Trader's Alley: Week 3 Players to Buy Low, Sell High, Hold
I’m still reeling from all of the injuries that hit NFL teams this past week. It is going to take some time for this new-look NFL landscape to normalize. Teams may make trades, sign free agents, or mine depth charts for new talent or players to fill in.
As noted last week, the point of this column is to provide some ideas for trades to make, both through my recommendations and a look at the trade market for that player based on actual trades from Yahoo! leagues. A recommendation to trade away or trade for is not a guarantee that the player will bust or breakout moving forward. I’m focused on their current situation, their future outlook, and the narrative around them. Making successful trades is rarely simple arithmetic. There are often complicated calculations going on for both sides.
Now that we’ve covered that, let’s take a look at some trade for, trade away, and hold candidates following the injury rapture, aka Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season.
Trade for … Kenyan Drake, RB, Cardinals
Drake finished 2019 with a bang after being traded to the Cardinals, averaging over 100 scrimmage yards and one touchdown during his eight games in Arizona. Expectations were sky-high in 2020, so his rather ho-hum start to the season has left some to question whether or not he was worth his second or third-round price tag at the end of summer. I still believe he is, which is why he’s a trade target this week. Through two games, Drake has nearly doubled Chase Edmonds in playing time (68% vs. 35%), and he’s more than doubled Edmonds in touches (40 to 15). What is also encouraging is that Drake saw 76% of the backfield opportunities in Week 2, a game the Cardinals had in control from pretty much the opening whistle. Part of what has depressed Drake’s early-season value is Kyler Murray running for three touchdowns. That’s a ridiculously sustainable pace for Murray. Were he to continue to score rushing touchdowns at this pace, he’d finish with 24(!) touchdowns on the ground, shattering Cam Newton’s record by 10!
Things should even out in the Cardinals offense, which could result in more goal-line or red-zone opportunities for Drake. Add in that the Cardinals are heading into three straight games that could feature positive game scripts (vs. Lions, at Panthers, at Jets), and Drake’s outlook suddenly has an ever rosier hue around it. Trade for this elite back before he starts to deliver on his peripheral numbers by racking up fantasy scoring totals.
The market: Drake still appears to have some value on the trade market. He was traded straight up for Dalvin Cook, Julio Jones, Melvin Gordon, Calvin Ridley, Keenan Allen, and Russell Wilson in various leagues. He was also part of a number of package deals, including deals where he was packaged with Julian Edleman for Josh Jacobs, paired with Stefon Diggs in exchange for Miles Sanders and Jerry Jeudy, and combined with Odell Beckham Jr. for Mike Evans and Kenny Golladay.
Trade away … Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
I advocated for trading away Chubb in last week’s column, and I’m doubling down on that stance once again, even after Chubb went berserk on Thursday Night Football with 124 yards and two touchdowns. The Browns game went pretty much perfectly to script on Thursday, which is why Chubb had such a terrific outing. And while those games will certainly happen over the course of the season, Chubb’s upcoming schedule is littered with games that could look a lot more like Week 1, when the Ravens steam-rolled the Browns offense. Five of the Browns next seven games are against a murderer’s row featuring the Cowboys, Colts, Steelers, Raiders, and Texans.
Chubb is coming off a monster performance in a nationally televised island game, so his stock may never be higher than it is right now. Given all of the running back injuries this past week, you might be able to offer Chubb to a woebegone Christian McCaffrey or Saquon Barkley drafter and see what you can get back in return.
The market: The trade market for Chubb has shifted quite a bit already from last week. Chubb was traded straight up for Tyreek Hill in multiple leagues. He was paired with T.Y. Hilton and sent away for Stefon Diggs and D.J. Moore in one league, and paired with Emmanuel Sanders in another as part of a deal for Joe Mixon, Phillip Lindsay, and DK Metcalf. In one league Chubb was traded for the combination of D.J. Chark and Cam Newton. As I mentioned above, public opinion has swung back in Chubb’s favor big time after his performance against the Bengals, making him an ideal candidate to use as bait to improve other parts of your roster.
Hold … Leonard Fournette, RB, Buccaneers
It has been a whirlwind September for Fournette. In the span of three weeks the Jaguars released him, the Buccaneers signed him, and he ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers. I’m sure plenty of Fournette drafters had a thought to use this game to sell high on Fournette, hoping to recoup some of the potentially high draft capital they sunk into him back in August. But that would be a foolish pursuit, and here’s why. Fournette’s snap share jumped from 13% in Week 1 (third among TB backs) to 43% in Week 2 (first among TB backs). Not only did Fournette produce big plays, but he saw 50% of the total backfield opportunities (targets and carries), outpacing both Ronald Jones (26%) and LeSean McCoy (24%).
Perhaps this was just a one-week hiccup and Jones will once again be “the guy” in Tampa Bay. But this could have been a case where the genie got out of the bottle and the Buccaneers can’t put him back in. Fournette looked good on Sunday, and he could have taken a strong lead on this backfield’s workload from here on out. Hold tight with Fournette and see if this trend continues in Week 3.
The market: Trades involving Fournette run the gamut of being lopsided in his favor and lopsided against him. He was traded straight up for Evan Engram. He and Cam Newton were packaged for Jerick McKinnon and Patrick Mahomes. Fournette and Benny Snell were sent away for Todd Gurley. Fournette and Julio Jones were swapped for Mark Ingram and Travis Kelce. And Fournette was traded straight up for Amari Cooper in another league.
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