It’s remarkable how quickly value changes in fantasy football. Look at the Pittsburgh Steelers running backs right now. Le’Veon Bell walked into the season as a top-two pick, only to refuse to play on the franchise tag offered to him by Pittsburgh. All of a sudden, second-year running back James Conner was the most valuable player on the waiver wire. After Week 1, his stock couldn’t have been higher, especially as Bell’s dispute looked destined to carry on as far as Week 10.
As of today, however, Conner’s value has plummeted following a string of poor performances. He had a very unique sell-high window, but that window is now firmly shut.
Coming into Week 5, here are the players you should be trading for to make your team better. May your fantasy team edge a little bit closer to a championship this weekend.
George Kittle – Tight End, San Francisco 49ers
Every year, tight end solidifies its status as the most frustrating position to fill on your fantasy team. There’s a very limited pool of tight ends who are guaranteed significant volume every week, and George Kittle is one of those tight ends.
He currently leads the 49ers in targets, catches and receiving yards. And now, with C.J. Beathard taking over at quarterback for the season following Jimmy Garoppolo’s ACL tear, you can expect that trend to continue.
The most important Kittle stat? Of his 18 catches, 13 of them have resulted in a first down. He is the proverbial chain-mover for the 49ers. He’s a rare rock of stability at the most volatile position in fantasy.
Keenan Allen – Wide Receiver, Los Angeles Chargers
Fantasy football is dominated by recency bias. Case in point – a fantasy analyst conducted two identical polls, asking fans which QB they would rather have – Josh Allen, or Mitch Trubisky. In the first poll, after the Buffalo Bills victory over the Minnesota Vikings, 70% of voters said they would rather have Josh Allen. In the second poll – conducted after the Chicago Bears eviscerated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 68% of voters said they would rather have Mitch Trubisky.
Recency bias could well be gripping Keenan Allen owners right now. After a 16 point game in Week 1, Allen posted scores of 6, 2 and 6. Is he underperforming? Sure. Is he getting enough looks from Philip Rivers to propel Allen back to WR1 numbers? Absolutely.
He currently owns a 24% target share on a team that has been top 10 in pass attempts since 2014. Assuming he stays healthy, Keenan Allen is locked in as Rivers’ primary receiver, and his favorite chain-mover on third down. You should expect his production to fall more in line with his usage, and you should take advantage of Allen owners foolish enough to let him go.
Any Los Angeles Rams Receiver Not Named Gerald Everett
The Rams are the scariest, most potent offensive force in the NFL right now. Sean McVay might be an actual, bonafide wizard. He has taken the rubble of Jeff Fisher’s empire of failure and fashioned a team that looks unbeatable right now.
The best part? His scheme, on the back of Jared Goff, is managing to sustain three fantasy-relevant wide receivers. Whatever type of league you’re in, any one of Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods or Brandin Cooks will make your team better.
The Rams are the second-highest scoring team in the league right now. Get yourself a slice of that pie, and ride it into the fantasy sunset.
Any Detroit Lions Receiver Not Named Luke Willson
Fact – Detroit is the only team to have three wide receives gain 50 yards or more in all of their games so far. Going backward from 2017 to 2013, here are the Lions’ yearly pass attempts: 570, 594, 632, 604, 604.
Marvin Jones is the big-bodied deep threat with immense red zone upside. Golden Tate is the PPR darling and YAC monster capable of breaking screen passes for long touchdowns at any given moment. Kenny Golladay is the prototypical alpha-receiver with potentially the most complete skill set of the group – there’s a reason his nickname is ‘BabyTron’.
For as long as the Lions keep finding themselves in losing situations, and for as long as Matthew Stafford keeps slinging the ball around, Jones, Tate and Golladay will keep returning value. Get your hands on them. Shia LaBeouf said it best when he said, “Just do it”.
Royce Freeman – Running Back, Denver Broncos
Last year, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara became the blueprint for how teams can sustain two fantasy-relevant running backs every week. That blueprint is, of course, dependent on running back talent, but it’s also built on effective, efficient run-blocking.
Right now, Philip Lindsay is running at 5.9 yards per carry. Royce Freeman? He’s running at 5.0 yards per carry. What you’re seeing from the Broncos is an offensive line creating holes and running lanes that both running backs are able to benefit from. That’s the most important point – both running backs are able to benefit.
Look at the Lions running backs. Kerryon Johnson (another excellent trade target, by the way) is surging at 5.7 yards per carry on 38 rushes, whilst LeGarrette Blount is limping along at 2.7 yards per carry on 35 totes. The situation in Denver is not easy to replicate.
You’re always looking for value, and at the moment, Royce Freeman is the cheaper of the two Broncos because Lindsay has looked so good. If you can convince the Freeman owner to give him up, pull the trigger.
by Ben Barton – @Baron_Barton