Fantasy Football Day Trader: Week 6
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.
Before getting into the weekly trade article, I wanted to share something that I looked into recently. As many of us know, the NFL has been moving away from bell-cow running backs for several years. Instead, many teams are employing RB committees of two or three backs (or in the case of the 49ers…about twelve). This is carrying through to fantasy production. In years past, the elite running backs separated themselves as the biggest difference makers in fantasy. In fact, I wrote an article about it a year ago: The Greatest Positional Values Over the Past Decade. The best RB’s were better than the best WR’s, but WR depth was greater. That allowed fantasy managers to gain an edge by loading up on high-value RBs and settling for mediocre WRs.
So far in 2021, we’re seeing running back production similar to wide receiver production. The best WR’s are producing at the same level as the best RB’s, and RB depth is mirroring that of WR’s. While we’re only five games into the season, that’s a huge shift compared to years past. So far, fantasy managers who utilized “zero RB” or “hero RB” strategies have likely been rewarded because RB’s tend to be drafted more frequently than WR’s in the early rounds of fantasy drafts.
The graph below shows fantasy production by position (pts/g basis) through Week 5 (excl. MNF players).
It’s valuable to look at fantasy production data & depth because sometimes it helps identify trade strategies. For example, in looking at the above data… You can see that the top tier TE’s and QB’s provide great value compared to back end QB1’s and TE1’s. In other words, you see a far greater increase in fantasy production going from the TE12 overall to the TE1 than you do going from the WR12 to the WR1. One piece that’s missing from the above data is consistency. The top-tier TE’s are relatively predictable, while TE-8 through TE-20 have chaotic and unpredictable production. Take-away: when making trades, look beyond just the players involved in the trades. Opportunity cost / positional replacement value comes into play. In a big way.
Alright, let’s get to it! Oh – and I now have a recurring guest in this article series…at least if Kyle let’s me continue to do this. Who is it? If you know me, you already know the answer.
Investments (Trade For)
Kareem Hunt (RB, Browns)
Hunt is currently the RB5 on the season! Another year of Hunt out-producing his average draft position (ADP). Hunt has had 14+ fantasy points in four of his five games so far this season. The Browns are a running offense that supports two RB1s. Chubb is the lead dog on the Browns and sees more touches, but Hunt has been incredible. Some fantasy managers still treat Hunt like the back-end RB2 / flex piece that he was drafted as since he’s second in line on his own team. Don’t worry though, the Browns are perfectly capable of continuing to support both players at a high level. Look at the person who rosters Hunt in your league – if he’s on their bench, make an offer! Price Tag: Low-end RB1 / High-end RB2 | Risk Rating 2/5 (Medium-Low)
Darrell Henderson (RB, Rams)
Like Kareem Hunt, Henderson has been great this season. The Rams have a great offense and Henderson has rushed for over 4 yards per carry (ypc) in each of the four games he’s played this season. There may be some fantasy managers out there that want to “sell high” on a player that was supposed to backup Cam Akers before the unfortunate injury this offseason to Akers. Another positive with Henderson is his schedule: He only faces one top-10 defense for the rest of the season (based on fpts given up to opposing RB). Also – sneaky trick… most fantasy platforms show position rankings based on total points on the season. For healthy players like Henderson that missed 1 or more games, the platform’s position ranking can be deceiving to unknowing fantasy managers. Price Tag: Low-end RB1 / High-end RB2 | Risk Rating 2/5 (Medium-Low)
D.J. Moore (WR, Panthers)
Moore is an elite WR and currently in his 3rd year breakout season. Talent? Check. Opportunity? Check. D.J. Moore has been targeted frequently and he also has 170 yards after the catch this season (ranked 7th). Coming off a poor performance, this might be the only feasible window to acquire Moore for the rest of the season. Darnold had been playing great but had a really bad game against Philly in Week 5. Also, CMC is returning very soon and will reclaim his throne as the best offensive player on the team. See if you can capitalize on this! Moore is going to be difficult to acquire, but he’s a player I’d pay up for. Price Tag: WR1 | Risk Rating 1/5 (Low)
Dawson Knox (TE, Bills)
Josh Allen has the second-most pass attempts inside the red zone. Knox has as many red-zone targets as Davante Adams. He’s having a year three breakout in front of us, and he was probably on waivers 10 days ago. I’m buying into Knox being here to stay rather than being a flash in the pan. As we saw earlier, having a top-tier TE is a huge advantage. What if Knox’s productive breakout season continues? I bet it will. Price Tag: Flex | Risk Rating 3/5 (Medium)
D’Andre Swift (RB, Lions)
(Evergreen). Price Tag: I would hand over my house and car | Risk Rating 0/5 (zero risk)
Fades (Trade Away)
Saquon Barkley (RB, Giants)
Saquon has fewer than 14 carries in five of his last seven games. He’s averaged 13.3 touches per game over his last seven games. He hasn’t been seeing the consistent workload that he used to when he first entered the league. To put that into perspective, only three of the top-30 running backs in 2020 averaged fewer than 14 touches per game (pts/g basis). I love Saquon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants continue the trend of leaning on him a little bit less than a couple of years ago – especially because his injury history is piling up (although we know that “injury-prone” is a myth according to smart fantasy analysts that have studied this). Don’t get me wrong, I think Saquon is pretty much a must-start. But maybe he’s more of a back-end RB1 / very high-end RB2. Let’s also consider that he just got injured and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. And the Giants have a bye Week 10. Saquon might not be back until Week 11…November 22nd! That’s a long time to be without an expensive fantasy asset. Saquon is one of those players with pedigree that people will trade for even when injured, obviously at a discount. Also, it’s incredibly difficult to acquire talented RB’s in fantasy trades – this year especially. I would look at the top-4 teams in your league and shoot out offers. Winning teams can afford to sit on a fantasy asset that will help them later on during the playoffs. Note: if the injury timeline changes, so does this take. Price Tag: High End RB2 | Risk Rating 4/5 (High)
Tyler Lockett (WR, Seahawks)
I think the Russell Wilson injury will hurt Lockett much greater than D.K. Metcalf. Wilson is targeting a Week 10 return, but even that may be aggressive. Lockett is an up-and-down fantasy player as it is, and I expect it to be more bust than boom for the next couple of months. Price Tag: Solid WR2 | Risk Rating 3/5 (Medium)