By Mikey Ostrowski

The best time to sell-high on players is in the middle of the season while they’re balling out. However, the off-season, after a solid season, is a pretty damn good time for selling as well. The sweet spot is right now, right before free agency and the NFL Draft.

The next few months will be unpredictable in the NFL. There will be many rumors of free agency signings as well as countless people on social media claiming they know who NFL teams are going to draft. News flash: they don’t. We can make educated guesses, but nothing is final until it’s final. I’ve made a list of four players that are perfect to sell before this period begins.

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out part one of this piece, where four more players are highlighted as sell candidates before the off-season frenzy starts.

Rashaad Penny

Penny’s perfect sell window was December, but there most definitely still is a market for him. Believe it or not, his current value is sitting right around pick #16 overall in 1QB rookie drafts. Penny, a 26 year old free agent running back, has only played in 37 games over the last four seasons. His only notable achievement is putting up 671 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns in the last five weeks of the 2021 season. Don’t get me wrong, that is a very impressive showing. However, where was that the first 3.5 seasons of his career? I understand that his career has been plagued with injuries, but even when healthy he wasn’t able to buy much playing time behind the other running backs in Seattle. If I roster Penny, I am 100% hitting the accept button if I’m offered a pick around the early-to-mid part of the 2nd round. There’s a ton of upside with him after the impressive end in 2021, but there’s too much risk. Will he stay in Seattle? If so, will he beat out Chris Carson for the starting role? What if he leaves? Who is in the position to give their backfield (or part of it) to Penny? Most importantly, can he stay healthy and replicate his late season heroics? Those are all questions you should let someone else find out the answers to. Sell him while the value is still high.

Cam Akers

Some people love Akers and some people don’t. If you haven’t guessed, I am one of those who don’t. I liked him (less than the consensus) after his rookie year, but lost a lot of hope after his gruesome Achilles injury. Miraculously, he shattered all expectations and managed to come back with a hefty workload in time for the Rams’ super bowl run. Over those few weeks, Akers was underwhelming. Despite seeing 67 carries in the playoffs, he scored zero touchdowns and only managed 2.6 yards per carry. Some argue that he was still injured, but with how good Sony Michel (who I believe they’ll re-sign and keep the three-headed monster of him, Akers and Darrell Henderson together) was playing at the end of the season, there was really no reason for the Rams to rush Akers back on the field. An injury to the Achilles is not something that most athletes, let alone running backs, can come back from. He’s lost a step and is not nearly as explosive as he was before the injury. He’ll have a decent workload, but I’ve lost confidence in his ability to play at a consistently excellent level. If you can land a top-4 pick or even a 2023 1st + a half-decent replacement at the running back position, you should seriously consider taking that deal.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

Most people who have Amon-Ra rostered managed to grab him with a late 2nd or early 3rd round pick in 2021. Luckily for them, their return on investment has already proven to be a damn good one. He finished the season as the WR21 with 227.3 PPR points. We knew that there would be a good opportunity in Detroit but I don’t think anyone expected those kind of numbers out of him. Now, three months later, his value is through the roof. According to KTC, St. Brown is equal in value to pick 1.07 in this year’s rookie draft. He’s valued higher than both Brandon Aiyuk and Keenan Allen (I’d roster either over St. Brown) and the hype on him has spiraled out of control. Yes, there is a lot to like about him, but his situation can’t possibly get better from here. Sure, the Lions could draft (or sign) a quarterback, but that’s not the full story (but it is the only story you’ll bring up to potential buyers). Think about it, St. Brown’s breakout happened while both TJ Hockenson and D’Andre Swift were dealing with injuries. There were literally no other notable receivers on this offense. Within a couple of weeks, St. Brown went from 3rd on the pecking order to 1st and that’s just not something that I can see holding in 2022. Detroit is also planning on being big spenders in free agency at the position. At the very least, they’re likely going to spend early draft capital (day one or two) on a receiver which would take some target share away from St. Brown. All in all, St. Brown is an exciting player and I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to deal him away, but I do think he’s in for some second year regression. This may be the highest return you’ll be able to get for him, arguably for the rest of his career.

James Conner

Conner was awesome in 2021. He had a complete revival in Arizona and found his way back into the top-5 fantasy running backs… but that ain’t gonna happen again. He’s a free agent… a 27 year old free agent with a decent sized injury history. Many assume that he’ll be back with Arizona (which would be the best possible outcome of free agency for him), but I think he’ll go elsewhere. Personally, I think Arizona is going to draft a do-it-all running back by day two of the draft this year, which would immediately end any hype around James Conner. At that point, he’d either go somewhere else (likely to be in a committee) or stay in Arizona and split time with a rookie. No matter how you swing it, his value is likely to plummet after the NFL Draft. Even if Arizona doesn’t draft anyone, there are plenty of suitors in free agency that will likely be asking for less money than Conner will. Ironically enough, he’s going for the same price as Rashaad Penny is (despite having a significantly better history in the league) right now. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t complain about having Conner as my RB3/depth piece, but I’d rather sell high on him. If you can land a late 1st, early 2nd, or future 1st for Conner, I’d pull that trigger. There most definitely are going to be buyers in your league for 2021’s #5 overall running back.

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