The Trade Report – Protect Yourself
Playoffs are almost upon us. Trade deadlines are almost all past. By now you are finalizing your ideal line-ups. While we have a big-time bye week to manage (Chiefs and Rams), I’m here to help you play-off prep. We all know that things rarely go as planned in fantasy football and that in large part is due to injuries. A few years ago, I was going into the championship but had my starting WR1, WR2, and TE1 all injured. Spoiler alert, I lost. We’ve all been there, having our teams crippled by an untimely ankle sprain or a freak MCL tear. Conversely, sometimes you can take advantage of a bad situation. How many owners in 2015 won the championship because they picked up Le’Veon Bell’s handcuff, DeAngelo Williams? In the 10 games he started for Bell, D-Will averaged 106.6 yards from scrimmage and scored 11 touchdowns! Talk about a handcuff. So, let’s go through some of the top fantasy scorers at each skill position and how to protect yourself from (and maybe even take advantage of) a bad injury.
Buys: Malcolm Brown, Gerald Everett/Tyler Higbee
Sells: Jared Goff
Overview: If you are a Gurley owner, GRAB MALCOLM BROWN. While Gurley is a stud, Sean McVay’s offense will give any competent RB top 10-12 production. Don’t let an injury to the fantasy MVP derail your season.
Buys: Mark Ingram, Tre’Quan Smith
Sells: Drew Brees
Overview: This one will be a tough buy for you. Ingram is already producing well while splitting carries with Kamara. While Smith and the other receivers may see a target increase, I think Ingram is the main beneficiary. If Kamara were to go down, Ingram would be the RB1 in the NFL’s best offense. Look out.
Buys: Wayne Gallman….I guess
Sells: The Giants
Overview: Barkley can do things that most running backs can’t. In fact, he can do things that most humans can’t. He is the RB3 in fantasy on a team with poor line play and inconsistency at quarterback. If Barkley were to get injured, I have little faith Gallman, or anyone, could step in and produce. My advice? Pray.
Buys: Stevan Ridley, Jaylen Samuels, Vance McDonald
Overview: Conner’s production this year has made Leveon Bell look almost expendable to the Steelers. We’ve seen in the past that whoever is the RB in Pittsburgh, puts up top 12 numbers. I don’t think it’d be quite the same if Conner went down though. While Ridley has gotten most of the work outside of Conner, I think he’d only get the 1st and 2nd down snaps. Samuels is the back to own in PPR, who has more talent in terms of the passing game.
Buys: Austin Ekeler
Sells: Philip Rivers
Overview: Ekeler didn’t do much with his single start this year (42 yards on 12 carries, 26 yards on 5 catches). However, the Chargers face some tasty defenses down the stretch and I would trust a talented Philip Rivers led offense to get Ekeler in space and utilize his abilities to the fullest.
Buys: Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley
Sells: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce
Overview: Tyreek Hill fits Patrick Mahomes’ skill set perfectly, and it shows in his WR1 performance thus far this year. If Hill were to go down, that would open up space for Conley and especially Watkins (who has great speed, just not Hill speed).
Buys: Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram
Sells: Drew Brees, Tre’quan Smith
Overview: My darkhorse WR1 going into the season, Thomas has been a monster in that juggernaut New Orleans’ offense. If Thomas were to go down, I believe Brees would look to his running game to make up the difference before he spreads it out further among receivers.
Buys: Stefon Diggs, Dalvin Cook, Laquon Treadwell
Overview: Thielen has been a target machine this year. With an injury, he would leave a gaping hole in Cousins’ target share. I believe that Diggs will start to get true top team WR targets and Dalvin Cook will be incorporated more in the passing game. Treadwell also turns into a potential flex play.
Buys: Marques Valdes-Scantling, Aaron Jones, J’Mon Moore
Sells: Aaron Rodgers
Overview: Adams has been Rodgers’ favorite target all year. While Rodgers has been spreading it around a little more recently, to MVS and the other rookies, Adams is still the guy. If Adams were to miss time, MVS and the others would get a slight boost but I think Aaron Jones’ usage will also go up. Snap count is still a concern for me with Jones, and a big injury would alleviate some of that.
Buys: Keke Coutee or Demaryius Thomas…if I have to pick someone
Sells: Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense.
Overview: Similar to Barkley, Hopkins is just a stud that makes the Texans offense go. He opens up the defense for Coutee and the running backs to work. With an injury, that all will stop. Coutee and Thomas will get force fed targets by Watson, raising their floors a bit, but not much.
Buys: Calvin Ridley, Tevin Coleman, Mohamed Sanu
Sells: Matt Ryan
Overview: The Falcons’ reliance on Julio is similar to that of the Texans and Hopkins. The only difference is they have some viable replacements. Calvin Ridley would see a huge increase in target share, raising him to a potential top 24 receiver. I would also expect Sanu and Coleman to receiver more targets in the passing game.
Buys: Juju Smith-Schuster, Vance McDonald
Sells: Ben Roethlisberger
Overview: We saw last year what would happen if Antonio Brown went down during the fantasy football playoffs. It would be a hard buy, but Juju’s production spiked. I’d expect it no different this time around. McDonald has also been remarkably healthy this year and has shown a good rapport with Roethlisberger. I’d expect his usage to increase as well.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Buys: Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard, Saquon Barkley
Sells: Eli Manning
Overview: One of the big reasons I thought Engram was going to regress this year was because he took advantage of OBJ’s absence. I believe the same would happen if an injury were to occur. Shepard and Barkley would naturally get more targets, but Engram would return to the form we saw last year.
Buys: Kareem Hunt, Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, Demetrius Harris
Sells: Patrick Mahomes
Overview: Kelce is a stud in the short to intermediate route range. His absence would not affect Mahomes’ outside receivers much, but it would funnel targets to Hunt and Conley. Also, Demetrius Harris has gotten a lot of praise from the coaching staff and KC press, he just lacks the opportunity. Could end up as a back-end top 12 tight end if Kelce were to go down.
Buys: Dallas Goedert, all Philadelphia receivers
Sells: Carson Wentz
Overview: I have never seen a tight end gobble up targets (>10 targets per game!) like Ertz has this year. If the injury bug were to hit him, that’s a lot to go around. First and foremost, Dallas Goedert would be thrust into Ertz’s role and Wentz loves targeting tight ends. Also, each of the Philadelphia receivers, especially Tate and Jeffrey, would see a few extra targets each game.
Buys: Not much, maybe Garrett Celek or Matt Breida
Sells: Nick Mullens (or C.J. Beathard)
Overview: Kittle is one of the only viable fantasy options on the 49ers. It’s possible that Celek could garner a few more catches with a Kittle injury but that’s unlikely. I could also see Matt Breida seeing more work in the passing game. Overall, a tough situation to protect yourself from.
If you have any other studs you’re worried about, let me know! I’ll be happy give you a good idea who to target to cover yourself. Otherwise, let’s all hope for clean bills of health till season’s end.
Tell me your thoughts! Did I miss someone obvious? Am I the best fortune teller you’ve ever seen or just plain wrong? If you want to let me know or if you’re just looking for free fantasy football advice, you can find me on Twitter @Sam_Wise730 or you could use our company handle @tffgurus. Also, feel free to check out the podcast page @trophytimepod and shoot us a follow. See you next week.