by Noah Pires
November 03, 2018
Well, we're here. The trade deadline is right around the corner, so sadly, this will be the last edition of this article. I know y'all are sad (hopefully), but I'll be trying to create a new piece to replace this one. If y'all have any ideas, send them my way via Tweeter (@FbGawd) and I'll see what the chef can cook up. As for now, we're going out with a bang, looking at a few deals and how these players stack up for the rest of the year.
KEENAN ALLEN for NICK CHUBB and D.J. MOORE (standard)
Based on public opinion, you'd think Keenan Allen was on pace for a 50/800/2 line. Well, I'm here to let you know he's been better than many may believe, or have heard from others.
Sure, the Chargers haven't thrown much lately, and when they do, they've been targeting their runningbacks, Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon, a ton, especially in the redzone. Despite this, Allen is seeing a near 26% target share, 13th highest among wide receivers. He's also seeing 8 targets per game, 21st most in the NFL. He's currently on pace to see 128 targets and put up 94/1,157/2, which, in a standard format, isn't anything spectacular. Sure, the yards bring value, but the lack of scoring can't go unnoticed. Well, what if I told you that last season, Allen was on a similar pace through weeks 1-9. Through his first 9 games of 2017, he was on pace for a 78/1,060/2 line, but from that point on, he totaled 58/797/5 through 7 games. Am I saying it's inevitable he repeats this breakout? No, that would be foolish, but what I am asserting is that he has one of the safest floors at the position and has the ability to reach top 5 status. The main reason I'm backing him, though, is his league-winning ability late in the season. From weeks 13-16, Allen faces Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Baltimore. Of all these teams, the only one who scares me is Baltimore, but if Keenan's rolling, nobody's stopping him (great analysis). Seriously though, last year, when he was on a tear, he dropped 12/159/2 on Buffalo and 6/111/0 facing the Skins. In 2017, the Bills allowed the 6th least points to the WR position, and the Skins were the 7th best in that category. If Keenan heats up again, which is certainly possible with that schedule, he'll have league-winning potential with a safe floor for security, in case he doesn't boom.
Now, on the other side, we have Nick Chubb and D.J. Moore. Let's begin with 'Ol Saint Nick.
Chubb is now the starting back for the Browns, so although he's got a starting job with guaranteed touches, the context of his situation shouldn't be ignored. Over the last 2 weeks, he's been given 18 carries on both occasions, yet failed to finish any higher than RB18, despite facing the Buccaneers (allowed the 3rd most TDs to the position). What really concerns me about Chubb, again, are his matchups. Facing the Chiefs, Falcons, Bengals, Texans, and Panthers, Chubb will either be facing a tough run defense (Texans and Panthers), or n offense that will put a hurting on the Browns, making them chase points, which will favor Duke Johnson's pass catching ability. Obviously Chubb is an elite talent, evading 15 tackles over his past two games and posting 155 total yards over that span, but he's seriously limited by his situation. With Hue Jackson and Todd Haley being sent out, this team will be trying to change its identity halfway through the season, which is never a good sign. If the transition from Hue to Gregg Williams is bumpy, which it certainly might be, he may be severely hurt by the Browns' dysfunction. He's still a RB2, and a solid one at that, but his upside is really capped because of Cleveland's incompetence.
Lastly, we have D.J. Moore, who all of a sudden is a WR2 because of one game. I get it, I get it, he's an athletic freak and has the draft capital and college production that would point at him being a star, but you know who else had those same attributes in their rookie year? Literally every other first-round rookie receiver drafted in the past 4 years. I'm not saying his career will pan out like DeVante Parker, Kevin White, Corey Coleman, or Josh Doctson's have, but I wouldn't be putting this much stock into a receiver that hasn't proved much. He has ran more than 17 routes ONCE, has seen more than 5 targets ONCE, and has played in over 43.1% of snaps ONCE. Can you guess which week all of this happened in? If you guessed week 8, where he had a strong performance, you'd be correct. The main reason he was used so heavily, as well, was due to Torrey Smith's injury. Smith had played in over 60% of snaps in every game he played, so when he went down, they needed someone to fill in. Again, I'm by now means saying D.J. Moore CAN'T be a fantasy asset, he has proved he can be, but I'm not valuing him as anything more than a back-end WR3.
VERDICT: Objectively, I'm taking the Keenan side since he has such a high floor and ceiling, but if you're desperate for a runningback, I'd favor the Chubb side.
ANTONIO BROWN, CHRIS CARSON, and PHILLIP LINDSAY for T.Y. HILTON and ALVIN KAMARA (STANDARD)
This is a tough trade to analyze. On one side, we have one of, if not the best receiver in fantasy, paired with two strong RB2s, and on the other side, we have a guy who is in the top 5 RB conversation and a WR tethered to an offense who wants to throw. Let's get into my thoughts.
First off, Antonio Brown. I'm going to be honest, I didn't know how good of a season AB was having until I looked at his numbers. With Adam Thielen having a season for the ages, all other wideouts are being swept under the rug, but Brown's performance shouldn't be ignored. Right now, he's seeing 11.4 targets a game and is averaging a 6.6/78.9/1.1 line per game, which paces out to 182 targets, 106 receptions, 1,262 yards, and 18 touchdowns. On top of these counting numbers, Brown ranks 7th in total yards after catch, 11th in air yards, and 9th in target share (all per airyards.com). What does this tell me? He's not going anywhere. He's still one of, if not, the best receiver in football and is being treated as such in this offense. Brown has gone scoreless in just one game, week two against Kansas City, yet still saw 17 targets, turning them into 9/67/0. He's consistent and has touchown upside that is almost unrivaled, as he's seen over 50% of his team's targets in the endzone (10). I shouldn't have to tell you this, but AB is a top 5 receiver from here on out, and certainly has the ability to end the year as the WR1, a territory he's familiar with.
Next, we have Phillip Lindsay. He's part of a runningback by committee in Denver, but heads that operation, and rightfully so. Royce Freeman has looked good, sure, but the Broncos get shit moving with Lindsay out there. Also, Freeman is dealing with a high ankle sprain, so Lindsay could continue to dominate while they ease Freeman back in. Even if he doesn't, though, we've seen what Lindsay can do when Freeman is active. Throwing out the game where Lindsay got ejected for throwing a punch, his average weekly finish over the span of weeks 1-7 (when Freeman played) was RB19, mid RB2 territory. Lindsay is gamescript proof and gets work in the redzone, only being outcarried on the goalline by one (3 to 2) to Royce Freeman and has scored 2 touchdowns from the one yard line. The Broncos obviously want to use him (seeing almost 14 total touches a game) and runs behind one of the league's best run blocking units (rank 4th in adjusted line yards). He's a RB2 from here on out with the ability to break long plays, giving him weekly RB1 upside.
Lastly on this side of the deal, we have Chris Carson. He's seeing about 100 carries a game (actually 22.75/game since week 3, not including week 4 when he didn't play) and has turned that volume into production, finishing as a RB2 or better in 3 of his last 4 games and a RB1 in 2 of his last 4. He's 9th in yards created per game (33.8), has forced the 7th most missed tackles per game (6.5), and ranks 6th in juke rate (35.1%, calculated by evaded tackles/total touches). Carson is getting a ton of work behind a line that ranks 14th in adjusted line yards and has shown the ability to create yards on his own, more than just what his line provides for him. On top of all this, Seattle shows they want to run, passing on only 48% of plays this season (lowest, 12% below league average) and since week 3, has ran on 60% of plays (most, 19% above league average over that span). His pace since week 3, when he first got more than 7 carries, is 360/1,528/8 on the ground and 20/208/0 through the air (20 targets). He obviously won't achieve these numbers, as he's missed a few games and wasn't used much early on, but it goes to show just how much work he's getting and how well he's done with those touches. His only downside is injury, as he's missed a few games, but he looks to be playing this week, which should bring confidence. Similar to Lindsay, Carson should be viewed as a rock solid RB2 from here on out.
On the other side, we'll start with T.Y. Hilton.
Hilton missed 2 games this season (suffered in week 4), but with a bye in week 9, should be able to fully recover, as he's already played for the past 2 weeks. Honestly, it's tough to say anything about Hilton since he's been dealing with injuries, which has limited him in his first two games. Because of this, it isn't fair to pace out his numbers thus far, and if I were to pace out his first 3, where he was healthy, it also wouldn't be representative of his value, as Indy passed on 57% (6th highest) of plays in weeks 1-3, a percentage which has decreased to 49% (6th lowest) over the past 3 weeks. On top of their decrease in passing percentage, Hilton also faces the toughest schedule for receivers, facing Jacksonville, Tennessee, Miami, Jacksonville again, Houston, Dallas, and the Giants from weeks 10-16. Also, in the playoffs (weeks 13-16), he faces teams who rank 2nd, 7th, 1st, and 6th against wide receivers (in terms of fantasy points allowed to the position). This combination of schedule and diminishing passing volume doesn't bode well for Hilton's fantasy value. He's obviously still talented and tethered to Andrew Luck, but to me, he's closer to a back end WR2 than a high end WR2 from here on out.
Lastly, Alvin Kamara. In last week's article, I dove into AK, so if you want in depth analysis, check it out here. I'm not going to leave you with just that, though, since last week he showed more promise, solidifying points I made in the last piece. In week 8, against Minnesota, Kamara outtouched Ingram 20-16, found the endzone twice, and finished the week as RB6. He's proven he is still a firm RB1 with Ingram on the field and will get the work to produce. Also, another part I wrote about last week was his lack of targets in his last 2 games where Ingram played, but he came back in a big way, drawing 8 targets last week. Once again, AK is a RB1 with top 5 upside due to his efficiency, offense, running behind NFL's 3rd best line in terms of adjusted line yards, and receiving upside.
VERDICT: Brown/Lindsay/Carson side
SAQUON BARKLEY for JOE MIXON and JULIO JONES (.5 PPR)
Every single player in this deal has was written about in last week's trade advice article, so if you wan a more in-depth explanation of their values, you can find it here.
I'm not going to make you get all my thoughts on these guys solely off of last week's article, though. I'll give a brief summary of how I value these guys going forward (if you want stats/projections, check out last week's piece).
Firstly, we have Saquon Barkley. He's a locked in top 5 RB for the rest of the year and is matchup proof. He's on pace to get well over 100 receptions and could certainly finish with 2,000 yards from scrimmage, which he is on pace to achieve. All in all, he has one of the safest floors and highest ceilings for the position, and has finished outside the top 12 just twice (finished as RB13 both times).
On the other side, we have Joe Mixon and Julio Jones.
All that can be said about Julio is, even if he doesn't score a single touchdown this season, he's still a wide receiver one. In reality, though, I'd say it's more likely than not that he finds paydirt by the time the season ends. If touchdowns start flowing his way, he'll be a locked in top 3 receiver in the NFL and has one of, if not, the highest ceiling at the position in the entire NFL.
Lastly, Joe Mixon, who had a monster game last week. As I've said before, he's a locked in RB1 from here on out with the ceiling of being a top 5 player at the position. He's finished inside the top 12 in 4/6 games he's played in. He's getting over 22 opportunities per game (17.5 carries, 4.7 targets) and almost 21 touches a game (carries plus 3.2 rec/game). To put his production and opportunity in perspective, for a 16 game pace, he's be on track to see 280 carries, 75 targets, and post 1,660 yards from scrimmage, 14 total touchdowns, and 51 receptions. JM has put up either 87 yards from scrimmage or a touchdown in 5/6 games, giving him one of the better floor/ceiling combinations in the league. He should be valued as a high-end RB1 from here on out.
VERDICT: Julio/Mixon side, and it's not particularly close.
MARLON MACK for PHILLIP LINDSAY (PPR)
I already wrote about Lindsay in this article, so if you want my thoughts, scroll up. For reference, he's a RB2.
As for Marlon Mack, he's broken out recently, finishing as the RB3 in both of his last 2 games and has put up over 93 yards from scrimmage in his last 3. He's also running behind the 2nd ranked line in terms of adjusted line yards and is averaging 20 touches per game over his last 3. He has looked great, and all this is good and well, but I have concerns about him.
Mack missed week one with a hamstring injury he suffered in preseason, returned week 2, and then missed weeks 3, 4, and 5 with a reaggrivation to his hammy. As we've seen with Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette, a hamstring injury ain't nothing to fux wit, and for a guy who's already faced 2 setbacks because of it, I'm cautious that it may happen again. On top of the hammy, he was also dealing with an ankle injury before his week 8 matchup. I know, I know, it's never good to predict injuries and write a player off because of it, but it shouldn't be totally discounted. On top of this, he faces a tough ass schedule upcoming. I already listed the teams Indy faces above (in the trade involving Hilton), but for context, here are the defenses' rankings in points allowed to the RB position (from weeks 10-16): 6th best against the run, 1st best, 6th worst, 6th best, 11th best, 3rd best, 13th worst. As you can see, over that span, he only gets 2 favorable matchups (weeks 12 and 16 against Miami and the Giants). I'm by no means saying Mack isn't a viable fantasy option, I still see him as a strong RB2, but he isn't far off from Phillip Lindsay. Sure, Mack has broken out and this seems to be "his year", but he did so against the worst (Oakland) and 11th worst (Bills) run defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed to the position, in games where Indy won by 14 and 32 points, respectively. All I'm saying is I don't expect this top 5 play to continue, but he certainly has the ability to end in the RB2 conversation.
VERDICT: It's mostly a wash, but I'd personally prefer Lindsay.
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