With plenty of teams starting 0-3, managers are breaking free from their preseason player values, and some big name trades will be more possible than ever. It’s a good time to get aggressive targeting those big pieces if your best-laid plans of August have left you with dangerous holes in your starting lineup.
Sell Gardner Minshew
People love Minshew and people are also desperate for QBs in many leagues. The stat I’m fading for Minshew right now is the fact that he leads the league in completion percentage.
While I trust the Jaguars coaching staff to continue to put Minshew in a position to succeed, he’s leaned heavily on short passes. The Stat Explorer shows us that Minshew ranks 29th in air yards thrown and his expected points per game are ranked just 31st. He’s had a nice start, but is being propped up heavily by the garbage time against Kansas City, and a pair of 20-yard rushes from Week 2 that are unlikely to sustain.
Buy Ezekiel Elliott
In the average league, Elliott is probably not acquirable. But if you’re like me, you’ve begun to find yourself in more leagues with like-minded fantasy players that embrace zero-RB tendencies, and are terrified of Elliott’s potential regression in snaps and targets. In these leagues, if you have a zero RB team that has nailed its WRs, but whiffed badly at RB, this may be your shot at major trade for a RB1.
With Tony Pollard largely living up to the preseason hype, the dominant volume we’ve seen from Elliott in years past is gone. Take a look at Elliott’s snap percentage in 2018 versus this season via this chart from the Stat Explorer.
This is legitimately nerve-wracking if you’re an Elliott manager, who perhaps expected his high target counts from last year to continue. That said, there are a few reasons for optimism. First, Dallas opponents have combined for a single win this year, and the extremely positive gamescript has worked against both snap counts and targets for Elliott. Second, Elliott of course jumped into Week 1 fresh off his holdout, and may have been limited somewhat due to his absence.
More competitive games will likely give Elliott a double boost of snaps and targets. Even if he doesn’t sniff the workload that has made him the NFL’s all-time leader in rushing yards per game,1 the efficiency of the offense will likely offset some of that loss. The Cowboys have averaged roughly 21.5 points per game the last two years. In Elliott’s rookie season when they averaged 26.3 ppg, he scored 16 touchdowns. They’re currently averaging 32.3 points per game.
If you got lucky with your WR picks, you could offer up Keenan Allen, Tyler Lockett, or Cooper Kupp, who you may have drafted as your third, fourth, or even fifth WR.
Sell Melvin Gordon
Gordon led all RBs in fantasy points over expectation last year, with a whopping 82.2 FPOE. With Austin Ekeler breaking out in a huge way (and also no longer playing special teams for the first time in his career) we could see a huge range of outcomes for Gordon. In the reverse of the trade scenario for Elliott, if you can swap Gordon to a WR-heavy squad for Allen, Lockett, Kupp, Kenny Golladay, Mike Evans, or JuJu Smith-Schuster, that would be a great way to dump that risk on an optimistic or desperate team. Now is a great time to act as reports are suggesting Gordon could play snaps as soon as this week.
BUY Kenny Golladay
It’s been pretty well-noted that Golladay has left a lot of points on the field this year, so he is not exactly an under-the-radar buy low. But there is a confluence of two stats that have me more interested than most.
Golladay’s 13.8 air yards per target ranks just 29th among WRs, but among WRs that are getting his elite target share, only Mike Evans, Marquise Brown and DeSean Jackson2 have a better air yards per target. The combo of deep targets as well as excellent and consistent target totals of 9, 10, and 8 through three weeks is keeping me interested in Golladay, even as some fantasy players begin to waver on a Lions offense that has yielded a different fantasy star each week.
BUY Kelvin Harmon
This is for deeper leagues, and especially dynasty leagues. Harmon has been running as the WR4 so far this year, and with Terry McLaurin popping up on the injury report with a hamstring injury, this may be a chance to buy into the future of the Washington passing game a week early. Paul Richardson has always struggled with injuries, and he will have a cap hit of $8.5m next year, and then $10m per year after that. While not bank-breaking, that’s a lot of cap for a player that has delivered as sporadically as Richardson. If the team decides at some point this year that they don’t plan to bring him back, Harmon could move into the regular rotation later in the season.
BUY Vernon Davis
The excitement over Davis’ opening week score has faded, and now there is talk that Jordan Reed will return at some point, and Jeremy Sprinkle has begun earning snaps. Still, Davis has played at least 71% of snaps in every game, and now McLaurin has a bothersome hamstring. When top WRs pop up on the injury report, I’m always looking at the team’s TE to pick up the slack for cheap. Washington seems to struggle handling injuries as badly as any team in the league, so I’m not confident that Reed will ever even play again. Davis’ price appears to be dropping, even as his situation may have improved or at least held steady.