The waiver wire might be the most popular route to improve your team during the season’s first month, but it should always be trade season in any fantasy football league. Remember, things change awfully quickly in this game, so be prepared to react when you see any opportunity to improve.
With three weeks’ worth of data in the books, here are four players — one at each skill position — whom you should target in trades in all of your leagues, as well as four players you might want to trade away while their stock is hot.
Go get ’em
The concussion that knocked him out of the Week 3 game effectively tossed cold water on what was, at the time, seemingly a breakthrough campaign for this second-year wide receiver. Even with Johnson having missed the Steelers’ final 52 plays of that game, he still paces the team with a 23% (25-of-107) target share — and a team-leading three of those have come on end-zone throws.
That’s not bad for a player who complained of a toe injury during the season’s early weeks. Johnson has a great schedule between now and Thanksgiving, and he’s not even perceived to be a locked-in, top-20 wide receiver, despite the fact that his raw talent supports the claim. This might be your last chance to nab him at a discount.
A groin injury cost him much of the preseason, setting him back in terms of average draft position, and through three games, he hasn’t seen many more total touches per game (15.0) than he did in 2019 (14.3). That has kept Montgomery’s perceived fantasy value in the flex-play tier of running backs — think consistently ranked between 21st and 28th — which makes him a strong trade target considering his rest-of-season prospects.
The Bears’ quarterback change from Mitchell Trubisky to Nick Foles during Week 3 should diminish the risk of costly turnovers, and Tarik Cohen‘s season-ending ACL injury solidifies Montgomery’s carries plus pads his receiving output, best indicated by Montgomery seeing two Foles targets after Cohen’s fourth-quarter departure. Montgomery has boosted his average yards after first contact (2.2, up from 1.5 in 2019), and his 24 goal-to-go carries in 19 career NFL contests show that the Bears trust him in scoring position.
There’s a chance you’ve already added him in your ESPN league this week, being that he was rostered in only 27% exiting Week 3 (up 16% from Week 2), but regardless of where he resides in your league today, he’s a universal must-roster player — and trade target — judging from his early usage.
Thomas’ 24 targets are tied for 15th in the league (that’s accounting for all positions), he’s tied for sixth with five red zone targets and tied for 10th with three end zone targets — and all of it was spread very nicely across his three games, making it more trend than single-week fluke.
Sure, the struggles of his quarterback, Dwayne Haskins Jr., are a concern for Thomas’ production going forward, but this level of attention can go a long way towards masking your quarterback’s problems, not to mention the team could turn that position over to Alex Smith, a tight end-friendly passer, if Haskins’ issues continue for much longer.
He has not impressed thus far, ranking 17th in fantasy points among quarterbacks and losing all three games, during which his Texans trailed for nearly half the time. At the same time, Watson faced three of the toughest matchups on his entire 2020 schedule (@KC, BAL, @PIT).
However, his next five games are the easiest (MIN, JAX, @TEN, GB, bye, @JAX), and he really has only three more truly challenging matchups overall: NE in Week 11; @CHI in Week 14; and @IND in Week 15.
Watson also made noticeable improvement in Week 3, especially his 6-of-8 completions on vertical throws (15-plus yards downfield), signaling he could be adapting to his new, DeAndre Hopkins-less set of receivers. With so many other quarterbacks excelling, Watson might well have fallen into the “perceived-borderline-QB1” valuation class, and at that price, buy, buy, BUY!
Trade ’em away
Heap as much credit upon Josh Allen and members of the Bills’ passing game as you wish, because they all sure deserve it. That said, Brown was considered, at best, a borderline flex-play option in terms of preseason ESPN ADP (WR48), and this might be the one shot you get to trade him away in-season.
He has a mere 16.1% (18-of-112) target share — which actually trails Cole Beasley (17.9%) on his own team — and he has only three of the team’s 27 red zone and one of the team’s 11 end zone targets. Brown capitalized upon what were amazing receiver-versus-cornerback matchups in Weeks 1 and 2, and the team’s schedule during the fantasy-playoff weeks is exceedingly difficult.
Allen’s improved accuracy should keep the offense afloat, but you can be sure he’s looking in Stefon Diggs‘ direction before he seeks Brown.
James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Back-to-back 20-point PPR fantasy performances should buoy Conner’s perceived value to the point that he’s probably regarded by most as a mid-range weekly RB2. The problem is that he still has that checkered injury history, including an ankle issue that cost him the entire second half of the Week 1 game, shoulder and quadriceps injuries that shelved him for six games in 2019, and another ankle problem that cost him three games in 2018.
When Conner was sidelined during this season’s opener, Benny Snell Jr. stepped in admirably, and rookie Anthony McFarland Jr. also performed solidly in a change-of-pace role during Week 3. The point is that the Steelers have alternatives in their backfield, ones they won’t be afraid to lean on more heavily in the coming weeks if need be.
He has been the most consistent tight end thus far, with 10.0-14.3 PPR fantasy points in each of his first three games plus 8, 8 and 7 targets in those contests — and right there is your sales pitch.
Henry has been anything but reliable during his five-year NFL career, having missed 23 of 67 games, and he has yet to catch rookie quarterback Justin Herbert‘s eye in the red zone in Herbert’s two starts under center. In fact, it’s the team’s uncertainty under center that makes members of the Chargers’ receiving game so volatile.
Shop them now and get yourself someone you could lock in week after week.
Fresh off a 37-30 upset of the Saints — during which he scored 24.5 fantasy points while facing a tough-on-paper matchup — is the right time to cash in this chip.
Rodgers’ numbers rival those of any of his best seasons: 24.5 fantasy points per game (career-high 26.5 in 2011), 67.0% completions (68.3% also in 2011), 14.9% off-target rate (14.4% in 2012), 9.0 yard average depth of target (9.2 in 2009). Still, he partly padded those numbers with super-soft Weeks 1-2 matchups against the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions, and he has been doing it despite a receiving corps that has long been criticized for its lack of depth — to think that Rodgers did what he did in Week 3 with Davante Adams on the sidelines makes the effort all the more impressive.
Remember, this is a run-based rather than pass-based offense, and Rodgers’ numbers are sure to regress when he faces some of the tougher matchups on his schedule, all of which arrive after the Packers’ Week 6 bye.