by Noah Pires
October 20, 2018
We're back up in this motherfugger with another trade question piece. Since I didn't have the time to drop and Injury Watch article the past two weeks, I felt like I should make it up to you guys, analyzing ten, count 'em, TEN, trade q's. I like doing these, it helps not only you guys (hopefully), but going into depth, researching the players in these deals actually gives me a better perspective on who may be over/undervalued. If y'all watch/listen to the Fantasy Footballers (aka the GOATs), then you may have heard what Andy said about Kenny Golladay a few weeks back. He was talking about trading players and questioned "who should I trade Golladay for to get a better receiver", and then he realized, maybe Golladay IS a "better" receiver. See, guys like Jordan Howard or Larry Fitzgerald have name value, so people think they have been better then they really ARE. Using Kenny Golladay as an example, people may think "oh, he's the third receiver on the Lions, he's nowhere near a WR2" just because his name isn't Golden Tate or Marvin Jones. Well, what if I told you he's second on the team in targets, routes run, and trails Tate in receptions by 6 and yards by only 3. In 2017, the Lions supported two top-12 wideouts, and now, Kenny has taken over the Lions passing game. Once you start looking deeper than a player's name and perceived situation, you find values, and that's what I'm here to do. Let's get it, or as my highly educated contemporaries would say, esketit.
David Johnson, Eric Ebron, JuJu Smith Schuster, and Jarvis Landry FOR Sony Michel, Tyreek Hill, and Keny Golladay (standard)
This trade is absolutely PACKED. On one side, we've got the current TE1, a top 12 WR, and 2 draft disappointments. On the other, we've got 3 players who have exceeded expectations to say the least. Now, does that mean I think you're buying too high? Let's look through and check.
Firstly, DJ hasn't returned any type of value this season. He's surpassed 55 rushing yards ONCE this season and hasn't caught more than 4 passes since week 1. If you didn't watch the game Thursday night, let me break it down for you. The Cardinals outright suck. Like really, really badly. They have no sort of passing attack, and when they run, it's incredibly obvious, putting two tight ends on the field and running DJ up the middle. It's honestly pathetic that they're wasting his talent. Things could be looking up, though, as the Cards have recently fired OC Mike McCoy, turning to Byron Leftwich. Things can't get much worse, so I'd expect DJ to have a floor of what his value is right now, a volume-dependent RB2, but if the Cards learn how to use him, he has RB1 potential. I don't expect him to be a top 3 back, one which many believed he'd be entering the season, due to the overall poor offensive performance, but he can't get any worse than he is now.
Next is Eric Ebron, fantasy's tight end numero uno, or number one for those of you who decided to take French in middle school (narks).
Anyways, I don't see how Ebron can be anything less than a top 5 player at the position as long as Jack Doyle is out, which seems likely (atleast before the bye).Since week 2, when Doyle got injured, he's averaging 10.75 targets for a 5.75/62.25/1 line, finishing as a top 5 player at the position over the past 3 weeks. Andrew Luck is throwing the ball approximately 167 times a game (okay, maybe I'm selling it short), and with no semblance of a running game, this trend should continue. Do I think if/when Doyle returns that Ebron will no longer be relevant? Hell no. Ebron is still an elite athlete, and outside of T.Y. Hilton, they don't have a wideout that can consistently catch the ball. Luck attempts 48 passes a game, so even if Doyle and Hitlon are a full go, they can get 10 targets, respectively, and then let's say Chester Rogers gets 8, Hines gets 7, and Mack gets 5. That would still leave 8 for Ebron. I can count on precisely one hand the amount of tight ends who get more than 7 targets a game, and I only have 4 fingers. Consider Ebron a locked-in TE1 for the rest of the year.
Next, we got JuJu Smith Schuster, the young gawd out in Pittsburgh. He started off supa hawt, but has slowed down over the past few weeks, relative to his output in weeks 1-3. Despite this, he's still on pace for 112/1496/5 (168 targets) and has proven to be a WR1 for fantasy purposes. He also has a pretty beautiful matchups later in the season, where he sees the Chargers, Oakland, New England, and the Saints in weeks 13-16. Consider him a low-end WR1/high-end WR2 for the rest of the season.
As for Jarvis Landry, the last player on this side of the deal, he has been extremely disappointing. He's received 10 or more targets in 5 of 6 games, but really hasn't done much with them, despite playing some pretty weak defenses. In week one, he turned 15 targets into 7 receptions for 106 yards against the Steelers, who haven't been able to stop anyone, and week two, against the Saints, he put up 5/69/0. These next 3 weeks he gets Tampa, Pittsburgh, and the Chiefs, three of the worst secondaries in the league. What worries me, though, is he puts up a dud this week, what is his value? Nobody will be looking to buy him if he can't even take advantage of a game against the Bucs. Honestly, this may be the best week to sell him because even though he has been disappointing, people are buying due to his upcoming schedule. He's a back-end WR2 for me, and if you can get that in return right now, I would definitely go for it.
On the other side, we've got Sony, Tyreek, and Golladay. Let's get it popping with Michel.
Over the past 3 games, Sony has been incredible. He's averaging 22.3/105.3/1.3 on the ground, which is uncommon for a Patriots' runningback. What gave me confidence in Michel was this past week against the Chiefs, though. Yeah, the Chiefs' run D is terrible, but this was a game where New England had to keep their foot on the gas in order to win due to KC's elite offense, and they fed Sony 24 carries. I didn't expect this type of usage in a game which looked like it would be a shootout (which is what it was) due to James White's pass catching ability, but I was wrong. Not only is he getting 20 carries a game, Sony is also being used in vital parts of the field, most notable, the red zone. He missed all of week 1 and split touches with Burkhead in weeks 2 and 3, and despite this, he is 2nd in the NFL, trailing only Todd Gurley (37) in red zone rushing attempts (21). On top of this, he has the 4th most attempts inside the 5 (7), trailing only Gurley (11), Conner (10) and Hyde (10). The Pats obviously trust Sony, and you should too, as he's looked great and is getting the volume to produce. He should be considered a top 10 RB for the rest of the season, especially in standard leagues.
Next, we got Tyreek Hill, who, according to Jason Witten, is the fastest man in the world. Hill is in an elite offense headed by Kermit with a Cannon Arm, and their connection is spectacular. Last week, he burned the Pats for 7/142/3, and the scary thing is, he can do this every dayum week. He failed to find the endzone in weeks 3-5 and was disappointing in these games, but he is a must start because he has week-winning potential. His fantasy finishes thus far have been WR2, WR18, WR54, WR35, WR30, and WR1, so even if he puts up a dud, he still isn't completely useless (outside of week 3). The Chiefs offense shows no sign of slowing down, which makes Hill a high-end WR2, as he can drop 100+ and a pair of TDs any given Sunday.
Lastly, we've got my main man Kenny Golladay. If you read the intro to this article, you'd see I love Kenny and consider him a strong WR2. Thus far, he's on pace for 86/1370/10, which may not be known to many people since he's a lesser known guy and the Lions just had a bye. This is a perfect time to buy Kenny G, even though he has a tough stretch of games coming up. When you're an elite wide receiver, matchups don't matter as much. I'm not saying he's on Julio/AB/Michael Thomas's levels, not yet, but when you watch him play, he's simply incredible. Matthew Stafford trusts him, and he has the tools to produce week in and week out. Also, the Lions have Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, so defenses won't be able to key in on Golladay without giving up major production to the other two. Look at the Rams, for example. Overall, they're a better offense, sure, but they are similar in the fact that they have 3 great wideouts, allowing all of them to have an easier tie than they would if they were by themselves. Due to Golladay's production and proven production in a strong offense, he should remain a strong WR2 for the rest of the year.
VERDICT: Michel/Hill/Golladay side
A.J. Green for Sony Michel
I already wrote about Sony in the first question, so I won't be touching on it again. Instead, we'll just look at Green.
I like A.J. Green, he's been really good for a long time, but is he worth keeping over a RB1? To keep it short, no. He's currently being outscored by his teammate, Tyler Boyd, a trend which I don't expect to continue. As of now, A.J. Green is putting up the 13th most fantasy points per game among wide receivers, but that sin't worth the same as a runningback who has been putting up 100 yards and a score over the past 3 games. Finding an elite RB is a shit ton harder than getting a WR1, and solely for that reason, I'd take Sony.
Verdict: Sony Michel
Tarik Cohen, Alex Collins, and Tyler Lockett for JuJu Smith Schuster and Broncos D/ST (PPR)
Another week, another trade containing Alex Collins. Once again, my sentiments about him haven't changed, you can check out legitimately any other week of "Trade Questions" to see what I think about him. For reference, I view him as a RB3 for the rest of the year. We'll jump into the other players, though.
Firstly, Tarik Cohen. Cohen has looked to dominate this backfield over the past 2 weeks, where he's amassed 7 receptions and over 120 total yards in both contests. Jordan Howard has been abysmal and Cohen is starting to cut into his snaps. Do I expect this to continue? Maybe. I don't think Howard will only get 10 carries a game going forward, but I do think the Bears will continue feeding Tarik through the air. He's obviously much more valueable in PPR formats, and in this case, it's a PPR league. Cohen should be a back-end RB2 going forward as long as the Bears continue to utilize him, which they should.
Lastly on this side of the deal, we have Tyler Lockett. TL has scored in all but one game, a trend which is simply unsustainable. The Seahawks don't throw the ball enough to sustain two strong fantasy receivers, and Wilson has shown his love for Doug Baldwin, who put up 6/91/0 last week. I can't see Lockett keeping up this kind of production. He's a WR3 going forward, and because of this, I'm a huge fan of the other side of this deal.
I've already explained my thoughts on JuJu, so again, I'm not going to repeat myself. If you skipped the first trade, look up, and you'll see my thoughts on JJSC.
The last piece of this deal is the Broncos' D/ST. Thursday night they took Josh Rosen and the Cardinals to poundtown to the tune of 2 defensive touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 2 fumbles, and 10 points allowed, ON THE ROAD. Do I expect this every week? Hell no. They haven't been great, but I assume that since they're a part of this deal, the guy being offered them has absolutely nothing in terms of D/ST. Because of this, I feel like it would be a solid throw in on top of JJSC for what he's giving up.
VERDICT: JuJu/Broncos D/ST side
Devin Funchess and Chris Godwin for Alex Collins (.5 PPR)
Guess who? Alex MF'n Collins. HE IS AN RB3. Let's move on.
Devin Funchess has been decent thus far, amassing 7.2 targets per game, turning that into 4.6/62.4/.4, good enough for the 34th best WR in terms of points per game. I don't expect him to creep into the WR2 conversation simply because McCaffrey and Olsen will command targets, and as D.J. Moore improves, he will get some balls thrown his way. His current value is where I expect him to stay for the rest of the year as this isn't a pass-happy team, and with limited volume and multiple receiving options, he won't see the volume to make him a WR2.
As for Chris Godwin, he's scored in 4/5 games. What concerns me, though, similar with Funchess, is the lack of volume. Godwin has ran 20 or more routes in only 3/6 games, and commanded more than 5 targets 3 times. DJax has secured the WR2 job here, Mike Evans is the 1, and O.J. Howard is a solid receiving option for them as well. Godwin is a great player, and their defense is awful, so the Bucs will throw, but despite this, his volume simply won't be enough to keep him as a high-end WR2, where he sits right now. Do I think he's a drop candidate then? No. I actually think him and Funchess are extremely close in value. WIth this being said, the trade is close for me, simply due to the struggle to attain a solid runningback in comparison to securing a top end WR.
VERDICT: If you're RB needy, Collins side. If not, add WR depth with the Funchess/Godwin side
Mark Ingram and Kerryon Johnson for Michael Thomas (.5 PPR)
Finally, a deal without the Irish Riverdancer Alex Collins. This one is interesting, a two RB for one WR deal where both sides could be argued. Let's do just that.
One the first side, he have 2 runningbacks, one who is proven, and another, whose team won't let him prove it. Mark Ingram has been incredible in recent history. He's surpasses 1,000 rushing yards the past 2 seasons, 10 total touchdowns, and over 1,300 scrimmage yards. On top of that, he's averaging 51 receptions over the past three years, and despite the introduction of Alvin Kamara, actually set a career high in catches, 58, last season. Ingram provides extreme value in fantasy because he can produce through the air, in short yardage situations, and even with limited volume. In his first game back, Ingram carried the ball 16 times and caught 2 of 3 targets, which led to 73 total yards and 2 scores. The Saints offense has enough firepower to support both Ingram and Kamara, as they did last year, with both finishing as top 8 players at the position. From here on out, consider Ingram as a back-end RB1 in all formats.
Along with Ingram, we have Kerryon Johnson. Thus far, he has looked great, outperforming his teammates Theo Riddick and Legarrette Blount by a wide margin. Now, with Riddick's recent injuries, Johnson is looking like he'll see more action through the air. Kerryon has seen double digit carries in 2 games: week 3 and 5. Week 3, he played the pats and recorded 110 total yards on 16 carries and 2 receptions. In week 5, he got 14 touches, 2 of which were receptions, for 85 yards. He certainly has the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, and with Riddick going down, he's the best receiver out of the backfield in the Lions' offense. Riddick has seen 6 targets per game thus far, and I expect most of those to get funneled the KJ. Because of this, he should have back-end RB2 value going forward as long as Theo is out. If Kerryon takes advantage of his opportunity and the Lions' coaching staff gets their heads out of their asses, they'll let him be the bellcow he deserves to be. Even if this doesn't happen, he still has value in all formats.
On the other side, we have Michael Thomas. If this was almost any other wideout, I'd be comfortable taking the Ingram/KJ side, but because this is MT, I'm apprehensive. MT is seeing almost 10 targets a game and is turning that into 9.2/103.8/.6, which is just ridiculous. He leads the league in red zone receptions and catch rate, and is 3rd in fantasy points/game, only behind Adam Thielen and Davante Adams. Thomas has Brees throwing to him, which is another huge advantage. The last 2 games for Thomas have been disappointing in comparison to his first 3, recording 4/47/0 on 4 targets and 4/74/0 on 5 targets. Am I concerned at all about this? NOT. ONE. BIT. If someone is selling MT low, buy the f*ck out of him. In these two games, they played the G-Men and the Redskins, neither of which could put up more than 19 points. In the upcoming weeks, the Saints are playing more competent offenses, so they should pass a bit more, bringing him back to his top 3 WR status.
VERDICT: Michael Thomas side unless you're EXTREMELY needy at RB
David Johnson and Philip Rivers for Davante Adams (.5 PPR)
I've already covered DJ in this piece, so I'm not going to explain his value again. To keep it short, he's a RB2 IMO, with back-end RB1 upside due to the OC change in Arizona.
As for Philip Rivers, he's been great this season, currently but has been better in real life than he has for fantasy. He's finished as a top 12 QB in half of his games thus far, but has yet to finish top 5, despite facing the Chiefs, 49ers, and Raiders. The reason why he's great for fantasy, though, is his consistency. He has yet to throw less than 2 touchdowns in any game thus far and is currently on pace for 4.539 yards, 40 TDs and 8 picks. He certainly has the weapons to continue this production, and should be viewed as a weekly back-end QB1.
On the other side, we have Davante Adams. Adams has been incredible this season, currently ranking as fantasy's WR2. Being tethered to ARod will bring production, but when you're also a great talent, your value will spike even greater. Davante is currently on pace to see 189 targets for 125/1,485/16, elite WR1 numbers. Rodgers has extreme confidence in Adams, forcing the ball to him in the red zone last week against the 49ers in the waning minutes of the game, and of course, he came down with it. Adams has seen the 3rd most targets thus far (71), 15 of which coming inside the 20, and has turned that into the 2nd most receptions (47), 6th most yards (557), and the most scores (6). Sure, you could argue that his elite production these past 2 games came down to the injuries plaguing their WR core, and will regress once Cobb and Allison return, but even when they get back into playing shape, I wouldn't expect Adams to lose much value. His worst game this year, for fantasy purposes, came against the Bills, who have been great against opposing wideouts. Even though he didn't produce to his normal level, it was by no means a "dud", dropping an 8/81/0 line. Outside of that game, he's scored in every contest, and in an offense led by Rodgers, where they'll need to score with their poor defense, he should have no trouble maintaining elite WR1 status.
VERDICT: Adams side
Ezekiel Elliott and Bilal Powell for Alvin Kamara (standard)
Let's begin with Powell, because he's the guy who we all want to hear about. Honestly though, he hasn't been bad. He's seeing a shit ton of volume, despite being the smaller back on the Jets, handling 12.5 carries a game, 15th most in the league. His 75 carries top Crowell's 70, and has also caught 10 balls. Bilal is quietly getting over 14 touches a game, the only problem, though? He hasn't translated that into fantasy relevance, but with Crowell dealing with injuries in recent weeks, he may get some more valuable touches. Crow has 14 redzone touches thus far, 6 of which were inside the 10, twice the amount Powell has commanded. Am I saying Powell will become a top 15 back with a Crowell injury? No, this offense just doesn't have that much potential, but as a throw in for a trade like this, he certainly isn't a bad piece.
Now, for the big boys, beginning with Zeke. Unsurprisingly, Elliott is handling the 2nd most carries (117) in the league, translating that into the 2nd most rushing yards (586) and finding the endzone 4 times. If you drafted him this year, you have to be pleased with his production. Look at the current state of the Cowboys, they have NOTHING outside of Zeke offensively. All defenses have to do is say "let's just focus on #21", and thus far, that hasn't worked. He has finished no lower than RB19 this year and has been a top 10 players in 3/6 weeks. He carries this value in all formats, as he finds the endzone, rushes for almost 100 a game, and even demands the 12th most targets in the league, with 30. Zeke IS this offense, and they have no problem giving him close to 25 touches a game. He's on pace for 312/1,563/8 and 61/443/3 through the air (80 targets), which are elite, RB1 type of numbers.
On the other side, we've got Lil Uzi Kamara.
As of right now, he's posted the 5th most fantasy points in standard leagues, and that's with missing week 6 (bye week). He's seen over 20 touches on a per game basis, but with the return of Ingram, this is likely to decline. Even with less touches, Kamara has the ability to produce from anywhere on the field. Last year, the Saints gave him just over 12.5 touches a game, yet finished as the RB3, finding the endzone 13 times. I think he's shown he deserved more than 12.5 totes a game, and with a defense that hasn't been able to stop many teams, they should have Kamara out on the field more than last year, when the Saints could continue to roll out Marky Mark because of their stout defense. Going forward, I'd expect AK to get around 15 touches a game with Ingram getting around the same mark, which isn't unreasonable, as the Saints run a solid amount of plays per game (65). Last year, Ingram only had 4 more redzone touches than Kamara (39 vs 43), though, he did dominate goal line looks (12 to 4), but this doesn't concern me. The Saints are a top 5 offense in the league, so both backs have the ability to finish as top 10 backs from here on out.
VERDICT: Zeke side (since it's standard)
Le'Veon Bell, Corey Clement, and JuJu Smith Schuster FOR Julio Jones and Josh Gordon (standard)
JuJu won't be discussed, if you need my thoughts, look above. Again, for reference, I see him as a back end WR1.
As for Corey Clement, to be honest, I don't really have a good gauge for his value. I expect him to take over the Ajayi role in this offense, but that still doesn't make him a great fantasy option. Firstly, I think Ajayi is a better NFL back than Clement, so even if he gets his touches, I wouldn't expect him to product to quite the same extent. Secondly, even if he gets these touches, the amount he will handle likely won't bring fantasy relevance if he doesn't find the endzone. For example, last week, he handled 11 carries and caught 3 passes, which only turned into 69 (nice) yards from scrimmage. What saved his day? He scored a goal line TD after being stopped at the 1 yard-line twice. This score made him the RB13 for the week, so people have begun to think this is what we should expect from him. What isn't immediately apparent, though, is that Wendell Smallwood also got a boatload of touches, commanding 18 carries and receiving 2 targets. I don't expect both of these backs to get 14+ carries a game, that just isn't realistic for runningbacks of this caliber. Last week, they played the Giants, so they had the ability to keep running the ball since there was no threat of the opposing team getting back into the game. What I do think is that Clement is the superior back of the two, so he should handle the bulk of the carries, but again, will this be enough? In week 3, Clement saw 16 carries and 4 targets, turning that into 3 receptions, but only finished as the RB32 that week. This offense never sticks with ONE runningback at a time, so, to me, Clement is nothing more than a back-end RB2/high-end RB3 with touchdown upside.
The last player on this side of the deal is Le'Veon Bell. What can I even say about him? He was expected to show up earlier in the season because he's losing almost a mil per game, then reports came out saying they expected him back during their bye. Well, it's now week 7, the Steelers' bye week, and Bell still isn't around. If he does return, he's a top 5 back. Even with James Conner producing, I don't see the Steelers splitting touches between them, he's Le'Veon MF'N Bell. Then again, what if he doesn't return? He's a ZERO. There's so much risk in owning Bell, and with playoffs quickly approaching, I'm not sure I'd be looking to make a move for him unless I'm 6-0 or 5-1.
On te other side, we have 2 wideouts with some of the highest ceilings in the league.
If Julio could ever reach the final 10 yards of the field, he's be fantasy's WR1 year in and year out. The guy is on pace for 117 catches, 1,888 yards and ZERO FUCKING TOUCHDOWNS. I know the big joke was "Julio can't score", but when do we realize that maybe this is more than just a joke. He's reached double digit scores once in his career, 6 seasons ago, and hasn't put up more than 6 since 2015. The guy is 6'3 and runs 37 mph with a 49 inch vertical, yet he just refuses to score. This isn't even the craziest thing about Julio, though. Despite all this, he hasn't finished lower than WR7 since 2013, and this year, is the WR6. Atlanta's going to need to throw, a whole lot, with their awful defense. He leads the league in total (1,030) and completed (512) air yards, and has the 2nd highest target share (30.7%) in the league. If he ever finds the endzone, he's going to be a top 3 receiver that week, and even if he doesn't, he'll finish as a WR1 pretty consistently (has been the WR11 or higher in 3/6 games). Julio is squarely a WR1.
Now, for the man of the hour, Josh Gordon. If we were making a list of the most talented receivers in the league, I think 2 out of the top 5 would be players included in this deal. Josh Gordon is a physical specimen, and now, he has someone other than Brian Hoyer throwing him the ball (as long as Brady stays healthy, then Hoyer would need to step up). Gordon has been with the Patriots for almost a month and has suited up for 3 games. He's increased his snaps, routes run, and targets in each, where last week, he ran 33 routes, commanded 9 targets, and was one pass interference away from a near 100 yard, one touchdown day. On another play, he overran a route in the endzone where Brady had him open in a window towards the back of the endzone. Brady obviously thinks Gordon is an elite talent, targeting him 9 times in a statement game against the Chiefs, and as they begin to get on the same page, the Brady-Gordon connection could become one of the best in the league. Sure, most of this is hypothetical, but from what I've seen, I believe it to be true. In his 2nd game as a Patriot, Brady threw it 40 yards in the air into double coverage, putting his trust in Josh Gordon to come down with it, and guess what? Josh Gordon caught that motherfugger.
I truly believe he's already a back-end WR2, and as he becomes more acclimated to the offense, he has top 15 upside. The sky is the limit for him, and he certainly isn't afraid to get that high. My bad, that's in poor taste.
VERDICT: Julio/Gordon side UNLESS YOU'RE 6-0/5-1 AND CAN AFFORD TO WAIT ON BELL AND ARE RB NEEDY
Joe Mixon and Eric Ebron for James White, Trey Burton, and Jordan Howard (.5 PPR)
I've written about what I think of Joe Mixon in a recent article, so I'll summarize my thoughts. He's a top 10 runningback, but is closer to the top 5 than #10. He gets all of the touches in that backfield, and the Bengals have been one of the NFL's best offenses this year.He's averaging the 9th most fantasy points per game, and I expect this to continue, getting almost 18 carries and 5 targets per game. His 16 game pace is 284/1,344/8 along with 52/396/4 (76 targets) through the air. He's already missed a few games, so he probably won't reach these totals, but it paints a good picture for how elite he's been. Getting a RB of this caliber is extremely hard to come by, so if you can get your hands on one, do what you can to grab him
As for Eric Ebron, look above, as I've already explained my thoughts on him. In short, he's a top 5 tight end until Jack Doyle Returns, and even when he's back, Ebron will remain a top 12 option.
Now, on the other side, we'll begin with James White. As we all know, a runningback who catches passes is extremely valuable, and that's exactly what James White does. He's on pace to see 136 targets and 99 receptions for 861 yards and 13 scores. That's some 2017 Jarvis Landry type of numbers. In reality, though, I'm not sure how much longer I expect this production to continue. He has looked GREAT for the Patriots, as much as I hate to give them compliments, but Sony Michel is obviously the better runner of the two, and with Gronk, Edelman, and Josh Gordon in the passing game, will he still be able to command over 8 targets a game? I don't think so, but that doesn't make him completely useless. White will still be involved for sure, and anyone who is used in this offense is fantasy relevant, so even if he catches 4 or 5 balls a game, less than what he's been doing, he's still a RB2. The runningback market is scarce this year, so if you get a guy like White, who will catch a handful of passes week in and week out, occasionally finding paydirt, he's worth a spot in your starting lineup.
Next, we've got Trey Burton, who has been a major disappointment thus far. Outside of scoring 3 touchdowns, he hasn't done anything to wow us. He's surpassed 55 yards once, and that was against the damn Buccaneers, where he was wide open on a broken play, dropping 2/86/1 that week. He has yet to see more than 6 targets in a game thus far, and has topped out at 4 receptions. Ebron is a huge upgrade over Trey, and for the rest of the year, even at a depleted position, I wouldn't consider him anything more than a high-end TE2, around the TE15 mark.
Lastly, we've got another Bear, Jordan Howard. Honestly, I didn't realize just how bad he's been until I started looking at his numbers. He has yet to surpass 82 rushing yards and has found the endzone once in five games. In week one, he caught 5 balls and Twitter was going WILD, claiming Jordan Howard had become one of the better pass catchers in the league. Well, he did it for one week after being able to catch a ball for 2 seasons, so he'd obviously continue this production, right???? These are his receptions since then: 3, 2, 0, 0.
Jordan Howard, in fact, does not have hands, and lately, it looks like he's lost his ability to produce on the ground, too. Despite whooping that Tampa ass 48-10, Howard only saw 11 carries, turning that into a beautiful 25 yards. Last week, in a game that went to overtime, he got 14 carries, turning that into 69 (nice) yards. In their last 2 games, Tarik Cohen has only seen 2 and 4 less snaps, respectively, and outproduced Howard to the tune of 121 and 174 yards from scrimmage to Howard's 69 and 25. The offense just looks and performs better with Cohen out there, and I would expect this near 50/50 split to continue, making Howard no more than a back-end RB2, getting most of value from goal line looks.
VERDICT: Mixon/Ebron side
James Conner and Keke Coutee for Aaron Jones and Marvin Jones (standard)
This is the last one you filthy animals.
James Conner has been a beast this year, currently on pace for 275/1,208/19 on the ground along with 69/685/0 on 93 targets through the air. He's finishes outside the top 10 twice, and lower than an RB2 once. If Bell wasn't a factor, Conner would remain a top 5 back for the rest of the year, but the problem is, Bell might come back. I'm not a mind reader, nor do I work for the Steelers, so I can't say for certain that he IS coming back, but if he reports before week 11, then he can become a free agent next year and still earn his salary for 2018. If I was a betting man, I'd bet Bell returns, and when that day comes, Conner's value will absolutely plummet. Even if they split touches 50/50, which would be best case scenario, he'd be nothing more than a RB3. If you own him, you're likely in a good spot, as he's been a top 5 RB who had little to no draft capital this offseason, so if you can dump him now for some value in return, I would.
Along with Conner, we've got Keke Coutee. In his first two games, he put up top 20 WR numbers, finding the endzone in one game and topping 100 yards in another, but against the Bills in week 6, he put up a dud. Then again, the entire offense did, as Deshaun Watson had no time to throw behind that sad excuse of an offensive line. With Hopkins and Fuller there, I don't see how Coutee could see enough volume to make him anything more than a WR3, unless Watson returns to his 2017 form. As of right now, Coutee isn't a player who will consistently crack your starting lineup.
On the other side, we've got the Jones brother, Marvin and Aaron.
Marv Jones hasn't produce much this year, but he's still involved in the offense. He's been in on over 90% of offensive snaps in 3/5 games and has logged no less than 88.1% of the team's snaps. Marv has also seen a redzone targets in every game thus far. This is one of the reasons I believe Marv Jones is one of the best buy low candidates right now. He leads the entire NFL in endzone target share, commanding 61.1% (11) of his team's targets past the pylons. Jones is also top 24 in air yards in the NFL, and is already past his bye week. The Lions pass the ball over 40 times per game, so even if both Kenny G and Tate command 10 targets, Kerryon gets 5, and Theo gets 7, that would leave 9 for Marvin Jones. Obviously we can't expect 9 targets a game for Marv, but there's enough volume for him to be able to produce. Right now, he's been a WR4, but he has the ability to finish the year as a high-end WR3, finishing near the top 30.
Lastly, we've got Aaron Jones. He is the best back in Green Bay, and everyone sees this except Mike McCarthy. Over the past two weeks, he's been outsnapped by both Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams. Jones has only played in 4 games, but has 4 runs of 15+ yards and is averaging almost 6 yards per carry (5.88). It's only a matter of time before McCarthy realizes that Jones deserves to dominate this backfield, and once that happens, he'll be a viable RB2. All we can do is hope that coming out of the bye week, they make a change back there.
VERDICT: Marvin Jones/Aaron Jones side
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by Nick Ercolano
April 19, 2019
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