So, I decided to reach out to you guys, via the Tweeter, and see what offers you're senging out and receiving. Sometimes, my thoughts on these moves exceed the 280 characters that blue bird gives me. Because of this, I'm passing up that small bird for a big dog, and expressing my thoughts on these moves and whether or not you should pull the trigger. Let's get into this.
Chris Hogan and LeSean McCoy FOR Doug Baldwin and Sony Michel (.5 PPR)
Let's start with Chris Hogan. Entering the year, everyone was super high on him because he'd be the de-facto #1 in a high powered offense while Edelman was out. 3 weeks into the season, he's only commanded 14 targets, turning them into 7 receptions and two scores. His 14.1% target share is outside the top 60 in the league, and with Gordon and Edelman entering, I wouldn't be surprised if this number continues to fall.
As for McCoy, he is coming off a rib injury that kept him out week three against the Vikings. He's dealt with injuries in the past and isn't known for his durability, and now, in his year 30 season, we're seeing much of the same. When he has played, he's only gotten 9 and 7 carries along with 4 and 3 targets. Last year, he received 287 carries and 77 targets, which is roughly 23 opportunities per game, or double what he's seen thus far. His efficiency fell last season, averaging 4 YPC, and he's matching that this year with a 3.8 YPC mark. In this offense, with his limited opportunities, he's no more than a weekly back-end RB2.
On the other side of the trade, we have Doug Baldwin. He entered this season on a hobbled knee, and then went down week 2 with a sprained MCL in his other knee. His return wasn't looking promising, but it seems he's going to suit up this week. When healthy, he's a top 10 fantasy receiver tethered to Russel Wilson. He's the team's #1 in the slot and should see plenty of volume moving forward.
Lastly, we have Sony Michel. This part is what totally sells me on this trade. With Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead going down, he's the only between-the-tackles runningback the Patriots have left. He's averaged 12 carries in his first 2 games, even with Burkhead active, so this mark should increase. The Patriots look like they have confidence in Sony, starting him these past two games, and going forward, this should be the same. He wasn't in a good position these last 2 matchups, playing from behind, but as the Pats improve, so should their running game.
Verdict: Sony Michel and Doug Baldwin
Devonta Freeman and Randall Cobb FOR Calvin Ridley and Sterling Shepard
Devonta Freeman will be missing his third straight game this week with Tevin Coleman benefiting from his absence. Personally, I'm not looking to trade for a guy who is currently injured, but if I owned him, I'm not sure I'd be selling him during this time, either. It looks like he's on track to return next week, so selling him now is at his absolute floor (unless he reinjures his knee directly upon return). When he returns, I don't expect him to get a command of the lead back role as Coleman has proven his ability to handle a load, but this offense still has enough firepower to get both involved. When he returns, he'd still be a RB2.
As for Cobb, he ranks inside the top 20 in targets (27) and receptions (17), but hasn't done too much with this volume outside of week 1, posting 9/142/1, following that up with 4/30/0 and 4/23/0. Now, he's dealing with a hamstring injury, which tends to linger, especially in those who rely on quick cuts and agility, like Cobb, to gain separation. He's tethered to Aaron Rodgers, which is a plus for anybody, but at this point, he's beginning to look like he's 4th in line behind Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham, and Geronimo Allison. He's not much more than a WR4 at this point.
On the other side, we have two guys who act as their team's WR2, Sterling Shepard and Calvin Ridley. As for Shepard, he's gotten 5 or more targets in all contests thus far, and with Evan Engram sidelined for atleast a couple weeks, he should get more volume. He's proven to be efficient in the past, posting 8 scores his rookie year with OBJ active and 731 yards last year in only 11 games. Sure, he isn't a top 24 guy, but week-to-week, he could sneak into the top 30 if the matchup is right.
Lastly, we have Calvin Ridley, who already has more scores this year than Julio did in all of 2017. With that being said, he's a sell high candidate, but in this trade, he's being dealt at a fair price. Over the past two weeks, he's commanded 13 targets, which is a pace of just over 100 targets. He obviously won't post 7/146/3 every week, but as the Falcon's #2, he should be able to put up high end WR3 numbers. Julio Jones is usually the main focus of opposing defenses, helping Ridley get easier matchups, which is what we saw last week against the Saints. He's currently posting the 2nd most fantasy points/target, 5th most fantasy points/route, and Matt Ryan's QB Rating when targeting Ridley is 154.8, 2nd best in the league. What this tells me is he's super efficient on limited targets. Most likely, this will regress, but at the same time, his volume should increase. Because of this, I wouldn't consider him a fluke, nor a league winner, but he should be a solid player who could fit into your FLEX spot weekly.
Verdict: If you're strong at RB, I favor the Ridley/Shepard side. If you're strong at WR, I wouldn't give up Freeman for two guys who may not crack your starting lineup weekly.
Sammy Watkins and Julian Edelman FOR Deandre Hopkins (PPR)
Sammy Watkins, after looking like he had no chemistry with Mahomes, has posted a touchdown or 100 over the past two weeks and seems to be rejuvenated in this Chiefs' offense. His targets has risen every week (5, 7, 8) and his production has as well. As long as the Chiefs continue to roll, he's a fringe WR2, even being the team's third option in the passing attack.
As for Edelman, we haven't seen anything from him since 2016 due to a torn ACL and substance abuse suspension. Sure, he has rapport with Brady, which could help him upon his return, but let's be real. Edelman is 32 years old, coming off a big injury and hasn't played in over a year. He can have all the chemistry in the world with Tom Brady, but that won't make up for these setbacks he's had. Along with this, the team just brought in Josh Gordon, who should fit into that Brandin Cooks role and still have Gronk, James White, and Chris Hogan, who will all demand targets. Edelman is no longer that strong WR2 he once was in PPR leagues.
On the other side, we have Deandre Hopkins. So far, it may look like he's gotten off to a slow start, but he's 7th in receptions (20) and 10th in yards (274) while commanding 32 targets, 9th most in the NFL. With these numbers, his pace is 107/1461/5 (on 171 targets). Last year, he finished as the WR2, posting 96/1387/13 on 174 targets. As you can see, the only numbers he isn't on pace to surpass are his targets and touchdowns, but even last year 3 weeks in he only had one score. His target share has decreased from 35% to 31.1%, which may seem like a big drop off, but he's still 7th in this category since the Texans only really focus on him, Will Fuller, and occasionally Lamar Miller. Hopkins hasn't seen less than 10 targets through 3 weeks, and although he hasn't seemed like an elite option thus far, he's on pace to be everything he was just a year ago. As time goes by, the offense, as a whole, should improve, bringing his TD pace closer to his 2017 total.
Verdict: Deandre Hopkins
Tevin Coleman and Jordan Reed FOR Rob Gronkowski
With Freeman going down, Tevin Coleman has risen to the occasion, turning his 37 touches over the last 2 weeks into 172 yards and a score against a solid Panthers defense and the Saints. As long as Freeman is out, he will serve as a weekly RB1 option in a strong offense. Even if Freeman does return, which may be soon, he will still demand volume and turn that into production, as he finished as the RB20 in 2017 and RB18 in 2016. Regardless of whether he's the team's primary or secondary option out of the backfield, he will serve as a weekly RB2 in fantasy, and this year, without many elite options at the position, would be a must play putting up consistent numbers.
As for Jordan Reed, he's finally healthy. Whenever he's been on the field in the past, he's been a top 3 player at the position, and this looks to be the case again in 2018. Thus far, he ranks 4th in the position in targets (20), target share (21.5%), and receptions (14), while putting up a respectable 168 yards (8th most). This paces out to 75/896/5, which are elite TE1 numbers. Reed is one of few tight ends who isn't reliant on TDs for value, but he has the ability to find the endzone, which is a plus to his overall value. As long as he's on the field, he's a top-tier play at the position, and now, having an early bye week, can be rolled out every week from 5-17 going forward.
The Big Kahuna, Rob Gronkowski. Typically, whenever Gronk is part of a trade where you're not getting/giving up a top 5 WR or RB, I'm on Gronk's side. In this case, however, that may be different. Despite being the team's best receiver, he's only commanded 17 targets, topping out at 8 and only getting 5 and 4 these last two weeks, respectively. Along with that, he's only found the endzone once and put up an absolute DUD week 2 with a 2/15/0 performance. Obviously this shouldn't be a cause for concern, as the season is still young, but in a trade where you can get two proven producers at valuable positions, it should be taken into consideration. Despite his lack of volume, he's still on pace for 69(nice)/1008/5, which would be elite TE1 numbers. His touchdowns will obviously rise, and will likely be in the double digit range, so I have no concerns about Gronk finishing outside the top 3 at the position.
Verdict: Unless you're are absolutely STACKED at runningback, I'd favor the Coleman side. RBs are hard to come by, so giving up a top-end one, paired with an elite tight end for another elite tight end might not be the best move. If Coleman is your 3rd (or lower) option, and you have other solid RBs on your bench, I would take Gronk, as his production in years past has been unmatched, and at this point in the season, you're buying him at a discounted price.
Melvin Gordon and Tyler Lockett FOR Antonio Brown and Devonta Freeman
Let's begin with Melvin Gordon. Bias aside, he has the potential to finish as a top 3 back this year. Sure, he isn't the most efficient runner, but his volume is almost unmatched. His rushing attempts may be down, but his targets more than make up for that, averaging 8 per game. He's currently on pace for 208 carries, 128 targets, and 21 scores. Sure, maybe his scores and targets won't reach those totals, but he's scored 28 touchdowns in his last 32 games, and coach Anthony Lynn has said he wants Gordon more involved through the air, and they're doing just that. He has had absolutely no luck on the ground as the Chargers have faced possibly 2 of the best offenses in the league, the Chiefs in week one and the Rams in week 3, playing from behind in both contests. Despite this, he still saw a combined 30 carries, which is solid. As for week two, he saw the Bills, a beautiful matchup, but only ran 9 times. Sure, just looking at his attempts may cause concern, but he caught 6 balls, found the endzone three times, and finished the week as the number one overall back, not to mention, he left the game early with an injury scare.
As for Tyler Lockett, he's scored every game thus far, but has been the Seahawks' only real option in the passing game with Baldwin down. Now, with DB returning, his stock will inevitably fall. He's by no means a bad player, far from it, but his current status, the WR11, won't be sustainable.
On the other side, we have AB and Freeman. If you want to see what I think about Freeman, look above, as I already expressed my feelings about him and his value going forward. Antonio Brown, though, is a top 3 receiver, and has finished as such consistently. This year, people are panicking, but my question is, for what? He's currently WR12, which means he's a WR1. He has the 2nd most targets (42) and 4th most receptions (24), the only thing that hasn't happened yet is a high yardage output, topping out at 93 week one. Last year, through 14 games, AB topped 100 yards 8 times, surpassing 200 yards in week 14. If I was a Brown owner, I'd have no concerns as he's on a pace for 128/1,120/11 and still hasn't had a huge game yet. Even with JuJu looking like a solid WR1, AB is still commanding over a 30% target share, and with his ability combined with that volume, he should finish as an elite WR this year.
Verdict: If you are weaker at RB than WR, I'd rock with Melvin Gordon. If you're WR desperate, I'd take the Brown side, as it also comes with a decent RB2 in return.
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