This is about the time of the season where trades start to happen in fantasy football leagues. Teams that are under .500 will be looking to make moves, and players that have disappointed will be on the block. Even if you are one of those teams, you are still in it, and a few moves can get you right back on track for a championship. I have picked out the perfect trade targets for you to set your sights on.
Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan was a top-three fantasy football quarterback last year, and so far this season, he has been above average, but not great. One of the factors that made him an elite option last season was how bad the defense was. Well, Keanu Neal was just lost for the season and the Atlanta Falcons’ defense looked awful again last week. Neal is the enforcer in the passing game, and without him, the Falcons were one of the best fantasy football matchups last season. This created a lot of shootouts and a lot of pass attempts for Ryan.
Ryan is also benefited by a great group of wide receivers as well as a great pass-catching tight end. In addition, he benefits from a schedule that has him playing in a dome all of the ways until mid-November. Ryan could quickly go from a top 10 quarterback to a top-five in the next few weeks. Go get him before the price goes up.
Baker Mayfield – Cleveland Browns
Baker Mayfield hype has cooled off and he may be the biggest disappointment at quarterback so far this year. A mixture of poor offensive line play and questionable play-calling has him off to a bad start. Last week, against a strong Baltimore Ravens team, he was able to turn in an impressive performance in a must-win game.
All of the same reasons you wanted to draft Mayfield this offseason are the same reasons you should go and buy him. Baker has a slue of weapons on offense, and the schedule is lightening up a bit. He faced some of the toughest pass defenses in the league the first four weeks, and that is definitely a factor in his poor play. Odell Beckham Jr. has yet to really break out and once those two start to connect, the sky is the limit for this offense.
Daniel Jones – New York Giants
Daniel Jones lit the fantasy football world on fire with his top-two performance in Week 3. This was the best fantasy football debut by any quarterback, and the hype train was started. Last week, Jones looked like a rookie and threw two interceptions in an average performance against the Washington Redskins. His stock came back down to earth, and it could be even lower after the next two matchups on the slate. Jones has to face the Minnesota Vikings this Sunday, and then he has the New England Patriots the following Thursday in Week 6.
This is the perfect window for a trade if you were unsuccessful in streaming him ahead of the Redskins game. He should be getting Saquon Barkley back sooner rather than later on top of the returning Golden Tate this week.
This offense was a top 15 scoring offense and passing offense last year with Eli Manning. The improvements on the offensive line have them back on track. The rushing ability of Jones gives him a safe floor and an extremely high ceiling. His fantasy playoff schedule is prime and is the cherry on top. In Week 13, the New York Giants travel to Philadelphia to face the Eagles. Then they are back home in Week 14 to host the Miami Dolphins, and in Week 16, the Giants travel to Washington to play the Redskins. All are fantastic matchups, and Jones could be a league winner.
Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers
With the return of Melvin Gordon, a lot of people are looking to sell Austin Ekeler. Ekeler, who was a top 27 running back last season, has established himself in this backfield. I do not see any reason that the team would completely take him off of the field. Look for a committee style approach that could easily bring us two top 20 running backs. Ekeler will still be heavily involved in the passing game and should be a flex option each week.
Le’Veon Bell – New York Jets
This offense is off to an incredibly slow start, and if it could go wrong, it has. The New York Jets have played extremely difficult defenses so far, and for the most part, have been without quarterback Sam Darnold. They lost Darnold to mononucleosis, which in itself just shows you the bad luck of this team right now. Le’Veon Bell‘s value is at an all-time low due to this slow start.
The one bright side has been the usage. Bell has been used as a workhorse so far. Even with extremely poor efficiency, Bell has been a serviceable running back each week. The team’s schedule is clearing up and they are getting valuable pieces back on offense. Darnold should be back in the next week or two as well, and the team is also getting tight end Chris Herndon back from his suspension next week. Go take advantage of the market before Bell’s stock goes back up.
Josh Jacobs – Oakland Raiders
Josh Jacobs was given no favors when the NFL made the Oakland Raiders schedule for 2019. It is not getting any better in Week 5, either. This week, the Raiders travel to London to play the Chicago Bears. Jacobs profiles as a pass catcher, and the Raiders have yet to use him in that fashion so far this season.
Whether it is due to pass protection issues or their fondness for Jalen Richard, this won’t continue. Jacobs was a first-round pick and the future of this backfield. Look for the Raiders to get him going as the season goes on and the schedule lightens up. He is a great trade target and could be had for cheap right now, maybe even cheaper after the Bears’ game.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers
All of the fears about Juju Smith-Schuster struggling as a number one receiver have come to fruition so far this year. On top of that, JuJu has been battling a toe injury since Week 1, and in Week 2, the team lost their All-Pro quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. JuJu continued to struggle in a blowout against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the offense itself just doesn’t look the same without the 3-B’s (Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and Ben Roethlisberger).
JuJu is an extremely talented player who has the ability to move around the offense. The Pittsburgh Steelers, who showed a lot of creativity last Monday, should find ways to get him involved. The game was on live television, which should have a lasting effecting on those who saw it. Seeing it on primetime seems to have a bigger effect, and I am seeing JuJu shares being dumped off all over Twitter. I would go check the price, and if the price is right, go get him.
Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers
Davante Adams had a slow start to the season, but he finally blew up last week against the Philadelphia Eagles only to leave the game near the end with a foot injury. The injury is reported to be a turf toe issue that could linger throughout the season. Adams stock as a top-flight receiver has taken a hit due to all of the doubts about this offense, about Rodgers, and about the injury. It’s a perfect time to grab him at a valuable price.
Calvin Ridley – Atlanta Falcons
Calvin Ridley has had a sophomore slump so far, and just like I said to go buy Matt Ryan, go buy Ridley. Those two have yet to show a strong connection this season, and it is only time before we see a big game for Ridley. Ridley is a strong candidate due to the expected increase in passing targets in this offense. Also, if Julio Jones were to go down, this is a situation where Ridley’s value could skyrocket.
Chris Herndon – New York Jets
Herndon is set to be a big part of this offense, and the Jets’ offense looks to have a clear path for improvement. Their schedule has been extremely difficult thus far, and they are currently using their third-string quarterback. Everyone is selling all of their pieces, and Herndon may actually be on the waiver wire. If he is, go pick him up.
In a position that has very few options, Herndon was a top-10 tight end last season, even in limited work. Herndon should be a fringe top option again this season on a team with limited options. Quincy Enunwa was put on season-ending injured reserve, and he was Herndon’s main competition as a red zone threat in this offense.
George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers
George Kittle has looked pedestrian, and the team has focused more on the running game. Kittle had most of his success last season while Jimmy Garoppolo was on the shelf, and there was some doubt on whether he could maintain it with Jimmy. The team also had a bye week, which gave Kittle one less week to prove his worth so far. I would go trade one of the trending tight ends to go get Kittle if I could. Will Dissly and Gerald Everett put on a show this Thursday and would be perfect examples of guys I would move for Kittle.
Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
There was a lot of concern for regression, and so far that has been spot on. The targets and receptions for Zach Ertz were record-breaking last year and almost impossible to recreate. The production has not been awful this season but hasn’t been worth the price you paid when you drafted Ertz in the top three rounds of your fantasy football draft.
Those who are drafted Ertz had to neglect running back and wide receiver. If they are struggling, they are regretting that decision. Look for those teams and help them improve their skill positions with your depth as you go and solidify your tight end position. Trading a flex player and a solid tight end for Ertz may put your team over the top.
Ertz has a brutal matchup against Jamal Adams this weekend and his stock should remain low or be ever lower. Carson Wentz and Ertz are the newest versions of Tony Romo and Jason Witten. He is Wentz’s favorite target, and we all know that Ertz can be a target hog. The targets will continue to go his way and production should be soon to follow.
David Heilman is a writer and Fantasy Football co-director for Pro Football Network. You can follow him at @DynastyDorks on Twitter.