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Top Early-Season Trade Targets


We’re three weeks into the NFL season, and it’s time for you to start getting aggressive on your league mates. After three weeks, people are convinced they know who’s going to be the producers for their fantasy teams later in the year. They’re wrong, and, with that in mind, you can capitalize on guys that are hot now that will be cold later. Values are constantly in flux, and it’s time to hit that buy-low while it’s available.

You have guys like New England Patriots’ running back Rex Burkhead in the top 15 at the position because he had one crazy week. After not doing anything in Week 1 or Week 2, Minnesota Vikings’ wide receiver Justin Jefferson went off in Week 3, and he’s now a top 24 wide receiver. We have to wait until we’re further into the season to truly understand how this fantasy season is going to go. 

That’s why you have to focus on guys that have been proven producers in the past. If you have the depth to afford a trade because you’ve avoided injuries, go knocking on the door of a player in your league that’s getting desperate. You can scoop one of these players off of his roster, and, while he’ll benefit in the immediate, it will work out for you in the long run.

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Quarterback

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

I was beating the Stafford drum all offseason, and, despite this early stumble, I still have faith. He was on pace to finish as QB3 last season on a point per game basis before his season was cut short due to his back injury. Now, he’s started slow, but he’s got all of his weapons back. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay is healthy. In his first game with Golladay back, he had two touchdowns to go with a respectable 270 passing yards. We’ve already seen quarterbacks Drew Lock and Jimmy Garoppolo go down with injuries, don’t be the guy starting backup Jeff Driskel.

After being more of a gunslinger earlier in his career that was willing to throw into contested situations, he’s gotten better at taking care of the ball in the last two seasons. Prior to his injury, he was on pace for just short of 5,000 yards to go with 38 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His offense got even better this offseason with the additions of running back D’Andre Swift and wide receiver Quintez Cephus.

Stafford is currently QB20, and this is one of the interesting scenarios where you could trade a good player for Stafford and another piece to benefit you. If you have a weakness at running back, but you’re good at wide receiver, you could move a guy like Minnesota Vikings’ wideout Adam Thielen for Stafford and Jacksonville Jaguars’ running back James Robinson. It would boost you at two spots while taking a sustainable hit. 

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

This could be some recency bias after the performance he put up against the Green Bay Packers in Week 3, but there’s more to it than that. For one, Brees started the year slow after no offseason to meld with his new receiver in Emmanuel Sanders, and he didn’t have an entire offseason with running back Alvin Kamara who missed some time during his contract negotiations. Now, his stock price is getting ready to start trending upwards.

Wide receiver Michael Thomas has missed the last two weeks, but he looks on track to play in Week 4 against the Detroit Lions. That’s exactly what the doctor ordered for a quarterback that is needing an easy matchup. If you take a quick glance at the splits from above, in the 58 games where Thomas and Brees have both played, Brees averages 5.5 points per game. The Lions are allowing offenses to move the ball over them to start the year, and Kamara is really humming in the receiving game right now.

Brees, similar to Stafford, is in the middle part of the QB2 category right now. He’s QB18, but his ceiling will be higher than that when gets his feet under him. Brees is rarely going to turn the ball over, and he’s going to rely a lot on his receivers to generate yards after the catch. They’re doing that now, and it’s unlikely that that will change. A package similar to the one you had in the Stafford deal would likely get the job done, and it might not even cost that much with how Brees has looked early in the year.

 

Running Back

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

Hey, Zac Taylor, knock off the Giovani Bernard gimmick and just give the ball to Mixon. Seriously, I’m getting sick and tired of this. Mixon is running behind one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines, so, how do you properly utilize your handsomely paid running back? You let his backup take the other part of his workload. What do you want from Mixon? How is he supposed to maximize production when you’re only giving him 50 percent of the snaps? In the 12 games of his career that Mixon has received at least 20 carries, he averages over 20 PPR points per game compared to just 11.34 PPR in the other 35 games. Give him the ball.

Now that I got that out of the way, you need to be trading for Mixon right now. He’s one of the NFL’s most talented running backs, and he just needs to be given the opportunity to prove it. His running average isn’t going to be there behind this line, but his work in the receiving game is going to come. This team is going to have to involve him in it because he is one of their best weapons. You don’t pay a guy his contract while letting him sit on the sidelines.

Now, the price to add him to your roster. Whoever rosters him currently, they’re looking to get out of the Mixon market. They’re desperate for running back production, and you just so happen to have a few. Maybe they’re looking to add another wide receiver. You could acquire Mixon for a guy like David Johnson, who continues to be involved in the offense. Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Keelan Cole is another movable option. He’s been inconsistent, and he’s bound to regress after his hot start.

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In Week 2, the genie was let out of the bottle. Fournette exploded late in the game against the Carolina Panthers, and he had a fantastic day. However, in Week 3, he was relegated to second-string duty again. Against a stout Denver Broncos’ defense, they didn’t get much rolling on the ground. Fournette is going to be the guy by the end of the season. He’s bigger and able to handle a full workload. Once he gets his feet fully under him, there’s just no way that incumbent Ronald Jones is going to be able to hold him off.

For his career, Jones averages 3.9 yards per carry. Fournette averages 4.0, and that’s held down by an awful year during his second season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Outside of that season, he’s averaged at least 3.9 yards per carry in each season. Last year, he dramatically increased his workload in the receiving game. In this offense, that’s going to continue once he takes over the lead-back role.

Fournette can be had for a rotational running back or a third wide receiver right now. His value is extremely low after two poor showings in three weeks. A couple of the guys I’d be looking to move to get him include the aforementioned Cole and New England Patriots’ running back Rex Burkhead. Both of them have dramatically outperformed expectations to start the season, and their value likely won’t remain this high.

 

Wide Receiver

D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars

Entering this season, the arrow was pointing straight upwards for the third-year wide receiver. In 15 games last season, he finished as WR 17, and he was just 12 points outside of finishing in the top 12. Early in the season, he missed Week 3, but he was fantasy consistent in Week 1 and Week 2. He’s averaging 12 points per game, and he’s still the lead receiving option for this team.

Despite missing Week 3, he’s still third on the team in receiving yards. He’s also caught all seven of his targets so far. You would like to see his targets per game improve, but quarterback Gardner Minshew has focused on check-downs a lot to start the season. When they’re playing down by more points later on, he’ll see more work down the field, and he can generate big plays on those opportunities.

A couple of guys that you could move for Chark include Atlanta Falcons’ receiver Russell Gage. Gage has massively outperformed expectations to start the season, and he’s bound to regress, especially from a touchdown perspective. Additionally, if you could get someone to bite on Kansas City Chiefs’ wide receiver Sammy Watkins, I would move him while his value still remains high.

Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns

I was high on OBJ entering the season, and, while he’s fallen flat thus far, I still think that brighter days are ahead for the Cleveland wideout. He remains one of the league’s more talented wideouts, and he’s struggled to get into a groove with quarterback Baker Mayfield since arriving last offseason. 

After a rough Week 1, he’s had a solid couple of games since. In Week 2, he caught four of his six targets for 74 yards and a touchdown. In Week 3, against an overmatched Washington Football Team secondary, he caught four of six again for 59 yards. He leads the team in targets by nine through three games, and that’s not going to change moving forward. In fantasy, volume remains king, and Odell is getting his volume. When he gets enough volume, he’s a valuable asset.

Similar to Chark, guys like Gage and Watkins remain interesting trade options for Beckham. His value is low right now after struggling since he arrived in Cleveland, and people are looking for immediate production that he’s not getting him. Beckham will have easier matchups ahead than he did against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1, and that will lead to more production as we’ve seen in recent weeks.

 

Tight End

Evan Engram, New York Giants

Engram has stumbled out of the gate, but he has nowhere to go but upwards. Since he made it into the NFL, the only thing that has held him back has been health. He’s currently in the perfect scenario to be producing at a high level, but the offense isn’t functioning properly around him. Running back Saquon Barkley is out for the season, and the other wide receivers, outside of Darius Slayton, have been inconsistent at best to start the year.

Engram is second on the team in targets, receptions and yards through three weeks behind the aforementioned Slayton in all three categories. Fellow tight end Kaden Smith has just seven targets compared to the 20 that Engram has. He’s dominating the receiving workload for the tight end room, but quarterback Daniel Jones has to give him more opportunities to be successful. In the last two games, Engram has played 11 games. In the six games he’s caught at least five passes, he averages over 16 PPR points per game compared to just 6.62 PPR points per game in the other five games. He’s going to get volume simply due to the attrition of the other pass-catchers. 

If you’re looking to move another tight end for him, a guy like Logan Thomas would be an easy sell. Thomas has performed well to start the season, but he’s likely going to be held back by the play of quarterback Dwayne Haskins and wide receiver Terry McLaurin dominating the target share. Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis is going to see his value tank dramatically when teammate A.J. Brown returns, and it would be wise to move him while you have that chance.

Jace Sternberger, Green Bay Packers

This one is the longest of long shots that we’re going over today. Tight end is impossible to predict outside of the rock-solid guys at the top. If you’re looking for the guy that could turn into that huge value late in the year, it’s Sternberger. After failing to register a catch through his first season, he finally broke through on Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints. He caught all three of his targets for 36 yards, and he gives this team that seam threat they’ve been searching for.

Tight end is an often overlooked position in fantasy, especially when it comes to getting a second one on your roster. Most players, if you punt on the position, are content to stream the position on a weekly basis. However, if you have a solid option at the position like Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce or Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders, Sternberger gives you a great flier for later in the year. 

If Sternberger were able to break out, you could lock in two tight ends to your lineups every week. Having that additional flex versatility makes your roster more and more dangerous. Sternberger is also the easiest guy to acquire with a price tag in the range of Indianapolis Colts’ tight end Jack Doyle or Raiders’ wide receiver Bryan Edwards, which is one player that people have a lot of faith in to break out this year.



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Whether it's injuries, bye-week blues, or simply poor performance, we've got the waiver-wire cure...but it just might cost you! Alongside our famous waiver wire pickups list and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Budget (FAB). In... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 7 Lightning Round

Week 6 was relatively healthy and had no coronavirus delays, so let's just take a moment to bask in that. That said, we still saw Miles Sanders (knee) and Zach Ertz (ankle) go down, while Mark Ingram (ankle) has a bye to get healthy. Week 7 byes are Baltimore, Indianapolis, Miami, and Minnesota. Let's get... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Fantasy GMs are to be commended for rising to the unique challenges that have unfolded during this regular season. Injuries to critical players is an unwelcome reality that occurs every year. This is also the case for backs that were expected to operate as RB1s, but have been relegated to committees. However, this season has... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 7

Six weeks of NFL football are behind us, aside from a pair of Monday games, including a late afternoon game between the Bills and the Chiefs. In terms of wide receiver production this week, we didn't have the huge breakouts like we had in Week 5. Chase Claypool didn't score four touchdowns. In fact, only... Read More


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Dissecting Contact Quality In Search Of Fantasy Bargains

Of the 1,015 hitters sampled(1) between 2015 and 2019, there were only 14 instances of hitters making more productive contact against pitches outside of the strike zone than against pitches inside of the strike zone based on xwOBAcon. Based on the same sample, the average hitter was a whopping .116 points better against pitches inside... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 23rd, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 23rd, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Lineup Order Risers and Fallers: AL West 2020 Review

It’s the offseason and there are about to be a bunch of moving parts. This allows for speculation in terms of players gaining or losing playing time, moving up or down a batting order and much more. The idea here is to highlight some lineup situations for each team and some potential winners or losers... Read More


2021 1st & 2nd Year Players with James Anderson - Benched with Bubba (Episode 317)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by James Anderson (@RealJRAnderson) on episode 317. The guys will go over 30+ first and second-year players. They will discuss their current ADP's in the 2 Early Mocks, what to expect of the players in 2021, and much more. They also go over some listener questions, compare Juan Soto to Mike... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 21st, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 21st, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 20th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 20th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 54: 2 Early Mocks APD Player Debates - Benched with Bubba (Episode 316)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They go over some of the positions and look at players with similar ADPs and debate. Going around the diamond discussing some players people are high on and some they are down on with a... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 18th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 18th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 17th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 17th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


2021 Early Mock ADP Values & Reaches: WPC+ Videocast

Pierre Camus and Nicklaus Gaut prepare for the 2021 fantasy baseball season with a look at early mock draft results from the RotoBaller Expert mock. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well! Be sure to also tune into RotoBaller... Read More


Statcast Season Review: 2020 Barrel Leaders (Hitters)

The 2020 MLB season will always be one for the record books, even if everything that took place will have multiple asterisks attached to it. Evaluating Statcast numbers is a nice way to find hot and cold hitters, as well as underachievers and overachievers. Now that the regular season is over, let's reflect on the... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 16th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 16th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 15th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 15th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Daily MLB Injury Roundup for October 14th, 2020

RotoBaller has assembled a list of daily MLB injury updates to help you prepare both your seasonal and daily fantasy baseball (DFS) lineups, every day of the MLB season. Below is our updated list of injured MLB players for October 14th, 2020. Only players on teams that are scheduled to play today will appear below... Read More


Bubba and Bat Flip 53: 2 Early Mocks APD Trends & More - Benched with Bubba (Episode 315)

Bubba (@bdentrek) is joined by Bat Flip Crazy (@BatFlipCrazy) to take a deeper look at the 2 Early Mocks ADP. They dig into trends, some interesting risers/fallers, and much more. They also go over some listener questions at the end to keep the Fantasy Baseball information coming even in the offseason. Be sure to subscribe... Read More