Dynasty Targets for Contenders and Rebuilders

One of my favorite aspects of fantasy football has always been trading. Nothing beats tinkering with the details of a deal until you get it just right and both parties can walk away satisfied. But trading in fantasy football – and dynasty in particular – isn’t just a fun part of the game. Trading is one of the best ways to turn your roster into the terror of your league for years to come.

With that in mind, I’ve assembled a couple of players for you to target in your leagues, whether you’re a rebuilding team starting over or a contender looking for that last piece to push you over the top.


Adrian Peterson: Saints

It may seem obvious to tell contending teams to buy one of the greatest running backs of all time, but Peterson’s hype seems to have finally faded off this year. He’s ranked as the RB32 in redraft leagues both on this site and on ESPN, and the concerns about him finally being done are fair.

Peterson averaged a paltry 1.9 yards per carry last season before tearing his meniscus and being placed on injured reserve. He is also now 32 years old – an age that not many running backs have seen fantasy success at – and shares the New Orleans backfield with an accomplished veteran in Mark Ingram and a rookie 3rd round pick in Alvin Kamara. But if we keep digging things start to look up.

For starters – this is Adrian Peterson we’re talking about, and 37 carries behind an awful offensive line last season aren’t enough to convince me he’s done yet. If anybody can find success at 32 off a serious knee injury its him. He’s also playing within a high-octane offense for one of the first times in his career, and its an offense that supports fantasy RB production. Mark Ingram has found a lot of success playing in this offense the past several years, and even backup Tim Hightower has had 8 double-digit scoring weeks in 24 games with New Orleans after signing midway through 2015.

Speaking of Ingram and Hightower – Sean Payton’s confusing insistence to bench Mark Ingram for long stretches seems likely to continue after signing a big name running back like Peterson to a two-year contract. If Peterson looks like his old self, I don’t expect Payton to be afraid of benching Ingram, and so far reports of Peterson in camp have been very promising. Peterson certainly comes with his risks, but in this offense, a healthy, motivated AP with plenty of touches could be a league winner and can be acquired cheaply.

Demaryius Thomas: Broncos

Thomas turns 30 this December and is coming off the worst season of his career since 2011, but there is reason for optimism.

For starters he appears to be healthy after playing through much of last season with an aggravating hip injury. Despite the hip, however, he managed his 5th straight 1,000 yard, 90 catch season making his floor incredibly high. Former Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy has returned to his old role under which Thomas developed and had some of his best seasons. And while Thomas is no longer young enough to build your team around – he isn’t quite old enough for me to think he’s reached the end yet, either.

This is a receiver that averaged over 100 receptions, 1,400 yards, and 10 TDs a season in the four years before his injury plagued 2016. If a team looking to rebuild in your league owns Thomas, a package of picks and young players may land you a WR1 for a couple more years.


Sammy Watkins: Bills

Let me tell you a story. There was once a wide receiver whose team traded up to draft him with a top 10 pick in the NFL draft. That receiver’s rookie year saw him accumulate over 50 receptions and 900 yards. He followed it up with his first 1,000 yard season in his sophomore year. Then his 3rd year came around and instead of taking over the league, he managed fewer than 600 yards as a broken foot shortened his season.

Who is that story about?

Well, it’s about Julio Jones. But it also describes Sammy Watkins. The two talented receivers have had strangely similar starts to their careers. Things ended up working out alright for Jones as he’s now racked up three straight 1400 yard seasons and is widely considered one of the best players in the game. This, of course, doesn’t mean Watkins is destined for the same path, but it’s important to remember the caliber of prospect Watkins was and that as long as he’s been healthy, he hasn’t disappointed.

Not many 24-year-old wide receivers have best WR in the NFL potential, but Watkins does. The foot injury that ruined his 2016 appears to be healing nicely and similar injuries have not stopped Jones, Dez Bryant, Emmanuel Sanders, or Julian Edelman from performing at a high level. With Watkins, rebuilding teams have an opportunity to buy a potential franchise cornerstone without paying franchise cornerstone prices.

2018 Rookie Draft Picks

This might not be the exciting answer, but 9 months from now when the NFL draft comes around and rookie hype is at an all time high you’ll be happy you invested now.

Draft picks are gold for rebuilding teams. Young talent with limitless potential is exactly what you need to turn your team around. But in the weeks and days before the NFL draft and your leagues rookie draft, “rookie fever” takes over. Proven veterans are cast aside for the next big thing regardless of the risks. Buying 1st round picks becomes nearly impossible without overpaying. But now? Nine months before the draft? Nobody cares about those picks. Everybody is busy loading up for the season and rounding out their roster.

I’m hesitant to commit my teams to full rebuilds, but if you know you’re going to be pulling the trigger than there’s no better investment than investing in next years draft now. It can be done surprisingly cheaply now, and I can guarantee the picks will be worth more by the time the draft rolls around. If you can stomach it – your patience will be rewarded.


Whether you’re rebuilding or contending, trading is a critical part of winning championships in dynasty leagues. The players (and picks!) listed above are a great starting point, but by no means the end to the opportunities available to active owners. By keeping open dialogues with your fellow owners and carefully recognizing opportunities to buy undervalued players you can craft your team into a powerhouse.


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Eric Braun

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I grew up a die hard Washington Redskins and Penn State football fan and began playing fantasy football in 2007. I've been addicted and learning as much as I can about my favorite hobby ever since.