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Tuesday Morning Trades: Week 4

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

The Giants find yet another way to lose a heartbreaker to the Eagles. The Lions get screwed by the refs on a game-winning touchdown pass. It feels like the NFL has finally shaken off the rust and is back.

In a week that was blessedly light on major injuries, we did unfortunately see Darren Sproles go down with a torn ACL and broken arm. A sad turn of events for the original Zero RB, who may decide to call it a (great) career. The Eagles backfield is clear as mud right now, but we are starting to see a few other backfields take shape, which means getting those trade offers out there sooner than later.

Here are some of the best buys and sells at each position.

QUARTERBACK

Buy

Andrew Luck – I’m not advocating that you try to get Luck. In fact, I’ve been saying to sell him. There’s a lot of risk; it’s the most replaceable position in most leagues, and the opportunity cost of that roster spot can be significant. However, we’ve reached the point where people’s faith in Luck’s return is at its lowest, while we also have the most information about his return to date.

Many people have begun openly speculating whether Luck will even play this season. At the same time, it’s been reported that Luck may return to practice this week and is targeting a Week 6 return. These reports are probably true, but trust in the Colts could only be lower if they’d lost to the Browns to go 0-3 this week, which they almost did. If Luck’s upside seems worth the roster spot in your league, then I think now is the time to get him for ten cents on the dollar. Once Luck returns to practice, which he will likely do soon, owners who have held him all this time will be inclined to just hold on, even if you make a fair offer.

Sell

Kirk Cousins – Cousins had a fantastic game against Oakland, but it relied on a handful of huge plays by Josh Doctson and Chris Thompson. Washington’s schedule is fairly difficult, and I don’t know that we can count on the same passing volume as last year, or that the efficiency will be there with Terrelle Pryor struggling so far. There’s still plenty of optimism surrounding Washington’s offense right now, so if you are looking to trade Cousins, this is a good time to do it. They go away to Kansas City next week, followed by a bye in Week 5.

RUNNING BACK

Buy

DeAndre Washington – This one is a little speculative, but Jalen Richard appeared to leave the game with an injury, and Washington played 16 second-half snaps to just five for Marshawn Lynch and two for Richard. If Washington gets a shot to seize the primary role in passing game scripts, he could carve out some value. Washington snagged 5 catches on 6 targets in the second half against Washington. Long term, I think this is a most likely a timeshare, and Richard has shown more this year so far. But for the cost of a backup RB, I’ll take a chance on Washington possibly earning more work as the healthiest pass catcher in the backfield.

Branden Oliver Melvin Gordon has a knee injury for the third straight year and played equal snaps with Oliver against the Chiefs. As a rookie, Oliver was on a 16-game pace of 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 50 receptions in ten games as the replacement for the injured Ryan Mathews, but he has struggled with injuries since. For some, Austin Ekeler will be the hot name due to his SPARQ-y Pro Day, which I think will keep Oliver’s price lower than it should be. Oliver is a short, stocky guy that runs with more power than you’d expect.

Fair warning: I’m higher on Oliver than most of the fantasy community and already have him rostered on many teams. But we’ve seen how valuable the role of pass-catching RB can be for the Chargers, so I think it’s a role worth targeting aggressively, independent of your feelings about Oliver specifically. Oliver suffered an ugly Achilles tear last season, and the Chargers liked him enough to stick with him as the primary backup this year, which I take as a good sign going forward.

LeGarrette Blount – Like everyone else, I’m terrified of Blount’s role on this Eagles team. He played only six snaps in Week 2, and this week scored a goal line touchdown and was promptly flagged for taunting. All the things that people worry about with Blount are rearing their head. Wendell Smallwood is going to be the big name this week, and the much buzzed about Corey Clement also had a nice touchdown run against the Giants. And yet, Blount’s opportunity just grew significantly with Darren Sproles gone for the season. Blount still leads the team in carries, yards, and yards per carry, and his owner will probably be delighted to get rid of him. People love to hate Blount, and in standard leagues in particular that makes him a buy. I would try to get him as a throw in in another deal where you’re giving up a RB.

Joe Mixon – Ken Zampese was fired for not getting the ball to the team’s stars, and Bill Lazor doesn’t have the leash to make the same mistake, especially at 0-3. Mixon dominated snaps in the second half of the game and should be an RB2 going forward. I’m really a week late on this one, but Mixon is a polarizing fantasy player and still hasn’t produced much to date–an owner may be happy to part ways with him for a fair price today. That price is likely to rise as the season continues.

Sell

DeMarco Murray – Murray is one of the more underrated players at RB. People have been trying to put him out to pasture ever since he dominated the league for 2,261 yards in 2014. That said, his usage in the passing game–where he gained a ton of value last year–is way down, and his lingering hamstring soreness combined with Derrick Henry’s presence make him a very risky player. But he just ripped off a 75-yard TD run to silence the critics this week, which means the window to move him at close to full preseason value may still be open.

WIDE RECEIVER

Buy

Martavis Bryant – Bryant only had two catches for 30 yards against Cleveland, prompting some cries of “boom/bust.” But his usage was “boom” in this game, with 8 targets for 198 air yards, and several near misses that could’ve resulted in another big day. Especially in standard leagues, Bryant’s 22.4 aDOT with steady targets is a profile I’m coveting.

JuJu Smith-Schuster – This is really more of a dynasty target, but Smith-Schuster has already passed Eli Rogers and played a whopping 80 percent of snaps in Week 3. Not yet 21 years old, I’m buying this early usage before he gets any more involved. Martavis Bryant remains a risky long-term proposition. If you can get him for a future second, I’d be eager to do that.

Tyrell Williams – The Chargers have looked terrible so far this year, but they’ve also played both the Broncos and the Chiefs. Also, their home games are probably harder to play than road games–there’s a good chance the attendance of the Denver game eclipses the combined attendance of their first three games at the StubHub Center. It’s somewhat ironic that their stadium is named after a company that facilitates selling unwanted tickets. Williams’ value has steadily dropped since draft day, with Keenan Allen looking healthy, Mike Williams returning at some point, and Travis Benjamin getting in the mix with 17.7 yards per reception and a long TD. But Williams quietly leads all Chargers WRs in snaps played, missing only 12 snaps this year. He’s still averaging six targets a game, and I like the possibility of adding him very cheaply.

Amari Cooper – Cooper has been hard to own this year, but he’s easily leading the team in targets and would see massive volume if Michael Crabtree misses extended time with his chest injury. If you can pry him from a frustrated owner for someone like DeMarco Murray, that would be an exciting upside trade.

Sell

Devin Funchess – Funchess finally got bunches of targets on Sunday (10), with Kelvin Benjamin joining Greg Olsen in the injury tent. This would typically be a player I’d want to buy, and if his price remains really cheap that’s fine. But there are some true believers in Funchess who are eager for his third-year breakout. If you can get WR3 prices for his impending target boom against New England, I would take it. Cam Newton does not look 100 percent right now, and the offense concerns me without Olsen.

TIGHT END

Buy

Ryan Griffin – I’m a big proponent of zero TE, because TEs are fragile, and also because injuries (to both TEs and WRs) create opportunity for no name TEs off the wire. I’ve already been talking about targeting the Houston TE spot this year, but if you are still needy at the position, I think Griffin is a solid trade target if he’s not on the wire. Griffin played 86 percent of snaps (61) against the Patriots. Compare that to a much more highly owned player like Eric Ebron who only played 45 snaps (64 percent). Will Fuller is returning soon, but Griffin’s role should be reasonably secure.

Sell

Eric Ebron – You might want to wait for another big game from Ebron, but there are still a lot of believers in his considerable talent, and sooner may be better than later. A lot of fantasy owners are eager to capture talented TEs in their breakout year, but the game is about volume, and the Lions now have four healthy WRs and two healthy RBs competing for targets. It will be difficult for Ebron to maintain the target share he’s had in years past, let alone improve on it.

Tyler Eifert – If there’s an optimistic 3-0 team willing to stash Eifert, I’d take what I could get.

THURSDAY NIGHT SPECIAL: Bear @ Packers

The big surprise of last week was just how capably Geronimo Allison filled in for Randall Cobb. On a short week, it’s possible Cobb sits again, so I’ll be watching closely to see if Allison picks up the slack again, or if we see Aaron Rodgers lean on his familiar targets in Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams. I definitely hope to see Martellus Bennett involved more–he seemed to disappear against the Bengals, despite leading the team in targets the previous week when Nelson and Cobb left the game. If we continue to see a lot of Allison and Lance Kendricks, that will have me worried for all the Packers, simply because the pass-catching depth on this team seems to cap their target upside.

Bears WRs combined for an insane four targets against the Steelers. None of these pass catchers seem ownable with a team that will lean so heavily on the RBs if given the opportunity. On the flipside, Jordan Howard had five receptions and Tarik Cohen had four. Cohen seems immune to game script at this point, but good luck acquiring him. It’s worth noting that Benny Cunningham was active and saw three targets–he could have value were Cohen to get hurt. Otherwise, I think the only thing worth watching is whether Adam Shaheen begins to eat into Zach Miller‘s snaps. Dion Sims is playing the most but appears to be blocking as expected.

That is a wrap for Tuesday Morning Trades. I’ll be recapping last weeks picks on Thursday in the forums. Let me know in the comments if you have specific player questions or roster dilemmas you’d like to see addressed next week.

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