- Everything you need to craft a winning fantasy football lineup in Week 3.
Every Sunday, the combined SI.com and 4for4 Football team will answer a question about the day that is to unfold before our eyes. The question will change every week. Some weeks, it will be quite specific, and others it will be broader in nature. No matter what the question is, though, we’ll strive to give you a last few pieces of wisdom before you officially set your lineups for the week, kick up your feet, and enjoy the football. Let’s get to it.
We've reached a point in the season where all fantasy owners are thinking about improving their teams via the trade market. Whose sell window is about to fly open after Week 3? In other words, give us a player you believe will be attractive on the trade market this coming week, perhaps spurred by a big Week 3 game, who may have already hit his 2018 peak.
Michael Beller: This is going to sound antithetical to everything we know about fantasy football, but how about Patrick Mahomes? Yes, he has set the league ablaze this season, throwing for 582 yards, 10.58 yards per attempt and 10 touchdowns against zero picks. The Chiefs have weapons galore and an atrocious defense, making this a perfect fantasy recipe. Even Mahomes’ strongest backers couldn’t have expected this, but he has the right pedigree, having been the 10th overall pick in the 2017 draft. This isn’t the same as career journeyman and sometime starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. We had every reason to believe Mahomes would be one of this season’s breakout stars.
And yet, unless you think Mahomes is going to put up one of the five best quarterback seasons ever, his value is likely as high as it’s going to get. On top of that, have you noticed how easy it is to find quarterback production this season? Philip Rivers threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns in Week 2—and was outscored by 10 quarterbacks. Three quarterbacks—Jared Goff, Nick Foles and Sam Darnold—threw for at least 330 yards and one score, and all ranked 14th or worse at the position. Everyone wants in on the Chiefs/Mahomes bonanza. You could cash in on his hot start, upgrade one or two other positions in a significant way, and replace at least 80% or more of his expected production, with whoever you put in his place, especially if you already have another quarterback on your roster.
Stephen Andress: If you're not in a keeper or dynasty league, the obvious choice here is James Conner. Here's the reality of the Le'Veon Bell situation. He has to report back to the Steelers by the beginning of Week 11, or he cannot play for the rest of the season. Not reporting before that point would then mean he's risking not hitting the open market in 2019 as a free agent, because the Steelers would be able to franchise tag him again for the same price as this season, instead of the price for a third consecutive franchise tag. I also believe it's extremely unlikely the Steelers pull the franchise tag to instantly make Bell a free agent, risking him signing with an AFC playoff contender. Lastly, a trade cannot happen until Bell signs his tender. I believe a trade is unlikely, because franchise tag rules (no matter what team he's on this year) are such that negotiations cannot take place during the season (a stupid, arbitrary rule). So why would a team trade for Bell once he reports if they can't negotiate a long-term deal and aren't guaranteed he'll be on that team after this season? This is not the same as the Khalil Mack situation, where the Bears could extend his contract immediately. In my opinion, this all means James Conner is a fantasy asset with a value that decreases more each week. If you have a losing record, you should probably ride him to more wins. He's a top-5 RB each week Bell is gone based on elite volume. If you are 3-0 or 2-1 with a strong roster, get something for him, before he has zero value late in the fantasy season.
John Paulsen: Chris Hogan jumps out as a player who may be a sell-high opportunity after Week 3 or Week 4. He had two touchdowns in Week 2 and has a nice matchup this week against the Lions, who will likely be without Darius Slay. Working against Hogan are the changes that are coming to the Patriots receiving corps. Julian Edelman will be back from suspension after Week 4, and he’s a well-known target hog. The team has also acquired Josh Gordon, so once those two are in the fold, Hogan may find it tough to get enough targets to keep producing starter-worthy numbers. If Gordon establishes himself in the offense, Hogan could be fourth or fifth in line for targets behind Rob Gronkowski, Edelman, Gordon and perhaps even James White.
T.J. Hernandez: Patrick Mahomes is the perfect sell candidate right now. Regardless of talent, schedule or weapons, Mahomes is performing at a pace that is simply unsustainable. He’s thrown a touchdown on 18% of his attempts—9.9% is the highest we’ve ever seen in a single season—and all of the Chiefs scores have come through the air. Even if Mahomes finishes as the QB1 and you win your league, not taking advantage of this opportunity right now and at least exploring your options is bad process.
Quarterback scoring is replaceable, and over the course of a season you can find starter-caliber numbers on the waiver wire. Owners that are hesitant to stream the position can look to sell Mahomes for a starting-quarterback-and-skill-position-player combo. It’s tough to pull off a trade for a quarterback, but this situation is the anomaly. Target skill position players that have seen a huge portion of their team’s touches but haven’t put it together in the fantasy points column. Some candidates that come to mind are Mahomes’ teammate Kareem Hunt, Ezekiel Elliott and Dalvin Cook.
Chris Allen: Everyone else gave you great sell targets, so I want to look at the other side of the equation. The RB2 landscape is a mess. Two weeks into the season, many owners can’t be happy with their fourth- and fifth-round picks, such as Royce Freeman and Derrick Henry, when players like Phillip Lindsay and Austin Ekeler are in the RB1 ranks. There’s hope, though. At least for some of them. Lamar Miller has gone under the radar as the Texans’ offense, mainly Deshaun Watson, knocks off the rust. Miller’s RB20 and RB30 performances to start the season are forgettable, but his opportunity can’t be so quickly dismissed. He’s seventh in rush attempts (34) and has racked up 18.5 touches per game. His production on the ground is also commendable. Despite running behind the 31st-ranked offensive line, Miller is currently fourth in rushing yards (166). He’s accounted for 55.5% of the backfield touches for the Texans, and they have one of the more favorable schedules throughout the season. Houston hosts the New York Giants this week, a defense that has allowed an average 86.5 rushing yards to running backs through two games. An RB1 performance from Miller this week, coupled with his light schedule, would make him an attractive trade target as season continues to come into focus.