Fantasy Football Day Trader: Week 2
Welcome to the Fantasy Football Day Trader, I present my 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. I’m here to present my fantasy opinions for your consideration, and these are players that I’m actively trying to trade for/away in my personal leagues. This article series will present fantasy players that I’m looking to move and the price tag that I 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 2019 to help: The Art of the Fantasy Football Trade.
Before we get into it, consider this really valuable insight from fellow writer Matt DiSorbo:
Don't overreact to the preseason!
More in a future article, but players drafted late (8+ round) that perform well in Week 1 (12+ points) *strongly* regress to the mean, in general, in following weeks.
Don't let early NFL action supersede months of analysis! pic.twitter.com/eKHNLkh3gj
— Matt DiSorbo (@datavizuals) August 18, 2021
Trading is the best. It’s one of my favorite things about fantasy. It’s playing chess while your opponents play checkers. Trading is one of the most valuable ways to improve your team if you can capitalize on perceived value over true value. Trading is a calculated risk, and you certainly won’t win every trade…but there is an edge to gain if you put in the time and effort. Plus, it’s a ton of fun. Fantasy managers in inexperienced leagues have the greatest opportunity for improvement by trading. Alright, let’s get to it!
Investments (Trade For)
Ezekiel Elliott (RB, Cowboys)
Zeke has over 1,400 rush attempts in the NFL, and he’s in his sixth NFL season as a running back. That’s a lot of wear in a position that is difficult to sustain excellence over a long period of time (see Todd Gurley). Is Zeke washed? Many fear that he is over the hill. I myself think his best days are behind him, but I still think he’s got juice left in the tank.
Zeke played poorly in Week 1, yet his backup Tony Pollard looked pretty solid. The important take-away is that the Cowboys played a really solid defensive unit – The Bucs. It’s not surprising that Zeke struggled, and Andy even predicted last week that Zeke would be a great trade target after Week 1. Another important take-away is that Zeke made some excellent blocks on Thursday. That’s something us fantasy managers ignore, but it’s crucial for the coaching staff. Zeke was a valuable asset to the team and will need a lot more than one bad week to be benched. Zeke was also the only running back to get touches in the redzone, including the sole rush attempt inside the 5-yard line. And don’t forget that Zeke and Dak are best friends, as we learned in Hard Knocks. No way is Zeke being phased out of the offense anytime soon. With a healthy Dak, the Cowboys offense is ON FIRE – and that will soon translate to Zeke fantasy production. Zeke’s fantasy production over the prior five games with a healthy Dak: 26.2 pts, 19.2 pts, 14.8 pts, 16.5 pts, & 23 pts. Zeke is still cemented as a top-5 RB, and I’m targeting Zeke in trades because his stock price is the lowest it’ll be all season. Price Tag: Top-10 RB | Risk Rating: 2/5 (Medium Low)
Things will be much much better for Zeke in the weeks to come. Target skittish managers with trade offers next week.
— Andy Holloway (@andyholloway) September 10, 2021
Jonnu Smith (TE | Patriots)
The Patriots added both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry to their roster this offseason. Both players are talented and can be productive fantasy players in the right scheme. However, the presence of both tight ends means that each of their upside is limited. Or at least that was the thought in the offseason. If you don’t have one of the top-5 or so tight ends, you’re pretty much throwing darts and hoping they land. Jonnu Smith is a player I’d be trying to trade for if I need a TE upgrade. Smith was targeted five times Sunday and caught all five passes. He looked really good on tape, better than the stats show. It looked to me like the Patriots were creating offensive plays to get Jonnu the ball, and that wasn’t the case for Hunter Henry. Henry still looked pretty good and saw targets, but it looks to me like Jonnu is going to be the alpha. Furthermore, the Patriots started off pretty slow and leaned on the run game early on. It looks like they’re easing rookie Mac Jones into the offense, and I expect him to improve as the season progresses. I liked what I saw in Week 1 from Mac and Jonnu, and rookie quarterbacks often latch onto tight ends because they’re big and easy targets. I think you could acquire Jonnu Smith on the cheap or as a throw-in piece of a larger trade. Price Tag: Low End WR3/RB3 | Risk Rating: 1/5 (Medium Low)
A.J. Dillon (RB | Packers)
What the heck happened to The Packers on Sunday!?!? They lost 38-3 to The Saints, and Rodgers looked bad. No Packer player scored any significant fantasy points. So why trade for Dillon?
In what should be the worst game script of the Packers’ season, Dillon got a similar workload to Aaron Jones – the clear alpha. In the offseason, it was unclear if Dillon would take a step forward in Jamaal Williams’ absence or if he would remain strictly a backup. If we look back at Jones’ last 12 games played, he (Jones) has averaged 13 rushes per game. Jamaal Williams and A.J. Dillon combined for 9.3 rushes per game during those games. There is room for Dillon to step forward, and we saw a tiny sneak peak in Week 1. Dillon had four touches in 16 snaps during a blowout. Comparatively, Aaron Jones saw five touches in 28 snaps. If Dillon saw a similar workload during a blowout, I would expect him to get 10-15 touches in a normal game. The Packers are still a good football team, and I expect them to be much better moving forward. Test the waters with the fantasy manager that rosters Dillon…they might view him strictly as a backup, in which case there is a buying window in my opinion. I believe Dillon will be a solid flex play for the majority of the season, and the . Price Tag: Solid WR3/RB3 | Risk Rating: 3/5 (Medium)
Laviska Shenault (WR | Jaguars)
Somehow, the Jaguars found a way to lose to the Houston Texans – who have arguably the worst roster of the past decade. Rookie QB Trevor Lawrence had ups and downs and suffered the first regular season loss he’s ever had since he started playing football as a kid (which is wild). Meanwhile, Laviska finished as the WR46 on the week (excluding the Monday night game). Viska also led the team in receptions (7) and logged one carry for nine yards. Teammates Marvin Jones and DJ Chark outproduced Viska, as they both got into the endzone…but touchdowns are relatively unpredictable. Viska profiles as the short-yardage weapon that should be a favorite target of rookie Trevor Lawrence as he progresses throughout the season. As we learned from Jason Moore’s Sophomore Bump article, second year wide receivers drafted in the middle rounds have a high hit rate in fantasy. Viska fits the mold and could easily become a solid WR2 as the season progresses. I think he’ll be a safe and consistent producer similar to Jarvis Landry of years past. There is no better time to trade for Viska than after a bad loss where he finishes as the fantasy WR3 on his own team. Price Tag: WR3 or RB3 | Risk Rating: 2/5 (Medium Low)
George Kittle (TE | 49ers)
Kittle is cemented as a top-3 this season despite a mediocre Week 1 finishing as the TE14 overall. I’ll keep it short and sweet: don’t be stupid and overreact to his return from the injury that kept him out of most of last year. Kittle is an elite real life NFL player and an elite fantasy player.
I’ll give a specific trade scenario… If you’re sitting pretty with T.J. Hockenson on your roster, who finishes as the TE3 overall this week… Throw an offer out to the George Kittle manager. Believe me, I love Hockenson as much as the next fantasy manager…but I would still much rather have George Kittle rest of season. Hockenson might enter the elite tier of TE this season, but it’s not guaranteed…and Kittle is already tried and true. You might be successful with a two-for-two or two-for-three trade where you trade T.J. Hockenson and someone who overproduced for George Kittle and someone who underproduced in Week 1. For example, I would trade T.J. Hockenson, Tyler Lockett, and Marvin Jones for George Kittle and Davante Adams in a heartbeat.
There are better days ahead for George Kittle, who literally has an alter ego when he’s on the football field. The guy is a stud, so trade for him low if you can. To be clear, this is NOT pandering to my fearless editor Kyle who has Kittle as his #MyGuy this season (love you). Price Tag: Top-5 TE | Risk Rating: 1/5 (Low)
Damien Harris (RB | Patriots) Submission by fellow writer Matt DiSorbo
Harris checks all the boxes for a post-Week 1 trade target. His usage was excellent on a run-heavy team: he received over 75% of the team’s carries (23 of 30), delivering 100 yards on the ground (a solid 4.3 YPC) against a good defense. He even added two catches for 17 yards, which was a weak part of his game last year: he brought in just 5 receptions in ten games! Key offensive lineman Trent Brown will hopefully soon return from injury, and the Patriots have the Texans, Cowboys and Jets (twice) in their next six games; all should be relatively mild defensive matchups.
What’s more, you can likely get Harris on the cheap. He didn’t post a huge stat line, thanks in part to not scoring a touchdown (a notoriously random stat) and fumbling on the Patriots’ last offensive play of the game. It should be noted that this fumble represents some risk for him going forward, since Belichick is known to be merciless after such mistakes. However, Rhamondre Stevenson, the rookie backup, also fumbled in the game!
Volume is king in fantasy football, and Damien Harris is a hard runner who can bring sneaky value to your roster going forward. Price Tag: mid-level RB2 | Risk rating: 2.5/5 (Medium Low)
BONUS – Dynasty Edition: Michael Gallup (WR | Cowboys)
Gallup was targeted early and often on Thursday night. CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper were the headlines after a monster offensive performance, but don’t forget about Gallup…who will be a free agent in 2022. Gallup finished as the WR16 overall in 2019 and became the forgotten man after the addition of CeeDee Lamb in 2020 and the Dak injury last season. Gallup is a very talented NFL wide receiver. He could easily be a flex play in 2021 when he returns from injury, and he has immense upside if he lands on the right team next season. In redraft, I don’t want to trade for Gallup this early in the season – I’d rather focus on winning Week 2 and then Week 3. Gallup is an excellent trade target for rebuilding dynasty teams, and I’d be willing to pay now for what should be a value in one year. Dynasty Price Tag: Solid WR3/RB3 and a 2022 2nd round rookie pick | Risk Rating: 4/5 (Medium High)
Others to Invest in:
- Kenny Golladay (WR | Giants) – Price Tag: boom/bust WR coming off a big week like Christian Kirk/Mike Williams. Risk Rating: 3/5 (medium) – Aaron Larson (@aalarson)
- Elijah Mitchell (RB | 49ers) – Price Tag: borderline RB2 / Flex. Risk Rating: 2/5 (medium low) – Julia Papworth (@juliapapworth). “it’s like Paris, a SF RB is always a good idea”
- Mike Evans
- James Robinson
- Najee Harris
- Saquon Barkley
- Davante Adams
- Jakobi Meyers
- Julio Jones
- Marvin Jones
Fades (Trade Away)
Tyler Lockett (WR | Seahawks)
I do NOT share the same enthusiasm for Tyler Lockett as Andy, Mike, and Jason. He’s a boom/bust type player, and I don’t want him on my team. Period. I’ll probably look pretty stupid for sections of the season where he balls out…but then you’ll see stretches where he ghosts you. Lockett is graded as a “C” level consistency player on The Fantasy Footballers’ website. Why? He’s scored fewer than 8 fantasy points in 42% of games dating back to 2019 (33 games). To put that in perspective, Randall Cobb scored 8.1 pts/g last season. Do you want to play someone that Randall Cobb outproduces 42% of the time? Because I don’t. Lockett is the type of player that can win you a week and also lose you a week. I’m ok with boom/bust players, but not at the price tag of a top-12 receiver. In fact, I drafted Tyler Lockett in a league this season and it was the first time ever that I specifically drafted a player to trade him (he fell far enough for me to pull the trigger). You better bet that I’m sending trade offers this week.
Don’t get me wrong, Lockett is a great NFL player…but his production in fantasy is up and down. I’d rather trade Lockett for a consistent player like Diontae Johnson and another piece. I think Lockett is a good example of a player that I’d trade away for two solid pieces in return. Price Tag: High End WR2 and a WR3/RB3 | Risk Rating: 4/5 (Medium High)
Jamaal Williams (RB | Lions)
Jamaal Williams is a very good running back. I really like the player, and I was happy to draft him late in drafts. However, he’s coming off a monster week as the RB4 overall – ahead of teammate D’Andre Swift. I’d be looking to capitalize on a productive week. The reality is that the Lions are going to have ups and downs this season. They played great against a stout 49ers defense on Sunday, and I actually expect them to be better than people projected in the offseason…but Williams will not end the season as a top-24 back unless Swift gets injured. There were several reports that came out on Sunday morning saying that D’Andre Swift was playing hurt and would be given a limited workload. While I expect Williams to get enough work to be flex-worthy most weeks, I believe D’Andre Swift is in another tier from a talent perspective. I think the coaching staff will lean primarily on Swift moving forward. I wouldn’t trade Williams away for nothing, but I think he is a good piece to package together in a trade after a huge Week 1 performance. Price Tag: Back End RB2/WR2 | Risk Rating: 2/5 (Medium Low)
Adam Thielen (WR | Vikings)
Touchdown regression is coming. Thielen is a weekly starter, but you might be able to get someone to pay up for Thielen who built an emotional connection with him in years past. Jefferson is the alpha. Trade Thielen high if you can…For example, Thielen and Jamaal Williams for Zeke. Price Tag: WR1 | Risk Rating: 2/5 (Medium Low)
Antonio Brown (WR | Buccaneers)
Antonion Brown is one of the greatest wide receivers of the past century. He’s also on a team with two other elite wide receivers: Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. I believe Antonio Brown will be a solid weekly player that has occasional boom weeks like we saw in Week 1. What we also saw in Week 1 was Mike Evans have a dud game….That’s not going to last long. I think Chris Godwin will be the most consistent producer of the three, but they will all have peaks and valleys because there are only so many fantasy points to spread around. I’m not forcing a trade to get rid of AB, but I think now is a good time to cash in on his Week 1 performance….especially considering that someone in your league probably has a storyline in their mind that he’ll return to a top-3 wide receiver this season.
AB is also a really, really weird dude that finds himself in legal trouble quite often. Would it surprise you if Antonio Brown did something that caused a suspension sometime in 2021? Not me. Price Tag: High End RB2/WR2 | Risk Rating: 5/5 (High)
Others to Fade: