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
D’Andre Swift (RB, Det) — I really, really dislike all their coaches, but maybe they’ll somehow find out by accident how good Swift is and that he needs to have a larger role. These coaches are acting like they’re going for a Super Bowl win in 2012 with all the snaps and touches they give to Adrian Peterson. Guys, you’re getting fired after the season, anyway, so you might as well play your second-round pick! One thing is for sure: Swift’s value is a lock to rise soon if he’s healthy. Coming out of the bye may kick start that rise.
Antonio Gibson (RB, Was) — I keep going back to Gibson every time he has a so-so game, and we’re back to that point after Week 5. I figured J.D. McKissic was going to be a problem because I knew they liked him in the passing game, and McKissic is a problem. McKissic has run 77 routes to Gibson’s 44, for example, over the last three weeks. However, as pointed out in Graham Barfield’s stat pack, Gibson has all of the early-down and red-zone work on lock. Over the last three weeks, Gibson has handled 70% of the carries and 88% of the red-zone carries. Gibson continues to fit the profile of a young player whose value is only going to go up and will not go down unless injured.
Leonard Fournette (WR, TB) — We’re already to the point at which Fournette may be acquirable using only a depth piece or two, or for a so-so option you’re starting each week at another position, even at RB. Obviously, there’s a lot of risk with Ronald Jones likely distancing himself from the pack lately in this backfield, but I’m still very easily conjuring up images of Fournette getting fed the rock in November and December in what is a good offense, and one that should continue to improve as they get more reps. Make no mistake; trading for Fournette is an aggressive move that could hurt you, and betting against Jones may not be a good bet right now. But as much as he’s a pain in the posterior, I can’t shake the possibility of Fournette getting volume in a backfield with the great Tom Brady, who can do so many things to help a guy like Fournette, like consistently moving the sticks, checking to run plays against light boxes, and giving them ample scoring opportunities. At the very least, a healthy Fournette could rack up some solid stats as their closer, and he’s a better bet to be their main goal-line runner, if they choose to have one.
JK Dobbins (RB, Bal) — I advised against drafting Dobbins at his ADP all summer, but I made it a point to say I believed he will be a #1 fantasy pick in 2021 because he’s an incredible fit for their offense, which is as RB-friendly as they come. It’s an ugly committee, and Gus Edwards isn’t going away, and I just don’t see Mark Ingram being phased out, so Dobbins will need to be incredibly efficient with his touches. I believe he will be if given a small bump in usage. I was going to wait another week before listing him, but then I realized the struggling Eagles defense might actually present a breakout opportunity for Dobbins, particularly in the passing game. If it happens this week, then his value will soar, so I think it’s already time to pounce on the frustrated Dobbins owner in your league.
Tyler Lockett (WR, Sea) — Lockett is off this week, so his owner may be desperate for a win heading into Seattle’s bye. But otherwise, he’s listed here simply because he’s been very quiet the last two weeks, and Lockett, while streaky, is too good to be contained for long. It’s not like they have been throwing the ball much to their other receivers, as David Moore has yet to see more than 4 targets in a game. Just two weeks ago, Lockett scored 3 TDs against Dallas, and he played 96% of the snaps against Minnesota. Metcalf is developing into an absolute superstar at WR, but Metcalf may also start getting more attention because of that.
Considering how entrenched Lockett is in this offense, it’s almost a guarantee that Lockett heats up coming out of their Week 6 bye, so the time to trade for him is now. If you can trade for him after Week 6, that’s obviously ideal, but his asking price may be higher than it is this week if his owner needs a win in Week 6.
Justin Jefferson (WR, Min) — I may be blinded by one of the quickest-forming man-crushes I’ve had in quite some time, but if Jefferson’s owner watched him on national TV Sunday night for the first time, he or she may not have been impressed with only 3/23 on 5 targets. TE Irv Smith finally did something in Week 5, and this Viking offense may not be able to support three receivers producing for fantasy. But there is no doubt they love what they have seen from Jefferson, as I have, so Sunday was just a quiet game, which can happen to anyone (Amari Cooper had a worse game last week). Had Jefferson gone for 100+ for the third game in a row, his value would probably be 25% higher than it is right now, maybe more, so Week 5 may have created a small buying opportunity for Jefferson.
Deebo Samuel (WR, SF) — All I’m trying to do with this entry is isolate a player whose perceived and actual value is a good bet to rise in the future, and Deebo certainly fits that description. Deebo played on just 34% of 49ers snaps in his debut in Week 4, but Deebo’s snap rate went up to 89% this past week. Granted, Brandon Aiyuk’s snap rate is also climbing (73% > 88% > 97%), but Deebo is a little more established, obviously, and his price is probably discounted more than Aiyuk’s right now. I go back to a private conversation I had with HC Kyle Shahanan at the combine when I threw out my theory that Deebo was given like 40% of the offense last year. Shanahan didn’t disagree with that, or at least the notion that there’s a lot of growth to be done with Deebo. The 49ers are a bit of a mess right now with their QB situation, but if Jimmy Garoppolo can somehow get right, the Niners could make a second-half run led in large part by Deebo, just like 2019.
Dallas Goedert (TE, Phi) — I have been absolutely aghast at Zach Ertz’ production the last two weeks, and as I mentioned here last week, the only real explanation is that he’s not winning out there. Ertz and the Eagles have been negotiating a new deal for quite some time, which is absurd to me because he’s under contract through 2021 and he looks 46 out there this year. I don’t think they’ll make the same mistake with Ertz as they made with Alshon Jeffery, another player who’s looked 10 years older than he is at times, so Ertz’s time in Philly may be coming to an end no later than 2021. Goedert is the future, and he’s a major playmaker compared to Ertz, something this team needs. Goedert will be eligible to be activated from IR after this week, but trading for him now is more about the stretch run, since he can’t be counted on right now. I can see them going with more 3-WR sets with Goedert on the field, and as he showed late last season, he can be a major impact player for fantasy.
Evan Engram (TE, NYG) — I still don’t think he’s moving as well as he can when he’s right physically, but he did show some flashes on Sunday, and he also had a nice TD called back on a fake punt. The deeper we get into the regular season, the weaker the TE position looks for fantasy, so Engram’s massive role does stand out. At some point he will have to, you know, actually catch some passes, but he’s on the field plenty (81% of the snaps Week 5). The Giants schedule still looks solid, so if he can round into form and if Jones can settle down, Engram could easily put up top-7 numbers from here on out.
LISTED HERE LAST WEEK, BUT I STILL THINK THEY ARE VIABLE:
Jonathan Taylor (RB, Ind) — Hey, at least JAG Jordan Wilkins’ snaps were down from 17% to only 4% (2 snaps) in Week 5. Next up, let’s cut down Nyheim Hines to around 20-25%, down from 35-40% the last two weeks, ok? Taylor may be missing some holes here and there and he’s still adjusting to not having those huge Wisconsin holes to run through, but I still believe their OL can get a lot better in the coming weeks. I’d still be interested in taking Taylor off someone’s hands.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, KC) — At this point, you might be able to get him at a 15% discount from where he was 2-3 weeks ago, I thought he would do more in Week 4 and I thought he’d do A LOT more in Week 5. He did lose out on some snaps to Darrel Williams this past weekend (Williams played 40% of them), and Williams did have 5 targets. But CEH still had 18 opportunities in a majorly disappointing showing, and he also had a TD catch called back. Other than tricky spot Week 12 against Tampa, their schedule looks pretty nice, so Edwards-Helaire’s value will absolutely be rising in the coming weeks.
Diontae Johnson (WR, Pit) — Jeez. His season has fallen off the rails the last 2-3 weeks, but for our purposes here, the main point is that his injury-related issues have resulted in his trade value taking a hit, perhaps a major hit with Chase Claypool grabbing all the headline Week 5. Johnson is still the top target in this offense and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Johnson will be in this column as a trade for guy until he starts blowing up.
Jerry Jeudy (WR, Den) — Jeudy has dealt with some drops and an injury, but he’s also seriously flashed. Starting QB Drew Lock is a good bet to return for their next game, and he's a major upgrade over what Jeudy has had to work with the last 2-3 weeks.
Christian Kirk (WR, Ari) — I gave him love here last week and lo and behold he actually showed signs of life. He was still at only 59% of the snaps, and I’d like to see that number rise, but he was also tied with DeAndre Hopkins for the team’s high in targets with 7, which he turned into a respectable 5/78. Kirk will compete for big-play opportunities with Andy Isabella, but the third-year pro Kirk is the obvious choice to post their best WR numbers after Hopkins. We’ll see if Kirk stays involved every week, but he should be in solid shape, and he’s always a threat to drop 2-3 TDs in a given week.
SOME OTHER PLAYERS I’D BE INTERESTED IN TRADING FOR THIS WEEK:
Chris Godwin (WR, TB) — It was pretty clear to me last week that they needed him majorly in this offense, and after their struggles in Week 5, it’s even more clear. Mike Evans isn’t exactly being peppered with targets, which tells me a healthy Godwin will.
Julian Edelman (WR, NE) — I’m a little worried about his age, since most veteran WRs are dying in 2020, but with Cam (hopefully) back and a major need for his contributions, I see a small buying opportunity for Edelman, who also has a great matchup in Week 6 against Denver.
Davante Adams (WR, GB) — An obvious choice, but his value is still down and will absolutely rise considerably if he has a big game in the near future.
PLAYERS TO TRADE
Darrell Henderson (RB, LAR) — He really looks the part this year, and his runs and receptions have been very impressive. He’s getting all the yards on the field that are there for him to get. Last week was a bad week to sell, since HC Sean McVay seemingly forgot Henderson existed for about a half. But Henderson had a team-leading 18 touches this past week, and he had a big game with 2 TDs. The big problem, of course, is Cam Akers, who looked great on a few plays in Week 5. Akers saw 9 carries on his 13 snaps, but McVay said after the game that Akers’ snaps will increase, so we should assume his touches will, as well. Unless you’re like me in one of my 14-team leagues that lost two RBs for the season (Barkley and Mack), so you have nowhere to go with Henderson but to start him weekly, selling now seems to be a good idea.
Kenyan Drake (RB, Ari) — I thought after the first 2-3 games that Drake would be okay, but through Week 5, there’s not much evidence that will be the case. Drake did still play a solid 68% of the snaps on Sunday, and he’s probably a better fit for what they want to do on early downs than Chase Edmonds. But Edmonds is a better and more dangerous overall player right now, and he’s emerged as their receiving back of choice, as Drake’s lack of targets continues to be a huge problem. Drake averaged 4.4 targets per game once he was traded to Arizona last season, but this year the man has 6 targets in five games. It’s an obvious call, but if you think Drake’s value shot up a bit after his 18-carry performance (60/1 with only 1 catch for 2 yards on 1 target), I’d be fine selling. What I would not be fine doing is selling at all cost because there are reasons why we hate The Drake (Weeks 1-5, 2020) and reasons why we have, in the past, loved The Drake (Weeks 9-17, 2019). Really, the only thing worse than drafting Drake and watching him destroy your fantasy fortunes is selling low with him - only to see him catch fire and start delivering.
Mike Evans (WR, TB) — I’m certainly not looking to sell at almost any cost on Evans, and I will cling to him tightly if I really need him, since he’s tied for the most TD catches on the season with 6 and is clearly the main guy Tom Brady is looking for in the red area and in goal-line situations. But I do think he’ll be looking for Chris Godwin plenty there as well once he’s back, which looks like this week. Brady may also start looking often to his two TEs, as well. But even with Godwin missing time, Brady is spreading that ball around, which is a concern.
Evans while Godwin is out has seen just 18% of Buccaneers’ targets and 20% of the air yards, way down from last year, when Evans got 24% of the targets and 35% of the air yards. Again, I’m not actively looking to sell Evans, but based on his weird usage, I wouldn’t be opposed to it, especially if I needed help elsewhere and with Evan’s value high due to his scoring.
DJ Moore (WR, Car) — I actually did list him here last week as one of my secondary options to try to trade for, and if you did, I’m proud a ya. But I may want to be a “fantasy flipper” and quickly flip Moore, who actually had a nice game with a TD in Week 5. Not only is Moore almost incapable of scoring TDs, something he told me 15 months ago was a focus of his (it hasn’t gone well, Week 5 notwithstanding), his usage is simply not good. For example, over the last three weeks, he’s been out-targeted by Robby Anderson 15 to 29. So from Weeks 3-5, Robby is getting twice as many targets. The first two weeks of the season, Moore had 22 targets to Robby’s 18, so this problem is getting worse.
Darius Slayton (WR, NYG) — I did like him this summer and he’s a guy I selected a lot around 100 picks into the drafts I simulated for my preseason Draft Plan article, but he can do only so much with Daniel Jones and the Giants passing offense struggling. Jones clearly isn’t yet comfortable in Jason Garrett’s offense, and the OL stinks, as usual, so Jones is regressing. Slayton is Jones’ guy, no question about it (that’s one of the main reasons I pushed him), and he’s a threat to drop 100+ yards on anyone. But the volatility is maddening, and right now if feels like Jones will never throw another TD pass in his life. This is not a sell-at-all-cost recommendation, but if I could benefit from his strong performance and fantasy showing in Week 5 by moving him in a trade, I’d be all for it.
Jamison Crowder (WR, NYJ) — I was way higher on Crowder last year than the consensus, and I was certainly more than fine with drafting him this year, and he’s been great. But it kinda feels like we might be better off quitting while we’re ahead with Crowder. Crowder is a small guy and he’s being used a ton with 13, 10, and 10 targets in his three games. He’s tied for second with 11 targets a game and he has seen 31% of Jets’ targets when healthy, which is tied with DeAndre Hopkins for the second-highest target share among WRs. That doesn’t seem sustainable to me. His 11 targets a game could easily drop once they get contributions from, well, anyone else we thought they would get contributions from this year. The expectation was that Chris Herndon would be a force and that sizable WRs Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims were going to man the outside and test defenses all over the field. Those three have a pathetic 18 catches for 127 yards through Week 5. At some point one or more of those guys may actually play some football or even some good football, so Crowder’s volume may drop. He’s also on the Jets, so it feels risky to hang your hopes on him.
LISTED HERE LAST WEEK, BUT I STILL THINK THEY ARE VIABLE:
Matt Ryan (QB, Atl) — His value is obviously way down, but if you can still get something useful in return to add him to make a larger deal “sweeter” for your trade partner, get out there and sell. Ryan can’t buy a TD right now.
Julio Jones (WR, Atl) — Same as Ryan but with more urgency. As I mentioned last week, you might not be able to give Julio away very soon. That said, on the chance he can turn the corner with his hamstring injury, I’d rather watch him die on my bench than to give him away from nothing.
Zach Ertz (TE, Phi) — What. The. Hell. It is a terrible sign that he’s put up microscopic numbers the last two weeks while his boy Carson Wentz is throwing to street free agent types the last two weeks. Defenses the last two weeks are putting the clamps down on Ertz as if his jersey says “Caplan” on the back (first name, Adam).