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
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Ind) — Give me a break, Frank Reich. Your QB looks like dog dirt, your #1 WR looks like burnt toast, and you’re rolling with the worst 3-man TE committee in the history of the NFL, which gives you arguably the worst receiving corps in the league. You do have one of the most talented OLs in the league, though, and you moved up in the second round to take a volume back who happens to be a future star in the NFL. But let’s get Jordan Wilkins out there for 17% of the snaps! Taylor hasn’t been all that great at 3.8 YPC, but it’s probably hard for him to get into a rhythm with Reich’s insistence to work in other backs. Nyheim Hines (35% snaps) and Wilkins (17%) are on the field more than Taylor, which is absurd. I’m assuming someone with a clue will get in Reich’s ear and persuade him to build his offense around Taylor, who has been their most efficient back so far despite his underwhelming showing in his first four games. I’m so annoyed by this coaching staff already that I’d trade for Taylor for spite alone. I’d like to own Taylor in the second half of the season, when he’s balling, so I can look back and laugh at how these dum-dums utilized their best player on offense the first month of the season.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, KC) — I thought he would do more in Week 4, but it’s not like you’re going to acquire him at some big discount, but his asking price has probably dipped a tiny bit the last three weeks. CEH hasn’t rushed for more than 64 yards since the opener - but he still looks great running the rock - but he does have 5.6 targets a game and 14 catches in that span. And given how he OWNS this backfield, his value could be a lot higher than it is right now, so he makes the list. Through four games, CEH has a staggering 93% of their RB touches. And other than tricky spot Week 12 against Tampa, their schedule looks pretty nice.
Michael Thomas (WR, NO) — He’s an obvious pick at this point, since he was very close to playing in Week 4. But if Thomas’ owner is desperate for a win this week, dangling a strong package (including, for example, a player like Odell Beckham) that can supply that owner immediate and guaranteed Week 5 help in exchange for Thomas is the kind of move fantasy tycoons make when looking to acquire premium assets at a suppressed price. Even if Thomas is ruled out for Week 5 later in the week, trading for him now is still a move that could put you over the top and net you a championship. But since Thomas got in some practice this past week and has an extra day to heal up to work his way back with them playing Monday, I’d be surprised if Thomas didn’t go.
Jerry Jeudy (WR, Den) — I was kicking myself for not listing him here last week after he scored that 48-yard TD in Week 4 (I planned on it last Tuesday but he slipped my mind). Then again, he did have only 4 targets and 2/61, as Tim Patrick took over against the Jets and dominated. Patrick does look like an excellent replacement for Courtland Sutton, but that’s fine for Jeudy, who has lined up mostly in the slot. Jeudy has dealt with some drops and an injury, but he’s also seriously flashed. The guy gets open, and he will only get better, so I think the arrow is still pointing up. I’d look to pull off a trade for Jeudy as soon as possible if I was looking to acquire him because we could get word any day now that Drew Lock will return for their next game. He didn’t appear to be trending that way on Tuesday, but he hasn’t been ruled out and a return after Week 5 at the very least seems likely.
Christian Kirk (WR, Ari) — I’m very, very intrigued by Andy Isabella, who was involved in Week 4 with 3 targets and 42% of the snaps. But while Kirk wasn’t too far ahead of Isabella in terms of snaps and targets (5, 63%), he is the more established player and the safer bet to emerge as a weekly starter here. At this point, Larry Fitzgerald is only slightly more productive than a team mascot, despite playing over 90% of the snaps last week (he had 3 targets and 2/4 receiving). I’m as big of a Larry fan as anyone, but it might be over. The Cards are throwing the ball a solid 36 times per game and Kyler Murray is completing 69% of his passses, but his YPA is awful, so they need to start stretching the field with Kirk and Isabella. Kirk did score Week 4, but it will take only one blowup game for his value to rise considerably, so this is a good time to acquire him now while his price is suppressed.
Mike Williams (WR, LAC) — This is on the low-end, and perhaps Justin Herbert will level off soon, but the rookie has been amazingly productive, and if he’s able to toss bomb TDs to inexperienced receivers we’ve never heard of, that has to bode well for Williams, one of the better deep-ball receivers in the league the last 2-3 years.
LISTED HERE LAST WEEK, BUT I STILL THINK THEY ARE VIABLE:
Jimmy Garoppolo (QB, SF) — Jimmy may return as soon as this week. If he’s back and with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, along with the promising Brandon Aiyuk, who is coming along nicely, Jimmy G could be a sneaky performer on a team that’s had a ton of injuries on defense. Jimmy G isn’t a great starter in a 10 or 12-team league, but if your league is larger and/or a 2-QB league, again, he has sneaky value right now.
DJ Chark (WR, Jax) — His value went way up in Week 4, but I wrote here last week that Gardner Minshew had better “be familiarizing himself with Mr. Chark because he is, by far, their best receiver.” Minshew did just that, giving Chark a healthy 25% target share. Now we’re back to where we thought we’d be with Chark being a high-end WR2. Also keep in mind Jacksonville faces two bottom-5 secondaries next (Texans and Lions) before their Week 7 bye.
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’ve 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, and now it feels like we haven’t seen Johnson in a month, but since it’s been a while since he’s balled out, his asking price should be favorable. Johnson has been cleared to play in Week 5, as well.
Marquise Brown (WR, Bal) — He’s still a little frustrating, but we saw signs of life in Week 5, so he’s still someone whose value, I believe, is still rising. Brown this year has run
a route on 87% of Lamar Jackson’s dropbacks and has seen 27% of the team’s targets and 43% of air yards, both very promising numbers. Their remaining schedule other than three matchups (Pit, Pit, NE) looks very good, so Brown is still a solid buy-low guy.
Laviska Shenault (WR, Jax) — His value has risen since last week, thanks to a very solid game. I attribute at least some of that success to the return of DJ Chark, who likely opens things up underneath and in the short-to-intermediate area for guys like Shenault. At the end of the day, all their other receivers not named “Chark” are JAGs (and they also play for the Jaguars), so I think there’s a good chance that Shenault merits serious starting lineup consideration for most 12-team leagues by Week 8-10.
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 a bunch of 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.
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 be a no-brainer starter by December.
Rob Gronkowski (TE, TB) — I’m all about listing here players whose values I believe will be rising in the coming weeks, so Gronk is an easy addition again this week. He’s not even a top-50 TE right now with only 9/88/0 on 14 targets, but with OJ Howard out for the season, Gronk may be about to Gronk in Tampa. Tom Brady is getting better every week, and in addition to tossing two TD passes to his TEs in Week 4 (including one to Cameron Brate, who may actually be slower than Gronk), he’s also missed Gronk in the endzone two weeks in a row. It sure seems like a safe bet that Gronk will be scoring 5-6 TDs from here on out.
SOME OTHER PLAYERS I’D BE INTERESTED IN TRADING FOR THIS WEEK:
Miles Sanders (RB, Phi) - Little quiet the last two weeks, offense can’t get any worse than it’s been.
Robert Woods (WR, LAR) - Also a little quiet lately, but the matchups have set up well for Cooper Kupp.
Tyler Lockett (WR, Sea) - What the hell was that last week? Probably an aberration.
Chris Godwin (WR, TB) - I’d be okay taking on some risk and giving up some depth and key starter to stash God Chriswin away for the second half of the season. When healthy, he’s a combination of Julian Edelman and Randy Moss for Tom Brady.
DJ Moore (WR, Car) - It is a new QB, so his role has been worrisome, but Moore has been held under 10 fantasy points in 3-of-4 games so far this year. Last year, Moore was held under 10 fantasy points twice in 14 healthy games.
Michael Gallup (WR, Dal) - He’s still good at football, and I’d have to think he will start getting his as things even out in this receiving corps.
Jonnu Smith (TE, Ten) - They will miss Adam Humpries (Covid) for, well, who knows? But I do know Jonnu is good.
PLAYERS TO TRADE
Dak Prescott (QB, Dal) — Dak was the only QB commanding a fifth-round pick or higher this summer that I listed in my Draft Plan article, but I do have to wonder how sustainable his insane production levels are right now. I don’t question the sustainability because of Dak or his receiving corps, but I do think his upcoming schedule could seriously alter his production. He’s now faced the Rams, Falcons, Seahawks, and Browns, arguably four of the league’s 10 most potent offenses. The Cowboys defense has been eviscerated, but I’m guessing they’ll look a lot better in a month after they play the Giants, Cardinals, the Football Team, and the Eagles. That’s simply because those offenses, as a group, are not good. And then they have the tough Steelers lined up for Week 9. Dak should still be good for 20+ points a game and he should still produce top-5 totals. But I do think we could see a 20% or higher drop in his production simply because he won’t likely be throwing on every down in a shootout every week. He’s throwing it 50 times a game the first four weeks of the season, which is not sustainable, so I’d expect his weekly average to drop 10 attempts a game (20%). Dak’s a league winning-type, so I’d be careful parting ways with him. But if you have a good QB2 or can get one on the WW, I wouldn’t be opposed to a blockbuster trade that netted me a stud like DeAndre Hopkins, Aaron Jones, Travis Kelce, etc. in exchange for Dak.
Matt Ryan (QB, Atl) — We had Ryan leading the league in pass attempts this summer, and he’s on pace for an insane 668 attempts this year, yet the volume hasn’t helped him the last two weeks. The vibes are very bad on the Falcons right now, and I worry about something of an implosion coming. Julio Jones is the key, and if the first four weeks of the 2020 season is any indication, this is the season where aging receivers quickly turn old. Ryan’s right arm and his legs don’t look capable of carrying this offense for another three months, so if I could get out on Ryan right now with a proper return, I’d love to do it.
Ronald Jones (RB, TB) — It may not be fair to say Jones is “bad,” but it’s definitely fair to say he’s not very good. Basically, he looks like a 5th round pick, not the second-round pick he was. Jones is running hard and looks good at times, but his vision is lacking and his stone hands are still on display. This Tampa backfield could break in a number of different ways, but my money is on Jones failing to keep his hold on the primary role. It could easily be the Leonard Fournette show in the second half of the season. Or if Fournette lets us down (again), they do have the rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn, who finally played in Week 4 and looked good and scored on a TD catch (on a pass Jones probably would have dropped). Vaughn did also drop a pass in the red zone, but it was a tough catch. As a runner, I prefer his low center of gravity, and his economy of movement is way better than Jones, who uses a lot of wasted motion and is somewhat upright. Maybe you won’t get much in return for Jones, and I’m not saying sell at all cost, but moving on from Jones could make your fantasy experience more enjoyable.
Odell Beckham (WR, Cle) — I actually did list OBJ as “Gurrific” this summer, a distinction I gave to only about 30 players out of 300 in case you’re counting, and most of the time the last four weeks I’ve regretted that, which speaks to his volatility. There are a lot of positives with OBJ right now, so this is not a sell-at-all-costs recommendation. HC Kevin Stefanski is using OBJ well, targeting him all over the field and on all kinds of routes. But at the end of the day, the Browns would still love to see Baker Mayfield throw the ball like 26 times a game. Now, the loss of Nick Chubb could mean a few more attempts for Mayfield, but OBJ might still be TD-dependent in a low-volume passing attack. Of immediate concern is his next two tough matchups against the Colts and Steelers, so moving Odell now makes the most sense for those looking for immediate help the next two weeks. OBJ is seeing a massive 40% of Browns air yards so far, so it’s possible he makes a big play every week and comes through. But if you need help elsewhere and can take the hit at WR, and if he nets you a good return, I don’t think you’ll regret moving Beckham at season’s end.
Julio Jones (WR, Atl) — As mentioned above, the vibes are terrible with the Falcons, and they’re particularly bad with Julio, who can’t get over his hamstring issue. It’s certainly possible that Julio can turn the corner and produce in the coming weeks and for the rest of the season, but assuming he’s going to heal up and ball out seems like a dangerous assumption right now. His value is obviously down right now, and I wouldn’t want to give him away, but if you can get a solid return, I’d be fine with it. While the asking price for Julio has to be reduced based on what we’ve seen, it’s entirely possible that you can’t give him away in 2-3 weeks.
Zach Ertz (TE, Phi) — I know he’s still one of the best route runners in the league, which is why I have greatly ignored the fact that, by my eyeball test, Ertz has noticeably slowed down the last 1-2 years. In Week 4, I thought for sure he’d get 10+ targets, and he’s had many, many, many huge target games when the team was hurting at receiver. But despite the sad state of their receiving corps against the 49ers, Ertz had only 5 targets. That begs the question of why that was. Well, I think we can look at his production on his 4 catches for the answer: my man averaged 2 yards a catch. Ertz’ YPR on the season now sits at a sad 7.3, down 3+ yards from 2019. His yards-per-target number is down 4.8, down 2 full yards from 2019. It sure looked like Ertz saw only 5 targets in Week 4 because he wasn’t open, even with his savvy route-running and chemistry with Carson Wentz. I fear this may continue, and I wonder if Dallas Goedert, if he can get healthy, will emerge as the clear #1 receiving threat at the position. The TE position is a little sketchy, as usual, but there are a number of solid options, even on most Waiver Wires, so I would not be opposed to moving on from Ertz. Sure, he could turn things around and he could see 14 targets this week. But even if he caught 9 balls, I’m not sure he’d eclipse 40 yards. You don’t want to roll with a TE who needs double-digit targets to come through because 0 TEs got that in 2019 and only one (Darren Waller) is on pace for that this year with 40 targets in four games.
LISTED HERE LAST WEEK, BUT I STILL THINK THEY ARE VIABLE:
Todd Gurley (RB, Atl) — I’m sorry. I know I list him here every week and he’s been hanging in there, due almost entirely to his TDs. His ability to punch the ball into the endzone from short range is the #1 reason they wanted him, and in that regard, he’s been good. In every other regard? He’s been bad. He’s about as agile right now as a couch, and he’s a non-factor in the passing game still. 44% of Gurley’s fantasy points have come from TDs, which is the highest rate among the top-50 RBs in fantasy. Maybe he scores every week, but if the TDs dry up in the coming weeks, you’ll regret not selling high coming off a 2-TD game in Week 4.