It's here, folks. I did this series last year and it was well-received, and I'm appreciative of that. It's probably my favorite thing to do, and it takes a pretty long time to get all of these writeups in. I get a lot of trade questions throughout the week, to which I respond with little written analysis, so I use this piece as a way of running through how I evaluate trades when they're asked of me. Because these exact scenarios are very unlikely to occur in your league, just because the combinations of players involved aren't going to be the same for every roster across all leagues, I break it down by doing an in-depth analysis on each player involved so you can get an understanding of how I value each piece in the deal. Enough rambling, let's get to the show.
T.Y. Hilton/O.J. Howard for Marvin Jones Jr./Evan Engram (Standard)
This trade on it's surface looks fairly even. The disparity between Hilton and Marvin Jones seems about equal to that of Howard to Engram, but let's take a deeper look as to which side would benefit the roster provided above.
T.Y. Hilton has been great in the face of adversity thus far, but is that expected to continue? He's by far in a way the Colts' number one receiving option, as he's seen 15 targets through two games, 10 more than the next closest Indy wideout. Not only is he getting overall volume; the volume he is seeing is extremely valuable, as he's seventh in the league in red zone targets (4) and matches that number with deep targets. If this keeps up, T.Y. will finish as a WR1, but I'm not convinced that in his eighth year of his career, going through a QB change, he will keep up this pace.
Through two games, his 16 game pace, outside of receiving yards, would dwarf any other year he's had thus far. Obviously his 24 touchdown pace is unsustainable, and even 96 receptions is a bit lofty for a team that is content just running the ball. Their 47% pass rate ranks 29th in the league, and in ranking 6th in time of possession, it's evident that they aren't trying to put the ball in Brissett's hands drive after drive. Yes, these things have been true and Hilton had produced, but expecting this to hold up is unrealistic considering these factors. Id he a WR2? Yes. There aren't 24 other receivers I could name that I'd start over him week to week, but looking at the roster provided, there are four players I'd put in that category. OBJ is OBJ, Robert Woods, although not displaying it just yet, is one of the more consistent wide receivers in the league, Tyler Boyd is a target hog, and Calvin Ridley is a few overthrows away from having five touchdowns. For that fact alone, I wouldn't go through with the trade, but for the sake of the public, let's analyze the others involved.
On the same side of this trade is O.J. Howard, who has been incredibly unproductive to this point. His own coach seems to be disappointed in him, and it's a bit of a concern that he has put up duds with the Buccaneers having no real receiving weapons behind Evans and Godwin. Jameis has looked like shit, and their defense, headed by Todd Bowles, looks legit, so this isn't the same Tampa Bay team we saw last year that's going to be throwing 40 times per game. O.J. has been on the field for 85% of the snaps (115), seeing just five targets, meaning he's been targeted on just 4.3% of the snaps he's played...not good. Until I see his passing work usage increase, I'm not going to just assume he's going to bounce back. There are at least ten other tight ends I prefer to him at the moment, and he definitely isn't a guy I'm trying to acquire, unless you can flip a guy like Chris Thompson for him.
Now, looking at the other side of the deal, we have the one, the only, Marvin Jones. That's actually a lie, since he's a junior, but I digress. His start to 2019 has been a bit disappointing, but not all hope is lost. He's seen 10 total targets, which doesn't seem great, but four of those traveled 20+ yards in the air, which ranks 15th, and of those, three were catchable, which ranks fifth. As long as he's being used in this facet of the game, and the usage he's seeing is actual, in the sense that he can realistically capitalize on those looks, then he has the potential to deliver splash plays when the right matchup arises. Along with this, he has proven to be a red zone monster over the last few years, pacing out to 19.6 red zone looks in 2018 (would've ranked 9th among WRs) and 15 the year prior (18th among WRs). He hasn't seen any targets inside the 20 this year, but it makes sense when considering Stafford has only attempted three passes in this area of the field, the least among all QBs who have played two full games. Once they start tossing it a bit more inside the 20, Jones will find his way to the other end of some of them and further boost his value. With all this being said, does that mean I like him more than T.Y. Hilton? No, not even close. A WR3 though? Maybe, he's right on that fringe. He was tasked with shadow coverage from Casey Hayward last week, which certainly didn't help kickstart the new season, but I'd remain hopeful that he can pick up the pace here soon. Plus, looking at the WRs this player has rostered, you don't need him to be anything more than your WR5, so there's no real reason to rush and make an upgrade, especially at the expense of shipping off Evan Engram.
Last, but certainly not least, Evan Engram. I can count on one hand how many tight ends I trust week to week, and because of that alone, owning one of them brings immense value. When you can roll out a tight end that is guaranteed targets, you count your blessings, because the chances of that being the case are slim to none for 80% of your league. We've seen just how involved Engram has been thus far, totaling a whopping 22 targets, trailing only Zach Ertz at tight end (23) all while facing two of the better defenses in the NFL in Dallas and Buffalo. There is only one real question mark surrounding Engram, and it's the QB situation. Daniel Jones is set to start this week, which may seem like it could impact Evan's fantasy value in either a positive or negative way. Let me put it this way: it can't get any worse. Golden Tate is still out, Sterling Shepard finds a new ailment to milk every week, and there is no depth in the receiving core. Feeding EE the ball will be a necessity, and even if this offense STINKS after the QB change, he will still see volume. Plus, Daniel Jones looked extremely good in the intermediate game in the preseason which could aid Engram's surprisingly conservative aDOT (6; last year was at 5.3). If not, who cares? He's still a top five tight end play every week, regardless of matchup.
Because the person in question has adequate, and very serviceable, receiver depth, and would need to start O.J. Howard at tight end if he were to go through with the deal, it's an easy pass for me. Just ask yourself, which combination gives you a better week to week output: Evan Engram and Calvin Ridley, or T.Y. Hitlon and O.J. Howard? Looking at it that way, it should be a no-brainer to keep Evan Engram.
Chris Godwin/Nick Chubb for Ezekiel Elliott/Mecole Hardman (1/2 PPR)
I'm declining this trade, and it isn't really close, but for the good of the people who want some analysis, let's see why this is my decision.
Starting with Chris Godwin, he's really lived up to his name. Whether you believe he's the number one in Tampa or not, there's no denying he looks every big the part of a top 15 fantasy wide receiver. He's an every down player, something that wasn't the case even last season, and he's being targeted all over the field, most importantly, the red zone. Of all NFL receivers, he ranks 8th in red zone targets with three, converting two of them into touchdowns. He's just too much of a mismatch with his size, athleticism, and usage out of the slot for opposing defenses to lock down. Bruce Arians was very vocal about using him in this role, and if there's one thing BA doesn't do, it's lie. Godwin and Evans are basically the only pass catchers getting any work in Tampa, cumulatively garnering 66% of the team's air yards between the two of them, meaning even if Jameis is a let down, which he has been thus far, both receivers can still produce. Looking at this guy's roster, he definitely needs an every week high floor producer at receiver as Brandin Cooks hasn't been his normal self because of Jared Goff's inconsistencies, and beyond that, there isn't much in the way of consistency or a high ceiling on his roster.
Along with Godwin is Nick Chubb. Now, I know in this week's video we spoke about how he's a prime sell high candidate, but that doesn't mean he will have no shelf life past this week. The Browns have looked like a pile of hot garbage, but Chubb has produced in the face of that, accumulating over 20 touches in both games, including an impressive seven receptions. Their schedule, and division, is fairly tough, facing the Steelers and Ravens a combined four times, along with the Pats, Seahawks, and 49ers, but he's still a focal point in this offense. Not many backs can say they are a lock for 20 touches, no matter the game script, and even if his ceiling isn't as high as a guy like Zeke, his floor, especially if he keeps seeing this receiving work, is among elite company. If the Browns somehow bounce back and start to look like the 2018 team that captured so many's hearts, he could very be the top five back many were ranking him as heading into the year, but even if that doesn't occur, he's still well within the top 15. Pairing that type of RB with Dalvin Cook, who has looked every bit as good as any runningback drafted inside the top four, brings a pairing that not many of your league mates can boast. Sure, if you pull this deal off, you'll have two arguably top five runningbacks, but is it worth giving up a top 15 receiver to achieve this?
Now, the biggest name in this trade is certainly Ezekiel Elliott. He was my 1.01 in all formats (before the fake holdout), but up to this point, he hasn't quite looked deserving of this status. Yes, he's scored in both games and went over 100 yards last week, but what really concerns me is his receiving usage, or lack thereof. Through two weeks, he's been targeted just four times, which is a pace of 32, a number that doesn't come close to sniffing the other elite RBs (CMC - 136; Barkley - 104; Kamara - 88). Just because he doesn't, or maybe won't, catch a ton of balls doesn't mean he isn't valuable, though. The Cowboys' offense has looked ridiculously good, and their red zone trips per game (3) may seem a bit low, but is misleading when using it to analyze how dominant they have been. Mostly, this is because of Dak's seven passing TDs, only TWO have come inside the 20. They've been scoring outside of the red zone so often that the offense as a whole, including Zeke, hasn't been getting as many red zone reps as other, objectively worse, offenses. If this trend of scoring long(er) TDs continues, then Zeke's TD ceiling is hampered, or at least the predictability of his scoring opportunity lowers. The thing is, though, I don't think it's realistic to assume this continues. Yes, Kellen Moore has brought the Cowboys to a new level offensively, but we shouldn't expect 71.4% of Dak's scores to come outside of the red zone. From a real life perspective, scoring from this distance is great, but for Zeke, we want to see him getting carries inside the ten, the five, on the goal line, and if this (unsustainable) trend continues, those opportunities will be limited. With all this being considered though, you know what's crazy? Elliott is still 2nd in the NFL in red zone carries (8), trailing only Josh Jacobs (12). So, if they stop being so ridiculously good and scoring from 20+ yards out, these attempts will necessarily increase, and Zeke could very well be the RB1 on the back of ~20 scores. In essence, Zeke is basically a rich man's Nick Chubb.
The last player in this deal is Mecole Hardman. My thoughts on him are that if I wasn't able to grab him off waivers, I'm not actively trying to trade for him. Why is that? Well, if you picked him up, it likely meant you dropped someone of little value to acquire Hardman, whereas if you're trading for him, you're giving up an actual asset for him. I don't advise against this because I don't think Hardman is a good player, I don't recommend it because, how will you ever know when to start him? Mahomes will throw the ball wherever he wants, and outside of Kelce and Watkins, nobody is really guaranteed volume. Last week we saw Demarcus Robinson put up 6/172/2, but let's not forget that in week one he saw two targets, catching one of them for zero yards, despite playing 57% of the snaps. I will say, I think the dynamism Hardman brings to the table will lead to him seeing more touches than Robinson, but not enough for me to ever have confidence rolling him out there as a FLEX (barring a spectacular matchup). Along with this, once Hill returns, Mecole's value basically vanishes. To me, he's an inconsistent rental play that you'll likely only feel confident starting as a FLEX option in a couple of matchups during Tyreek's time off, and because of that, I'm not actively buying hm.
With everything considered, I'm sticking with the Chubb side. A big part of why that is comes down to the lack of receiver depth his roster boasts, but also because if the Browns do pick it up offensively, Chubb could realistically finish near Zeke by year's end. His receiving work is promising, along with Kitchens expressing he wants to use him more in that facet of the game, so I'm not selling low on him. And lastly, let me bring this point up again. Looking at his roster, if he did this trade, he'd likely be starting Hardman and Zeke, instead of Godwin and Chubb, who he has now. Ask youself, which combination brings not only a much safer floor, but also a higher week to week, predictable, ceiling? It's easily the Godwin side in my opinion, and because of that, I'd have to turn down Zeke, as hard as that may sound.
Stefon Diggs for Leonard Fournette (1/2 PPR)
No roster picture was provided, so this is just an old fashion mono e mono between two of the most disappointing players thus far.
Starting with Stefon Diggs, he's been subject to extremely low volume and terrible QB play, as the Vikings have shown in back to back weeks that they plan to ride Dalvin Cook to the promise land (of 8-8). In week one, it was somewhat understandable; the Vikings were killing the Falcons all day and Dalvin Cook couldn't be stopped, so there was no reason for Diggs or Thielen to carry the load. What was concerning was the game in Green Bay, one which the Vikings never had the lead. They threw the ball just 32 times, which on a per game basis this season ranks 21st, showing that even if they're playing from behind, Kirk Cousins won't be the one to have the ball in his hands. Now, Stefon Diggs did see seven targets, and of those, two came in the red zone (converted one for a TD, called back by penalty), and two were deep looks. One was a perfectly thrown ball by Kirk that resulted in a TD, and another would have been a walk-in if Cousins hadn't made an overthrow. To put it into perspective, this is the separation Diggs had on that play:
His usage on the limited volume is exactly what we want to see from a receiver: red zone and deep targets. The only issue is the overall volume in this offense, but I'm hopeful that it levels out. Week one was sort of an aberration, throwing just ten times, and even last game, if not for an overthrow and a questionable penalty, we wouldn't be talking about Stefon as a bust candidate. He still leads the team in air yards with 188 (49% market share), which among the league, ranks 28th (not counting Chark and Conley, who have played three games), one spot behind Davante Adams. Even with the team wanting to run the ball, the lack of depth behind AT and SD in the receiving game allows each of them to demand volume. Will he see 149 targets again, as he did last year? No, probably not even close to that number, but I'd assume his end-of-season total is closer to that number than the 72 target pace he's currently on. Not many games will the Vikings be up 28-0 in the third quarter, which was the case in week one, so that game shouldn't necessarily be considered too greatly when projecting out his rest of season potential. Is he a high end WR2? No, because I do think the volume is a concern, but he isn't a middling WR3, either. If I were to place him in a tier, it would be somewhere in the WR22-25 range amongst the likes of Tyler Lockett and Allen Robinson. Is that status of receiver someone I'd feel comfortable trading to acquire Leonard Fournette, though?
In short, it depends. Leonard Fournette is on a shortlist of NFL runningbacks that has zero competition behind him, and has seen immense volume in the face of terrible efficiency. So long as he's healthy, he will see ~20 touches per game, and in fantasy, all we hope for is volume. He has yet to find paydirt, but his passing game usage and yardage totals are among the best in the league, pacing out to 75 receptions and over 1,400 yards from scrimmage, a combination that has occurred only eight times over the past three seasons. If this keeps up, he will certainly finish inside the top 12, even if he puts up a mediocre, or even below average, touchdown total. What is concerning, aside from his storied injury history, though, is the lack of red zone opportunites. Through three games, he only has three carries inside the 20 (all of which came inside the ten), and zero inside the five. It's not like they don't trust him there, evident by the Jaguars attempting to run in a two-point conversion at the end of the game in week two, it's more of them just not being that great of an offense and having many opportunities as a whole in this area of the field, averaging just 2.3 red zone trips per game (24th). As I said before though, with how he's producing despite limited scoring opportunities, he is still one of the better fantasy runningbacks you could own. Very few put up the yards and receptions he has totaled thus far, and even few see the workload he has displayed over the first three weeks.
With all this being considered, I'd actually rather own Fournette. There are about forty receivers I'd feel comfortable firing up on a weekly basis with a semblance of confidence that they produce, but there are not even half as many runningbacks I feel the same way about. The position is scarce, and very few, including the elite, are the sole options for their team out of the backfield. Having someone like Fournette guaranteees volume, albeit on a poor offense, which is something I'd rather have than an inconsistent wide receiver. In a vaccuum, I don't think it's all that close, but if trading away Diggs would leave you starting James Washington and acquiring Fournette relegates Peyton Barber to your bench, then I'd consider maybe not making the move. It all depends on team structure, but there are very few scenarios in which I turn this deal down.
Davante Adamas/George Kittle/Devin Singletary for Aaron Jones/Evan Engram/Emmanuel Sanders (Full PPR, 0.25 PPC)
This one's packed, and by looking at it, doesn't seem lopsided at all.
Beginning with Davante Adams, he hasn't quite lived up to his ADP thus far, but that's not to say he's been bad. He drew the Bears week one on a Thursday night, which has been terrible all year, so it's understandable why he put up a pedestrian receiving line. That defense is swarming, and even though he dominated them last season, it shouldn't have been expected that he would tear them up to open the season. Last week he made a very formidable Vikings defense bow down to the tune of 106 receiving yards, and with his upcoming schedule (Eagles, Raiders, Chiefs, Chargers Panthers, 49ers, Giants, Redskins), should have no problem continuing his dominance as a weekly top five option at the position. Part of the reason he has disappointed is the lack of red zone usage, but as was the case for previously mentioned players, things tend to work themselves out. He has seen just two targets inside the 20 thus far, which, for a player who led the league in that category last year (31), is bound to increase. He is also leading his team in air yards with 190 (33% share) and has six more targets than any other Packer. Enough, I don't need to tell you how good Adams is. In short, he's still being used like a number one receiver, and there should be no worry of him not being a top five option at the position.
Paired with Adams is George Kittle, another top-tier player that has underwhelmed...or has he. Sure, he hasn't produced to the level of Mark Andrews or Travis Kelce, but George has quietly posted over 100 yards this season, which may not seem great, but paced out to a full 16, comes out to 864 (would have ranked 5th last year). The fact that he has been a "disappointment" despite putting up some pretty good numbers just shows how great of a player Kittle is and the ceiling he has. There should be no question he picks things up in the near future, and even starts to find the end zone a bit more, as he's seventh in the league in red zone targets (4). Kittle is by far the 49ers' number one option in the receiving game, evident by his targets (13) and air yards (104, 31% share), and as with Adams, there should be no concern about him finishing inside the top five.
Lastly, we have Devin Singletary. To say he's been awesome would be an understatement. He's just one of two runningbacks that has topped 100 rushing yards on less than 15 carries through two weeks, but therein lies the issue. Volume. Frank Gore is still the team's main ball carrier, out-carrying Singletary 30:10 thus far, and now, after sustaining a hamstring injury, will fall well behind the eight ball. I don't want to say it's a lost season for Singletary, but if he doesn't get the proper recovery necessary to bounce back from this ailment, he could end up missing more time than initially expected. The silver lining is that the Bills have a week six bye, so if they hold him out through then, he will most likely have a full recovery. I'm not doctor, but that prognosis seems right. If he comes back fully healthy, I'd expect him to be a serviceable option, but nothing too spectacular. Yes he's the best RB on the team, but he proved that in week one and was still out touched by Gore 19:6. Unless Frank gets injured during the span Singletary sits, which is unlikely due to Frank's everlasting display of immortality, then I don't see DS being much more than a low end FLEX play. We saw a similar situation last year with Austin Ekeler, where he could maintain a role as a FLEX consideration due to his efficiency on limited touches, and I think that's what we should expect from him in his rookie campaign. It is interesting, though, that he significantly out snapped Gore in week one (70/28), but even then, was out touched 9:11. With all things considered, I wouldn't expect much more than RB3 production out of him, but he certainly has the upside to finish the year as a top 20 player at the position, so long as the Bills phase out Gore.
On the other side, we have Evan Engram, who was already covered in a previous trade scenario. Scroll up to read what I think about him.
Along with EE, Aaron Jones has been thrown into the deal. Similar to Davante, Jones struggled in his first game, but against the Bears, nobody is safe. He followed that up with a dominating performance against what was thought to be an elite defense in the Vikings, totaling 27 touches for 140 yards and a score. His usage was extremely promising, and through two weeks, has again proven he is the more talented, efficient, and productive player out of the backfield between he and Jamaal Williams. Matt LeFleur doesn't seem to agree, but I wouldn't worry too much about his comments. Williams has played > 40% of the snaps in both games thus far, yet Jones is still dominating touches. Even if he sees 15 per game going forward, though, is that really a bad thing? We've seen him be extremely efficient on limited touches before (was the RB5 from weeks 8-17 last year on 17 touches/game), and with him being heavily involved in the passing game and their go-to goal line option, not much in the way of production should change. Outside of week five against the Cowboys, and week 16 vs the Bears, his schedule is shaping up very nicely, and because of that, along with his heavy involvement, is a very high end RB2/back end RB1 in my eyes.
The last player in this deal is Emmanuel Sanders, and I just don't get it. How is he healthy? He tore his Achilles like 2 days ago and is now playing better than ever. It's wild to me. I know we're just two games in, so pacing out stats isn't a realistic expectation, but I use it more as a tool to show just how dominant a player has been, and that's exactly what I'm doing here for Eman. For a full 16, we would be looking at a 128/1,472/16 statline, which is pretty decent if you ask me. What's really telling is just how much Flacco has looked his way thus far, and with not much talent behind him in the receiving game, this trend is bound to continue. He leads the league in red zone targets with seven, catching five of them, converting two into scores. Just watching him play, he's clearly back to 100%, and the numbers more than back up that subjective take. He's a volume monster, getting targeted in valuable areas of the field, and since in this format it's Full PPR, I don't think it's crazy to label Sanders as a high end WR2. After dominating Chicago, I think it's fair to say Sanders is once again the real deal, and should be trusted as such on a weekly basis.
Now, for the verdict. This one is extremely tough. One side is getting the best player in the deal in Davante Adams, but on the other, you're getting three players who are among the best of the best at their respective positions. I use that phrasing fairly lightly, because neither Jones nor Sanders are quite elite, but I can't name 15 wide receivers or runningbacks I'd feel more comfortable on a weekly basis trotting out there than those two. As for Engram and Kittle, I think it's fair to say it's a wash. Both are being used heavily on their respective teams, and I think each players' upside is similar. What really makes my decision is Singletary. Dealing with a hamstring injury this early in the season, after already falling behind Frank Gore on the touch totem pole leaves me a bit worried. He could return fully healthy, take over Gore's job, and be fantastic, sure, but we've seen too many instances of a hammy lingering and impact a player's entire season. Because of that, and I know this may sound bold, I'd actually take the Jones/Sanders/Engram side. It pains me to say that, but I have faith in Sanders continuing to dominate (let's not forget he was on pace for over 90 receptions and 1,100 yards last season as well) and Jones being able to sneak his way into/around the top ten at his position. I just think there's too much value being given up to not net a runningback who you can trust in return. If someone like even Breida or Mark Ingram were in Singletary's place, then yes, I'd rock with the Adams side, but they're not, so I'd hold on to the assets at hand.
Alvin Kamara for Austin Ekeler/George Kittle (1/2 PPR)
Lastly, we have a 2 for one deal involving the RB1 and Alvin Kamara. Jokes aside, let's take a look at what we have here.
Alvin Kamara owners are certainly freaking out after Drew Brees got high fived by Aaron Donald, but being out for only what looks to be six weeks, it shouldn't be the end of the world. Now, what should we expect out of Kamara with Teddy B under center? To be honest, who knows? Last game, Kamara heavily out touched Murray after Brees went down, 13:3, which is promising. They aren't moving away from Kamara, which wouldn't make sense why they would if they did, but the main issue is the scoring opportunities. AK was never someone we were expecting to see 25 touches per game, he's a player who might see 15-18, with a big chunk stemming from receptions, and adding a ton of value through touchdowns. He totaled 31 through his first two years, 26 of which coming from inside the 20, and 12 inside the five. The offense as a whole takes a hit with Brees out because, well, Brees is Brees and Teddy is Teddy, which means there won't be nearly as many scoring opportunities as we would have hoped for. His ceiling is certainly lowered for the time being, but his volume will likely stay where we expected prior to the injury. During Teddy's two years starting at QB for the Vikings, he targeted the running back positions 19.2% and 20.7% of the time, which is well below the 32% and 29% in New Orleans over the past two seasons, but just below league average of 21%. Keep in mind, though, he never had an Alvin Kamara out of the backfield (he had a better version of him with Jerick Mckinnon), and in a completely different situation, playing in an offensive system that heavily utilizes RBs in the receiving game, I wouldn't expect Kamara's receiving work to take fall off. I'm far more concerned about the red zone opportunities, or lack thereof in the following weeks, especially when considering they are set to face the Cowboys, Buccaneers, Jaguars, and Bears over that span, all of which are extremely solid defenses. For the time being, AK is a back end RB1 for me, and unless Teddy shows an ability to consistently move the ball down field, will remain as such until Brees' return.
We already talked a good bit about George Kittle in the previous question, so we're only covering Austin Ekeler here.
Obviously, Ekeler has been fantastic, producing and seeing volume in the rushing and receiving game. Justin Jackson, although having looked incredible in his own right, is not threatening Ekeler's job one bit, and for as long as Gordon holds out, will firmly be in the RB1 conversation. His 16 game pace is honestly ridiculously unrealistic, but I want to say it just to say it: 96 receptions, 2,296 YFS, and 32 touchdowns. Yes, that is real. Obviously, regression is incoming, but even if it does, he's still a player who will be heavily involved in the receiving game and has taken five of seven carries inside the 10 yard line for the Chargers, including all five of their carries inside the five. He's getting all the valuable touches on a great offense, behind a line that has greatly outperformed what many thought they would be capable of heading into the year. For as long as Brees and Melvin Gordon are out, I don't think it's bold to rank Ekeler ahead of Kamara on a weekly basis, so for that alone, I'm a huge fan of this side of the deal. The question is, though, when Gordon returns, what happens to Ekeler?
Well, let's look at last year.
In games where Gordon played, AE was just as productive as games where Ekeler started. Now, this won't be the case this year just because of how productive Ekeler has been, but it goes to show that his value doesn't crumble upon Gordon's return. Also, keep in mind, these splits were from Melvin Gordon's best year of his career (efficiency wise) and Ekeler was still a viable RB2. Now, after sitting for what may be 10 weeks, are we sure Gordon just takes over the RB1 job immediately? I'd say no. With how great AE has looked, I'd imagine for the first couple weeks after returning, he's eased in and will play the 2018 Ekeler role while Austin has Melvin's 2018 role. This extends Ekeler's shelf life a bit, but the Chargers do have a Week 12 bye, and coming out of that, I wouldn't be shocked if they turn to a full 50/50 split. Again, Ekeler was productive last year on just a 36% snap share, so even if this situation plays out how I explained, a 50% work load would still bring RB2 numbers at worst.
With this being a fairly likely scenario, along with acquiring Kittle in the deal as well, it's a smash accept for me. Heading into the year, you'd laugh at this type of deal, but we must remain fluid. Ekeler is a RB1, Kittle is a top 5 tight end, and Ekeler is now catching passes from a QB who wears gloves. I'd much rather get the points from these two players in the short run and rack up early season wins than hold onto Kamara for what could be a very tough stretch over the next month and a half just so you can have him in the playoffs, which you will have a better chance of making with the other side of the deal.