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Talkin’ Trades Week 2: Tight End Armageddon

Welcome back to Talkin’ Trades, a weekly column that will highlight players to target today before their prices change tomorrow.

Jon Gruden is back, baby, and it’s magnificent. Although many people felt giving Oakland’s tight end and running back nearly 60 percent of the targets was a mistake,1 for your resident Jared Cook truther and number one Jalen Richard stan, it was a glorious game indeed.

Week 2 is a great time to get some trade offers out there. Although we have more information now than we had all summer when drafting, we’re simultaneously shocked by a handful of surprises and unlikely outcomes into thinking we know less than before. Draft day is all about exploiting the overconfidence of your league mates. This week is about taking advantage of their uncertainty.

Let’s take a look at some of the best buys and sells at each position.

QUARTERBACK

BUY

JIMMY GAROPPOLO – The shine is a little bit off “Gucci Garopp” after completing less than half his passes and throwing three picks in Week 1. Nevertheless, a road opener against the Vikings is as tough as it gets, and Kyle Shanahan schemed guys wide open all day. Regardless of how good Garoppolo is, Shanahan is going to put him in position to succeed. This is probably the bottom of the market for Garoppolo.

SELL

PATRICK MAHOMES – Be aware that you may be selling the QB1. That said, two of Mahomes TD passes were shovel passes that could easily be counted as handoffs. Not to say that these are the last two shovel passes Mahomes will get credit for this year, but there will be more rushing TDs in the Chiefs’ future. I’m rarely drafting the very top range of QBs, so despite Mahomes immense potential, I’m checking the market to see if I can get 3rd- or 4th-round value for him.

RUNNING BACK

BUY

MATT BREIDA – The fact that Breida and Alfred Morris split touches equally is making people groan, even while RBs like LeSean McCoy, Royce Freeman, and Derrick Henry saw smaller backfield shares than either San Francisco back. The narrative that Breida is a bad pass-catcher is beginning to creep out there as well. Take advantage of the negativity around Breida to snag a strong committee member, who retains great upside in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

CHRIS THOMPSON – Thompson’s stock has jumped after initial reports this summer that he might not be 100 percent healthy until midseason. But with Alex Smith in town, it may not be jumping enough. Adrian Peterson’s big game in a blowout of Arizona may be discouraging to some Thompson owners (moreso in half-ppr), who note that he accrued an unsustainable 65 rushing yards on just five carries, compared to 26 carries for Peterson. An owner may be tempted to “sell high” when in fact we may not have seen Thompson’s ceiling yet in the passing game.

DERRICK HENRY – In keeping with the theme here, Henry was perhaps the lesser committee member on Sunday, but also ripped off the fastest non-Tyreek Hill play by Next Gen stats2 on a 62-yard touchdown run that was negated by a phantom holding call behind the play. Had that play stood, Henry would be looking a lot like Isaiah Crowell right now, instead of camped out in the fantasy dog house. Marcus Mariota’s injury could be bad news for the offense, but that may also make Henry a bit easier to acquire.

ITO SMITH – It’s been a quiet year so far for Smith, but the Falcons have notably not brought in much competition for him, outside of resigning Brian Hill (their fifth round pick last year) to the practice squad. Hill has now been promoted to the active roster, possibly signaling more concern for Devonta Freeman’s knee than has been publicly acknowledged. In dynasty or deeper redraft leagues, look to add Smith as a throw-in before rather than after he sees opportunity in the passing game.

SELL

BUCK ALLEN – Things are shaping up perfectly for Allen right now, with Kenneth Dixon once again sidelined, and a valuable role catching dump-offs from Joe Flacco firmly in his grasp. Despite turning his six targets into just 15 yards, through one game Allen looks poised to potentially be the most valuable RB on the Ravens for ppr leagues. That said, the Ravens have not been a team that has been willing to be complacent about their RB depth. If you can move Allen now for a player like Jack Doyle or George Kittle, I’d try to pull the trigger before Baltimore brings in competition from the practice squad or free agency3.

WIDE RECEIVER

BUY

PIERRE GARCON – The buzz is mostly around Dante Pettis and George Kittle (despite his Coby Fleener-esque drop), but with Marquise Goodwin possibly limited, the arrow is pointing up on Garcon, even as he remains under the radar. Garcon led all 49ers receivers in snaps, and should’ve had a touchdown grab against a tough Vikings defense. San Francisco gets Detroit next week, and a big game will have enthusiasm for Garoppolo’s offense soaring once again.

PHILLIP DORSETTJulian Edelman’s eventual return, as well as the Patriots signing of Corey Coleman, could perhaps dampen the enthusiasm for Dorsett that should be growing right now. Dorsett was thrown into the fire last year, traded to New England moments before the season started. With a full offseason to acclimate to the offense, Tom Brady’s confidence in Dorsett should be riding high right now after Dorsett converted all seven of his targets into 66 yards, six first downs, and a beautiful touchdown on a designed play for Dorsett out of a bunch formation in the red zone. The window will be closed if Brady and Dorsett connect on a deep ball.

SAMMY WATKINS – If you’re buying Geronimo Allison, you are absolutely buying Watkins who played 91 percent of snaps on an offense that looks poised to blow the doors off. Kansas City put up 38 points in Week 1, but the more important number might be Phillip Rivers 424 passing yards. The Chargers scored 28 points, despite Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin flat out dropping three sure touchdown passes. This doesn’t appear to be the last shootout the Chiefs will be in, so I’m buying in cheap if I can.

SELL

QUINCY ENUNWA – Enunwa looked, in many ways, like Sam Darnold’s WR1. The 10 targets are eye-catching, as is the touchdown, but Enunwa also played on only 67 percent of the Jets snaps and Jermaine Kearse, who was listed ahead of him on the depth chart, sat out with an injury. His 6.0 aDOT also suggests he may be a volume dependent player with ups and downs ahead. A nice chip to offer to teams with struggling WRs (Amari Cooper, Doug Baldwin, Marquise Goodwin).

TIGHT END

BUY

DAVID NJOKU – The big box score number for Njoku was his 88 percent of snaps. On the flip side, two drops and only 13 yards may have opened the trade window. I’m buying the opportunity over the result in his first game with Tyrod Taylor in the rain.

JACK DOYLE – Doyle ran an incredible 55 routes against the Bengals. If Ebron’s touchdown has his the Doyle owner spooked, or if they are  lucky enough to have drafted Jared Cook, Jonnu Smith, or Ian Thomas as a backup, maybe you have a chance to pry away a rock solid contributor in the Colts passing game.

JIMMY GRAHAM – Graham’s ugly Week 1 line is feeding off-season narratives that Graham is a touchdown-dependent low-upside player at this stage of his career. That is belied by Graham’s 98 percent snap count, which is rarified territory for a tight end. So long as Aaron Rodgers stays healthy, he finds whoever is on the field, and Graham looks to be on the field a lot. Scoop him up cheap.

SELL

GEORGE KITTLE – Kittle ran routes on 33 of Garoppolo’s 38 drop backs, and he had a fantastic aDOT of 13.1. Do not sell Kittle cheap. However, with Delanie Walker and Greg Olsen already likely out for the season4, the panic at the TE position is full blown. With analysts like Graham Barfield already declaring Kittle a possible league-winner, I’m testing the waters for third-round value in return. Maybe you can get a Jarvis Landry or an Alex Collins.

  1. not Alex Smith  (back)
  2. hitting 21.46 mph  (back)
  3. or trades for Ameer Abdullah  (back)
  4. Olsen has hopes to return from his broken foot, but we should be extremely cautious about the odds of that happening.  (back)

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