Week 5 fantasy trade targets and ideas: Who to deal, who to deal for
As always, we’ll kick off this trade advice column by looking at last week’s advice. After two straight scorching hot weeks, we missed on a few players last week, at least in the short term. We advised buying low on Odell Beckham Jr. — something I would still suggest doing. It didn’t hit just yet, though. Eddie Lacy was on a bye and Lamar Miller was unable to break things open against a below-average Titans defense. There is still opportunity there.
Matt Ryan was someone we suggested to sell high on. Although this looks awful now, there are serious question marks for the Panthers’ pass defense, and the Falcons have matchups with the Seahawks and Broncos coming up. I would still sell high. Our other two calls — Matt Forte and Tevin Coleman — both saw a dropoff in role in Week 4. Devonta Freeman began taking away red-zone snaps from Coleman, and Bilal Powell is starting to eat into Forte’s touches overall.
Let’s see if we can have a bounce back Week 5.
Martellus Bennett, TE, New England Patriots
Bennett was a late-round draft pick in most leagues with question marks about his playing time and quarterback situation. This perception completely ignored the fact that Bill Belichick will get his best players on the field and use them in ways that best fit their skill set. Think about the talented castoffs on offense Belichick has gotten the most of throughout his coaching tenure — dating back to Corey Dillon, Randy Moss, even Matt Cassel, though he wasn’t a castoff at that point.
It really shouldn’t be surprising to see Bennett top 100 yards receiving in two of his first four games this season (114 in Week 2 and 109 in Week 4). He also accomplished this feat with Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett. Bennett has scored just one touchdown in four games, but touchdowns are the statistic most likely to regress to the mean. Not to mention, the Patriots’ offense through Week 4 is a lot different than what we can expect from them when Tom Brady returns in Week 5. Bennett and the entire offense will be frequenting the red zone more often with Brady.
With Cleveland on schedule in Brady’s first game back, this might be your last time to buy on Bennett. Once other owners see that he’s still going to be a major part of the offense, he will be nearly impossible to trade for.
Bennett currently owns PFF’s No. 1 overall tight end grade. He has been on the field for the fourth-most snaps of any tight end. He’s not going to come off the field much if he continues to play at such a high level. With Rob Gronkowski still not fully healed from a lingering soft tissue injury (hamstring), Bennett could be a weekly difference maker at the tight end position for the next few weeks and a strong TE1 the rest of the way.
Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets
It’s a little-known secret that Marshall is one of the hardest workers in the NFL. He takes excellent care of his body off the field and that’s why it’s no surprise he has recovered so fast from a Week 2 lower body injury. Marshall’s injury combined with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick’s publicized struggles with turnovers has created a small window to buy here. The 2015 WR1 looked fully back to himself in Week 4, even if the volume wasn’t totally there.
With Marshall, you’re buying the potential increase in volume going forward if Eric Decker’s injury lingers. Marshall finished with a ridiculous 167 targets last season and that was with Decker in the lineup. The Jets’ schedule the rest of the way should dictate more pass production. Only the Cardinals boast a strong challenge for Marshall in the secondary from the Jets’ next six games before their bye week. And even the Cardinals can’t stop him unless Patrick Peterson is lined up across from Marshall. Remember — the volume is already there. In Marshall’ first game without Decker in Week 4, he drew 12 targets (only hauled in four catches). The efficiency will go up and Marshall will make his way back into the top-tiered WR1 conversation.
Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans Saints
A shoe-in for the WR1 conversation after Week 1, Cooks has fallen out of favor with the fantasy community after a few relative duds. The good news is that the Saints are going to continue having to pass the football. Cooks and Drew Brees are going to connect on their go routes like we saw in Week 1 and plenty of times during the 2015 season.
Despite playing within an offense that likes to spread the football around, Cooks has seen the 27th-most targets of all wide receivers this season. Believe it or not, that’s an increased pace from 2015, when he finished with the 37th-most overall. The Saints aren’t using Mark Ingram and the running backs as frequently in the passing game, and Cooks has been one of the Saints to benefit from the increased targets underneath.
Big plays are on the horizon for Cooks, with consecutive games against burnable outside cornerbacks on the Panthers and Chiefs. These two secondaries were responsible for allowing a 300-yard receiver and a five-TD quarterback in Week 4, respectively. Cooks also has a dream fantasy playoff schedule that includes two games against the Buccaneers. It might not take as much as you think to land Cooks right now after a few average games. Don’t miss on his upside.
Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego Chargers
The Gordon ride has been a nice one through four weeks, but we’re starting to see a few warning sides that it might break down shortly. We’ll start at the top, with a Chargers offensive line that is starting to rack up the injuries again. Although they might have looked like a revamped unit in the preseason and Week 1, the Chargers have already fallen to No. 24 in our run-blocking grades overall.
The offensive line is not the only unit that deserves the blame; Gordon simply doesn’t look like the same player we saw in his final season at Wisconsin. He is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry, has earned a negative run grade overall and, most importantly, isn’t tallying long runs. At Wisconsin, Gordon led the FBS with 40 runs of 15-plus yards during his final collegiate season. He has just 57 rushing yards on carries that went for 15-plus yards so far in 2016. The big plays simply aren’t there for him.
The Chargers started to work Dexter McCluster into the rotation more in Week 4. With two upcoming matchups against the Broncos in the next four weeks, it’s time to sell high on fantasy’s RB3 overall (so far). His six rushing touchdowns lap the rest of the league and are an excellent bet to regress as the schedule gets harder.
Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Ware had his run, but all runs must come to an end, as this one will as Ware is succeeded by Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs eased Charles into the action in Week 4, one week before a much-needed bye, but he didn’t look to be lacking his trademark explosion. Sure, Charles was a little hesitant, but that’s to be expected. After the game, he declared himself 100 percent healthy going forward.
In eight seasons with the Chiefs, including many where he was a true workhorse, Charles has never averaged less than 5.0 yards per carry. The narrative that Charles might return to a committee backfield isn’t backed up by many facts. Earlier this offseason, Scott Barrett broke down head coach Andy Reid’s RB1 usage over his coaching career since 2007. It paints a picture of Charles as likely a true lead back the rest of the way.
Ware has already been slowing down in recent weeks. Take out a garbage-time 46-yard scamper in Week 4, he was limited to just 36 yards rushing on 12 carries in his last game. His role in the passing game has gone way down after a fluky Week 1 and he also hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 1. With a bye week coming up, you have a little extra time, but make sure you trade away Ware before it’s too late.
LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots
Blount is a much different running back with Tom Brady in the lineup than he is without him. In 2015, Blount finished with just the 45th-most snaps of all running backs. So far in 2016, he has the 17th-most. Blount has actually played more than half the snaps through four games in 2016 than he did all last season.
With Brady at the helm, the offense runs a lot smoother with a back like James White or (eventually) Dion Lewis taking the snaps at the running back position. One thing we can’t count on is Belichick committing to Blount or any back in the red zone. This means that we can’t simply assign Brady’s return as a harbinger of more red-zone opportunities to come for Blount.
Blount hasn’t been very efficient this season, either. He currently ranks as our 46th-best running back overall (of 51) out of backs who have played at least 25 percent of their team’s snaps. He has earned negative grades across the board, specifically as a runner.
You can still sell off Blount as a consistent RB2 to a desperate owner looking for running back help. Package Blount and a middling wide receiver for a struggling WR1 like Marshall or Cooks and you’re in business.