The fantasy trade market is always a fun one to evaluate. Articles like this are essentially glorified "Who's Hot and Who's Not" pieces but the tables are turned to where sometimes, you want to trade for those that are cold and trade away those hot.
Now, five weeks into the season, we have several big-name players underperforming and others over-performing. The trade market has the most leverage possible early on in the year when owners are 0-5 or 1-4 with injuries flooding them (especially this year). The time to buy/sell is now and I am here to help.
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Players to Trade For
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
Chase Claypool breaking out is the best thing that could have happened for Juju. Now, the Steelers finally have a field-stretching threat who can play the Martavis Bryant role in the offense and open up the middle of the field for Juju to operate. While the target share and fantasy production has been mediocre for the greater part of the past two seasons, the time has come to trade for Juju. His early-career production was definitely bolstered playing next to arguably the greatest receiver of this past generation in Antonio Brown but he did hold his own without him.
In 4 games with Ben and without AB prior to this season: Juju had 35 targets, 26 receptions, 333 yards, and 3 TDs. Two of those games were with Martavis Bryant who drew plenty of attention away from the line-of-scrimmage and the hope with Claypool is the same. Claypool is so big and fast that leaving him in man coverage with a smaller DB is foolish, he needs to be doubled downfield or else. Juju's strength is playing through contact, finding holes and breaking out plays with the ball in his hands. Diontae Johnson is a talented receiver due to return soon and also bolstered by Claypool but Juju is the primary beneficiary given his style of play.
Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
Obviously, Cooper has been fantastic this season and trading for him last week would have cost an arm and a leg but after Dak Prescott's injury and Cooper's mediocre Week 5 performance, there may be a window open to take advantage of. While Andy Dalton is a downgrade from Prescott, he is still a capable NFL QB who will be playing in the best offense since 2015 with prime A.J. Green, Marvin Jones Jr, Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert and Mohamed Sanu.
Five years is a lot of time, and there has been plenty of mediocrity since, but Dalton's now been in Dallas all offseason and through the first month of the season. He should know the playbook well enough to operate the offense and have plenty of easy throws given the plethora of talent at WR. The Cowboys will feed Ezekial Elliot more than they had early-on with Prescott but they can only afford to do so to a certain degree given how poor their defense is (24th in DVOA). The passing volume will be there and Cooper can succeed with any competent QB under center, especially given the talent around him.
D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
Swift is in a precarious position fantasy-wise as he has not played much, if at all particularly due to Adrian Peterson's arrival, but he has been fantasy-relevant scoring double-digit PPR points in three-of-four games thus far. Kerryon Johnson is slowly getting phased out of the offense and while Peterson remains as the main blockade, that could not matter so much if Swift takes on the lead job with Peterson playing more of a short-yardage role.
Swift has shown to be a fantastic receiving option out of the backfield (despite dropping the game-winner in Week 1) and has tons of rushing upside. He was the second RB drafted in 2020 for a reason and while the Lions have shown to be incompetent with the position for two decades now, Swift should be the one to buck this trend. He was dealing with a hip injury earlier in the season which may have lingered a bit. Now, coming off of the BYE, the Lions may feel a lot more comfortable with him taking on a larger load and playing much more comfortably in the offense. Not to mention, the Lions get an absolute smash matchup versus the Jaguars who have been gashed on the ground for over 300 rushing yards the past two weeks.
Players to Trade Away
Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
Hopes of Ekeler returning anytime soon are fleeting. While he did post a video on Instagram recently where he was working out on a bike machine and claiming to be getting healthier, there is a huge hill to climb before getting back on the field. Ekeler's injury is fairly severe as he admitted that some of the tendon in his leg ripped off of the bone. Luckily, surgery is not required but the rehab process could last until the end of the season. With the Chargers sitting at the bottom of the AFC West with a losing record, there will be no rush to bring him back on the field in the second-half of the season when he is eligible to return from IR. Even if he does return within his six-week timeframe initially established, there is a ton of re-injury risk if he is not 100%.
This has nothing to do with on-field performance/regression whatsoever, he will be incredible on the field with a QB like Herbert who has been a massive improvement over Tyrod Taylor. Trade Ekeler away while the initial reports of his injury are more positive than they may turn out to be in a few weeks.
Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders
After a two-game absence, Ruggs came out and torched the Chiefs' secondary for two catches, 118 yards and a TD. Ruggs' is an incredible football player whose value will often not show up on stat-sheets like in Week 5. He is a field-stretcher who can operate on several sectors of offense but when you quarterback is Derek Carr, Ruggs is needed to take the top off of defenses and keep them honest. While Carr is justifiably labeled as a check-down artist afraid of throwing deep, he is *capable* of doing so, and when he does, Ruggs can, and will produce. However, In three games, Ruggs' hasn't seen more than five targets and given the type of offense Jon Gruden runs, it is unlikely that Ruggs' target share is respectively high anytime soon.
The selling point on Ruggs is that he is a home-run threat akin to Marqiuse Brown/Will Fuller and can win weeks with some WR1 performances. He still has some cache as the first WR selected in the 2020 Draft by a team bereft of pass-catching talent. However, Nelson Agholor and Hunter Renfrow have performed well, Bryan Edwards is returning soon, and Darren Waller is essentially the WR1 despite playing TE. Ruggs will have opportunities but they will be limited, making the margin-for-error quite slim.
David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
To be absolutely clear, do not trade Montgomery until after this week's matchup versus the Panthers. He will probably have as good a game as any running back against their porous run defense. Montgomery's fantasy value is more perception-based than performance-based thus far but he is coming off of his second-best scoring week of the season. Pile on Week 6's presumed performance and you have some momentum to trade away.
Montgomery has been a terrible real-life running back since entering the league and a mediocre-at-best "workhorse" RB. There is still reason to believe that he could have a decent career but he has been mired by the surrounding offense along with his inability to run straight. With Tarik Cohen out for the season, Montgomery's immediate workload should be plentiful and that is another selling-point but it is not hard to imagine Chicago bringing in a complementary back. to alleviate some of the work and play the more valuable passing-downs. The Bears have already inquired about Le'Veon Bell and it is very possible they trade for a back prior to the deadline or sign someone off of the street if a viable one is cut.
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