by Nick Ercolano
October 11, 2018
Breaking down my top buy low and sell high trade targets for week 6 of fantasy football.
1. Jarvis Landry, WR - Cleveland Browns
Since Baker Mayfield has taken over, he's attempted 107 pass attempts in 2.5 games, when paced out to 16, we're looking at 693 pass attempts, which would be the 2nd most in a single season, ever. You know who benefits from that? His pass catchers. In particular, Jarvis Landry. Landry only has one touchdown on the year, but he's seen double-digit targets in 4-of-5 games and in all three games in which Baker has been the QB. He hasn't had less than 11.9 PPR fantasy points in a game yet this year, and he's gone over 100 yards twice already in 5 games, something he didn't do in a single game all of 2017.
He holds a 29% target share for the Browns, and what's crazy is that everyone assumed he would struggle this year because he was going to, without a doubt see fewer targets in Cleveland then he did in Miami, but he's currently on pace for 173 targets, which would be a new career-high. Rashard Higgins, arguably their 2nd best WR just got hurt and will miss multiple weeks, which only helps Landry's volume floor. Now, the Chargers at home followed by the Bucs, Steelers, Chiefs and Falcons. Now is the time to buy Landry, even if it's at base value.
2. Keenan Allen, WR - Los Angeles Chargers
The TDs aren't here, and I can't tell you when they're going to arrive, but Rivers is playing way too good for them not to. Whoever owns Allen is likely disappointed with his performance up to this point. But, like Landry, the volume is still there for Allen. He's on pace to finish between 145 and 150 targets again and has a team-high 27% target share. What's changed is the success Melvin Gordon's has near the end zone, especially in the receiving game. Gordon has 7 targets inside the 10-yard line already this year, far and away leading NFL RBs. Last year, Christian McCaffrey was the only RB in the NFL to have more than 7 targets inside the 10, he had 8, which led NFL RBs. Gordon has 7 already, through five games guys. That's going to regress at this rate and I think that's where we see the shift to more Allen scores. Also, surprisingly, despite how well Rivers is playing, Allen ranks 75th among WRs in target quality rating per PlayerProfiler.com. There are definitely good things working in Allen's favor for his future outlook.
3. Alvin Kamara, RB - New Orleans Saints
I understand a lot of people are panicking about Kamara following MNF, and for good reason. After absolutely spoiling owners over the first four weeks of the season, seeing nearly 23 touches/game and scoring six times, he took a secondary role to the returning Mark Ingram, who out-touched Kamara 18-9 and out-snapped him 36-31. Ingram wasn't particularly great, rushing for 53 yards on 16 carries, but the headline is that he scored two GL TDs, which owners have come accustomed to seeing Kamara do over the first month.
Here's what I will say though. I think we saw a combination of a bunch of things here that all worked against Kamara. One, they have a bye week coming up in Week 6, which would be the perfect time to give Kamara a light workload and then get an extra week of rest after this first month of getting crazy volume. It's a smart move by Sean Payton. Now, while I wasn't expecting a season-low 4 targets for Kamara, Ingram wasn't really used that much in the passing game. He had a big catch on the first drive, right away, a small catch on the second drive and then wasn't used again until it was the last drive of the game when they were up like 40.
Kamara was still the back they used in the 2-minute drill and was still used by the end zone. He had a target when they were at the 10-yard line, and he also had a GL carry but was called off by a penalty. So, the usage, while it might not be what it was, and you should've expected that with Ingram coming back, will still be fine. The other thing working against him were the long TDs Tre'Quan Smith scored. Kamara usually eats in the passing game between the 20's, and again, since they got up so big, there was no sense in using him when they can rest him after a crazy workload.
4. John Brown, WR - Baltimore Ravens
This is the perfect spot to trade for John Brown, coming off of his first dud game (4-58) of the season. The production wasn't there, but give me 14 targets all day. Also, look at this.
Among 28 WRs with 35+ targets, Brown ranks dead last in catchable targets. Per PP.com - Brown's CTR is 56.8%, while Snead's is 70% and Crabtree's is 74%. Obviously, a lot of that has to do with his aDOT being much higher.
Right now, John Brown leads the NFL in aDOT (22.7) and is 2nd in YPR (20.8). He's 15th in the NFL in YPR and 3rd in air yards share at 43%. Only Julio and D-Hop are higher. Brown has been seeing a ton of volume, a ton of deep volume from Flacco who is throwing more often and further than he has ever done before. Flacco's NFL ranks among QBs (per PlayerProfiler):
Pass Attempts - 2nd
Deepball Attempts - 3rd
Air Yards - 4th
Pass Attempts Distance - 2nd
His remaining schedule is cake. Over the next 9 games he gets PIT at home, NO at home, CIN at home, and then his four games leading up to and including the first fantasy playoff game in Week 15 are OAK, @ ATL, @ KC, and TB.
If you want to be risky and see if he has another down game at TEN, be my guest.
1. Demaryius Thomas, WR - Denver Broncos
Thomas has been absolute trash this year, but if there's a time to sell him, now would be it following his 42-yard touchdown catch in garbage time. Taking away that catch, and you're looking at 63 receiving yards for the game, which would be the third time this year he's finished with that total, and is also a season-high. The other two games, he racked up a whopping 18 and 24 yards, and that was against OAK and KC, you're not going to get better matchups. After starting off the season with double-digit targets in the first two games, it looked like DT might still be a WR2 by default because of the volume, but over their last three games, his target totals have been 5, 7 and 6. His 20% target share is by far the lowest he's had over the last five years. And for the first time on Sunday, Courtland Sutton out-snapped Demaryius Thomas this year, 59-47. The fall off of DT is happening in front of our eyes, make sure you move him.
2. Kenyan Drake, RB - Miami Dolphins
Coming off of his best game of the year now is the time to sell Drake and might be the only time. Drake rushed for 46 yards on 6 carries but more importantly caught 7-of-11 targets for 69 yards and a score. Great game if you started him. But why would you have? The previous two weeks: Week 3 - 7 touches, 7 yards. Week 4 - 4 touches, 16 yards. You literally never know what you're going to get out of the Miami backfield.
Frank Gore has seen double-digit carries in each of the last two games while Drake has seen carry totals of 5, 3 and 6 over his last three. The involvement in the passing game was great, but that was an outlier on the year. That was the first time he's seen over 4 targets in a game. His 11 targets in Week 5 nearly matched his entire target total from Weeks 1-4.
Neither running back has a GL carry yet, but the 10zone carries have been evenly dispersed, two a piece and Gore has the single target and reception inside the 10-yard line. This is a bad offense, that you can't rely on, with a coach who you can't rely on to give Drake the ball enough to be a consistent fantasy producer.
3. Isaiah Crowell, WR - New York Jets
I'll say this on record, with complete confidence, I'd much rather own Bilal Powell than Isaiah Crowell rest of season. Sunday's game was insane. Crowell ran for 219 yards on 15 carries. That alone boosted Crowell into the top-8 fantasy RBs on the year, which is actually pretty bad if you think about it. We're only five games in and a 219-yard game only puts you at #8? That's because his rushing totals in the three weeks prior: 12-35, 16-34 and 4-0. You are just as likely to get 0 rushing yards from Crowell as you are 200 on a weekly basis.
Apart from Week 1, when they played the same amount of snaps, Powell has led the backfield in snaps in every week and he's led the backfield in touches in 3-of-5 games, including Sunday when he out-carried Crowell 20-15. Powell has more carries as well as being more involved in the passing game then Crowell. The Jets won't find themselves in many game scripts similar to Sunday, so I'd expect Powell to keep that edge over Crowell for the rest of the season.
4. Josh Gordon, WR - Cleveland Browns
22%. 26%. The snap count % of Josh Gordon over the last two weeks. He has played on 18 snaps for the Patriots in both games. 16.5 PPR fantasy points is what Yahoo projects for Gordon in Week 6. So, they project basically a point per snap. And I know you guys that like Gordon are going to hate this, but I would be selling him high right now. I like the upside that Gordon gives you of course, but I'm seeing some absurd trades being shown to me. Yesterday someone traded Gordon for Thielen. Which won't be feasible in 99% of leagues, but hey, it can't hurt.
Had Gordon not caught that bomb from Brady, or if they called a PI, or whatever, Gordon is looking at another dud fantasy game. And obviously, those types of plays are what he brings to the table, but on such limited snaps and opportunities, to expect that would be a huge mistake.
Obviously, I do anticipate his snap count rising over the course of the year, but I think you'll be able to sell him for much higher value then he'll actually provide to your fantasy team on a consistent basis this year, and that's the point.
by Nick Ercolano
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