Need to Sell a Star or Find a Throw-In for That Key Fantasy Trade? 4 Running Back Moves to Make Your Playoff Push
Image Credit: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Duke Johnson.

Jack Miller has done an excellent job this season using the Strength of Schedule Streaming tool to help you buy players before they benefited from easier schedules. In this companion piece, Shawn Siegele suggests a few sell options to help close those key fantasy football trades.

It’s Always Hard to Sell – Let’s Make It A Little Easier

I have a particular fondness for the SoS Streamer as it was a big part of the Fantasy Douche’s original vision for the site and a tool he used to devastating effect in his own leagues. He called it the Buy Low Machine, and Jack has helped readers buy low on players all year. I’m looking at the sell side, searching for players who have benefited from easier schedules and are about to embark on tougher sledding.

The highest-profile example comes in the form of RotoViz favorite Stefon Diggs. We’ve been urging you to sell him for several weeks, as his schedule was about to flip from No. 1 (easiest) over the first eight weeks to No. 32 (hardest) over the final eight.

As a Diggs owner in many non-trade leagues, I certainly hope it won’t be quite as bad as it was in Week 9, but the visual hammers home just how difficult his road might be.

We’ve focused on big-name players in our sell recommendations over the past two weeks, and those remain in effect except for D.J. Moore. The Panthers are two-thirds of the way through the brutal three-game stretch we wanted to avoid.

While Moore was shut down by the 49ers, his strong game against Tennessee is an encouraging sign that Kyle Allen may not derail a late-season breakout.

Today, I’m going to look at four RBs who are outperforming expectations and could be sell-high candidates before the schedule turns ugly. Three of these backs will likely help you balance trades if, for example, you’re swapping a stud WR for an elite RB and your trade partner requires you to throw in a little bit extra. The final option is an emerging star who should bring a starting WR in return.

The Texans Backs

Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson are averaging 10.7 and 10.2 points respectively. In a committee backfield and without star perception entering the season, the two Houston backs don’t carry as much trade value as the players we’ve discussed in previous articles. That doesn’t mean they can’t be key pieces in 2-for-1 or 2-for-2 deals.

The tandem is coming off of a Week 9 drubbing of the Jaguars where they demonstrated the ability to create high-end RB2 value simultaneously. They’re also the perfect schedule-based trade candidates.

The Texans began the season with the seventh-most difficult schedule over the opening three weeks. Over the ensuing six weeks, Houston enjoyed the ninth easiest. The schedule difference coincided with a jump from low-end flex status to solid RB2.

Hyde is now on an impressive 1,365-yard pace over the last month and a half. The boost was even larger for Johnson.

It’s likely that some of this difference results from getting these two backs familiar with the offense and getting the coaching staff comfortable with how best to deploy them. In a vacuum, it’s fair to expect continued improvement, and that should factor into the value you get back in trade.

Unfortunately for fantasy owners, the Texans shift from a positive schedule to a brutal slate down the stretch. Only the Falcons and Cardinals face a more difficult series of defenses.

Jordan Howard

Howard has been a pleasant surprise in Philadelphia, holding off Miles Sanders for early-down work and averaging 12.4 PPG. As is the case with our Houston backs, Howard’s original outlook conspires with the ongoing threat from Sanders to hold the trade value down. He’ll still be an excellent grease-the-wheels piece for many potential trade partners after scoring 15-plus points in each of the last two weeks.

Howard’s performance has been impressive, but it has been supercharged by the easiest RB schedule.

Over these crucial next four weeks, the schedule gets more difficult as owners make their playoff push.

This is the fourth-most difficult schedule, and it also includes a bye.

To get a sense of how much difference this might make for a run-oriented back like Howard, we can use the NFL Stat Explorer to see how much he may have benefited from the easiest matchups.

Howard recorded his five best results in the five easiest matchups. He averaged 17.6 points in those contests and only 5.9 in the other four.

Devin Singletary

You know who should have serious trade value? Devin Singletary. Although he’s been available for much more limited action, the third-rounder is fighting emerging star Josh Jacobs to be the most impressive rookie RB of 2019. With 24 opportunities and 23 fantasy points in Week 9, he’s taking over the backfield in Buffalo. Singletary has also been ridiculously efficient, ranking No. 2 in yards per carry and No. 3 in fantasy points over expectation per game (FPOE/G).

I’m not a big believer in selling efficient players simply because they’ve been explosive. Creating plus efficiency tends to be a positive sign in general and will often lead to exactly the type of touch increases that just played out in Week 9.

However, it may not be a bad idea to sell high in this case, especially if there’s a Singletary believer who fits your trade needs. Earlier we mentioned that the Texans own the third-toughest rest-of-season schedule. The Bills face the fourth hardest, including a brutal stretch during the fantasy playoffs.

Next week we’ll look at WRs you can sell to boost your playoff roster, but don’t wait if you need help today. The SoS Streamer will help you make all of your difficult trade decisions.

Image Credit: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Duke Johnson.

Shawn Siegele

Author of the original Zero RB article and 2013 NFFC Primetime Grand Champion. 11-time main event league winner. 2015, 2017, 2018 titles in MFL10 of Death.
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