Fantasy Football Day Trader: Week 11 and Beyond
Welcome to the Fantasy Football Day Trader, where the writers at The Fantasy Footballers team up to present our favorite players to invest in as well as those to fade. Fantasy football is a lot like the stock market, and this article series is meant to assist you with your investment portfolio. We’re here to present our fantasy opinions for your consideration, and I can tell you firsthand that we preach what we praise. This article series will present fantasy players that we’re looking to move and the price tag that we think is fair. You should always try to assess your trade partner’s valuation of players before jumping to a price tag that you assume is fair. If you’re new to fantasy or if you’d like a refresher on general trade strategy, we have an evergreen article from last year to help: The Art of the Fantasy Football Trade.
Fantasy Football Day Trader: Week 11 and Beyond
Welcome to the final installment of the 2020 Fantasy Football Day Trader article series. Thanks for reading! I wanted to kickoff this week’s article with a special thank you to the other Fantasy Footballers writers who have generously contributed to this collab article series. Thank you to Aaron Larson, Peter Chung, Marvin Elequin, Ryan Weisse, and Robert Wilson! Each one of them generates a ton of great fantasy content but still made the time to add to this article series. I appreciate you!
It’s time. Go make moves before the trade deadline hits. If you don’t know what your league’s trade deadline is, go find out! Heck, make sure everyone in the league knows. More trading = better. My main league has evolved over the years like many others, and we now have a handful of teams going for it. Trade offers are flying in left and right. It’s going to be a slugfest, and I can’t wait.
Before we get into the final edition of Fantasy Football Day Trader of 2020, I want to tell a story about someone in a #footclan dynasty fantasy football league I’m in. Sam Noble (@SamFFB on Twitter) is an up-and-coming fantasy football analyst that’s worth a follow. He messaged our superflex dynasty league that he’s looking to acquire a quarterback and he has wide receivers (among other things) to offer in return. I messaged him listing a few players that I liked on his squad and told him I’d be willing to shed a QB…I, fortunately, have Kyler Murray, Justin Herbert, Aaron Rodgers, and Dak Prescott in that league. He came back suggesting a trade of D.K. Metcalf and J.K. Dobbins for Justin Herbert, Odell Beckham Jr., and a 2021 rookie 1st round pick. We chatted about some of the trade tools we use, and he was transparent with his evaluation of our trade from his favorite trade evaluator tool. THAT’S HOW YOU DO IT, FOLKS.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any 2021 rookie picks to trade so we are still in discussion…But the point is that now I trust Sam moving forward. I know that he wants 2021 rookie picks specifically. I know he wants to upgrade QB. I know he’s willing to shed players from his talented WR squad. If I had his roster, I would be thinking the same thing. That’s something I can work with. He’s a person I’m going to reach out to for future trades. After a few back and forths, he was transparent and clear about his needs and what he could offer. Regardless of whether we make the current trade work out, he now has my trust and respect. Be like Sam, I promise you it will help your league and make fantasy more fun for you in the long run. And for the record…I would have accepted the offer if I had 2021 picks.
Investments (Trade For)
D’Andre Swift (Jeff Greenwood – @TheFantasyEng)
I believe D’Andre Swift will be a league winner. He’s been averaging 15 points per game since Week 4, which is the equivalent RB11 overall on the season. The coaching staff said he would be the feature back, and they delivered. Swift was graded as the top rookie running back entering the 2020 NFL draft by most analysts. The talent is there, and now he’s getting the opportunity we’ve hoped for. The Lions haven’t had a productive running back in forever, but I think Swift is legit. Adrian Peterson has been seeing less work while Swift has been seeing more. Oh, and did I mention that his upcoming schedule is PHENOMENAL? He has four matchups against bottom-8 defenses in the next five weeks. I think the stars are aligned for Swift, and I think he can be acquired at a discount. He’s a top-10 RB for me rest-of-season (ROS), but you can probably acquire him for a strong WR2. I just made an offer of Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins for Swift in my main league. Price Tag: Strong WR2/RB2 | Risk Rating: 3 (medium)
Amari Cooper (Peter Chung – @FF_Hypeman)
“Given a 10% chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time.” — Jeff Bezos
Life has not been easy for standout WR Amari Cooper. He kicked off the season with a BANG, leading ALL WRs in PPR points after four weeks. Then the hearts of every NFL fan sank as we witnessed QB Dak Prescott—who was off to a phenomenal start—suffer a gruesome ankle injury that immediately ended his record-breaking season. Since then, Cooper has gone from the WR1 to the current WR44. So why trade for someone who’s value is flopping harder than Myles Jack? Because Cooper is a pass-catching, target-hogging phenom, that’s why. His recent downfall is widely attributed to the lackluster QB play of third-string, seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci, as well as fourth-string practice squad JAG Garrett Gilbert, who’s already been tossed around eight different teams including a stint in the AAF. While Cooper won’t relive his glory days with Dak, he should bounce back with veteran QB Andy Dalton’s return from a concussion and COVID-19 protocols. In their one full game together, the prolific wideout finished as the week’s WR7 after catching seven of 10 targets for 79 yards and a TD. What’s more impressive is that he accomplished this under shadow coverage from the three-time All-Pro, eight-time Pro Bowler, Patrick Peterson. The Cowboys’ defense is still #tragic, meaning all receivers should see positive game script as the “Red Rifle” will need to constantly sling it. Cooper will benefit the most as he is still the team’s clear leader in target share. Simply put, the man is a baller. There’s a reason why he’s an annual early-round draft pick. Disgruntled fantasy managers are probably begging for any offer to offload him due to his recent struggles. Though he won’t repeat his top-end performances without Prescott, he should be a reliable WR2 going forward with TD-upside, so long as Dalton remains healthy. Take advantage of others’ fears and throw a low-ball offer for Cooper, who has a juicy matchup on the docket against the Vikings’ porous secondary. Price Tag: Low RB2 | Risk Rating: 3 (medium risk)
Austin Ekeler (Marvin Elequin – @FF_MarvinE)
Austin Ekeler recently sent out a tweet directed at all fantasy managers that have held onto him since week 3: “The time draws near.” First off, be sure to check your waiver wire, especially if your league does not utilize an IR slot. According to Sleeper, Ekeler is rostered in 93% of leagues, so there is a slight possibility that he may be available as a free agent. But if he is rostered, with reports surfacing that he is expected to return by week 12, now is the perfect time to trade for him. To start the season, Ekeler was the RB9 in PPR points per game (19.9), averaging about 21 opportunities. From an efficiency standpoint, according to PlayerProfiler, Ekeler ranks as the RB1 in Evaded Tackles per Touch (39.4%) and as the RB13 in Yards Created per Touch (1.68). And with Justin Jackson now on IR and Joshua Kelley struggling to produce with his touches, Ekeler’s return should yield to immediate and consistent opportunity. Furthermore, the Chargers also have the 11th easiest schedule for fantasy RBs the rest of the way, per the Fantasy Footballers Strength of Schedule Report. Combine that with Justin Herbert’s upside, and Ekeler could find himself in the perfect situation to win fantasy managers a championship this season. Assuming that he might not return until week 12, if the Ekeler fantasy manager is in dire need of a starting RB, I would offer them a player that can help them win this week such as Todd Gurley or Kareem Hunt. And while those two players will likely produce high-end RB2/low-end RB1 numbers, I still expect Ekeler to outscore both of them the rest of the way. Price Tag: Low RB1| Risk Rating: 2 (medium risk)
Michael Thomas (Aaron Larson – @aalarson)
After ten straight weeks of unusable fantasy production from Michael Thomas, his fantasy managers are almost certainly willing to listen to some low offers. While his season has been truly disappointing so far, we can at least point to a few reasons. In the first game of the season was held in check by a Tampa Bay defense that turned out to be better than expected. Of course, he got hurt in that game and didn’t get back on the field until Week 9, against Tampa Bay again. The Saints boat-raced the Buccaneers in that game, so they had no need to rely heavily on Thomas in his first game back. Last week Jameis Winston took over for the injured Drew Brees at halftime and surely affected the way the New Orleans offense operated. Now the good news; Thomas was on the field for 78% of snaps and saw a 30% target share in the last game. We’ve seen Jameis Winston support multiple fantasy wideouts in the past and we’ve seen Michael Thomas be a dominant force for fantasy teams. Adding him to your roster could supercharge your team as you head towards the fantasy playoffs. Price Tag: RB2+Low WR2 | Risk Rating: 2 (Low)
Jonathan Taylor (Ryan Weisse – @TheFantasyFive)
Look, I might be wrong about this but his value may never be lower. Normally, I spend this paragraph giving you under-the-radar stats as to why Taylor is a sneaky buy-low. I have none. We all know the Colts have a cupcake schedule for RBs to end the season but there is no guarantee that Taylor will see more than ⅓ of the work. All we have is hope, but rebellions (and fantasy championships) are built on hope. Taylor has scored four TDs and caught 22 balls in limited time this year. If that light-switch gets flipped for the fantasy playoffs, this will be the best deal you make all year. Price Tag: A combination of an RB2+ WR2, maybe just one of them, the current manager has to be frustrated | Risk Rating: 3 (medium risk)
Fades (Trade Away)
Nyheim Hines (Jeff Greenwood – @TheFantasyEng)
Hines looked like the Colts’ best running back this past week. The Indy coaching staff has been telling us they go with the “hot hand” approach and feed the ball to whoever is playing best that game. Jonathan Taylor has been unimpressive so far this season, but he’s still a rookie that could improve in the coming weeks. Jordan Wilkins has also been thrown in the mix. Right now, it’s Nyheim Hines’ backfield to lose. If he keeps the job, he’s going to be a fantasy darling, especially considering the excellent strength of schedule coming up. But what if Hines isn’t the guy? Or what if he has a couple of bad key plays and the coaching staff shifts to Taylor or Wilkins mid-game? We saw everyone pump up Hines after Week 1 when he exploded, but he made his way back to the waiver wire in many leagues. Hines does NOT have a guaranteed role in the offense, and I don’t want to take a risk playing him in the playoffs if I can avoid it. Fantasy football is about creating the best odds that your team will win, and Hines is a player that introduces a ton of risk (and upside). I would be looking to package Hines with another player to upgrade at RB or another position. I openly admit Hines could be the guy and win people championships…but he could also hit the waivers again by Week 14. Don’t force a trade involving Hines of course, but I think there is an opportunity to improve your team here. Also, reach out to the person who has Jonathan Taylor….I can tell you firsthand that they’re freaking out. Price Tag: RB2 / Strong Flex | Risk Rating: 4 (medium-high)
David Johnson (Peter Chung – @FF_Hypeman)
Oh, farts. That’s what I assume most fantasy GMs said after they saw Texans RB David Johnson sustain a concussion early against a vulnerable Jaguars defense in Week 9, followed by a trip to the IR. That means he’ll just miss a mouth-watering matchup against the Lions, who have allowed the MOST points to opposing RBs. Instead, Johnson will return against one of the WORST matchups this year, the Indianapolis Colts, before plodding through the third most difficult playoff schedule for RBs. He was just a humdrum RB2 when he had a favorable opening schedule, so it’s hard to see how he’ll improve on that middling production against much stiffer competition. It may come as a shock, but I’d be fine cutting him without care like rookie sensation Justin Herbert just did to his once glorious mane. But why drop him when you can pawn him off to someone else instead and receive a worthwhile asset in return? You probably won’t get much for him, but his name still carries some value for those stuck in 2015. See if you could get an underrated player like J.D. McKissic, John Brown, or Jakobi Meyers in return. Price Tag: Low RB3 or mid WR3 | Risk Rating: 2 (low risk)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (Marvin Elequin – @FF_MarvinE)
As a Packers fan, it pains me to put his name on here as I would love nothing more than a 3rd-year breakout for Marquez Valdes-Scantling. However, taking a look at his production this season, I believe this may be the right time to trade MVS while his value is inflated. Over the last two weeks, MVS has been extremely productive pacing as the WR7 in PPR leagues, while averaging the 4th highest Yards per Target at 20.2. However, in that same time span, he has accounted for only a 16% target share, which is tied for 65th among all receivers and 3rd among all Green Bay players. And outside of the last two games, MVS has not finished inside the top 24 all season, except in week 1 against a very beatable Vikings secondary. In addition, the Packers recently activated Allen Lazard, who outproduced MVS to start the season. With the addition of the Lazard King, I expect MVS’ target share to decline slightly, making him a boom or bust player for fantasy managers. Simply put, his hyper-efficient production may not be sustainable long-term. Therefore, if I can trade MVS for a more reliable flex receiver (perhaps Jalen Reagor or Sterling Shepard) while his value is at a season-high, I would absolutely do it. Price Tag: Flex WR/RB | Risk Rating: 3 (medium risk)
Ronald Jones (Aaron Larson – @aalarson)
Last week I was stuck starting Ronald Jones on multiple fantasy teams. It felt bad enough, to begin with, and it felt even worse when he lost a fumble early in the game. To say things turned around after that would be an understatement. Now I’m getting out before Jones’ value is tanked again. He finished outside the top 40 running backs the two previous weeks, faces a tough Rams defense this week, and still has a bye coming in Week 13. Not to mention we can never be sure he’s actually out of the doghouse with Bruce Arians. Running backs are tough to come by, so maybe you can find a needy league mate who believes last week’s performance was more than an outlier. Price Tag: Low-End WR1 | Risk Rating: 3 (medium risk)
Cooper Kupp (Ryan Weisse – @TheFantasyFive)
It’s happening again…maybe! Last season, at about the halfway point, the Rams switched from 11 personnel to 12 and that meant less playing for Cooper Kupp. It also meant FAR LESS fantasy value. In Week 10, Kupp only played 53% of the snaps, down from over 90% in Week 8. The Rams had a Week 9 bye and I’m worried they used that to change their scheme up. If that change mirrors 2019, Kupp is about to walk off a cliff for fantasy purposes.
Price Tag: An RB2 or an RB3 + WR2 | Risk Rating: 3 (medium risk)