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Talkin’ Trades Week 8: Banged Up Buy Lows

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

With six teams on bye in Weeks 9 and 11, we’re heading into the dog days of the season. Scuffling teams and loaded rosters alike are pressed to drop quality players to waivers in order to field starting lineups. With roster space at such a premium, it’s the ideal time to send out some two-for-one offers.

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

QUARTERBACK

BUY

DAK PRESCOTT – Always buy running QBs cheap, and Prescott should be reasonably cheap right now as the Cowboys offense remains stultifying, with only two games on the season exceeding 20 points. Prescott has nevertheless quietly averaged 20 ppg in his last four games, mostly on the strength of his rushing ability. That floor should remain, and there is some possibility that the addition of Amari Cooper jump starts the passing game (if only because the Cowboys will not want to be embarrassed by their decision to give up a  first-round pick).

SELL

DREW BREES – If there is a playoff-bound team looking to solidify their QB spot for the stretch run, they may be willing to pay up for Brees, who is sporting a 23.6 ppg average through six games. That’s good for third overall behind only Patrick Mahomes and Matt Ryan, however Brees has a pair of rushing TDs that are inflating his average by about 1.5 points relative to expectation.1 While Brees remains a quality fantasy QB, a more realistic 22.0 ppg brings him much closer to the pack of mid- to low-end QB1s.

RUNNING BACK

BUY

DERRICK HENRY – Expectations for the Tennessee offense should be tempered, but this is a situation where a heavy cloud of pessimism surrounds the Titans, even as their offense is getting healthy for the first time. On the offensive line alone, Jack Conklin, Taylor Lewan, Quinton Spain, Dennis Kelly, and Kevin Pamphile2 have all missed multiple games. Marcus Mariota has been recovering from a pinched nerve in his elbow. Henry probably represents the cheapest touches you can buy right now in fantasy, despite his improving prospects. There’s also a small chance Henry gets traded to New England, which would be the ultimate troll on Dion Lewis.

JALEN RICHARD – I wrote extensively about the Raiders RB situation last week and argued that Richard was shaping up to be the consensus RB to own and therefore not a great bargain.3 However, I’ve noticed that several prominent analysts have been touting Doug Martin ahead of Richard this week, so it’s worth revisiting this opportunity. With Amari Cooper now gone and the Raiders basically in tank mode,4 they have every reason to find out whether they want to extend Richard, who becomes a restricted free agent next year. There are even more targets up for grabs now, so I would be price-checking Richard since there are apparently doubters among us. Look to see if Richard is riding the bench in your league and compare to the players in the starting lineup to gauge the price.

SELL

JAMES WHITE – White has been a stud this year, and one of the biggest draft day bargains, in part because of his underrated TD potential. Obviously he has benefited from Jeremy Hill’s injury, as Hill would’ve stolen some goal line looks, but New England’s willingness to use White in the red zone has been overlooked in part because it’s so easy to ignore playoff production, where White has eight TDs in eight games. Sony Michel’s new injury has gifted extra touches to White in the short term but may have actually hurt his rest of season value, as the Patriots face some pressure to add another RB to their group in addition to Kenjon Barner. A healthy Michel would likely mean a productive two-man committee with Barner seeing limited snaps in relief. The likelihood of the season ending with a four-man rotation of some kind has now increased, even as White’s value is peaking and a spicy matchup against the Bills coming up. This is likely the top of the market for White, and he can likely fetch you a wide range of top players.

WIDE RECEIVER

BUY

COOPER KUPP – If the Kupp team in your league is battling for a playoff spot, that’s a great opportunity to snatch up a player who was a top-five WR before his knee injury. Kupp is all but ruled out for Week 8, and at 7-and-0 the Rams have every incentive to play it safe with him. That’s bad news for a fantasy team that needs wins now, so if you are looking good for the playoffs, press that advantage to get a discounted WR1. Perhaps you could offer a WR that’s been looking strong, like Devin Funchess or John Brown, plus a RB with short term RB1 potential, like Phillip Lindsay or Austin Ekeler.

KEKE COUTEEWill Fuller’s truly unfortunate ACL injury nevertheless opens opportunity for Coutee to make the leap into your weekly lineup. His own hamstring woes provide a window to buy Coutee’s improved situation at a discount, because the payoff could be delayed through the Texans’ bye in Week 10. With roster spots in short supply during the heavy bye weeks, you may be able to snag him for a player that can deliver immediate production like Nelson Agholor or Donte Moncrief, or even a flier RB for desperate teams, like Trenton Cannon.

SELL

AMARI COOPER – As mentioned above, there’s a chance that the Cowboys truly feature Cooper. In part because Scott Linehan does have a history of funneling targets to his WR1, and in part because they do not want to look foolish for giving up a first-round pick to the Raiders. That said, if Cooper starts off slowly–which is possible simply because of the Cowboys’ mediocrity, or because they bring his snaps up to speed gradually–the optimism will evaporate quickly, and Cooper will become extremely difficult to move. If your roster has the flexibility to hold Cooper indefinitely, he’s a reasonable stash, but if you anticipate needing to move a WR for position help elsewhere, I would look to flip Cooper before his first game.

TIGHT END

BUY

BEN WATSON – Watson quietly ranks 12th in receptions among TEs with 23. He’s splitting snaps with Josh Hill, which limits his upside, but he can serve as a cheap starter that you can possibly get for backup prices. 

SELL

JACK DOYLE – Doyle is returning from his hip injury this week. With the emergence of Eric Ebron, as well as significant snaps going to Erik Swoope5 and even Mo Alie-Cox,6 Doyle has the feel of a roster-clogger the rest of the way.

If there’s an optimistic Doyle fan in your league, I’d take advantage of the chance to move on.

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

  1. Brees has averaged 1.2 rushing TDs per 16 games as a Saint  (back)
  2. now on IR  (back)
  3. And this was largely correct, as 98 percent of analysts have ranked Richard over Martin on FantasyPros for Week 8  (back)
  4. at 1-5, and yet not even in the bottom three  (back)
  5. 32 percent in Week 6  (back)
  6. 48 percent in Week 7  (back)

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