by Nick Ercolano
October 13, 2018
Trades, trades, and more muthafuggin trades. Y’all got questions, and I have shitty answers, but they seem to be helping, so I’m gonna keep it rolling. This week, we got a bunch of trade questions, and I’m a man of the people, so here’s what I think of y’all finesse kings and the deals you’re trying to pull off. Without further adue, let’s jump into this b(dge)itch.
Antonio Brown/Sammy Watkins for Amari Cooper/John Brown/Joe Mixon (.5 PPR)
This is a pretty packed deal. On one side, we have a top three fantasy wide receiver, while on the other, we have a runningback who may not be top five, but is definitely inside the top ten. What makes this tough, though, is that it isn’t a straight up deal. The side with AB also comes with Sammy Watkins, who may be the third option on his own team, but being part of the Chiefs’ offense, that may be better than being the #1 in most other teams. Enough rambling, let’s hop into this MF’er.
Obviously Antonio Brown is an elite wide receiver and has produced as such year over year. He may have started off this season slow, but he’s looking like himself, and with the Steelers’ piss poor defense, he is in line to see plenty of volume. He has seen the most targets in the NFL (66, 13.2/game), 7th most receptions (35, 7/game), and 2nd most touchdowns (5). His current pace is 112/1193/16 (211.2 targets), and doing so on his lowest catch rate since his sophomore season. His 53% catch rate is down from last year’s 62%, which is why his reception projection isn’t as high as you’d think based on his volume. I’d expect this to increase, though, but even if it doesn’t, he’s still a locked in, elite, WR1.
As for Watkins, he’s played in full for 4/5 contests, so I’m going to throw out his 0/0/0 performance against the Broncos, where he only played 17% of snaps. Outside of that game, and week 1, Watkins has been more than serviceable as a WR2 for fantasy purposes. Taking out week 4, his pace is 80/1,016/4 (112 targets). Sure, projecting out a full season off of 4 games isn’t the best measure of a player’s value, but it helps to show how they’re being utilized in the offense. Digging deeper, you’ll see Watkins bests Tyreek’s red zone target number by one (6 to 5) and trails Kelce (7) by one. Mahomes, after not looking his way much in the preseason or week one, has seemed to find a strong connection with Sammy, and should be a backend WR2/high end WR3 for the rest of the year.
On the other side of the deal, we have Joe Mixon. I’m no doctor, so when I heard “knee procedure” in the middle of the season, I automatically assumed Joe Mixon’s value would be out the window. Little did I know, a surgeon can cut into your knee, extract some shit, stitch you up, then tell you you’re able to run around like a Spanish bull seeing red in the streets. Well, that’s exactly what Mr. Mixon did, handling 22 carries, the most he’s commanded this season, in his first week back. Again, projecting out numbers isn’t the best way to determine a player’s value, but it helps put things into perspective. He’s on pace for 320/1451/5 on the ground with 48/421/5 (64 targets) through the air. Now, with Gio Bernard hurt, the Bengals will be all in on Mixon, using him in the passing game as well, giving him one of the highest floors at the position in the league. I’d view him as a top 10 RB with certain top 5 upside as long as he stays healthy.
Along with Mixon, we have John Brown and Amari Cooper. Let’s start with Coop, because I have little to say about him. At this point, he’s just a big name who doesn’t produce on a consistent enough basis. From here on out, I’m referring to Coop as the Andrew Wiggins of the NFL, as neither have lived up to the huge hype that surrounded them before the draft, despite being the team’s focal point for some years now. The only difference, though, is Wiggins is being overshadowed by KAT and Jimmy Butler, two elite players, top 5 at their respective positions, while Amari is being cooked by Jared (pun intended) and 53 year old Jordy Nelson. Ouch. Honestly, I’d never think about starting Cooper, because when you do, he puts up 2/17/0, and when you sit him, he drops 7/167/2. There’s no point in having any hope. As for John Brown, he’s the opposite. He doesn’t have the name value of Coop, but is producing the way Amari should be. Joe Flacco has found his WR1, and is treating him as such, feeding him 8.8 targets a game. Brown is on pace for 61/1267/10 on 141 targets, which isn’t all that unrealistic if we’re being truthful. According to FantasyPros, he has the 2nd easiest schedule for the rest of the year, facing Oakland, Atlanta, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and the Chargers in weeks 12-16. Along with this, he’s also finally healthy, which was his only real hindrance over these past couple of seasons. Three seasons ago, Brown posted 65/1003/7 (101 targets) in 11 starts as the #2 in Arizona behind Fitz, so Brown’s hot start to the 2018 year shouldn’t be seen as an anomaly. He is a locked in WR2 for the rest of the year.
VERDICT: Joe Mixon side (unless WR core is much weaker than RB core and AB would benefit your starting lineup more than Mixon)
James Conner/Alfred Morris for Keenan Allen/Julian Edelman (standard)
This may be the easiest of the batch to analyze, so I won’t keep you here long.
James Conner has one week of value left, as he has a bye in week 7, and as of now, Le’Veon Bell expects to return week 8. Sure, maybe Conner won’t be COMPLETELY phased out, but do you really expect the Steelers to split this 6/40, or even 70/30? Conner has been great, there’s no debating that, but Bell is probably the best RB in the league when considering how well he produces on the ground and through the air. For those reasons, I don’t see any reason you shouldn’t trade JC if the right offer is on the table.
Along with Conner is Alfred Morris. Admittedly, I was higher on Morris than Breida after Mckinnon’s injury, so thus far, I’ve been wrong. The positive for Morris, though, is that Breida hasn’t been able to stay on the field, going down with yet another injury. Morris’s volume should increase, and he’s already commanded 5 goal line carries, but has only converted one. This should even out, meaning there is some room for positive regression, but in this offense, he’s no more than a back-end RB2 when Breida’s out. When Breida plays, he’s a RB3.
On the other side, we’ve got Keenan Allen, Julian Edelman, and a fantasy owner who doesn’t understand how value works. Right now, he is selling both his players extremely low, and buying two guys at their peak value. Keenan, although he hasn’t produced as such, is a top 10 receiver. Although he’s only scored once, he’s still on pace for over 100 catches and nearly 1,200 yards. He is seeing a 26.2% targets share, so it’s not like he’s not getting looks. My advice is, if you can buy low on Allen, do so, because once he has a breakout game, that window closes, immediately.
As for Jules, he’s only played one game, but commanded 9 targets, turning that 7 catches for 57 yards. He’s one of Brady’s favorite and most trusted targets, but his value isn’t as high in standard as it is in PPR. Despite this, if you’re giving up Conner and Alfred Morris to get these 2 guys, there’s no chance in hell I’m turning it down.
Verdict: Julian Edelman/Keenan Allen side
Kamara/Allen Robinson for Aaron Jones/Brandin Cooks/Quincy Enunwa (standard)
The first part of the deal includes Alvin Kamara and Allen Robinson, two guys who are prime buy low candidates, and here’s why.
Last week, Mark Ingram made his return and outproduced Kamara by a large margin, finding the end zone twice, looking like he was dominating the red zone touches. This should be no concern though, as this game was never close, and the Saints were likely just resting Kamara after handling the load for them the first 4 weeks of the season. Now, heading into the bye, people may be scared of the uncertainty that will follow. As we all remember, Kamara was an elite runningback last year, despite his lack of touches, and he’s certainly earned the right to garner more looks this season. I expect his touches to increase from last year, but not quite what he saw over the first four games thus far. Even while sharing the backfield with Ingram, he’s still an elite RB due to his efficiency and TD upside every week.
With ARob, he’s also a prime buy-low coming out of the bye. One week prior, Mitch Trubisky tossed 6 tuddies and 354 yards, but Robinson only saw 4 targets, posting a disappointing 2/23/1. This was an outlier, though, as he’s commanded a 24.8% targets share, and outside of week 4, has been targeted over 9 times per game. He is clearly the Bears’ #1 option and should bounce back coming out of the bye. I view him as a back end WR2 with the upside of a back end WR1.
On the other side, we have Aaron Jones, Quincy Enunwa, and Brandin Cooks. I like Enunwa, I really do, but what can you really expect out of him week to week? With Jermain Kearse back, he won’t be in the slot as much, which is what we saw last week against the Broncos. Robby Anderson looked to gain Darnold’s trust last week, as well, so in an offense that already only passes the ball 32 times per game (6th least in the League), there just isn’t enough volume to keep him as anything more than a middling WR3.
Aaron Jones is another guy I really like; he’s certainly better than both other runningbacks on this roster. The only problem there, though, is Green Bay isn’t treating him as such. This is a true RBBC, and they aren’t even using a hot-hand approach. If they did, Aaron Jones would be commanding atleast 20 touches a game and atleast a 70% snap share. Their lack of commitment to him is a cause of concern, especially when they need to win games. This backfield is a mess, and until it’s sorted out, I want absolutely no part of it.
Lastly, there’s Brandin Cooks. He’s one of 3 WRs in LA who are fantasy relevant, and surprisingly, has produced the least out of all of them. Despite this, he’s still failed to put up less than 87 yards or 8 targets in any game thus far (not counting when he was knocked out of his week 5 matchup). If we take out last week, he’d be on pace to see 132 targets and produce 104/1,800/4. He’s squarely a back-end WR1 who should be trusted in your starting lineup every week, and according to FantasyPros, has the 10th easiest upcoming schedule. In this offense, everybody eats, and Cooks should be no different.
Verdict: Kamara/Allen Robinson side
Devonta Freeman for Alex Collins/Doug Baldwin (.5 ppr)
Here we are again with Devonta Freeman. In my opinion, get as much as you can for him, while you can, as he’s now missed 4 games with two different injuries thus far. Week 1, he looked good, but suffered an injury that kept him out up until last week. Admittedly, I didn’t watch him play, but looking at his 8/32/0 statline, it doesn’t look like I missed much. Now, he’s dealing with foot issues and is already rules out this week. I want absolutely no part of Freeman unless I have to give up a bag of chips for him.
On the other side, we have Alex Collins and Doug Baldwin, two guys who haven’t lived up to expectations. Doug Baldwin looked good in his first week back, but only commanded 1 target against the Rams. I wouldn’t be too concerned, though, as they only threw the ball 21 times and dominated LA on the ground with Chris Carson and Mike Davis. DB89 is still Wilson’s most trusted target and has no trouble gaining separation, especially against weaker corners out of the slot. This week, he draws Oakland (in London) and should look to regain form. Over the past 3 seasons, he’s averaged 82/1,062/10, and now, without Jimmy Graham hogging targets, he should have no problem demanding enough looks to make that statline a reality. He’s admitted that his knee has never been 100% (the one he entered the season complaining about), and his other knee is good enough for him to suit up. Going forward, he should produce WR2 numbers with legitimate WR1 upside, depending on his health.
Along with Baldwin, we have Alex Collins. I swear, he’s been in this article every week, and my opinions on him haven’t changed yet. Just to paint the picture, here it is:
He’s splitting touches with Buck Allen, not getting the goal line looks, and has had a history of fumbling issues. Two weeks ago, he got a crack at a goal line carry, but blundered it, losing a fumble and finding a nice warm seat on the bench for a bit. Fumbling in the redzone is bad enough, but doing it on the 1 yard line will get a coach to toss you into limbo. For his lack of volume, he’s not much more than a RB3. He still has some value, any runningback who gets 10+ carries a game does, but he isn’t a weekly must-start guy, which is what he was drafted to be.
Verdict: Collins/Badlwin Side
Saquon Barkley/Jameis Winston for Alvin Kamara/Cam Newton (.5 PPR)
This is another trade which I think is simple to analyze, and here’s why:
I already expressed my thoughts on Kamara earlier in the article, so if you want to know how I feel about the young Gawd, read my analysis on the 3rd trade in this article. In short, he’s an elite RB1, even with the return of Mark Ingram. On the other side of the trade, we have Saquon Barkley. He’s a top 5 runningback for fantasy purposes due to his ability to break off huge plays and catch the ball out of the backfield. If I was a victim of recency bias, I would say “Saquon is 100x more valuable than Kamara. He tore up the Eagles Thrusday night and Kamara barely got the ball once Ingram got back. This is a no brainer.” F that. I’m a victim of nothing other than having a good time. Sure, Saquon had an amazing game, and Kamara didn’t quite produce, but really, what’s the difference between them? They both catch the ball out of the backfield, they both can’t get tackled in the open field, and they both have homerun hitting ability. The only major difference is volume, as Saquon is his team’s undisputed #1 out of the backfield, while Kamara splits touches with Ingram. That’s nice and all, but seeing 20 touches on a shit offense is about equivalent to 15 on an elite offense, and we’ve seen what Kamara can do running 8 times and catching 7 balls, he was fantasy’s RB3 last year. Barkley and Kamara are super close in value, in fact, I do think Barkley is slightly better, but not enough for me to disregard the other pieces in this trade.
What makes this an easy decision for me is the quarterbacks included in the deal. On one side, we have Jameis Winston, the crableg bandit himself, and the other, Cameron Newton. Newton has been an elite fantasy option thus far, and has proven he can produce consistently, as he did last season and 3 seasons ago, en route to an MVP. On the other hand, we have the interception king Jameis Winston, who Dirk Koetter wouldn’t commit to, even before Fitzmagic did his thang in the first 3 weeks. Entering the season Koetter said something along the lines of “Jameis isn’t guaranteed to win the job back”. Are you really going to put a ton of stock into a QB that was about to lose his job to a 45 year old NFL journeyman? The only thing about Jameis that brings any hope was that last year, when he played, he was on pace for over 4900 yards. But guess what, his coach wasn’t decidedly benching him in 2017. There’s a reason why he said Jameis didn’t have full security of the starting role in Tampa, and thus far, we haven’t seen much from Jameis, so there’s no reason to think he’ll all of a sudden become a 5,000 yard passer. Sure, you can call me a hypocrite for projecting all of these other players’ stats out for a full 16 game pace and dismissing what Jameis did, but the difference is, his projection was from LAST YEAR. I use projections to put peoples’ performances into perspective for this season, not to say “oh, look what he did last year, that has to happen again” (ok, hand up, maybe I did that a little with Doug Baldwin, but atleast he’s proven to produce for more than just a 4 game stretch). All I’m saying is, I’d much rather have a proven QB (Cam Newton) than a guy I’m praying will live up to his performances from last year, especially when his own coach, and teammates, seemed to prefer Ryan Fitzpatrick over him just a few weeks ago.
Verdict: Kamara/Newton Side
Sammy Watkins/Alex Collins for Dalvin Cook (.5 PPR)
I’ve already talked about Watkins in this article, and God knows I spoke on Alex Collins, so I’m not going to repeat myself, but for context, here are how I value them:
Watkins: Back end WR2
Alex Collins: RB3
Now, on the other side, we’ve got Dalvin Cook. Right now, barring another injury, this is the cheapest you can acquire Cook. In the few games he’s played, he’s looked better than his stats suggest, but he just hasn’t had the volume to produce. On Thursday night against the Rams, he was on a pitch count and only played one half, and since then, he hasn’t suited up. The problem with acquiring Cook now, however, is that reinjury isn’t unlikely, in fact, if he returns to soon, it’s bound to happen. Look at Fournette for example, dealing with a hamstring injury of his own. He was taken out week one, sat a few games, came back too soon, and is now out again. What gives me hope with Cook, though, is that he came out and said until he’s 100%, he doesn’t want to suit up. This is good and bad, but I’m a glass half full kinda guy. If he doesn’t suit up until he’s 100%, then he may be out a week or two longer, but wouldn’t you prefer that than giving up Watkins and Collins for him, then Cook returns too early, reinjures himself, and is out for the year? All I’m saying is, Dalvin seems to understand the severity of his injury and wants to be smart about it. In this trade, you’re giving up a runningback in a timeshare and Sammy Watkins, who, although is very good, is at a loaded position where you can find players off waivers/were drafted in later rounds that provide similar value (Tyler Boyd, Kenny Golladay, John Brown…). Dalvin Cook may be a serious risk, but the reward if he hits is unmatched at the price he’s being sold for. Last year, before his injury, we got to see how Minnesota liked to use him, both on the ground and through the air, and in the first two weeks this year, that remained the same. He has top 5 RB ceiling, and right now, you’re paying at a back end RB2 price.
Verdict: Dalvin Cook
Y’all ever seen a movie, waited for the credits to roll by, and got to see some freaky shit? Well, here’s some freaky shit for you real ones. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading you filthy animals. Your reward for having some sort of attention span? Some of my favorite buy-lows and sell-highs. Here they are:
QB – Russel Wilson, Matt Stafford, Baker Mayfield
RB – Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Ronald Jones, Chris Thompson
WR – Sammy Watkins, Devin Funchess, Josh Gordon, Doug Baldwin, Keenan Allen
TE – O.J. Howard, Jordan Reed, David Njoku
QB – None in particular, if you can flip Mahomes for a top 10 QB and another piece, I would (ex- for Brady and Golladay)
RB – James Conner, Isaiah Crowell
WR – Cooper Kupp, Calvin Ridley, Demaryius Thomas
TE – Jared Cook, Austin Hooper, Eric Ebron
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by Nick Ercolano
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