Trader's Alley: Week 2 Players to Buy Low, Sell High, Hold
Orchestrating successful trades can be a critical part of a winning fantasy football season. However, finding and negotiating such trades with cantankerous or stingy league mates often serves as a roadblock. People become obsessed with “winning” the trade or are too committed to the players they drafted to ship one away and potentially be “wrong” if that player blows up statistically down the stretch.
My hope with this column is to offer some players to target, while also reviewing some recent trades involving that player to discuss relative value and fair offers. You shouldn’t come to this column looking for advice to get the better of your friends and league mates. If you do manage to do so with this advice, well, good for you. Buy your friend a 4for4 subscription so it doesn’t happen again. But ideally, this column will help give you information and ideas to successfully negotiate trades that can put you in a better position to win your league.
To help serve that goal, underneath each player recommendation I’ve added a new section called “the market” where I’ll discuss a few trades in Yahoo! leagues to show examples of what the player actually went for in different leagues. Obviously, these aren’t to say you can get the same value, but it gives you ideas of what to potentially offer.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some trade for, trade away, and hold candidates following a wild Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season.
Trade for … Jonathan Taylor, RB, Colts
This might seem obvious given that Marlon Mack (the Colts’ “starter”) tore his Achilles in Week 1, but give me a few sentences to explain my reasoning here. Draft analysts loved Taylor's athletic profile and rushing production, but almost universally considered his passing game work as a negative, weakness, or red flag. Once Mack left the game with his injury, Taylor saw six targets, catching all six for 67 yards. Philip Rivers loves targeting his running backs, and Taylor is about to see a massive jump in playing time, targets, and overall opportunities. He has RB1 upside for the rest of the season, and you should be trying to acquire him now before he starts putting up bigger numbers for the Colts. There’s certainly a concern that Hines steals more receiving work moving forward, but the outlook for Taylor is firmly looking up.
The market: I tweeted this out Tuesday night, but I flipped Adam Thielen in a PPR league for Jonathan Taylor, partially because I was strong at wide receiver and Taylor was coming from a team strong at running back. I felt the trade was quite equitable and was thrilled to be adding Taylor to my squad. Some other trades involving Taylor were: Keenan Allen and Ronald Jones for Taylor; Jonathan Taylor for Michael Gallup; Taylor and Golladay for Saquon Barkley; Taylor for Calvin Ridley; Taylor and Davante Adams for D.J. Moore and Josh Jacobs. I, as noted by my trade above, am a fan of Taylor for strong wide receiver trades straight up, as long as the move doesn’t cripple your roster.
Trade away … Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
Chubb is a fantastic back with tremendous ability. Unfortunately, he’s not being used in a way that benefits fantasy football managers. Last year, Chubb was off to a torrid start until Kareem Hunt joined the Browns, and then Chubb’s usage and snap share dipped. That trend continued in a distressing way in 2020, as Hunt played 49% of the snaps to Chubb’s 48%, and out-touched him 17 to 11. Yes, the Browns were in a negative game script that will favor Hunt for his pass-catching role, but the distressing part of this split is that in the first half, when the game was still relatively close, Hunt saw eight opportunities (six rushes, two targets) to seven opportunities (six rushes, one target) for Chubb. This is a split backfield, plain and simple, and in half or full PPR scoring formats, it favors Hunt for fantasy. Chubb still has name value, so the time to deal him might be now if people are still holding on to the “game script” narrative being responsible for Chubb’s disappointing Week 1.
The market: Opinions of Chubb vary. He was packaged with Sammy Watkins for Raheem Mostert. He was traded straight up for Amari Cooper, and in a different league, Carlos Hyde. Most of the trades involving Chubb to take place on 9/15 were bigger package deals involving multiple players on each side. If you can get a starting-caliber player for Chubb, either straight-up or for Chubb and a player from your bench, feel free to pull the trigger.
Hold … Austin Ekeler, RB, Chargers
Ekeler is in a similar boat to Chubb in that his backfield was frighteningly more split than fantasy players had hoped this summer. Adding fuel to the panic fire is that Ekeler saw one (1!) target in Week 1 with Tyrod Taylor replacing Philip Rivers. Ekeler averaged 5.75 targets per game last season, and 62% of his fantasy points in 2019 came from receiving work (in full-PPR scoring). It isn’t crazy to trade Ekeler right now, as this was a decent game for Ekeler to go off and he didn’t thanks to the lack of passing game work and involvement of Joshua Kelley. The reason Ekeler is a hold is because he has favorable games coming up on the schedule that could increase his passing volume (Chiefs, Panthers, Buccaneers, Saints). Ekeler’s value could increase in that run for a trade, or his usage could normalize. But the risk remains high that his change in quarterback has killed a large portion of his fantasy upside.
The market: Ekeler was frequently packaged in multi-player trades, but had plenty of value in one-for-one or two-for-one deals. For instance, he was traded for Robert Woods, Nick Chubb, and Odell Beckham Jr. in separate single deals. He was paired with Odell Beckham Jr. and traded for Tyreek Hill. Conversely, James White and Hunter Henry were paired and shipped for Ekeler. If you have running back depth, a trade for a player comparable to Woods feels fair enough, but likely tipped in your favor.
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