We’re getting closer to the fantasy football trade deadline, and that means you only have a few weeks to solidify your team before the stretch run leading into the playoffs. I’ve loaded up my fantasy football trade analyzer to talk about some of the most significant question marks over the past few weeks. This includes James Robinson, Ezekiel Elliott, Kenyan Drake, Jonathan Taylor, and Mike Evans. Are they guys you should be targeting in fantasy football trades, or if you own them, should you be looking to sell sooner than later? Let’s take a more in-depth look at each of these players.
The Cowboys are bad. Does the fantasy football trade analyzer say to move on from Ezekiel Elliott?
The Cowboys are miserable. Check out my latest NFL Power Rankings to see just how down on this franchise I am right now. There are just so many reasons for the awful product Dallas is putting on the field this year. The defense stinks – for many reasons. Dak Prescott is out for the year, and the Cowboys are on their third quarterback already in Ben DiNucci. Their once-great offensive line that had true star talent throughout its starting five wishes it was a shell of what it once was. The line stinks.
Dallas’ biggest problem on the field is their turnover differential, which is embarrassingly terrible and by far, the worst in the league. Ezekiel Elliott has gotten the blame for his large contribution to that horrible turnover differential with his fumbling. And that just can’t be denied. But his history shows that he isn’t a terrible fumbler when considering the massive workload he has endured as a Cowboy and at Ohio State.
But there is where we need to start to be concerned with Elliott. Are we seeing the very first stages of decline? Elliott is only 25 years old, but he isn’t making yardage on his own this year as he did in the past. Again, his blocking stinks. But this team was putting up huge points and producing tons of yardage when Prescott was behind center…and Elliott still wasn’t breaking off many chunk runs. When he does get to the second level, Elliott hasn’t thrived this year as he did in the past.
Now, I am not implying that he is done or even declining, but history is undefeated, and in these challenging times, some chinks in Elliott’s armor might be showing for the first time. So, what to do with Elliott in fantasy? My fantasy football trade analyzer’s take is that you should entertain offers if you own Elliott, but also that selling so low is not a great move for someone that has just been a fantasy monster over his career. And Dallas’ offense has nowhere to go but up.
Keep an eye on Elliott to see if he breaks off chunk runs when he does finally see daylight, but for the time being, he is a hold or a buy much more than a sell at all costs.
What is Kenyan Drake’s trade value, and what is his rest of season outlook? Is Chase Edmonds the guy to own?
Besides destroying Dallas in Week 6 when the Cowboys defense laid down at the end of the game, Drake has been one of the most disappointing early draft picks in fantasy football this year. Drake was great for the Cardinals after they traded for him from Miami last year, but other than that stretch, he has been a part-time player. That applies to Drake’s career at Alabama as well, where he shared a backfield with Derrick Henry. Drake is a piece of the puzzle, but not a foundational back. That way, he best keeps his explosiveness and big-play ability.
In 2020 for Arizona, and injuries might have been a factor, Drake didn’t look explosive and showed very little big-play ability. Arizona’s system produces big rushing numbers for both running backs and Kyler Murray alike, and Murray’s amazing threat as a runner does have a lot to do with that. Yet, Drake didn’t produce, and if we subtract that Cowboys game, he ran for just 348 yards in the remaining six games. If that 58 yards per game on the ground wasn’t bad enough, Murray has only targeted Drake 10 times this year. And that is what basically killed Drake, who is now on the shelf with an injury.
Meanwhile, Chase Edmonds, Arizona’s new lead back, has been targeted in the passing game 32 times while also averaging 6.1 yards per carry when handed the football. As it sits right now, Edmonds, who might be the superior player of the two, is set up to be an RB1 for the next several weeks with Drake on the shelf. And, if that comes to fruition, which it should, there is no way that Drake gets his job back atop Arizona’s running back depth chart. Edmonds is the guy to own in Arizona.
Should I give up on Mike Evans and trade him before the fantasy football trade deadline?
Evans has been incredibly frustrating for fantasy purposes. He is Tampa Bay’s second-leading receiver but still only has 318 receiving yards through seven games. Evans’ six touchdowns have been his saving grace. In those seven games, Evans has two 100-yard performances. But those are also the only two games this year in which Evans has eclipsed 41 receiving yards. When Chris Godwin has been healthy, which hasn’t been all that often in 2020, Evans has become somewhat obsolete in Tampa Bay’s offense. But, Evans has done rather well when Godwin has been sidelined…and Godwin just broke his finger and will miss at least this week if not more.
Oh yeah, Antonio Brown was also signed and will be in the mix very soon. And Rob Gronkowski is starting to round into shape. And Leonard Fournette looks like he is poised to become the Buccaneers lead back and assume most of those receiving duties. That is a ton of very hungry mouths to feed in Tampa Bay. But the Bucs offensive line is strong, and Tom Brady now is very comfortable, making this team and this offense his own. It’s Brady’s team now.
We know that Evans is a great football player, and let’s just bet that Brady does too. In fact, Evans is on a Hall of Fame career path. This past week, we saw Tampa Bay employ more four wide receiver sets, something that could become quite common when Evans, Brown, Godwin, and Scotty Miller are all in the lineup.
Again, Evans has been frustrating. But my fantasy football trade analyzer notes that his fantasy stock is so low right now that you won’t get much in return if you shop him to your league mates, especially when considering that he has produced just 88 yards in the last three weeks. But bet on talent. Go out and make an offer for Evans now, start him this week with Godwin and Brown not in the mix and go from there. Do not…do not…give Evans away for pennies on the dollar.
Is Jonathan Taylor going to be RB1 for the Colts for the remainder of the season? Should I try to buy low if I can?
This one might take a little leap of faith, but my fantasy football trade analyzer says that it’s time to go all-in on Taylor. Almost every rookie running back started their fantasy career slow this year. We can debate why that is the case, as the running back position is usually a pretty easy transition from college to the NFL. However, coaches won’t put running backs in the game for long stretches if they don’t trust them in protection. By this time of the year, coaches might finally be gaining that trust.
We saw D’Andre Swift’s role grow dramatically after the Lions bye week. It might be Taylor’s turn now. This might also apply to JK Dobbins as well with the Ravens and Colts coming off their bye week, but Dobbins is a conversation for another day. Heck, Zack Moss might be on the verge of dominating the Bills backfield touches, but again, a discussion for another day.
Clearly, Indianapolis was enamored with Taylor in the draft. He was the best pure ball carrier in this draft, with room to develop as a receiver. For the Colts to be at their best, they need a runner in the exact mold of Taylor. It hasn’t played up to last year’s standards, but the Colts offensive line could/should be back to being one of the best in football.
Indianapolis has an excellent defense and lacks quality receiving weapons for Philip Rivers, who frankly needs to be managed and reeled in. That is exactly where Taylor comes in. This adds up too much. Taylor can be a league winner.
Is James Robinson a guy to target or sell high before the fantasy football trade deadline?
In his seven games, James Robinson has scored six touchdowns and produced 706 yards from scrimmage. That is just great production. This past week, Robinson got 90% of the snaps and has assumed the passing down role. He rarely leaves the field and is now getting a big piece of the Jaguars’ target share week after week. This offense has many issues, and Gardner Minshew will never be adept at driving the ball down the field with “arm strength throws,” but Jacksonville’s quarterback should continue taking the easy throws to his running backs.
For dynasty reasons, Robinson looked like an easy sell and a fun story a few weeks ago. But since then, it seems like there is a very good chance that Robinson is Jacksonville’s starting running back in 2021 while the Jaguars use their dollars and draft picks on many other areas of this team (that has now lost six in a row) that need improvement.
We need to take Robinson seriously. Robinson is here to stay most likely, but for your redraft team, my fantasy football trade analyzer says that you might want to listen to offers if you can get RB1 return for Robinson. He will keep producing, but it is unlikely that Robinson will continue to put up massive fantasy numbers with his just average overall talent. He’s good, but not great. And if you can get a great return, pull the trigger on moving Robinson.
Matt Williamson is a Senior NFL and Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @WilliamsonNFL.