by Noah Pires
October 12, 2019
Taking a look at this team, you can tell it’s an absolute wagon. Other than the RB2 slot, where he houses CT tha gawd, it’s impeccable. Even then, in Full PPR, Thompson brings pretty solid value and a consistent weekly floor. As for the trade, it would definitely be a hit the WR core, but does that get made up for by the upgrade in the runningback spot?
Beginning with Chris Godwin, it would be amiss to say he’s been anything short of spectacular. With Jameis at the helm, it’s a blessing that one receiver produces, let alone two, but that’s the case in Tampa. Bruce Arians told very few lies this offseason, turning CG into Larry Fitz of old, and with his usage over the first five weeks, it’s hard to see him finishing anywhere outside the top ten receiver discussion at any point during his 2019 campaign. Earlier this offseason, I wrote about how, if Godwin truly was going to be subjected to more slot snaps, his target accuracy, and therefore his counting numbers, would bump up significantly, and that’s come to fruition thus far. His catchable target rate last season was a woeful 72.6% (ranked 78th) but has taken a significant bump up to 83.3% (28th best). Sure, his aDOT may be taking a hit, but his redzone usage (five red zone targets, just one fewer than Mike Evans) and overall volume (11th most targets, 8.6 per game ranks 14th) counteracts this otherwise seemingly detrimental impact caused by “shorter” targets. Then again, it’s not like he’s only being used in the short/intermediate game, as he’s seen seven deep targets, which ranks 20th, catching four of them (11th most). His overall usage and production is helped by opposing defenses deciding to shadow Mike Evans, freeing up Godwin underneath, allowing him to use his size and athleticism to win both before (66.7% contested catch rate; ranks 9th) and after (167 YAC; 5th most) the catch. There are very few flaws in CG’s game and usage to this point, and has been doing so with sporadic QB play and a few difficult matchups (Carolina – 16th most points allowed to WR; San Francisco – 26th most points allowed to WRs; combined for 11/174/2 over those two games). His current pace is a ridiculous 106/1,635/19 receiving line, and although it may not fully pan out this way, 80% of this output would work out to 85/1,308/15, or 305 Full-PPR fantasy points, which would have been the WR8 last year (and the WR6 in Half-PPR). This is scary good, and playing in the NFC South, it should be expected that this continues. Godwin is nothing less than a top eight option at the position and could be argued as the number one overall option at WR.
So, how does the potential WR1 stack up with David Johnson? To be honest, not very well. Yes, he’s being used fairly heavily in the receiving game, currently racking up the 6th most receptions (24), which, over a full 16 works out to just under 77 catches, a mark just five runningbacks hit in 2018 (CMC, Barkley, Kamara, Zeke, and James White). Along with his usage in the passing game, he’s the clear-cut number one in the backfield, shown in the team’s red zone rushing, accumulating 10 rushes inside the 20, nine more than Edmonds. Now, Kyler Murray has been uncaged and it taking over some of these attempts, racking up six of these rushes to this point, so Johnson’s TD upside is a bit capped so long as Murray continues to use his legs, which I think is a real possibility. Along with this, Johnson just isn’t efficient, like, at all. Even in his breakout year where he put up over 2,100 yards from scrimmage and 20 tugs, he was averaging a passable 4.2 YPC, and though he’s at 4.1 this year, he’s averaged >3.7 YPC in a game just twice (one coming against the Bengals). He thrives off of volume, which he’s certainly getting, but moreso in the passing game than rushing. Obviously, he’s averaging more attempts/game than receptions, but relative to his position, 12.8 carries per game is by no means a large total. Because of this, along with Kyler’s recent affinity to use his own legs, DJ’s upside on the ground is capped, both scoring and yardage wise. This isn’t to say he isn’t an RB1, as his usage in the passing game lands him firmly in that conversation, but his upside doesn’t nearly challenge that of the elite tier including guys like McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, and others. He’s a very safe option week to week in PPR leagues as a focal point of an offense built on passing the ball while playing from behind, but I’m not sure that the boost provided at RB is worth giving up the (possible) WR1 in fantasy.
Chris Thompson is currently averaging 11.7 Full-PPR points per game, 6.9 (I’m not going to say it) less than DJ, but if this trade were to process, you’d be left with Marvin Jones or Hollywood where Godwin once was, which is a decrease of 11.0 and 9.7 points per game, respectively. I know it looks great to have both Nick Chubb and DJ as your starting backs, but I wouldn’t mess with what’s working and would continue to ride the wave.
This roster is a thing of beauty, which makes me question if this guy is in a six man league. If he is, whatever, we don’t discriminate around here (unless you’re a fan of Derrick Henry). Off the bat, this is a no brainer; I’m accepting the McCaffrey side 15 times over and sending the other team an Edible Arrangement for the blessing they just bestowed upon me, but let’s take a look at each piece individually.
Will Dissly seemed like a flash in the pan, and he was, if that pan was being simmered in goat broth. Through five weeks, he’s finished as a top six option at the position four times, only missing that mark in week one. Truly incredible stuff from a former defensive end and current right tackle. He has worked himself into that near elite tier of tight ends, housing the likes of Mark Andrews, Austin Hooper, and Greg Olsen after he pops a few aspirins. Dissly’s snap share has been way up over the past two games, logging 79% and 89% of the team’s offensive snaps, which is pretty impressive for a tight end. When he’s out on the field, Wilson looks his way, and the efficiency the two bring to the table is nearly unmatched. He has overtaken Tyler Lockett as the “QB Rating When Targeted” king, as RW boasts a 148.2 rating when throwing to the big boy, ranking number one in the league. On top of that, Dissly is top five in deep targets (5), completed air yards (188), red zone receptions (4), yards per target (10.1), yards per pass route (3.28), fantasy points per pass route (0.92), and fantasy points per target (2.84). That’s a lot of shit. Most notably are those final three efficiency metrics, because it shows that even though his route participation may be limited (has topped 20 routes run just once), when he’s getting involved, Russell is giving him the ball. If you just watch him play, Dissly just seems to have such a rapport with Ciara’s husband, whether it be him acting as a safety blanket underneath or getting deep and having the defense forget about him, the two just get it done. I’m treating WD as nothing less than a top-eight option ROS and a weekly must-start candidate.
Along with Dissly, we have Alvin Kamara, a player that hasn’t quite lived up to his draft capital this season. He’s getting the usage we hoped he would have, logging 65% of the team’s snaps in every week, topping 75% on three separate occasions, and is on pace for over 320 touches, 48 more than he saw in 2018. On top of that, he’s also on pace to log the most yards from scrimmage with 1,865, again, outproducing last year’s total by 273. So, what’s really the issue? Touchdowns. He put up 32 tugs (one kick return) in 31 games over his first two seasons as a Saint, but this year, he’s failed to impress, logging just two scores, both coming in one game. In 2018, AK logged the 2nd most red zone carries with 50 (trailed only Todd Gurley, who had 63), and the fourth most rushes inside the five with 13, converting eight of them into scores. This year, Kamara has just 10 attempts inside the 20 (19th most) and just two goal line carries, less than Ito Smith, Branden Bolden, and Wayne Gallman. The good news is, Latavius Murray isn’t stealing these looks, as he’s failed to log a touch inside the five to this point, so it really comes down to this offense taking a hit. The Saints currently stand at 18th with 3.0 red zone trips per game, a far fall from their 4.2 mark in 2018 which ranked them 3rd, trailing just the Rams and KC. With Brees looking to be returning in the near future, this offense should see a bit of a boost, but even then, they get a slate of pretty tough matchups down the stretch, playing Chicago, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Carolina, and Tennessee. The good thing is, it’s New Orleans, and if there were ever a team to overcome this adversity, it would be them (along with a few other potent offenses). Because of the regression Kamara is likely to see, along with his spike in usage this year, he’s firmly a high-end RB1 and will return to that elite status once Brees returns, or if Teddy replicates last week’s performance. Now, he has been tagged with an ankle injury, but it doesn’t seem to be serious. I would temper expectations either way over these next two weeks, though, playing Jacksonville and the Bears.
Last up on this side is a man by the name of Damien Williams. There isn’t much to say about him because, well, he hasn’t really played much. When he was out there, though, he showed no signs of efficiency, failing to top 3.0 YPC in any game and is sitting at a Melvin Gordon rookie-esque 1.8 yards per carry on the year. You may look at that and think to yourself “this guy’s a fraud, I’d never want him on my team”. That may be true, but all that matters is if Andy Reid thinks he’s a fraud, and so far, that hasn’t been the case. In week one, Williams not only accumulated 19 touches, he saw six receptions and converted his goal line carry for six. A week later, he struggled on the ground heavily, racking up an otherworldly eight yards on nine carries, but guess what? He still saw five targets and turned those into a 3/48/0 receiving line. How about last week, after returning from a two game absence? Well, he only went out and saw 13 opportunities (four of which came through the air) and outsnapped LeSean McCoy(14) and Darrell Williams (14), more than doubling their playing time (35 snaps for Damien). It’s apparent that when he’s healthy, he’s not only their lead back, but also the most trusted option in the passing and short yardage game. Because of this, playing in an elite offense, he’s a solidified RB2, and I’ll say he’s a back end option for now simply due to his recently sustained injury and lack of production. What I will say, though, is his upside is that of a top 10 back, as it looks like Andy Reid really wants him to be their guy, so if his efficiency picks up, the sky’s the limit for him.
All this is good and well; there are some pretty good players on the other side of the deal. I’m not going to act like this is a lopsided affair, but it truly is. As Kanye West once said, “No one man should have all that power”, and that man, you may ask, is Christian McCaffrey. There’s truly nothing to say about him. He’s missed just 14 snaps this year and has fallen short of 25 touches just once. What’s even more wild is people like to talk about the 1,000 1,000 club being a pinnacle of RB performance, but CMC is on his way to the 2,000 1,000 club. Sure, it has about a .07% chance of happening, but right now, he’s on pace for 1,878 rushing yards and another 893 through the air. He’s a complete freak. To put his dominance into perspective, let’s take his 16 game pace and deduct 30% of his production. This would leave him with a 235/1,315/13 rushing line and 69/625/2 though the air, or 317.5 Half-PPR fantasy points, which would have ranked as the RB4 last year (behind himself, Saquon, and Todd Gurley). There is nothing to suggest his production will dip, as he is second to only Sony Michel in rushes inside the 20 (Michel has played one more game than CMC), has surrendered just one goal line carry this year (to Alex Armah), and has been a focal point in the Panthers’ passing game no matter what QB is throwing him the ball. He is the unquestioned RB1 in fantasy, and to be perfectly honest, even without Chris Carson added to the deal, I’d give up these three pieces to acquire the Carolina back.
The icing on the cake here is one Chris Carson, AKA “inflation” due to the way he kills Penny stocks. Anyways, he’s clearly the number one option in Seattle’s backfield, apparent by both his usage and overall dominance when on the field. He’s played 75% or more of the team’s snaps in three of five games, with the other two took a hit because of ball security issues which seems to be an anomaly, as he had logged just three fumbles over his previous 18 games before matching that number over a three week span in 2019. After playing 110 of a possible 137 snaps (80.3%) over these past two games, there should be no doubt that he has the stranglehold on the job and Carroll will go to great lengths to keep him in that position. Another thing this coaching staff loves to do is tell the truth apparently. In the offseason, word around town was that Carson would see about 50 targets this year, and well, his current pace is 54. Him adding receiving work to his game has been a major boost this year, helping provide a floor that was once backed only by rushing volume. Now, even if he sees 15 carries for 60 yards and fails to score, the extra three or four passes going his way help to keep him from busting all too often. His ceiling is also among the league’s best, as Seattle is an extremely efficient offense, one that marches its way into the red area fairly often (rank 11th in Red Zone trips per game), and with him getting ALL the red zone work (13 carries, 2 receptions ), he’s a threat to find paydirt any given Sunday. I view Carson as a borderline RB1, one with an extremely high floor due to usage in both the rushing and receiving game, paired with a ceiling that has been displayed a few times this year (has topped 18 fantasy points twice).
As for the verdict, I already said it was simple, and after looking at these players in depth, it’s an even easier call to make. Your roster would still have Kittle at tight end, who is past his bye, and replace Williams and Kamara with CMC and Carson, which is a deal I’d take 99 times out of 100 straight up.
This trade is essentially asking which player I’d rather have as a FLEX play, as most of the rest of the roster is filled out. I already talked about Damien Williams in one of the deals above, so we’ll just be breaking down John Brown and then coming to a conclusion on the matter.
With John Brown, we all know the story. He’s a very skilled receiver who has shown he can produce on two different teams to this point, only disappointing in the past due to injury, and now on his third team, looks to be keeping his elite level of play alive. He’s quietly putting up possibly the best season of his career, on pace for 125 targets and a 90/1,248/3 receiving line, which would have ranked as the WR16 in half-PPR last year sandwiched between two Tylers (Lockett and Boyd). Sure, the pace is great and all, but the number in that statline that really stands out to me is 125. That is elite level volume for a receiver that doesn’t “look” like the prototypical WR1 in an offense, but his usage says otherwise. Sure, Cole Beasley has seen just as many targets, but in an offense that has only two real receiving weapons, CB’s usage doesn’t take away from JB’s ceiling or floor on a week to week basis. Brown has been used heavily in the deep game, accumulating nine of these looks, ranking 12th in the NFL, but due to Allen’s accuracy woes, has only caught three of such passes. Other than the deep game, though, the two seem to have a solid rapport, displayed by Brown’s percentage of catchable targets, coming in at 87.2%, which ranks 19th among the position. So long as this volume continues and the accuracy is sustained, which doesn’t seem to an anomaly as it has remained this way through five weeks, production should continue. Along with this, his upcoming schedule is a thing of beauty.
Things do get pretty rough after week 12, but by that time, you’d have Jamison Crowder back with Sam Darnold as a replacement, (hopefully) Hunter Henry after his week 12 bye, and a plethora of runningbacks as replacements in the FLEX. I will say though, over these past two weeks, Brown has played the Patriots and Titans, two very stout defenses, and accumulated a (16 target) 10/144/0 receiving line (put into perspective, this is an 80/1,152/0 statline through a full 16), so he is by no means a “must-sit” in these matchups.
So, with all this being said, which side do I prefer? It’s honestly extremely tough. DWill is a starting back in the context of a Chiefs offense, which is surely a valuable commodity to own, but John Brown is the #1 on an offense not afraid to take shots down field, and we have seen him produce with the volume given. With the roster shown above, I think I’d actually rather have Brown, as Nick Chubb, Phillip Lindsay, and Josh Jacobs is an extremely solid RB core while outside of Nuk and D.J. Moore, the WR group isn’t one that can really be trusted on a weekly basis. I’d try to shop Williams to see if there are any other buyers willing to pay a higher price than Brown for him, but if not, I’d be comfortable making this swap.
Mike Evans for Will Fuller/Robert Woods (1/2 PPR)
Straight up, this isn’t an unfair deal. These two players for Mike Evans may seem like an underpay, but with the inconsistencies we’ve seen from Evans, it is definitely a reasonable proposal. Now, would I give away these two pieces to acquire the Bucc’s wideout? Let’s see.
Through five weeks, Mike Evans has been a pretty disappointing option. Outside of his two blowup games against the Giants and Rams, where he combined for a (22 target) 12/279/4 receiving line, he has accumulated just 16 looks for six receptions and under 100 yards. Obviously, then, there has been a changing of the guard in Tampa, right? Kind of, but not really. Evans and Godwin are basically the 1A and 1B, evident by their target numbers. These two stand at 38 and 43 targets on the season, respectively, with the next closest Buccaneer coming in at 16 (Dare Ogunbowale). Because of this consolidated distribution, they combine for exactly 50% of the team’s targets, with Evans trailing ever so slightly, sitting at 23.8%. Though it’s behind Godwin’s 26.2%, we still see that Evans is getting the valuable looks both downfield and in the redzone, and it’s just a matter of time before his production spikes. Through five weeks, Mike actually leads the league in air yards with 603, 30 more than the next closest receiver (Julio Jones), and boasts the 6th highest aDOT (15.9) among receivers with at least 20 targets. He’s also comes in 4th in targets of 20+ yards with 11, hauling in five of these looks (6th most) for 228 yards (3rd most) and two scores (5th most). For all the accuracy woes Jameis brings to the table, it seems as though his connection with his longest tenured receiver is still there. Along with the deep game, where we have seen Evans produce splash plays, he also ranks 9th in red zone looks with six, one more than his teammate Chris Godwin, and both boast four looks inside the 10, the 6th best total in the NFL. So, with all this being true, why has Evans been so inconsistent while Godwin has been one of the most trusted receivers this year? Well, other than the disparity in target accuracy, which stems from each players’ aDOT, Evans has also been subject to shadow coverage from some of the league’s best corners. James Bradberry allowed just three receptions for 61 yards to Evans, which is pretty impessive on Mike’s part, as JB held DHop to a 3/27/0 line on six targets in week four. Last week, where Evans put up a donut, Marshon Lattimore was on him for 82.9% of his routes, garnering just one target which he failed to haul in. This also shouldn’t be completely on Evans, as in two other games of shadow coverage, Lattimore held Amari Cooper and DHop to a combined 8/90/1 on 14 targets. His upcoming schedule is pretty unforgiving, having to face shadow coverage from James Bradberry, Patrick Peterson, Jalen Ramsey (barring him being traded), Marshon Lattimore, and Darius Slay, but with Jameis Winston being a quarterback who notoriously doesn’t give a fuck, throwing into triple coverage at his discretion, and coming out and explicitly saying if the team wants to win they need to get Mike more involved, I’d put my money on Evans seeing upwards of eight or so targets in each of these games. All we can hope for is volume, and that’s exactly what he’s bound to see (and has seen) in an offense devoid of any receiving depth. Though it’s hard to see him as a top twelve option at the position due to his inconsistent output and upcoming matchups, I’d be comfortable valuing him on that borderline with the likes of Tyler Lockett and Boyd.
On the other side, we’ll start with Robert Woods. Of the three Rams receivers, he’s easily my least favorite, as the floor we hoped to bank on has not been there. This is partially due to Jared Goff playing quite terribly along with Cooper Kupp being the definition of a target hog. If you take out Woods’ game against the Buccaneers, where the total ended at 95, he’d be averaging a (eight target) 4.5/47.75/0 receiving line, or 72/764/0 on 128 looks for a full 16. Yes, the volume is there (6th most targets among WRs), which we all look for, but the valuable targets are few and far between. He has just two red zone targets through five weeks, zero inside the ten, and just five looks of 20+ yards, hauling in just one of them. Without many scoring opportunities from in close or the opportunity on many chunk plays to be had, he’s a low ceiling, decent floor, WR3 option. If this offense was as efficient and high-powered as last year, things would be different, but with Gurley being banged up and Goff taking a step back, everyone, save Cooper Kupp, is taking a major hit. Along with this, the Rams also have some pretty tough matchups in the upcoming weeks, facing off with the 49ers and Bears in two of their next five, and in the fantasy playoffs (weeks 14-16), draw the Seahawks, Cowboys, and 49ers once more, playing on the road in these final two. They do match up against the Bengals and Falcons in back-to-back weeks (week 7 and 8), which is a perfect spot to sell high on him, but in this trade scenario, you’re able to ship him off now, which I’m more than fine with given the return.
Along with Woods, we have Will Fuller V, who is coming off one of the best performances by any receiver of the last million years. Up until week five, Fuller had a cumulative stat line on 23 targets for 14 receptions, 183 yards, and zero scores. Not great! Then, against the Falcons, he put up 14 receptions for 217 yards and three tugs, outnumbering or matching each stat he had previously logged cumulatively (except targets), and now you want me to believe he’s a top 20 receiver? Save your recency bias infused takes for some other bozo. Sure, his air yards were among the league’s best heading into week five, which is why he was a break out candidate in the first place (and a buy-low in one of our videos a few weeks back), but to expect him to put up even a fraction of this production in any game going forward is asinine. Keep in mind this performance was had against what may be the worst secondary in the NFL, which is saying a lot when Miami is still a team. I mean, just look at this coverage on one of Fuller’s three scores.
Not terrible, right? Some sore of cover three variant it seems, but if you notice the corner up top (near Hopkins), it looks like he thinks he’s in man coverage. Well, you’d be right in assuming this, because looks what happens.
Oh no! It’s happening!
Mama, there goes that man again!
And the safety can’t recover in time to break up the pass, resulting is a 33 yard tuddy for Lil Pump’s older brother.
I’m by no means taking away this performance from Fuller, but I don’t see how things can work this perfectly for him ever again. The Texans’ line is shit, and they faced a defense that one, could not get to Watson, and two, had no secondary to protect the back end. The only “easy” matchups they draw from hereon out would be against the Chiefs this week, but even then, their defense always shows up at Arrowhead, and against the Raiders at the end of October. After that, there aren’t many games where I’d feel comfortable relying on Will as anything more than a WR3 because in the end, you’re just hoping for a long TD, which isn’t always in the cards. In weeks 1-4, Fuller saw nine deep targets, which, yes, is a very good total, but his numbers really got boosted last week, where he saw four of these looks, catching three of them for 109 yards and two scores. This is a wildly efficient performance, which isn’t exactly unexpected given the matchup and Fuller’s rapport with Watson, but with this offense looking awful aside from this one week, I’m completely in on selling WFV while the price is still high. If you do decide to keep him, though, he remains a high end WR3 in my opinion, one where you’re hoping Watson has enough time to let the play develop and hit him on a deep strike, or else you’ll see similar production to what happened through his first four weeks.
Given the roster provided above, I think it’s a no brainer accept. You’d be trading two players on your bench for a weekly starter, and even though it may hurt your depth a bit, you’d still boast Julio Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Brandin Cooks, and Courtland Sutton, a pretty elite core if I do say so myself. Also, it would allow you a Tampa stack, which may not sound great, but if and when there is a favorable matchup (ATL, NO, ARI, HOU, IND), you could stand to see some pretty great benefits from the Jameis to Evans connection.
by Nick Ercolano
September 18, 2020
by Nick Ercolano
September 14, 2020
by Nick Ercolano
August 26, 2020
Animal makes a case for why Andy Isabella could be the better pick over Christian Kirk.