by Noah Pires
October 05, 2019
Nick Chubb/Tyler Lockett for Deandre Hopkins (Full-PPR)
I think this is a very easy decision, and for me, it's the Chubb side no questions asked. There are still a few uncertainties surrounding these players, though, so let's jump into some analysis.
Let start with Nick Chubb the gawd. After a fairly slow start, getting vultured by Dontrell Hilliard and seeing just 70% and 61% of the snaps over the first two weeks, he's kicked it into gear, accumulating over 250 rushing yards over his past two outings. I think we all know how great of a runner Chubb is; just watching him play, you see another gear of speed he reaches that a man of that size should NOT be legally allowed to reach, along with the quicks to make a man miss in the hole. He currently ranks 25th among qualified backs in PFF's Elusive Rating, and 13th among backs with at least 43 carries (50% of the lead league's 86 carries). As for his speed, yeah, he's quite spry, hitting a top speed of nearly 22 mph on his touchdown run, which is about twice as fast as my 2002 Chevy Trail Blazer goes in a school zone.
The volume is also certainly there for Nick, seeing at least 17 carries in every game despite being in a terrible game script week one. The most surprising part of his game, though, which is going somewhat unnoticed, is his pass catching improvements this year. Maybe it isn't him who improved, but the playcalling, getting him more involved in that facet of the game. He has totaled 19 targets thus far, which ranks 11th among runningbacks who have played four games (Todd Gurley has 22 but has already played Thursday night), and his 14 receptions is 11th (Gurley and Carson have more, but again, have played five games thus far). Last year, we would be ecstatic to see him garner two catches in a game, which is a valley he hasn't hit yet this year, and is currently on pace for a 76 target, 56/396/0 receiving line. Pretty good if you ask me, especially considering he's on pace for 312.1,592/16 on the ground. He's an RB1 in every sense of the word, and aside from McCaffrey, Cook, Kamara, and a healthy Barkley, there isn't another runningback I'd prefer to roster. Yes, even Ezekiel Elliott, as Chubb is essentially Zeke on the ground with additional usage through the air. He does have a fairly tough upcoming schedule, facing the 49ers, Seahawks, Bills, and Patriots, but after that it's smooth sailing. If he struggles over these next few weeks, please buy him for whatever price is being asked, and if you own him, hold on for your life.
Next up on this side of the deal, we have Tyler Lockett, the most disrespected wide receiver in the NFL. Public perception is that because he's small and fast, he's a one trick pony, and they'd be right if that trick was being really fucking good at football. A major knock against him is the lack of volume not only in this offense, but also the lack of targets being directed at him, but guess what? There are a handful of players in the league that can dominate on a handful of looks/opportunities week after week, namely Matt Breida, Alvin Kamara (relative to the other "top four"), and Tyler Lockett. He's seen four or less targets in three of five games thus far, yet has either 75 yards or a score in 80% of his outings, something Deandre Hopkins, Davante Adams, or even Mike Evans can't say. Being tethered to an equally efficient QB, the rapport they have makes up for the otherwise concerning volume and makes him a must start independent of matchup. His usage all over the field, especially in the deep game, ranking 12th in deep targets with eight and first in catchable deep balls with six, makes him an asset all over the field. This was put on display on Thursday night, where Russell Wilson made a Wilson-esque throw to the back corner, where Lockett came down with an unbelievable toe-tap-tug. If that wasn't evidence enough that he's among the league's best at the position, then you're as blind as the Chargers' scouting team for kickers. Treat Lockett as a back-end WR1/high-end WR2 from hereon out, and in games against the likes of Baltimore, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and Philadelphia upcoming, should be trusted as a top eight option at the position.
I already stated which side of the deal I prefer, and with the breakdowns, it seems like a lopsided affair. Well, it is, but I'm not going to let Hopkins go unloved, so here goes nothing, AKA DHop's production thus far. Deandre Hopkins, along with the Texans as a whole, has struggled to put together a decent showing since week one. The volume is there, boasting the fourth highest target share in the league (29%) and averaging nearly eight targets per game since week two, but he has yet to find paydirt or total 70 yards since abusing the Saints. Of course, we chase volume and usage when trying to buy low on a player, and both are there for Deandre, the only missing piece to the puzzle is production. I mean, it's not like he just woke up after the Saints game and said to himself "hey, what if I was just bad at football from hereon out?". There are obvious factors contributing to his string of poor performances, though. It really starts with the Texans' line. Watson has been sacked 18 time this year, and it doesn't help that over the past three weeks they faced the Chargers, Jaguars, and Panthers, teams who rank 19th, 6th, and 2nd in sacks, respectively. On top of the pressure he faced, he's been shadowed by three elite cornerbacks in Casey Hayward, Jalen Ramsey, and James Bradberry, with his most productive performance coming against the Panthers' corner, totaling 27 yards on six targets, being shadowed by JB on 68.2% of his routes. These matchups would be tough tasks for any human being, but the good thing is, his upcoming slate is the definition of forgiving.
This week, he gets the Falcons, followed by the Chiefs, Colts, and Raiders. If there was ever a four week stretch where a team could bounce back offensively, it's here. Sure, the Colts aren't awful, and the Cheifs' defense is better than it was last year, but they are by no means as strong as any of the units the Texans have faced thus far. After this slate, they draw the Jaguars again and have to deal with the Patriots in week 13, but once Hopkins starts cooking, there aren't many players in the league that can slow him down. Expect him to be back to his old self and return to that top three option at the position from hereon out. The volume is there, Watson is there, and their schedule lightens up; all factors working in his favor down the stretch.
Now, for the verdict. I said it before, and I'll say it again. It's not close. I'll take a top five runningback over a top three receiver straight up simply due to each position's depth, or lack thereof, and the addition of Lockett makes it a no brainer. The only factor I could see people being worried about is the return of Kareem Hunt for the Browns, but he's not taking over this job. I can almost guarantee that. We've only ever seen Hunt produce in the context of a Kansas City Chiefs' offense, one that made Darrell Williams look like Priest Holmes, while Chubb has dominated behind a shoddy offensive line through four games this year. The talent disparity is so huge between the two that even Freddie Kitchens won't fuck it up, so don't be concerned about NC losing his job to anything other than an injury.
Kenny Golladay/Tyler Boyd for Davante Adams (Half-PPR)
This one is definitely a bit tougher than the last. It looks like Davante won't be out much longer, which makes it a lot less lopsided than it would have been if he had a long timetable to return. Let's look at this trade with the assumption that DA returns in Week 6.
First up is Kenny Golladay, who is currently on bye this week, which means he's going to put up a zero. Yuck. Four weeks in, though, he has been nothing short of incredible, scoring four tuddies and seeing eight or more targets in each contest.The volume is there, the scores are certainly there, but I expect a little regression going forward. He's currently sitting at an Evans-esque 54.8% catch rate, so most of these looks are going to waste. A major portion of these are deep looks, as he leads the league with 12 targets of 20+ yards, yet ranks 14th with just three of these opportunities being catchable. Sure, you could argue he's in for some positive regression, but Stafford's adjusted deep accuracy ranks 18th among qualified QBs, so it's not like he is only missing Kenny deep down the field. Along with the poor target accuracy, I'm not so sure Detroit wants to keep throwing as much as they have through four weeks. They played two potent offenses over the past two weeks, Philadelphia and Kansas City, which forced them to keep throwing throughout the game, but with their upcoming schedule containing some, for a lack of better terms, shitty offenses, they may flip the script to what they're more comfortable with. After the bye, they face the Vikings (2x), Giants, Raiders, Bears (2x), Redskins, and Broncos over an 11 week span, all the way to week 16. If the offense's overall passing volume takes a hit, Kenny will be impacted, and with his lackluster catch percentage, his counting stats will fall. His touchdowns have really masked his actual performances, as he has surpassed the 70 yard mark just once and is on pace for only 76 receptions and under 1,000 yards (972). His touchdown pace, working out to 16 scores, is bound to fall as T.J. Hockenson is utilized more heavily in that area of the field and Marvin Jones Jr. recaptures his role as a dominant red zone weapon. Kenny is still a surefire WR2 in my eyes, as I think he's one of the better real life receivers in the league, but for fantasy, I'm a bit worried that as the touchdowns stop flowing in, and the possibility of the offense moving towards the run a bit more, his perception will be a lot more unfavorable than it stands right now.
Tyler Boyd, on the other hand, is actually being hindered by his offense, and has similar concerns to Kenny. Through four weeks, Boyd has seen 38 targets, which paces out to 152 over a full 16, but what's concerning is identical to what we covered with Golladay, as both have surpassed the (arbitrary) 70 yard mark just once. Sure, that threshold doesn't mean much, but it's concerning that neither player has really shown any sort of high-end consistency despite being their teams' unquestioned #1 option. As for the return of A.J. Green, I honestly have zero clue how it will impact Boyd, as last year he was dominant both with and without Green's presence, but we aren't sure how close to 100% A.J. will really be at any point. If he's a decoy, that could alleviate defensive pressure on Boyd while still guaranteeing volume, but even if Green is his old self, the lack of weapons behind these top two options provides the opportunity for Boyd to continue his monstrous target share (23.6%). Because of his volume, unmatched by many players that are seen as being in a similar tier to him, he provides one of the most solid floors week in and week out, but I'm a bit worried that his ceiling may flash only a few times. His red zone usage is certainly an area of concern, seeing just one target inside the 20 despite Green's absence, and seeing just two deep targets, those chunk plays will have to be earned by his self. With all of this being considered, he's a low end WR2 option in my eyes for the rest of the year, but one that will remain in that range on a weekly basis simply because of the volume he's set to see in an offense that will consistently be playing from behind but lacks that "high-end" WR2 status because of a lack of scoring opportunities.
On the other side, we have Davante Adams, who is currently dealing with what has been reported as turf toe. Again, we'll assume he is going to return in week six, as that's how it seems right now, so that's how we'll treat the situation.
We covered Adams heavily in the first trade advice article, discussing that I expected a bounce back, which came to fruition against the Eagles' porous secondary on Thursday night. He was tackled just short of the goal line in that game, which would have made his already dominant performance all the more impressive, but even without finding paydirt, he reminded fantasy players of the player they drafted in the top eight this offseason. As for his upcoming schedule, it's about as good as it gets prior to Week 15.
There's not a ton of green, but the SF "points allowed" is a bit misleading as they've only played three games thus far, and these rankings are based on total fantasy points allowed. On a PPG basis, they'd actually rank 12th, which would make this schedule look a lot less daunting. Because of this, the only game I'd be weary of prior to their divisional bouts with the Bears and Vikings would be with the Panthers, as James Bradberry has locked down DHop and Mike Evans this year. Apart from that, Davante should continue his streak of brilliance over the second half of the year, and similar to Hopkins, once he catches fire, not a defense in the league can stop him. Because of this, he's a locked in top five option at the position upon his return, and if he's being shopped as anything less than that in your league, it's time to buy.
With everything considered, I'm siding with the team acquiring Adams. The only scenario where I'm taking the Boyd+Golladay package is if your entire team is elite aside from WR and have zero depth behind Adams. With that being unlikely with the myriad of viable options that were available on waivers early (D.J. Chark, Terry McLaurin, hell, even Mohamed Sanu), there are very few scenarios where I'm not rolling with Davante.
Deshaun Watson/Austin Ekeler/Mike Evans for JuJu Smith-Schuster/Le'Veon Bell (Full-PPR)
Mark Ingram/Odell Beckham Jr. for George Kittle/Julio Jones (Half-PPR)
by Noah Pires
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