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Dynasty Fantasy Football: Biggest Fallers In Value From The Divisional Round

Ted takes a look at how last weekends’ playoff action affected the Dynasty fantasy values of Stefon Diggs and Dameon Pierce.

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - JANUARY 07: Stefon Diggs #14 of the Buffalo Bills reacts after a first down catch during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on January 07, 2024 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

Last week, I looked at the biggest risers and fallers in terms of Dynasty fantasy football value following the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs. As I mentioned then, even though these games don’t count for fantasy points, how a player performs on the biggest stage of the season can have a HUGE impact on their value going forward. As we get closer and closer to the Super Bowl, this gets even more true. With that in mind, let’s look at some players whose rough performances in the divisional round cost them some fantasy value. One of these players is a great buy-low candidate, while the other is unfortunately someone I’m looking to trade away at all costs.

Dynasty Fantasy Football Divisional Round Fallers

Dameon Pierce

Coming off a rookie season in which he rushed for over 900 yards in just 13 games, Pierce found himself ranked as high as the Dynasty RB15 this offseason. (Note: This is a warning that I will be referencing values from KeepTradeCut, aka KTC, throughout this article. I know it has plenty of flaws, but it is as good a tool as I know of to gauge the general market’s opinion of a player’s value.) Now, things have gotten so bad for the sophomore that I literally couldn’t find a line anywhere in order to bet the under on his rushing total in the Texans’ matchup with the Ravens … and that was a good call by the sportsbooks, as Pierce didn’t record an offensive snap in the Divisional Round, let alone a carry. If you wanted to be a hater, you could note that although Pierce’s value has declined since his goose egg against the Ravens, that decline is probably just a continuation of a trend (he has been falling steadily since being phased out of the Texans’ offense in favor of Devin Singletary), and therefore he doesn’t belong in this article … but I wanted to talk about him, so sue me.

The reason I wanted to write about Pierce is that I think he is an interesting case as a Dynasty asset. It’s very rare to see a young, formerly productive, player fall from grace quite this fast. Sure, we’ve seen players disappear, especially at the RB position, but I can’t think of many other players who went from the clear 1A in a backfield to ZERO offensive snaps in multiple games in that same backfield within a single season. With that in mind, what do we do with Pierce? There’s an argument to be made that he is still a talented young player, just a terrible fit for the Texans’ new outside zone running scheme. If that’s the case, is he a sneaky candidate to trade for now before his situation changes (perhaps as soon as this offseason, as Texans’ OC Bobby Slowik is likely to land a head coaching job)? Unfortunately, I think not. Pierce is under contract with the Texans for two more years, and even if Slowik moves on, I think they are unlikely to deviate from what’s worked in their running game. We already know that running back is the most replaceable position in the NFL, and as a fourth-rounder with limited receiving chops, Pierce does not have the pedigree to predict he will ever again be a team’s choice as their lead back.

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But he does still have some name recognition in the fantasy community. Even with his value cut by more than half from his preseason peak, Pierce is still ranked above the following players on KTC: Greg Dulcich, Rashod Bateman, Darren Waller, Jaleel McLaughlin, and Elijah Mitchell — by no means cornerstone assets, but all players I would rather roster than Pierce. He is just two spots behind Tyler freaking Lockett. If you’re holding onto Pierce, now is the time to quit while you’re behind and see if you can get pretty much anything in return.

Stefon Diggs

Like Pierce, Diggs has been trending in the wrong direction for the entire second half of the season. However, unlike Pierce, Diggs’ Divisional Round dud (three catches for 21 yards on seven targets, one much-discussed pivotal drop) has had a very clear impact on his value. A big performance (especially if it came in a Buffalo win), could have seen his value rocket back upward. Instead, its already sharp decline got even sharper, and Diggs, who was valued as a top-10 Dynasty WR as recently as November, is now the WR27 on KTC.

The story of Diggs’ value is really a tale of two seasons: Through Week 9, he was the fantasy WR3, averaging an absurd 17.8 Half-PPR points per game. As a result, his Dynasty value was actually rising, an impressive feat for a near-30-year-old. However, for the rest of the fantasy season (Weeks 10-17), Diggs averaged just 6.8 Half-PPR points, good for a miserable WR55 ranking. If we include Week 18 and the Bills’ two postseason games, we have a solid sample of 10 games in which Diggs never cracked 90 yards and recorded just one touchdown. Obviously, something went wrong. The question we have to answer to determine whether Diggs is a buy-low or a panic-sell-now is what. There are a few candidates. For one, the Bills switched playcallers after Week 10, firing Ken Dorsey and elevating Joe Brady to Interim Offensive Coordinator. Under Brady, the Bills were more run-heavy, taking 3% fewer dropbacks than expected compared to 4% more than expected under Dorsey. For another, it’s almost too poetic that Diggs turned 30 in November. Perhaps the dreaded “3” at the front of his age magically took away all his fantasy-point-scoring ability (if we ignore the fact that his stretch of duds actually started a few weeks before his birthday). Or maybe we are just overreacting to a stretch of bad games, each of which may individually have a very reasonable explanation.

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I think the right answer is, like it almost always is, somewhere in the middle. Diggs has likely lost a step (across the whole season, his 79.0 PFF receiving grade is his lowest since 2019, his final year with the Vikings). Joe Brady also did seem to reduce Buffalo’s reliance on their alpha WR, as Diggs dropped to a 28% target share on an 87% route participation rate compared to 31% on 94% participation under Dorsey. And yes, there’s probably some added context for a lot of those games which could make his numbers seem not quite so bad. With that in mind, I think Diggs is a great trade target for contending Dynasty teams, because the fantasy community seems to be going with “Diggs is washed, get out while you can,” as the consensus takeaway. Also, did you hear me just say that a 28% target share (from Josh Allen, by the way) was a downgrade for Diggs? Only 10 other receivers saw a target share that high this season. Even if we just look at his disappointing final 10 games, the former All-Pro racked up 8.0 targets per game. For the season, that would land him tied for 21st in the league with D.J. Moore and Mike Evans. It is risky to trade for someone who appears to be on the wrong side of the age curve. But the very real chance that Diggs bounces back to provide at least another season or two of truly elite production makes the juice worth the squeeze … especially if it’s true what KTC says and you can get him for Darnell Mooney and a second (lol).