Originally posted: October 4, 2016
The purpose of this column is to help readers take advantage of perceived and anticipated player values for trading. What we try to do here is isolate players whose values are currently down but could go up, and vice versa. What we are not trying to do is advise you to trade or trade for these players at any cost. It’s important to get proper value in trades and to remember to avoid making a trade unless it measurably improves your team.
We will also from time-to-time suggest trading players that we like a lot. When we do, it’s often because the player was drafted as a backup and isn’t exactly needed; therefore, the goal is to improve your team in another area.
PLAYERS TO TRADE FOR
Eddie Lacy (RB, GB) – Lacy wasn’t great for fantasy in the first two weeks, but he was actually averaging a healthy 4.3 YPC (26/111 rushing) through two games, he just wasn’t getting enough touches. HC Mike McCarthy actually fed the beast the last time we saw him in Week 3. The Packers scored on six of their first seven drives, but unfortunately Lacy didn’t get the chance to punch one in on their four TD drives. We’ve obviously ribbed Lacy because of his weight, and we hope he didn’t pig out over their Week 4 bye, but we do think he’s run well since the preseason. Lacy just needs to start finding the end zone after going scoreless the first three games, as he’s averaging a fantastic 5.0 YPC (43/214). Only Isaiah Crowell (6.4), Devonta Freeman (5.9), Spencer Ware (5.3), and DeMarco Murray (5.2) are better among RBs with 40+ carries. Ultimately, it does look like he’s going to have a nice year as he’s been better early in the season than usual. He usually heats up later in the year and matchups against Dallas, Chicago (x2), Atlanta, and Indy will help.
Jeremy Hill (RB, Cin) – The Bengals committed to running the ball with Hill in Week 4, but he simply couldn’t find any kind of room between the tackles or get the edge against a pretty good Dolphins defensive line. He also failed on two chances to score inside the 5-yard line, an area where he normally dominates. He at least played on 51% of the snaps ahead of Giovani Bernard’s 49%. OC Ken Zampese has committed more to the run the last two weeks, which is something they should continue to do with limited weapons at receiver outside of A.J. Green, and he has four great matchups coming up against the Cowboys, Patriots, Browns, and Redskins.
C.J. Anderson (RB, Den) – After a poor showing in Week 3, CJA wasn’t much better in Week 4 against the Bucs, though a TD added to his line makes it a lot better – 19/49/1 rushing and 1/3 receiving. But keep in mind that in the Bengals and Buccaneers, CJA has had difficult matchups back-to-back. But check out this run leading up to the Broncos’ Week 11 bye – vs. Atl, @SD, vs. Hou, vs. SD, @Oak, @NO. With the exception of maybe Houston, Anderson has an outstanding run coming up. With either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch at QB, we’d be willing to target a potential RB1 and game-changer at a position where there aren’t many, especially with his outstanding run of matchups coming up.
Devontae Booker (RB, Den) – Just a note here for those who drafted CJA but did not get Booker; if he hasn’t been dropped yet, this is a good time to trade for Booker to secure this valuable handcuff. Booker has fumbling issues, and possibly pass-pro issues, but he’d be a top-20 guy at least if Anderson were completely out of the mix.
Jamaal Charles (RB, KC) – Charles played just 10 snaps in Week 4 against Pittsburgh, his first appearance of the year, and managed only 2/7 rushing. The Chiefs wanted to just get his footing under him before the Week 5 bye, but it’s also possible that coach Andy Reid decided to pull back on him given the sloppy conditions in rainy Pittsburgh. Spencer Ware lost a fumble in each of the last three games, and the Chiefs come out of the bye with a huge run, perhaps not seeing a truly tough matchup until Week 11 vs. Tampa – @Oak, vs. NO, @Ind, vs. Jac, @Car, vs. TB, @Den. It may be tough to pry Charles away from an owner who has waited this long for him, but the schedule suggests he should immediately be in the mix for some flex value.
Doug Martin (RB, TB) – It’s pretty clear that the Buccaneers need Martin’s grind-it-out style in their offense. The Bucs have had one of the NFL’s most disappointing attacks through four weeks, and it can well be attributed to the fact that Martin was injured early on. Though he’s had some tough matchups, Charles Sims has struggled to maintain solid production as a runner, and now is banged up himself. There may be no better time to target a panicking Martin owner. He’s likely out this week against Carolina, then has a Week 6 bye. But coming out of that bye, the Bucs see the 49ers, Raiders, Falcons, and Bears, the last three of those at home. It’s setting up well for Martin to return with a vengeance when his hamstring heals up.
Theo Riddick (RB, Det) – It doesn’t sound like Dwayne Washington (foot, ankle) will miss a lot of time, but he probably can’t be counted on for a few weeks. They do have Zach Zenner, but he’s not particularly impressive and is a one-speed runner. Zenner can catch the ball and should be their goal line back, but if Washington isn’t playing, that’s going to mean more Riddick. When Washington left their Week 4 game early, Riddick played 81 percent of the Lions’ offensive snaps. Riddick’s PPR finishes are as follows this season: RB4, RB22, RB23, RB33, and his value is likely going back up.
Derrick Henry (RB, Ten) – The preseason hype on Henry should be dead by now, but if you drafted DeMarco Murray and didn’t get Henry, here’s another reminder to try to acquire the rookie as Murray’s valuable handcuff. There would be a big drop-off in production, but Henry would have strong value dominating the snaps and touches here.
Amari Cooper (WR, Oak) – The issue for Cooper right now, at least in terms of fantasy, is that he’s playing the solid but complementary role we expected for Michael Crabtree, while Crabtree is playing the fantasy stud role we expected from Cooper. Crabtree has now outscored Cooper for fantasy in three consecutive games, while seeing more targets than Cooper in two consecutive. Cooper’s had struggles with drops, and it just seems like young QB Derek Carr is more willing to pull the trigger to Crabtree in big spots. That being said, Cooper is too good not to get his, and get his very soon, and Carr has been playing too well for it not to happen. Crabtree may well be better than we gave him credit for, but Cooper is better than his numbers are showing now. His schedule isn’t great, but it’s possible top CBs like San Diego’s Jason Verrett start paying more attention to Crabtree. Buying low on Cooper is a no-brainer, because everything else in Oakland is clicking.
Brandin Cooks (WR, NO) – People hate Cooks, and people hate that we like him even more. But when you see him go off, just think if he can do that more consistently. That’s why we push him like we pushed Antonio Brown 3-4 years ago. Those people got a ton of ammo the last two weeks, when Cooks was pretty much totally neutralized by top CBs Desmond Trufant and Jason Verrett. Now, Cooks is on bye, meaning a goose egg is guaranteed from him this week. So we’re telling you it’s time to strike – the schedule in the second half certainly doesn’t look great, but at least Cooks gets the Seahawks at home, where he’s been far better in his career to this point. Then, he gets two matchups with the Bucs’ mediocre secondary during the playoff weeks. He may not have a huge ceiling, but he can be had for cheap right now, and he’s worth owning for his home games alone.
Randall Cobb (WR, GB) – The Packers finally got their offense going in the right direction in Week 3 against the Lions, but their slot WR wasn’t included in the fun. He finished with just 1/33 receiving on 3 targets, despite the Packers scoring on six of their first seven drives of the game. Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson have rekindled their relationship with 4 TDs in the early going. Meanwhile, Cobb has picked up where he left off in 2015, as he’s averaging just 8.8 FPG through three weeks, which ranks him 62nd at the position. He’s no longer a must-start at this point, but he’s worth taking a shot on in deeper leagues with his value way down, especially with some nice matchups coming up in the near future against the Bears, Falcons, Colts, Titans, and Redskins.
Donte Moncrief (WR, Ind) – We still don’t know when he’ll return for sure, but per HC Chuck Pagano this week, he’s “doing well.” There’s someone who’s not “doing well” in Indy, and that’s QB Andrew Luck because his options in the passing game are very limited.
Zach Ertz (TE, Phi) – Ertz is ready to go for Week 5, after missing three games with a displaced rib (ouch). The Eagles have gotten a ton of production out of the TE spot even without Ertz this year, but he was heavily involved in Week 1, and we’d project Ertz to be back on the TE1 radar immediately in a good matchup against the hapless Lions defense. This Eagle offense is very TE heavy, and Ertz is the best overall player of the very deep Philly trio at the position. With the play of rookie QB Carson Wentz so far this year, we’re optimistic about Ertz’s chances to be an every-week starter at the position.
Delanie Walker (TE, Ten) – The Titan passing offense is in wretched shape right now, and they desperately need Walker to give them a spark. It’s sad that a 32-year old TE is their most dynamic weapon, but it’s true. If you’re without a solid TE and the Walker owner hit the jackpot with a guy like Kyle Rudolph, this is a good time to trade for Walker at a discount, since he only 15th in total scoring and is currently being out-produced by Jack Doyle of all people. A healthy Walker should be a top-6 guy.
Leftovers from last week
Willie Snead (WR, NO) – Snead had a quiet game in Week 4, so we are still concerned about his health. But he’s the most reliable option for Drew Brees in this offense, and that’s huge for a guy like Brees. When Snead is healthy, Brees will be going to him – a lot.
Jordan Matthews (WR, Phi) – Matthews has been the favorite target of rookie QB Carson Wentz thus far, though it worked out to just 2 receptions in Week 3 against Pittsburgh. Of course, the Eagles game planned to get the ball out of Wentz’s hands quickly and avoid the Steelers’ trap coverage in that game, and Matthews still did manage to score a TD. It’s a great time to make a move for him, however. Matthews and Wentz clearly have positive chemistry, but because he’s coming off a 2-catch game and is going into an early bye week, his owners may be a bit impatient. Coming out of the bye, Matthews has positive matchups with the Lions and Redskins, too.
PLAYERS TO TRADE AWAY
Isaiah Crowell (RB, Cle) – We were very high on Crowell this summer, so we know that many of our subscribers have been enjoying the fruits of Crow’s labor so far this season. His 386 rushing yards puts him behind only Ezekiel Elliott, and he’s currently tied for 8th in FPG (17.0) with Tevin Coleman. What makes Crow’s start even more impressive is that he’s getting it done every week with game scripts that are working against him, as the Browns have yet to win and are playing from behind every week. It’s appears that HC Hue Jackson is hell bent on giving Crowell his 15+ carries every week no matter what the circumstances are, but that isn’t guaranteed going forward with some tough matchups looming. If you were fortunate enough to draft Crow late, maybe you are in a very good spot with a couple stud RBs in front of him, so sell him at peak value.
Melvin Gordon (RB, SD) – At 20.6 FPG, Gordon ranks 4th among all RBs, but among the top 20 average scorers at the position, only Theo Riddick has a worse YPC average than Gordon’s 3.15. Nonetheless, Gordon played 89% of the Chargers’ offensive snaps, as Dexter McCluster’s snap share actually went down. This is the perfect example of volume making a fantasy asset. His usage is RB1 level, but his play is not anywhere close to that, despite 6 TDs thus far (mostly short). Which element will give first? If the TDs dry up, so will Gordon – a whopping 43.7% of his fantasy scoring has come from TDs, the highest among any RB in the top 30 in PPR fantasy scoring. Plus, he’s had problems with fumbles in his career. Which Gordon are you betting on? The one getting short TDs and check downs, or the one who has really been extremely inefficient on a per-touch basis? In a generally tough division, if we can get a big-time fantasy WR based on Gordon’s FPG output, we’d pounce now.
Michael Crabtree (WR, Oak) – Look, if you need Crabtree, keep him. There’s nothing stopping you, and there’s no doubt he’s playing really well with a young QB in Derek Carr who continues to improve. But it’s also worth pointing out that Amari Cooper is too good to not get his at some point, and Crabtree faded a bit down the stretch last year. Crabtree is also playing well enough that he may attract more attention from the likes of Jason Verrett, Marcus Peters, and the Broncos’ elite secondary. This isn’t an emergency “TRADE HIM NOW!” alert, but rather a notice that trading him for an RB1, if possible, is prudent.
Charles Sims (RB, TB) – Sims’ run as the top back is about to come to an end after Week 5, with Doug Martin (hamstring) set to come back after their Week 6 bye. It also came out this week that Sims is dealing with a banged up right knee heading into their showdown with Panthers on Monday night. HC Dirk Koetter also hinted this week that he could cut down Sims’ role as the workhorse back, meaning that Jacquizz Rodgers could see more work as a runner this week. They clearly need a healthy Martin to power this running going forward, and the Bucs clearly prefer to use Sims as more of a passing back, so it’s best to move him now before his value goes down significantly starting in Week 6.
Blake Bortles (QB, Jac) – Bortles had his best day in Week 4, which is saying something since he didn’t look particularly good against the Colts. Allen Hurns really padded Blake’s stats with an individual play on his 42-yard catch-and-run TD late in the game. We’ve liked very little of what we’ve seen from Bortles so far this year, as his mechanics are slow and sloppy and his decision-making could be described in the same way. The Jaguars have an absolutely brutal schedule to end the year with matchups against Denver, Minnesota, and Houston looming in the fantasy playoffs in Weeks 13-15, so it’s best to get something for Bortles while you can.
Andrew Luck (QB, Ind) – Luck has managed to piece together a seventh-ranked FPG (24.0) average among QBs through four weeks, but it feels like it could be much worse. He simply has no margin for error right now playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league, and the WR depth behind T.Y. Hilton at this point is putrid, as he really needs a healthy Donte Moncrief back immediately. They also one of the worst remaining schedule for fantasy QBs, with matchups against Houston (x2), Kansas City, and Minnesota looming down the road. Luck obviously broke down from the beating he took in 2015, and the same could happen this year.
Source: Fantasy Guru
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