 11 carries).
I should acknowledge an argument I have commonly seen in favor of targeting Reed in Dynasty despite his situation, which does sound very reasonable. The argument states that Reed is one of the most talented WRs the Packers have, so he will eventually earn a leading role in their offense. After all, shouldn’t we chase talent over situation in Dynasty? However, I have a few issues with this line of reasoning. For one, this logic has been repeated in fantasy circles for weeks … if the Packers were going to give Reed an expanded role, wouldn’t they have done it already? Just as importantly, the argument for Reed being the most talented receiver on the Packers is nearly always based on one of two things: his superior efficiency or the eye test. However, he ranks third on the team behind Wicks and Melton in both yards per route run (my personal favorite WR efficiency stat) and PFF grade (a stand-in for the eye test). (Side note: If you look just at his 140 routes run not from the slot, Reed drops to 1.42 yards per route run, an unimpressive number that would rank fifth among the Packers’ five WRs.)
Whether we look at who the Packers’ coaching staff utilizes most heavily when everyone is healthy (Doubs and Watson) or who looks the best on paper (Wicks and Melton), Reed is the odd third man out. Is there a chance that changes and he earns a full-time role and produces WR1 or WR2 numbers year in and year out? Sure. But I wouldn’t be on it, and I’m not willing to pay top-24 Dynasty WR prices to find out.