This week won't be as action packed as last, as I'm only jumping into 4 deals. Despite this, I'm still bringing the heat like Eovaldi in the 6th, with some analysis of the players in the deal and their rest of season outlooks. The trade deadline is approaching, so these last few weeks are critical in perfecting your squad. If you have WR depth and are stuck with Frank Gore as your RB2, make a move to a guy who needs some help at that position and fix that 47 year old gaping hole in your lineup. Let's take a look at this week's deals and what I think your fraudulent moves.
We're starting off this week with some flames; a trade including a top 5 RB AND WR, and it also includes Saquon and Julio (cheeky m8). Let's take a look at Saquon's side first.
Thus far, Barkley has proved to be worthy of his draft capital, even though it may not have been the right pick at the time. He's a dynamic player that has an impact on almost every offensive play. His fantasy value is also incredible, as he's finished outside the top 12 at the position just once this year, and even in that game, he put up 100 total yards and a score against an elite New Orleans run defense. Over the past three weeks, Barkley has finished inside the top 5, ranking 4th, 1st, and 5th over that span, totaling 4 touchdowns, 452 total yards, and 22 receptions. He's currently on pace for 224/1,099/11 on the ground and 112/969/5 on 139 targets through the air. In a Half PPR league, these receptions provide immense value, and even if he was doing nothing on the ground, he'd have a floor of a fringe RB1. Since he is producing in the run game, to the tune of 4.91 yards per carry and recording 7 runs of over 15 yards (5th most in the league), his floor is that of a top 7 back. He's gamescript proof, as even though the Giants are always losing, he continues to produce since he's an asset in the passing game. He leads the league in yards created (43.9/game), evaded tackles (54), targets (61), receptions (49), and receiving yards (424). His late-season schedule is extremely tough, facing the Eagles, Bears, Redskins, and Titans, in weeks 12-15, ranking 5th, 2nd, 4th, and 7th against the run, respectively. Despite this, Barkley has proven he can produce against anybody, as he even dropped 229 total yards and a score against Philly in a terrible gamescript. Going forward, Barkley is a locked-in top 5 back. The only guys I'd have confidence ranking above him are Todd Gurley, whoever owns the Steelers backfield, and Melvin Gordon (assuming his hamstring injury isn't all too serious).
Next, we've got Kenny Golladay. If you need a rock solid WR2, trade for him right now, his value won't get any lower. He's not only coming off a poor performance, he also had a bye a week prior, so people may have forgotten just how good he's been. Before the bye, he was on pace for 86/1,370/10 on 136 targets, which are WR1 numbers. People's visions may be clouded by his week 8 performance against the Dolphins, but it should be noted that nobody in the passing game did much of anything. Tate was limited to 4/36/0 and Marvin Jones Jr. put up 3/29/0. I don't wanna be THAT guy, but Kenny G did have an athletic red zone TD called back due to a illegal hands to the face call (if I remember correctly) where the offensive lineman didn't touch the defender's face. IF that had not been called, people wouldn't be as low on Golladay as they are right now. Another thing that held back this passing game was the efficiency on the ground, as the Lions opted to run the ball with Blount and Kerryon a combined 29 times, while Stafford only attempted 22 passes. I wouldn't expect this trend to continue, as the Lions have thrown the ball 64% of the time from weeks 1-5 (Bye in Week 6), but only did so 40% of the time in week 7. With the recent success in their running game, I doubt they continue to throw as much as they have, but I also doubt they run on 60% of their offensive plays. As the passing volume regresses to the mean, there will be more looks going Golladay's way, as he has become the 2nd (or maybe even first) option on a successful offense. Consider him a WR2 going forward, ranking near the WR15-20 mark.
On the other side, we have Joe Mixon and Julio Jones. I've written about Mixon a ton in these trade advice articles, so I'm not going to go into too much depth about him, but we'll take a look.
In the recent weeks, Joe Mixon hasn't seen the volume he had gotten in the past, but I wouldn't think of it being much of a concern. After seeing 23 touches per game in his first 3 contests, he's only gotten 15.5 over the last two. Despite this, he's seen 12 targets in weeks 6 and 7, which is an improvement, as he saw just as many in his first 3 games. He's still on pace for over 1,500 yards from scrimmage and 9 total touchdowns, adding 51 receptions, which are middling RB1 numbers. His recent weeks, along with his upcoming schedule is exactly why I believe he's one of the best buy low candidates in fantasy right now, though. This week, he draws Tampa, which should bring him back to life, but after that, he's on a bye and then faces the 2 best run defenses in the league, New Orleans and Baltimore. People may be soured by this possible 3 week stretch of dud games, so if you can acquire him cheap because of it, DO IT. After week 11, the final stretch, he faces 5 straight run defenses in which NONE of them rank better than 20th against the run. When playoffs come around, you're going to want good players in favorable matchups, and that's exactly what Mixon provides. He's a middling RB1 going forward and could be the reason some of y'all take home the chip this year.
Lastly, we've got Julio Jones, the touchdown machine.
Through 7 games, Julio has found the endzone exactly 0 (Zero, Zilch, Cero, Nada) times. Honestly, I'm kind of hoping he doesn't score just to see people's reactions. What's crazy is, even if he doesn't score a single tuddy this year, he'll likely still finish inside the top 5-10 at the position. He's topped 100 yards 4 times this season, surpassed 95 yards in 5/7 contests, has seen 9 or more targets in 6/7, and recorded 9 or more receptions in 4/7. He's an extremely consistent player, and even though I joke about him not finding the endzone, you have to figure he scores AT LEAST once this year. If and when he begins to reel in some catches for 6, he's going to finish inside the top 5 every week. He's currently averaging the 11th most fantasy points per game, and has a 121/1,856/0 pace (and no, I didn't forget a "1" in front of the "0" for the TD projection). Julio is a must play receiver every week and should be considered a WR1 for the rest of the year.
I prefer the Julio/Mixon side, as you're getting a WR1 AND RB1, as opposed to the other side, where you're getting a RB1 and WR2. The only way I'd rather have the Saquon side is if you're desperate at RB and need a stud while you're set at receiver.
This may be the first time we're looking at a trade with a QB on each side, and for the first time, we've got a few heavy hitters, Drew Brees and ARod. Let's begin.
Drew Brees has regained form this season after disappointing in 2017. Last season wasn't exactly his fault, though, as the Saints began to run more due to their elite defense and 1-2 punch of Kamara and Ingram. This season, their defense hasn't been stellar and Ingram, although it's a small sample, is averaging 3.04 yards per carry. Brees has needed to air it out, and has increased his attempts per game by 3 since last year and is on pace to throw it 587 times for 4,987 yards and 35 passing touchdowns. He's added 2 scores on the ground already and is currently the QB6 on a points per game basis. Brees is one of the most consistent quarterbacks in fantasy football, and being surrounded by elite pass catchers in Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, his production should continue. Brees is past his bye, so owning him means you have an elite QB play from here on out without having to worry about a bye week replacement. Along with this, his matchups are beautiful.
In weeks 10-16, he gets the Bengals, Eagles, Falcons, Cowboys, Buccaneers, Panthers, and Steelers. Of these teams, only the Cowboys and Panthers are inside the top in terms of fantasy points allowed the QBs. He should be considered an elite QB1 from here on out.
Next, we have the artist formerly known as Dairy Sanders, Christian McCaffrey. If there was a runningback version of Julio Jones, it would be him. He's a great passcatcher who does everything well in that phase of the game except for finding the last 10 yards of the field. As for his production on the ground, he's seen 17 or more carries twice, and then 10 or less in his remaining 4 games. The thing about McCaffrey, though, is you don't draft/acquire him for his rushing, you grab him for his receiving ability. He's on pace for 107 receptions, which is a number extremely few players hit. Along with his receptions, he's on pace for almost 1,800 total yards, so that's just added value. He's scored once this year, but is still 8th in points per game at the position, so like Julio, if he ever begins to score, he's a locked in top 5 option at the position. His lowest weekly finish has been RB20 and has been inside the top 12 in half of his games. Due to his consistency and receiving upside, he has one of the safest floors at the position, and with his usage, seeing almost 20 touches a game, he has the upside to be a top 5 RB. Consider him a RB1 going forward.
The last player on this side is Alshon Jeffery, who has been nothing short of incredible in his few outings thus far. Through 4 games, he has finished as the WR10, 75, 7, and 7, and is averaging the 6th most points among all wide receivers. In his one dud game, he was being shadowed by Xavier Rhodes, which is no easy matchup for any receiver. Even with this one down game, where he only amassed 2/39/0, he still saw 8 targets and his 16 game pace is 100/1,224/16. This week, he has a tough matchup against Jalen Ramsey, but he's proven he'll get the volume every week to have a chance to produce. Jeffery has seen at least 2 red zone targets per game, and is averaging just shy of 10 looks per contest. On a team who throws the 7th most times per game, he'll continue to have the volume to produce at an elite level. He's been an elite WR1 as of late, a status I don't expect to continue, but he could find himself towards the back end of that tier as a fringe WR1.
On the other side, we have Julio and Arod. I already wrote about Julio in the first trade, so I'm just going to be looking at Rodgers. For reference, Julio is an elite WR1.
As we all know, Aaron Rodgers is an elite quarterback whose real life production translates into fantasy relevance. In 6 games this year, he has finished as a QB1 4 times, only finishing outside the top 12 against the Vikings and the Bills. He's still the QB7 in terms of fantasy points per game despite playing through an injury early in the year. Lately, he's looked much improved in terms of his health, and coming off a bye, I'd expect him to be as healthy as he'll every be this season. Rodgers is still on pace for 5,325 yards and 32 scores while adding almost 300 yards on the ground. With Rodgers nearing 100%, as well as their piss poor defense, I'd consider ARod a locked in top 5 quarterback for the rest of the year. Green Bay is allowing 24 points per game, which may not seem like a lot, but it should be noted they have played the Bills in a game where Buffalo couldn't put up a single point. Outside of that game, they've given up 23, 29, 31, 31, and 30 points, meaning Rodgers is going to need to throw the shit out of the ball. The Packers lead the league in pass plays per game at 47.2, and since week one, Rodgers hasn't attempted less than 40 passes. Along with this, the Packers are 2nd in the NFL in terms of pass ratio, throwing on 68% of their plays. With his volume and production, he's one of the safest QB1s in fantasy football and should be valued as such.
Brees and Rodgers aren't far off in terms of value, so I'd consider that a wash. Therefore, would I give up McCaffrey and Jeffery for Julio? No. Therefore, I prefer the Brees/CMC/Alshon side.
On one side, we have the option between Kenny G and Keenan Allen. Because I've already written my thoughts about Golladay, I'll just touch on Keenan Allen.
Keenan has been far from impressive this year, not being able to top 100 yards OR a score since week 1. Last year, Allen saw 159 targets and turned that into a 102/1,393/6 line. This year, his pace is (128) 94/1,157/2, which aren't the WR1 numbers he was drafted to produce. Now, the real question is, do I think he'll be able to have that 2nd half bounceback that he had last season? Honestly, I'd say no. I'm a Chargers fan and watch these frauds religiously, and just by the looks of it, their offense has been great, so why would they change anything? Keenan is seeing 8 targets per game and has only gotten 5 balls thrown his way inside the 20, but despite this, the Chargers have averaged the 6th most yards per drive (36.88), 4th most points per drive (2.63), and the 2nd least turnovers per drive (.067). They aren't forcing it to him, and if it's been leading them to a 5-2 record, why would they? Mike Williams has seen one more target inside the 20 than Allen, Austin Ekeler has 14 red zone touches, and despite missing last week, Melvin Gordon has touched the ball 21 times inside the 20. The Charger are using their runningbacks to a pretty extreme level, with Ekeler and Melv combining for over 10 targets per game, up from 7.5 last year. In his 2 best weeks, he finished as the WR9 and WR18, but outside of these games, he hasn't topped WR29. Keenan's upside certainly isn't what we thought it would be heading into 2018, and from here on out, should be seen as a middling WR2. Between the two receivers, I honestly prefer Golladay at this point. He has more touchdown and yardage upside than Keenan, and even in a more crowded receiving core, it doesn't really expand outside of Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, while Keenan has to compete with Gordon, Ekeler, the Williams brothers, and even Antonio Gates in the red zone.
On the other side, we have Mark Ingram, who has only played two games thus far. Because of his extremely small sample size, it's hard to evaluate his value going forward. Despite this, I'll give it my best shot.
Last year, Ingram was an elite RB who produced on the ground and through the air. Kamara is obviously the superior pass catcher, and so far this season, he's looked like the better runner, too. Thus far, he's averaging just over 3 yards per carry in comparison to Kamara, who is putting up 4.6/rush. Along with his inefficiency in the run game, Ingram is also only averaging 2.5 targets through his first two games, while last year, he was seeing 4.4. The Saints want to continue splitting backfield touches, but if Kamara continues to outproduce Ingram, I don't see why they'd continue to give Mark touches. Through the first 4 weeks, Kamara showed he could handle a load and deserved those touches. All things considered, I don't see a way that Ingram gets over 15 touches per game, especially with the Saints' shitshow of a defense who can't keep anyone out of the endzone. Because of this, I see Ingram as a middling RB2 going forward.
Objectively, I prefer Golladay over Ingram, but if you're in need of a RB and are set at WR, Ingram isn't a bad option at a relatively thin position.
Once again, we have another player I've written about recently, Michael Thomas. If you want my long-winded thoughts on him, check out last weeks "Trade Questions" article. In summary, I believe Thomas is a top 5 receiver, despite his recent drought of production. Last week, he returned to form, dropping 7/69/1 while being shadowed by Jimmy Smith, one of the league's best cornerbacks. Even with his 2 "down performances" in weeks 4 and 5, he's still averaging the 3rd most fantasy points per game at the position, trailing only Adam Thielen and Davante Adams. He's the clear #1 in that offense tethered to an elite QB, and because of this, should keep his elite production up.
Next, we have Lev Bell. I've also written about him, but my thoughts have changed, and here's why.
We're now 7 weeks through, heading into week 8, and all Lev Bell has done thus far is blue ball not only fantasy owners, but also the Pittsburgh Steelers. Heading into the year, everybody expected him to miss only a few games because of how much money he'd be losing every time he sat. Well, everyone who drafted him in the first round has been finessed (unless you managed to snag James Conner). Hey, Count Dracula, how many games has he missed?
At this point, he has provided no value and very little hope, as it looks like he won't be back for at least a few more weeks. Even if he does come back week 11, how long will it take for him to get into game shape? Last year, he sat out all preseason and it took him 2 games to get to full speed. After missing the same amount of time this year, as well as all the regular season games he's missed, it could take until week 14 for him to look like his regular self. Now, even if he gets back to form, what are the chances the Steelers use him in his old role, commanding over 90% of offensive snaps? The chance of that happening are probably the same as his chances of being a Steeler next year. It looks like Pittsburgh has found their back of the future in James Conner, a tough runner who isn't complaining about his paychecks, so why would they just kick him to the curb after all he's done for them? Now, do I think Bell won't get any work at all? No, he's way too good to just ignore, but I'm not sure he gets more than a 50/50 split. He's been adamant about wanting to maintain his health in hopes of getting a new contract, so I doubt he wants to get 15+ touches a game, either. All things considered, I don't see him being anything more than a RB2, and that's only if/once he returns. If you can trade him to someone who wants him and believes he'll enter and become a RB1 and can get RB1 value in return, pull the MF'in trigger.
Now, for the other side, we've got 3 players, all of which have immense PPR value. Let's begin with Kamara.
AK was incredible in his first 4 games where he got to dominate the Saints backfield, but in his last 2, he's been a little bit disappointing. After averaging 11.75 targets per game over his first 4, he's seen just 6 total targets over the last 2 games. Should this be a trend that continues? I don't work for the Saints, but if I were to guess, I'd say no. He's a huge asset in the passing game and is too valuable to be seeing only 3 looks per game. Also, his recent usage should be contextualized. In week 5, he saw just 9 touches, but the Saints were blowing the Redskins out of the water. Also, he had just been seeing 22.5 touches per game over his first 4 games, so the Saints likely wanted to give him a break, knowing they'd be on bye next week anyway. Last week, he was facing the league's best run defense, yet he still finished as RB16 on the week, which is by no means a bad game. As I stated in the previous trade about Mark Ingram, I believe this will be a near 50/50 split in the backfield, but with AK's superior production, I'd expect him to edge out Ingram in touches. Last season, Kamara only needed 12.6 touches per game to be the RB3, so if he gets around 15 touches, he has an RB1 floor with the upside of being top 5 at the position.
Along with Kamara, we have Chris Thompson, one of the most underrated runningbacks in the league. He has dealt with injuries recently, but outside of those weeks, he's been just as productive as he was last year. In weeks 1 and 2, when he was 100%, he finished as the RB5 and RB6, seeing 21 targets and 19 catches over that span. In week 5, as well, he saw 8 targets, turning that into 6 receptions and finishing the week as the RB27. He did underperform in week 3 against the Packers in a game where the Skins didn't need to do much offensively, so that's sort of an anomaly. We all know Alex Smith doesn't like taking chances, so a guy like CT will be peppered with targets, as he has been thus far. He's expected to suit up this week, and if he's healthy, he's as strong of a RB2 as anybody in a PPR league. He has the ability to turn 5 catches into 100 yards and a score just about any week, and for that reason, he has an extremely high ceiling. If he plays this week and makes it out unscathed, he should continue to be a RB2 in PPR formats.
Lastly, we have Golden Tate, Detroit's most targeted wide receiver. Much of my same arguments for Kenny Golladay apply here as well in terms of their values plummeting recently. To freshen you up, the Lions came off a bye and then ran the ball a million times against the Dolphins, limiting their passing game volume, thus, leading to poor performances from Tate, Kenny G, and Marv Jones. If we take out last week, which isn't something I like to do, but seems appropriate for this argument, then Golden Tate's 16 game pace would be 106/1,379,10 on 163 targets. The only reason I threw out last week's performance was due to the 40% pass ratio in comparison to their season long 64% split. Even if we include last week's game, his pace is (152) 99/1,245/8, which are fringe WR1 numbers. Last season, the Lions produced two top 12 WRs, so even with Kenny Golladay's emergence, Tate has the opportunity to still be in the conversation of an elite WR2. Thus far, he's the WR16 in points per game, and it isn't unreasonable for this production to continue. Tate leads the team in targets by 14, receptions by 8, yards by 2 (shoutout Kenny G's long receptions), and is tied with both other WRs with 3 scores. He is last among the three in red zone targets (4) and endzone targets (1), but he's never been a huge TD scorer/redzone threat and still has had fantasy relevance. All things considered, Tate should be seen as a WR2, coming in around the WR15 mark for the rest of the year.
I honestly prefer the AK/Tate/CT side. Michael Thomas is obviously elite, but Le'Veon Bell is an unknown. If we were 100% certain that Bell would return and demand his 25 touches per game, this would be a no brainer, but nothing is guaranteed. In my opinion, I don't see a way he enters and dominated the backfield. On the Kamara side of the deal, you're getting an elite RB1, strong RB2, and one of the safest WR2s in all of fantasy football. In a PPR league, this side of the deal has some of the most targeted players at their respective positions, which gives them a high floor and ceiling combo that is necessary with the playoffs just around the corner.