Week 10 fantasy trade targets and ideas
As usual, we’ll kick off our buy/sell trade advice column with a look back at last week’s advice. It was another strong week for this column. We advised to move on Odell Beckham Jr. — who entered Week 9 with just three touchdowns in 2016 and ended the day with the most touchdown receptions on a per-game basis of any player in NFL history. Derrick Henry was written up as more of a long-term lottery ticket and Theo Riddick didn’t exactly hit yet, but the sells were strong. We advised to move on from Marvin Jones, who bottomed out in Week 9. We also advised to move on from Rashad Jennings, who is losing ground on the Giants’ depth chart, and Frank Gore, which didn’t pay off this week but was considered a sell in large part due to his upcoming schedule.
After fielding a lot of questions on Twitter (@DanSchneierNFL) about trades ideas and proposals, I’ve decided to throw in this reminder that you can follow me and tweet me any questions you have about trades. I will answer them ASAP and don’t plan to miss responding to any questions. Let’s jump right into this week’s slate of players.
Darren Sproles, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
We played a game of cat and mouse with Sproles prior to Week 9. Eagles head coach Doug Pederson used him as his workhorse back in Week 8 but refused to name him the starter. When push came to shove, Sproles operated as a true workhorse for the Eagles for a second week in a row. He played 80 percent of the snaps in Week 9 and has seen 36 total touches over the past two weeks. One more fun stat — only five running backs have run more pass routes than Sproles over the past four weeks.
Sproles hasn’t been just a volume play either. He is operating with a level of efficiency that’s uncommon even for him. Over the past four weeks, Sproles owns the fourth-best elusive rating among all running backs in the NFL. He has forced 13 missed tackles on just 46 combined touches and he has averaged a 2.82 yards after contact per attempt. He has the 11th-best elusive rating through the past four weeks as well, with four runs of 15-plus yards.
His snap counts and total touches put him a rare class of backs in fantasy football, and in spite of this, Sproles is still viewed by most fantasy managers as a situational back in a timeshare. This may be your last opportunity to buy Sproles at his discounted price. If you need a lead back with upside to push into the high-end RB2 range going forward, Sproles makes for the ideal target.
Paul Perkins, RB, New York Giants
Last week we wrote about moving on from Rashad Jennings, and that plays right into the rookie Perkins’ rising stock. Perkins saw a season-high 22 snaps in Week 9. This was still under 50 percent, but that number should rise. Perkins provided the Giants’ run game with a spark after struggling early with beating out early contact behind the line of scrimmage. He capped his second half with gains of 14 and 15 yards on consecutive plays before the Giants turned the ball over to lose possession.
Perkins offers the Giants something that Jennings can’t. He has the vision, quickness and running style of a young Ahmad Bradshaw, but Devonta Freeman is the closest NFL comparison that fits his overall style. Perkins finished with the top elusive rating in the 2016 NFL Draft class, forcing 85 missed tackles on just 265 total touches with a 3.58 Yco/Att average.
Perkins was contacted behind the line of scrimmage on more than 25 percent of his runs, but he still averaged 3.5 yards after contact on 61 of those runs. This is something the Giants need from a running back given the current state of their offensive line. Even before losing their best player (Justin Pugh) to a knee sprain in Week 9, this group of front struggled with consistency in the run-blocking department.
It might not be time for the Perkolator just yet, but that time is coming, and you’ll want to get your hands on a potential difference maker who can tilt the outcome for your team come fantasy playoffs time. You might be able to pull Perkins off of some waiver wires, but he is most likely on someone’s roster. Not to worry — you can pry him free and it won’t cost you much
Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins
This will likely be your last chance to buy a potential difference-maker for your team down the stretch. It’s so hard to find tight ends in fantasy, and it’s even harder to find ones like Reed who can tilt a matchup in any given week. We saw this on display throughout the 2015 season and in his first game back after missing time with a concussion, Reed was dominant during the Redskins’ Week 8 win over the Bengals. Reed finished with nine receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown.
But you can still get him on the cheap — Reed’s owners are concerned with his long-term health status and the bye week has cooled off his stock. Meanwhile, Reed drew 11 targets in his first game back with the team — there was no reacclimation to the offense. Over the past four weeks, only six tight ends have a higher yards per route run average. Over the entire season, Reed is also in the top-10 in yards per route run.
Terrance West, RB, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens came out of their bye week prepared to change things up in the backfield. West only played 30-of-50 offensive snaps in Week 9. He also saw 16 total touches and finished with just 27 total yards. On the flip side, the Ravens turned to talented rookie running back Kenneth Dixon on 20 snaps and he finished with 11 total touches. Dixon wasn’t all that impressive, but he’s still a rookie.
There’s a reason why the Ravens are moving on from West and giving Dixon a chance to prove he can separate from the pack. West has been one of the least-efficient running backs in the NFL over the past four weeks. In that time span, West has just the 31st-”best” elusive rating out of 39 qualifying backs who have seen at least 25 percent of their team’s attempts over the past four weeks. He has forced just five missed tackles on a whopping 51 total touches.
Dixon, on the other hand, was a hyper-efficient back at the college level. He’s a multi-layered running back option as well — unlike West, he can make an impact in the passing game. Dixon earned the fifth-best receiving grade in college football in part due to the 16 forced missed tackles he racked up. Dixon also finished with CFF’s third-best elusive rating overall as a runner and receiver by racking up 3.27 Yco/Att and forcing 70 missed tackles on. He checks another box as a top 10 finisher in pass blocking efficiency.
It’s time to sell your West shares before it’s too late.
Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants
Shepard seems like a potential player you can buy on the rise. He is back on the fantasy scene after a Week 9 performance that mostly consisted of his one touchdown reception and not much else. What have we preached about touchdowns and how important it is to project regression with that statistic? This is the case for the Giants’ rookie. His Week 9 touchdown will offer him some value to other owners with the inability to filter recency bais and you need to use that to your advantage.
Over the past four weeks, Shepard has the 36th-”best” PFF wide receiver rating of 44 qualifying receivers. He also owns just the 43rd-most total targets with 21 over the past four weeks (three games). The most alarming stat for Shepard is his egregiously low yards per route run average. Shepard has just a 0.91 yards per route run average — the 80th-”best” out of 91 qualifying receivers.
Shepard is not making plays and the overall volume is simply not there. The best thing you can do is sell while he’s riding the high of a big Week 9 performance led by a touchdown. Again — what do we say about touchdowns? No, I mean it. Say it with me. “Touchdowns are due to regress.” There we go.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
Bernard may seem like the lead back in Cincinnati or at least a member of a completely even split, but there’s reason to believe this won’t be viewed as true soon. Bernard saw just 12 total touches during the Bengals’ high-scoring overtime game vs. the Redskins before their Week 9 bye. He was all but officially named the No. 2 running back. But that’s not how most owners view him. Most see him as the potential lead back.
In addition to his loss of volume, Bernard simply hasn’t been an efficient player over the past four weeks. He has the 33rd-”best” elusive rating of 39 qualifying running backs. On 49 total touches, Bernard has somehow managed to force just three missed tackles. That’s not a typo either — the answer is three. He also owns a middling 2.70 Yco/Att.
Meanwhile, teammate Jeremy Hill has the seventh-best elusive rating over that same span of games. Hill has forced just seven missed tackles on 46 total touches, but the key has been his ability to create yardage after contact. Hill owns a 4.43 Yco/Att average — the most in the NFL of any running back over the past four weeks. Get rid of Bernard before it’s too late.