The point of this article is very simple: it’s a buy-low and sell-high piece. I’d like to think it’s a lot more nuanced than that, but that’s really the crux of the article: isolating players whose values are likely to rise in the coming week, and those whose values are a good bet to drop. The entries won’t always be blatantly obvious, though. I’m not, for example, going to list a guy as a sell just because he had a big game, but there will be some of that.
Basically, I’m just looking for any and all angles that make sense to me in terms of finding players whose values should rise and whose values should drop in the near future, and I’m passing any recommendations along to you here each Tuesday.
Here’s what I got this week….
PLAYERS TO TRADE FOR
Kenyan Drake (RB, Ari) – Oh, the Drake. The Drake is a bit of a pain in the ass, and Chase Edmonds’ 35% of the snaps is a concern, but after two relatively quiet games Drake’s value has taken a hit, so there’s a small buying opportunity if you’re not set at RB. We do need to see a little more action in the passing game (only 4 targets and 4 catches so far), but this is a sneaky-good running game with Drake, who did get 20 carries in Week 2, and some huge days on the ground may be forthcoming, considering the strong start by Kyler Murray and the passing game. Murray is already racking up the rushing TDs, but they are coming from outside the green area inside the 10, at least. And through two games, they are second in plays per game, so it’s still a good spot for Drake.
Keenan Allen (WR, LAC) – His value shot up after Week 2, but it was clear early in the game that Justin Herbert was very comfortable throwing the ball to Allen, who looked fantastic and just missed a long TD. Allen’s outlook did not look promising after Week 1 with Tyrod Taylor, who was clearly comfortable throwing the ball to Mike Williams. It’s only one start for each QB, but the results were pretty compelling for both players, and the bottom line is Herbert is a good bet to start the remainder of their games, or at least 10+ games this year. Allen’s owner may be a little worried about the talk of Tyrod retaining his job, or maybe Allen’s owner is skeptical of Herbert (which is fair). No matter what, a small buying opportunity appears to have opened up for a straight-up baller in Allen, who caught 7-of-10 targets from Herbert for 96 yards.
Kenny Golladay (WR, Det) - Through two games, Matthew Stafford ranks only 19th in YPA at 7.4, which is a bad number in this day and age. But it’s not as bad as his completion percentage of 59%, which is gruesome and ranks 29th among all starters. Marvin Jones hasn’t distinguished himself and they don’t give TJ Hockenson a lot of targets, so Stafford really needs Golladay back. His value may not be way down with him trending toward a return, but it may not matter much, and it’s possible his owner doesn’t realize that HC Matt Patricia said Golladay was close to returning in Week 2. Detroit erred on the side of caution and kept him out, but Golladay should be ready to return this week to Arizona. Terry McLaurin just roasted Patrick Peterson and company for 7/125/1 receiving, so Golladay could go off in a potential shootout.
A.J. Green (WR, Cin) - I could make a fairly compelling case against Green, who is rolling with a grotesque 39% catch rate right now. That’s obviously worrisome, and he doesn’t quite look as explosive this year as we’ve seen in the recent past, which is another concern. But opportunity is a huge element in fantasy, especially for receivers, and Green is tied for fourth in the league with 22 targets. He’s tied with Stefon Diggs with those 22 targets, yet 18 of Diggs’ targets have been catchable, yet only 12 of AJG’s balls have been catchable, according to SIS. That has to improve because ball location has been a strength of Joe Burrow. Burrow leads the league in attempts and will likely be playing from behind a lot, so if he can fix his issues throwing to Green, there’s a nice payoff for fantasy, if Green is up to the task. He’s a high-character guy and hall of game talent, so I’d have to assume he is.
Allen Robinson (WR, Chi) - Things can change quickly in the NFL, and with two games in the books, it’s clear the Bears are a mess and are very fortunate to be 2-0. Their record may be the only reason they will stick with Mitchell Trubisky, but they could easily pull the trigger at the first sign of trouble. That was my call all summer: the Bears would open the season with Trubisky as the starter but that they would also bail on their 2017 #1 pick if he struggled. Well, he’s struggling, and he’s taking Robinson down with him. Per SIS, just 9 of Allen Robinson’s 18 targets have been catchable, so it’s no surprise A-Rob is sick of it. I can’t say that Foles is going to be a savior for Robinson, but he can’t be any worse than Trubisky. Robinson’s owner may be ready to bail at a big discount even at this early stage, and A-Rob’s owner probably doesn’t realize that Foles’ time is likely coming sooner than expected unless Trubisky improves dramatically. Even if Trubisky does, that’s good news for Robinson.
Jarvis Landry (WR, Cle) – Landry’s been mainly a volume receiver in this career, which is a concern on the run-heavy Browns, but he’s also been sitting at a much higher YPR in his two seasons in Cleveland, and the bottom line is he’s been off to a very slow start, so his value is likely going nowhere but up in the coming weeks. Landry may not be a weekly starter in a typical 10-team league, but in a 12-teamer with at least one flex, or especially in 14-teamer, he could be a nice asset and someone you can likely acquire now at a discount. I certainly trust him more than Odell Beckham, and TE Austin Hooper has been very meh. It was good to see Baker Mayfield bounce back in Week 2 because that’s exactly what I was expecting this summer, yet Week 1 was frightening.
Noah Fant (TE, Den) – Man, the injuries in Denver. I did love Fant this summer and he is exceeding my expectations. Obviously, for as long as he’s working with the backup QB, his potential may be limited, but with Courtland Sutton on IR for the rest of the season, Fant’s volume and their reliance on him should increase. Jerry Jeudy is also looking good on the trade market, and he should continue to get better and better. Jeff Driskel is a guy who struggles to see things on the field, and Driskel ranks fifth-worst in sack rate (9.5%), second-worst in yards per attempt (6.2), and third-worst in completion rate (58.7%) in his games going back to 2018. But Driskel does have some talent and he is mobile, and I’d think he will be looking for Fant’s big body as much as he can. But more importantly, Drew Lock is only expected to miss 3-5 weeks, which means you may have Fant with his starting QB for the second half of the fantasy season, including the playoffs.
Chris Herndon (TE, NYJ) – So far, it’s been a good year for my TE recommendations – except Herndon. Sure, he was very inexpensive, which was part of the appeal, but his 1/5 line on 4 targets in Week 2 was repugnant. Part of the problem is he’s being used more as a blocker. It’s got to get better before it gets worse, but I certainly wouldn’t go out of my way to acquire him. But in TE premium leagues or 14-team leagues or larger, you could easily profit later in the season from buying Herndon at a discount. I could see him being considered a fantasy draft bust for much of the first half of the season - and then him coming on and producing in the second half.
Listed here last week, but I still think they are viable:
D’Andre Swift (RB, Det) - Very quietly, Swift is tied for 6th at RB with 10 targets and tied for seventh at RB with 10 receptions. He’s still leading this backfield in snap percentage with 38.7%, and also backfield target percentage with 19.9%. If anything happens to Kerryon Johnson or Adrian Peterson’s, Swift’s value will rise considerably, but he’s holding it down now due to his work in the passing game, which is impressive for a rookie. Heck, even the Lions are shocked he’s done so well in the passing game.
David Montgomery (RB, Chi) - He looked great in Week 2, and the Bears are going to pull the plug on Mitchell Trubisky soon if he continues to be inconsistent, which he will. Nick Foles may not be a savior, but Eagles fans would argue he is, and if he can play solidly, that should be good news for Montgomery, since Foles’ downfield acumen should help lighten up the boxes for the Bears RBs. Amazingly, through two games, Montgomery has a 9.5% target share in this backfield with Tarik Cohen, the pass-catching specialist they just paid, rolling with a pathetic 5.7% target share. Part of that is Trubisky not checking the ball down, and Cohen’s targets will rise for sure. But anything Montgomery can do in the passing game is a bonus, and in Week 2, he did a lot. Montgomery has seen 16 or more opportunities (carries + targets) in 13 of his 18 career games, and his production is about to go up now that he’s healthier and slimmer.
Antonio Gibson (RB, Was) - Gibson’s snap percentage in this backfield was only 26% in Week 1, but that shot up to 65% in Week 2, as Peyton Barber’s snap percentage in this backfield went from 41.4% in Week 1 to 1.5% in Week 2. That’s all you need to know in terms of how much the Redskins want Gibson to take over. Gibson showed good power in Week 1, but he looked much better overall in Week 2, putting up 13/55/1 rushing. It’s only a matter of time until the asking price on Gibson rises significantly.
Brandon Aiyuk (WR, SF) - Good lord, the 49ers are having a rough time this year. They need help, and while we know Deebo Samuel will be back relatively soon, don’t forget that Kyle Shanahan wanted Aiyuk in the draft in the worst way, and he’s been very bullish on the rookie’s potential in his offense all year. Aiyuk is hardly someone to count on, especially right now, but his value would soar if he had a breakout game in the coming weeks, so he stands out as a guy to acquire now while his asking price is likely suppressed. Of course, this is all assuming Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t miss a lot of time, which is their hope.
Mecole Hardman (WR, KC) – Sammy Watkins, listed as a player to trade here last week, is already up to his old tricks by coming up small in Week 2 with only 1/11 on 3 targets, this despite the fact that Patrick Mahomes threw it 47 times. Sammy also got hurt, but he did return. Hardman is hardly a lock, but he’s too good to keep down for too long, and if Sammy misses time, Hardman would have a real chance, given his jets and how defenses are putting the clamps down on Tyreek Hill. Also, Demarcus Robinson stinks.
Damien Harris (RB, NE) - If he’s rostered in your league, he’s a good one to add as a throw-in to another deal, or to just acquire now for very little. Sony Michel is not cutting it, and Rex Burkhead may be hurt by the time I finish typing this sentence, so Harris is a sneaky add right now. He was one of the stars of their training camp this summer and he has way more juice and versatility than Michel.
PLAYERS TO TRADE
Deshaun Watson (QB, Hou) – HC Bill O’Brien refuses to call designed runs for Watson. Per SIS, Watson has just 1 designed carry while Cam Newton has a league-high 19. Cam is the QB3 right now on the season out of nowhere, while Watson is merely the QB15. It could get worse, and we may be a couple of weeks away from the entire city of Houston turning it’s backs on B.O.B., and while Watson will probably find a way to keep you afloat at QB, I have very little confidence in his top two wideouts avoiding injury. In fact, Will Fuller’s already hurt. If Watson doesn’t have Fuller and Brandin Cooks, where the hell is he going with the ball? Watson still doesn’t look very good on film, and the excitement over David Johnson’s Texan debut has already evaporated after a poor showing in Week 2 (granted, against a tough defense). It just seems like there’s more downside to holding him compared to moving him for proper value, so if you have a guy like Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, or Joe Burrow behind Watson, you might be making your team better by parting ways with Watson.
Cam Newton (QB, NE) - I’m not down on Cam at all and he was an easy player for me to list in my Draft Plan as a target this summer given up cheap ADP, the good training camp vibes, and his running. But while it’s only two games, it’s fair to wonder if his value is already peaking right now. The guy is on pace to rush for 32 TDs after all. He’s also on pace to throw for only 8 TD passes, so he will have to pick it up in that realm because his rushing through two games is unsustainable. By all means, if you need him (like if you drafted Carson Wentz), keep him around. But if you took him as your QB2 and have a great option at QB1, I could see moving Cam now while he’s the QB3 on the season going down as a solid move.
Todd Gurley (RB, Atl) – Good grief, this is bad. The bottom line is simply this: if the Falcons aren’t going to use Gurley in the passing game, and he played 64% of the snaps Week 2 with 0 targets, then Gurley’s production is going to mainly come down to whether or not he scores. He’s surely not going to get much volume as a runner while the team is nursing a lead because their defense is historically bad. The Falcons did actually have a nice lead in Week 2, up 20-0 in the first quarter, and Gurley did actually get some volume with 21 carries. The problem is he averaged 2.9 YPC and he turned those 21 opportunities into 6.1 PPR points, so it would appear that it’s TD or bust for Gurley, and in Week 1 he wasn’t a high-impact guy despite scoring. I just don’t see him getting better as the season progresses with a degenerative knee issue – and things could get even uglier. Gurley has forced zero missed tackles on his 36 touches so far per SIS. Hopefully, this is all a moot point because we convinced you this summer to pass on Gurley.
Nick Chubb (RB, Cle) - I did list him here last week and he did go off, but I fully expected that to be the case, at home against the lowly Bengals. Obviously, I’m looking long-term here, and the trends are still very worrisome for Chubb. Allow me to lift some info from Graham Barfield’s Week 3 stat pack: Chubb and Kareem Hunt have now played 10 games together and their fantasy points are: Hunt (137.6), Chubb (135.7). Last year, Chubb had 100 first-down carries to Hunt’s 23; this year, Chubb has 20 first-down carries to Hunt’s 16. And to no one’s surprise, Hunt has out-targeted Chubb 52 to 17 in their 10 games together. Coming off a massive game which was in the best environment Chubb will likely be in (at home, national TV, great matchup for him and Baker Mayfield), it’s a good time to sell high.
James Conner (RB, Pit) - I do admit I thought Conner was dead after Week 1, but he showed serious signs of life in Week 2, and that was surprising to everyone. His final rushing line looked good: 16/106/1. But with less than two minutes left in the game, his rushing line looked like this: 15/47/1. Conner ripped off a late 55-yard run to get over 100 yards, but his day wasn’t as good as the final box score indicates. There are positives, like how Conner handled 77% of the snaps while Benny Snell saw just 15%, and HC Mike Tomlin has typically committed to a lead back throughout most of his tenure. That’s good, but that doesn’t change the fact that Conner is an injury risk, as we saw in Week 1. If Tomlin is going to ride him, the odds seem good that Conner will break down, so if I didn’t exactly need him, I’d be very interested in selling now.