There’s an enormous amount of turbulence in the league with the trade deadline approaching on October 29. We’ve already seen a few dominoes fall, but it would be no surprise to see more with the tanking battle including more teams than the Dolphins would’ve hoped for. Miami might even start paying cash for other teams to take their starters.
In the midst of the turmoil, I’m leaning into the known quantities, in expectation of potentially lower scoring across the board.
Buy Tom Brady
The offense is in trouble, the line is a mess, and Brady is falling off a cliff for the 10th straight season in a row. His numbers are inflated by the blowouts of Miami and Pittsburgh. Belichick is running the defense now, and the offense is just grinding out the clock with the running game. These are among the narratives that should make Brady an attainable QB for the many QB-desperate teams out there right now.
In fact, Brady’s average expected points are being pulled down by the Miami and Pittsburgh games in Week 1 and 2.
Brady is second in the league in expected points, behind only Lamar Jackson. If Sony Michel’s three-touchdown game has the Brady GM spooked, see if you can’t get him at a discount.
Buy Devonta Freeman
Freeman has at least three targets in every game this season, which is his longest such streak since 2015, when he was the overall RB1. Now Ito Smith is out with a concussion and Mohamed Sanu has been traded away.
Freeman has averaged under three yards per carry in five of seven games this year, and teams are likely to be eager to move on. But Brian Hill will probably use up much lower value touches in a committee than Smith, so the short term opportunity here is very attractive. For teams fighting for the playoffs that could use some cheap upside at RB, Freeman is a solid target.
Buy Chase Edmonds
Arizona added Alfred Morris and Zach Zenner, both of whom Edmonds can run circles around. David Johnson has shown up on the injury report with back, knee, and ankle injuries, so if you need a home run, Edmonds is a great upside lottery ticket to buy before any more news comes out updating us on Johnson’s condition. I expect Johnson will try to return ASAP, but it’s possible that the cellar-dwelling Cardinals try to hold him out until he’s fully healthy. It’s unusual to target a player coming off a monster game, but in this case it’s pretty straightforward what the angle is for both buyers and sellers–this is a player whose value can evaporate as soon as this Sunday.
BUY Josh Gordon
Most teams that have Gordon are probably looking to dump him, give that he’s almost certainly out at least two weeks recovering from his injury. For teams that are cruising into the playoffs though, Gordon is an intriguing stash just for the chance that he is signed by the Saints or the Packers.
BUY Julio Jones and SELL Calvin Ridley
Dirk Koetter got himself run out of town in Tampa Bay in part because his offensive philosophy seems to be: don’t give the ball to your playmakers, and instead take what the defense gives you (i.e. force-feeding your fifth and sixth options). Through seven weeks, Jones and Ridley are somehow on pace for a combined five percent lower target share than last year.
This entire staff is on the hot seat, and the trade of Sanu seems to send a pretty clear message. While Ridley is the most direct beneficiary of Sanu’s departure, I think that makes him the sell. There’s more confidence that Ridley can get a big bump, even without the Falcons as a team taking a step forward. I’m less certain that’s true, and would prefer to place my chips on the surer thing in this offense, which is Jones. Ridley I expect to be a full-price guy as a result of Sanu’s departure, whereas Jones may come at a small discount even as his situation has also improved, given the Matt Ryan injury, and the overall shakiness of the team. These coaches are probably all auditioning to stay in the league next year, and I don’t think they’re going to pin their hopes on Brian Hill.
BUY Jacob Hollister
The cat may be out of the bag in many leagues, but Hollister out-snapped and out-targeted Luke Willson in the Seahawks first game without Will Dissley. Hollister was a bit of a surprise cut after positive reports over the summer following the trade from New England. Three receptions for 20 yards may not seem like a big deal, but six targets in his first game on a team desperate for a third option behind DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett is plenty appealing in a season devoid of TE production.