Welcome back to Talkin’ Trades, a weekly column that will highlight players to target today before their prices change tomorrow.
This is one of those weeks where every single player seems to get the Questionable tag, but then instead of it being a formality, we’re still waiting to see if they practice on Saturday. That throws a wrench in things for trades, as people are fairly averse to trading for players that are currently hurt. But for a moment, we’ll try to forget about Marvin Jones’ ankle, Davante Adams’ calf, Lamar Miller’s chest, and Marquise Goodwin’s quad. Josh Gordon is back, caught a jump ball for Tom Brady‘s 500th TD pass, and proceeded to Gronk spike it. Thursday football is good again.
Let’s take a look at some of the best buys and sells at each position.
ANDY DALTON – The season-ending injury to Tyler Eifert and a groin injury for John Ross may have some owners preparing for the worst. But I think a healthy A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, with Josh Malone playing the WR3 and CJ Uzomah getting run as the primary TE might be the best receiving group Dalton has played with since Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu were in town. The Bengals have the easiest schedule for QBs over the next six weeks according to the Weekly Explorer, and with SOS it’s nice to get in a week early before the juiciest matchups actually arrive.
PATRICK MAHOMES – If you have him, your team has probably been winning and you don’t feel compelled to trade him. However, QB is deep and it’s rare that it’s worth drafting QBs early — there’s probably someone out there who will give up a player for Mahomes that I would draft before any QB. At the very least, you should be listening to offers. People want the QB1, but the Chiefs QB schedule is the worst in the league over the next seven weeks according to the Weekly Explorer.
AARON JONES – On the one hand, many Jones owners are psyched about how he’s looked in his first two games back. But on the other, there is frustration at the ongoing committee with both Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams, and the possibility that Mike McCarthy keeps things at an even split after positive comments he made about using all three guys.1 Nobody knows what will happen for sure, and likely injuries will settle the equation at some point, but there are two main pieces of information that make Jones a buy for me.
The first is that the next two matchups against Detroit and San Francisco are excellent, and the Buy Low Machine highlights Green Bay as the best RB target over the next six weeks. The Weekly Explorer ranks them as the third best schedule through Week 13. Once Jones has a big game, he’ll become expensive to acquire, and a big game is probably coming sooner rather than later.
Secondly, Aaron Rodgers ripped the offensive gameplan on Sunday, immediately after a shutout victory over the Bills. The Packers are 2-1-1, Rodgers isn’t happy with the offense, and he’s made multiple public statements insisting that they need to get the ball more to their playmakers. This is the guy who is cashing $80 million in checks from the Packers by the end of the league year. It’s his team. Meanwhile, Mike McCarthy got a one-year extension. They may butt heads, but more likely than not Rodgers is going to get his way and soon, and that is probably good news for Jones.
RONALD JONES – It may be that case that Tampa Bay has planned all along to give Jones plenty of time to get up to speed, before turning him loose after the bye in more favorable situations. Dirk Koetter is on the record as being risk-averse when it comes to taking chances that could threaten his job security, and giving playing time to young players seems likely to fall into that category, as we’ve seen snaps given pretty reluctantly to O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin in their first two seasons, as well as fifth-round pick Jeremy McNichols not even making the practice squad last year. It could, of course, remain a frustrating committee backfield, but the Weekly Explorer suggests one of the hardest early season schedules for RBs gives way to the second best schedule through the rest of the regular fantasy season.2
Plenty of Jones owners will be happy to cut bait if they haven’t already, especially with Tampa Bay on a bye this week. Try to get him now before the matchup with Atlanta is looming — the Falcons have hemorrhaged targets to RBs for years, and already gave up 15 targets to Christian McCaffrey and 20 (!) to Alvin Kamara.
JORDAN HOWARD – Take advantage of Tarik Cohen’s huge breakout against the Buccaneers to get Howard on a bye week. While Cohen’s potential usage is obviously nerve-wracking, the price is dropping, even as we suddenly have much more reason for optimism with this Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky-led offense. Stringing together eight scoring drives is very welcome news — the Bears won’t have 100 percent passing touchdowns and zero percent rushing touchdowns the rest of the way. Meanwhile the Weekly Explorer ranks the Bears RB schedule as the number one most favorable through Week 13.
NYHEIM HINES – Not to rain on the Hines parade — he continues to look dangerous in the passing game — but generally speaking sell on opportunity gained while other top offensive players are (temporarily) injured. T.Y. Hilton, Jack Doyle, and Marlon Mack are returning sooner than later, and the touches will most likely shrink for Hines. If a leaguemate has faith that Hines’ eight receptions per game over the last two weeks are the sign of his breakout, now is a good time to move him for help at another position. The Colts are on pace for nearly 800 pass attempts, and in all likelihood that number is going to regress.
LARRY FITZGERALD – Larry Legend is currently sitting pretty as WR65 just ahead of Brandon Marshall and a tenth of a point behind Tavon Austin. He’s been battling back and hamstring issues, but with a rookie QB who isn’t playing not to lose, and a coaching staff that may be fighting for its life, his outlook is improving, even as his price has likely dropped through the floor. A big game against a scuffling 49ers secondary this week could resuscitate his price to the point of closing the buy window.
DEANDRE HOPKINS – There are not going to be a lot of Hopkins sellers right now, but if there is a top option to target in redraft leagues, Hopkins is a good candidate. Hopkins led the NFL last year with a target share of 34 percent (the only player to hit 30 percent), after the receiving corps was decimated with injuries. This year, a similar picture is already taking shape. Bruce Ellington is on IR, and his replacement — the exciting rookie Keke Coutee — is already struggling with a hamstring injury. Will Fuller has already aggravated his hamstring problem. And Lamar Miller is questionable with a chest injury. If Fuller and Coutee can’t go, the team is down to Sammie Coates and Vyncint Smith. If these injuries linger in the receiving group, with a healthy Deshaun Watson and a higher volume passing offense,3 Hopkins could eclipse 200 targets.
DAVANTE ADAMS – Adams always seems to be underrated, and the explosion of passing in these first few weeks has pushed him down to WR16 despite an excellent 18.6 ppg which would’ve been good for WR3 overall last year. There is a perception that his talent lags behind that of other top tier WRs or that he’s been overly reliant on TDs for fantasy scoring, but he’s on pace for 112 receptions and 1,140 yards, which would eclipse his scoring from 2017 even if he didn’t have any TDs (but he’s on pace for another dozen of those and a 300 point season). Rodgers complained this week that the Packers should’ve gotten him 20 targets against the Bills, and if he gets his way, which he should, Adams could get the true featured attention from Rodgers that he hasn’t seen in years past.
CALVIN RIDLEY – The kid can play, but he’s averaging a TD every 2.5 receptions. WR-needy teams will have a hard time turning him down though. Everyone has Tampa Bay circled for WR matchups right now, and Atlanta gets them in Week 6 (after a possible shootout with Pittsburgh this week), so you can potentially sell that spicy matchup for a missing piece at another position.
JIMMY GRAHAM – Tight ends get a lot of fantasy-rich opportunities — short, high-completion targets and end-zone targets. The problem is that hardly any TEs get close to the 18-20 percent target share that can make them real fantasy forces. When injuries strike the top of the WR depth chart, that can shift the target share enough to create studs from even the most unlikely candidates (see Eric Ebron sans Hilton). In Green Bay, Randall Cobb has already been ruled out with a hamstring, Geronimo Allison is questionable and still in concussion protocol, and Adams has now popped up as questionable with a calf injury. Adams got in a limited practice and is still fairly likely to play, but there are multiple paths now for Graham to get the target volume that would propel him to the top of the TE heap.
CAMERON BRATE – There’s a decent chance if you’re holding Brate, you aren’t in a great spot at TE to actually get rid of him. However, there could be a Jared Cook or Ebron owner who grabbed them as a backup and is riding high, who could give you their higher drafted TE in exchange for Brate and an upgrade at another position. I know a lot of RotoViz readers are stocked up with more good RBs than they can start (our Start/Sit writer’s channel on Slack is the same dilemma every week, as many of us have combinations of Hines, Phillip Lindsay, Austin Ekeler, and Matt Breida on the same team)–flipping a RB plus Brate could be a useful strategy to upgrade to Jimmy Graham or David Njoku or possibly Jordan Reed if it makes sense for your team’s needs (or maybe even Greg Olsen, for the daring, as he has returned to limited practice). Opinions will vary on Brate, but he’s scored a TD in back-to-back games, and some fantasy owners are bullish on his connection with Jameis Winston.
For further questions and discussion, please check out the Talkin’ Trades thread in the RotoViz Forum.
- “I really like the rotation of having all three guys because they’re distinctly different, but all three can play all three downs, and that says a lot. We’ve never had this situation where you have three guys that can play three downs like that, so this will really help us moving forward.” (back)
- Weeks 5-13 (back)
- The Texans only threw 525 passes last season, but are on pace for 592 in 2018 (back)