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Talkin’ Trades Week 7: Victory Lap SZN

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

Shocking trades are coming down the pike, coaches are getting fired, injuries are piling up, and they all are pointing to one overwhelming truth: anti-fragility wins the day. Let the blog boys take their victory laps about how they foretold it all. The successful teams never see it all coming–it just seems like it, because they prepare for the landscape to change and are never over-exposed to the status quo.

As we approach the halfway point of the season, I hope you were able to weather the busts and injuries and bye weeks to keep Nick Chubb and Marlon Mack stashed away. I hope you have plenty of last-round Tyler Boyds fueling your best ball teams. And I hope you have at least one Ito Smith roster, so that the agony of Julio Jones‘ touchdown paucity is at least somewhat mitigated by Smith’s vulturous red-zone scampers.

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

QUARTERBACK

BUY

TOM BRADYJosh Gordon is now getting a full complement of snaps, and was a defensive pass interference away from back-to-back games with touchdown bombs. Like Drew Brees, Brady’s totals are inflated by two somewhat fluky rushing TDs, but he’s nevertheless only QB15 on the season in points per game. With Julian Edelman now back, this may be the bottom of the market on Brady if the offense begins to fire on all cylinders. Despite the dramatic offensive showdown against the Chiefs, the Patriots were actually forced to settle for field goals five times. There’s a lot of meat on the bone still for Brady.

SELL

MITCH TRUBISKY – Trubisky is the QB11 in points per game with 21.0, despite only exceeding 15 points twice. The running is very appealing, but his season totals are very much buoyed by his monster game against Tampa Bay, which is a bonanza right now for opposing QBs. If the Patriots give him trouble this week, he’ll likely slip out of the top 12 QBs, which always puts a dent in a player’s value.

RUNNING BACK

BUY

MARLON MACK – Coming into this week, Nyheim Hines and Jordan Wilkins had combined for just seven rushes of 9-plus yards on the season. Mack ripped off five of these rushes against the Jets, including a season-high rush of 25 yards.1 That said, several prominent analysts have already balked at embracing Mack as a top option, so for me he remains a buy low. I expect his 35 percent snap share to increase, and I think he’ll see solid targets in the passing game simply due to the Colts passing volume and likely game script. I suspect that some people are anchoring to their preseason hopes for Hines or Wilkins, and are adjusting slowly to the fact that the Colts expected Mack to be their lead back this year, and are not giving away his job just because he had an injury.

DEANDRE WASHINGTON – The consensus right now seems to be that Doug Martin will slot in for Marshawn Lynch while he’s sidelined, and that Jalen Richard will stay in the same role, but with upside for more if and when Martin falters. There are several ways to play this from a trade perspective. Firstly, almost nobody believes that Martin will seize this opportunity, so he is a cheap buy or waiver add for RB-needy teams–it doesn’t really matter how good he is if Jon Gruden is committed to giving him those opportunities.2

Secondly, and it pains me to say this, but Richard is a potential sell, because even though his upside has increased slightly with Lynch out of the picture, his floor has actually decreased with the likely addition of Washington to the rotation. Richard is currently fifth in the NFL in RB receptions, but the roles may become less defined with a rotation of Martin and Washington, who are both capable receivers.3 An even rotation among the backs could give Richard more rushing attempts, but less of a stranglehold on passing-down snaps, which is where the most fantasy value comes from. There is a potential scenario now where Richard loses value as part of a muddy committee.

We don’t know what Gruden will do, but we have to remain open to the possibility that, while Lynch/Richard made the best one-two punch, Washington is actually the best all-around RB on a team suddenly lacking a true power back4. My original truther piece on Jalen Richard emphasized that we should not fall into the trap of downgrading Richard just because we are high on Washington. I still believe in Richard’s talent, and think he is the best Raider’s RB. I’m holding him and am excited for any increased opportunity he may get to prove himself in Lynch’s absence. But the lesson remains the same–don’t write off Washington, just because you like Richard. He is likely to get opportunity now, and is possibly the best Raiders RB at the cheapest price. Just to be clear, I would still rank them Richard, then Martin, then Washington, but relative to perceived value it’s the reverse.

TEVIN COLEMAN – The Falcons have scored over 30 points in four of their last five games and now Devonta Freeman has been put on IR. Coleman’s value gets a huge boost here, but his failure to capitalize on Freeman’s absence so far with a breakout game, and Ito Smith‘s annoying presence (especially in the red zone), is putting a major damper on what should be significant buzz for Coleman ROS. The Falcons don’t have an especially appealing RB schedule upcoming, but it’s worth noting that they have a spicy playoff matchup in Week 15 against the Cardinals, who are dead last against RBs according to the Weekly Explorer.

DUKE JOHNSON – This is price dependent, of course, as some people are extremely high on both Browns RBs after the Carlos Hyde trade, which may be premature given the sketchiness of the overall offense. But if your leaguemates are going overboard for Nick Chubb, Johnson is an interesting target as potentially the more valuable PPR player, but at the cheaper price tag. This isn’t a knock on Chubb, who has clearly looked explosive, but there is some potential for Johnson to play in the slot like he did last year when the WR corps was similarly decimated–he is possibly the best possession receiver on the team right now.5 Remember that Royce Freeman also looked explosive early on, but has disappointed due to the split backfield. I’m excited about Chubb’s opportunity, but once again, don’t let that enthusiasm cause you to overlook the guy who has averaged 80 targets in his first three seasons.

SELL

NICK CHUBB – Chubb has posted one of the most unsustainably efficient performances of the last two decades so far, with 20.5 FPOE and an absurd 1.28 FPOEPA. That said, the two most similar performances were churned out by Antone Smith and Chris Polk in 2013. Chubb is exciting and has done nothing but shine so far, but that makes him one of the easiest players to move right now if you are set at RB and need help at another position. If you can land a 3rd-round value, it’s worth considering for a RB whose passing game usage remains unknown. (Chubb did catch all three of his pre-season targets, for 12 total yards, but hasn’t been targeted in the regular season).

WIDE RECEIVER

BUY

ROBBY ANDERSON – I have been lower on Anderson than many of the RotoViz staff, in large part because his breakout season last year was turbocharged by a litany of injuries to the rest of the already thin receiving corps. I don’t like to chase injury-driven target volume, even though Anderson’s talent, especially as a deep-threat, is evident. But now the Jets find themselves in a similar situation, with Quincy Enunwa on the shelf and Terrelle Pryor also doubtful for Week 7. Anderson always has a high ceiling, but if the Jets are forced to manufacture shorter targets for him as well, that would give him the floor to be a must-start weekly play. With Jermaine Kearse hogging double digit targets against the Colts last week, there’s some trepidation about Anderson’s volume, despite a golden opportunity in the short term.

KEENAN ALLEN – Folks are getting frustrated with Allen’s lack of touchdowns (1), even as the Chargers are scoring close to 30 points a game–a full seven points per game more than last year’s offense. All signs point to Allen enjoying an excellent ROS on a more powerful offense than last year, and a current 14.7 ppg average that would’ve been WR12 in 2017. The high scoring in the rest of the league is making Allen feel like a bust, at the same time that we should have an all-time high confidence in the Chargers to put up points. That makes Allen a buy low target, especially if you have some hot names to move at RB like Sony Michel or Chubb.

SELL

LARRY FITZGERALD – Back-to-back decent games–including a touchdown against Denver–and the firing of Mike McCoy may give you a window to get a reasonable return for Fitzgerald. There is finally a sense of optimism in Arizona, and I would try to take advantage of it before they play another game. Fitzgerald was a buy a couple weeks ago, when the combination of Sam Bradford and the coaching staff felt like a death sentence. With Josh Rosen and Byron Leftwich taking the reins, the pall is lifted, but I’d try to capitalize on that excitement if possible and move on before finding out that Leftwich can’t work miracles.

TIGHT END

BUY

JARED COOK – Oakland seems to be in turmoil, with Derek Carr getting pummeled, rumors swirling about trading Amari Cooper, even as he recovers from a brutal concussion, and now Marshawn Lynch out for a month with a groin injury. Faith in the Raiders offense is declining, and Cook has had consecutive poor weeks after his blazing start. Especially on a bye week, some GMs may be ready to cut bait. I’m buying, because Cook can still thrive in a dysfunctional offense. Only Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, Rob Gronkowski, and Geoff Swaim are playing a higher rate of snaps than Cook’s 85 percent.

SELL

ERIC EBRON – Ebron has six TDs already and is the TE2 on the year, behind only Zach Ertz. With T.Y. Hilton returning, as well as Mack, and presumably Jack Doyle at some point, I’m expecting the share of the offense to come back to earth for Ebron. Teams likely to be playoff bound may be willing to pay up to patch a hole at TE.

For further questions and discussion, please check out the Talkin’ Trades thread in the RotoViz Forum.

  1. Andrew Luck did have a 33-yarder, but Wilkins previously had the longest RB rush of 18 yards.  (back)
  2. Even if it’s only for the short term.  (back)
  3. Washington has not proven himself an efficient receiver, but he is dangerous in space, and Martin has been efficient as a receiver in his “good” seasons–in any event, what matters is what Gruden believes.  (back)
  4. depending on how much Martin has left–don’t forget he actually outweighed Lynch at the combine 223 lbs to 215 lbs  (back)
  5. It’s hard to put him above Jarvis Landry in that regard, but the team needs Landry to be much more than a possession receiver  (back)

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