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. And if I list a player as a player to consider trading, I’m not saying to sell at any cost (if I want to convey that, I will).
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
Jimmy Garoppolo (QB, SF) — This is obviously on the lower-end, but if there’s nothing but skank on the WW, especially in a 2-QB league, Jimmy G clearly has potential once he and his top receivers are healthy. After all, Nick Mullens dropped 342 passing yards on only 36 attempts on the road Week 3 against the Giants without their RB1, WR1, and TE1. If Jimmy is healthy in a month with Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and their top two RBs healthy in Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman, there will be more than enough offensive weapons to catapult Garoppolo to fantasy prominence. Brandon Aiyuk is coming along nicely with 100 total yards and a TD on 12 opportunities (8 targets + 3 carries) in Week 3, and he’s a big part of my positive foreshadowing for a healthy Jimmy G.
David Montgomery (RB, Chi) — This is the third week in a row I’m listing him, which would be overkill only for one thing: he now owns a major bell cow for the Bears with Tarik Cohen out for the year. Montgomery surprisingly got stymied in Week 3 (although we did mention in several places how the Falcons run defense looks good this year), but the days of worrying about him getting limited on the ground, and therefore crushing your hopes and dreams, are probably over. Cohen played only 26 snaps in Week 3, yet he had 6 targets, and Bears RBs were targeted 9 times (Montgomery had 3). Montgomery is absolutely proficient in the passing game, so he’s seemingly a lock to haul in 2-3 balls every week and 3+ most weeks. That makes him a much safer play, and also one with nice upside. Think James Conner (when actually healthy) for the Steelers the last 2-3 years. He’ll be an obvious guy to trade for this week, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good target right now because his asking price in 1-2 weeks will surely be more than it is right now.
Leonard Fournette (RB, TB) — Fournette owners are baffled right now because they just assumed he was good-to-go after a major breakout in Week 2. But Bruce Arians is a man of his word (usually), and I personally was quite surprised Fournette went off in just his second game and merely three weeks after signing. Of course, I actually liked Ronald Jones (for perhaps the first time ever) that week because of the matchup, so it’s not that shocking Fournette did well. But up against a better run defense, Jones was his usual mediocre self in Week 3, turning 17 touches into 70 yards without a TD. That’s not terrible, but it’s replaceable. And it may also be time for the Bucs to move away from the ancient LeSean McCoy. I do not think we have to worry at this point about Fournette’s attitude or motivation in this environment, so I’m still fully expecting him to be their bell cow the second half of the season. That’s assuming he gets more comfortable running in this offense because he has looked a little hesitant. But the weather will be getting colder and the rugged Fournette can handle a massive role as a runner and also in the passing game. 20+ touches every week for Fournette playing with the G.O.A.T. who can check in and out of certain plays to help Fournette seems like a league-winner to me. It’s no lock he gets there, but he absolutely could, so there’s a buying opportunity right now.
Joe Mixon (RB, Cin) — It’s as bad as anyone could have feared for Mixon, whose OL stinks once again and is giving him no room to run; he is often getting him hit behind the line a second after he gets the ball. But we did go through this last year, and Mixon turned it around with 100+ rushing yards in four of his last eight games along with a decent 16 catches. He was good for 16 or more PPR points in six of those eight games. The Mixon owner is surely frustrated, and his situation is maddening and does make trading for Mixon a little dicey. Gio Bernard doing a good CEH impersonation for Joe Burrow doesn’t help, but Mixon has run 75 routes to Gio’s 59, so Mixon is still in the mix to catch passes. Ultimately, I’d bet on talent and the offense improving as the rookie Burrow improves. Speaking of rookies, the savior of the OL, LT Jonah Williams, has made only three career starts, all this month, so it’s fair to believe he and the big uglies upfront can improve. Right now I think you can probably get Mixon for 35-40% off his price from just 2-3 weeks ago and if you can plug him into your flex, he should deliver acceptable totals with the potential to wind up as a league winner.
DJ Chark (WR, Jac) — I liked Chark this summer as a pick at his ADP, but his results have been underwhelming. The Jags did suddenly seem to have a plethora of receiving weapons for Gardner Minshew after only two games. But notice all those guys came up small in Week 3? The Jags were flat, sure, and they read their own press clippings, which hurt them, but I would argue those other Jag receivers stunk because Chark wasn’t in the lineup. Chark caught a 50-yard bomb in Week 2, and I believe that was the play he was injured on, but it was a really nice play, and Chark’s ability to make downfield plays looks critical to this passing game. And Chark is hardly just a deep threat. He’s played very well, so his real problem has been his poor target share. Well, if Minshew is smart, and I think he is, he’ll be familiarizing himself with Mr. Chark because he is, by far, their best receiver. Their other receivers are JAGs, literally and figuratively (although the rookie Shenault may not be soon, with more experience). So once he’s back healthy, I’m expecting Chark’s target share and fantasy output to rise.
Diontae Johnson (WR, Pit) — The Steelers do have a ton of weapons, including rookie RB Anthony McFarland, who really flashed Week 3, plus Eric Ebron is getting more involved and Chase Claypool is not going away. These other weapons may cap Johnson’s upside, but we’re really seen no evidence of that, since he was one of only two WRs in the NFL to own a 30% target share after two games. Obviously, his Week 3 concussion is a concern, but it could also reduce his asking price in a trade right now, so I’d like to take advantage of any discount or buying opportunity. If nothing else, it’s great for the second half of the season when fantasy championships are won. We could have received a lot of criticism for our affinity for Johnson, even this early in the season, and while it’s hardly been perfect, it’s crickets out there in terms of Diontae complaints because it’s already crystal clear that he’s a baller, and he’s the guy.
Marquise Brown (WR, Bal) — Never thought I’d see it, but another 1-2 bad games for Hollywood and we’ll have to apologize for pumping him up too much. But that’s not going to happen. I will say it was striking to compare and contrast Brown to Tyreek Hill on MNF because Brown can’t shine Hill’s shoes in literally every category, especially at QB. Brown’s not quite the freak Tyreek is and will never be a good contested catch guy, but he’s still a big play waiting to happen - and hopefully we won’t have to wait much longer for Lamar Jackson to get his timing down with Brown on downfield throws. As awful as Brown looked on Monday night, he should have had a 40-yard TD in the fourth quarter, and he was also close to hauling in a potential 50-yard TD in the first half. Brown had excellent separation on both plays, but both balls were poorly thrown by Jackson. Jackson and the Ravens ran into a buzzsaw in Week 3 because they are not built to play from behind. But their remaining schedule other than three matchups (Pit, Pit, NE) looks very good, so Brown is an excellent buy-low guy right now, as is Mark Andrews. The Ravens passing offense goes through them, as Brown and Andrews see 48% of the targets and 63% of the air yards.
T.Y. Hilton (WR, Ind) — Ok, this is now getting ridiculous. There are now 67 WRs who have scored more fantasy points than Hilton, which is crazy. Granted, I was very careful not to push Hilton as a pick this summer, so I can’t say I’m surprised he’s off to this slow start because he’s definitely on the downside of his career. However, I don’t think he’s done and for evidence I can point to Week 2, when he ran right by S Harrison Smith on a deep ball that ended up being a dropped TD pass. In Week 3, he turned 3 measly targets into 3/52, so perhaps all he needs is more volume. A quick glance at their remaining schedule shows that volume should be coming, especially Weeks 13-16 against Hou, LV, Hou, and Pit. And the injuries to Michael Pittman and Parris Campbell, not to mention Jack Doyle’s disappearing act, all bode well for Hilton.
Anthony Miller (WR, Chi) — Miller’s snaps were a concern through two weeks, but he played a season-high 57% of snaps in Week 3, and the loss of Tarik Cohen may also help boost his snaps and target numbers. And ultimately, other than Allen Robinson, there is a dearth of proven talent in the passing game for the Bears. They love rookie Darnell Mooney, but he’s a raw rookie learning on the job, so he can’t be counted on for more than 1-2 splash plays a game. Jimmy Graham’s prospects are looking up, but he’s not exactly someone I’m counting on, given his age and noticeable slow-down. That means Miller’s prospects are looking up, now that he has a more accurate QB in Nick Foles. Foles, of course, has always favored throwing to the TE and to slot receivers.
Preston Williams (WR, Mia) — I wasn’t pushing him this summer, and through three games I’m glad I wasn’t, but with his value down now that we’re already over 20% into the fantasy regular season, he’s someone to look at. We should be getting a QB change at some point, which could be a problem, but that doesn’t seem to be coming any time soon given how Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing. And Fitz last year clicked with Williams, so it may only be a matter of time until Williams kicks it up a notch or two in terms of his fantasy output. Before tearing his ACL, Williams out-targeted DeVante Parker 60 to 52 in the Dolphins' first eight games, and that was with Fitz.
Henry Ruggs (WR, LV) — I’ve been very underwhelmed so far, but he’s been hurt for more than half the young season, which is obviously not his fault. Ruggs was the first receiver taken in the draft, so the Raiders were proactive about getting him, which tells me he’s a solid buy-low guy right now, at least in larger/deeper leagues. Veterans Zay Jones and Nelson Agholor have impressed dating back to camp, and they do have 17 TEs they throw to, so Ruggs may never get there this year. But he can also do a lot with a little, and Derek Carr is having a good year, as is Jon Gruden in terms of designing and calling plays, so Ruggs isn’t a bad pick in terms of a receiver whose value will likely be rising in the coming weeks. You can’t count on him right now because he’s still hurt and his status for Week 4 is iffy, so he’s merely a guy to acquire as a depth piece with upside in the second half of the season.
Laviska Shenault (WR, Jax) — I’m still upset that I lost his player prop last week but a half a freaking yard, but their ugly performance on Thursday night likely shielded people from the reality that they need this kid to step up and emerge as a vital part of their passing game. They can’t count on Chris “Stone Hands” Conley, and Keelan Cole is really just a splash play guy who lets you down when you expect him to do something, so he’ll be volatile. Their TEs are involved, but they’re mediocre, and Dede Westbrook barely has a pulse (16 snaps last week and 1 target with ¼ receiving). The Jags need to get DJ Chark back to give them a strong deep threat, and Gardner Minshew (who also needs to stay focused on football rather than doing social media bits) needs a playmaker underneath; and in the short-to-intermediate area, and Shenault can be that guy. He’s still learning on the job, so it’s no lock that he develops quickly, but I think there’s a good chance that Shenault merits serious starting lineup consideration for most 12-team leagues by Week 8-10, so adding him now for very little in return should get you a solid ROI.
Jalen Reagor (WR, Phi) — It’s deja vu all over again for the Eagles, whose offense is once again compressed and dysfunctional. And this time, it’s with a (relatively) healthy DeSean Jackson. Jackson may be Fool’s Gold at this point, and I’m not exactly excited about the pending return of Alshon Jeffery, who’s looked 46 out there lately. Reagor has only 5 catches, but they have been for over 19 yards a catch, so until Jackson actually makes a big play, Reagor looks like their best big-play threat. They were loving him all summer and desperately need him to be a high-impact player if they’re going to have any chance of turning things around. If he’s sitting on the back of someone’s roster, I’d be happy to take Reagor off someone’s hands because he could easily be a no-brainer starter by November.
Mark Andrews (TE, Bal) — As mentioned in the Hollywood Brown writeup, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens ran into a buzzsaw in Week 3 because they are not built to play from behind. But their remaining schedule other than three matchups (Pit, Pit, NE) looks very good, so both players are excellent buy-low guys right now. Andrews could have easily gone off in Week 3, but while his close call in the endzone would have been a tough catch, it’s one he usually makes, so he should have had 4-5 catches for 60+ yards and a TD but instead logged what was easily his worst game as a pro. But still, the Ravens passing offense goes through Brown and Andrews, who see 48% of the targets and 63% of the air yards, so there will be better days for sure.
Taken from Tom Brolley’s 9/29 QB/TE streaming article, but all applies as a potential buy-low:
Rob Gronkowski (TE, TB) — HC Bruce Arians has been a professional troll to fantasy owners this season. The latest example came in Week 3 with Arians and Gronk talking about how they signed him to be a blocking TE. Gronk, of course, went out and posted 6/48 receiving against the Broncos last week, and his only missed target came on an end-zone pass from his buddy Tom Brady. Gronk isn’t the easiest player to trust after he recorded just four targets in the first two games, but he should be featured more going forward now that he has his playing legs underneath him. It also helps that Chris Godwin (hamstring) will be out of the lineup for the next couple weeks.
LISTED HERE LAST WEEK, BUT I STILL THINK THEY ARE VIABLE:
Kenyan Drake (RB, Ari) — The Drake is up to his old tricks, but I can’t say it’s his fault, and I can’t even say it’s the coach’s fault, since he’s getting a healthy number of carries every week. Drake has handled 78% of the non-QB carries but just 32% of the RB targets. The main problem is his lack of action in the passing game, which seems dumb on Arizona’s part because Drake can be a major threat as a receiver. Drake has run 67 routes to Chase Edmonds’ 49, so it’s not hopeless. Edmonds isn’t going away, and Drake may be frustrating all year, but I have to believe that things will balance out and that Drake will start producing. I would not want to seriously disrupt my usual starting lineup to acquire Drake at this point, but if I could put together a package with a lesser RB and 1-3 bench pieces, I’d love to bring Drake into the fold, at a discount, as my RB3.
Antonio Gibson (RB, Ari) — With three games in the books, Gibson should be a few weeks away from being around where he’d have been in a normal off-season mentally, and if this were the preseason, he’d quite possibly sit out the fourth game as a precaution, so we may have just seen Gibson’s first three preseason games Weeks 1-3. It doesn’t look like JD McKissic is going away, and that was my fear, but Gibson is acquitting himself well and showing solid power on inside runs. He did also get 3 targets in Week 3 with 40% of the snaps. I see no reason why that snap count can’t start sitting in the 60% range, which should result in 3-4 more carries and 1-2 more targets than he’s been seeing. Which makes him a solid RB2 and a fantastic RB3/flex.
De’Andre Swift (RB, Det) — No offense the Lions fans or Adrian Peterson (but full offense to Mr. Pencil Ear-soon-to-be ex-NFL coach), but I really hated to see the Lions win and get rewarded for ignoring their talented rookie, the 35th pick of the draft, for a guy they signed off the scrap heap less than a week before their opener. I know Peterson is still good, but I know they were loving Swift a month ago in camp, so what the hell has changed? Perhaps Kerryon Johnson’s knee/health has improved, and he has looked better the last two weeks, which is not good news for Swift. Then again, Kerryon had only 4 touches in Week 3. The primary reason I pivoted to Swift late this summer was that we were hearing bad things about Johnson’s health and the state of his knee. Obviously, you can’t count on Swift right now, but it’s a long season, and the cream should eventually rise to the top. After his ugly Week 2, with only one touch on two opportunities, you can probably get this talent for a song. Now, the one negative element I must bring up with Swift is this: the coaches last week clearly stayed conservative and featured Peterson because they’re looking to save their jobs, and it worked. Matt Patricia probably knows he’s getting canned if they continue to lose, so Swift has to prove to them he can help them win or they’ll continue to ignore him because they care a lot more about their jobs than your fantasy team.
PLAYERS TO TRADE
Carson Wentz (QB, Phi) — Man, Carson is really struggling and he’s part of the problem. But he’s only part of the problem because, once again, asking this receiving corps to make a big play vertically is asking too much, and we’re sure as hell not counting on Alshon Jeffery. Wentz may turn things around if he has Jeffery, DeSean, Reagor, and Goedert, but I’m not counting on anything right now and I’d rather not have to start him. Wentz did have a good game for fantasy due to his rushing, so it’s not a terrible time to move him. Just keep in mind I’m not ready to totally bail on Wentz and state that his situation is hopeless. Things could break either way, and it could be argued things can’t get any worse. But just in case things continue to devolve, I’d be okay moving on from him if a deal improved my team in any way.
Todd Gurley (QB, Phi) — Yeah, sorry, I gotta go here again. The Falcons were giving work to Brian Hill on their third series, and shortly after that Hill ripped off a 35-yard TD and looked a little better than Gurley on the run. Gurley did have a few good runs in the third quarter, but Hill also had more targets (3 vs. 2), and he actually made a play in the passing game. Gurley is getting volume as a runner, but his ownership on the backfield could certainly slip. But by far the biggest problem with Gurley is his lack of action in the passing game. It’s crazy, Gurley has posted 3 catches for 3 yards in three games so far, which is a killer. His lack of targets will continue to make him TD-dependent and counting on TDs is a tough deal.