With a couple weeks in the books, realistic trade targets and proposals have begun to take shape. We’ve reached the point of the season where some owners may need to make a trade to get on the right track, while others can capitalize on a hot start to take a worthwhile risk. In short, trade season is upon us.
The general goal when assessing trade prospects is to buy low and sell high, which is easier said than done but a good rule of thumb. There are times when buying high and selling low makes sense, as well. And, as always, you want to be a good trade partner. No one likes the owner in their league who regularly offers terrible trades or goes into trade talks looking to make an unbalanced deal.
Looking at multiple factors for a trade target will serve you best, including schedule, potential floor and ceiling, and health of surrounding teammates. You’ll see references to 4for4’s Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA) metric in this column, which we rely on heavily to determine weekly matchup strength. As the season progresses and more data is available, aFPA becomes even more reliable, thanks to its rolling 10-week data.
Each week, I’ll take a look at the top players to buy, sell and hold. Here’s this week’s crop of players.
Aaron Jones, RB, Packers
Back from suspension, Jones is slated to make his 2018 debut on Sunday against the Redskins. Jamaal Williams has taken on lead back duties through the first two weeks of the season, playing 61.3% of the Packers’ snaps, with a 40.5% touch per snap rate. He hasn’t done much with all that opportunity, though, running for 106 yards on 31 carries, good for just 3.4 yards per carry. The Packers never settled on one back last year, but Jones was the most impressive with his chances, picking up 448 yards and four scores on 81 totes, which translates to 5.5 yards per carry. Williams does excel in pass protection, so he isn’t going to disappear entirely, but Jones can take control of this backfield’s workload beginning this week.
Sony Michel, RB, Patriots
Michel made his career debut last week after missing New Engalnd’s first game of the season with a knee issue that arose in the preseason. He led the team with 10 carries last week, totaling 34 yards. James White is always going to have his role in this offense, but Michel could outpace Rex Burkhead and be the team’s primary rusher. The Georgia product was the 31st overall pick in the draft, a premium selection with which the Patriots typically don’t target running backs. You likely won’t have to sacrifice much to get Michel in a trade, and while Burkhead is just as likely to lead the team in carries, it’s a risk worth taking.
Demaryius Thomas, WR, Broncos
Emmanuel Sanders has outscored Thomas through the first two weeks of the season, but the elder wideout has seen 21 targets to Sanders’ 15. The volume is there and his connection with Case Keenum should continue to grow, creating more opportunity for Thomas to produce in Denver’s offense. Players who drafted Thomas may be feeling a bit unnerved about his lack of output so far in 2018, but he still projects as a season-long WR2. Even if you have to pay the sticker price, he’s worth going after at this point of the season.
Jack Doyle, TE, Colts
Indianapolis tight end Eric Ebron has outscored Doyle by 11.7 PPR points to start the 2018 campaign. If we look at snap count for the Colts, though, we see that Doyle remains the team’s primary tight end. He has played all but seven snaps on the season, while Ebron has played fewer than 40% of them. Doyle also has six more targets, and that volume can’t help but turn into greater production eventually. He’s a perfect buy-low candidate at the start of Week 3, especially with Andrew Luck looking like he has finally put the shoulder woes behind him.
Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings
With just 10 targets through Minnesota’s first two games, Rudolph appears to be no better than the team’s fourth option in the passing attack. He did see eight targets in Week 2, the Vikings and Packers played a full overtime period. His fantasy production was highly touchdown-dependent last season, and it appears we could be in for a reboot of 2017. With Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs arguably the best receiver duo in the league and eating up the majority of the team’s touchdown upside through the air, Rudolph could be in trouble. He’s still part of one of the most potent offenses in the league, but he may not get as large a share of it as he has in the past. See if you can use his name brand and the rough start for the tight end position as a whole to sell him at a profit.
Tevin Coleman, RB, Falcons
Coleman filled in for the injured Devonta Freeman last week, rushing 16 times for 107 yards and catching four passes for 18 yards. Freeman’s dealing with a knee injury that was expected to cost him two-to-four weeks, meaning we should see him back on the field by early October. Now is the ideal time to capitalize on Coleman’s workload, swapping him out for a player with a larger output potential down the road. Look particularly at 0-2 teams in your league in need of an instant upgrade.
Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles
Agholor has racked up plenty of opportunity the first two weeks of the season, catching 16 of 22 targets for 121 yards and a touchdown. Carson Wentz is set to return in Week 3, which only increases the receiver’s fantasy value. Like Coleman, he can provide an instant upgrade for a needy owner, and that will make him rightfully attractive on the trade market. At the same time, Alshon Jeffery is likely to return from his shoulder injury soon, and that will curb Agholor’s fantasy value. Look to a team in need of an immediate jolt at receiver, and you should be able to swing a beneficial deal with Agholor headed the other way.
David Johnson, RB, Cardinals
Arizona is dead-last in offensive plays run thus far with 94, a whopping 61 fewer than the league-leading Baltimore Ravens through the first two games of the season. The Cardinals’ 3.7 yards per play is also tied for last with the Bills, with the NFL average at 5.5. This lack of offense both in plays and production has held back Johnson more than anything he has done himself. Some might be calling to sell the stud running back, but the smart play is to hold him for now. Head coach Steve Wilks said after Week 2’s loss to the Rams that the team needed to get Johnson the ball in space more, and that he would be deployed more as a receiver in the slot. That’s great news for one of the league’s most dynamic players.