Injuries have created some intriguing opportunities to either acquire or unload massive amounts of risk in the form of first and second-round running backs and wide receivers. Let’s examine a few ways to exploit these situations based on your team’s needs.
Buy Philip Rivers
As the pre-season QB16, there’s a decent chance that the team with Rivers has a viable alternative and will flip him. If you just lost Patrick Mahomes, or are otherwise scrambling for a signal caller, Rivers is a nice target that you might be able to acquire for a bench player who can serve as a bye-week or injury fill-in for your leaguemate. After a terrible game against Denver, and then a boring, typically tragic performance by the Chargers in prime time, enthusiasm for their offense is waning. But garbage points still count, and Rivers is in fact tied with Mahomes for second in the league in expected passing points. He has Hunter Henry back as well as Melvin Gordon. Rivers is who he is, and that’s a startable fantasy QB that you can get without breaking the bank.
Buy Kerryon Johnson
He won’t be cheap, but Johnson has felt underwhelming this year despite being the 12th ranked RB in expected points.
His touchdowns and big yardage games haven’t overlapped to deliver the kind of week-winning performance that makes players untradeable. But he’s quietly on pace for 10 touchdowns and 42 receptions, plus it’s always good to snag a guy that has already had his bye week. Denver has already played this week, but if you could offer something like Royce Freeman plus a tight end or quarterback to a needy team, that would be an interesting way to target an RB upgrade.
Buy or Sell Todd Gurley
Gurley has been taken off the injury report and Malcolm Brown is doubtful against the horrendous Atlanta Falcons. That makes this a great opportunity to either buy or sell this game in particular. The Rams are at serious risk of not making the playoffs despite their continued efforts to mortgage the future to win now, so I think they will be forced to lean on Gurley, his health be damned. In that respect, I think he’s a target for teams that are likewise trying to earn a playoff spot and highly value points over the next several weeks.
And for teams that have Gurley, there will likely never be a better opportunity to get rid of him than this Falcons matchup with Brown possibly out. I’m worried that Brown’s injury isn’t that serious, and also that Darrell Henderson will now continue to get snaps in the passing game. There are too many scenarios where Gurley is limited or shutdown, or simply cannibalized by his teammates in an offense that isn’t as prolific as we’d hoped.
It’s a rare win-win trade opportunity for teams looking to add or subtract risk from the roster.
BUY Davante Adams
The offensive situation in Green Bay is getting ugly with Allen Lazard and Jake Kumerow possibly leading the WR group on Sunday. Even before the turf toe injury, Adams was disappointing, and at this point GMs with both winning or losing fantasy squads may be eager to move on. The upside here is huge because Adams may beat the other injured WRs back to the field and simply dominate targets. And we may be getting close to the “fuck you” portion of the season where Aaron Rodgers takes things into his own hands and force feeds his best player. There’s plenty of risk, but if you’re looking for a hail mary, this is a situation where you can potentially acquire an elite-tier WR. Adams could also be an interesting swap if you have Todd Gurley.
BUY or SELL Robby Anderson
If the price is high enough and you need a player at a different position, Anderson is a great trade chip, because his massive 125-yard debut with Sam Darnold returning, plus a hefty nine targets, has GMs looking at the Jets offense with undeserved optimism. That said, Anderson should be high on your list of targets because of his combination of volume potential as well as elite deep ball opportunities. The Jets play the Patriots this week, so it might be wise to let New England’s stifling defense take Anderson out of the equation, then make an offer. The Jets schedule after that could be a scoring bonanza for Anderson.
BUY Chris Herndon
Herndon was unreasonably hyped in some circles, especially because of my least favorite player argument that “there’s nobody else to catch passes.” If he’s on the roster of a Herndon truther, you can’t get him, but if there is a GM who bought the sleeper hype and is getting impatient, the news of Herndon’s hamstring injury may be the last straw. Given the desolate TE situation, this is still a solid upside stash for teams that have space on the bench.