Fantasy Football Day Trader: Week 3
Welcome to the Fantasy Football Day Trader, where 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.
Two weeks in the books folks. We’re starting to see larger data sets and more film on NFL players. The more weeks that pass, the less we should think about offseason narratives from August. This is one of the more challenging things to do after you’ve undoubtedly crafted storylines in your mind about how your fantasy team was going to be the greatest combination of players in the history of fantasy football. Those who can quickly pivot into “season mode” gain an edge in their league. Don’t get me wrong…two weeks is still a small sample size, and there is a lot of football left to be played. However, you should start to be thinking about trades from the perspective of offseason value vs in-season production. One of my favorite things to do before making trade offers in Weeks 2 – 4 is to look back at draft cheat sheets from August and look at risers and fallers. And that’s just what we’ll do in this week’s article.
Investments (Trade For)
Brandin Cooks (WR, Texans)
No one wants to touch fantasy players on the Texans. Their team is a mess. As of this writing, our injury expert Matthew Betz believes Texans QB Tyrod Taylor to have a grade II hamstring injury (at a minimum) and expects up to a 6-week absence. That means rookie Davis Mills would fill in at QB on a bad offense. Did I mention that The Texans face some difficult secondaries in the coming weeks (vs CAR, @BUF, vs NE). So why am I recommending that you trade for Cooks?
He’s cheap. Cooks was drafted as the consensus WR38, and if your leaguemate who rosters him is a fantasy veteran…they’re probably trying to flip him. I think he can be acquired on the cheap because many fantasy managers are going to want to eliminate risk on their squad and cash in profit compared to the draft cost.
Now for the good part. Cooks is currently the WR10 on the season. He is third in the NFL in receiving target share (35%). He’s tied for 5th in the league in total targets. The Texans are going to be down this season, and they’re going to be tossing the ball. A LOT. Even if the QB play is poor, the volume should support Cooks – who is a very good football player. Brandin Cooks has finished as a top-15 overall fantasy WR in five of the past six seasons. Throw some feelers out for Cooks. I think you’ll be able to acquire him as a WR3 in most leagues. He fits the mold of a “toss-in player”. Price Tag: WR3 | Risk Rating 2/5 (Medium-Low)
Saquon Barkley (RB, Giants)
Saquon was drafted in the first round of fantasy drafts as RB8, but he is 25th in rush attempts in the league. He is returning from injury (knee), so the Giants are slowly easing him back. Fantasy managers are growing anxious with his lack of usage and lack of efficiency. Is Saquon still Saquon? It’s been two years since we’ve seen him play like a top-10 running back in the league.
I’m still in on Saquon, and now is the time to make an offer. I acquired him in my main league last week. I traded Travis Kelce and Jakobi Meyers for Saquon Barkley and Tee Higgins (note I also have T.J. Hockenson on my roster…might have overpaid, but I love me some Saquon and Higgins). I think Saquon will jump back into a workhorse role in the coming weeks, and I’d rather acquire a week too soon than a week too late. One of the things that separate him is that he’s an excellent pass catcher, and his targets have been low so far this year. I think that’s injury-related and expect it to go up. Saquon only has three total receptions in 2021 compared to his career average of 4.8 rec/g prior to 2021. As we all know, receptions are more valuable than rush attempts – especially in PPR leagues. Buy the dip. Price Tag: RB2 | Risk Rating 2/5 (Medium-Low)
Sterling Shepard (WR, Giants)
I just realized that I have two Giants in my “invest” category. I’m disgusted with myself. So I’ll keep this short and sweet. Daniel Jones has the 5th most pass attempts inside the 20-yard line through two weeks. Sterling Shepard has the same number of red-zone targets as Stefon Diggs, Mike Evans, and Cooper Kupp (4). Shepard has a 27.9% market share…which will decrease with a healthy Saquon (see above), but it is still significant. Shepard has been solid, ride the hot hand. He was virtually undrafted (WR67) and worth taking a shot on in my opinion considering he has averaged 16.9 pts/g and was touted by beat reporters in the offseason. Like Cooks, I think Shepard can be acquired on the cheap…I’m taking a shot. Price Tag: Low-End WR2 / WR3 | Risk Rating 3/5 (Medium)
Ty’Son Williams (RB, Ravens)
The Ravens backfield had a lot of bad luck in the offseason with season-ending injuries to the top three backs (J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill). Enter Ty’Son Williams, who went undrafted in 2020 and saw his first NFL touches last week. Williams saw rave reviews in camp and has been impressive on a team with a great offensive line (and fullback – shout out Pat Ricard). Ty’Son has seen 22 rushes and 6 targets in the past two weeks, and he’s turned that into 187 total yards and one touchdown. He splits the backfield with teammate Latavius Murray, who’s turned 19 rushes into 64 yards. Murray actually looks pretty good. But Ty’son has been more productive as a rusher, and Ty’Son is the only RB on the Ravens that’s receiving targets. I was all in on J.K. Dobbins before the injury, and then I was all in on Gus Edwards. Same story. I think Ty’Son will have a very productive season, and he’s still a new and unfamiliar name. No one heard of him until a couple of weeks ago, so there is a buy-low opportunity. Price Tag: High-End RB3/WR3 | Risk Rating 2/5 (Medium-Low)
Darnell Mooney (WR, Bears)
Mooney was a riser in the offseason (WR49), likely in large part to Andy making him a #MyGuy. Mooney as the same number of targets as Allen Robinson but more yards and greater yards per reception. It’s fairly likely that we see Fields start this week due to Andy Dalton’s injury (bone bruise, knee). That could provide a much-needed spark in the offense. At this point, Mooney is still a dart throw…but the person who drafted him is frustrated and thinking about dropping him (speaking firsthand). Why not take a flier? Price Tag: Bench Piece / Throw-In | Risk Rating 3/5 (Medium)
Others to Invest in:
- Allen Robinson (WR, Bears). Price Tag: Low-end WR1/RB1. Risk Rating: 1/5 Low Risk – Marvin Elequin (@FF_MarvinE)
Fades (Trade Away)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, Chiefs)
CEH was drafted as the RB14 overall. After a decent rookie season, he returned as a sophomore on an elite offense. What could go wrong? “Homer Simpson dissolves into bush” meme. CEH is RB46 on the season, just behind Demetric Felton – the third-string running back for the Browns. CEH is one of the least impactful players on the Chiefs offense. They don’t need him to win. Well, I could have just stopped after “him”. CEH has thirty touches on the season for 11.3 fantasy points. Darrel Williams has four touches for 6.2 pts. I think CEH is the third-best RB on his team, but I don’t expect him to lose the starting job. Try to cash in on the offseason hype if you can. I wouldn’t panic sell, but I’d be trying to trade CEH away for a package like Ty’Son Williams and Brandin Cooks. And now we’ve come full circle folks. Again, do NOT panic sell. Price Tag: RB2 | Risk Rating 4/5 (Medium-High)
Zack Moss (RB, Bills)
Moss was a healthy scratch in Week 1. As in, the Bills said, “no thanks, don’t need him on the field”. WILD. Fast forward to Week 2: he logs two touchdowns and racks up 14.4 pts. Moss went from droppable to a 14.4 pt week. I’m packaging him up in a trade if I can. Singletary has been the better back (although they’ve both had fumbling issues). Neither were that valuable last season, and the Bills can win without a consistent, productive back. Keep it simple, stupid. Cash in! Price Tag: ANYTHING…package him together | Risk Rating 2/5 (Medium-Low)
Mark Andrews (TE, Ravens)
This hurts me. I love Andrews. The guy is a stud. If you saw the Week 2 matchup versus the Chiefs, you saw Andrews’ athleticism on full display. The guy is an athletic freak and a great offensive weapon. But the Ravens can win without much of a passing game, and Andrews has been productive in the past…on the back of touchdowns. In fact, his best season was 2019 when Lamar Jackson led the league in passing touchdowns and Andrews finished with 10 TDs.
Therein lies the problem…Andrews has zero targets in the red zone through two games. Lamar has six red-zone passes, dispersed among: Marquise Brown (3), Josh Oliver (2), and Ty’Son Williams (1). If you don’t recognize Josh Oliver, he’s the backup tight end. The fact is that Andrews has not been used as a red-zone weapon as he had been in the past. For me, it’s a red flag that Mark Andrews only saw five targets in a 36-35 victory versus the AFC Champion Chiefs, and none of them were near the end zone. Marquise (Hollywood) Brown is now seeing those valuable end zone targets. I would try to package Mark Andrews together with another piece for an upgrade at TE like George Kittle, who I think has a far greater opportunity to bounce back. Price Tag: Top-6 TE / WR2 / RB2 | Risk Rating 4/5 (Medium-High)
Others to Fade:
- Leonard Fournette (RB, Buccaneers). Price Tag: Flex RB/WR. Risk Rating: 3/5 Medium Risk – Marvin Elequin (@FF_MarvinE)